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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #124, 99-10-01

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>


785

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Friday, October 1, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

STATEMENTS
1	Assistant Secretary Koh's Travel to Indonesia and East Timor

1 Statement on Proposal for Elections in Abkhazia, Georgia

ARMS CONTROL 1-6 Status of Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

RUSSIA 6-8 Update on the Situation in Chechnya

THAILAND/BURMA 8-9 Burmese Activists Seizure of Burmese Embassy in Thailand

JAPAN 9 Update on Nuclear Reactor Accident/Request for Assistance

SERBIA 9-10 Police Breakup of Pro-Democracy Demonstrations in Belgrade

CHINA/TAIWAN 11-12 Latest PRC Statements Regarding Taiwan

12 50th Anniversary of Founding of People's Republic of China

TURKEY 12 President Clinton's and Secretary Albright's Meetings with Turkish Prime Minister

CYPRUS 12-13 Status of Proximity Talks


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #124

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1, 1999, 12:43 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: We have a couple statements we're going to post after the briefing, including a statement on Assistant Secretary Harold Koh's travel to Indonesia and East Timor, and a statement on the proposal for elections in Abkhazia, Georgia.

Before beginning the briefing, though, Secretary Albright asked me to make a few comment on the Comprehensive Test Ban.

It has been three years since the CTBT was signed - the Test Ban - and more than two years since the Senate was first asked to provide advice and consent. The President, the Secretary and many others in the Administration have been seeking prompt Senate approval of this treaty for one simple reason: We believe the United States will be safer and better off and the world will be less dangerous if we ratify this treaty because this treaty protects and advances our security.

We know that not everyone agrees with this. That is why we have been calling for hearings and debate on the merits of this treaty. But we are confident that once the case is made in a serious, sustained and analytical way that sufficient support will be there for this treaty to be ratified.

We do not believe we need to conduct more nuclear tests to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent. We have a nuclear deterrent today. We have a reliability program that ensures that we will have a reliable nuclear deterrent even without nuclear testing. That is something that has been certified time and time again by the experts at the laboratories and outside of the laboratories.

So what's critical here is not what happens to America's program; what's critical is what happens to the other programs around the world. How many times have you heard the story about the experts who sat around in the '50s and tried to predict how many nuclear powers there would be by the year 1995 and the numbers were very large, 30, 40, 50. We've prevented that through a concentrated nonproliferation strategy for the last three decades. The Comprehensive Test Ban is critical to that strategy.

If we ban, through this treaty, explosions around the world, we will help prevent new states from developing nuclear weapons and constrain the development of more advanced weapons by countries such as Russia and China. And we believe strongly that this treaty is effectively verifiable. The monitoring system, the on-site inspection provisions, will not only allow us to monitor with adequate confidence our ability to detect and deter nuclear tests around the world but it will improve what information we now have because we will have on-site inspections that we don't now have.

People often ask us to assess an event around the world. Well, we'll be in a better position to assess those events with this treaty than without it and we will be in a better position without any reduction in our reliability of our nuclear programs.

We do not think this ought to be a partisan issue. We think that it should be treated with the seriousness and the analytical approach that an arms control treaty of this magnitude merits. I would note that the treaty has the support of prominent military and foreign policy experts, including former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from President Carter, President Reagan, President Bush and President Clinton.

We believe that this treaty merits serious consideration and what is particularly important here at the State Department is that the eyes of the world are now on us. We have gone around the world time and time again with ministers and heads of state and parliaments urging countries not to move down the road to develop nuclear weapons. We have used the Comprehensive Test Ban as an important lever in that strategy.

The eyes of the world will be watching what this country does when it comes to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban. We will be in a far stronger position to insist that other countries do not go down the nuclear testing road if we ratify the treaty. We will be in a far worse position - and all those who worry about nonproliferation will have a lot more to worry about - if we don't ratify this treaty and countries around the world don't listen as clearly as we would hope to our efforts to stop their testing.

So if you're a country in the Middle East or in Southwest Asia or elsewhere and you've been hearing over and over again the importance of not going down the road to testing nuclear weapons and the United States were to not ratify this treaty, you are much less likely to listen. That's why it's so important that we move forward, ratify this treaty and protect our country from the prospect of more and more nuclear states.

With those opening remarks, let me go to your questions.

