U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #31, 00-04-10
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
Monday, April 10, 2000
Briefer: James P. Rubin
NORTH KOREA / SOUTH KOREA
1-7 Republic of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Summit Scheduled June 12 through 14 / Direct Dialogue is
Central to Peace and Stability on the Korean Peninsula.
4 U.S. Concerns About the Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs
/ Implementation of Agreed Framework / Missile Talks
Planned in the Future.
5 North Korea High Level Visit to U.S.
7 U.S.-North Korea Relations / Removal from Terrorism List
3 U.S. Deployment of Forces and Troops and Equipment in South
Korea justified by the Historical Situation
7 U.S. Notes that National Elections Conducted Under Orderly
8 U.S. Congratulates Prime Minister Simities on His Reelection
9 U.S. Congratulates President Sheverdnaza on His Reelection /
OSCE and Council of Europe Indicated Serious Irregulatories in
the Conduct of Elections.
9-10 Chinese Ambassador Briefed at State Department on the CIA
Report and Actions Taken by the CIA.
10-12 Prime Minister Barak to Visit Washington, D.C. / Bolling Talks.
11 Syria Track.
13 Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon.
12 Sale of Arms to China / Support of Chinese Military
15 State of Emergency Announced by President Hugo Banzer.
15 Impact of Elian Gonzalez Case on U.S.-Cuba Relations.
15-18 U.S. Deeply Concerned about the Credible Reports of Gross
Human Rights Abuses Committed by Russian Forces in Chechnya.
17-18 Lower House of Duma Voting on the Start II Treaty / American
Citizen Remains in Custody
19 of the Russian Federal Service / Foreign Minister Ivanov Visit
19 Municipal Elections
20 U.S. Organizing Protecting Power Arrangements in Belgrade
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2000, 12:55 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to today's briefing here at the State
Department. Unfortunately, today I can not say that it's an on-time
performance, and I really have no excuse for that. So let me just go right
to a few statements that we'll have to start with, given the developments
in various parts of the world.
First, on the meeting between South Korea and North Korea, Secretary
Albright warmly welcomes the announcement that the Republic of Korea and
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will hold a summit June 12th
through 14th. Secretary Albright spoke to her counterpart, Foreign Minister
Lee of South Korea, early this morning to convey our strong support for
this meeting, which we believe will be a history-making event.
Direct dialogue between the South and the North is central to peace and
stability on the Korean peninsula. President Kim Dae-Jung's leadership and
encouragement for engagement, for a dialogue between the United States and
North Korea, and for the efforts that Japan has made to have a dialogue
with North Korea, has opened the door for this important step.
The United States has long worked in favor of achieving such dialogues,
which are envisaged as part of the process that former Secretary Perry
outlined. The United States, South Korea and Japan have consulted closely
to achieve a coordinated policy in pursuing our common concerns, including
on the issues of weapons of mass destruction and medium- and long-range
missiles. We look forward to continuing discussion with our allies on
Maybe we could stay on that and then move to other subjects, if anybody has
QUESTION: One last thought, sort of half answer the -- (inaudible) - from
here - from there where - you're not going to call off your missile defense
program if they agree to curb their missile program. You see other threats
out there. But what dividends do you see coming? You refer to peace on the
peninsula. Could you be a little more specific about your aspirations
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Clearly, the ultimate way to achieve peace and stability
on the Korean Peninsula, which has long been a goal of the United States
and our South Korean allies as well as Japan, is an improved relationship
between North and South. And that has been central to our understanding and
our objectives is to get that kind of long-term answer to the stability and
problem on the Korean Peninsula.
In the meantime - and coincident with that goal - we've had some specific
concerns about the weapons of mass destruction programs, leading to the
Agreed Framework, and the discussions we've been having on seeing that that
Agreed Framework is implemented, as well as on the export and deployment
and production of medium- and long-range missiles, which has led to a
number of discussions we've had with North Korea and we still are planning
to schedule another round of missile talks led by Bob Einhorn.
QUESTION: What about the proposed high-level meeting here in Washington
involving a North Korean official?
MR. RUBIN: We see both of these efforts as coincident. Ironically, last
week, one of the criticisms we were facing was what have we done to promote
North-South dialogue. Clearly, there is now a prospect for a level of North-
South dialogue that has not occurred in a long, long time.
So our view is that we will continue to pursue our track of this policy.
And the beauty of the coordinating mechanism between us and South Korea and
Japan is that we can do all those in sync, and every step we have taken in
our discussions with North Korea have been designed to increase the chances
that the leaders of North and South and the officials of North and South
will have a dialogue. So we see ourselves operating on a parallel
effort and we will continue to pursue our effort just as we, in close
coordination with South Korea, are hopeful that their effort will bear
QUESTION: Would it be timely for think tanks to begin setting up seminars
on the end of North Korea's isolation? Looking back at what's happened over
the last year or so, are they coming out? Are they now joining the world,
do you think, or is it a little early to make that judgment?
MR. RUBIN: Maybe I will have more to say about what think tanks should do
in about three-and-a-half weeks.
