U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #78, 99-06-17
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
Thursday, June 17, 1999
Briefer: James B. Foley
1-3 U.S. positions/sanctions / U.S. Policy Remain Unchanged /
UK/Netherlands Text / Weapons of Mass Destruction
4 Training Camps of PKK Terrorists Reported in Greece /
U.S. Dialogue with Allies
5-9 Readout of Ambassador Pickering Meetings/ Departure
Statement / Delegation was Treated with Tact and Courtesy
/ Compensation Offer / Bombing of Embassy Mistake / ASEAN
Meetings / Chinese Compensation to U.S. Embassy in
10,11 Influx of Serbs Civilians Fleeing / Deployment of KFOR
Troops to Zone 2
12 KFOR Will Provide Security in the Province / Orthodox
Monastery Ransacked/ Securing of Sites for War Crimes
13 Threats from Usama bin Laden
14 Security has been Increased at US Diplomatic Missions
15 Meeting with the Iraqi Kurds / Names of Delegation
15,16 Missile Program / U.S. Military Deployments
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 1999 1:25 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. I don't have
MR. FOLEY: We share the dominator's philosophy - the puck stops here.
That's our watchword tonight and Saturday night.
QUESTION: I was wondering about the US position on Iraq and on sanctions.
The President made a little statement but - and of course you know things
have been going on at the UN.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: What's the thinking here - that you couldn't hold the fort
against the rest of the world, or has your attitude about Iraq changed and
you find him not as bad as he used to be?
MR. FOLEY: No, not at all, Barry. I think I will give you a detailed
answer in terms of what's happening at the UN, especially in regard to the
text that the Netherlands and the UK have circulated. But the fundamental
answer that I wish to give is that we haven't changed neither our policy
nor our attitude towards the Iraqi regime in any way whatsoever. In other
words, it's based on a fundamental lack of trust in the intentions and in
the performance of the Iraqi regime. So what we would like to see happen is
that the inspection regime be in a position to go back and do its job of
disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction programs. And so any step
that we might consider approving would be based completely on Iraqi
performance in this regard; in other words, the success of actual
disarmament would be the predicate to any adjustment in sanctions. So it's
not putting the cart before the horse in any way; and on that fundamental
point, our policy remains unchanged.
To give you, though, a detailed update as to where we are, in mid-April the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom jointly circulated ideas for a
resolution incorporating key suggestions of the three Iraq assessment
panels. This week, Council members are discussing the latest updated
proposals for a possible resolution. Those discussions are ongoing.
The Dutch-UK proposals are drawing increasing Council support as the right
overall approach on Iraq. Generally speaking, we are pleased with the
proposal and can support most of it, although we have some problems with
parts of it. We have not made a decision to cosponsor any draft, but we're
working to insure that any resolution reflects US priorities.
What are those priorities? First, Iraq must comply with its obligations
under all existing resolutions. Second, we want to see the arms inspection
teams back on the ground in Iraq implementing a robust, effective arms
control regime. Third, the United States will not accept any suspension or
lifting of sanctions in the absence of Iraqi full compliance. That's the
fundamental point I was making at the beginning. Finally, given the Iraq
regime's extraordinary record of defying international norms and threatening
regional peace and security, the United States will not accept any outcome
which would give Saddam Hussein control of Iraq's oil revenues as long as
he is in defiance of Security Council resolutions. So those are the
fundamental points that guide our thinking as we look at the UK-Netherlands
As you know, there are other resolutions being circulated. The Russian-
Chinese and the French drafts, in our view, share two flaws that make them
unacceptable to us. Both would have the effect of diminishing the
effectiveness of the UN disarmament effort in Iraq and would reward Iraq
prior, prior, to Iraq's having completed existing UN Security Council
demands for disarmament.
QUESTION: There are things in parts of the resolution that you don't
agree with. How do you explain - or can you try to explain - the division
between the United States and its best friend, Britain, on this subject?
The two of you have stood together against, sometimes, the French and
certainly against the Chinese and the Russians. And now the British have
parted company part of the way, no?
MR. FOLEY: I think what is true is that the British - and we support this
- are trying to find a way forward out of the current impasse in which we
don't currently have inspectors on the ground doing their job of seeking to
disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. That's an important
objective which is not happening right now. The question is how do we move
forward? Do we move forward towards a robust, effective inspections regime,
rewarding Iraq prior to its having satisfied the requirements of Security
Council resolutions - i.e., disclosing all information about its weapons of
mass destruction programs, allowing for the destruction of its weapons of
mass destruction? Do we accept some sort of mechanism to move forward,
rewarding Iraq prior to its meeting those terms? No, in the view of the
United States. And that is not what the UK-Netherlands resolution is
We may have continuing work, in our view, to do around the edges. But on
the fundamental point, as I understand it, the UK-Netherlands text calls
for partial suspension of sanctions following Iraqi compliance with
disarmament requirements; not merely Iraq's agreeing that a disarmament
regime will go forward or will be present in the country. No, it's
predicated on Iraq actually meeting the outstanding obligations that exist.
