U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #11, 98-01-22
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, January 22, 1998
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance Visit to the
1 Statement on Apprehension on Bosnian War Criminal
1 Contributions by Sweden and The Netherlands to Holocaust
1 Castro's Remarks re US Pursuing "Genocidal Policies Against
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
1-2,10 Secretary's Meetings with Chairman Arafat
2-3 Chairman Arafat's Letter to President Clinton re
3-4 Prospects for a Three-Way Meeting
4,5 Next Steps in the Process/Forward Movement in the Peace
4 Movement To Permanent Status Issues
5 Status of Further Israeli Redeployments
5 Status of Chairman Arafat's Visit to Holocaust Museum
5-6 Middle East Peace Facilitation Act/PLO Office
6 Ira Einhorn Extradition Case/Meeting with Pennsylvania
6-7 -- State Department's Role/Activities re Einhorn Case
7 Guatemalan Authorities Request for FBI Assistance in
Investigation of Attack on U.S. Students
7 US Position/Assistance re Lori Berenson Case
8 Status of Diplomatic Efforts and Next Steps re UNSCOM
9 Consultations with UN Security Council Members re Next
9 Update on KDP-PUK Kurdish Peace Talks
9-10 New Food Appeal/Possibility of US Contribution
10 Schedule/Status of Four-Party Talks
10-11 Status of Civil Aviation Talks
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JANUARY 22, 1998, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. We have several statements we'll be releasing after
the briefing on the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance visit to
the United States, and on the Holocaust Fund.
But let me start by saying that Secretary Albright was quite pleased with
the fact that a Bosnian Serb suspect was apprehended and brought to The
Hague. Let me say that this action has taken place in accordance with
relevant UN Security Council Resolutions; stands as a warning to those
indicted for war crimes who remain at large. They will be held individually
accountable for their actions. It was an action to bring to justice, under
the rule of law, those indicted for war crimes, and it makes clear that the
international community believes that the surrender of persons indicted
for war crimes is an essential part of building peace and reconciliation
in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
QUESTION: During the arrival ceremony yesterday in Havana for the Pope,
Castro said the United States was pursuing "genocidal policies" against the
Cuban people. Do you have any response to that?
MR. RUBIN: We obviously reject that charge. Let me say this - there's
some great misunderstanding. There is billions of dollars of food that is
donated from Americans to Cuba that goes there. Medicines are licensed -
hundreds of millions of dollars of medicines are licensed. This is a red
herring. Obviously we believe that our economic pressure is part of what
has made the hemisphere move to a democratic hemisphere, with the
exception of Cuba. President Clinton spoke to this last night and said
that we have good reasons for our policies. We know that others have
differences, and only time will tell who was right.
QUESTION: Jamie, do you have any late word on what's been going on with
the talks between the President and the Secretary and Chairman Arafat?
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say this -- Secretary Albright is going to be
meeting again with Chairman Arafat this afternoon. And then, as I
understand it, he will be returning to the White House later this evening.
So we're in mid-stream.
Obviously we are working very hard on the integrated ideas that President
Clinton has put forward. Secretary Albright is working very closely with
Chairman Arafat on each of the aspects of those ideas - how to get us to a
point where additional territory can be handed over; how to get Chairman
Arafat to do all he can to fight terrorism. That is the substance of the
discussion. She will perhaps be in a position to report to the media later
today on things as they go on.
But I think she feels like the meetings were quite constructive; that they
got down to business; that we're at a critical point in the peace process;
and that the goal here is to have both leaders go away from these meetings
with the President with something to think about. Those are prerequisites
for them making the tough decisions that are necessary for peace to be
moved forward, for the process to be put back on track.
The meetings have gone well, what we've expected. As far as progress is
concerned, we do not believe that there has been agreement on these various
difficult issues. We're in mid-stream, and we're doing what we can to close
the gaps, but we don't have - not yielded the goals of putting the peace
process back on track yet, and that's why we're working so hard on
QUESTION: In his statements yesterday, the President seemed to have had a
new sense of urgency. Is that just because of accumulated pressures, or is
there something specific that requires more speed?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think you've heard Secretary Albright talk for recent
weeks about a sense of urgency in the peace process, because a year has
gone by since the Hebron accords, that 1997 was not a good year for the
peace process, and so she has talked about the urgency. I think now you saw
the President say that he felt a sense of urgency. So I don't think there's
a new sense of urgency as much as there is a recognition that with each
passing day it's harder and harder to put the peace process back on track,
and that that is why the President and the Secretary feel a sense of
QUESTION: In the meetings so far, is there a sense that Arafat has been
more realistic about his expectations for an Israeli redeployment, or is he
asking for the moon, in the US view?
