U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #34, 00-04-20
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Thursday, April 20, 2000
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 ARMS CONTROL: Secretary Albright to Lead US Delegation at
Opening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
1 Is US Doing Enough to Disarm / Ratification of CTBT / Possible
Albright-Ivanov Meeting at NPT / Readout of Special Adviser
Holum's Meetings in Geneva / Start III & ABM Discussions /
Pending Release of Report / Russian Proposals
4 US Criticisms of President Mugabe / Land Reform / US Aid /
US-International Diplomatic Pressure
5-6 Goals of Upcoming Summit Meeting / Upcoming Elections US Embassy
Actions & Dialogue with Mugabe Government
6-7 Return of US Diplomat to Embassy / Near Continuous US Presence
7 US Calls for Explanation of Altercation Outside Cuban Interests
Section Last Week / Cuba Has Not Sent a Diplomatic Note
Regarding Change of Immunity Status for Diplomat's Home
7-8 Cuban Government Allegations of Weapons Stockpiling in Miami /
No Diplomatic Note Sent by Cuba on Weapons Stockpiling
11-12 State Department View of Rights of Minors Filing for Political
8-9 Readout of Arafat Visit / Goals of Albright-Arafat Meeting / US
Looks to Arafat to Provide Renewed Energy to Palestinian Track /
US Role in Process
9 Talks Move to Region by the End of the Month
10 Israeli PM Barak's Renewed Energy
10-11 Achievement of Framework Agreement by May 13 Deadline
11 Purported White House Statements on Syria Track
12 US Reaction to Khamenei Speech on Freedom of Expression & the
12 Willingness to Resume Human Rights Dialogue
13-15 PNTR / Albright's Discussions with Minority Leader Gephardt /
China: PNTR , Human Rights Concerncs, North Korea & Nuclear
Weapons / China's Global Influence on Human Rights Debate
12-13 Has the Secretary Received the Report on the Consular Review
15-16 Missing Computer Laptop / Ongoing Departmental Review of
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2000, 12:35 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Welcome to today's first briefing of the week. Am I right?
MR. RUBIN: No, we didn't brief Monday. The first briefing of the
MR. RUBIN: We'll talk about that later. Let me begin in saying the
following. Secretary Albright will lead the United States delegation to the
Opening Session of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Non-
Proliferation Treaty on Monday of next week. She will deliver the US
statement to the Conference in the afternoon.
We believe the NPT is an extremely important regime. It's nearly universal
and we believe it's an indispensable tool in preventing the spread of
nuclear weapons. The Treaty provides an essential foundation for the
reduction of existing arsenals and for promoting progress towards nuclear
We remain fully committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its
objectives and, in conjunction with the Secretary's address, the United
States will be releasing a report outlining our commitment to promoting
nuclear arms control and disarmament, which is one of the issues that we
expect to be raised at the conference.
Any questions about that?
QUESTION: How long is she going to stay in New York? Just the one --
MR. RUBIN: I think it's the one day, yes. She will have one other event
that I will get more details for you. It's later in the evening, though.
QUESTION: And at this conference, obviously you're going to be on the
defensive against people who say that you're not doing enough to disarm.
What are you going to say to defend yourselves?
MR. RUBIN: Well, you know, every time there is a Review Conference, there
are some countries who have the quite unrealistic notion that disarmament
is something that happens overnight and that the United States and Russia
have too many nuclear weapons. And they regularly make those points, and I
don't expect their points to be much different than they usually are.
The fact is that the United States has led the way among the nuclear powers
in trying to reverse the nuclear arms race, and we've done so in a number
of ways. We led the way to getting the signing and the negotiation of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since the last Review Conference of the Non-
Proliferation Treaty five years ago. So since that time, not only do we
have a comprehensive test ban, but it's a zero yield Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty with unlimited duration that has been signed and ratified by
Some will undoubtedly point out that it hasn't yet been ratified by the
United States, and that is undoubtedly true. But it's a treaty that exists
now and didn't exist five years ago. That's the objective reality. We have
said that General Shalikashvili will lead an effort here in the United
States to try to deal with the legitimate concerns of senators so that when
the time is ripe we can seek advice and consent of the Senate again and get,
hopefully, an outcome that will be more conducive to promoting nonproliferation.
