U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #76, 99-06-15
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Tuesday, June 15, 1999
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN
8&9 Secretary's Travel Schedule
1 Statement on behalf of chairman of Lebanese Monitoring
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
3&4 No US Forces Deployed / Update on Air and Ground Attacks in
Kashmir / US Strongly Supports Talks
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
17 Pickering in China to Provide Results of Detailed US
Investigation into Accidental Bombing / Investigations
16 No Support of Individual Political Parties
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
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
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
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
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
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
MR. RUBIN: I guess that's the end of the briefing.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MR. RUBIN: We try to avoid that here at this party, and we didn't
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
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
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,
QUESTION: It's been less in print than on television, actually.
MR. RUBIN: Well, I said all media land.
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: So have they become sort of the de facto police until KFOR gets
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
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 --
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
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
QUESTION: Is the Administration confident that it will be worked
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: No, I don't think so.
QUESTION: Jim said something about the bomb attack in Baghdad but not
MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll get you some reaction to -
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
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.)