In that fundamental respect, we're supportive of such a mechanism; in other
words, a disarmament team of inspectors going back in there, doing their
job and then, on the basis of actual performance, considering the
possibility of sanctions suspension.
But there's another fundamental point, again, as I understand it, in the UK-
Netherlands text which means that in terms of revenues, that Iraq's
purchases will still be escrowed and, therefore, under the control of the
United Nations. In other words, we're not going to be in a position of
trusting that Iraq will not be purchasing weapons material or other
unacceptable items that would escape the scrutiny of the international
community. That's another fundamental point of agreement between the United
States and the sponsors of this resolution, another point that separates us
from some others on the Security Council.
So I really don't see any change in the United States' position.
QUESTION: I was just going to ask a follow-up on Iraq, generally. If the
State Department feels like the Iraqis should take, as an object lesson,
the extremely successful air campaign that was waged in Serbia, and see
that air campaign as possibly more acceptable now to the Middle East allies
of the United States? Basically what I'm asking is should Iraq be more
compliant, based on that air campaign in Serbia?
MR. FOLEY: That's an interesting question -- kind of a philosophical
question. And, of course, it's hard to read into the mind of a dictator
like Saddam Hussein, who often seems to act against his own country's
interests, if not his own personal interest, at critical points. Certainly
the contrary would have been true, had NATO and the United States failed to
respond to Saddam Hussein's campaign of ethnic cleansing, or had we failed
to succeed in our response to his campaign of ethnic cleansing. I think
it's indisputable that that would have sent a very unhelpful message to
would-be ethnic cleansers and dictators like Saddam Hussein who threaten
their neighbors and are developing programs of weapons of mass destruction.
That would have been a very unhelpful message. So I don't think Saddam
Hussein can take any comfort whatsoever in the robust and successful
response of the United States and NATO in the Balkans in the last few
But I would hesitate to draw specific conclusions as to what Saddam Hussein
may or may not do in the future. That's why we remain utterly vigilant in
terms of our military deployments. You've seen, obviously, ever since
Operation Desert Fox, continued Iraqi attempts to challenge the no-fly zone,
and equally consistent responses, effective, robust military responses on
QUESTION: Yesterday in an interview, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr.
MR. FOLEY: I will have to come back to you.
QUESTION: You mentioned - I didn't quite get the two points that the US
objected to in the UK-Netherlands draft. There was the - you said --
MR. FOLEY: I didn't spell them out; and I don't have that. As I
understand it, they're not fundamental points. I mean, the fundamental
points are, in response to Barry's question, we want to -
QUESTION: You want it escrowed -
MR. FOLEY: The escrow is one. So control over Iraq's purchases. Secondly,
effective arms inspections. In other words, not merely arms inspections,
but the ability of the arms inspectors to certify that Iraq has actually
complied with its obligations.
QUESTION: Mr. Ecevit, the Prime Minister of Turkey, stated yesterday in
an interview with a Greek channel that in discussions between US officials
and Turkish officials, the US accepted the fact that in the past there were
training camps of PKK terrorists in Greece. Which is the US position on
that, and in the subject of terrorism in Greece in general?
MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, we're not in the habit of discussing
publicly that which we're discussing privately with close allies of the
United States. What I can say is that we have been aware of past reports of
PKK training in Greece. We take all reports of terrorist activity seriously,
and appropriate US Government agencies evaluate them.
Foreign Minister Papandreou, in his meeting with Secretary Albright in May,
said afterwards - you were probably present - "we will spare no effort in
combating and finally making our world a terror-free world." Our intention
is to work with Greece, as we have been over the last few months, as Greece
increases its efforts to combat terrorism.
QUESTION: On this issue, last years - not the last one, the previous one -
the terrorism report says that the US Government doesn't have any concrete
proof that there were training camps in Greece of PKK terrorists. I see
some kind of difference in your answer today in comparison with this
MR. FOLEY: Are you referring to the report of two years ago or one year
QUESTION: No, no, not the last one; the previous one. Not the one a few
months ago. I mean, the previous year.
