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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #76, 99-06-15

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>


555

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

DEPARTMENT
8&9		Secretary's Travel Schedule

LEBANON 1 Statement on behalf of chairman of Lebanese Monitoring Group

NORTH/SOUTH KOREA 1&2 Naval Stand-Off / Exchange of Fire in Yellow Sea / Casualties on Both Sides / Both Sides Maintain Ships in Area / US in Close Consultation with South Korean Allies / US Monitoring / US Forces Remain in Normal State of Readiness Situation / UN Command Ha Invited DPRK for General Officer's Talks

INDIA/PAKISTAN 3&4 No US Forces Deployed / Update on Air and Ground Attacks in Kashmir / US Strongly Supports Talks

KOSOVO 4-16 US Welcomes Russian Participation in KFOR / Unity of Command Under KFOR For All of Kosovo / Withdraw of Serbian Forces / Assurances From Russians That Additional Forces Will Not Be Deployed / US and Russian Diplomacy Has Crucial History / Russian Military Was Ahead of Political Leadership / Technical Military Arrangements Are Analogous to Bosnia for Dealings With Russia / Expert Talk About Russian Deployment and Jackson Authority / Belgrade Meetings vs. Rambouillet / Talbott's Location / KLA Rebels Demilitarization / Russians Not in Violation Of Security Council / Arrangements With Russians are in Progress / Clarification of Demilitarization / Victory For NATO / Financier Role in Belgrade

CHINA 17 Pickering in China to Provide Results of Detailed US Investigation into Accidental Bombing / Investigations are On-Going

MEXICO 16 No Support of Individual Political Parties


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #76

TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 1999 12:35 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN_: Welcome to the State Department briefing. We have a statement on behalf of the chairman of the Lebanese Monitoring Group with regard to a meeting that was held yesterday at the UNIFIL headquarters in Lebanon. Other than that, I am here to take your questions and give you answers.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what you know about the confrontation in the Yellow Sea between the ships of South and North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: Regrettably, an exchange of fire broke out Tuesday morning as the standoff between South Korean and North Korean naval vessels continued. The incident occurred when North Korean ships opened fire on South Korean vessels that were attempting to push them back across the so-called Northern Limit Line. The South Korean vessels returned fire; one North Korean vessel was sunk and others damaged. There have been reports of casualties on both sides.

For further details, obviously this would have to come from the South Korean authorities. My understanding is that ships from both the South Korean and North Korean ships remain in the area. For our part, we have been in close contact with the South Korean Government throughout the process. We're continuing to monitor the situation carefully. We are working closely with the South Korean authorities to try to diffuse the situation and reduce tensions.

We have contacted the North Korean authorities, through the New York channel, to urge strongly that they remain north of the Northern Limit Line. This line has served as an effective means of preventing military tension between North and South Korean military forces for 46 years. It serves as a practical demarcation line, which has contributed to the separation of forces. We urge North Korea to recognize this practicality and to avoid exacerbating the situation by keeping its craft north of the line.

Meanwhile, ships from both sides are still in the area. We remain in close consultation with Seoul. We're monitoring the situation carefully, and are working closely with Seoul to insure that this situation is diffused and tensions are reduced.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you - is it just a line or is it a buffer zone?

MR. RUBIN: At the risk of making an error, my understanding is it is the practical extension of the line between North and South Korea. It is not necessarily accepted by everybody as what the situation should be out in the high seas or in the body of water there; but as a practical matter, it's served for 40-some odd years as a way to avoid confrontation between North and South Korean vessels.

QUESTION: And do you have any idea why this 40-year duration of peaceful state on that line has ended?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not prepared to speculate.

QUESTION: How serious is this confrontation compared with previous confrontations?

MR. RUBIN: Well, clearly there is a confrontation; there were damages; people's - it looks like there were casualties. So it's a serious confrontation at sea. At the same time, we welcome the North Korean decision to attend the UN Command General Officer's Talks yesterday in Panmunjom. These talks adjourned without result. We urge North Korea to continue participating in the discussions so that a way to resolve the confrontation and the situation peacefully can be found and recurrences can be prevented. Further detail on these discussions would have to come from the UN command in Seoul.

QUESTION: Do you know if UN - I mean - sorry - if US troops in South Korea - have they gone on any heightened alert?

MR. RUBIN: Our forces remain in their normal state of readiness.

QUESTION: Do we have any accurate sense at all of how many people may have been killed?