QUESTION: You talk about making the case in a serious, sustained way. The tentative program calls for a vote - I guess - toward the end of this coming week. There's talk of an additional week's delay. How much time do you think you would need to make the case before the vote?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think we have identified a precise number of days. We are working with Senate leaders to come up with a reasonable timetable for bringing the treaty to a vote. We think we can reach an accord on that. We certainly hope that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over this treaty, will reconsider and convene hearings on it.

We're quite aware there have been a number of hearings on the subject of nuclear testing. But that's different than having a formal committee consideration of an actual treaty with the treaty document number and the various steps going through.

I happen to have been a staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during its consideration of the INF Treaty. There are a number of formal steps you go through in hearing from the intelligence community and hearing from the military and hearing from - in this case, the laboratories - and others so that you can answer the legitimate questions.

It's a legitimate question as to what will happen to the reliability of American nuclear weapons. We think we have the answer. The answer is our stockpile reliability program ensures that we will have the reliability we need for our system. But it's a highly scientific matter that needs to be discussed. It's a legitimate question whether a treaty is verifiable adequately.

There is a lot of history to the question of adequate verification. We believe that the answer to the question is that we would be able to detect in militarily significant ways any cheating. That is an answer that requires an examination of our seismic capability, an understanding of the inspection provisions that are allowed and that is a highly technical matter that needs to be addressed by experts under questioning, if everyone is going to get a satisfactory answer.

Similarly, it's also a legitimate question of what effect this treaty will have on the outside world. Well, that again requires an understanding of where India-Pakistan are, where countries in Africa are and where their intentions are, what would be the effect of ratification, what would be the effect of a failure to ratify. These are all legitimate questions.

I don't have a number of days for you, George. I do think that three or four days is not enough. We do think there ought to be hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee formally on this particular treaty document, as opposed to hearings on the question of testing, and we think that that process should include discussions of the fact that both India and Pakistan have expressed interest in signing the Comprehensive Test Ban and allow us an opportunity to make the case that our efforts to persuade them to do so - in the near term - will be much more powerful if we have ratified this agreement.

So the officials are meeting with members of the Senate and their staffs and trying to work out an acceptable arrangement. Certainly, this is something that merits more than a couple of days of formal consideration by the Senate. Again, when I say formal consideration, I mean committee structure, as well as the floor. I am not suggesting how they should do business on the floor.

QUESTION: What's your estimate of the number of votes you have in favor of ratification at this stage? What makes you so confident that you will be able to get those extra votes you need within the next two weeks or whatever?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I can't be confident of the current vote count right now because the process really hasn't begun. The Secretary has decided that she wants to pull out all the stops here at the Department in the coming weeks to try to make the case for this treaty on national interest grounds. This is a treaty that several Administrations have supported in a variety of ways. It was signed on the watch of this Administration and has been put forward in her time as Secretary of State.

She feels very strongly about it. She believes that if there is sufficient time to analyze these legitimate questions and get the answers that the experts can provide, that there will be support for the treaty. I don't have a vote count for you. I don't want to predict exactly who would vote what. But I think our view is that when the Senate of the United States seriously considers a foreign policy matter, when they have all the facts and the analysis in front of them and they have an opportunity to weigh its effect our nation's security, that they make the right decision. That's the confidence that we have, and we think the answer is clear in this case.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. When you said the Secretary wants to pull out all the stops, do you have any specific measures?

MR. RUBIN: Well, meaning that I think she'll be talking to senators. She's going to be delivering remarks in the coming days in California. I think she will be talking about it there. I think that she will be asking Department officials to work with others in the Administration to coordinate our activities and try to make the most persuasive case possible for a treaty that we believe is fundamentally in our national interests. Same subject?

QUESTION: Different subject.

MR. RUBIN: Over here.

QUESTION: Still on the same subject. You said, Jamie, that we don't want to see this become a partisan issue.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: Does this building believe that by the Senate going ahead with this vote next week that they are making a partisan issue, that they are trying to take away a big priority of this Administration?

MR. RUBIN: We want enough time to be allowed so that a reasonable timetable can be developed for consideration of this treaty. I don't want to begin a process we have avoided here in the State Department for at least as long as I've been standing behind this podium, to get into a partisan discussion here.

