U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #10, 98-01-21
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
Wednesday, January 21, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
Heroism Award ceremony: Exceptional service in Sierra Leone
1 Amb. Butler visit to Baghdad: Initial reports not
1-2 UNSCOM investigations have been crucial
2 Repeated Iraqi declarations have been proven wrong
2 Not aware of recent contact between Secretary Albright and
FM Primakov on Iraq
2 Military option has not been ruled out
2 Amb. Butler to report to UNSC on Jan. 23
3 U-2's unique capabilities could be supplemented by other
3 Long-term aim is to contain Iraq militarily
10 Telephone conversation between Kurdish leaders and State
11 Former PM Mrs. Ciller's US status
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
4 Goal of meetings with PM Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat
4-5 Distinction drawn between US ideas on closing gaps and an
American peace plan
5 US view: A time-out would be necessary for permanent status
talks to succeed
5-6 Focus of discussions: more on re-deployment, Palestinian
6-7,8 Compliance of Palestinians on Oslo accords
7 Oslo accords in trouble; peace process had a bad year
7 US stands by Sec. Christopher's letter
8 Peace process currently in intensive phase
8 Enormous effort should occur to counter opponents of peace
9 US believes meetings with PM Netanyahu were worthwhile
9 Necessary elements for further re-deployment
10 Sec. Albright to continue President Clinton's ideas with PM
10 US studying next steps in judicial ruling on releasing
killer of Amcit
11-12 War crimes: Progress made, but more needs to be done to aid
12-13 Human Rights: US key to creation of international legal
response to violations
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21, 1998, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Let me
just start by saying that this afternoon, Secretary Albright will present
the Secretary's Award for Heroism to Mary Ann Wright and Jeffrey Breed in
recognition of their exceptional service in Sierra Leone during the May
1997 military takeover. We will have a statement that we will make
available to you after the briefing. Let's go right to your questions.
QUESTION: Butler is finished up in Baghdad. Do you have any evaluation,
preliminarily, on his visit?
MR. RUBIN: We have some preliminary reports about what happened in the
visit, and obviously both Chairman Butler and Deputy Prime Minister Aziz
have had a chance to talk to the press. Let me emphasize that we are
obviously looking for Iraq to comply with UN Security Council resolutions
to provide full, unfettered access to sites and information, in accordance
with the UN's inspections. The Iraqis have never done so.
UNSCOM's chairman went to Baghdad with a clear message from the Security
Council -that Iraq must cooperate fully and unconditionally with the UN.
However, the initial reports are not encouraging. It appears that Iraq has
ignored the message of the Security Council, and instead tried to impose
new and unacceptable conditions on the UN's operations there; including
some kind of moratorium on UN inspections of certain sites.
So the issue is not one where Iraq is in a position to seek to evade or
obfuscate its requirements. What we need is Iraqi compliance, not Iraqi
excuses. Ambassador Butler plans to brief the Security Council on Friday.
It's premature to speculate on what actions might be taken until after he
has had a chance to report fully on his visit. But again, we are not ruling
out any options.
QUESTION: Butler quotes Aziz as saying the Iraqis are willing to take
their chances with the UN. Do you think they're betting on a lack of
MR. RUBIN: Well, on the contrary, I think the will of the permanent
members of the Security Council - in fact, all the Security Council members
- are increasingly clear; and that is that Iraqi excuses have gone on for
far too long. We just saw Deputy Prime Minister Aziz talk about the
difference between inspections and technical monitoring. What I think
people need to understand is that if it hadn't been for UNSCOM's work and
UNSCOM's determination to get to the bottom of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction program, the hundreds of tons of chemical agents, the dozens of
missiles and a whole series of extremely dangerous - horrifyingly
dangerous - materials and equipment would not have been destroyed. And
if UNSCOM hadn't done investigative work: The declarations that Iraq
provided during the course of the last several years have barely resembled
what UNSCOM was able to uncover. The simplest reminder of that is the
biological weapons information that came about when one of the Iraqi top
officials defected and provided details.
So investigation has proven to be critical in uncovering the depth, the
extent of Iraq's program. The members of the Security Council have made
clear that they support UNSCOM's work not only in ensuring that what Iraq
declares it has is destroyed, but in being able to determine what Iraq has.
