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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #75, 99-06-11

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


456

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Friday, June 11, 1999

Briefer: James B. Foley

DEPARTMENT
2		Secretary Albright's Travel

KOSOVO 1&5 Deputy Secretary Talbott's Return Trip to Moscow to Clarify the Russian Position 1,2,6 Foreign Minister Ivanov Confirmed that Russian Troops Will Not Move into Kosovo Until Their Role in KFOR is Determined/Russian Troops Will Join NATO-Led International Security Force if Arrangements are Made for Russian Participation 2 US Welcomes Russian Participation

CHINA 3&6 Chinese to be Provided with Results of Detailed US Investigation into Accidental Bombing

INDIA/PAKISTAN 3&4 Update on Air and Ground Attacks in Kashmir/US Strongly Supports Talks

NORTH/SOUTH KOREA 4 Naval Stand-Off/US in Close Consultation with South Korean Allies/US Monitoring Situation/UN Command Has Invited DPRK for General Officer's Talks 5 Dr. Perry's North Korean Policy Review

LIBYA 6 Lifting of UN Sanctions Against Libya/Pan Am 103

GERMANY 6&7 Draft Proposal by Sixteen German Corporations to Settle Slave Labor Issue Leaked/Under Secretary Eizenstat Facilitating Talks to Achieve Legal Closure in the US


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #75

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 1999, 2:30 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: Welcome back for this. Are you the dean emeritus or ad interim? Because you're the one that promised a rapid briefing today. Otherwise, I'm going to call on Nancy Beck for the first question.

QUESTION: Since Betsy's responsible for this, why doesn't she ask the first question? She probably has a very penetrating question in mind.

MR. FOLEY: George, why don't you go first, then?

(Laughter.)

What is it, how do I feel today?

QUESTION: No, how does Strobe feel today? Can you give us information about his return to Moscow, and how that's going and what's happening?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as you know, Secretary Albright is still on her trip; the spokesman is still with her, and I'm not here to get into any kind of detail on Kosovo until they return. That's our standard policy. What I can confirm to you is that Deputy Secretary Talbott did return to Moscow today, to clarify the Russian position. But as Secretary Albright herself has stated publicly today, she spoke directly with Foreign Minister Ivanov today, and he assured her that Russian troops will not move into Kosovo until their role in KFOR is determined.

We take these assurances seriously, and our understanding is that the Russian movement of troops or personnel represents a pre-positioning of forces, so that Russian troops can join the NATO-led international security force for Kosovo, if arrangements can be worked out for Russian participation. That's what Deputy Secretary Talbott is currently working on in Moscow today.

QUESTION: And how are those talks going?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a read-out of those talks. I think we'll have to wait a little bit. As I said, Secretary Albright is now, I believe, en route back to Washington, and we'll have a firmer idea of how her trip went, and the results of Deputy Secretary Talbott's ongoing negotiations in Moscow, perhaps, sometime tomorrow.

QUESTION: The fact that he made a u-turn certainly suggests that he was caught by surprise by the arrival of Russian troops in Serbia. Is that the case?

MR. FOLEY: I wouldn't read too much into that. The fact is that we have indicated, from the beginning, that we welcome Russian participation, provided that appropriate arrangements can be worked out. The Russians have indicated that they are seeking to pre-position forces, so that they're in a position to deploy into Kosovo. That deployment will not occur until the arrangements are worked out in terms of the Russian role within KFOR.

QUESTION: Well, the fact that he went back also indicates that the agreement that he had when he left - I mean -- he didn't feel was adequate.

MR. FOLEY: Was not complete - not completed.

QUESTION: So he has gone back to complete it?

MR. FOLEY: Well, they're working on it. I can't predict to you when it will be concluded. But inasmuch as we have assurances from the Russians that they're not deploying these forces into KFOR - into Kosovo, excuse me - now, in advance of the completion of arrangements, as I said I would not read too much into the fact that they are seeking to pre-position forces, so that they are, indeed, in a position to deploy, when those arrangements have been completed.

QUESTION: Do you know if Talbott will return tomorrow?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of his itinerary at this state. If I find out more later, I'll let you know.

QUESTION: Was there any surprise or unhappiness about what the Russians did in Kosovo?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can't speak to the conversation that Secretary Albright had with Foreign Minister Ivanov. As I stated at the beginning, I don't normally discuss matters that the Secretary is treating when she's in the region; and until she returns, I think it's inappropriate for me to go into any more detail. But I thought I would answer those preliminary questions.

QUESTION: She's airborne.

MR. FOLEY: She's en route.

QUESTION: When did Albright speak to Ivanov?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have the exact time. It would have been some time early in the morning, our time here in Washington. Yes, today.

QUESTION: She was in the Balkans and he was -

MR. FOLEY: I assume in Moscow.

Other subjects?

