Read the Joint Statement of the Heads of State & Government of Southeastern European Nations (Crete, 4 November 1997) A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Monday, 23 November 2020
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #71, 99-06-03

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


Thursday, June 3, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

SERBIA (Kosovo)
1,2,6,12	Secretary Albright's Diplomatic Activities/Calls/Contacts
		 with Foreign Ministers 
12,20-21	Secretary Albright Will Not Travel to Mexico/Attorney
		 General Reno to Head Delegation 
1,2,7,14-17	Reports that Milosevic Has Accepted Terms and Conditions
		 for Ending Conflict 
1-3,5-7		US and NATO Looking for Implementation and Verification of
		 NATO's Conditions 
3,7,12		Prospects for UN Security Council Resolution of NATO's
		 Terms and Conditions 
3-4		Prospects for a Bombing Pause
4,8-9,10-13	Timing for the Deployment of International Security
		 Force/Composition of Force 
4-5,8,18	Future of Milosevic/Indicted War Criminals/War Crimes Tribunal
9,16		Prospects for Return of Refugees to Kosovo
9-10		Frontline States Concerns
9-10		Prospects for Reconstruction for Serbia
9,13		Discussion of Civil Implementation Package
8,16-17		KLA and Demilitarization
10-11,17	Russia's Role and Diplomatic Efforts

INDIA/PAKISTAN 18-20 Secretary Albright's Calls to Pakistani Prime Minister and Indian Foreign Minister

SOUTH AFRICA 20-21 South African Elections

ISRAEL 21-22 Accusations that US Interfered in Israeli Elections


DPB #71

THURSDAY, JUNE 3, 1999, 12:40 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Hello. Welcome to the State Department briefing on this Thursday. It's obviously been a busy morning here at the Department. Secretary Albright has had a number of calls this morning with Deputy Secretary Talbott; with her military advisor, General Foglesong; with Secretary General Solana; Foreign Minister Fischer; Foreign Minister Cook; Foreign Minister Papandreou; and Foreign Minister Axworthy.

With respect to the question of the hour: What does the United States make of the developments overnight in Belgrade? Let me say that the reports of Serb acceptance of the terms and conditions laid down by Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin, which were contained therein all of the necessary terms and conditions that NATO has spelled out and we had spelled out for you on many occasions, if those reports prove accurate, that will be a major step forward. But the question now is the details. Deputy Secretary Talbott is right now meeting with Mr. Ahtisaari, who will be providing a full read- out of the discussions that he had, and Mr. Chernomyrdin had, with the Serb leadership.

We've seen a lot of reports of what it is that the Serb Parliament approved. Some of them vary in some important details, important words. Those are the kinds of details that make all the difference. So our watchwords of the day are caution, codification and implementation. Caution about the extent to which this does constitute Serb acceptance of the terms and conditions NATO requires. Codification meaning that additional procedural steps need to be taken if, indeed, they've accepted them in principle to ensure that all the necessary details have been accepted, because in an issue as important as this, as profound as this, having such impact on millions of people in the region, the millions of people in Serbia who are obviously hopeful that President Milosevic has finally seen the writing on the wall and that the tragedy he has brought on the Serbian people will soon end are at stake, and obviously the million and a half Kosovar Albanians who have been kicked out of their homes by the Serb forces in this brutal act of ethnic cleansing want to go back to their homes and can do so if, indeed, these reports prove accurate.

So what we're going to be doing in the coming days is confirming the details of what precisely has been agreed to. We're going to be looking for implementation, implementation and implementation; because it is only implementation of NATO's conditions that will lead to a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

What that means in practice, with respect to the air campaign, is the beginning of a verifiable withdrawal of all military, paramilitary and police forces from Kosovo, according to a rapid time table. That is what we are going to be looking for. We have learned from long experience of dealing with President Milosevic and Serb officials that verifiable deeds - not seductive words - are the only currency that counts in this conflict. They are the only things we can reliably act upon.

It would be cruel indeed if the aspirations of the Serb people for an end to the bombing were to be dashed by any backsliding or intransigence or refusal to accept the necessary details on the part of President Milosevic.

What is indisputable at this point is that the NATO allies remain united. They've remained united for a very long time in pursuing a powerful and relentless air campaign that will be the determining factor if, indeed, President Milosevic has accepted and the Serbs have accepted what press reports indicate they have.

QUESTION: Jamie, just a couple of secondary questions quickly, and then maybe I can ask you a substantive question. The Secretary talked to Strobe before he met with the Finnish President.

MR. RUBIN: Correct, since the meeting just started some 40 minutes ago.

QUESTION: Are you able to tell us what, basically, she told her own deputy?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, Secretary Albright's position is to be extremely cautious, to be extremely suspicious of the way in which the Serbs have conducted negotiations in the past in Belgrade, and to be very, very cautious about moving towards any acceptance by the West of what the Serbs have accepted until we know that they have indeed accepted precisely what NATO's terms and conditions have been.

That is what we're looking for. We're going to try to nail it down in its detail and then nail it down in its implementation.

QUESTION: I hope I can ask this question in a way that's understandable. This is a negotiation, presumably, looking for a settlement; and yet there are things - particularly withdrawal - that the Serbs could do. So what I'm trying to ask - and it's hard to put it - can this be an agreement that works itself out on the ground without any particular formal - at least at the outset - ceremony or signing or whatever? In other words, what are you looking for first -- if there's a deal, or if he accepts the terms? Am I correct that what you would see first is a verifiable withdrawal? Not necessarily, I, Slobodan Milosevic, hereby promise - correct? Do you understand what I'm trying to say?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. You are correct that we have no particular appetite for any grand signing ceremony with President Milosevic. On the contrary, what were looking for are pragmatic, concrete actions.

There may be codification of this arrangement if Milosevic has, indeed, accepted our terms. It could come in the form of military-to-military codification; it could come in the form of a Security Council resolution. There are other ways one can conceive of it. But what needed to happen - what the world has been waiting to see happen - is that President Milosevic and the Serb authorities finally saw the writing on the wall that the air campaign was intensifying, becoming more and more effective in preventing Serb military actions on the ground and destroying Serb military capabilities. Once that intention was developed, we believe there a number of ways to skin this cat procedurally.