Given Iraqi obfuscation and denial and hiding of these facts over the last
several years, there's no way to do that by simply sending an expert, a
technical expert, to some site and watch a missile be destroyed. It's their
refusal to provide a true declaration of what they've done that has
led UNSCOM chairman after UNSCOM chairman to say that they have to
take every reasonable step they can to prove everything Iraq tells them,
because over and over again those declarations have proved to be wrong and
QUESTION: Jamie, do you find any more cohesiveness on the part of the
Security Council members in regard to military action, should the US or
anyone else want to take it? And specifically, has the Secretary been in
touch with Foreign Minister Primakov in the last three or four days?
MR. RUBIN: As far as the answer to the last question is concerned, I'm
not aware of any contact between Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister
Primakov on the question of next steps on Iraq in the last 48 hours or so,
or even going back three days.
I think the pattern that's appropriate here is to give a strong message of
support to Chairman Butler and make clear to the Iraqis that they have to
comply with his requirements, and then allow the UNSCOM chairman to try to
negotiate or talk to the Iraqis in such a way that the result is new
access. What we saw unfortunately was new excuses, not new access. Then,
upon Ambassador Butler's return to New York, the Security Council members
will be able to get an opportunity to examine in full the report that he
makes and be able to consider next steps.
Again, all I can say on the military question is that we haven't ruled that
option out, and that our hope is that the determination of the Council to
go the extra mile diplomatically will make it clear to all that the United
States has done what it can to try to convince Iraq, through the United
Nations, to comply.
QUESTION: Short of military action, could you tell us about any of the
diplomatic options you may still have?
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, we are not consulting now about next steps until
after Ambassador Butler's report on Friday, later this week. So it would be
premature for me to discuss publicly things that require the report to
occur -- and a certain kind of report -- to trigger those kind of
QUESTION: Is the United States in accord with Ambassador Butler's
statement that the UN would not object to U-2 flights being supplemented by
other national flights, maybe Russian?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, we are in accord with the UNSCOM chairman's position on
this, which is, as I understand it, publicly stated, that the U-2's unique
capabilities could be supplemented by additional surveillance capabilities.
And I would just point out that some of the proposed aircraft other
countries have offered are very useful, but don't have the wide-area
coverage that the U-2 provides. So let me say this very clearly here: We
encourage and support the provision of expertise, equipment and personnel
to UNSCOM by countries around the world. That's been our position all
along. It's up to the chairman of UNSCOM to decide what equipment, what
people and what expertise and equipment best serve his purpose, because
he's got a tough job. As you can see, from Iraqi obfuscation after
obfuscation, it is a very tough job to nail down exactly what Iraq
produced in this area and confirm what it has produced or could produce
has been destroyed before we can get to the question of long-term
QUESTION: Jamie, not to beat this already dead horse, but you've said,
and Mike McCurry from the White House has said this, as well as other
officials, that Iraqi excuses have gone on too long. You all keep saying
this when we have these flare-ups. But I'm sort of confused as to how long
the excuses continue to go on before you leap and jump to some other means
of trying to get him to comply, other than not just military action, but
something tougher than diplomacy. I mean, when do you exhaust the road --
try to go down another path?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I guess I can answer the question this way: Secretary
Albright and the President and the other officials in the NSC, as well as
Secretary Cohen, who's now joined the team over the last year, are very
determined to get the job done; and they are keeping their eye on the ball.
The ball is to contain Iraq militarily and to get Iraq to allow UNSCOM to
confirm what it has in the area of weapons of mass destruction.
This is a long-term policy that requires determination and firmness. And we
have many times faced situations where Iraq has made excuses or obfuscated
or flat-out lied to the special commission - as in the case of biological
weapons. When the Security Council's determination has been shown, time
after time, Iraq has backed down. That was true most recently in November
on the question of no Americans being allowed in inspection teams.
So we have a pretty good understanding of what the right course is here. If
the Secretaries of State and Defense and the National Security Advisor and
others believe that diplomacy has run its course, they may make other
recommendations and the President may or may not accept them. But we're
going to do that in our timeframe and with the considerations that we
believe will best serve our purpose.
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: May I ask you about the Middle East?
MR. RUBIN: Sure.
QUESTION: I heard what the Secretary said this morning. She said - I may
not be quoting her exactly - work has been done in the meetings with Prime
Minister Netanyahu and American officials, but work remains to be done. I
noticed the absence of the word progress. Am I --
QUESTION: Which was in the question.
QUESTION: Are my nerve endings hypersensitive or --
MR. RUBIN: Well, I haven't read the transcript of what she said. I was
there. I can't remember hearing that word either.