QUESTION: I'm just curious. Earlier today, the language from this
building was a tiny bit different. You said - unless I totally screwed it
up, which is a possibility - you said "could be an historic event" and now
you're saying, "will be an historic event." Now, has something happened in
the last three hours to go from - I mean, obviously, just the fact
that they're meeting together is historic in itself. But the idea
was that there would be something historic that would come out of
it or could be earlier. And now it's "will" be.
QUESTION: He's going to call it a setback.
QUESTION: US policy on Korea fails - (laughter).
MR. RUBIN: It could be a setback.
You have a keen ear but I wouldn't read anything into it.
QUESTION: I thought of my other question. You've mentioned all the things
you would like to see North Korea do --
MR. RUBIN: And it may be more the mistake of the officials you might have
been talking to at that hour of the morning, rather than your inability to
listen clearly at that hour of the morning.
QUESTION: Fair enough. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You've mentioned some of the things you would like to see North
Korea do. Since you're looking into the future on that side, why don't we
look into the future a little bit on the US side. The US has done a few
things on the peninsula. Land mines are all over the DMZ. There are troops,
thousands of troops, that haven't been home in 50 years. Of course, it's
their grandchildren who are there now, but it's a 50-year. Jimmy Carter
momentarily thought of removing troops when the walls caved in on him,
as when Mansfield talked about troops in Europe.
MR. RUBIN: A lot of history packed into that question there.
QUESTION: Well, I'm trying to explain, there's a reason behind this
MR. RUBIN: There's clearly a place for you at that think-tanker
QUESTION: Not yet. No, I won't even go there in three and a half
But the US has done some stuff out there that, you know, some people would
call provocative as well, like putting thousands of troops there, placing
land mines all over the place and making it impossible to sign on to a
total ban on land mines. Could this, in any way, influence US behavior as
well as North Korean behavior?
MR. RUBIN: From our standpoint, our deployment of forces and troops and
equipment in South Korea was justified by the historical situation there.
That remains our view. I'm not aware of any changes in those plans. North
Korea has sought to discuss this issue. Obviously, we'd be prepared to
discuss any issue, but there's no planning, to my knowledge, to change our
force posture there.
Obviously, if there was a full-fledged peace on the Korean Peninsula, that
would have an impact on anything we do, but I'm not going to speculate
about that hypothetical future. When I say a history-making event, to have
Kim Dae-Jung, the elected leader of South Korea, meet with the leader of
North Korea is, I think, by its own sake, a history-making event. Whether
it will achieve history-making results is something that I don't care to
speculate on two months in advance.
QUESTION: Would you review the bidding for us? Even given all of this -
and it appears to be very cheerful news - what concerns does the United
States continue to have about North Korea's ballistic missile proliferation?
MR. RUBIN: I think I indicated in the statement from Secretary Albright
that we would continue to pursue our common concerns regarding weapons of
mass destruction and making sure that the Agreed Framework is fully
implemented and pursuing our bilateral effort to get missile talks with
North Korea scheduled - and they've indicated they are prepared to schedule
them - so that we can deal with the concerns, the very real ones we have,
about not only the development and production in North Korea of their
own missiles but the potential for those missile systems being proliferated
and spread to other countries.
So we have profound concerns in the area of proliferation, including
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and we will
continue to pursue those. Those are concern that we and South Korea and
QUESTION: Do you see any movement at this point from North Korea that
they're listening to this or prepared to curb their activities?
MR. RUBIN: Well, clearly in recent months there have been indications of
that. We've had a statement by North Korea that they would not test a long-
range missile pending the continued work together with us to improve
relations, and there has been no such test and they have indicated they
intend to stand by that statement.
In the meantime, we have indicated we would want to formalize that process
through this high-level dialogue that we are trying to put together. So
there have been, on the nuclear front, obviously dramatic actions taken
beginning in 1994 that protected the United States and its allies and South
Korea from the rather frightening prospect of North Korea armed with dozens
of nuclear weapons.
Similarly, on the missile side, we have moved to try to limit the potential
threat through the ways I just mentioned.
QUESTION: Aren't you concerned about the timing of the announcement, only
three days away - general elections is only three days away, and there is
an argument that this announcement and the summit meeting is a political
maneuver which is argued by the opposition party. And if you look at the
two announcements on both sides, there are conflicting issues. North Korea
argues that this was made at the request of South Korean president;
on the other hand, South Korea argues that this is made at the invitation
of Kim Chong-il.
Were you aware of the facts and when were you informed about the scheduled
MR. RUBIN: We have been in close consultation with the South Korean
Government, and we warmly welcome this announcement. I don't care to get
into greater detail about our consultative process but we have been in
close consultation with the South Korean Government throughout this
With respect to the timing of the announcement with respect to South Korean
elections, I suspect that you would get an answer from the officials in
South Korea. That is not for me to speculate on from here.
With respect to the facts in the different but quite similar statements,
we're aware of that, yes.
QUESTION: Are there arrangements already with South Korea on a readout or
is it just something you would normally expect?
MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, we have been in close consultation with
Japan and South Korea in the course of this issue, both before, during and
after meetings. Wendy Sherman has logged a lot of miles, traveling to South
Korea and Japan and vice-versa, to ensure a close consultation occurs
before, during and after these meetings.