MR. FOLEY: Right, well, I'd refer you to whatever the last one states.
You're talking about the patterns of global terrorism, the most recent
report. That's an authoritative statement of our views on Greek involvement
with the PKK.
QUESTION: Well, you just referred - in answer to the question, you
referred to reports of - if I heard you right, the US recited to the
Turkish Prime Minister that it has heard reports, it has had reports that
there were camps, training facilities in Greece.
MR. FOLEY: I'm not referring to what we may or may not have discussed
with the Turkish Prime Minister. I simply stated, on its own, the fact that
we have had past reports of PKK training in Greece.
QUESTION: Oh, I see. Well, have you come to - what kind of report? Are
you talking about informers or newspaper accounts?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the US Government receives information from a variety of
sources. I'm not in a position to comment about all of them, but we've
received such reports.
QUESTION: But you don't want them to hang out there? -- (inaudible) --
MR. FOLEY: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Yes, but when you have something like this --
MR. FOLEY: We have an ongoing dialogue with Greece as well as with Turkey
and other allies and other friends around the world on terrorism. The
Secretary had an excellent meeting with Foreign Minister Papandreou --
among other such excellent meetings with him - in May. He made very
forthright statement that we applaud.
QUESTION: Well, that's fine, but if there's something out there that sort
of libels or slanders a NATO ally, doesn't the US have an obligation to
come to the bottom of it and decide whether the reports are valid or not,
or just let them --
MR. FOLEY: There's a difference, however, Barry, between what I'm
prepared to say publicly and what we might be engaging on privately. We
take such reports seriously, but as befits a relationship between a close
friend and an ally, we discuss these issues privately.
QUESTION: Could we do China? Do you have an evaluation on Secretary
MR. FOLEY: Well, he put out a statement in Beijing prior to departing. I
don't know if you've seen it; we can make it available if you'd like. Do
you want me to draw from it briefly and then tell you what more I
This is not me speaking, this is Ambassador Pickering: At the request of
President Clinton, I came to Beijing to meet with senior officials of the
Chinese Government in order to present our explanation of the causes of the
accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999. I
came with the delegation to fulfill President Clinton's promise to
President Jiang that a full investigation into this incident would be
conducted and that its results would be presented in Beijing. Also I
delivered a letter from President Clinton to President Jiang Zemin. Our
delegation consists of representatives from the National Security Council,
Department of State, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.
We've offered to provide payment to the injured and the families of those
killed, with the details to be worked out diplomatically very soon. We look
forward to further productive discussions with China in the mutual
interests of the two countries.
That was Ambassador Pickering's departure statement from Beijing earlier
today. In terms of my own knowledge of the results of his visit, I would
say in a sort of pre-ambulatory way - if there is such a word - that
Ambassador Pickering is headed to Europe now; he's going to be with
President Clinton for the G-8. Undoubtedly we'll see Secretary Albright in
Europe as well. So he's going to be providing a direct readout or debrief
to his authorities - Secretary Albright, President Clinton - directly, and
I would expect him to provide more detailed information to them than I am
in a position to provide to you at this point.
What I can say, though, is that the meeting was, from our perspective, a
serious meeting - excuse me one second - excuse me. It was a serious
meeting; it was one in which the Pickering delegation was treated with tact
and courtesy. The Chinese listened carefully to the explanation; they
regarded it as a serious report, a thorough report, a detailed report. I
think you've seen Chinese spokesmen on television this morning indicating
that they were not fully satisfied with the report. I would like to point
out, though, that from our perspective, we believe that the information
Ambassador Pickering provided is sufficient to demonstrate that the bombing
was a terrible mistake. While the Chinese can speak best for themselves,
they continue to express concerns about the event. Our discussions,
including regarding issues relating to personal losses and property damage,
will continue following his visit, through normal diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: Do you know a dollar figure on the compensation effort?
MR. FOLEY: No, not to my knowledge. I don't believe he got into that
level of detail. As his statement indicated, he made a commitment, though,
which is important, to provide payment to the injured and the families of
those killed. I think that is, as I said myself, is going to be worked out
through diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: There have been suggestions that the problem on May 7 went
beyond the problem of the old map. Do you have any information on
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry; I didn't quite understand.
QUESTION: There have been reports that the problems which led to the
mistaken bombing went beyond one mere old map and that there were other
factors involved, as well.
MR. FOLEY: Right, that's a wholly legitimate question. We have committed
to providing a detailed explanation to the Chinese authorities; President
Clinton promised President Jiang that. And that's what Ambassador Pickering
did yesterday in Beijing - he fulfilled that promise to provide that kind
of an explanation.
