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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #79, 99-06-23

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>


953

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

IRAQ
1		Opposition groups KDP, PUK discussing implementation of
		  September agreement.

FRY (KOSOVO) 2 KLA has agreed to store its weapons after 90 days. 2 KLA members have aspirations to eventually form police force and national guard. 2 UN will create a police force in Kosovo. 3-4 Ambassador Scheffer will accompany FBI forensic team to Kosovo. 4 US has been primary provider to International War Crimes Tribunal. 4 US wants to see local institutions become part of civilian administration of Kosovo. 5 US has reports that indicate some Russian mercenaries were active in Kosovo. 5 Spokesman Rubin met with many KLA leaders in Kosovo recently. 6 Decision to relinquish arms was extremely difficult for KLA. 6-7 International community will regularly discuss progress, make further decisions as necessary. 7 Kosovo is a de facto protectorate. 7 Serbia retains sovereignty, though some real aspects of sovereignty have been affected. 8 Perceptions of future would be affected by presence or absence of indicted war criminal leading FRY 8 Behavior of KLA will be watched closely by international community. 9 Ambassador Gelbard met recently with Serbian democratic opposition leaders. 9 US supports goal of a democratic Yugoslavia. 10 US supports humanitarian aid to Serbs, but not reconstruction assistance. 11 Up to War Crimes Tribunal to decide who is indicted. 11 US wants to support transformation of Kosovar Albanian groups into genuine democratic political parties 11 Serbian Orthodox Church's call for Milosevic to step down extremely significant. 15-16 US froze assets on five indictees on May 28, encourages other governments to do same.

IRAN 12 US views arrest of 13 Jews for espionage with great concern, has been in touch with other governments who maintain relations with Iran about it.

UN 12 US committed to pay its arrears, supports Senate bill.

CANADA 13-14 US unaware of bilateral talks about a unified currency.

NORTH KOREA 14 Ambassador Kartman met today in Pyongyang with Vice Foreign Minister, discussed results of visit to Kumchang-ni underground construction site.. Future visits to site are agreed to.

TURKEY 15 US issued worldwide caution yesterday concerning Kurdish reaction to Ocalan trial.

CYPRUS US fully backs Ambassador Brill's work to counter misinformation about Kosovo.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #79

TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 1999, 12:35 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Hello. Welcome to the State Department briefing; and let's everybody welcome Carole Giacomo's return - at least I do.

Today is Wednesday. This is the State Department briefing. We have a number of notices to the press that we will file with you. I have no opening statement; let me go to your questions.

QUESTION: I think the meetings with the Iraqi Kurds have been thoroughly covered on the Hill - you're probably aware of the testimony. But the briefing here was called off, and if there's anything you think has to be added that wasn't said on the Hill --

MR. RUBIN: No, I'm sure the person who knew the most about it spoke to it on the Hill.

QUESTION: Well, that's good enough, then.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: I'm sure it's clear as a bell.

QUESTION: Does the fact that this background briefing has been postponed twice indicate that things are not going all so great there?

MR. RUBIN: No, I wouldn't assume that the arrangements with the press are necessarily decisive indicators of good or bad news.

The delegations from the KDP and PUK have engaged in intensive, detailed and positive discussions regarding the implementation of the September agreement. Several points under discussion need to be referred to their respective leaderships. We will be continuing our engagement with both of the parties, and expect that they will be able to take the difficult but necessary steps towards greater reconciliation.

Since the discussions are still ongoing, we have asked the parties to refrain from speaking about them in the media; and therefore, it would be inappropriate for us to do so. We don't have a specific timetable for you. We hope that this round of discussions can be concluded with real progress on some of the implementation issues. However the talks transpire, we will remain engaged with the parties, and trust that they will continue to work to implement as quickly as possible those elements on which there is agreement and work to narrow the gaps on other issues.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about Kosovo? There seems to be some confusion about what is required of the KLA. Do you think that there is some confusion there?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: And what - why -

MR. RUBIN: You've got to be more specific. I don't know who's confusion you're referring to.