In addition, there are going to be some preliminary discussions, as I
understand it, between the North and the South to set up this meeting, and
those are expected later this month.
QUESTION: In making the summit realized, what is the role of the United
States? What has the United States done and --
MR. RUBIN: What's the role?
QUESTION: -- to make it something realized?
MR. RUBIN: What I said in response to one of your colleague's questions
is that every step we've taken in our bilateral discussions with North
Korea - and you're familiar with the numerous contacts we have had with
North Korea - have been designed, all of the steps, with the idea in mind
of promoting a North-South dialogue, hopefully at the highest possible
levels that is appropriate. So we have been involved in the beginning in
urging and pushing and recognizing that, in the absence of a North-South
dialogue, that the long-term question of peace and stability on the
Korean Peninsula cannot be resolved in a positive way.
QUESTION: In regards to the high-level meeting here in Washington, is
there any hope that that would occur within a certain time frame, within
six months, within this year?
MR. RUBIN: We continue to believe that both we and North Korea want to
have that visit take place. We've had no indication they don't want that
visit to take place and we are continuing to pursue that visit.
QUESTION: The discussions that are going to take place later in the month,
does the US intend to participate or have they been asked to participate?
MR. RUBIN: No, these are bilateral meetings, and a bilateral meeting is
what we are talking about here. But just as we have had bilateral meetings
with North Korea that have been preceded and followed by extensive
consultation between us and South Korea and North Korea, you can assume
that that kind of process will take place.
I assume you don't want to ask about - is it about North Korea?
QUESTION: North has been very active with their diplomatic activities the
last couple months. They've opened their diplomatic relations with Italy
and they have resumed with Japan. So I'm just wondering about what do you
see this North active diplomacy the last couple months?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to speculate as to what their motives are.
North Korea is a very opaque society, and I think anyone who states with
great wisdom the intent of North Korea, I think is not being particularly
prudent in their analysis.
From our perspective, what's important is that any openings that do occur
with us, with South Korea, with European allies, all take into account the
very real and serious concerns we have about North Korean actions, and that
all of those openings are designed to promote the kind of changes that are
in our national interest. So I described in reference to one of your
colleague's questions steps that were important on the Agreed Framework and
what it did for the national security of the United States and its
allies and the world in stopping the potential danger of a nuclear-armed-
with-dozens-and-dozens-of-weapons North Korea.
Similarly, in recent months these openings, as you described them, have
been occurring coincident with the steps that I described on the missile
side. So what's important here from our standpoint is that any improved
relations North Korea has with the outside world will come as North Korea's
actions are increasingly consistent with the norms of the international
QUESTION: A similar question but it had a little bit more to do with why
you think they would be making - why you think Kim Chong-il, after six
years as his country's dear leader, would decide that the time is right now
to begin rapprochement with the South.
MR. RUBIN: Well, there have been North-South agreements before. In 1991,
there was a very important attempt. So as I understand it, the previous
leader was working on a North-South exercise prior to his death. So there
is not anything dramatically new about a leader of the North being prepared
to work seriously with a leader of the South, in the sense that that's
happened before, it's been discussed before. But what will be new is that
it will actually occur at this level with an elected leader, Kim Dae-Jung,
who has made it a point of pursuing engagement with North Korea as one of
his stated policy objectives.
So with respect to why Kim Chong-il has done this, I suspect that you and
your network may have a more clear opportunity to ask him that question
than we will.
QUESTION: You said a few weeks ago that North Korea was a possible
candidate for removal from the terrorism list if they met certain
conditions. Are they any closer to meeting those conditions? Do you see any
prospect of that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we had a meeting with them. Mike Sheehan, our Counter-
Terrorism Coordinator, had a very extensive discussion with North Korean
counterparts in New York, I believe, in which he laid out what steps needed
to be taken for North Korea to meet the appropriate standards to remove
themselves from the list. We have not seen implementation of those points
at this time, but we certainly hope that happens - and the sooner the
QUESTION: What kind of an inference will these inter-Korean summit talks
give on the relationship between United States and North Korea, whether
these inter-Korean summit talks improve the relationship between United
States and North Korea or to suspend the relationship between United States
and North Korea?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we believe and have operated under the assumption that
we can work to achieve our objectives with North Korea in sync with South
Korea and Japan having discussions with North Korea. That is the premise of
our policy. That's why this trilateral working group has been set up so
that Japan and North Korea can talk, South Korea and North Korea can talk,
the United States and North Korea can talk, because we have a mutual
set of concerns. We are all democracies, we have very strong defense
and security ties and, because of those links, we are able to pursue a
common agenda in our discussions with North Korea. And so far that has been,
in our view, the appropriate way to go.
QUESTION: A different subject?
MR. RUBIN: Well, before we do that, let me - I have a couple more
statements that I hope you'll bear with me. It's just one of those days. I
try to avoid this when possible.
The United States notes that the voting in Peru's April 9th national
elections was conducted under orderly conditions. Despite reports of
irregularities, which are still being evaluated, the government of Peru,
the various parties and the domestic and international observers, all
worked to ensure a peaceful and orderly vote.