Every senator needs to understand that this is a treaty which the rest of
the world regards as part of the implicit bargain that helps the United
States avoid new nuclear powers in the world. But since the last Review
Conference, we will be able to point to something very concrete; that is, a
treaty of permanent duration, zero yield, that didn't exist five years
Similarly, we are now pushing forward on even deeper cuts than were
contemplated in 1995, the last time this treaty was reviewed. The United
States and the Russians have just finished another discussion in Geneva led
by John Holum on our side, in which we have spelled out in greater detail
our proposals on the START III side, which include a reduction to 2,000 to
2,500 warheads, which is a massive, massive reduction from the levels that
existed at the height of the Cold War, something like 80, 85 percent
below where we were at that time.
So these are real, concrete steps towards nuclear arms control and
disarmament. They are things that are new and different and better than
they were in 1995, and that's the case we'll make. We do expect there to be
points made by others, but we think we have quite a significant set of
achievements on this very difficult subject of arms control to point
QUESTION: Will she be meeting with Ivanov?
MR. RUBIN: He is coming here next week. He will be here on Wednesday and
Thursday of next week in Washington. But I don't know whether he is going
to be in New York on Monday and whether her schedule includes a meeting
with him, but I will check that for you.
QUESTION: Could I take up again on that? You seem to be using disarmament
as a synonym for arms reduction. The original NPT, as I understand it,
actually calls for disarmament, complete disarmament by the nuclear powers
eventually, as an eventual goal.
Is that a goal that the United States subscribes to? Is that something --
MR. RUBIN: I think we have said before that, pursuant to -- there is a
law on the books passed by the Congress seeing the eventual goal. And
President Clinton has, at the time of the '95 Review Conference, referred
to it as an eventual goal. But, in the meantime, since that is not
obviously around the corner, we need to work harder and harder on
increasing nuclear stability and reducing the threat of nuclear war by
reducing the size of nuclear arsenals that are now in existence.
QUESTION: The same subject. You gave us some --
MR. RUBIN: Have you been going over to the Arms Control Association
briefings during this absence this week? (Laughter).
QUESTION: You mentioned -- you gave us something about what happened in
Geneva. Can you give us some kind of description, a generic description, of
how the meeting went, whether you made progress or where it is?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. I don't think we are in a position to report progress or
lack thereof. I can say that John Holum presented detailed proposals and
filled out our proposals, both on the START III side and on the ABM side,
and these are obviously highly technical discussions. And there wasn't an
expectation that this was a kind of bargaining session where we would
either move forward or backward but, rather, one of the sessions that is
part of the run-up to the summit with President Putin and President
Clinton. Part of that run-up will include a meeting next week where this
will be discussed in additional detail and discussed by Secretary
Albright with Foreign Minister Ivanov.
So the Holum meeting, Foreign Minister Ivanov and Secretary Albright, and
then obviously in June the meeting with President Putin.
QUESTION: You said something about a report being released.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, this is a report by our delegation explaining the extent
of the American commitment to promoting nuclear arms control and disarmament.
The NPT has a sort of an implicit bargain with the nuclear powers
committing to work towards arms control and disarmament, and the non-
nuclear powers committing not to seek to obtain nuclear weapons. So we will
be providing a comprehensive report -- the delegation will -- and I think
it will be available that day for those of you who are covering her
Yes, one more on non-proliferation.
QUESTION: Did the Russians reciprocate by giving you detailed proposals
on their own?
MR. RUBIN: I have not received a full briefing, but I think we expected
to exchange proposals and my understanding is the meeting met expectations.
QUESTION: On Zimbabwe, yesterday you issued a statement. I was wondering
if you cared to elaborate on your criticisms of President Mugabe.
MR. RUBIN: Yes. The situation is as follows. The high court has ruled
that the squatters who are taking over land are in contempt of court, and
we have been extremely troubled by the failure of President Mugabe to
support the rule of law by supporting that court action and by condemning
and preventing violence that has occurred against farmers in Zimbabwe.