QUESTION: Well, you have KLA commanders saying that they are not required to give up their weapons, and General Mike Jackson saying, yes, indeed they are, and he has ways of doing it. That seems to be some conflict there.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, there is no conflict. The agreement is quite clear about this: after 90 days, all the weapons, all automatic, small arms weapons will be stored in the registered weapons storage area. Thereafter, their possession by KLA personnel will be prohibited and such weapons will be subject to confiscation by KFOR. That's about as clear as the English language can get.

That doesn't mean that you're occasionally going to get suggestions from KLA leaders or sub-commanders or zonal commanders about their aspirations for the future; and there's no question that they have aspirations to participate in the police force, as well as to create a national guard along the lines of the US National Guard. That's an aspiration, and if that aspiration is achieved then obviously they would have weapons. But from the Western standpoint, all we agreed to was to give due consideration to that aspiration. So, I wouldn't overstate the comments of some of the sub- regional or zonal commanders.

QUESTION: The idea of a guard is somewhat down the road, and it's just a possibility; but participating in the police force seems to be more realistic. While they wouldn't head it, there may be many of them in the police force. I know it's stretching for a parallel - no two situations are similar -- but the Palestinian Authority is a police force and those policemen carry weapons. In fact, they carry weapons that are very similar to the weapons carried by a national guard or by an army in some cases. Do you know if there will be any limitations on the kind of weapons or the number of weapons, or are you not into that yet?

MR. RUBIN: I think that's a little premature. It will be the United Nations that creates a police force, using the same approach they've used in Haiti and other parts of the world. The United Nations didn't create the police force in the Palestinian Authority; the United Nations will create the police force here. Therefore, if there is an analogy -- and usually the analogies are overdrawn -- I would link it more to the Haiti model than the Palestinian model. But it's up to the UN to make those decisions on what weaponry is appropriate for a local police force.

As the undertaking indicates, the international community is asked to give special consideration to membership by individual KLA members in the police force, and we think that's quite reasonable.

QUESTION: Information on land mines -- the State Department put out a memo a couple of days ago that they were changing the an existing contract with a company called Ronco Consulting Corporation to send in teams of de- mining experts. Some of these teams would come from Bosnia and Croatia where they have been working. Do you have any information as to whether people have arrived in Kosovo, and have they begun to work?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that I will try to get that information for you. But on a daily basis, the best single source of information for what is going on in Kosovo is going to be the KFOR press briefing. I would urge you to ask your colleagues in the field to be posing these same questions to them. As this force stands up and as a lot of the details of forensic teams and land mind issues and police issues and a lot of these others develop, they will have real-time information while I will have policy-oriented information.

Obviously, if there's a policy issue with respect to some issue like the police force or problems in the land mine area, it's properly addressed here. But I don't have any current information on the status of that particular team; and again, would suggest that the best source for that information would be folks on the ground who know who's going in and out. I don't even have the information on when the intention was to go. The only new team that I know is going is from the FBI, and Louis Freeh gave an extensive press conference about that a short time ago.

QUESTION: But they weren't de-mining; they were --

MR. RUBIN: No, I'm talking about something else; I'm just giving you an example. Lee Freeh gave a briefing about his people going in to help in the investigative area.

QUESTION: On that same point Betsy had a question on, can you find out for us or give us a little background on this company? Specifically, is it the same Ronco that makes kitchen gadgets that are sold on late-night television? I've never heard of this --

MR. RUBIN: I will try to get you some information on this company and its facilities. I won't try to ensure that that information includes all of the advertisings they may have had and what time of day those advertisements might appear.

QUESTION: I don't know if you have this. In terms of the FBI and what you just brought up, are there a number of State Department officials from war crimes that are also -

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Scheffer is accompanying that team.

QUESTION: Anybody else from the State Department?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know whether he's accompanied with anybody, but he is going to be there. He's the head of our war crimes office. He would be the appropriate State Department official to accompany the FBI investigative efforts they're making on behalf of the Tribunal.