QUESTION: Do you know whether the delegation is going this weekend to China?

MR. FOLEY: No, I don't have information on that. The fact is that we're still examining the issue of who, when and how we will provide a briefing to China on our investigation of the accidental bombing in Belgrade. It's, as I said, under active consideration, and being discussed with China through diplomatic channels.

QUESTION: So it's possible someone will not go there?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, what?

QUESTION: So it's possible someone will not travel to China, but it could be done here?

MR. FOLEY: No. No, we have undertaken with the Chinese to send a representative with a detailed report of our investigation into the accidental bombing. We intend to follow through on that commitment. I simply said that the issues of who, when and how are still under active consideration.

QUESTION: So it won't be this weekend?

MR. FOLEY: I have told you previously that I would not announce anything in advance of such a visit. I don't want to be pinned down on dates when I repeat the issue of who, when and how have not been decided.

QUESTION: The issue of "what" has been decided. I mean, what -

MR. FOLEY: Yes, the "what" was decided quite some time ago. We agreed to provide the Chinese with the results of a detailed investigation, into the tragic and accidental bombing. So the "what" was decided quite some time ago.

QUESTION: OK, so that has been - exactly what is going to be said has been worked out, then?

MR. FOLEY: I can't tell you whether the investigation itself is fully complete or not.

QUESTION: Jim, on India and Pakistan, things look like they're getting nastier. Are you trying to get them together?

MR. FOLEY: Well, let me first update you on the current situation. Indian air and ground attacks continue in the Kargil area of Kashmir, against infiltrators from Pakistan. India continues to report the capture of some strongpoints. We are aware, as are you, of the press reports that indicate Pakistan has turned over six mutilated bodies of Indian soldiers. We find the reports disturbing and we are seeking more information. I would note that Pakistan has denied these reports. We don't, for our part, have independent information on the reports and, therefore, can offer no judgment.

The incident does underscore the urgency of the need for India and Pakistan to speak directly with each other about the current hostilities in Kashmir. As you know, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, will visit New Delhi tomorrow for talks on the fighting.

The United States strongly supports talks between India and Pakistan to resolve this latest dispute. We remain in contact with both the Indian and Pakistani governments to express our strong concern, to urge them to show restraint and to respect the line of control that they agreed to over 25 years ago. We also urge them to prevent the fighting from spreading beyond the Kargil sector, and to work together to reduce tensions.

QUESTION: Anything more on tensions between North and South Korea?

MR. FOLEY: Well, you're aware of the fact that there had been an ongoing incident or a naval stand-off. Our understanding is that ships from both sides are still in that area. We are in close consultation with our South Korean allies, and we are monitoring the situation carefully, and working closely with the Republic of Korea, to ensure that the situation is diffused and tensions are reduced.

Our forces remain in their normal state of readiness. What I can tell you is that the UN command has reissued an invitation to the DPRK for general officer's talks, to exchange information about the incidents as a tension reduction mechanism, to prevent further military confrontations in this area. The DPRK is currently considering this invitation, and we certainly urge them to take advantage of the opportunity to engage in dialogue on this important issue; because we think it's in everyone's interest to reduce tension in regard to this incident.

QUESTION: Another subject: I've seen a report saying that you may have a new boss after the Kosovo peace accord is in place. Reportedly, Mr. Talbott is the candidate to be the --

MR. FOLEY: To be the spokesman of the State Department?

QUESTION: No, no, no; to replace Secretary Albright.

MR. FOLEY: When you ask anybody in the State Department about his or her boss, you could be talking about many layers of bosses. The report is preposterous.

QUESTION: So not true - no truth?

MR. FOLEY: No truth, "preposterous" is stronger than "no truth."

QUESTION: Is the deputy spokesman leaving?

MR. FOLEY: He has a tough job, but I wouldn't recommend the spokesman's job to anybody.

QUESTION: I want to come back to a North Korean issue. Yesterday evening Dr. Perry gave a speech in -- somewhere in Washington, D.C. He said he is going to submit his final report later this year. Do you have any idea (about how much) later this year, or what is the reason? Because he said in Seoul after he went to Pyongyang that he is going to submit his report soon; but compared with what he said in Seoul, what he said yesterday has changed a little bit. Do you have any idea when Dr. Perry (will) submit his final report?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the operative word remains "soon." I don't know what he may -- or may not -- have said yesterday, but what I can tell you is that he is in the final stages of his North Korea policy review, and he's planning to report to the President soon. He'll report when his policy review is complete, not before that; so I can't put a specific date on it.

Our North Korea policy of maintaining strong, deterrent alliances with our friends in the region, while engaging the DPRK in serious dialogue to reduce tensions and address our concerns, remains unchanged. Far from delaying his report to the President, Dr. Perry is working expeditiously to complete it. As you know, he led a delegation to hear for himself, first- hand, the opinions and views of the DPRK. The trip to Pyongyang, he said, was a valuable tool to assess DPRK positions.