But I think the point is that progress in this area will be achieved in a
significant way when the Palestinians and the Israelis can agree on a
program of action that will lead to better cooperation by the Palestinians
and full cooperation by them in the security area; a commitment to
implement a credible and serious further redeployment; and a pathway to
final status negotiations that would accelerate the timetable; and of
course a time-out that will allow those negotiations to succeed. That's
success; that's progress; that's getting the peace process back on
I think it's hard to say that gaps have been closed when the President has
only met with one leader. He will be meeting with Chairman Arafat tomorrow.
Secretary Albright will host a working meal with Chairman Arafat this
evening at sundown. Then Secretary Albright will be meeting with Prime
Minister Netanyahu at Andrews Air Force Base after that meal. Before one
can say that one has narrowed gaps and therefore some progress has been
achieved, you have to hear from both sides.
But again, let me state clearly that the goal of these meetings was not
expected to be an instant realization that the gaps have closed or that
this formula will work to restart the peace process; but rather, knowing
how tough the two decisions are on the part of each of the leaders,
Secretary Albright's view was: The President needed to run through the
importance of these decisions, how we felt about them and give them his
ideas as to how to accomplish them. At that point, we will be hoping that
decisions will be made soon thereafter that would enable progress to be
QUESTION: These ideas, are they part of a coherent program, or are they
just being thrown out piecemeal?
MR. RUBIN: I guess we - that's one of those questions which I think is -
our policy is coherent, let me say that first, and secondly say that -
distinguish between the idea of ideas being presented to close gaps across
the board and the idea that has often been discussed by outsiders of an
American peace plan. I would distinguish between the ideas and views of the
United States on how to close gaps across the board in this four-part
agenda, and the idea of a "American plan." What the President
was putting forward, and the Secretary was working on, were ideas to close
the gaps coherently across the four agenda items.
QUESTION: Jamie, are you all discouraged that the Prime Minister appeared
to rule out a complete time-out in his speech - in settlement activity --
in his speech this morning?
MR. RUBIN: Let me put it this way: I think -- I haven't seen the entire
text. Taking you at your word, because that would be a traditional position
the Prime Minister has put forward, it wouldn't surprise me that he would
What we want to do here is, if we can get the further redeployment issue
resolved - and that's a big if - and if we can get the security commitment
from the Palestinians necessary - and that's a big if - we want to move to
permanent status negotiations. We don't have the first two covered, nor do
we have an agreement on how we would get to the third. But it is our
strongly-held view that in order for these permanent status talks to
succeed, that a time-out on unilateral actions would be necessary in order
for the environment to be created where you could have such a discussion,
and an environment existing where you could make the tough decisions on
But we are very far from that moment. The fact that Prime Minister
Netanyahu has different views on that issue is not a surprise to us. But we
do feel strongly that that should be part of the puzzle - one of the pieces
of the puzzle, if we ever can get to the part where the puzzle can be put
QUESTION: But Jamie, the Prime Minister spent a lot of yesterday with the
President of the United States --
MR. RUBIN: Right.
QUESTION: -- in which the President attempted to sway him on this issue
of the time-out, among others. So how would you respond to those who might
observe in that that the President failed to sway the Prime Minister on the
MR. RUBIN: Whoever those observers might be: The view of the United
States is that - and the Secretary, in particular - is that we've been at
this for many months now, and we know how hard this business is to try to
close gaps and get the Palestinians and the Israelis to agree on the need
for restarting the peace process and actually implementing parts of the
Oslo accords that have not yet been implemented. So we have no illusions
how hard this is going to be.
What I am trying to suggest to you, however, inartfully, is that the focus
of our discussions were more on the further redeployment issue and the
question of Palestinian cooperation on security, which we believe are ways
in which we can restart the Oslo pieces and move towards a permanent status
-- a new accelerated negotiation, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated
he would like to do. To get that new negotiation to happen, it has been our
view that a time-out on unilateral actions is necessary; and to make
that negotiation succeed, a time-out will be necessary.
So if we are able to move forward -- the further redeployment and the
Palestinian commitment on security - that will be a major step forward.
QUESTION: Can I just do a quick one? Are you saying you would like to see
the American plan, ideas, whatever -- further redeployment and the security
aspect on the Palestinian side first; and then you move to the time-
MR. RUBIN: I'm avoiding the first, second, third type of formulation.
These are all connected, and each of them have connections.