QUESTION: Will his role be overseer, basically?

MR. RUBIN: He will be accompanying the team and he is the interagency coordinator for war crimes activities. But obviously, the FBI has its own - I don't even know how to finish that sentence.

QUESTION: Expertise.

MR. RUBIN: Expertise, thank you.

QUESTION: On follow on that - is the US providing more personnel and more assistance than any other country to -

MR. RUBIN: That's been the pattern in the past; I would have to check. It's certainly been the pattern the United States has provided the most financial, personnel and political support to the Tribunal since its inception, which is something that I think is widely known to have been pushed, and sometimes the War Crimes Tribunal prosecutors call Secretary Albright the mother of the War Crimes Tribunal.

QUESTION: The British Foreign Secretary today was talking about creating a currency in Kosovo. That's not really my question. My question is, how do you see the autonomy plan now unfolding for Kosovo? Have you identified what you think may be a government, for lack of a better word?

MR. RUBIN: Those decisions are to be made by the international civilian administration, by the United Nations not by the United States. What we would expect to happen is in the coming days, the United Nations would name the special representative and the deputies that would be needed and the civilian aspects of everything in Kosovo, other than the security created by KFOR, as the responsibility of the United Nations. Because they're just getting up and running, I don't believe we have taken firm positions on specific questions like the one that you mention.

Obviously, we do want to see local institutions become part of the provisional administration as quickly and as practically as possible. There are issues of elections that are some months away. So it will be up to the UN civilian administrator, as they get going, to make decisions as to what extent the local institutions should play a role in the international provisional administration.

QUESTION: I don't recall - the current - I believe Rambouillet addressed the question of currency and trappings of an economy such as that.

MR. RUBIN: I hate to admit, but I don't know the answer to that; but I will inquire as to the currency question.

QUESTION: Currency and the flag and stamps.

MR. RUBIN: I don't think the idea was to - Rambouillet and the current agreement makes clear that Kosovo - the sovereignty of Yugoslavia has not changed, and the currency, flag and airline tend to be the big three when it comes to sovereignty for some of the smaller states. So it would surprise me if all of those things happened very quickly.

QUESTION: Jamie, anything more on the Iranian Jews who have been attained?

QUESTION: On Kosovo, yesterday, according to the Pentagon, some Russian volunteers and mercenaries joined Serbian paramilitary groups. Do you have contact with the Russians which this paramilitary or the Russian volunteers involving the war crimes - who they are, where are they?

MR. RUBIN: We've had a variety of reports that indicate individual Russians participated or were mercenaries in Kosovo, just as individuals from many countries were mercenaries in various conflicts wherever they occur. I don't know what our contact with Russia is on the subject, but I can check for you.

QUESTION: Jamie, I'm sorry I wasn't here when you talked about the KLA. Is it correct that you went as an envoy to the KLA; is that accurate? And what can you say -

(Laughter.)

No, that's not accurate?

MR. RUBIN: We don't have an envoy to the KLA. I did go to Kosovo to work with some of the senior military leaders in KFOR and in the British military, to work on the demilitarization agreement, and met with a number of the top KLA leaders - if not most of them - at their command headquarters outside of Pristina, and was in Pristina when Mr. Hashim Thaqi signed the demilitarization undertaking in Pristina.

So I certainly was there. Secretary Albright asked me to go there because the need for us to convince the KLA to follow through on its commitment to demilitarize that was made in the Rambouillet accords. She asked me to work closely with Mr. Thaqi to encourage him to sign the agreement, which he did.

QUESTION: There's a report today - the reason I ask - in The Washington Times that the KLA is going to gather up their small arms and they're going to keep them unto themselves, unto their own guard, I guess, their own security - going to keep those weapons and allow the KFOR to come by and see if they're still there. Is that accurate?