We certainly disagree, respectfully, with those who oppose this treaty. We hope that they have the same respect for those that support it. In order to give the supporters of this treaty - primarily the President, who is submitting it to the Senate for ratification - the opportunity to make its case, we think we need a reasonable period of time. If we have that reasonable period of time, and it's considered on its merits, the legitimate questions are asked and answered, then that would not be a partisan exercise.

More on this.

QUESTION: Yes, on the same subject.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any precedent for a major treaty going directly to the floor of the Senate without having hearings in the appropriate committee?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not an expert on that. I think someone in our Legislative Affairs Bureau might be able to answer the question. I think it probably depends on how you define major. I'm sure there have been treaties that have been sent straight to the floor. But how major they were is probably where the difficult - I've certainly followed the arms control treaties in the last 20 years, and there is no precedent. In the case of the INF Treaty, the START Treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention - all were considered by the committee, first.

QUESTION: If I could follow - it seems very unlikely that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings. You've got to face reality on that. Has the Department thought of some other venue that it might be able to present that same set of the intelligence briefings, the military briefings to answer senators' questions? If you invited them, would they come?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if we build it, I'm sure they will come. I suspect there are other - when I worked in the Senate I know that the various committees all had interests in arms control treaties - the Intelligence Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee. The Foreign Relations Committee has formal jurisdiction, but the others have an interest. So I wouldn't be surprised if other committees, perhaps, had hearings.

If the senators on the Foreign Relations Committee conclude that they have enough information to vote, there is nothing we can do about that. We just want to be sure that there is an opportunity for legitimate questions to be asked and answered in a serious way.

Any more on this?

QUESTION: Has American nonratification been raised by the Indians or the Pakistanis in the talks that you have had and your efforts to persuade them to sign it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I know Secretary Albright met with Foreign Ministers of both India and Pakistan last week. This recent development occurred after those meetings. But it is certainly true that in numerous diplomatic contacts with the Indians and the Pakistanis and with many other countries, the question of Senate ratification and American ratification of CTBT has come up, yes.

Any more on this? Charlie, go ahead.

QUESTION: Jamie, can we turn to Chechnya and understanding that Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to make a speech later today which may bear on this, can you talk about - nonetheless, can you talk about what the State Department understands the Russians are doing on the ground and what you are telling them about doing that kind of thing or more on the ground?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that we have raised with Russian officials our concern about continued escalation as well as recent military actions. We have asked the Russians to clarify their actions and intentions. The Russians have said their forces are moving to geographic positions inside Chechnya to implement what they are calling a security zone to prevent further incursions by the insurgents. We are monitoring the situation closely. We continue to believe that any resumption of general hostilities in Chechnya would damage Russia's own interests and would further threaten stability in the entire northern Caucasus region.

We have urged a constructive dialogue involving all legitimate leaders in the north Caucasus and remain convinced that only in this manner will the Russians be able to achieve long-lasting stability and security in the region. We are concerned - deeply concerned - that the use of force will make that dialogue that much harder to occur.

Let me reiterate that we have expressed time and time again our support for the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. We have condemned violence, provocations and acts of terrorism by armed groups against lawful authorities. At the same time, we have also underscored the importance for all concerned to act responsibly and to respect human rights. We urge all parties to refrain from indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force that would harm innocent civilians.

Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to be delivering a speech in which he will address this question later this afternoon in Boston. I think the key point that he will make on this subject is that Russia must show both restraint and wisdom in the coming days and what that means is taking actions against real terrorists but not using indiscriminate force that endangers innocents or resuming the disastrous 1994 to '96 war in Chechnya.

It means opening a political dialogue with the more pragmatic leaders in the north Caucasus, not antagonizing them or their populations. It also means stepping up pressure to prevent further bombings but doing so in a way that avoids making Chechens or people from the Caucasus second class citizens or in any other way tramples on the hard-won civil and human rights that are now prevalent in Russia. It means working cooperatively with neighboring states to deal with the underlying economic and security problems of the Caucasus but not pressuring those neighbors in ways that will shake their own sense of stability and independence.

So we are concerned about the situation, we have been talking to Russia about it. We are very concerned about the fact that there are reports now of 80- to 100,000 refugees who have fled the fighting in Chechnya. We understand the Russians have asked for international assistance in dealing with this and, according to the UN, the first shipments of emergency aid have now arrived in the region.