Secondly, we've also committed to providing information to the Chinese
people, and we've committed to providing this explanation to the American
people. I hope we'll be in a position to do that soon. I think, first
things first: Ambassador Pickering is going to go report to President
Clinton and Secretary Albright in Germany. I hope we'll be in a position
soon to release the report - release the main conclusions of that report.
That will happen; I can't tell you exactly when it will happen.
QUESTION: So it's very clear that the Chinese are not satisfied with Mr.
Pickering's friends. So they use very strong words for - and what next step
could be for the United States? Don't you have any -- (inaudible) -- send
Mr. Pickering to China?
MR. FOLEY: Well, as I indicated, we believe the information we provided
is sufficient to demonstrate that the bombing was a terrible mistake. It is
a fact that the Chinese authorities, since day one, going back to May 7,
had maintained that this was not a mistake, that this was an intentional
bombing. I think it would have been unrealistic to expect - and we
certainly did not expect - that the Chinese authorities would change their
mind merely upon the presentation of this report.
I would note in a positive vein, though, that Xianhua has today published,
I'm told, a detailed, accurate summary of the report. So they are giving
the Chinese people, themselves, an opportunity to have this information and
begin to analyze the information.
Secondly, we have just presented the report, and it is detailed. We would
expect the Chinese will have an opportunity to study it further -- again,
going back to my initial point that we did not expect there to be a change
in their attitude merely upon the presentation of the report. I think this
will take time. We will have to see where we go from here. As I said,
diplomatic channels will remain open. We will be discussing the issues of
the payment and of other related issues with the Chinese through diplomatic
channels. We do very much believe that it is in the interests of both China
and the United States to re-engage on a range of issues of importance to
both countries, and we hope that both countries will be in a position to
move forward on the relationship as time goes on.
QUESTION: On this report, since this was a NATO operation in which this
unfortunate accident happened, are the offers of compensation - is that
just from the United States, or would this be a NATO-wide contribution to
them? Will contributions be offered also to the Spanish and to other
embassies that were damaged?
MR. FOLEY: On your last question, I don't have the answer on that. I'll
have to take that question. I've not seen or heard anything on the latter
aspect. What Ambassador Pickering announced, though, was a US commitment to
provide payment to the families of those killed and to the injured. That's
a United States commitment. But in terms of other embassies, of other
nations that were damaged, certainly I don't think there was a destruction
of an embassy as occurred with the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. But I'm
sure that issue is being discussed either bilaterally or through NATO
channels; but I just don't have that information.
QUESTION: So is the Chinese bombing being treated just as US-Chinese
issue, or is NATO, the organization, going to somehow become involved in
MR. FOLEY: I'll have to check on that. To this point, certainly, this has
been a US undertaking. The investigation of the accident, the report that
we put together has been presented, obviously, by the United States,
bilaterally to China. That's all I'm aware of to this point.
QUESTION: Are you all going to put out the actual report?
MR. FOLEY: I'm told it's a summary. I've also been told that it's
QUESTION: I guess - so Secretary Albright is going to meet Chinese
Foreign Minister next month in Singapore during the ASEAN meetings. By that
time you can expect to solve the issue of the Chinese and the United States
MR. FOLEY: Well, I can't confirm what you said about the Secretary's
schedule in the month of July. I think her schedule is yet undetermined for
the month of July.
QUESTION: When you get one on the ASEAN meetings, will you let us know so
we can plan our vacations?
MR. FOLEY: When we get what?
QUESTION: When you get the dates for the ASEAN meetings.
MR. FOLEY: I think, Barry, we have the dates.
QUESTION: I know, but her participation in the ASEAN meeting. It would be
very useful so we can make our vacation plans for the summer.
MR. FOLEY: I think that Barry Schweid's vacation plan are uppermost in
the Secretary of State's mind.
QUESTION: Well, there were Secretaries of State who also tried very hard
to avoid ASEAN meetings; much like Secretaries of State seem to cancel
trips to Mexico.
MR. FOLEY: I can't quite accept the premise, having accompanied the
Secretary, myself, to the last ASEAN meeting, and knowing full well she
attended the briefings.
QUESTION: I'm thinking of one a couple before her who didn't have it
circled in red on his calendar .
MR. FOLEY: Let me say, Barry, that having made light of your vacation --
QUESTION: Don't make light - it's all right.
MR. FOLEY: -- priorities, let me hasten to add that you're not alone in
QUESTION: I know.
QUESTION: Did the question of Chinese compensation for the damage at the
US Embassy come up? Did you address that?