We've said in the past that unilateral steps are not helpful to the peace
process in general. That means further redeployment; that means security;
that means where we are today. But it is particularly true that a time-out
on unilateral actions related to permanent status issues (i.e., settlements,
Jerusalem) are needed if we're going to get to those permanent status
So I am not suggesting that the time-out needn't start now, because we
don't even have a further redeployment. I am suggesting that the focus of
the President's efforts and the work the Secretary has been doing up until
now and will continue to do today is on the further redeployment and the
security components, knowing that to get to the next step, to have a real
breakthrough, to get the negotiations truly back on track, we need to go to
permanent status. And one of the ways to get there is through the time-
MR. RUBIN: Same subject?
QUESTION: Same subject. Every six months for three years after Oslo, the
President certified to Congress that the Palestinians were by and large in
compliance with their obligations under the Oslo agreement. Is it now your
view, as expressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the Palestinians are
substantially out of compliance on key points apart from security, such as
MR. RUBIN: Given the delicacy of this moment, I don't think it would be
wise for me to try to take a snapshot today, on January 22 - am I right
MR. RUBIN: My paper says it's Tuesday, January 21st, so that's wrong;
QUESTION: No, it's Wednesday.
MR. RUBIN: It's Wednesday, January 21st.
QUESTION: Are you giving us tomorrow's briefing?
MR. RUBIN: Yesterday's briefing. No, it's yesterday's, Tuesday's.
QUESTION: -- know what day it is.
MR. RUBIN: That it would be a mistake to take a snapshot and make a
declaration across the board about Palestinian compliance. What we've tried
to get away from in the course of day-to-day diplomacy is declaring that,
with respect to this provision of Oslo or that provision of Oslo, that this
side or that side is in compliance or out of compliance. Clearly, Oslo is
in trouble. The peace process had a very bad year. And the Oslo process
needs to be revived if it's going to lay the basis for a further step
But let me see if I can get our team to put together a definitive answer to
your question of what our current assessment of Palestinian compliance
would be, if we were going to submit such a report. I fear, however, that
the answer will be: Since we don't have to submit such a report today, we
don't think that would be wise to do so.
QUESTION: I want to follow up on the answer to Sid's question. You said
get a further redeployment, which should be the second under Oslo and get
Palestinian guarantees on security, you want to move to accelerated
permanent status talks. Does that obviate the third redeployment? Does the
third redeployment get rolled up into final status talks? And the Chairman
has, I think, Chairman Arafat, has ruled that out.
MR. RUBIN: These are exactly the kind of issues that are being talked
about. I can really only say one thing about this, that we stand by
Secretary Christopher's letter on this issue. But exactly these issues are
being discussed in great detail by Secretary Albright with the Prime
Minister and Chairman Arafat during the course of the day. All I can say
definitively is that we stand by Secretary Christopher's letter.
QUESTION: Jamie, on the compliance question, it used to be, up until six
months, nine months ago that a compliance report was compiled by the State
Department and issued in the press room through every three months - I
think it was adjusted to six months. We haven't seen one of those in a long
time. So to prevent - to keep you all from having to give us a snapshot,
could you release the most recent PLO compliance report, as you used to do
periodically in months past?
MR. RUBIN: Well, since I've only been in this room about six months, and
we haven't done one since I've been here, let me --
QUESTION: You've released one.
MR. RUBIN: Well, that's what I mean - released one in this room, since
I've only been in this room about six months. Let me find out the answer to
that fully legitimate question.
QUESTION: Jamie, I wonder if you could address the other part of the
Prime Minister's position this morning. His assessments seemed to be - or
his view - he seemed to be saying that the Palestinians are largely out of
compliance with Oslo; that the Israelis are completely in compliance - that
they have fulfilled all of their commitments, and that Israel in essence is
being held up to an unfair, one-sided standard. If you don't want to
address the Palestinian part of that, how about the rest of it?
MR. RUBIN: Let me try to put it this way: Clearly, both sides have a lot
of work to do if we're going to get the peace process back on track. We
don't think it's wise at this point to make a judgment about every one of
each party's views as to the other side's position or its own position.
We're in the midst of an intensive phase right now.
The President of the United States just met with Prime Minister Netanyahu
for two 90-minute meetings. Secretary Albright has spent hours and hours
with him all day yesterday. She's going to see him again tonight. She's
going to see Chairman Arafat later. Clearly, we need to do a lot of work to
encourage both sides to do what's necessary to put the peace process back
on track. That is our view, and we're not interested in declaring a US view
on every one of the provisions of Oslo.