MR. RUBIN: I've given you our general understanding. If you want further detail, you'll have to talk to the South Korean authorities in the region.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you tell us what level the US has been in touch with the South Koreans?

MR. RUBIN: A variety of levels; we're in very, very close contact with them. The Secretary hasn't been in touch with her counterpart, to my knowledge.

QUESTION: And one other thing to follow. Is the US concerned at all that countries like North Korea could think that the US is so focused or NATO countries are so focused in other parts of the world - Kosovo, et cetera - that they're not paying as close attention that what's going on?

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's simply not true, and I think that if you look at the situation in Iraq, look at the situation of our forces around the world, the fact that we deployed several hundred aircraft to Kosovo and now a relatively small number of troops to Kosovo - not even yet 7,000 - I think it's just not justified by the facts. We have focused on the North Korea problem, the Iraq problem, the Kosovo problem, and we are capable of focusing on many problems. Being a country with global responsibilities, we need to keep our eye on all areas of the globe of interest to us. We've been able to do that successfully, even as we've worked to resolve the problem in Kosovo through the successful achievement of NATO's objectives and the acceptance by President Milosevic of NATO's objectives.

QUESTION: Did you intend to leave out the India-Pakistan problem?

MR. RUBIN: I did not intend to, but we do not have forces deployed there which was the basis of the question. But I thank you for that helpful question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: I guess that's the end of the briefing.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: No - could I ask you about the Indian-Pakistani problem?

MR. RUBIN: You mean speaking of the Indian-Pakistani problem.

QUESTION: Yes, speaking of which, is the United States trying to become involved in the diplomatic exchanges?

MR. RUBIN: We have taken the view if both sides want us to play a role we would want to be helpful. But we are not - haven't - that's been our long- standing position, and that hasn't changed.

Indian forces to make slow progress in ground attacks near Kargil against infiltrators from Pakistan. We have seen press reports that Pakistan has accused India of using chemical weapons in fighting. We have no evidence to support this assertion. We were encouraged that the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers continued their direct discussions of the fighting by telephone on Sunday, following up on the meeting of their foreign ministers on Saturday. In our view, neither party has an interest in seeing this crisis escalate.

At the same time, we were disappointed that India and Pakistan have been unable to make more progress towards a resolution of this crisis. We therefore have encouraged continued efforts by the two parties to work together to reach a peaceful settlement soon. The United States remains in contact with the Indian and Pakistani Governments to express our strong concern and urge them to show restraint and respect the line of control that they agreed to 27 years ago as part of the Simla agreement. During his phone conversation yesterday with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, the President conveyed this message.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on this question, the seriousness of the issue of Kashmir - from the Indian standpoint, do you have any knowledge how Indians are reacting in resulting with their own Kashmir in their own borderline? Do you have any information to that? Is there any move in resolving those tensions that led to all this crisis?

MR. RUBIN: We have been focused on the escalation that began when the fighting began. We are trying to see it de-escalate and urging restraint on both parties. Beyond saying that, I would have to check to see what steps we would urge in that other respect.

QUESTION: Jamie, could we go to the problem with the Russians in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that I would be delighted to answer your questions about Kosovo and I do note that this is the first time in 85 days or something to that effect that we have had two other subjects before we went to Kosovo, and I think that's a sign of the progress that we've made.

QUESTION: Okay, now I'd like to officially begin the briefing.

(Laughter.)

I thought I'd ask you - here's a real wild one - what would the United States like to see the Russians do in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we would like to see the Russians participate in KFOR, participate in the peacekeeping operation that is now ongoing. In that regard, let me say that the deployment of KFOR into Kosovo is proceeding on schedule. More than 15,000 allied troops have entered Kosovo since the deployment began. The withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo is also proceeding on schedule, and indications are that they will meet the deadline of midnight tonight of withdrawing all Serb - that is, police and military forces - from Zone 1 of Kosovo. Approximately 20,000 Yugoslav forces have withdrawn from Kosovo so far, including 12,000 from Zone 1. This includes 115 artillery pieces, 65 armored personnel carriers and 37 tanks.

KFOR has established military liaison with Yugoslav forces to coordinate KFOR deployment with these withdrawals. KFOR's forward headquarters is fully established in the southwestern part of Pristina, with approximately 100 personnel at headquarters. UK forces in Pristina are setting up the civilian-military liaison committee to provide a wide range of services, including assistance in the placement of military, civilian and NGO resources for the reconstruction of basic services in the city.