MR. FOLEY: Ambassador Pickering did tell the Chinese that we're also
willing to discuss the issue of the damage done to China's Embassy in
Belgrade, and we expect that to be pursued subsequently through diplomatic
channels at perhaps an expert levels.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question that's really a hard one? Do you think
the Chinese sincerely believe the US intentionally bombed their embassy? Do
you think it's a sincere argument, or is it just - or are they trying to -
MR. FOLEY: Speaking here in a very official capacity, we talk about our
policy, what we're doing, why we're doing it. I don't think it's appropriate
for me to try to extemporaneously read the minds of the Chinese leadership.
I think that's not appropriate.
Certainly from our perspective, we've stated not only that it was an
accident, but that it would have been unthinkable for it to have been
anything but an accident, for all kinds of reasons having to do with our
bilateral relationship with China, having to do with the ongoing air
campaign and the need to bolster international support for what we were
doing in Kosovo. It made no sense; it was truly an accident. We presented a
detailed, thorough report to the Chinese leadership explaining why it
happened, how it happened, that it was indeed an accident. It's for them to
explain their views and their thinking. As I said, we didn't expect there
to be a sea change merely on the basis of the presentation of the
QUESTION: Furthermore --
MR. FOLEY: Did I get the question wrong?
QUESTION: Yes, will there be compensation to the United States for the
MR. FOLEY: The issue did come up and that, too, will be discussed in
further diplomatic contacts.
QUESTION: They agreed to continue talking about that, as well?
MR. FOLEY: They acknowledged that that is an issue that we will continue
to - or that we will discuss subsequently in diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: There's a fundamental fact, I think, missing here, Jim. Isn't
it logical that if the United States meant deliberately to attack the
Chinese and to disrupt the function of their embassy, we would've bombed in
the daytime when there were people in the building?
MR. FOLEY: Well, Bill, the whole idea from our perspective is absurd -
that we would have deliberately done something so tragic and so --
QUESTION: That's what I mean. Isn't it unreasonable that we would bomb at
night rather than --
MR. FOLEY: There are all kinds of reasons why this was a mistake and not
deliberate, and you can add to them if you want.
QUESTION: Can we move to Kosovo now? There's an international agency -
the World Food Program is reporting today that up to 50,000 Kosovo Serbs
have fled Kosovo since the Albanians started to go back. First of all, is
there anything that the United States and its allies can do to prevent more
Serb civilians from fleeing Kosovo? And secondly, what implications would
the departure of a huge segment of the Serb population there have for the
practicality of keeping Kosovo part of Serbia in the future?
MR. FOLEY: I think the point I was making yesterday is that this is an
inherently fluid situation right now in which large numbers of Serb
military forces are flowing out of Kosovo according to schedule. In a
minute I'll bring you up to date on those facts and figures. Large numbers
of KFOR elements are flowing into Kosovo. There is a large reverse movement
of refugees, of deportees back into Kosovo. The roads are clogged and the
situation is inherently fluid. What you will see at the end of this process,
when all the Serb forces are out - and our understanding is that it is on
schedule, that they've vacated Zone 1, having had an extra 24 hours to do
so. KFOR is deploying into Zone 2, even in some areas into Zone 3 and that
the Serbs have largely vacated Zone 2 by now is my understanding - the V-J
When this process in complete, NATO and KFOR will provide a secure
environment for the province and that all the people of Kosovo will benefit
from this -- both Kosovar Albanians and Serbs and other minorities that may
be there. My understanding is that KFOR is making a particular effort to
deploy troops into areas with particular concentrations of Kosovar Serbs in
order to ensure their security to the full extent possible. KFOR will be
even-handed in response to violations of agreements and provocations, and
will protect the safety of everyone in Kosovo, whatever their ethnicity.
Its response to any violation of internal order from whatever source will
Now, it is a fact that Serb civilians have been departing Kosovo, even in
large numbers. That is unfortunate; it is also, however, a reflection of
this transitional phase and the uncertainties that exist - the fact that
KFOR - the fact that, first of all, all the Serb forces have not completely
departed because that schedule is continuous through Sunday. All KFOR has
not entered; I believe the numbers are around 26,000. They will go up to
near 50,000 and provide a robust security presence throughout. The KLA has
not yet demilitarized simply because the mechanisms have not been finally
agreed and put into place. But all of those things will happen: the Serb
forces will be out; KFOR will be everywhere in the province; and the KLA
will be demilitarized. That will create a secure environment.