One, as I indicated, would be military-to-military discussions to formalize the process of withdrawal of Serb forces; another could be a Security Council resolution that embodies all of NATO's terms and conditions; or there may be other steps that I don't want to rule out. What matters to us, though - and the only thing that will yield a suspension in the air campaign by NATO, from the United States' perspective - is that the Serb forces have to begin their full withdrawal.

We believe we can verify, through a number of means, what's necessary to show us that the beginning of a full withdrawal has occurred. Whether or not that occurs after military-to-military talks, we believe that it can be verified; that if the entire 40,000-plus Serb forces are going to withdraw pursuant to this agreement as some reports indicate, that that is a knowable proposition if that begins from verification. So the watchwords are details, implementation and verification.

QUESTION: Very quickly, you brought up the UN, and the UN is indeed on our mind. The original notion was that a resolution is down the road. It just -- what would the word be - just verifies it, just authenticates what already has been agreed to. Is that changing, the reference to UN auspices? Is the UN role becoming more up-front, more advanced, more the instrument of the agreement?

MR. RUBIN: It was always an option to create a resolution, to pass a resolution that would be part of the diplomatic pressure that would lead to actions, which is what we're looking for. As we've always said, we would welcome a Security Council resolution endorsing the conditions set forth both by NATO and the Group of Eight. We have been working to prepare the elements of that resolution. Certainly, that would be one way to codify this agreement if the reports are correct and President has, indeed, accepted not just generalities, but the details; and that is what we're going to be focused on.

QUESTION: Once the US or NATO has verified that a withdrawal has begun, can we expect a pause in the bombing to begin within 24 hours, 48 hours, how quickly?

MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't want to prejudge the interaction between the North Atlantic Council decision-making and the Supreme Allied Commander's actions. What I can say is that the United States - and we believe all NATO allies -- would support a suspension. And again, the word "suspension" is extremely important, because if the rest of the withdrawal didn't take place, if the original actions weren't followed by subsequent actions - and this is what we need to guard against, given the history of our dealings with President Milosevic as recently as his repeated violations of the October agreements - we would want to be able to resume the air campaign.

Now, exactly how much time it would take between the North Atlantic Council's acceptance of the idea of a suspension, based on verifiable deeds not words, I would think it would be quite quickly; but I wouldn't want to prejudge that.

QUESTION: Just quickly follow up. At the same time, how soon could we expect the verification -- or the peacekeeping force, rather, to move in? I would assume that it would have to take place fairly quickly.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we believe there are now, I believe, over 20,000 troops in Macedonia and Albania. The Macedonian Government just approved the deployment of 30,000 troops in their meeting with Secretary Albright yesterday. The subscription, so to speak, for that larger force, I believe, have largely been filled out.

So certainly, we'd have a precursor, a leading edge force, that could move very quickly upon actual acceptance of these terms and the beginning of their implementation.

QUESTION: You mentioned there were some differences in wording or different versions coming out of Belgrade, in terms of the acceptance, that were critical. Can you tell us what parts they are?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I mean, if you were to pull up on your computer screen the different wire services' reports, you would see some differences. One of the key words is the word "all." That certainly has been part and parcel of our view. That is what's required here. We're not going to allow the Serbs to maintain large forces in Kosovo. We've said from the beginning that because of the massive ethnic cleansing that has occurred by Serb forces in Kosovo, all the forces need to leave. Then and only then would we be prepared to see small, symbolic presences return. So that's an example of a detail that's a lot more than a detail; it's critical.

QUESTION: A follow-up, though. Is there another detail, too? There have been different adjectives attached to the NATO - whether it's an essential NATO force, or fundamental. Is that another one you're worried about?

MR. RUBIN: That one I think is more subjective. The word "all" is pretty quantitative and objective. So I think what matters to us and what we've said very clearly is that there has to be a unified command and control; there has to be a peacekeeping force with NATO at its core; and that that NATO force has to deploy throughout Kosovo so as to make sure that any implication that there could be different rules or rights or policies in one part of Kosovo wouldn't be acceptable.

QUESTION: Jamie, there's one word that doesn't appear in there, and that's "The Hague." Whatever this agreement is or is not, apparently it leaves Milosevic in power and several of his colleagues who have also been indicted. Could you comment on that, please?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, as you know from the many briefings we've had here in the Department and from the many discussions we've had with all of you, we did not set, as a condition of suspending the air campaign, the necessary arrival of President Milosevic to face his indictment. So I'm sure it won't be a surprise to any of you that in the agreement that is designed to achieve a suspension of the air campaign and to see a deployment of a peacekeeping force, that the word that you mentioned wouldn't be in there. I don't think that should come as a surprise to anybody.

With respect to our policy on that, I think it's quite clear that President Milosevic's reign has been a tragedy for the people of Serbia. We've seen wars lost in Bosnia, wars lost in Croatia, Slovenia go independent. Now the terrible tragedy visited upon the people of Kosovo by the Serb authorities has lead to an intensive and quite effective -- and, unfortunately, quite disastrous for the future of Serbia -- air campaign against Serbia. So I think that the reign of President Milosevic has been marked by these events. He has now been indicted as a war criminal, and it remains our view that all countries, including Serbia, should submit indicted war criminals to the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague.

QUESTION: What is it going to take for the US, NATO and the NATO allies to declare victory here? Is it the beginning of the withdrawal of the Serb troops; the entry of an international peacekeeping force; the return of all the refugees; or the implementation of Kosovo as an autonomous region?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we believe that if, indeed, the Serbs accept NATO's terms and conditions and if, indeed, the refugees return, and if, indeed, the people of Kosovo have the self-government that we have sought for them that they deserve and the rights that go with that, then the Serb policy of ethnic cleansing, the Serb attacks on Kosovo that generated this military conflict, the Serb ethnic cleansing campaign that began last year, that intensified this year, will have been reversed and will have been prevented for the future through the presence of this security force. That will put the people of Kosovo in a much safer, more secure position, and it will demonstrate that NATO as an institution and the United States as the leader of NATO would not stand idly by and allow that kind of ethnic cleansing to occur and succeeded in reversing it.