There were several farmers and farm workers that have died in recent days,
and we are calling very strongly on President Mugabe to accept responsibility
to uphold the law and to uphold the law for all Zimbabweans.
We support land reform. We have for some time. But that land reform has to
be done through a legal and orderly process, and can't be done by these
illegal squatters who are killing people. So we condemn the violence. We
are deeply troubled and deplored President Mugabe's suggestion that white
farmers are the enemies of the people of Zimbabwe. That's utter nonsense.
And we, as I indicated some weeks ago, have suspended our technical
assistance on land reform. So we strongly condemn the violent acts that
have occurred. We call on the government to uphold the rule of law by
stopping those individuals from violating the court order, and we certainly
didn't approve at all of the statements Mr. Mugabe had made.
QUESTION: What kind of aid is the US providing the Zimbabwe Government?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I would be able to get you sort of a detailed breakdown.
As I see it from the sheets that have been provided to me, we had provided
development assistance in child survival on the order of $9.8 million and
economic support funds on the order of half a million dollars, for a total
of about $10 million last fiscal year. And this fiscal year, the request
was roughly analogous to that.
But, in addition, we have put in place a program of roughly $1 million to
assist them in the legitimate enterprise of land reform, but we've
suspended that program because they are not pursuing -- the government is
failing to pursue that in a way that is consistent with the rule of
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the US is pursuing with regards to its
allies, South Africa, any other countries, to coordinate any diplomatic
MR. RUBIN: Right. I think, first of all, the kinds of public statements
that we've made are quite strong for this kind of situation, and I think
that countries in the region are quite aware of them and we have been
providing governments with our daily expressions of concern about this and
asking them to do what they can.
We are aware there is a summit meeting coming in the next few days. The
summit meeting is not designed initially to be about the problems in
Zimbabwe but, rather, about the problems in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. But at that summit will be the leaders of South Africa, Namibia,
Mozambique and others, and we would certainly expect that that would be a
forum for discussion of a matter that is increasingly of concern to the
QUESTION: If I could just ask one more about these upcoming elections. If
Mugabe does not set a date for these elections, would the US go so far as
to say that it's time for him to step down?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to speculate on what we would say if
something doesn't happen, other than to say that we support early elections
and we want those elections to be held in a free and fair manner without
the kind of intimidation that we've seen. As recently as last week, two
supporters of an opposition movement were killed when their car was fire-
bombed on April the 15. So there is an atmosphere and a climate of
intimidation of the opposition that we strongly oppose.
QUESTION: Change the subject?
MR. RUBIN: Zimbabwe.
QUESTION: Could you say what the US Embassy is able to do? Do you have
access to government officials? Are you able to get what you want to say to
the government said, and what response are you getting from them?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. We are making our views known to the government in
Zimbabwe and we have channels to do that. You know, I'm not going to
comment on what they're saying behind the scenes, other than to say that
what they're saying on the record is what's of particular concern to us,
because this is a situation where the public climate is being incited by
irresponsible statements by the leadership there, where the violence, the
climate of violence is being made worse by these public statements.
So we are less concerned with whether they may be wiser and more level
headed behind the scenes than in preventing the kind of public statements
that have caused this problem.
More on this?
QUESTION: Yes. You seem to hint that you had asked or would ask the
leaders of South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique to bring up the farm
question at the regional summit. Is that correct?
MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't quite say that. What I was trying to indicate is
that we expect it to be discussed. We think it would be extremely unlikely
that this group of leaders would get together in that part of the world,
with this kind of situation going on, and that there weren't discussions
about it. And we would certainly hope that other leaders would share our
concern about the climate that has been created and the need to uphold
the rule of law.
QUESTION: One more on Zimbabwe. Would you care to warn President Mugabe
what he might expect if these early free and fair elections are not
MR. RUBIN: I think I've said plenty of things that President Mugabe
didn't like already.