It is our hope and expectation that many of the Serb civilians who have
left Kosovo will return to Kosovo because, after all, this is their home,
too. It's not as if they will face some promising future in Serbia, which
itself is, given the economic mismanagement of the country and the
cumulative effect of sanctions and now military action, is in really very,
very bad shape. Whereas the Kosovar Serbs have homes, have livelihoods in
Kosovo, they want to, we think, remain in Kosovo. When they see that all of
the things I suggested will happen - when they see that those things have
happened in a matter of weeks, we believe that it will be more attractive
to them to go back.
This is not just the United States saying so. I've noted that some Serb
Orthodox religious leaders have urged those who left to keep an eye on the
situation. They give credence to the commitment of KFOR and the international
community to protect them. They seem to recognize that it is a fluid
situation now and they've been urging their compatriots to return when the
situation has stabilized.
So, yes, it is not a positive development that they are moving in that
direction, but we hope it is a reversible development. Certainly KFOR is
going to provide security in the province, and it will be safe for them to
QUESTION: Regarding them feeling safe enough to come back, have you seen
the reports that an Orthodox monastery was ransacked and a 20-year-old nun
was molested by KLA members over a period of several days?
MR. FOLEY: Very disturbing reports. We're very concerned about the
incidents that have been reported. KFOR is investigating these and other
incidents. KFOR treats these matters very seriously. This only serves to
underscore the importance of getting KFOR fully deployed throughout
In fact, the Serbian Orthodox bishop who departed Prizren received a KFOR
military escort to ensure his safety. I think you probably saw General
Jackson making an address to Serbs in Kosovo yesterday, stating that it was
very much a part of his mission to provide security for all the ethnic
groups of Kosovo.
QUESTION: Jim, do you have any more information on the war crimes side of
this - on numbers of mass grave sites? Has there been an increase in the
official number? Do you have anything on the forensic teams going from this
country to help with this?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I know that the FBI, working closely with the State
Department and the Department of Defense, is planning to field two teams of
investigators into Kosovo as soon as possible. I believe we put out a
statement on that a few days ago. An advance team of four people - three
from the FBI, one from the State Department -- arrived in Skopje a couple
of days ago. This team will be working out - or is working the logistics
for the entry of two survey teams. We hope that those two teams, totaling
25-35 people, can be on the ground by the end of this week, or at the
latest the beginning of next week. Of course, it's subject to circumstances
on the ground in coordination with KFOR.
Following an assessment by these FBI teams and further discussions with the
ICTY, larger, full-scale investigative teams will probably be deployed.
It's our intent to support the ICTY as fully as possible and we are making
every effort to give the ICTY the support it needs.
I think it is true -- and you've seen the reports, Betsy -- that as KFOR
deploys, they are finding more and more such sites -- mass grave sites or
sites where atrocities appear to have taken place. The one positive, if you
can use that word in such a horrible context, is that NATO is indeed
beginning to secure these sites so that when the forensic teams arrive,
they will be able to do their work undisturbed, with the sites not having
been further compromised in any way.
So I think a lot of us felt and said, during the air campaign, that we were
likely to find that things were even worse than we imagined because what we
got anecdotally were reports of survivors who could now testify to
everything that had been happening. It is true, just reading the press and
watching TV, that the KFOR forces are coming upon more and more examples of
QUESTION: Is there any legal prohibition to a government giving sanctuary
to Milosevic or any other indicted war crimes suspect?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I believe, under Security Council resolutions, that all
member states of the United Nations are obligated to transfer indicted war
criminals to The Hague. So that's the best way I can answer the question:
it's a legal obligation to be proactive or to be active in transferring
them to The Hague.
QUESTION: Do you have information about Milosevic seeking a Romanian visa
and being denied?
MR. FOLEY: I've not heard that report at all, no.
QUESTION: Jim, do you have any more today on the talks between the KLA
and US and or other people on things like demilitarization, civilian
MR. FOLEY: I don't have a lot of detail on that. As I told you yesterday,
talks have been ongoing and also, as I told you yesterday, we continue to
have a commitment from
the Kosovar leadership, from the KLA leadership and other military elements
on the Kosovar side that they will meet their commitments under Rambouillet;
they will disarm. It is a question of finalizing the details in a text, I
believe, of having that politically approved, of having that implemented on
the Kosovar side -- the word gotten out to soldiers all over Kosovo and the
KLA leadership actually implementing these commitments. In our view, that
will happen; we don't have any reason to believe that it won't happen. But
I can't bring you up to date on where the talks are at the moment. Other
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on the talks that are going on
between Secretary Cohen, Albright and their Russian counterparts?