With respect to the discussions, my understanding is that the Russian general and General Jackson have been meeting; that there seems to be an agreement on the principle of unity of command and the fact that General Jackson is the ultimate authority in Kosovo for all those participants in the peacekeeping force there. There are still some significant details that have to be worked out. But as Secretary Albright indicated yesterday, we think we're making progress and we clearly made progress today in those discussions.

What we want is Russia to participate in KFOR. We think - and have said from the beginning - that we would welcome Russian participation. We think Russia can help deal with this problem; we welcome their contribution. What we also need, however, is to ensure that there is unity of command, that KFOR's rules, that KFOR's commander is the ultimate authority for all the territory of Kosovo so that there is no different operation in one part that operates differently and thus creates any sense of a de facto partition.

That is what Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen are going to be working out -- the longer term arrangements for Russian participation. In the meantime, there have been some good discussions today between the Russian general and General Jackson. There's some re-supply done for food and water for the Russian troops there, which we think is appropriate. We hope that in Helsinki there will be further discussions that can help us find a way so that Russian can participate as we want, but ensuring that their participation is under a unified command structure.

QUESTION: In a unified situation, you wouldn't have - would you - one nation of Russian troops to a particular location to the surprise of the other participants? Has their behavior so far evidenced some respect for unified command structure?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're trying to work out a unified command structure. We have not suggested that there is already a unified command structure. What we have suggested is that this was something that occurred in contradiction to what we were told; that General Jackson and the Russian general are going to work on temporary arrangements for the Russian - let's keep this in - I know there is tendency for everyone to focus on the negative, but let's remember that this is 200 troops and NATO's forces are now up to 16, 000 and will soon be at 25,000. So this is a very tiny fraction of the peacekeepers in Kosovo, and they are basically staying in one place and now working on arrangements for their integration into a unified command structure. That hasn't happened yet. If it had happened, we wouldn't be needing to have the discussions in Helsinki between Defense Secretary Cohen and Defense Minister Sergeyev, Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Ivanov.

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to have three of the highest level channels of the United States Government negotiating with the Russians over such a small problem, as you make it, in view of the fact that NATO - Mr. Solana or General Clark - should be making this negotiation; or should they not? Why isn't --

MR. RUBIN: Well, the problem is if this deployment would grow to a point where there would be additional Russian forces in Kosovo, that would be acting out the unified command structure. In order to avoid that situation, we've received assurances from the Russians that additional forces will not be deployed, and we are working on an arrangement so that when the additional forces do come - as we would want them to come - that they are part of this unified command structure.

As far as why the United States is conducting this --

QUESTION: The three channels at the highest levels right now.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we, the United States and Russia, have a very important relationship, and we've always had a very important relationship. And for those of you who were around during Bosnia, you may remember that, ultimately, the decision-making that led to the Russian participation in the Bosnia peacekeeping operation was the result of consultations between Defense Minister Grachev and Defense Minister Perry, as well as President Yeltsin and President Clinton at Hyde Park. So there's nothing unprecedented about this. To engage Russia in an operation by KFOR and NATO is a diplomatic challenge, and there are some extraordinary complexities that have occurred over the last week in terms of sequencing and synchronizing the passage of the Security Council resolution, the withdrawal of Serb forces, the signing of a military technical agreement, the pausing of bombing and then the deployment of a NATO peacekeeping force. These have been extraordinarily complex diplomatic discussions, and they justify the involvement of the President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.

QUESTION: Just to follow, after this ploy they made to put their troops in the airport by telling us that they weren't going into Kosovo and they weren't going into the airport, can the Russians, in fact, be trusted?

MR. RUBIN: We are working with Russia to resolve the arrangements. We want to get beyond this incident. I think it is important to not over- exaggerate, blow out of proportion the significance of this very small deployment as against the 15,000 Kosovo force - KFOR - troops that are in Kosovo. We think that the Russians have told us that the military got a little bit out ahead of the political leadership. That's what they've told us, and we think that on the ground that these are the kind of things that the military can work out, once the political arrangements are made.

QUESTION: So a lot has been made of the fact that these 200 troops at the airport have rebuffed both the French and the British when they tried to get into the airport. I'm curious about the obverse - what happens if these 200 guys try to get out from the airport and move around Pristina or the rest of Kosovo? Are they surrounded; are they being kept --

MR. RUBIN: That's a hypothetical question at this time, is my understanding. But I would refer the question to General Jackson on the ground. I'm not going to be in a position to specify each step that is taken on the ground half a world away by small groups of soldiers. That's not my job here.