QUESTION: That's victory, then?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to get into a definition of that. I've told you what our objectives are. I've just described to you what I think the results would be if all of the refugees returned, if the Serb forces withdrew, and if the ethnic cleansing was reversed, and that is our objective. This is a very sober time; this is a very cautious time; this is not a time for popping champagne corks. This is a time for getting the refugees home and for getting the Serb forces out of Kosovo.

QUESTION: Maybe I can put it another way. What is it going to take for Operation Allied Force to be dismantled completely? By that I mean when this whole thing began, we were reminded again and again that the Activation Order for air strikes had never been lifted; it had just been suspended. So what's it going to take for this no longer to be an option for --

MR. RUBIN: Once the Serbs have indeed accepted NATO's conditions -- and that is something we're waiting to see -- once we have verified the details and then verified the fact that the Serb forces have begun their withdrawal, once the Serb forces have completely withdrawn, once the entire NATO peacekeeping force is deployed, then the air strikes that were generated through an Activation Order and authority given to General Clark, we'd no longer be necessary. That doesn't mean there wouldn't possibly be other ways in which NATO would support its peacekeeping force. But as far as the air campaign directed at the Serbian military machine --that has succeeded in breaking that military machine so well over the recent months - - would not need to occur. But I don't want to prejudge things that are going to go on many, many days from now.

QUESTION: You've told us that Strobe is getting a briefing now. Did Ahtisaari make any phone calls to either Deputy Secretary Talbott or Secretary Albright from Belgrade by way of a heads-up or a short thing, or is this the first direct communication?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to comment on every diplomatic communication. We did receive some preliminary reports over the last several hours. But given the inability to receive a full and frank briefing, we think the definitive report will come in the form of the meeting with President Ahtisaari, Deputy Secretary Talbott and others in Cologne right now.

QUESTION: What is Deputy Secretary Talbott's schedule after he gets a briefing from Ahtisaari?

MR. RUBIN: I would think he would be calling Secretary Albright right away after that briefing and others. The Secretary will be in a position to brief the President, who I understand is expected to speak to the subject in an hour and half or so.

QUESTION: There's a report that he may be going to Helsinki tomorrow.

MR. RUBIN: I don't know where - look, this is the beginning of the process; this is not the end of the diplomatic process. This is the first real sign that there is reported movement on the fundamental question. We don't consider this the end of the process. Deputy Secretary Talbott has done an extraordinary job at the direction of Secretary Albright, working closely with Russia, working closely with the Finnish President, Mr. Ahtisaari, keeping the allies consulted and briefed on every step of the way. The result has been that Russia, the European Union, NATO, the United States have all been on the same side in calling for President Milosevic to see the writing on the wall and do what it takes to bring a peaceful resolution. It's a step that we believe is necessary, and we're certainly encouraged by the cooperation we've received from all the diplomatic interlocutors in generating the necessary agreement to go to Belgrade.

But what results from this, what additional diplomatic steps are necessary - whether to codify details or whether to have additional meetings, I'm not prepared to specify at this time.

QUESTION: The text that we have here has all the hallmarks of being written in advance of the visit to Belgrade. Do you have any reason to believe that there have been any changes made in this text since the two envoys arrived in Belgrade?

MR. RUBIN: We do not believe they were negotiating. This is not a negotiation; it wasn't a negotiation. We believe it was an explanation and an elaboration. The text that has been published in various news agencies that reportedly was passed by the Serb Parliament greatly resembles the agreement that we struck with Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin, that we think brought this process to this moment. But the devil is in the details, and that's why we want to check the details, see what indeed the Serbs have accepted and then, more importantly, see what indeed the Serbs are going to do.

QUESTION: Have you had any contacts with the Chinese on what their position might be on the Security Council Resolution now?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure we have been in regular contact with China about the Kosovo issue. It is our view that at the end of the day, if the rest of the world supports a peaceful resolution of this conflict through having a Security Council, among other mechanisms, that the Chinese would certainly not want to stand in the way of peace. That obviously is their decision, but that is our judgment.

QUESTION: I know you said the devil is in the details, but based on the preliminary reports you received this morning, is it your understanding that what Milosevic apparently agreed to is the same plan the parliament agreed to?

MR. RUBIN: That's the kind of detail that we have to get from Mr. Ahtisaari, who would have been in the position to describe his meetings. What I can tell you is that the documents that have been printed in Belgrade greatly resemble the necessary details. I think some of the words may look very familiar to some of you because they've been, unfortunately, coming out of my mouth over and over again here in the briefing room.

But what President Milosevic has accepted, what exactly the Serb Parliament voted on, these are the kinds of details that we need to get a full briefing before we're in a position to respond to.

QUESTION: To just follow up on that, I know this is a tough question to answer, but what does the Administration think -- if, in fact, Milosevic has finally agreed to what NATO's conditions are to end this, what does the Administration believe led to this? Was it the intensified campaign; was it the fact that Russians for the first time appeared to be on the other side of the table, not with them?

MR. RUBIN: I think it is our strong view that whatever movement may or may not have occurred by President Milosevic and the Serb authorities in the last 24 hours is a direct result of the intensified air campaign that has broken his military machine in Kosovo; that has involved over 30,000 strike and supporting sorties; that has involved the destruction of huge portions of his military in Kosovo, infrastructure in Serbia, command and control throughout Serbia, and you know all the details. It is our strong view that we took this action not because we wanted to move to force, but because after exhausting every diplomatic opportunity, every diplomatic avenue we could, we realized that it was force and only force that was going to be able to get President Milosevic to reverse course, and that the diplomacy that has been going on has been in the service of force, in the furtherance of force as a tool that, unfortunately, was necessary to convince President Milosevic to reverse course. We do not believe - have not made a judgment as to whether that has, indeed, happened, that he has reversed course. We are awaiting the details to see whether that has happened.