QUESTION: I mean, are you threatening to withhold aid to Zimbabwean
MR. RUBIN: Right now, we are focused on the land reform issue. That is
the focus of our energies. We, obviously, are concerned about the election
but I'm not prepared to speculate on what will happen if something doesn't
QUESTION: Jamie, would you say that this situation that exists, the
lawlessness, the president not calling for these people to come off the
farms, that this situation is mainly a political situation, that Mugabe is
doing this to garner support in the upcoming elections?
MR. RUBIN: We do believe that there is the potential for the first time
to have, you know, a real contested type of situation in their parliament,
and that may be a motivation. He can only speak to what his motivation
would be but, for us, it is incomprehensible to not be supporting the court
and be spurring or seeming to spur individuals and illegal squatters on to
violence. And so it's hard to really fathom what could justify that kind of
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. More on Zimbabwe? Okay, let's move on.
QUESTION: Continental privilege.
MR. RUBIN: The old continental privilege rule. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Can you confirm that a US diplomat has returned today to the US
Embassy in Khartoum for the first time in nearly two years?
MR. RUBIN: I don't believe there is a permanent presence in Sudan. As I
understand it, there is the regular rotation that is near continuous that
is now being pursued that will allow rotating visits to be occurring so
that there is always somebody there. Near continuous, rotating visits. So
there isn't a diplomat, an individual, assigned to Sudan to stay, and that
what's been new over the last several weeks and months is that there is a
near continuous presence by virtue of rotating people in and out.
QUESTION: To follow up on that, what's the logic behind having nearly
continuous rotation rather than a permanent presence? Is this a political
gesture or is it that you don't think it's safe for -- if it's safe for
somebody to be there almost all the time, it's safe for one person to be
there all the time, I assume? What's the thinking behind this? What does it
MR. RUBIN: I would rather reserve on that until I get a formal answer,
because that's a very good question.
QUESTION: Okay, moving on to Cuba. Cuban diplomats have been up here at
least a couple of times this week passing diplomatic notes back and
MR. RUBIN: By the way, I call that the Spokesman-soon-to-leave reservation
QUESTION: Looking over at Richard -- hopefully.
MR. RUBIN: Sorry, go ahead.
QUESTION: That's all right. Cuban diplomats up here a couple of times.
We've been told that they have been asked to provide an explanation of what
happened outside their mission Friday night, but also that they are
requesting or saying that there's not enough security there, that they feel
that they need more security. And just an update on whether, in this
sequence of notes, whether they ever did officially ask for the diplomatic
inviolability of the Remirez home lifted?
MR. RUBIN: No. The short answer to your last question is they have not
submitted any requests through diplomatic channels to change the immunity
status of that home.
On the question of the incident outside the Cuban Interests Section, we
were deeply disturbed by that incident and we consider it a very serious
matter. And we sent a note to the Cubans yesterday demanding a full and
complete explanation be provided to the investigating -- through us to the
investigating authorities, which is the Metropolitan Police, because we
have been quite troubled about that and we do not think that there has been
a security problem that I'm aware of.
So I think that was all your questions.
QUESTION: I'd like to ask about another missive which was passed in the
other direction. According to the Cuban Government, they passed a note to
the State Department alleging that there are armed dissidents in Miami who
are stockpiling weapons in a house near Elian Gonzalez's uncle's home in
Is that accurate? Did they pass a note to the State Department?
MR. RUBIN: No, that is an inaccurate report. They have not passed us any
QUESTION: Does the State Department have any comment on the fact that
Cuban Americans are being accused of stockpiling weapons?
MR. RUBIN: I think Castro and his government would do a lot better to
focus on the violations of human rights that occur every day in Cuba than
on our efforts to make the world's most prosperous and successful democracy
QUESTION: But, Jamie, on that, is there anything that any government
agency is doing to examine the possibility that there may be a stockpiling
MR. RUBIN: If there is anything that any government agency is doing about
security in Miami, you're barking up the wrong tree and I encourage you to
go to any such agency that would have jurisdiction over security in
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the visit of Yasser Arafat?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Let me say Secretary Albright is now meeting with
Chairman Arafat. As you know, President Clinton recently met with Prime
Minister Barak, as did Secretary Albright, and we discussed with the Prime
Minister what are the best ways, both procedurally and substantively, to
reach a framework agreement as soon as possible so that we're in a position
to reach a permanent status agreement by September.