What I can tell you is that we think, as a result of the discussions today between General Jackson and the Russian commander of that unit, that they've accepted the principle and we're working on mutually acceptable arrangements, through political channels, to have Russian participation.

But as far as who's doing what on the ground in Kosovo, I would prefer to leave that question to General Jackson. And as far as your hypothetical question, that wouldn't be something I would normally entertain.

QUESTION: My apologies if I've missed something, but you mentioned assurances that additional forces would not be deployed. Can you tell us when --

MR. RUBIN: At a variety of levels.

QUESTION: -- when they received --

MR. RUBIN: They were received at a variety of levels in the last 48 hours.

QUESTION: In the last 48 hours.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: And how much credence do you now attach to Russian assurances?

MR. RUBIN: I've stated they've made those assurances. Since those assurances have been made, nothing - no additional forces have gone in; and that's as far as I want to answer that question.

QUESTION: You may have foreclosed an answer to this question by saying General Jackson is in charge of such stuff. But you made reference to the US wanting Russia to participate; you made reference to Bosnia. We both know - we all know that the two situations aren't exactly alike. And Albright - has a position not only against partition, but even a position against zones that could lead to partition. I can only infer - and maybe you can be explicit - what is it about the Russians that makes the partition so valuable to the United States? If it's that they're a superpower - well, they're not anymore; but if it's that they're a nuclear power - and maybe that's it - but if it's their kinship to the Serbs, then we're going in a circle here because that, I can imagine, leading to them wanting to be where the Serbs are, setting up a zone and here we go again.

Can you get into this at all? Will you make an effort to keep the Russians out of a situation where they're perceived as the protectors of the Serbs and possibly precursor to partition, or at least, at a minimum, zoning?

MR. RUBIN: We think that Russia - obviously, Bosnia is different, Barry. But the arrangements by which Russian troops could participate in a NATO peacekeeping operation need not be all that different; in other words, the technical military arrangements. Because that is a way to meet their desire to not report directly to NATO on the one hand, and our insistence on a unified command structure. That's a military technical question, and there isn't an appropriate analogy to Bosnia.

There's a political situation in Kosovo that the answer to your question is, Russia has played an important role in the diplomacy leading to the capitulation of President Milosevic. He has accepted NATO's terms, as spelled out for many, many days in this briefing room and many other places. Russia assisted in that process that led Milosevic to read the writing on the wall, as we asked him to do day after day, and accept NATO's terms.

We think that Russia is an important player on the world stage; we want to see Russia participate in solving problems rather than creating problems; and we think that Russian participation in this peacekeeping operation can help in that regard.

As far as the specific concern about peacekeeping and partition is concerned, we do not want to see a deployment pattern or an arrangement that will yield de facto partition. We insist that NATO's commander - COM KFOR -- General Jackson, in English, and an English General Jackson in English, is the ultimate authority for peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and across all of Kosovo - the whole territory. That is something we are insisting upon; that is something we intend to try to work out with the Russians in the coming days. We think if we can do that we will have achieved both the participation of Russia in the solution - diplomatically and on the ground - and ensured that there is no de facto partition by having Russians deployed in such a way as that could be the case.

QUESTION: Following up on that, there has been some talk in the past couple of days that NATO was considering giving the Russians a zone of responsibility in one sector. So are you saying then, based on your comment there, that that's not on the table, that that's been ruled out?

MR. RUBIN: No. I think I was - I'll do it again. There's a lot of non- expert talk about this and so let me try to de-conflict the expert and non- expert talk based on me talking to the experts, not being an expert myself. If you got all of that.

The Russians have to deploy somewhere; there has to be a place in Kosovo where they deploy. They can't participate in the Kosovo peacekeeping operation without deploying somewhere in Kosovo. The question is whether KFOR - COM KFOR - General Jackson - is the ultimate authority on what happens throughout Kosovo, including in those places where the Russians deploy. That is how it works in Bosnia, and we think that can work that way in Kosovo.

There's a difference in the terms of art between the word "sector" and the word "zone of responsibility". The military guys - if you want to go over there - can explain that to you. But the principles that apply here is they have to deploy somewhere; that's a pretty logical principle. But secondly, they have to deploy in a way and through command arrangements that ensure that General Jackson has the ultimate authority over all the territory of Kosovo so that the fact of the Russians deploying somewhere in a zone of responsibility doesn't yield a change in the unified command structure, which yields his ultimate authority over all the territory of Kosovo.