MR. RUBIN: Well, before you came in, we had this discussion with one of your colleagues. I indicated that the agreement is quite clear on what's required: within 90 days, all the weaponry has to be under the control of KFOR, and any weaponry that is not is subject to confiscation.

However, there is also an aspiration expressed by the KLA to have an army along the lines of the US National Guard. That is an aspiration that we in the international community will take due consideration of as part of the process that leads to the determination of the final status of Kosovo. No decision has been made on that issue. There's no question they have such an aspiration. There's no question that for the KLA this was an extremely difficult decision that, after having fought bravely for their freedom from the oppression of the Serb forces in Kosovo, the war crimes of Serb forces in Kosovo, the crimes against humanity of Serb forces in Kosovo that it wasn't an easy thing for them to give up their weaponry.

But they agreed to do so in this agreement, which was a difficult thing for them to do, but followed through on their commitment they made in the Rambouillet Accords. And they've now expressed their aspiration about what would happen in the future. That's an aspiration that certainly is understandable, but with respect to the position of the West, at this point all we have committed - or we will be expected to do is take it into consideration.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - I'm sorry, it's lost on me. I mean, is there another - will there be a set point with the US and France and Germany - they'll sit down and make another judgment --

MR. RUBIN: I always hate it when things are lost on you, so let me try to find you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: You're lost and now you will be found.

QUESTION: Yes. How does the US continue to keep its hand into the internal affairs --

MR. RUBIN: There is a UN civilian administrator - international civilian administrator. There is a process whereby many of the countries that were involved in this will continue talking about it. Kosovo isn't going away just because the air campaign has ended. So the international community will regularly discuss the progress and the future of Kosovo. At the appropriate time, decisions will be made about whether meetings should be held or what additional steps should happen, and those will be based on what's going on on the ground and the developments in the region.

So there is no time frame that I can offer you at this time, other than I think the international community is going to be reviewing this matter daily. This is a matter of extreme concern. We have 50,000 troops heading for Kosovo - some 20,000 plus already there and another 30,000 expected to arrive shortly. So the international community is going to be very focused on this; and obviously NATO is not going to be there forever, so the future status of Kosovo is something that's going to be very important to most of the capitals involved in the peacekeeping operation and, obviously, the UN civilian administration that is going to be running it. At the appropriate time, people will try to work on the next steps.

But beyond making clear that we do think it is appropriate to take into account the Rambouillet accords and the need to develop the permanent status for Kosovo, that's premature at this time.

QUESTION: I was wondering what mechanism and the time frame - you started on that - maybe it isn't formed yet - formulated yet. But you talk about the UN civilian administrator --

MR. RUBIN: In consultation with the key countries of concern.

QUESTION: Is this Security council, or a consultation --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, the Security Council. I mean, look, there's a number of countries that are going to be heavily involved. Some members are will be on the Security Council, some might be heavily involved who are not on the Security Council. They may play a big role in the reconstruction of Kosovo. So there will be a process that develops for considering this, but at this point it seems premature and not particularly useful to begin to spell it out.

QUESTION: It's a trusteeship in the old-fashioned sense.

MR. RUBIN: It's a de facto protectorate. There is an international civil administration that is running Kosovo on the civilian side; there is international peacekeeping force - KFOR, NATO - that is running it on the security side until further notice.

QUESTION: And that doesn't contradict the Serbian sovereignty in the US's view?

MR. RUBIN: That will be done in a way to respect Serbian sovereignty because we haven't made a decision about it not being under Serbian sovereignty. Clearly, Serbia has lost a lot of sovereignty as a result of the wars that it has fought and the war crimes that its forces committed and the fact that it was subjected to a lengthy air campaign by the international community -- the result of which is that nothing has changed with respect to our position about Serb sovereignty. But as a practical matter, all Serb forces were removed from Kosovo and the only ones that can come back - very small numbers - are subject to the approval of KFOR. Similarly, the Serbs will not control the borders.

So some of the very real aspects of sovereignty have been affected very practically and very really, but that doesn't mean that we've changed our view on the principle of sovereignty.