We think that Chairman Arafat's visit here will provide the same kind of
opportunity to discuss as creatively and intensively as possible a way to
accelerate these talks and give them the kind of the kick-start that they
need if we're going to reach the various deadlines that are approaching. So
Chairman Arafat and Secretary Albright will have a chance to discuss how to
do that, and we will have a chance to hear from the Palestinians on what
they think is the best way, both procedurally and substantively, to
We clearly believe -- and will tell Chairman Arafat -- that there is an
intensification and a renewed energy and a new sense of urgency to the
Palestinian track, and we will be seeking their views on that. We do sense
that there is a genuine commitment on both parties' parts to meet the
deadline of the September permanent status agreement, to find a way to move
forward and to break the logjam.
As you know, or as we've reported, or we've certainly indicated that we
would be prepared to play a more involved role at the table with the
Palestinians and the Israelis in the coming weeks and months so that that
can happen. What we will be discussing with Chairman Arafat -- and
obviously in the days ahead -- is how can we find a way to meet each side's
needs and requirements, and how can we develop a creative working
environment in which the United States can facilitate their efforts.
Obviously, no party is going to be able to achieve 100 percent of its
objectives, and we're going to make that clear to Chairman Arafat as
QUESTION: Has the delegation to Libya submitted its report to the
MR. RUBIN: Can we just see if there's any more on this? And I see the
hands are raised.
QUESTION: Oh, yes. How close is the United States now to presenting its
own ideas on this?
MR. RUBIN: I think right now, as I indicated, we are ready and we think
the Israelis and the Palestinians will want us to play a more intensive
role at the table, and that will be new in this coming round. At the
Bolling round, these were largely bilateral discussions that were held,
with the occasional chairing role by the United States. But at the round to
follow, we think that we -- that everyone has agreed that we will play a
more involved role by being at the table, trying to be creative, trying to
help each side figure out what its needs are.
I am not aware that there are any new US ideas that are to be laid down
today or any time soon. We are now at the stage, though, where we do think
that a more involved role at the table is appropriate.
QUESTION: Can you try to be creative and play a more intensive role at
the table without coming up with ideas? It seems that being creative and
having ideas is --
MR. RUBIN: I think "new ideas" is one of those phrases that, I think you
probably know, has a certain meaning. And that means a US proposal, per se,
that is given to both sides as our bridging proposal. That is what I am
suggesting that we are not doing at this stage. However, that doesn't mean
we can't have creative suggestions. But that's different than saying,
as for example in the Wye talks --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - an idea.
MR. RUBIN: Right, but it's not -- 13 percent is the US proposal and we
get the Palestinians to agree to that and then the Israelis to agree to
that. It is more like, well, if you formulated it this way, and you should
be aware that what he really cares about is this point and not that point,
and you can be creative and make suggestions without putting forward a US
idea as the US proposal that both sides have to move towards. And that's
not, to my understanding, where we're at.
QUESTION: Will these talks continue as the Bolling talks or do they go
MR. RUBIN: No, they will move to the region towards the end of the
QUESTION: The Palestinians have been quoted as saying that they feel like
at this stage they don't have much left to offer, that the offers are going
to have to come more from the Israelis. Would you concur with that
MR. RUBIN: No, I think that sounds pretty much like what Palestinians and
Israelis have been saying publicly for as long as I've had this job. So, I
mean, every time I've been in this situation, the Palestinians say the
other side needs to make more offers and the Israelis say the Palestinians
need to make more offers. That's pretty much standard pre-negotiating
Our view is that neither side can achieve 100 percent of its objectives,
and so both sides need to look at ways that they can meet their underlying
needs but not expect to achieve all of their position.
QUESTION: What do you mean, Jamie, when you say that the Prime Minister
Barak has given you the impression -- the Administration the impression
that he wants to intensify and accelerate the peace talks? Doesn't that
sort of validate what the Palestinians have been saying all along, that
whilst the Syrian track was moving, chugging along, their track couldn't
MR. RUBIN: No. The days are passing. We believed that if the Syrian track
had gone forward as a result of the Geneva meeting, one can still do both
things. Clearly, that didn't happen and we continue in discussions with
both parties. But the Syrian track is not as chugging along as it was in
Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
The Palestinian track, we believe has renewed energy, as a result of
approaching deadlines and a recognition that time is growing short. Bolling
talks were occurring before the Geneva meeting, and so we believe that both
sides recognize this.