QUESTION: Two quick ones - one, do you have any details on the Secretary's travel after Helsinki?

MR. RUBIN: No, I do not. The travel schedule is going to change many times, as it does when you suddenly put on a trip.

I know that she's going to Helsinki; I know that she is leaving this afternoon with President Clinton to go to Europe on Air Force One. I do not have the expected schedule after Helsinki at this time.

QUESTION: The second one is another person traveling. Hashim Thaqi is supposed to --

MR. RUBIN: Or even the anticipated schedule after Helsinki.

QUESTION: When is she - is she going to Helsinki tomorrow? Is that --

MR. RUBIN: She is going to meet in Helsinki with her counterpart. She is talking right now with Secretary Cohen about arrangements for their efforts in Helsinki. I know she's traveling on Air Force One. She'll be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov, Secretary Cohen and Minister Sergeyev in Helsinki. Which day - whether it's Wednesday evening or Thursday morning - I don't have final information for you at this time.

QUESTION: Mr. Thaci was supposed to be in Washington this afternoon. He did not come. He's allegedly in New York. Do you have any idea --

MR. RUBIN: That's not where - my understanding is he's in Europe, and I wouldn't assume that the person that told you that he was expected to come is accurate, because that's never been our understanding.

QUESTION: He was scheduled to speak.

MR. RUBIN: Right, well, sometimes groups announced scheduled speakers without having confirmed those speakers.

QUESTION: Well, my question was, obviously that --

MR. RUBIN: That's why we all --

QUESTION: Such as G-8 foreign ministers meetings on Sundays and things like that?

MR. RUBIN: We try to avoid that here at this party, and we didn't announce --

QUESTION: So in other words --

QUESTION: --- announced the Commencement speaker yet?

MR. RUBIN: We try to avoid that, but I really appreciate you raising that point. It makes me want to be as helpful as possible on logistical arrangements in the future.

QUESTION: On the Russian re-mediation, was the United States plugged in, informed fully on this back channel set of communications with Milosevic?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, you know, I read that story and it strikes me as one of those stories where success has 1,000 fathers, and there are a lot of fathers declaring their role in siring the agreement. But it's more fiction than fact.

The fact that in response to, actually, one of your questions, that there are many channels by which information goes in and out of Belgrade, I said that to you all along. There are many different people who purport to meet with, speak to, know the views of the leadership in Belgrade; dozens, at least.

The fact of the matter is we don't think that there was anything significant about the movement of President Milosevic as a result of any purported meetings between this particular businessman and Milosevic. We think that any suggestion that he was in a position to demonstrate to President Milosevic that the agreement he could get was better than Rambouillet is sheer and utter nonsense.

There were two examples used in the original article: number one, that the UN auspices was better for him than Rambouillet because the Chinese and the Russians could stop the peacekeeping operation when they want to. That was in the original argument. This is utter propaganda out of Belgrade.

For those of you who were in Cologne and Germany with us, you know the resolution authorizes KFOR to deploy indefinitely, unless agreed otherwise. Neither China nor Russia is in a position by themselves to stop KFOR's operation. That's utter nonsense.

Secondly - and we've all been through this, but it just keeps coming back up - so let's see if those who understand Rambouillet cannot write the following sentence. There was not a referendum for independence in Rambouillet. There was a meeting in which there were several inputs, and one of the inputs was the expression of the will of the people; that is not the same as a binding referendum. Those of you out there in media land who keep writing that there was a binding referendum or anything resembling a binding referendum in Rambouillet are just wrong; and please, I beg of you, stop it.

Thirdly --

QUESTION: It's been less in print than on television, actually.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I said all media land.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: In all of media land. Thirdly, let me say that we believe that President Milosevic had numerous ways of knowing what NATO's conditions were. We know that the public statements made in every NATO capital - including this capital - were made well - the regime in Belgrade was well aware of them. What ultimately was presented in the Chernomyrdin-Ahtisaari document was those very same conditions.

We do believe that the visit of Mr. Chernomyrdin and Mr. Ahtisaari was a decisive moment in the diplomatic run-up to his acceptance of NATO's conditions because we believe that the united front of the European Union and the Russians about what was necessary made it clear to President Milosevic that there was no other diplomatic way out if he was going to continue to seek one.