QUESTION: Is any of the de facto arrangements - will they be affected by the leadership in Belgrade?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure that people's perceptions in Kosovo about their future will be affected by the presence or absence of an indicted war criminal who has been indicted for command and control over forces that committed war crimes in Kosovo. I'm sure that would have a big impact if he weren't there.

QUESTION: Is it fair to assume that whether or not NATO and the international community countenance is the KLA or the Kosovo Albanians having some sort of a national guard will depend on a, how far they move towards establishing a civil society in their own area; b, the political developments in Belgrade? I mean, is it fair -

MR. RUBIN: Keep going; I just want to write this down for tomorrow's press guidance. What was c?

QUESTION: There was something else - see, you interrupted me. But anyway, those are the kinds of things that you would look at, right?

MR. RUBIN: Sure. Would it help if I said it? Obviously, the international community is going to be watching closely what transpires in the Balkans and in Kosovo. The behavior of the KLA is going to be a factor in the reputation they develop, the willingness of outside governments to work closely with them. I think contrary to a lot of mistrust and misperceptions about the KLA, there are many people who didn't think they would sign this demilitarization agreement, didn't think they'd follow through with it. They proved to be wrong.

They did demilitarize on paper, and since that signing KFOR has confirmed that a number of the steps have been taken along those lines. So the world will be watching very carefully, and if the KLA follows through on the commitments it has made, that will have an impact on people's perception of it as an organization and also the extent to which it does transform itself into a political institution will be important as well.

Meanwhile, on the Serb side, the fact that Serbia is led by an indicted war criminal certainly creates grave concern on the part of Kosovar Albanians, who are fully justified in fearing future under a Serbia or a Yugoslavia controlled by an indicted war criminal.

So those two factors certainly will play into the developments in Kosovo and the Balkans in the coming weeks and months.

QUESTION: Going to Milosevic, what is the US doing to assist in his removal from office? Can you tell us a little bit about what was the purpose of Ambassador Gelbard's meeting recently with opposition leaders in Montenegro?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I can. I hope. It's here, I know it's here; I saw it. If you'll bear with me, I will - I got it, I got it.

It would really be a lot easier if you guys did the questions and the answers. Then I could just sit on the side of the room.

QUESTION: It depends on what is available on a guidance basis.

MR. RUBIN: We have long supported the goal of a democratic Yugoslavia. To this end, we are in contact with Serbian democratic opposition figures in the same way we maintain contacts with the democratic political opposition in other countries. We do not support any particular individual, but rather the goal of a democratic government in Belgrade.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute have, in the past, provided assistance to municipalities in Serbia. No reconstruction assistance for Serbia, however, will be provided unto a Belgrade government under the control of Milosevic, an indicted war criminal.

We have not - contrary to what you hear in Belgrade - in meetings with the democratic opposition, advocated the violent overthrow of the Belgrade Government, nor offered any groups or individuals money to do so.

Ambassador Gelbard did meet recently with opposition leaders. These were not secret meetings. We have been meeting with opposition leaders for a number of years in our search to bring democracy to Yugoslavia.

Milosevic is an indicted war criminal, along with a number of persons currently in leadership positions. We have no doubt that the people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will come to the same conclusion as the Serbian Orthodox Church - that these leaders are not the path to a peaceful and prosperous future. So we support a democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and will meet with democratic opposition leaders to that end.

QUESTION: Jamie, part of that was -

QUESTION: Barry, let me do one follow, and then you. In terms of comparison to Iraq, for years the international community has had sanctions and the US has adopted a policy in November of regime change; but that hasn't produced any results. So is it a little bit of wishful thinking of the US that his removal will be -

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, like in Barry's question, apples and oranges generally don't compare well. For those who have been to Iraq and have been to Serbia, I think it's fair to say that Serbia and Iraq are not the same country. They have very few of the same attributes; it's a completely different society, a completely different system. In this case, the one is an indicted war criminal, and there are many other differences. So people who make facile analogies to Serbia and Iraq will probably end up with their names in boxes at the top of The Washington Post, eating their words some day.