We will continue to contribute to regional programs of the United Nations that are best suited to deliver assistance to the region, including the $4 million the United States has decided to provide, an additional $4 million to UN and the Red Cross for funding in this area.

QUESTION: Jamie, for the past couple days, you have been urging restraint and been saying you are concerned about continuing escalation. The Russians seem to have escalated on both military and political grounds. I mean, today, Prime Minister Putin says that the Chechen President is not legitimate in the eyes of Moscow, which doesn't leave too much hope for optimism, I would think, for talks, dialogue between what you just termed moderate leaders. So I am just wondering, what's the US reaction to --

MR. RUBIN: You have certainly correctly pointed out the difficulties of this situation and I appreciate that. But let me say that we are expressing our views to Russia. We are trying to explain to them what we think would be a negative direction that they are heading down and the dangers of that negative direction. But we can't dictate to them how they proceed. We can tell them about the danger of using force. We can strongly urge that force not be used indiscriminately. We can encourage dialogue. We can explain to them how the failure - that the use of force can make that dialogue extremely difficult to begin and then succeed if it does begin. But ultimately, this is a decision that they have made that we are concerned about. We will continue to make that concern known to them.

I would say that I would strongly dispute the suggestion made by some Russian officials that there is an analogy to NATO's bombing of Belgrade. This is a substantively and procedurally unsound and almost ridiculous analogy. First of all, what we did in Kosovo was respond to a situation where hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons were threatened by the Serb forces. It's a completely different situation. Secondly, there was a leader to coerce in Serbia through bombing. Our military action successfully coerced Milosevic into removing his forces from Kosovo. In the case of Chechnya, there is no leader to coerce who has control over the rebels. So it is a questionable analogy that raises the obvious point that the tactics are something that we have our doubts about.

QUESTION: Jamie, yesterday, Victor Chernomyrdin when asked about the influence, the role that Bin Laden was playing in Chechnya said that money and some leadership was given through the Chechen rebels and Mr. Chernomyrdin said that he would favor a cooperative effort on the part of the United States, Russia and other countries that have been victims of fundamentalist terrorism. Are we currently working - first of all, does that ring a bell? Is that accurate? And, secondly, are we working with the Russians currently against such threats as Bin Laden?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that when the bombs first exploded in the apartment buildings in Moscow and in Russia, the Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Ivanov and I believe the President sent a message to President Yeltsin and we offered our forensic and technical assistance. We and Russia are united and partners in a fight - it is the fight against international terrorism. I think we felt very strongly the horror that must have been felt by millions of Russians to know that they could die in their sleep in their apartment buildings as a result of bombs by terrorists who, in the most cowardly way, have attacked innocent people

So we will be cooperating with Russia in the fight against terrorism, including information and logistical assistance. I would expect - I know Secretary Albright is considering sending her counter-terrorism expert, Ambassador Michael Sheehan, to Moscow to work with the Russians on this project. There have been a number of exchanges at the technical level.

With respect to Usama Bin Laden, let me say we are familiar with reports linking some of these rebels to Usama Bin Laden, linking them in general and that they have ties to Usama Bin Laden. But I am not aware of any direct reports confirming a formal link in this particular operation.

QUESTION: No money link to Chechnya in this particular operation?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I am trying to use my words very carefully. We are aware of links and ties between these figures but we are not aware of any specific information confirming some of these links that have been suggested. We are investigating this. We are concerned about it and certainly some Russian officials believe it. But before we are willing to state it as our view, we need further careful analysis and study and information.

QUESTION: Will the text be available here this afternoon?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. We will make it available as soon as we can get a final go-ahead, perhaps even under an embargoed basis, from Deputy Secretary Talbott's party in Boston.

QUESTION: Do you know anything more about the situation at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok? Is there an American being held in there? Do you know anything about this group that is occupying it, what the status of all that is?

MR. RUBIN: We can confirm that about 12 individuals identifying themselves as Burmese activists seized the Burmese embassy in Bangkok today at about noon local time. We strongly condemn this terrorist attack on a diplomatic establishment and the taking of hostages, regardless of the perpetrators' motives or demands. There is, simply, no justification for terrorism under any circumstances. We hold the perpetrators responsible for the safety of the hostages. They should release them immediately and unconditionally.