QUESTION: Once you get the details, will you make them public?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the Serb authorities have been doing a pretty good job of that. I don't think there will be any secret about the details, once we've nailed them down.

QUESTION: Could I follow up please? Is there anything that you're aware of in this agreement that in any way would affect the obligation of member states of the United Nations to pursue Milosevic as a war criminal and turn him over to The Hague?

MR. RUBIN: That's impossible. The only thing that can change the obligations of member states is another Security Council resolution. We would not support any step by anybody to do that. Every state has an obligation to abide by the Security Council resolution calling on member states to act to bring to justice those indicted by the Tribunal.

QUESTION: Jamie, you said that KFOR could go in fairly quickly. You're talking about fairly quickly after the suspension of the bombing, after the completion of the withdrawal? That's one question. The next question is, when they get there, what are they going to be doing? Are they going to be trying to reestablish civil government fairly quickly, or are they just going to be separating forces? And the third question is, at what point do they start disarming the KLA?

MR. RUBIN: Good questions. First of all, the idea is that the force will deploy as acceptance is confirmed and the beginning of the withdrawal is verified. We envisage a very short time table for the full withdrawal. We believe the force can deploy very quickly. I'm not going to give you a time line for how many days after the beginning of the withdrawal, but certainly I can tell you very quickly.

Secondly, I remember the third one so let me go to that first and we'll come back to the second one. With respect to the KLA, I believe that Secretary Albright is going to be in touch with several of the key Kosovar Albanians in the coming days, and others have been discussing this issue with them. We certainly want to see the essential elements of Rambouillet, which envisaged the demilitarization of the KLA under a certain approach, will be part and parcel of this package. We have high confidence that at the end of the day, if indeed the Serbs withdraw their forces, if indeed Milosevic reverses course and accepts all of NATO's terms and conditions and all the Serb forces are withdrawn, NATO deploys, that we will receive good cooperation from the Kosovo Liberation Army.

On the second point?

QUESTION: The second point is what is the KFOR going to be doing? Is it going to be trying to reestablish civil government, is it just going to be separating forces; what's its role?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think separating forces would be an appropriate task because there will be no Serb forces because they will withdraw. So that is not the classic interpositional task of a peacekeeping force.

I think it will have a number of functions on the civil side, on the engineering side, on the security side. I think, as a rule, military forces tend to go in and establish security and then perform the associated tasks. But until NATO has made a final decision in defining publicly the specific military objectives, I think -- suffice it to say for now that they will be providing a secure environment; they will be working on recreating conditions for the refugees to come back; and they will be assisting in the other international organizations that we've been working very carefully to coordinate in the important civil implementation package.

QUESTION: What will AID be doing to help get these people home? Houses have been destroyed, they have no shelter.

MR. RUBIN: Right. Certainly, all of our agencies have been preparing and are ready and willing and able to act on return of refugees. There are an enormous number of tasks that are required, given the approach of winter in the Balkans. Even though summer has just arrived here, the people are very cognizant of the fact that winter comes early in the Balkans, in this part of the world. So there are a whole number of tasks related to winterization and food and medicine and water supplies - engineering tasks -- that AID has been planning for, that other agencies of the US Government have been planning for. Beyond those broad points, I couldn't give you any more detail.

QUESTION: Would KFOR be doing de-mining?

MR. RUBIN: I believe that de-mining is part of the objective. Exactly who will be performing that function, to what extent it is contracted out and all of that, I wouldn't be able to answer.

QUESTION: Jamie, some of the neighboring Balkan countries are expressing fear that since the Western allies and NATO have propped up Kosovar Albanians and somewhat supported the KLA, that once this conflict ends that it will go towards the spread of a greater Albania. Could you comment on that and maybe allay some of the fears of some of those countries?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. We have worked very, very closely with a number of the countries in the region: Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia -- the Secretary just met with the Prime Minister of Macedonia yesterday - Croatia, Bosnia; and we strongly believe that the future for this region lies in greater integration, reconstruction and joining the institutions of Europe. We are working very closely with our allies on a concrete plan, along the lines of what was done for the countries of the East after the end of the Cold War and what was done for the defeated countries after World War II, to try to bring the southeastern part of Europe into the European mainstream.

Obviously, that will be up to them; but we want to give them a major helping hand in terms of finance, assistance and money. We are going to be doing that.

With respect to the political arrangements for the future, we have said quite clearly that we don't support a greater Albania. We think that has dangers. What we do support is greater integration between Albania, Macedonia, Serbia -- when and if they pursue a democratic course. So we want to see integration; we don't want to see further splitting apart.

QUESTION: Have you given much thought to the reconstruction of Serbia itself once this process moves ahead? Serbia itself, or the FRY, is not a member of the IMF or the World Bank, which will make it difficult in those areas.

MR. RUBIN: Well, our view on that is that we have given thought to this. We do want to see Serbia rejoin the Western community of nations. We want to see a democratic Serbia join not only those institutions but other institutions. But we find it hard to imagine that a Serbia headed with the current regime that has pursued such profoundly undemocratic practices could proceed in that direction. We have long said that our support for Serbian and Yugoslavian integration into the institutions you mentioned requires democratization; it requires cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal; it requires resolving successfully and peacefully the situation in Kosovo; it requires working to ensure the freedoms of the people of Montenegro.

So there are a number of steps that we think need to be taken before we could support the Serbian integration into the rest of Europe, including reconstruction assistance that we would not be prepared to provide unless and until they pursued a democratic course. Under the current regime, that doesn't seem very likely at all.

QUESTION: By all accounts, there is this lingering dispute with Russia over the status of any Russian troops that take part. Given the pace of which things are moving, how urgent is it to resolve this, and what forum do you propose to resolve it in?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we've worked very closely with Russia. We think Russia has played a major role in uniting with the international community and moving forward on the peace process and trying to convince President Milosevic to pursue a peaceful solution by accepting the demands of the international community. We have had some very preliminary discussions with Russia about the peacekeeping question and how it would relate.