Finally, the idea that Mr. Ahtisaari was working secretly through certain selected German officials is equally utter nonsense. It was Secretary Albright who suggested to Mr. Chernomyrdin that Mr. Ahtisaari join him in this effort. It was Deputy Secretary Talbott, in consultation with a number of European governments, including the German Government, that worked with Mr. Ahtisaari on this document.

So, like in many things, there are a number of fathers popping out of the woodwork.

QUESTION: Let me just remind you that my question was, was the United States aware of this back channel? And did the United States try to discourage it to prevent any ambiguity or misunderstanding on the part of Milosevic?

MR. RUBIN: We took the view that people should not go visit Belgrade and give any succor to President Milosevic. We've stated that many times. We also wanted to avoid multiple channels of communicating NATO's conditions. This particular channel had nothing to do with NATO's conditions.

QUESTION: For those who collect oddities, is the Deputy Secretary here today?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: It would be Secretary of State with Pickering, Albright and Talbott all away; you destroyed an oddity. Is he part, by the way, of this business with the Russians?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know what his plan is with that. I know he's here today.

QUESTION: Back to your previous statement, you may have addressed this yesterday; I wasn't here. You said that they - the Russians - told you the military got ahead of the political leadership?

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: I just wonder how concerned you are about that, given their obvious nuclear capabilities.

MR. RUBIN: We believe that President Yeltsin makes the big decisions in Russia We believe that he retains the command and control over their nuclear forces.

QUESTION: Jamie, the KLA appears to have taken over Prizren and also there are reports that KLA rebels attacked a Serb village. How does this square with the promise to demilitarize the KLA?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let's bear in mind that there are a number of extraordinary complex things going on in Kosovo right now. Kosovo is emerging from a nightmare of terror imposed by Serbian security forces - a terror campaign that was resisted by the Kosovar Liberation Army.

We have been in regular contact with them. They have assured us they will not provoke withdrawing Serb forces. That does not mean that there won't be isolated incidents that we would expect to occur on both sides continuously. But by and large, we believe the cease-fire is holding. At the same time, we believe that as NATO comes up to its full strength, that it is NATO - not the KLA nor anybody else - that will be in charge of security for all of Kosovo. We believe that the Kosovo Liberation Army leadership understands that, and we intend to work closely with them on arrangements for demilitarization in the coming days.

But let's bear in mind, we're still in the middle of the Serb withdrawals that were necessary. We're deploying widely to avoid a security vacuum. We condemn the killing of innocents on any side - whether that's by the Kosovar Albanians or the Serbs. We intend to work closely with the Kosovar Liberation Army to ensure that it does meet its stated willingness to demilitarize.

QUESTION: So have they become sort of the de facto police until KFOR gets in there?

MR. RUBIN: I think you're wildly exaggerating the significance of a few checkpoints. We should all bear in mind that NATO is rapidly taking control of the security of all of Kosovo. Each hour that passes, NATO is fanning out, taking greater and greater control of Kosovo. We believe that as NATO reaches up to speed that NATO - not anyone else, including the KLA - will be in charge of the security of any major area of Kosovo.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering - I've been trying to get an answer to this question which I've been unable to get an answer to in the last couple days. That is, are the Russians in violation of the Security Council resolution?

MR. RUBIN: The answer to that question is - I believe the answer to that question is no, but I want to check with the lawyers on it.

QUESTION: To go back to this sector and zone thing, is the issue here --

MR. RUBIN: When is a zone a sector?

QUESTION: Is the issue here whether the Russians would have exclusive control of any particular area, regardless of what you call it, or whether they would perhaps do joint patrols or share territory with another member of the KFOR force?

MR. RUBIN: Well, those are all very good questions. It is our view that rather than stating our principle that KFOR's commander, General Jackson, has to have ultimate authority over all the territory of Kosovo, we prefer to leave that kind of discussion of detailed operational considerations to the discussions privately before discussing it publicly.

QUESTION: Maybe I've missed something, but I see that Mr. Pickering is in Beijing. Is he carrying a completed result of the investigation into the bombing, or is that not ready yet?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know that he's carrying every final aspect of every investigation into all of this. I know that he's there to provide a detailed explanation of what happened, and he will be accompanied by representatives from the State Department, the Pentagon, as well as the intelligence community to explain in a detailed way what transpired and how this tragic mistake occurred.

QUESTION: Can you give us any details of that, and can you tell us whether anyone will be dismissed or reprimanded or --

MR. RUBIN: With regard to that question, we will not address the question of -- the thorough investigations of this incident are ongoing, and we will address the issue of accountability when the investigations are completed.