At this time, there is conflicting information. We have seen reports indicating that there may be an American citizen among the hostages. However, Thai authorities have told our embassy in Bangkok that to the best of their knowledge, there are no Americans among the hostages. We continue to pursue information about possible Americans.

Let me point out that the United States certainly is second to none in opposing the policies of the Burmese leadership that have repressed their own people, denied democracy to Aung San Suu Kyi and the numerous other brave activists who have sought only their legitimate international rights. Having said that, however, we condemn the use of terrorism for any purpose.

QUESTION: Jamie, outside of the technical consultations that are going on between State Department and DOE experts and the Japanese, have the Japanese asked for any additional US assistance?

MR. RUBIN: What I know about the accident is as follows: That according to the Japanese, the reaction is now under control, assessments continue to be made. We stand ready to help if the Japanese should request further assistance.

We have received no new requests for assistance. As requested yesterday, we have provided the Japanese with technical information concerning criticality incidents at similar facilities in the United States as well as technical manuals on after-action measures relevant to this type of accident and we have received no new requests since then.

QUESTION: Can we stay on that for just a second?

MR. RUBIN: I am not sure we have much more ground to plow but let's stay anyway.

QUESTION: Are there any US assets anywhere in the world that have detected any increased radioactivity anywhere as a result of this?

MR. RUBIN: Wow. That's what we call a broad-based question.

Well, I will have to check with those, with the assets, before I can answer that question.

QUESTION: Yesterday afternoon, you released a statement about Yugolsav police breaking up an opposition rally in Belgrade.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: Just before you released that - that statement also called for them to go ahead and let the demonstration that was supposed to be for last night go ahead. And just before you released the statement, the police again broke up, for the second day in a row, this. So let me finish lobbing this softball at you. What's your position now, what's the US reaction to the continued breaking up of --

MR. RUBIN: For the second night in a row in Belgrade, hundreds of Milosevic's riot police used batons, water cannons and tear gas to beat and disperse 50- to 60,000 pro-democracy demonstrators who had assembled peacefully to cross the Sava River. Last night, police began to beat demonstrators even before they could begin their march. As many as 30 people were reportedly injured. Milosevic's police arrested approximately 20 pro-democracy demonstrators last night. Today, they are surrounding the office of the Alliance for Change.

These beatings and arrests are occurring in conjunction with other examples of heightened police repression by Milosevic this week including police going door to door to check identity documents and residence papers, electronic media covering the demonstrations are increasingly being jammed and, today, police shut down the printing plant and sealed off the premises of the independent daily.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this latest wave of repression by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. We are demanding that those arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression be released immediately. Police brutality is not deterring the people of Serbia from turning out in increasing numbers to demonstrate their support for democracy. This increasing reliance on force and police state tactics only makes clear how dependent Milosevic is on the forces of repression and how far he is prepared to go in order to maintain his grip on power.

QUESTION: Is there anything different that you all are going to be doing with opposition members in light of this brutality? I mean, are there any stepped up meetings with opposition leaders being planned by Administration officials?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we have a number of contacts with a number of officials who have information about what's going on inside Serbia. An example of that would be the meeting that Secretary Albright had with Prime Minister Dodik yesterday. Prime Minister Dodik is a staunch supporter of the democratic opposition in Serbia and takes the view that a regional solution requires democracy in Serbia.

So we will certainly stay in contact with figures that we believe can help us ascertain what's going on and where we can be most helpful. But we said for a long time the only democratic movement that will succeed in Serbia is one that comes from the people of Serbia and they are the ones that have to act in order to promote democracy in Serbia.

I think that the Secretary has asked Ambassador Dobbins to go back to the region next week and I believe he is doing so. I don't know a full schedule of his meetings but I would expect that the question of the democratization of Serbia will be high on his agenda.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) opposition figures?

MR. RUBIN: I would expect him to meet with officials as part of our effort to ascertain how we can be helpful. I don't know what specific opposition leaders he will or won't meet with but I will try to get you copies or information about his schedule as soon as I can.

QUESTION: One more question. Around the time of Kosovo, you all helped establish sort of a ring of FM radio stations.

MR. RUBIN: That continues to operate.

QUESTION: Are you stepping up the schedule?

MR. RUBIN: I will check on the schedule for that but it continues to operate.

QUESTION: Dobbins trip, that wasn't occasioned by this latest? This was just a regular?