Let me say that our view remains the same. Our view is that NATO's peacekeeping force - this 50,000 strong force - is going to have a unified command and that the other partners who came to the pledging conference - the force generation conference - indicated they would be comfortable with that.

I would point out that President Ahtisaari of Finland has said that he would not support Finnish participation in peacekeeping unless it was under a NATO command; Finland not being a member of NATO. So what we are making clear is that this force has to have a unified command, has to be deployed throughout Kosovo to ensure no perceived or real possibility of partition.

With respect to Russian participation, that's an open question. We have said we would welcome Russian participation provided, arrangements can be made consistent with the principles I just laid down. Arrangements were made in the case of Bosnia, where the Russian contingent reported to an American, and not to a NATO commander. We think analogous command arrangements can be made if the Russians so choose. But in our view, if President Milosevic is going to accept these requirements and these terms from the international community, if they're going to be verified and then we are to suspend the air campaign and move to deployment, we're going to have to move to deployment quickly. But it's an open question as to whether mutually acceptable command arrangements can be found.

QUESTION: So you might go ahead without Russian participation if you don't agree on a formula in time?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we need to get the force deployed if there is acceptance by the Serbs of NATO's forces. It's an open question whether we can work that out in time; it's just an open question.

QUESTION: How many meetings with the Russians --

MR. RUBIN: I think we've been in very close contact with the Russians; we will continue to do so. I don't have a meeting schedule for you.

QUESTION: The resolution passed by the parliament calls for both an international security presence under UN auspices, as well as - in another point of the resolution - a security presence with a fundamental, or essential NATO. Is that suitable? I mean, it seems to call for two separate forces.

MR. RUBIN: We don't see it that way. We have always said we could envisage a Security Council resolution authorizing member states to deploy, and we've always said we could see the Security Council endorsing and adopting the arrangements that were made by the G-8 and thus, by implication, the NATO steps. So if the Security Council were to endorse and adopt those steps and allowed countries or endorsed countries putting together a peacekeeping force, that would be the auspices of the United Nations.

What we won't accept and we think would be a mistake, would be any control by the UN Secretariat of the peacekeeping force that is deployed. This has to be a NATO command and control, following NATO chain of command.

QUESTION: Jamie, following on that, does the Security Council have to have taken its action before KFOR moves in, or can KFOR go in and then be authorized?

MR. RUBIN: Well, assuming everybody agrees and there's a desire to move quickly, it strikes me that it won't be that hard to move in the Security Council. But we've not said it's a necessary prerequisite for the force to deploy. It would certainly be desirable to have a Security Council endorsement and adopt a resolution encompassing NATO's planned peacekeeping steps.

QUESTION: A quick question on that. At the G-7 political directors' meeting this evening in Germany, do you expect them to take up the drafting of the Security Council resolution?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think any decisions have been made as to what the next procedural steps are going to be. I think the only thing I can tell you about that is that I would expect, after Deputy Secretary Talbott's meetings with Mr. Ahtisaari, we'll be meeting with other EU members in Bonn, Deputy Secretary Talbott will call Secretary Albright. She will be in touch, as I said, with a number of ministers, as she has been this morning, throughout the day.

In that regard, let me say that Secretary Albright is going to not join the rest of the US delegation and lead that delegation to Mexico. Due to the high level of diplomatic activity regarding Kosovo, Secretary Albright has had to withdraw from heading the US delegation to the Binational Commission taking place in Mexico City on the 3rd and the 4th. She does so with regret and disappointment because she was looking forward to discussing the many issues of importance to our bilateral relations.

The US-Mexico relationship is fundamentally strong and based on mutual interest and respect. It has been recently strengthened by tremendous growth in trade relations and commercial interests since the signing of NAFTA, and by the strong and special friendships of Presidents Clinton and Zedillo, Secretary Albright and Secretary Green, and the US and Mexican people. Secretary Albright has expressed her disappointment to Secretary Green and is planning to find a way to go to Mexico at a later date.

I bring that up to simply say that all the next procedural steps are things that the ministers are going to decide after they get a full briefing from Mr. Ahtisaari.

QUESTION: Another procedural step would be the possible military-to- military talks you mentioned. How would you do that, and how soon would you expect that to happen if that's --

MR. RUBIN: That's a possibility; I wouldn't go into that at this time. It's just another option to pursue. It may happen, and if that happens, we'll have more to say about it.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that, several of the drafts mention a military technical agreement that would have be reached here. Would a senior US military officer participate in those talks in Belgrade? And the second question is, will Kosovo be divided up into sectors - American, British, French and possibly a Russian sector?

MR. RUBIN: At this point, as I indicated in response to Jonathan's question, we haven't done any planning with Russia about the command arrangements that would be mutually acceptable to allow for Russian deployment. So we've been operating as a NATO-unified command, with a NATO deployment, with the welcome participation of partner countries. That planning is going ahead. Obviously, the military has sectors in which it operates.

But if Russia were to participate, we wouldn't envisage a situation where there could be some separate Russian operation that created different terms and different rules and different policies in that sector. That's why we're insisting on a unified command structure and NATO deployments throughout Kosovo.

With respect to your first question, I just don't want to prejudge who will go where and when. I'm just saying that military-to-military talks are a possibility, as you can evidently tell from the document. So I think that's a possibility; that's a way to codify the necessary steps.

QUESTION: Do you know if the OSCE verifiers who are under Ambassador Walker, would they be involved in this in any way?

MR. RUBIN: My understand is that the civil implementation is still being discussed. I think that, obviously, people who are expert in Kosovo will be looked for by whatever international entity handles the international provisional administration, and they may be recruited on their own basis. But I don't think a decision has been made as to how precisely the international provisional administration would be run and who would run it. So I couldn't answer that directly.

QUESTION: So, (inaudible) they really have been disbanded?

MR. RUBIN: I can't answer the question as to what their next role would be.

QUESTION: I know you hate philosophy, but I shall ask a philosophical question.

MR. RUBIN: Thanks a lot.