We note that the government of Peru undertook some steps late in the
campaign to address deficiencies and abuses documented by the Carter Center
and others. Nonetheless, the people of Peru went to the polls and carried
out - following an electoral campaign that was carried out on an uneven
We urge the government of Peru and Peru's elected authorities to take every
possible measure to ensure that the next round of voting fully meets
democratic standards of openness, transparency and fairness. The legitimacy
of the next president is at stake.
As we have said from the outset, we remain neutral on whichever candidate
is ultimately elected in a free and fair process.
Unfortunately, if there is no more, I do have a statement that we are going
to put out both on the Congo and on Sierra Leone after the briefing.
QUESTION: Okay, well, since you went to Peru, that was just one of a
spate of elections over the weekend. Maybe we can get them all over with in
one fell swoop here. Greece and Georgia.
MR. RUBIN: Let's let our friend in the back ask the Greece question.
QUESTION: Any comment for the next prime minister of Greece, Kostis
Simitis, who won yesterday with a weak majority?
MR. RUBIN: We congratulate Prime Minister Simitis on his reelection
victory yesterday. We note that his political party and the main opposition
party both supported closer integration with Europe and economic reform,
policies which we believe are important to the future of Greece. We wish
the new government success and look forward to sustaining our friendship
and close alliance with Greece, deepening our bilateral partnership
and bolstering cooperation across the board.
The President sent a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Simitis and
the Secretary has also been in touch with her counterpart, George
Papandreou, earlier today.
QUESTION: Mr. Rubin, Ambassador Nicholas Burns stated today that this is
for the first time since World War II that the US was not an issue in the
campaign. Do you know what prompted Nicholas Burns to make such a statement
since he is your representative in Athens?
MR. RUBIN: I will have to ask him what prompted him to make such a
statement. But, as a journalist, I am sure you wouldn't want to deter
ambassadors from answering questions they're asked.
QUESTION: He's the representative of the US Government in Athens, and
what prompted him to make such a statement?
MR. RUBIN: But I'll have to ask him what prompted him to make such as
statement. But I encourage you to pick up the phone as well. I know you and
he had a special relationship.
QUESTION: One more question. Based on Mr. Nicholas Burns' statement, may
we assume that this is also for the first time since World War II that the
US did not interfere with the Greek elections?
QUESTION: It's a matter of the record.
MR. RUBIN: The answer to your question is contained in its flawed
QUESTION: Can we get Georgia? And then I want to ask my original
question. What I wanted to ask in the first place was about China.
MR. RUBIN: We'll get to that. On Georgia, the United States congratulates
President Shevardnadze on his reelection. We look forward to continuing our
close cooperation in the next five years as Georgia continues to build a
democratic, market-oriented state.
The OSCE stated that considerable progress is necessary for Georgia to meet
fully its commitments as a participating state of the OSCE. Both the OSCE
and the Council of Europe indicated serious irregularities in the conduct
of the elections, including instances of ballot-stuffing, media bias and
lack of transparency in vote counting and tabulation. While Georgia has
made strides in democratic and free market reforms, this election
highlights the challenges that Georgia still faces as it develops strong
democratic institutions. It will be important for Georgia to continue to
work with the OSCE and the Council of Europe in further building a
QUESTION: Is this the first time since independence that the US hadn't
interfered in the Georgian - (laughter)
I wanted to ask about China. You know, the Chinese have said that the
latest round of firings and reprimands are not sufficient, and I'm just
wondering what you make of that. And can the Chinese expect to get any more,
or is this as far as the US is going to go on this?
MR. RUBIN: Well, on Saturday, Under Secretary Pickering briefed the
Chinese Ambassador here at the State Department on the report by the CIA
and the Director of Central Intelligence's actions. Our Embassy in Beijing
today also informed the Chinese Government of the report and the actions
taken by the CIA.
With respect to their statements on this matter, let me simply say we
believe that the investigation reported to the Chinese in June 1999 by
Under Secretary Pickering and the CIA's recently concluded accountability
review have been thorough and complete, and we have followed through and
implemented fully our commitment to the Chinese to brief them fully on the
QUESTION: In other words, no matter how much more they yell and scream,
there isn't going to be anything else? This is it? I mean, the case is
closed now, according to Washington?
MR. RUBIN: From our perspective, we briefed them on what happened. We
conducted a thorough accountability review to determine the procedures
used. We've now - and the CIA has put this out in great detail and I'm not
going to review all of that - steps that need to be taken to prevent this
kind of thing, specific disciplinary measures, and these are the actions
that we said we would follow through on. We have now done so.
QUESTION: There is, though, an impression that all this is giving that
the firing took place at the request of the Chinese - and the reprimands. I
mean, is that a misimpression?
MR. RUBIN: Well, you're obviously asking the wrong person because the
person who made this decision is the Director of Central Intelligence. But
I can not imagine that our actions were directed from outside. We took the
actions that we thought were appropriate based on the facts of the case,
the accountability review, and the appropriate steps of the CIA Director.
QUESTION: In other words, all of this would have happened if the Chinese
hadn't made it a major issue?
MR. RUBIN: Well, if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bicycle. I
can't answer a hypothetical question like that. What I can tell you is what
we did and what steps we took and why we took them. And beyond that,
speculating on what parallel universe we would be operating in if something
else had happened, I just can't answer.