QUESTION: Jamie, the thing you just read - that bit about reconstruction has been superseded, hasn't it? You've decided with electrical facilities and other -

MR. RUBIN: No, you're wrong; that's not correct.

QUESTION: We are now - the US is now is -

MR. RUBIN: Can I try to answer your question?

QUESTION: Can I just finish the point? Is the US now not prepared -

MR. RUBIN: It's really easier if you do both.

QUESTION: Is it not sure that the US is now prepared to assist the people of Serbia, provided it is a civilian pursuit, like electricity - stuff that NATO bombs destroyed?

MR. RUBIN: No, no; n-o, period. There is a process going on to define where does humanitarian assistance end and where does reconstruction assistance begin. That is the issue that the President and others addressed in Europe and will continue to address. But the basic way of thinking about it is reconstruction assistance we're opposed to; humanitarian assistance we support. Defining that is going to be done very carefully. But that is our policy.

QUESTION: So I guess the trick - not trick in a pejorative sense - but the gimmick is that providing --

(Laughter.)

--providing electricity to -

MR. RUBIN: The pejorative gimmick.

QUESTION: Providing electricity to innocent civilians who have no electricity will be humanitarian assistance instead of reconstruction.

MR. RUBIN: I don't think any decision has been made on that.

QUESTION: But it's a matter of definition, isn't it?

MR. RUBIN: Correct; that's what I just said.

QUESTION: Fine.

QUESTION: Back on war criminals, several weeks ago you gave a list of nine Yugoslav commanders who are in Kosovo. Given the new evidence that the atrocities were very systematic, pervasive and apparently organized, are you, the US Government, now pushing to have these military commanders brought to justice?

MR. RUBIN: We do not push for indictments of individuals; that is not our job. It's up to the War Crimes Tribunal to make decisions about who should be indicted and who shouldn't. We certainly want to provide the International War Crimes Tribunal as much assistance as possible in trying to determine who should be indicted and who shouldn't be indicted in terms of intelligence information and as much information as we can. But it would be up to them to make a decision as to who they would focus their investigation on.

QUESTION: Back to the politicization of the KLA, what are the US plans to help in this? You mentioned NDI and IRI earlier in the Serb opposition. Does the US have any plans to send any group over or provide funding for a group to go over to teach them the finer points of -

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly want to support their transformation to being genuine democratic political parties, and we would certainly be very supportive of that. I don't think we have any specific plans I can announce right now, but I think some thought is being given as to how we can be supportive of an effort to transform these people from a liberation army to a political organization that is as effective as it was on the ground.

QUESTION: Get rid of the comparison about Iraq; forget I even mentioned it. Why isn't it wishful thinking to think that these assistance methods will work?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think for those who know the Serbian society, the fact that the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is an extremely important institution in Serbia, has made the decision to call for Milosevic to step down, people who understand that society think that's a pretty significant step. So that's a reason why it wouldn't be fair to call it wishful thinking.

We can't achieve it by ourselves. It's the Serbian people and their institutions that are going to have to decide what's best for them. But I think the fact the Serbian Orthodox Church has called for his removal is a significant piece of evidence.

QUESTION: One more on Kosovo? Let me try this one. In the areas along the Kosovo-Yugoslav border, who is responsible for keeping the KLA and the Serbs from getting together militarily, from continuing their conflict along that border; the KLA from forays into Serbia, per se? Is that something that is tasked to the KFOR?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: It is. And the KLA has agreed to stay out of those areas; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: The KLA and KFOR are developing a good working relationship.

QUESTION: New subject - the question of the detained Iranian Jews is attracting increasing interest. There are congressmen who are interested, who have mentioned the possibility of a mission by Jesse Jackson. What can you say about all that?