QUESTION: Assuming this operation turns out to be a success, what kind of precedent --

MR. RUBIN: I don't mind the beginning of your question.


QUESTION: What kind of precedent does it set and what message does it send to other governments which might try to oppress minorities anywhere else in the world?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that we believe this mission will be a success. We believe and have said for some time that we have confidence in the air campaign in breaking the military machine of President Milosevic. We have pointed that out in the face of what I think would fairly be described as some skepticism by others. We have been determined to pursue that air campaign in furtherance of our objectives. Our objectives were not only to secure the stability of this part of the world, which is important to us for national interests reasons; but also because of the values that we represent in not standing idly by and allowing a dictator to use war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which he has now been indicted, to kill and maim and rape and kick and expel a million and a half people from their homes.

That is what happened in Kosovo; that was the rationale for our action there. It had both a national interest component and a moral component -- a moral imperative and a national interest imperative. That is what generated our action in Kosovo. I wouldn't want to speculate on what we would or wouldn't do anywhere else because every situation is different.

But certainly, I think, even now, the rest of the world knows that the NATO alliance was prepared to take military action -- punitive, successful, relentless military action against the Serb authorities for the reason that they decided to conduct this ethnic cleansing campaign.

QUESTION: I know that it's difficult to ever predict why Milosevic would do what he has done or how he would respond, but were people in this building surprised if, in fact, he has accepted it? How does this peace deal differ from the one that had been put forward during the Rambouillet talks?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, let me say that there's a lot of people in this building. I'm sure that all of you can find someone who has every opinion; because as we like to say, opinions are like noses, everybody has one.

But with respect to the Secretary of State, there were some very erroneous reports on what her expectation was at the start of this operation. I think it's fair to say that she doesn't make predictions like that. The goal is to decide whether the use of force is justified, whether the use of force is necessary. Then it is the job of the military to conduct that use of force. Then it is the job of the Secretary of State to provide the diplomacy backing that force up.

We have done that in the last several weeks, working with President Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin. What President Milosevic decides to do is not knowable. It's not a knowable thing whether he will do X or whether he will do Y or whether he will do Z. We have had confidence that the use of air power was the correct decision, was the right decision. We've had confidence that ultimately the air campaign would succeed in achieving its objectives. But as far as predictions and surprises and expectations that have been falsely presented about the Secretary's views in the past, I'm just not going to say anything other than she knew the course was right; that this was the right course; and that she has been relentless in pursuing the unity of the Alliance in maintaining that course, and relentless in pursuing diplomatic avenues that can achieve all of our objectives and see Milosevic accept the terms that we have set forth.

QUESTION: The second part of the question? How does this deal --

MR. RUBIN: I'd forgotten that after my long soliloquy?

QUESTION: How does this deal differ from the one that Milosevic could have had, back two months ago?

MR. RUBIN: Well I think it differs in substantial ways. First of all, there are no political arrangements. The political arrangements are to come. He had political arrangements that would have protected every right of the Serbs through the constitution that we had established in Rambouillet. He had a political arrangement that would have protected their legal rights, their political rights through the constitution. He had the ability to have several thousand Serb forces deployed in several parts of Kosovo. And now that is not going to be permitted - only symbolic presences.

So after withstanding, suffering, unfortunately, many, many, many weeks of sustained and powerful military campaign, the Serbs will have a worse situation than they could have had by signing the Rambouillet agreements, which were a good deal for the people of Serbia, kept Kosovo within Yugoslavia and Serbia, and also provided for the rights of the Serbs that are in Kosovo, a high degree of self-government for the people of Kosovo, and a significant substantial troop deployment and police deployment, which is now not going to be permitted.

QUESTION: But isn't Kosovo still a part of Serbia?

MR. RUBIN: Well, right now - right. I didn't say that every point - you asked me a question of what was worse, and I detailed a number of things. So I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: Well, you were saying that under Rambouillet, he would have had --

MR. RUBIN: I was explaining why Rambouillet was a good deal for the Serbs - that it kept Kosovo within Yugoslavia and Serbia; it allowed for substantial deployment of Serb troops in Kosovo; it allowed for Serb rights in a constitutional system. And all of those things are things that he could have had without suffering the damage to the military machine and to the future of the people of Serbia that have occurred in recent weeks.

So unfortunately he made a tragic error. He fundamentally miscalculated the intent of the West to use air power. He fundamentally miscalculated the unity of the West and NATO in pursuing that air campaign until he meets our objectives.

QUESTION: He will not have to accept, under the terms as we understand them, as they've been reported, free and unimpeded access of NATO or international peacekeeping forces throughout Yugoslavia, which was one of the provisions of the Rambouillet accord. And I guess he will not also have to accept a referendum of some kind, which was also part of the understanding.

MR. RUBIN: I think you misunderstood the Rambouillet accords. The referendum was something that the Serbs agreed to. They agreed to a package of a meeting, in which the various inputs would occur of that meeting, including the will of the people of Kosovo. So that wasn't something that was a problem for the Serb authorities in the negotiations in Rambouillet.

With respect to military access, again, I think it's a pretty easy balance here, Michael. Several weeks of 30,000 strike sorties rained upon the military machine of President Milosevic, setting back the country decades in its economic capabilities; as against signing an agreement which kept Kosovo within Serbia, allowed a substantial deployment of Serb police and military in Kosovo, and allowed for the protection of all rights of Serbs within Kosovo in a constitution; as against accepting of the withdrawal of all Serb forces, only a symbolic presence and, of course, the NATO forces will ensure the rights of all the people in Kosovo.

So that's a pretty easy ledger to suggest whether or not there would be have prescribed rights about access to corridors for military operations in Serbia. I hope you weren't even beginning to suggest that somehow Rambouillet was worse for the Serbs than what happened here.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on a slightly different question? Do you have - is there a best case scenario planned for how quickly the Kosovar refugees will be able to get back into Kosovo? In other words, rebuilding villages -- I mean, even under a best case scenario - if Serb troops withdraw in the next few days and KFOR is allowed to go in -- will there have to be some refugees remaining in camps as winter comes?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think it's impossible to answer that question right now. It's June; you're talking about October. That's July, August, September, October - that's four months from now. I don't know what's going to happen in October.