QUESTION: With the Prime Minister of Israel is coming here tomorrow for a
quick visit and you have talks going on at Bolling, what's your current
evaluation of the pace of those talks? Is Israel pulling back fast enough?
Arafat had some negative things to say over the weekend.
MR. RUBIN: Well, some have suggested that these are a waste of time or
there's no progress being made. Frankly, that is not our assessment. There
are gaps, but on issues this profound and negotiations this difficult, gaps
are to be expected. And both sides are making real efforts to move forward,
in our view, and they're engaged in serious and intensive discussions. And
we believe they've gotten off to a good start.
We expect to discuss with Prime Minister Barak efforts to accelerate and
intensify these efforts so that we can achieve a framework agreement as
soon as possible and conclude an agreement on all the permanent status
issues by September 13th of this year, which is a formidable challenge.
QUESTION: Well, maybe he overstated, in your view. But he - Arafat - says
it's a waste of time. You say, you know, you're going to look at ways to
accelerate. So they're not really moving at the pace you'd like, are
MR. RUBIN: Frankly, it is not our assessment that they are a waste of
QUESTION: No, I know that.
MR. RUBIN: The objective is a formidable challenge to meet the objective
of a September 13th agreement. And in order to meet that challenge, we
think it's appropriate to pick up the pace by accelerating these talks
through discussions with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat.
Nevertheless, we believe these talks have been important, have been serious
and have been substantive.
QUESTION: He also - I wish I brought the quote. You know, it was an all-
purpose quote. He called it a waste of time but he also characterized Barak
in a - he didn't use the word intransigent or whatever the Arabic word for
intransigent is but he suggested Arafat is - I mean that Barak is holding
back, is not giving, is not conciliatory. Is that your estimate of Mr.
MR. RUBIN: Our view has been that both sides would do better focusing
their efforts on the discussions in the peace talks, rather than commentary
about the other side and that this is not a public relations exercise; this
is a serious peacemaking exercise.
QUESTION: Somewhat on the same area, when Barak is here, do you
anticipate discussing with him this split that you have with Israel on
selling of weapons technology to China?
MR. RUBIN: We have been profoundly concerned about a particular issue
related to the sale of certain aircraft systems to China. That is an issue
of concern to us. We have a very close relationship with Israel, a very
close defense relationship. And I would therefore be surprised if this
issue was not discussed at a series of meetings that Prime Minister Barak
has here in Washington. I don't intend to predict where and to what extent
it's discussed at any particular meeting, but I would expect it to be
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that very briefly? What is your opinion
or what is the Department's thinking if some members of Congress follow
through on their threat to withhold aid to Israel on this -
MR. RUBIN: We don't think it's appropriate to tie this issue to foreign
aid. We have said that last week and that remains our view.
QUESTION: Is it in a more general sense, what is the most that could be
accomplished there? And also there is some new talk out of Syria or at
least the biographer of Hafez Assad about a possible middle ground for
dealing with the Sea of Galilee issue.
MR. RUBIN: Could you repeat the first part? I kind of missed the first
QUESTION: What is your general take on Barak's sudden announcement of a
MR. RUBIN: Well, it is something we have been discussing with him so we
don't consider it sudden from our perspective. We think it's important, as
I said, to accelerate the process and look for ways to do that, so we think
With respect to Syria, we have not heard anything from Syria at this point
that we believe could address seriously the remaining gaps. We will stay in
contact with Syria through diplomatic channels to see if there are ways to
overcome those gaps.
With respect to Mr. Seale, I don't have any comment on his particular
QUESTION: How do you assess Simon Peres assessment of what was repeated
where he says the season is dead for peace with Syria?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think that's our assessment. "Dead" would not be
a word that we would agree with. You know, there is a lively process of
commentary in that part of the world on developments. We try to keep things
as even-keeled as we can, and we don't agree with that assessment
Obviously, there are formidable gaps and we worked very hard to try to see
if there are ways to overcome them. And if we thought the prospects were
dead, we wouldn't be staying in touch with the Syrians to try to see
whether there are ways to overcome the gaps.
QUESTION: About the radar, the Prime Minister is going back to the first
ever visit by China's President to Israel. Their eight-year relationship
has been most manifest by arms deals. How does the US feel about these
strengthening of ties between Israel and China, particularly if it results
in Israel selling some of its know-how to China?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we have long had concerns about Israel and other
countries supporting Chinese military developments. That is a matter of
concern to us, whomever the seller is and so, clearly, we have concerns
about this particular sale. And we have a very active dialogue with Israel
and we have discussed these matters in the past and we intend to continue
to discuss them vigorously.
QUESTION: On Syria, you said that you have not heard anything from Syria
that would address the gaps remaining. There is a report out of Israel that
Syria did deliver a tough-line reply last week, a follow-up to the Geneva
meetings, in which they actually retracted some of the concessions from
Shepherdstown. Have you received any such document?
MR. RUBIN: Obviously, I wouldn't comment on the specifics of any
diplomatic discussion, nor would I care to comment specifically on that
report. But I think what I said answers the question, which is on Friday we
had indicated or were prepared to indicate that Syria has responded to
ideas presented by President Clinton, but I am not going to go into details
From our standpoint, we have not heard anything that, in our view, could
address seriously the remaining gaps. But we will continue to see if there
are ways to overcome the gaps. Beyond making those general characterizations,
I don't think it would be appropriate to go into more detail.