MR. FOLEY: No, I'm sorry. I'd like to be able to but that will be given
out by the spokesman on the spot - Mr. Bacon, Mr. Rubin in Helsinki. I
don't have any update on that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that question? With regard to what Mr.
Yeltsin has reportedly said - what's in the wires - that the Russians must
have a sector, can you make any comment on that or is that also in Jamie's
MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to make news here about that which is being
discussed in Helsinki. Bill, you know our views on that; they've been
stated by every senior American official. They haven't changed.
QUESTION: Can you update us though on her -
MR. FOLEY: Yes. She's planning to travel to Brussels tomorrow. Secretary
Cohen is, as well. There's going to be a joint meeting of the North
Atlantic Council with foreign and defense ministers tomorrow afternoon,
Brussels time. That's the extent, as I know it, of her schedule.
QUESTION: Can we finally scrub that commencement speech?
MR. FOLEY: I think so. That's my understanding.
QUESTION: And how about Romania and Bulgaria?
MR. FOLEY: I have no information in that regard. I don't know what the
state of her schedule is following the NAC meeting tomorrow.
QUESTION: New subject -- is that okay? bin Laden - can you say if the US
has seen stepped up activity by Bin Laden and his network that may indicate
increased terrorist attacks?
MR. FOLEY: Well, you may have noticed a week ago, on June 10, the State
Department issued the most recent in a series of public announcements
reminding American citizens worldwide to remain vigilant with regard to
their personal security. This latest public announcement noted the
continuing threats by Usama bin Laden to kill Americans and added that he
does not distinguish between military and civilian targets. The Department
has also advised all US diplomatic missions that these threats are
We've said all along that we believe bin Laden will strike again. We do not
have specific information about timing or location, but the general pattern
of activity of bin Laden's organization that we've noted for many, many
months has continued. We take all threats from bin Laden seriously. You
probably saw he gave a media interview in recent days and certainly that
was no surprise to us. We regard him as a serious threat and we have taken
a number of counter-measures and precautions in response.
The United States has been engaged in an active counter-terrorism effort
with our friends and allies to thwart additional terrorist attacks. Working
with diplomats, intelligence and law enforcement officials, we've stepped
up efforts to share information about terrorist activity, to implement
effective counter-measures and to arrest and prosecute suspected terrorists.
As you may know, 15 suspected bin Laden operatives have been indicted for
the Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam bombings. Two of them were indicted yesterday
in New York. Since the bombings in August, the Department has also
increased security at US diplomatic posts and missions worldwide. A number
of our posts have temporarily suspended or limited services to the public
at various times, as you know, because you reported on this, and others may
do so in the future.
Ten months after the Africa bombings, we continue to operate worldwide at a
heightened state of readiness.
QUESTION: Has there been a change in the hours or the services that are
available at US missions in Africa - any hours trimmed?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not in a position to provide that kind of information
today. As you know, from time to time we have alerted you - because we have
an obligation to alert the public, including American citizens traveling -
of adjustment in hours, of adjustment in services. I can check if there's
any information in that regard that is pertinent and that I can make
available to you.
But in terms of a specific threat assessments and security postures, for
obvious reasons I don't want to get into that publicly. But I'll check in
terms of our embassy profile or functioning.
QUESTION: I was just going to follow up, too. Can you say, just for the
record, in terms of whether the pattern that the US has seen, whether there
has been sort of an up-turn in the past few weeks; that you've seen up-
turns in increased activity before and that there's another sort of
increase in activity that leads --
MR. FOLEY: I wouldn't want to characterize it in that way. As I stated,
we do not have specific information about timing or location. On the other
hand, though, bin Laden is regarded as an utmost threat. He is responsible
for the bombings of our two embassies last August. He stated before then
that he had terrorist intentions toward American citizens - did not
distinguish between civilians and officials or military. He has restated
his intentions. So we've made clear all along, including last August after
the bombings, that another attack could take place at any time.
Obviously, we are extraordinarily vigilant in this regard, and we've
continued to see a pattern of activity on the part of his organization. For
obvious reasons, though, Kelly, I cannot be specific about our posture or
what we're seeing, apart from what I've already said.
QUESTION: Is there anything you can say at all about this meeting that's
going on with the Iraqi Kurds?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I addressed it a bit yesterday. We can get back into it,
if you'd like. I was asked the names. Would you like me, Sid, to provide
the names? I think you guys asked me which Iraqi Kurds are here.
The delegation from the Kurdistan Democratic Party is led by Sami Abd El
Rahman and includes Hoshyar Zebari, Jowhar Naumiq and Farhat Barzani. My
apologies for the poor pronunciation.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan delegation is led by Kamal Fouad and
includes Arsalan Bayez, Omar Sayyed Ali and Barham Saleh.