It's both prudent and necessary, in our view, for him to take the time necessary to complete the assessment of that trip -- also the time for further consultations with Congress which, as you know, occurred on Wednesday and on Thursday of this week -- because we believe that close consultations with the Congress remain an essential element of his ongoing review. Remember: He has factored into his review a wide range of expertise, including from the Congress, including from within the government, in the expert community and from our allies and friends in the region.

QUESTION: After he came back to Washington, DC, the United States, did he - has he met the President Clinton or Secretary Albright?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'd have to refer you to the White House for a definitive word, but my understanding is: no. He will meet with the President when he's completed his review, and he presents his recommendations directly to the President.

QUESTION: I'd like to bring up the Moscow talks again. As I understand it, Talbott has been speaking in Moscow to Russian Defense Ministry people; is that right?

MR. FOLEY: Well, he has had an interagency delegation that's included US military officers. I don't happen to know whether they've broken into sub- groups or met in plenary form.

QUESTION: In any case, he hasn't been talking directly to Ivanov?

MR. FOLEY: I believe he has met with Foreign Minister Ivanov. I'd have to check that for you afterwards. I think since you've raised it again -- and I don't intend to get into the Kosovo issue until Secretary Albright's return -- and I believe Mr. Bacon has been addressing the subject during an ongoing briefing I'm sorry to have pulled you from, over at the Pentagon. But I think the important point to stress is that, regardless of the events of the day, or things of that nature, the fact of the matter is that the agreement, which is enshrined in this UN Security Council resolution, stipulates that the deployment will occur under a unified command. So that is the principle that the Russians have accepted already, that the Security Council has endorsed. We are reassured by the assurances of Foreign Minister Ivanov that the Russians fully intend to work out the details of their deployment within the KFOR context, preserving the unity of command, before there's any further movement into Kosovo.

QUESTION: About the investigation into the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia -

MR. FOLEY: We just -

QUESTION: Yes, I know you addressed that question, but has it been completed, or how soon will it be completed?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I was asked that question. I don't know whether it has been finalized or not, and I'll have to look into that.

QUESTION: There's going to be a meeting - maybe it's already started - in New York involving the United States, Libya, Britain and Kofi Annan. Do you have anything on that?

MR. FOLEY: Right. That meeting is taking place today. As you know, UN sanctions against Libya were suspended when the Pan Am 103 suspects were transferred to Dutch custody for trial early last month. Under the UN Security Council's resolutions, final lifting of sanctions can occur only after Libya satisfies certain other requirements established by the resolutions.

The Secretary General is to report to the Council on Libyan compliance in early July. As we have told you previously, the United States and the United Kingdom are consulting with Secretary General Annan on Libyan compliance. That meeting is, I understand, taking place this afternoon, and it had previously been agreed that a Libyan representative could be present at that meeting with him on this subject.

QUESTION: Jim, on another subject. Yesterday, 16 German corporations released a proposal to settle the slave labor issue. The release of this has outraged some of the class action lawyers. Does the State Department, specifically Undersecretary Eizenstat, take any position about whether this was a proper thing to do to release this document -- this proposal?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the draft proposal constitutes, as I understand it, an approach that was proposed by several German companies, and that it's not a conclusive document. Unfortunately, it was given to the press -- and by use of the word "unfortunate," I think you can understand that this is not something that we think was a positive development. This is not, in our view, the spirit in which we want to conduct our discussions.

But, as I said, this is not, as I understand it, a conclusive document. It's simply one approach proposed by several German companies.

QUESTION: Does the release, whether it's fortunate or unfortunate, does it set back the hopes to have an early settlement on this whole issue?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, what is your question?

QUESTION: The release of this document, which you describe as "unfortunate, " does this set back the schedule for closure?

MR. FOLEY: Well, certainly this was not an intentional effort to undercut the process. This is a document that would have been presented at the June 17 slave enforced labor meeting. Once the document was leaked, the German companies thought they had to clarify the proposal at their press conference.

The German companies are prepared to engage in discussions concerning their proposal. I don't know whether the meeting schedule has altered, and I can look into that for you.

QUESTION: I'm told that the meeting scheduled for today, I think it was, has been canceled; is that right?

MR. FOLEY: Well, there was a meeting yesterday at the State Department. An informal group of attorneys discussed how to achieve legal closure in the US. This discussion included the plaintiffs' attorneys and company attorneys, as well as US legal experts. Undersecretary Eizenstat is acting as a facilitator in these talks.

QUESTION: There was to have been a second meeting today, I'm told, and that didn't take place.

MR. FOLEY: I'd have to look into that for you. That's about all the information I have at my disposal now, but perhaps we'll have more information for you on Monday.

I hope you have a good weekend.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:50 P.M.)


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