MR. RUBIN: No, I think that from time to time it's appropriate for him to go. I don't think there was a sudden decision last night or the day before.

QUESTION: Does he go to Belgrade to have these meetings?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Or is that not possible?

MR. RUBIN: No, that hasn't been happening. We don't have an embassy there, and what has happened is various senior officials have met with - as have numerous countries' - European ministers -- met with opposition figures, Serbian democrats, outside of Serbia, proper.

QUESTION: Where?

MR. RUBIN: Well, a number of different locations.

QUESTION: Another topic, that being China and Taiwan. Mr. Zhu yesterday in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Communist China said that it was US support for Taiwan that had emboldened President Lee and was making more inevitable - he said, I quote, "sooner or later it will lead to an armed resolution of the question because the Chinese people will become very impatient." Is that just the stock rhetoric coming from the party at a time of their celebration? Or is this fatalism, is that a serious problem?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that it's not a new position for China to view the US implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act, or any other aspects of our policy, as one of the reasons Taiwan doesn't proceed on a course that China would prefer on any given subject. So there's nothing new there.

We are aware of these remarks attributed to him. We believe both sides should have a sense of responsibility for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and should refrain - that is both sides - from statements or actions that raise tensions.

Our statements and actions have been designed to reduce tensions and promote a peaceful resolution of differences. That is what we've been doing. We certainly hope others do the same.

QUESTION: Does the US have any words - kind or otherwise - for China on its 50th anniversary?

MR. RUBIN: We congratulate the People's Republic of China on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its founding. China has achieved remarkable economic advances over the past two decades. We look forward to making further progress across the full range of bilateral relations in the year to come. Obviously, US-China relations have had their ups and downs. We remain committed to working with China in areas of mutual interest and engaging China in frank discussion in areas where we disagree.

QUESTION: If I just finish, does the US Government believe that it is the will of the Chinese people and they are growing impatient for resolution of the matter of the runaway, renegade republic of Taiwan? Is it this a popular movement in your eyes?

MR. RUBIN: We have never regarded the decisions of their leadership as necessarily reflecting a lot of polling.

QUESTION: On Mr. Zhu's statement, would you care to say whether that specific statement tends to increase tensions?

MR. RUBIN: We think that a number of statements on both sides have made it harder for a cross-Strait dialogue. I don't think that statement falls outside of that view.

QUESTION: This week the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Ecevit, was in town. He met several times with Secretary of State Albright. Are you satisfied at the end of this meeting? Or still, do you have some disagreements?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the United States and Turkey have a very close relationship. Turkey is a NATO ally. The Secretary has met numerous times with Turkish officials. I don't think it's common in any meeting with an ally, a friend, or an opponent to come away from a meeting with everything.

In fact, I sat with the Secretary in her - I don't know the number was something extraordinary, like 60 to 100 different ministerial meetings - or ministers that she met in meetings in New York - and I don't remember any meeting that ended with the two ministers saying, we've solved all the problems in our bilateral relations. There's no need for us to meet again.

So the answer to your question is we thought it was a constructive meeting. We thought it was a helpful discussion. We, I think, briefed extensively on the issue. The Prime Minister and the President agreed that there cannot be a solution to the problem of Cyprus that would return the security situation to what it was before 1974, that all Cypriots must live in security. We were pleased the Prime Minister supported President Clinton's idea that he send his Special Emissary Moses and Coordinator Weston to the region next week to explore ways to move forward. We believe that concrete progress was made in the meeting, and we have a real chance to move and exploit the window of opportunity that exists this fall. But that doesn't mean that everything is ever perfect in any relationship, including with close allies like Turkey.

QUESTION: How about the human rights issues?

MR. RUBIN: I know that human rights issues came up. I think we've continue to point out our concerns. We have also acknowledged progress where that has occurred. But human rights is always part of a discussion that we would have with Turkey.

QUESTION: Do you see any signs that you might be able to finesse this problem of representation of the two Cypriot communities? Any resumed talks on Cyprus?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think representation is a particularly solvable problem. I think the leaders of the two communities need to be represented, and there is no way around that. The UN is going to determine the modalities of the talks. We are in favor of comprehensive negotiations without preconditions under UN auspices, and we in favor of any modality that results in this outcome.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:30 p.m.)


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