QUESTION: Has there been a meeting yet?

MR. RUBIN: Tomorrow. It's my understanding that he will --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that he arrived today in Beijing in the evening, Beijing time. He will brief the Chinese tomorrow, June 16, and will depart Beijing the following day.

QUESTION: Jamie, let's go back to the talks today. There are reports out there saying that the Russians have, as you said, agreed in principle to be under the command of a non-NATO nation that is under the overall NATO command - possibly the Fins. Can you comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I don't think the Russians have agreed to arrangements; and if there are reports to that effect, they're wrong. We're working on the arrangements.

There are two tracks going on. One is --

QUESTION: You said they agreed in principle.

MR. RUBIN: That's what I'm going to explain. There's two tracks. One is the General Jackson-Russian general question of the Russian troops now in Kosovo and how to make sure they are coordinated with NATO on a tactical, real-time basis so they can answer some of the questions that I was asked by your colleague from one of your fellow news wire services. That is going on now. There's essentially an agreement in principle, but some details need to be worked out.

The second track is the full integration of a larger Russian contingent into KFOR in such a way that our objective of KFOR's commander having ultimate authority can be worked out. That has not been worked out. That is what Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen are going to work out in Helsinki.

QUESTION: Is the Administration confident that it will be worked out?

MR. RUBIN: We believe it can be done, yes.

QUESTION: And one more follow up, if I could. Is there concern - I think the Russian Prime Minister Stepashin was quoted as saying concern about the actions of the KLA inside Kosovo, saying that there's one major issue outstanding -- the order of the UN Security Council to disarm illegal armed formations must be carried out. Is there concern that the Russians are going to be -

MR. RUBIN: Again, the term of art is demilitarize. Every family in Kosovo or many families in Kosovo in households have some sort of weapons; and the idea that every weapon is going to be removed from every man or woman in Kosovo is fantasy land. The question is whether they are demilitarized in such a way they're not a military unit where heavy weapons are cantoned and military weapons are not - they're demilitarized. So one has to get one's terms right here.

Secondly, we believe that NATO is increasingly ensuring the security of all in Kosovo. We are only a few days into the withdraw of Serb forces which, as I said, is going on schedule. I think it's unrealistic to have expected the KLA to have laid down their arms on day one when so many Serb soldiers - tens of thousands - remain. There is an attempt on our part to work with the Kosovar Liberation Army, and we're confident that they understand what they need to do and they've said they're going to do what they need to do. And by and large there have been no provocations of withdrawing Serb forces; there have been some isolated incidents. So we're going to work on that.

I don't think that is the key point in the discussions between us and Russia -- the key point are the command arrangements -- but that is another issue that we do want to work on and we're working on seriously.

QUESTION: Jamie, when you said earlier that there appears to be an agreement in principle on the unity of command, that referred to the first track, not to the second track?

MR. RUBIN: Correct, correct.

QUESTION: Jamie, you just mentioned something that I haven't heard before -- that the demilitarization process of the KLA will definitely include the cantonment of heavy weapon artillery and -

MR. RUBIN: I don't know that there is all that much heavy weaponry by the KLA but that is envisaged by Rambouillet. If you take out your trusty Rambouillet agreement and take a look at Chapter 7 you will see that requirement. I'm sure you have it right in your inside pocket there.

QUESTION: So when does this begin?

MR. RUBIN: That's something we're in discussions with the Kosovar Liberation Army and NATO countries on right now.

QUESTION: Jamie, there is a new poll by one of the television networks and newspapers saying that the majority of the Americans don't believe it was a victory for the NATO and the United States - the agreement in Kosovo. Do you really believe it was a victory for NATO?

MR. RUBIN: I think it's pretty well established from anyone who read what the conditions were for NATO to suspend its bombing that those conditions are what Milosevic accepted. That is that he accepted NATO's terms and capitulated in the face of many, many days of increasingly effective air power. I think there's no question about that. There may be a gray area on the margin that people will argue about. But the fact that all the refugees can go home; that all the Serb forces are leaving; that a NATO peacekeeping force is deploying; and that there is a cease-fire and arrangements for a political future to be worked out by the UN, I think is demonstrably the case and only the worst kind of nay-sayer and second Monday morning critic would deny that those basic objectives have been met.

As far as polls are concerned, we can play polls but I don't do polls here at the State Department.

QUESTION: Jamie, going back to the 1,000 fathers of victory, there's been a lot of - a number of articles on this London financier. Just how much do we know about him?