MR. RUBIN: We have made it clear that we view with great concern the arrest of 13 Iranian Jews on charges of espionage. Secretary Albright has called these arrests unacceptable. We have called on the government of Iran to release these individuals immediately and to ensure that they are not harmed. This issue was discussed in Cologne. We certainly maintained discussion with other governments who maintain relations with Tehran to urge them to take up this issue. If Jesse Jackson can achieve their release, we would welcome that.

QUESTION: Could you say in what form the request to Iran was made?

MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that we made a request to Iran. I said that we'd been in touch with any other governments who maintain relations with Tehran to urge them to take up this humanitarian issue. But I am sure that the government of Iran is aware of our position on this subject from comments from this podium and elsewhere.

QUESTION: Another subject -- the Senate has approved conditional repayment to the UN of the $819 million. Do you have any comment on that, with particular emphasis on the conditions?

MR. RUBIN: The Administration has committed to payment of US arrears and to reform the United Nations and other international organizations. We are very pleased that the authorization bill passed by the Senate contains provisions that address these issues, and we appreciate the efforts of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in crafting this bill. We support the Senate bill and we're anxious to move forward on the arrears issue.

QUESTION: How about the conditions - the unilateral lowering of the US share of expenses?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to parse every sentence of the bill. I said we support the bill. All bills could use improvement, and we've always said that.

QUESTION: Are you in favor of unilateral declarations of --

MR. RUBIN: We support the bill.

QUESTION: I have another question. Are you in favor of countries unilaterally declaring what their proportion of the dues should be?

MR. RUBIN: It doesn't say that it's a unilateral; it says that it should be negotiated with other members of the United Nations. That's the objective.

QUESTION: Well, they're conditional - they don't get the money if --

MR. RUBIN: Well, but it's not a declaration. We think that this should be worked out, and we hope that other countries will see the wisdom of working out an arrangement to lower our assessment.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister of Canada has announced that he and his government, or at least the Cabinet, will spend two days next week in retreat, studying their relationship with the United States. At that time of the announcement, he said the Cabinet would be looking at a shared currency with the United States, and also open borders. Broadly, first, I'd like to ask are you aware of any formal contact on these subjects between the government of the United States and Canada, or the State Department and the Foreign Affairs Minister in Canada?

MR. RUBIN: We are unaware of any discussions between our two governments about a unified currency.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about breaking down those two points. On the unified currency, is that, in American views, a non-starter?

MR. RUBIN: We've had extensive discussions in our shared border accord forum about a series of practical projects to facilitate the lawful movement of goods and people across our common border. This important forum was established by President Clinton and Prime Minister Chretien in 1995. We consider it a big success. We haven't had any discussions between our two governments about a unified currency. Whether there's some person in the US Government who has their own idea of what should and shouldn't happen in the future - I just am unaware of any view that we have other than we want to work with them.

QUESTION: Well, perhaps I might help you with one of those views. A couple of weeks ago, at the Center for Strategic International Studies, Treasury Secretary Rubin --

MR. RUBIN: Good name.

QUESTION: Yes, indeed. Any relative - said, in specific, on the issue of shared currencies - not directed, necessary, to Canada - but said the United States is not going to run the monetary policy for any country but our own.

MR. RUBIN: Sounds like sound financial advice.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: And I would presume that's a view that's shared here at the State Department.

MR. RUBIN: We have great respect for the financial advice of the Secretary of the Treasury.

QUESTION: So in simple terms, the border discussion might be interesting, but the shared currency is off as far as Canada is concerned?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: You don't want to give a verbal answer.

QUESTION: Is that yes -- that's a yes?

MR. RUBIN: I can say that we've had no such discussions, and I certainly would not want to give any indication that we have any different view than the Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.

QUESTION: North Korea? Is there anything new you can tell us about what exactly is going on there, in terms of policy reviews? I know there's this meeting coming up on - soon - Friday, is it?

QUESTION: Friday.