Will the Israelis show more intense willingness to engage and make
decisions as a result of not having the Syria track go on? You'll have to
ask the Israelis that, and I'm not the spokesman for the Israelis.
Our view has been you can do both. But regardless of whether it's because
Geneva happened or not, we believe there's renewed energy.
QUESTION: Are you looking for President Arafat to make some kind of
commitment to also have renewed energy and --
MR. RUBIN: Yes, we would like to see a commitment from both Prime
Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat to put their shoulders behind this
process, be flexible, recognize they can't achieve 100 percent of their
objectives, and authorize their negotiators to be creative in moving
QUESTION: Just a minor technical point. Some reports talk about May the
13th as the target date; whereas, others just refer vaguely to May, meaning
presumably the end of May.
MR. RUBIN: I think the 13th is one of those dates that has been -- you
know, there was originally, I guess it was February 13th, and so they keep
adding a new month to it.
QUESTION: It's a difference of two weeks.
MR. RUBIN: Look, it is now April 20th. May 13th is three weeks from now.
We recognize that to achieve a framework agreement in three weeks is going
to be an extraordinarily difficult challenge. Whether the date is May 13th
or May 10th or May 7th, we've never had a date. Our date has been as soon
as possible. But, occasionally, you hear that others have some internal
planning notion, but our date has been as soon as possible, meaning no date
but as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Okay. A related question -- Syria?
MR. RUBIN: A related technical question, yes.
QUESTION: No, Syria.
MR. RUBIN: Okay.
QUESTION: Mr. Lockhart this morning made a cryptic reference to reports
of progress on the Syrian-Israel track. -- yes, indeed. I wondered if you
could throw any light on where he might have got this impression.
MR. RUBIN: Well, I spoke to Mr. Lockhart twice this morning, and I don't
know what you're referring to. And I'll ask him about it after the briefing
and call you.
QUESTION: What he referred to, not what I referred to?
MR. RUBIN: No, no. You're referring to what he said, right?
QUESTION: So you know nothing about any reports of progress?
MR. RUBIN: I don't know what it's about, but I have always felt that
whatever Mr. Lockhart says is fine with me.
QUESTION: For the next few days?
MR. RUBIN: For the next few days, right.
QUESTION: I'm sorry to go back to Cuba, but if we could for just a
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Does the State Department feel that anyone under the age of 18
has the right to be heard on the issue of asylum?
MR. RUBIN: Well, what we've said on this subject -- and I don't intend to
comment directly on any court decision -- but what we've said on this
subject is that we have focused very heavily on the rights of parents, and
that we have not seen the fact that human rights are abused in a country as
changing and diminishing the rights of parents. And parents' rights are
important to us as the State Department when we go around the world and try
to get other governments to recognize the right of parents so that
we can try to obtain custody for Americans who are seeking custody.
So that has been our position. To get more specific than that would be to
get into the kind of question that the Justice Department is obviously
going to get into today in responding to this court --
QUESTION: Any comment on the rights of minors?
MR. RUBIN: I can comment on the rights of parents.
QUESTION: In Iran today, the Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech where he
denounced the liberal media as undermining the Revolution, and apparently --
MR. RUBIN: How do you all feel about that?
QUESTION: Well, he led the crowd in a chant of "Death to mercenary
writers." And aside from the status of freelancers in Iran, given that you
have praised the development of a liberal press as a sign of change, do you
have any reaction to this?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we are worried about any signal that the freedom of the
press that has been such an important part of Iran's political development
in recent years that has been so praised around the world, in countries
throughout the world, in recognizing the lively political culture that
includes an increasingly free press, any time a free press is challenged
anywhere in the world or any statements are made that question that
fundamental right of free expression that we believe in, we're worried.