QUESTION: Jamie, could you give us sort of a preview of the message the
Secretary plans to give to the Chairman?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think the primary message is that he needs to be
realistic about what a further redeployment would look like; and he needs
to understand the linkage between any movement forward by the Israelis and
the question of security. And although we have seen some important
cooperation in recent days and weeks with regard to the arrest of people
responsible for terrorism or the uncovering of weaponry that could be
used in terrorism, this is a full-time job and that it's in the interest
of Chairman Arafat to see the opponents of his policies, the opponents of
peace taken down in the sense of eliminating the space with which they
operate and in which they operate. That requires an enormous amount of
effort, and that should occur no matter what kind of weekly developments
there are in the peace process; because it's a long-term job and as long as
those opponents of peace are there working to kill peace, we believe
Chairman Arafat needs to understand that his position is weakened.
QUESTION: You'd say he needs to lower his - my words - lower his
expectations regarding the redeployment now? We've heard a lot of numbers.
Is that the 80 percent number; is that the 20 percent number?
MR. RUBIN: All I'm saying is that realism is part of negotiation; and
that it's all fine and good for any party to have wishes. But wishes don't
make things come true. One needs to be realistic - both parties need to be
realistic about what can be done -- whether it's on security, whether it's
on further redeployments, whether it's on a time-out, whether it's on
permanent status issues. Those are issues where realism, combined with
principled goals, need to be kept in mind. But being more specific about it,
I couldn't be at this time.
QUESTION: Did the US get a greater understanding of Israel's security
needs in terms of what land it feels it has to keep from this visit?
MR. RUBIN: Well, any time many, many hours of discussion occur, then
greater understanding hopefully happens, or else the meetings were not
worthwhile. We do think the meetings were worthwhile.
QUESTION: Has the US yet heard the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu
make a credible and substantial offer for further redeployment? And then I
have another question.
MR. RUBIN: What we've heard is serious business being presented by the
Israeli Prime Minister. Serious, constructive work has taken place on all
the elements that would make up a successful further redeployment. That
means how much, which territory, how quickly would it be turned over and
what the security conditions would need to be during the turn-over of
All of these together are what will make their further redeployment work.
So trying to separate out one -- how much -- is not the issue. The issue is
how much, when, what type and what security conditions will need to obtain.
So those are the pieces of the puzzle. If we had put them all together,
things would be farther down the road than they are.
QUESTION: This is the yardstick you've set. Presumably it deals with all
these questions, that yardstick - credible and substantial --
MR. RUBIN: Right, and when we think that we've seen that, we will tell
you. And when we think we won't ever see that, we'll tell you that, too.
But in the meantime, we're working the problem.
QUESTION: Can you give us anything you have on the Holocaust Museum visit
that Mr. Arafat is or is not going to make?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any new details. I'm getting new information from
reading the papers.
QUESTION: You don't know if he's going or not?
MR. RUBIN: I really don't have his schedule at this point. I read his
comments that he would be keen on going, and that he will consider the
invitation. But I don't have any information as to whether he's going.
QUESTION: Besides playing maybe messenger this evening between Arafat and
Netanyahu, why was the extra meeting set up? Was there some unfinished
MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, I wouldn't quite frame it as messenger. I
think that Secretary Albright over the last several months has met with
both leaders many times, and tried to get a greater understanding of their
needs, what they think is possible, and give them an understanding of what
the other side needs and what the other side needs to see for success to be
achieved. This is an ongoing process that involves many meetings, many
phone calls, work by Ambassador Ross.
So the President laid down some ideas on how to close the gaps. She is
going to continue to discuss those with Prime Minister Netanyahu, also talk
about procedural next steps, and then be in a position to meet with
Chairman Arafat to go through where we are and to help - let the President
know, obviously, where Chairman Arafat is before their meeting.
QUESTION: Yesterday a panel of three judges supported the decision of a
judge to take out of jail a few Mexican Robin Hoods who attacked and killed
an American citizen.
MR. RUBIN: Are you're trying to ask this is the most provocative way
QUESTION: Well - and you said that the State Department requested the
support of the Mexican Government to change that decision. According to the
decision of the judge, your request wasn't kind of successful. So what is
the next step of the State Department to try to change the decision of the
MR. RUBIN: Well, as you know, we had condemned that initial decision. The
appeals court has ruled. We are studying the ruling, and after giving it a
good legal once-over, will be in a position to plan or take any next steps,
if that's appropriate.
QUESTION: Deutsch from the State Department, Near East Division, he had a
telephone conversation with --
MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry. Who?
QUESTION: John Deutsch.
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Please continue.
QUESTION: And he had a telephone conversation with General Talabani, a
Northern Iraqi Kurdish leader. Do you think the two Kurdish factions in the
Northern Iraq (are) close to agreement?
MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check and get you an answer.
QUESTION: I have one more question also.
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Former Turkish Prime Minister, Mrs. Ciller, she had before a
green card from here. And do you --
MR. RUBIN: Sounds like I'm not going to know the answer to this one
QUESTION: Do you have any record (that)she has a dual citizenship with
Turkish and American?
MR. RUBIN: I'll check for you.
QUESTION: Jamie, there was a delegation here this morning, apparently led
by Justice Richard Goldstone --
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: -- who are calling for tougher use of military force to
apprehend indicted war criminals in Bosnia, some other things as well. What
is the view here of what they're calling for?
MR. RUBIN: Let me say this: Special Representative Bob Gelbard and David
Scheffer, the Secretary's ambassador at large for war crimes, had a lengthy
meeting with the task force on Tuesday. And we understand the task force
met officials at the Defense Department, at the NSC. My understanding,
based on the initial reporting of this report is they have some questions
about how we've pursued the war crimes issues. So let me address that.
We do believe justice is essential to bringing a lasting peace to the
former Yugoslavia. Having war criminals stand trial in The Hague is an
essential part of the Dayton process. Clearly, more needs to be done. Those
indictees who remain at large, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic,
must realize that there are no deals to cut; there is no way out; there is
no way they can avoid a fair trial in The Hague.
We have been the leading force in bringing war criminals to justice in the
former Yugoslavia. We led international efforts to persuade Croatia to
facilitate the voluntary surrender of ten indictees. We have used economic
sanctions as a lever in promoting progress here. And we have seen SFOR make
the decision that indictees could be detained when encountered in the
course of normal operations. That happened twice. So we are committing to
keeping all our options open in this area. And I think Secretary Albright
made it quite clear on Sunday that the statute of limitations on war
crimes does not run out, and that Radovan Karadzic's day will come.
QUESTION: If I could follow, what Justice Goldstone and the others appear
to be saying in their news conference at mid-day today seemed to be that
there should be rather than a detained-if-you-run-across war criminals
policy, more of a send-the-military-out-to-go-and-get them. They're also
calling for a freeze on assets of indicted war criminals and imposition of
UN sanctions on countries that would harbor them.
MR. RUBIN: To respond without getting into all the details, a year ago
when Secretary Albright took office and the issue of war crimes was
presented to her, she indicated that she and the President wanted to see
progress in this area; that we believed that getting war criminals brought
to justice is part of what will make Bosnia work.
If you look at the record over the last year, you will see progress. And
maybe it's not the particular person that some of you want to focus on, but
if you look at the record, people have been turned over voluntarily,
they've been picked up and detained and progress has been made in the area
of bringing war criminals to justice. As Secretary Albright said, it's an
issue she cares deeply about. We've made progress, but like in a lot of
issues, there's more that needs to be done.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I just follow on that for a second? Some in the human
rights community are complaining that during the discussions that are going
on now among governments over the possible establishment of a permanent
world court, that the United States is taking the position, along with
others, that the UN Security Council should have a veto over which cases
such a court would be able to take. Is that true?
MR. RUBIN: Let me try to answer that without diving too deep into the
legal world that can only get me in trouble, and let me say it as follows:
There is no country that has done more than the United States to see the
creation of an international legal response to genocide and violations of
I think anyone who is being straight on this subject will say that it was
the United States that helped create the War Crimes Tribunals for
Yugoslavia and Rwanda; and it's the United States that has been in the
forefront of trying to make those tribunals work. So if people want to
point fingers at countries in the world, the last country they should point
fingers at, when it comes to the fight to make international humanitarian
law an accepted practice, is the United States.
There will always been those who wish that governments wouldn't be
governments and wouldn't want to protect their national interests and the
national interests of their citizens. As I understand our position, it's
not a situation of veto; it's a situation of practicality, just like in the
case of Bosnia and Rwanda. The Security Council played a role in deciding
to create a tribunal under a scheme that was consistent with efforts to
make peace. I vividly remember many of you in this room and elsewhere
saying there's no way you're going to have a war crimes tribunal without
an amnesty - sorry, a peace agreement without an amnesty for war criminals.
It was deemed an accepted fact in the international media. And in fact,
there was a war crimes tribunal; there was no amnesty given; war criminals
are in jail. And we are determined to do all we can.
So the United States has nothing to feel ashamed about when it comes to
pursuing this important avenue. And in fact, it is the United States that
has led the way.
(The briefing concluded at 1:35 P.M.)