QUESTION: You said on Friday you were going to say that, if you had been
asked, that the Syrians had responded. Were you also at that point going to
say you had not heard anything?
MR. RUBIN: No, I was going to say we were studying it.
QUESTION: Now you've studied it and the point comes up --
MR. RUBIN: Now you know how hard we worked this weekend.
QUESTION: So Syria's response that you got was not - was not enough to --
MR. RUBIN: We have not heard anything from them that could address
seriously the remaining gaps. But we will continue to see if there are ways
to overcome the gaps.
QUESTION: Okay, now you said --
MR. RUBIN: Please, there are some others.
QUESTION: In the words you just used, you said "ideas presented by
President Clinton." Were they Clinton's ideas or the --
MR. RUBIN: I never said the ideas presented by --
QUESTION: "Syria has responded to ideas presented by President Clinton."
MR. RUBIN: You must have been quoting someone else because I didn't say
QUESTION: You didn't say, "Syria has responded to the ideas"?
MR. RUBIN: Oh, this thing in - the ideas - what he was presenting was
Prime Minister Barak's ideas, okay?
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Jamie, this response by Syria, was it in writing or was it over
the telephone and --
MR. RUBIN: I am not going to be able to get into the specifics of that
other than to say that we still believe that there are gaps and we are
going to continue to work to see if we can overcome them. We have been in
contact with Syria. They have sent us some additional proposals and I have
indicated our view of that.
QUESTION: I believe another issue that will be discussed is the Israeli
withdrawal from Lebanon. Can you say how the US views this and what the US
can do to help try and maintain stability in the region given this
MR. RUBIN: Yes. We have been in close contact with the Secretary General,
with the Israelis, all with the same objective, which is that we are going
to do what we think we can do to support the full implementation of
Resolution 425 of the UN Security Council; and we expect all parties to do
the same, to cooperate and consult in such a way that the Israeli
withdrawal can be safe and orderly.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on that and say what you think you can
MR. RUBIN: We are going to continue to work on that. We don't think it's
quite ripe for elaboration at this time.
QUESTION: If I could get back to the Syrian response?
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: Was there any difference in that proposal, in the counterproposal,
than what President Assad had said to President Clinton, or was it merely a
reiteration of what he had said?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is there were differences. But I think what's
fair to say is we have not heard anything from them, anything from them,
that could address seriously the remaining gaps.
QUESTION: Did you regard this response as them playing the ball back from
their court into your court?
MR. RUBIN: I am not going to psychoanalyze the Israeli and Syrian tennis
game. What I'm telling you is what has happened. And as far as what we
heard, we have not heard anything that could address seriously the
QUESTION: Are you going to respond to this response of theirs?
MR. RUBIN: We are going to stay in touch with the parties to see if there
are ways to overcome the gaps.
QUESTION: Jamie, your study that went from "we're studying it" to "we
didn't find anything new in it," did that involve conversations with the
Israelis or was that a purely American study?
MR. RUBIN: I don't think the Israeli factor was particularly germane. I
can't rule out that they were contacted, but that wasn't the issue.
QUESTION: Last week, the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Ecevit, had a
political setback on the constitutional change and extension of the term of
President Demirel. Do you have any comment on the subject?
MR. RUBIN: That's an internal political matter and it is not appropriate
for us to discuss.
QUESTION: Several Turkish commentators, they said that the US supports
the Motherland Party leader, Mr. Yilmaz.
MR. RUBIN: I will have to check that for you.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments or reaction about the situation in
MR. RUBIN: Yes. On that subject, let me say that public order is
returning to Bolivia after President Hugo Banzer announced a state of
emergency early on Saturday. This action is permitted by the constitution.
The president acted after several days of protests in some of the major
cities. The most serious protest occurred in Cochabamba, protesting a
planned 35 percent hike in water rates. Protests by police officers in La
Paz ended on Saturday when the government announced a 50 percent increase
in police wages. A curfew is in effect in most of the country and
public gatherings are strictly limited.
QUESTION: There is also a demand from people who were used to cultivate
coca that the situation is worse because they don't get any help from the
government, that it was supposed to support changing cultivation in coca to
other crops. Have you seen any misuse of the funds by the government of
President Banzer that the US has given to that country?
MR. RUBIN: I am not aware of that, but I will have to check that very
carefully for you and get you a considered answer from the Department.
QUESTION: Have there been any meetings scheduled between Cuban and State
Department officials? And on the remaining 22 visa applications, any
movement on that or any sense, now that the father has been here for a few
days, that there would be some more flexibility on granting further visas
if it made him more comfortable, if it made him more willing to stay in the
country during possible appeals processes?
MR. RUBIN: I am not aware of the current back-and-forth in terms of
meetings. But with respect to the visas, obviously we did issue the visas
last week and we have indicated that the remaining 22 are under review.
They remain under review. The visas remain under review but we do want to
do whatever we can to be helpful in this matter.