QUESTION: The Chinese indicated this morning that they are prepared to
resume the discussions on human rights which have not been held now for
almost a year-and-a-half. Were you aware of the Chinese statement?
MR. RUBIN: I have seen the press reports about what they said. It is a
little confusing about what we have to do first and what constructive step
we need to take or concrete step I think they may have used. We would
welcome the earliest possible resumption of a human rights dialogue. We
think the more we talk about human rights, the better it is for the human
rights of the people of China, whether that's talking about it with China
bilaterally or talking about it in Geneva at the Human Rights Commission.
QUESTION: Your answer, for the record, please. Days and weeks have been
ticking off since the momentous 26-hour trip --
MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry. I should have gone back to you before we moved
around the world. I always love this question, but go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, has the report been submitted yet?
MR. RUBIN: No.
QUESTION: Why not?
QUESTION: Good follow.
MR. RUBIN: I speak for the Secretary of State. I can't speak for those
who might be writing reports.
QUESTION: Has she asked them to hurry up?
MR. RUBIN: I think we will get that recommendation and report in due
QUESTION: Jamie, Congressman Gephardt, when he announced his decision to
oppose a permanent renewal of MFN for China, said that he had difficulty
with both sides in trying to negotiate a third way. Has Secretary Albright
talked directly to the Minority leader about this third way and is she
willing to entertain --
MR. RUBIN: I don't know when her most recent conversation with Mr.
Gephardt was. I do know that she has had a lot of meetings, a lot of
discussions, especially with Democrats, about their concerns on the human
rights question and how do we have a way to express our concern about human
rights. And she has been open to a number of suggestions as to a way to do
The Secretary's role in this discussion -- in addition to making the
obvious point that this, from an economic standpoint, a win-win proposition
for the United States consumer and the United States producer -- has been
to focus on the national security argument. So whether it is that we can
find another way and work with Congress to find another way to express
concern about human rights, just as we just did in Geneva, or whether it is
that a failure to support this law would be a major -- do major damage to
our national security.
Let's remember what we get out of the China relationship, which is often
forgotten; that is, that we work with China on the issue of North Korea and
have made much progress in getting China to work with us to encourage North
Korea from not developing nuclear weapons or long-range missiles. And that
if members of Congress care about questions like the danger of North Korea
developing nuclear missiles, they should want to avoid a major setback
to the US-China relationship, because China's role has been helpful.
Similarly, if members of Congress are concerned about the issue of
nonproliferation around the world, China has taken great strides from where
they were 10 years ago on the subject of missile technology to certain
countries, including a complete cutoff of nuclear cooperation with Iran. So
if you want China to cooperate on non-proliferation, you would be worried
by a major setback in US-China relations.
In our judgment, in the Secretary of State's judgment, to vote down
Permanent Normal Trade Relations would be a major setback to the US-China
relationship, which would harm our national security in those concrete ways
I discussed. When she has discussed with members of Congress the question
of human rights, she said, look, I am as concerned as you about the human
rights situation. I flew from Pakistan to Geneva to make the strongest
possible case I could for condemning China's human rights abuses.
So if the question is how do we make clear our opposition to China's human
rights abuses, we're allies. But we think that cutting off our nose to
spite our face by failing to get the economic benefits of this agreement
and putting at risk the national security benefits of our relation with
China is the wrong decision to make.
QUESTION: Jamie, why does the Administration think it is that your
feelings about China's poor record on human rights have not resonated
within the international community to the same degree that they have with
Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, if, in fact this is something that is shared by
MR. RUBIN: It's a very good question. It's a troubling question. Why is
it that certain countries around the world don't care about the human
rights abuses in China? Countries that claim to support universal values,
why don't they think that it's appropriate to discuss human rights abuses
in China? It's a troubling issue for certain countries.
From out standpoint, each year, we think we do a little better in making
the case, and we're willing to work for it. You know, I saw a letter in a
major national newspaper today, you know, that somehow it's an embarrassment
to the United States if this resolution doesn't get discussed. It's an
embarrassment to the countries that refuse to discuss human rights
We've tried. We've worked. We've worked very hard and we're going to
continue to work hard. I would think that -- I would certainly hope that
journalists and members of the public and parliaments in those countries
that didn't support a discussion of human rights abuses in China in Geneva
would ask their governments that question.