MR. FOLEY: We can do it afterwards; I'll show you the names.
QUESTION: Going back to Usama bin Laden, CNN's reported American
embassies' surveillance in Mozambique, Ghana and Senegal. I was wondering
if you could give any
time frame as to when those surveillance occurred?
MR. FOLEY: I would never, from a public podium, give out any kind of
information that could be useful to those who wish us ill or harm.
QUESTION: Was it in the last month or the last six months?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry. I refuse - utterly refuse to answer your question.
QUESTION: Could you comment at all on the reports of North Korea planning
to test fire a second missile later this summer?
MR. FOLEY: We've seen press reports on a possible upcoming North Korean
missile launch. The United States views the North Korean missile program as
a serious threat to the region and to our non-proliferation interests. We
continue to press North Korea to cease all production, deployment, testing
and export of missiles and missile technology. We continue to consult very
closely with our South Korean, Japanese allies on the full range of North
QUESTION: In turns out that the Clinton Administration has decided to
seriously bolster its naval forces in the Yellow Sea. There's an aircraft
carrier that will be getting there in four or five weeks; there's two
guided missile cruisers that are in the region and on their way. Can you
comment on the kind of message you're trying to send to the North Koreans
as a result of that?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I believe that the Pentagon has put out information in
that respect about deployments.
QUESTION: But I'm talking about -
MR. FOLEY: I've seen some release but I don't have it at my fingertips,
so I can't comment on the specifics. That's for the Pentagon to talk about,
in any case. But I think we've stated all along, from the beginning of
those naval confrontations, that the United States, in close coordination
with our South Korean allies, have remained very vigilant. It's obviously
been a flash point in the Korean Peninsula for many decades, and there are
points in which the tension rises. But even when there's no tension, the
fact is that we are present and vigilant in a military and security sense.
So this is no exception. But in terms of the specifics you were asking me
yesterday, I'd refer you to Captain Doubleday at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: I know the specifics, but the political message that sends - I
mean, that's - sending the aircraft carrier is a significant political
message, as it was when you sent one - not you, but the Administration sent
one to the Taiwan Straits during the military exercises.
MR. FOLEY: Well, look, it's hazardous for me to venture into the issue of
military deployment, so I'm going to refer you to Captain Doubleday. My
understanding, though, is that at the time of the beginning of the air
campaign, over Serbia and Kosovo, that an aircraft carrier was removed from
the Pacific, and now one is returning. I think that is part of our normal
pattern of deployments, but I refer you to the Pentagon for the details,
QUESTION: Yesterday, you said that the place where the exchange of fire
between the North and South Korea took place belonged to international
waters, and the South Korean Government seems to think -
MR. FOLEY: I didn't say that. I was asked a question and I spoke to my
understanding; but I did not give an official authoritative --
QUESTION: So that's not the official viewpoint of the US Government on
MR. FOLEY: What I can tell you about that subject is that, as I indicated
yesterday and Mr. Rubin did on previous occasions, that the Northern Limit
Line was and still is demarcated by the UN command as a practical way to
separate forces. We were talking about this yesterday. We believe it's been
an effective means to prevent military tension between North and South
Korean military forces for 46 years, since 1953. So it's served a useful
purpose that has benefited both sides.
We continue to urge the DPRK to recognize this practicality by keeping its
craft north of the line. In 1953, the area was a zone of conflict, you'll
recall - a war zone; and territorial jurisdictions, they remain in dispute
today. Therefore, we believe this is a practical measure, or a practical
mechanism that has allowed there to be a reduction in tensions or the means
of diffusing tensions. We continue to urge the DPRK to keep its naval craft
north of that line for practical reasons.
QUESTION: You may have misspoken, but you did say yesterday that this was
in international waters.
MR. FOLEY: No, I did not make that statement. You made a statement and I
said that was my understanding.
QUESTION: But that's not the case?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I've checked, because I needed to check on something
like that; and I did not make an affirmative statement stating our policy.
And having checked, what I'm told is really what I just said - that there
are territories, jurisdictions that remain in dispute today in that area.
I'd have to refer you to the UN command which, after all, as I said, it's
the UN command there that demarcated this line as a practical way to
separate forces. It goes back to '53; it has worked. We think it's a
practical mechanism that has helped diffuse tensions, and that's how we
look upon it. In terms of authoritative views on its meaning and impact and
significance, I'd refer you to the UN command.
(The briefing concluded at 2:15 P.M.)