QUESTION: Is there ever a point at which they will be flat out rejected
or can they be under review indefinitely?
MR. RUBIN: I am sure in the history of visas, there have been rejections.
QUESTION: Jamie, as this winds down or winds along - maybe it's not down
but winds along, can you assess any impact that the case of Elian Gonzalez
has had on US-Cuba relations? Has it changed anything or does it stand
MR. RUBIN: I think all this speculation about the effect on US-Cuba
relations is just that, speculation. From our standpoint, we continue to
pursue what we think is right in our policy towards Cuba and we don't see
any reason why this will change anything.
QUESTION: On to Chechnya. Last week, Strobe Talbott appeared before the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Mitch McConnell and Patrick Leahy. And
all the senators were asking him repeatedly was, "Did the Russians commit
war crimes in Chechnya?" And he agreed, in view of their interest, I guess,
to study the matter. He ducked the question there.
So do you have a conclusion to that question or an answer to that
MR. RUBIN: No, when Deputy Secretary Talbott has something to communicate
back to the Senate, I think he will do that to them first before reporting
it through the media. But with respect to our position, we are deeply
concerned about the credible reports we have seen of gross human rights
abuses committed by Russian forces in Chechnya. We have raised our concerns
privately with the Russians and we have called on the Russians to undertake
a credible and transparent investigation that will meet international
standards to answer the very questions that have been raised that are
In our view, these abuses raise fundamental questions about Russia's
commitment to international humanitarian law, and we believe there should
be a credible investigation that will meet international standards. And
that is what we have been urging very strongly, both here and in our
discussions with Russia and in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
QUESTION: So on the issue of whether these are actively violations is
just - is that still under study then or what? What is the status?
MR. RUBIN: As far as what our internal processes are, I am not in a
position to comment. I think that, in response to a number of your
questions and a number of other questions in recent months, I have
indicated our profound concern about these issues and that they raise
questions about Russia's commitment to international humanitarian law. I
focused in particular, I believe, in response to your question about the
treatment of refugees during conflict and the specific international law
that applies there.
But, from our standpoint, the best way to deal with a situation this tragic
and this horrible is for there to be an independent investigation done that
meets international standards. And that is what we have been calling for
both here and in our discussions in Geneva.
QUESTION: In Geneva, in fact, there is a proposal for an international
investigation as opposed to an internal one. Where does the US stand on
MR. RUBIN: Well, we and many countries, including Indonesia, have been
supportive of a domestic investigation that met international standards, so
it is not one or the other. What is important to us is that the standards
of fairness, objectivity and credibility are met, not so much of whose name
So if a domestic, independent investigation that met international
standards were agreed upon, we would think that would be an important step
QUESTION: But if not, then - or let's just say in general, in the case of
Indonesia, the UN threatened, basically, and I think set up an independent
inquiry. I don't think they have done that in this case. And that was with
US support. And then the Indonesians did their own thing.
Is there some reason why you don't want to follow a parallel course this
MR. RUBIN: We have been consulting actively with the Europeans and others
to try to promote just this objective that you and I are discussing. Our
priority at the UN Commission on Human Rights and elsewhere continues to be
on finding the most effective way for Russia to act in compliance with its
commitments and act towards the objective of an independent investigation
that meets international standards.
They have taken a number of steps forward in recent weeks but there are
still a number of important steps we want to do. So in Geneva we are
focused, with our European allies and others, on what's the best way to get
the objective met of an independent investigation with international
QUESTION: Final question is that McConnell had some kind of a document
which indicated - which was purported to be an internal Russian document
that suggested that there was really a plan to empty the mountainous parts
of Chechnya of bandits, terrorists, in fact everybody living there. Did
anybody determine whether this was actually an authentic document?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know whether the status of that document, whether it
was transmitted to us. Maybe it was at the hearing. But I will - I don't
know whether the actual document was transmitted to check its authenticity
and try to examine its significance here at the Department. But, obviously,
if we had such a document, we would want to do that.
QUESTION: Any reaction on the lower house of the Duma scheduling a vote
on START II for Friday?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding on that was that there was an indication that
the Russians were moving forward, that the committee had favorably reported
the START II treaty. We think ratification of START II will be a very, very
important step to protect the future of all of us in promoting comprehensive,
concrete arms control measures. And it will not only be important for
its own sake, but will open up the possibility of accelerating discussions
on even deeper cuts in strategic nuclear arms that we believe could advance
our security and the security of the Russians.
So the sooner the Russians act in their own self-interest to ratify START
II, the safer we will be, the Russians will be and the world will
QUESTION: A follow-up on that, if I could?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Does the Secretary believe, as Mr. Talbott has forecast, that
this could happen, the Duma could act to ratify START II, before Mr. Ivanov
comes to New York at the end of the month?
MR. RUBIN: Well, Deputy Secretary Talbott was indicating what the
Russians have indicated to us, their hope for that. So, clearly, today's
developments are a step in that direction, towards early ratification of
the START II treaty which we think will be an historic day in the history
of arms control
QUESTION: Jamie, do you have anything more today on Mr. Pope, the
American who is languishing in jail in Moscow?
MR. RUBIN: The short answer to that is yes, but I am just trying to get
my hands on it.