QUESTION: I didn't realize I was going to invoke such an emotional
MR. RUBIN: Emotional?
QUESTION: What I was trying to get at is: What does it say about China's
growing clout in the international community and the fact that there are so
many countries that are afraid of antagonizing China?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't see it that way. The Chinese -- it's very hard
to win this issue. There is no -- China didn't do better this year than
last year. They did worse this year than last year. So their clout -- no,
no, but hold on. Your question was "growing clout."
Their clout has been reduced by that argument by one vote since last year.
So they've got reduced clout. So I don't think it's that simple a
calculation. It depends on who's on the commission, it depends on the
calculations of those governments each year and what decisions they make.
We certainly know we put a full-fledged effort into convincing them, but
some countries seem to care more about interfering with their commerce with
China than standing up for human rights. But it's not an increasing clout
of China; it's one vote less clout.
QUESTION: Jamie, is there anything more that you can say about -- well,
it's not clear if the computer disappeared or whether it was stolen?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything new on that investigation.
QUESTION: Can you verify what has been printed in the newspaper as to --
MR. RUBIN: What I can say to you about that is there was a laptop
computer reported missing a couple of months ago. The FBI and the
Diplomatic Security Bureau are investigating the matter. The computer was a
computer that belonged to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and I
don't want to speculate as to what happened to it and who was responsible
other than to say that it's a very serious matter.
Secretary Albright has been deeply troubled by a series of security lapses
which led her to ask David Carpenter to do a top-to-bottom review of State
Department security procedures and propose specific recommendations for any
structural change that needs to be made here in the Department, so this
kind of thing doesn't happen.
In this case, however, it is worth pointing out that no matter how good
your procedure is, if somebody violates that procedure after being
entrusted with the responsibility, it is very difficult to stop.
Finally, I can simply say that we are, obviously, doing an assessment of
what the potential damage of the loss of this information is.
QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that somebody did violate
procedures on this?
MR. RUBIN: I am not going to speculate on what the cause of the missing
laptop computer is at this time on a matter so sensitive while it's under
QUESTION: I hate to ask this, since I lost my ABC laptop during the
Bradley campaign and got in a lot of trouble for it. But is the person who
you say -- the person who violates these procedures and then has to be
responsible, has that person been held accountable? Have they lost their
MR. RUBIN: Well, these are the questions -- you are assuming that there
is a single individual involved, and I have not said that. I have just said
that no matter how good your procedures are, if somebody violates those
procedures and/or refuses to implement them, it's hard to figure out a
better system, other than trying to ensure that we have the best procedures
and that disciplinary action is taken against those who violate it.
The question of whether a single individual is responsible, which
individual that is, how this happened, those are all the questions that are
being investigated very vigorously, and I don't want to say anything that
could compromise that investigation. And, frankly, a lot of things I could
QUESTION: So, given that, and given now that both Chairman Gilman and now
(inaudible) has weighed in on this, saying that they want to investigate,
what is the State Department prepared to do in future incidents or in
incidents like this one, in order -- in terms of holding people responsible
for their own lapses in procedure?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we will do that. We have asked -- as I said, Secretary
Albright has asked David Carpenter, two months ago, to do a top-to-bottom
review of this Department's security procedures and decide and recommend to
her, with a team of important individuals, whether there need to be any
structural changes here.
With respect to the comments of members of Congress, let me say that we
will be happy to participate in congressional hearings on this subject but,
in terms of the open discussion of this, it is no more possible to have an
open discussion of an FBI investigation before the TV cameras at the
congressional hearing than it is to have it here.
QUESTION: Jamie, would it be normal procedure -- there were members of
Congress that were outraged that they weren't informed of this security
lapse several months ago when it was reported. Would it be normal for a
lapse like that?
MR. RUBIN: I would have to check on that. I don't know what the
consultative procedures are on an FBI investigation and who is responsible,
which committees are normally informed of FBI investigations. And I just
don't know the answer to that.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:22 P.M.)