What I know is that we are planning for success; that our military authorities are working with civilian authorities in various organizations - the UNHCR with AID, with NATO military authorities - to make sure that the combined military-civilian implementation can go forward as quickly as possible, as rapidly as possible, so as many refugees as possible can go back as quickly as possible.

Whether will some will prefer to stay until they can see reconstruction in their areas or until they can be confident that they will have the necessary facilities to return, I think is an open question at this point. But we're certainly planning for success.

QUESTION: Just so I understand, if Milosevic has accepted the conditions that -

MR. RUBIN: That's a big "if."

QUESTION: If he has, then, will the US press for a complete disarmament of the KLA?

MR. RUBIN: The proper word here is "demilitarization." I'll get you a copy of the Rambouillet accords, which describes demilitarization as envisaged in those accords. That remains the principle under we're operating. I think we believe at the end of the day, we will work cooperatively - NATO with the Kosovar Liberation authorities - in ensuring that the peacekeeping force deploys in the proper environment.

QUESTION: Jordan received an assistance package for helping --

MR. RUBIN: Jordan? Wow.

QUESTION: Well, I'm going there. Helping with the Middle East peace process. Are the Russians going to receive something similar? Are they on the receiving end of some type of a package for helping with the Kosovo conflict?

MR. RUBIN: We think Russia played a very important role in working closely with Mr. Ahtisaari and Deputy Secretary Talbott in putting a great effort behind this work here. We think that was extremely important. We believe Russia did that for its own national interest, as we would expect them to.

We provide substantial assistance to Russia in many forms, through the Nunn- Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, through a number of technical assistance programs that will allow for the growth of democracy and human rights and freedom of the press and other projects. We work closely with the IMF and the World Bank in providing loans as appropriate, pursuant to their conditions to the Russian authorities. That has been our policy before the Kosovo crisis, and that will remain our policy. I wouldn't expect any changes one way or the other. We do that because it's in our national interest to provide that assistance through those modalities, and that will continue regardless of the work that we've been doing with Russia, which we certainly hope will turn out to be successful.

Okay, only Kosovo.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you know of any agreement or understanding with Milosevic that falls outside of the terms that were agreed by the Serb Parliament?


QUESTION: There are reports in India --

MR. RUBIN: More Kosovo?

QUESTION: When you're talking about the new democratic government in Yugoslavia, has the United States really taken a look at who could be the right person to lead the new government in Yugoslavia?

MR. RUBIN: That's not up to us to decide. What we can do is judge the democratic policies and practices of the Serb authorities in Belgrade now. We can hope for the opposition groups, working together, to bring to the fore new leadership that would bring democratic practices and policies to Serbia. But we're not in the selection process here.

QUESTION: And do you really believe that some day Milosevic is going to be on trial for his --

MR. RUBIN: We believe that statute of limitations on war crimes does not expire. We believe that all war criminals will eventually have their day in The Hague.

QUESTION: You talk about the help of Russia; it's possible that China will be needed to if this goes to the UN. Is it true that there are consultations going on in Beijing over the Chinese Embassy bombing now?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe that we have decided the who and the when for the kind of discussion that we intend to have with the Chinese about the tragic accident that occurred at their embassy.

QUESTION: Could you clear up something? Apparently there was a statement by Ivanov out of Beijing, after his meetings with the Chinese, about reiterating this point about a cessation of the bombing before an agreement. Are you convinced that the Russians are on the same page on all this, with Chernomyrdin agreeing to one thing?

MR. RUBIN: Well, what I can tell you is that the package presented to Milosevic by Mr. Chernomyrdin and Mr. Ahtisaari was a unified package that you have now seen much of, and that the positions contained therein were the positions we have spelled out in the past. They include the fact that the bombing will only be suspended when there is a verifiable beginning of the withdrawal of Serb forces. That is our view, and we believe that nothing contradictory to that was presented in Belgrade. But I don't know which particular account you're commenting on, but we certainly have worked very closely with Mr. Chernomyrdin.

QUESTION: Can you confirm reports in India that during the weekend, the Secretary talked to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and asked him to withdraw the Pakistani forces to other side of the line of control (inaudible) Pakistani forces, but also the infiltrators who are sent on this side of the line? In this connection, I might read to you one item, which has been published in Calcutta, which says, "The Clinton Administration has told Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in no uncertain terms to get the infiltrators out of the Kargil and move quickly towards normalization with India to save what remains of his country's international reputation."

What I'm asking is, can you confirm that the Secretary talked to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and maybe India, I don't know? Also, what exactly was the message; and whether the message to Pakistan is different from the message to India?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, all good questions. Let me say that Secretary Albright - I can confirm - did telephone Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and India Foreign Minister Jaswan Singh on Saturday. The message was that we wanted to share our views with them on the current situation; that we wanted to express our concern about the developments and the potential for them spinning out of control and urge restraint by both sides in preventing them from getting out of control.

We remain in touch with the Indian and Pakistani Governments to express our strong concern, to urge them to show restraint and prevent the fighting from spreading and to urge both countries to work together to reduce tensions. We call on both sides to exercise restraint and avoid spreading the fighting beyond the Kargil area.

Beyond saying that, I think it would be preferable to leave our discussions and comments that are made in private in private.

QUESTION: But could we go a little further on the US position, if you don't want to get into the conversations? That's typical of a even-handed statement more familiarly given for Middle East developments. Apart from the conversations which, indeed, you say are private, what is the US position? Is Pakistan - if you want to use the word aggressor - has Pakistan provoked this latest conflict? What kind of people have they moved in; have they moved in troops; have they moved in insurgents, troops disguised as, I don't know, what, as freedom fighters or insurgents or whatever? Could you get into a little bit of the situation because you have two nuclear nations now, nose-to-nose - you don't need me to obviously - I don't need to point out to you that this could be a very difficult situation. What is the US handle on what's happened?