For the record, it was not in Red 2.
QUESTION: What is Red 2?
MR. RUBIN: It's a secret.
QUESTION: Well, you just blew it, didn't you?
MR. RUBIN: I'll show you after the briefing.
Mr. Pope remains in the custody of the Russian Federal Security Service,
although he has not yet been formally charged with any crime. This morning,
Monday, April 10th, a consular officer from the US Embassy in Moscow
visited Mr. Pope at Lefortovo Prison. This is our second consular visit
with Mr. Pope since he was detained last Tuesday. During today's visit, Mr.
Pope told our consular officer that he is both physically and psychologically
QUESTION: Jamie, how long can people be held in Russia without charges?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know. I will have to check the Russian - applicable
QUESTION: Is the US at all concerned that one of its citizens hasn't been
charged and has been in prison for almost a week?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think under Russian law, there is a period of
incarceration that, when you're under investigation, that precedes formal
filing of charges. We have been visiting him. Let's bear in mind that
American citizens, when they travel abroad, are subject to the laws of the
countries in which they travel and, to the extent that I am aware, the
Russians are not acting inconsistent with their own laws, which are the
laws that American citizens are subject to if they don't have diplomatic
immunity when they are traveling to Russia. That is one of the risks of
And so we recognize and we try to alert American citizens that when they
travel abroad, there are often different legal structures than the one we
would expect here, where you would be charged much more quickly. But I will
check the applicable law for you.
QUESTION: Since you issued a statement last week condemning the violence
in Zimbabwe and suspending aid there, the situation seems to have gotten
worse. I am just wondering if the US is contemplating any other actions,
punitive, toward the government there.
MR. RUBIN: I will have to check that for you. I don't have any new - I
mean, remember, this is an issue that is very emotional and I wouldn't make
a causal link between our statement and the developments there in
QUESTION: No, no --
MR. RUBIN: Other than to say --
QUESTION: I'm just saying that, since you've done that, the situation has
gotten worse, not because of what you said.
MR. RUBIN: Another failed policy. Let me check what our thinking is on
that and try to get back to you.
QUESTION: My question actually is on the Bosnia elections, unless you
addressed this in your statement. There have been statements by people on
the ground quoted as saying that the arrest last week of Krajisnik was
undoubtedly a factor in the overwhelming support for the SDS in the
Republika Srpska. How do you address that?
MR. RUBIN: Our reading of that is completely the opposite. I read some
wire reports of that. Dodik received very strong support, better than
expected. And you know that his views have been different than Krajisnik
and some of his supporters. Our view was that the real troublemakers did
not play a particularly prominent role in this election and saw as a result
of the arrest they would be better off keeping a low profile.
So I know that there was one or two wire reports written that, way but our
assessment was frankly quite different. And perhaps I can get someone who
is more familiar with the actual contours of the political parties there
and the course of the election in the last week to answer that question in
QUESTION: Back to Russia for a moment?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Is there anything you can tell us about how it will change the
content or nature of Foreign Minister Ivanov's visit should the Duma ratify
MR. RUBIN: Yes. One issue is the sequencing of START II and START III.
First of all, obviously, ratification of START II would be a big step
forward for US-Russian relations and would make it possible for us to
pursue on a different structure START III discussions because, to date,
they have been called discussions and they have been limited in their
formality by the fact that we are committed to only negotiate a formal
agreement following the ratification of START II. So if START II were
ratified, there would be a boost to the prospects for moving on START III
because the discussions could be moved from discussions to negotiations.
QUESTION: Is that it?
MR. RUBIN: That's a lot in this business.
QUESTION: There is a report out of London this morning, which I am
wondering if you could either --
MR. RUBIN: I'd be happy to bat. This sounds like a softball; give it to
QUESTION: -- that secret meetings have begun with US diplomats in order
to try and return a presence to the embassy in Belgrade.
MR. RUBIN: Right. There are no such secret meetings to return American
diplomats to Belgrade and reports to that effect are flawed in the extreme.
However, we have been discussing through third parties, and have been doing
this for some time, trying to work out protecting power arrangements for
the Russian - I'm sorry - for Belgrade here in Washington and for us in
Belgrade. That is the kind of arrangements when you don't have diplomatic
relations and when you're not doing what the report said you're doing, who
will monitor and watch over your property in various capitals. And that has
been going on through third parties for some time.
Perhaps there may have been some crossed wires in the elaborate system that
creates these reports and that might be the explanation for it. But if
that's not the explanation, then the report is just plain wrong.
QUESTION: Is there some - who are you trying to get now?
MR. RUBIN: We are discussing with a number of countries the appropriate
way to proceed and we don't think it's appropriate to discuss that
publicly. You may remember in the past, there were certain countries that I
QUESTION: Was it the Swiss?
MR. RUBIN: Whatever.
QUESTION: Last year.
MR. RUBIN: Right, but --
QUESTION: Would there be a US presence, actually diplomatic presence,
MR. RUBIN: No. That's what a protecting power as opposed to an interests
section - a protecting power means somebody else is your presence, not US
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - called Fail Safe?
MR. RUBIN: I did happen to watch that, but that would be a personal
(The briefing concluded at 1:55 p.m.)