MR. RUBIN: This was the question that Jim asked me earlier. I don't think it was a particularly significant channel. Those channels were particularly significant are ones that I believe I am aware of, and that wasn't a particularly significant one.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - about him?

MR. RUBIN: I think I've answered the question, which is, in our view it wasn't a particularly significant channel.

QUESTION: Because his name has cropped up before a couple of years ago and I think it was in connection with some contracts between American and Russian businesses.

MR. RUBIN: I'm not in a position to give you our view of this particular gentleman on the record; we don't do that about individuals as a rule.

QUESTION: Jamie, turning on to South Asia, is -

MR. RUBIN: Turning back - back to South Asia.

QUESTION: Yes, swinging back to South Asia - the Secretary of State or any high-level --

would be taken to prepare for the visit of the president of those countries, including Bangladesh. How that would be working during this year after the election in India - will that take place? That's my first question. The second question is who is the next ambassador to the Fiji Islands?

MR. RUBIN: We'll get both of those answers for the record for you.

QUESTION: Jamie, Secretary Albright met with Anson Chan of Hong Kong yesterday. Do you have anything at all on what they discussed?

MR. RUBIN: I will get you some material on a read-out for that. I don't have it in front of me.

QUESTION: Some multilateral organizations are announcing a multibillion package to Mexico to help to support the economic program of President Zedillo. Members of the political opposition in Mexico are saying that this is a new strategy by the United States and this organization to help the PRI to win the elections next year, and also to avoid economic or financial crisis at the end of this -- (inaudible) -- has been the history of Mexico. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. RUBIN: We don't favor political parties in any democracy. That's not our policy in Mexico; it's not our policy in any particular part of the world. We work based on the government of Mexico and our national interest with Mexico. As far as the specific numbers and whether they're accurate or not, I would have to refer you to the Treasury Department.

QUESTION: The Australian Foreign Minister is in town. I'm wondering - obviously he won't be meeting with the Secretary unless it's sometime this afternoon. Are you aware of any other meetings that he has at this point?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have his schedule but I'll get that for you.

QUESTION: Do you have anything - any comment on the Scud attack on the Mujahedin camp in Iraq?

MR. RUBIN: The one from several days ago?

QUESTION: Yes, maybe you've already said something.

MR. RUBIN: Somebody must have said something about that; I'll get it for you.

QUESTION: No, I don't think so.

QUESTION: Jim said something about the bomb attack in Baghdad but not from Scuds.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll get you some reaction to -

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: We'll try to get you either the first bomb, the second bomb or the first Scud.

QUESTION: Jamie, is this building going to have any comment on the release of that presidential panel report saying that because of bureaucratic arrogance and foot-dragging many of the Clinton Administration's proposals to tighten security at nuclear labs are not taking place?

MR. RUBIN: That would probably be from the Department of Energy, which has responsibility over the labs.

QUESTION: Back to the Pickering missions - I didn't catch your response to Matthew's query about that. In this mission, does Mr. Pickering expect to provide evidence that is intended to convince the Chinese that there was a military accident in this particular case? Is that the primary mission and will it -

MR. RUBIN: He will be there to provide a detailed explanation of the circumstances that led to the accidental bombing, and he will present that to the Chinese. In our view, it is unthinkable that anyone in the United States or NATO would deliberately bomb innocent civilians. I think we've shown that time and time again -- that to the extent there were one-tenth of 1 percent of the overall air strikes hit civilians -- that these were accidents and that these were not the intended targets of our otherwise accurate air campaign.

So we think the Chinese people know that in the end and we believe that the Chinese Government will come to understand with greater clarity through Under Secretary Pickering's visit how this tragic event occurred.

QUESTION: Turning to Southeast Asia, yesterday there was a meeting in Cambodia of the Donor Evaluation Committee. Do you have any conclusions as to what happened; and does the United States, in any formal or informal way, have a part in this committee?

MR. RUBIN: I will get you an answer on that.

QUESTION: Tomorrow the Iraqi Kurdish group will be in town and I believe they have a meeting in the State Department. What's the purpose of this meeting?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on whether that is correct or not. I'll try to get it for you.

QUESTION: And also, is the new Turkish Government in power right now? And President Clinton invited Prime Minister Ecevit to Washington, DC. What's the purpose of this invitation; and do you have any comment for the new government in Turkey?

MR. RUBIN: I will get that for you. I struck out on the last -

(The briefing concluded at 1:20 P.M.)


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