MR. RUBIN: I think I got all of that.

QUESTION: Restraint, restraint, restraint, of course. We all want restraint. You wanted restraint from Yugoslavia, but it was pretty clear who the bad guy was.

MR. RUBIN: I don't think we used the word restraint in the case of Yugoslavia. Let me say that we obviously have our views as to what has transpired and the reasons for what has transpired, and our views on who is where; but we do not think it would be wise to engage in a public discussion of that at this time. We have friendly relations with both India and Pakistan, and we think the best course of action for our diplomacy and for avoiding the chance of this spinning out of control is to leave our views on subjects like this private -- make them strongly in private, but in public, state our view that we would want both sides to urge restraint.

We think that's the responsible course in order to avoid the miscalculation or inflammation of the situation that could lead to the points that you made, which is why we are handling this so carefully.

QUESTION: How would restraint be manifested by one side or the other or both? How would they show restraint? Would they pull back, or would they put their guns down, or would they talk?

MR. RUBIN: We certainly would want them to talk to each other to work out an arrangement to stand down from the current conflict. We certainly would want them to not take steps to expand the conflict beyond the current Kargil area. That is examples of restraint. Beyond that, I don't think it's appropriate for me to say.

QUESTION: This is the flash-point from the Balkans to the valley of Kashmir. My question is directed to this area that in Bangladesh, being one of the countries in that region, are you aware of any move from the Indian side that India is considering to have security pact with the friendly neighbors of the region, let alone Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Nepal? And wouldn't that be of any impact to the United States, and will that bring in further in the way of deterrence, or would it inflict into a more conflicting atmosphere in that region if India makes an overture for security pact with those friendly neighboring countries?

MR. RUBIN: I think I got all that, too. And is there more? I hope not. Let me say that I would like to check on the details you discussed with respect to relations between the various countries and steps they're taking in uniform with each other or not, and give you a considered response to that important question.

QUESTION: Different subject? Do you have anything on the election in South Africa?

MR. RUBIN: I think we certainly welcome the development of a democratic South Africa. And we certainly will have more to say - (laughter) - when I find it. We understand that final results will not be available until later today, or perhaps tomorrow. At this stage, it is clear that South Africa's people voted in large numbers and that the polling has been peaceful and orderly. All indications are that the elections will prove to be another historic and successful step in the consolidation of South Africa's democracy. With the election results not final, we would not want to speculate on the outcome.

As for the selection of South Africa's next president, unlike the US system, the president is not elected by a direct vote. We understand that South Africa's newly-elected parliament will meet on June 14 to the elect the new president. We expect that the US and South Africa, whatever the results of the election, will continue to strengthen our already close bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: Is there any concern that the apparent overwhelming victory of the ANC - I mean, is that viewed positively, or is that viewed as a possible problem to a healthy, vibrant democracy?

MR. RUBIN: We believe that the proof of a healthy, vibrant democracy is not only a first election -- a first free election -- but also a second free election. We think that this second free election was a historic and successful step in the consolidation of that democracy. We're not going to comment on reported results until we've seen the final results. But whatever happens, we believe we will continue to strengthen our close, bilateral relationship.

QUESTION: Who is going to head --

MR. RUBIN: Attorney General Reno.

QUESTION: On the Middle East -- Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman, David -

QUESTION: That was Mexico.

QUESTION: Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman David Bar Illan I believe was in the latest election of The National Review, is accusing the Clinton Administration --

MR. RUBIN: Is he still the spokesman there?

QUESTION: Well, let's just say David Bar Illan.

MR. RUBIN: Is he still employed? I just don't know whether I'm commenting on the views of a private citizen or not.

QUESTION: Okay, let's just put it this way. David Bar Illan is accusing the Clinton Administration of engineering the defeat of Netanyahu. He said this was done by publicly criticizing Mr. Netanyahu and saying that he was an obstruction to the peace process. But he goes on to say that Dennis Ross privately was saying that Mr. Netanyahu was justified in demanding Palestinian security cooperation before handing over more land. Is this true? And did the US public position criticize Israel, while in private support Mr. Netanyahu?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say this: I've had a lot of opportunity to work with Mr. David Bar Illan over the last couple of years. We worked very closely together at the Wye Plantation peace accords. We worked very closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu's government at that event, and we achieved what we believed was an historic breakthrough in continuing the Oslo process. We continue to believe in the importance of that process. There are some positions that the Netanyahu government took that we thought were in furtherance of the peace process and some that we thought harmed the peace process. We always said so before the election, during the election and after the election. We didn't take different positions because of the election, and we wish Mr. David Bar Illan well in his future endeavors.

QUESTION: Jamie, but by Israel insisting on security as a condition to giving up land, was that a demand that furthered the peace process or was it one of those positions that you all - your peace team thought maybe didn't further the peace process?

MR. RUBIN: I think you know well, because most of my responses to this and my views on this were expressed in response to your questions. We believe that security was a sine quo non -- for the Palestinians

QUESTION: Well, because that --

MR. RUBIN: No, I believe the bulk of it was about us interfering with the Israeli elections. So I thought that was most of what I needed to answer.

QUESTION: Well, in fact I don't expect you to answer. But --

MR. RUBIN: Well, with respect to that point -

QUESTION: -- focus on security.

MR. RUBIN: Let me give you the answer. The answer today is the same as it would have been during the election or before the election; and that is, security is a sine quo non that the Palestinians shouldn't do it as a favor to the Israelis. They should do it because it's good for the Palestinians and it's good for the Israelis. That's something we believe in - 100 percent cooperation, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

QUESTION: Do you think that stories that appear in American newspapers, like the one yesterday in The New York Times and The Washington Post, of Mexican officials or Mexican power families affect the strong relationship between Mexico and the United States?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we are a believer in a free press here. I'm sure that no one in the Mexican leadership would want to be against a free press. We believe in a free press; we work with the press; I'm here with the press. That is the nature of democracy and the free press.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:47 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 Friday, 4 June 1999 - 3:15:37 UTC