MR. RUBIN: Let me give you the North Korea run-down. Ambassador Kartman met today in Beijing with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan to apprise him of the results of the May 20-24 visit to the Kumchang-ni construction site per an earlier agreement. Ambassador Kartman's discussions will continue tomorrow. His talks will also cover matters related to the implementation of the agreed framework, and the upcoming Four Party Talks, plenary, in Geneva in early August. I don't have any further details for you at this point.

These US-North Korea bilateral talks were planned prior to the military confrontation between South and North Korea. Beijing was proposed as the site for the meeting by the North Korean side as a matter of convenience. Ambassador Kartman has already briefed congressional members on the outcome of the visit to the Kumchang-ni site. Our South Korean and Japanese allies have also been briefed. We expect to issue something publicly on the US assessment in a few days.

The next visit to the Kumchang-ni site, per the agreement negotiated in March, will be in May 2000. We expect the statement of our view to basically follow the following lines. According to the team's report, the underground site at Kumchang-ni is an extensive, empty tunnel complex. A fuller technical analysis was conducted to determine as best we can what the site might have been intended for. While suspicions remain at present, there is still nothing that leads to the conclusion that there is a violation of the agreed framework. We expect to provide further details shortly.

We successfully negotiated for multiple access to the site, precisely in anticipation of an outcome such as this one where we would want to be able to ensure future visits so that we could fully remove our suspicions about the intended use of the site. So we will return next May for another visit, per our agreement with North Korea, and for subsequent visits to remove fully our suspicions.

QUESTION: This statement - could we expect that to come on Friday with these meetings with the --

MR. RUBIN: They're not linked to the three-way consultations. It's not linked to that. It's just part of the consultation process with the Hill.

QUESTION: On a new subject, some European countries have issued their own national security alerts because of developments in the Ocalan trial. Have the United States issued such a warning?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we have. Earlier, on June 22 - that is, yesterday -- we issued a worldwide caution with respect to Kurdish reaction to the Ocalan trial. I can get you a copy of that after the briefing.

QUESTION: For the Kosovo operation, Greek Cypriot center right Diko Party and the Communist -- (inaudible) -- Party described NATO as a murderer of babies and the US officials as barbarians. And also, President Kyprianou asked that Ambassador Kenneth Brill has to be expelled. How do you feel about this accusation; and also, do you think this affects US efforts to solve the Cyprus problem?

MR. RUBIN: We fully support Ambassador Brill's very active efforts to carry out US policy on Kosovo. He has worked hard and creatively to counter the misinformation that has appeared in much of the Greek Cypriot press about Milosevic's criminal activities and the brutalities committed against Kosovar Albanians. Any suggestion that a reprimand is needed is totally inaccurate.

Ambassador Brill met with President Clerides, as he does regularly. I don't normally comment on confidential diplomatic discussions, but the focus of the discussion was our effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and that continues. I can say that Ambassador Brill wrote to several political party leaders on June 9 and 10. These letters dealt exclusively with this situation in Kosovo and the inaccurate and irresponsible statements made by party officials during and after a June 7 anti-NATO rally in Nicosia.

It is the job of an American ambassador to explain and articulate and represent the views of the United States. As you know, from this podium we have spoken very clearly and forthrightly about the evil crimes committed in Kosovo by the Milosevic regime, and it would be appropriate for our ambassadors to try to counter some of the propaganda coming out of Belgrade and other places. The same people who for days and day and days you saw on the television saying none of this happened I think will be interesting to see what they have to say now that they're uncovering mass grave sites regularly and frequently in Kosovo. And maybe some of those people who said it wasn't true should be asked to respond now.

QUESTION: One more - I forgot about this earlier. Can you say anything about the Swiss decision earlier today to freeze Milosevic's assets?

MR. RUBIN: We have frozen the assets of the five individuals who were indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal. We put out an executive order on May the 28, designating the five indictees as specially designated nationals, further tightening our restrictions. We certainly would want as many countries as possible -- we welcome as many countries as possible, acting to freeze the assets of indicted war criminals.

QUESTION: That would include Switzerland?

MR. RUBIN: That would include Switzerland.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:15 P.M.)


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