MR. RUBIN: Well, he said he's not asking for the moon.
QUESTION: I'm asking what the US thinks.
MR. RUBIN: We are not going to make assessments of each of the leaders'
views. That's really up to them to say. What we do feel is we are laying
the basis for decisions to be made.
Chairman Arafat did provide the President a letter today which laid out the
issue of the Palestinian charter, and he provided a letter that refers back
to the Palestinian National Council's decision in April 1996, canceling the
articles inconsistent with its commitments to Israel. I would point out
that the government of Israel, at the time, welcomed this step.
Some have questioned which exact clauses were amended by the Palestinian
National Council's decision. Today, President Clinton received from
Chairman Arafat a letter which, for the first time, identifies all the
articles annulled by the PNC's April 1996 action. The letter also says that
these changes will be reflected in any official publication, and it
emphasizes the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to live in peace and
security and the PLO's commitment to live in peace, side by side with
Israel. So that is a step, an important step toward completing the process
of revising the charter. That has been one of the issues that has been
QUESTION: Arafat said, coming out of the White House - or his interpreter
said - that this letter had put the issue of the covenant to rest. Do you
share that view, or is there more that the Palestinians need to show on the
covenant? And would you still like them to convene a new meeting of the
MR. RUBIN: Well, let me read from the letter so that you understand a
little better what we're talking about here, and this is to the President
from Chairman Arafat. And it says, "from time to time, questions have been
raised about the effect of the Palestinian National Council's action,
particularly concerning which of the 33 articles of the Palestinian
covenant have been changed. We would like to put to rest these concerns.
The Palestinian National Council's resolution, in accordance with Article
33 of the covenant, is a comprehensive amendment of the covenant.
All of the provisions of the covenant which are inconsistent with
the PLO commitment to recognize and live in peace side by side with Israel
are no longer in effect. As a result, Articles 6 through 10, 15, 19 through
23 and 30 have been nullified. And the parts in Articles 1 through 5, 11
through 14, 16 through 18, 25 through 27 and 29 that are inconsistent with
the above-mentioned commitments have also been nullified. These changes
will be reflected in any official publication of the charter.
We believe that this is an important step towards completing the process of
revising the charter. As far as what additional steps need to be made, at
this point all we want to say is that these need to be discussed directly
between the parties. But certainly, we think this is an important
QUESTION: What he states in his letter, is this a new action? Or is he
simply referring to actions that had been taken --
MR. RUBIN: Again, as I think I answered the question, I pointed out that
some people have asked the question, which exact clauses were amended by
the PNC decision of last April. This letter spells out the effect of that
decision on which articles of the covenant. Then the Israelis will
obviously be provided this information, or probably already have it in the
course of the last few hours, and then they will be able to take a look at
its significance in their view. Then the two sides will obviously have more
to say to each other about it.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary closer to a date for arranging a three-way
meeting among herself, Mr. Arafat and the Prime Minister?
MR. RUBIN: Closer, yes. But I couldn't say we're there yet. It's
perfectly clear that in order for us to have success here, in order for the
two sides to make the tough decisions in the four areas that you've heard
us talk about, a meeting such as the one you described will probably be
necessary. But we don't know whether we're going to have that success, and
so we can't say there will be a meeting.
We are hopeful that after having a chance to absorb these proposals and
ideas that the President put down, as opposed to a plan - ideas - the two
leaders will be in a position to make some decisions. Often at that point,
as it has been in many times in the past, that would be appropriate to have
such a meeting.
But there have been no dates set; there is no meeting set. The President
and the Secretary are still going to be meeting with Chairman Arafat during
the course of the day. So it would be premature to make a - my experience
here tends to be that it is at the end of discussions at which the leaders
are even in a position to talk about when the next communication will be
and what the next meeting plan will be.
In this case, I would expect there to be some time passes before a final
decision is made. But certainly, we're hopeful that if we're going to
achieve the success we've been seeking, that a meeting like that will be
part of the package.
QUESTION: Can you spell out for us the additional steps that you want to
see Arafat and the Palestinians take on security -- extradition, for
MR. RUBIN: Well, just as yesterday and the day before, I was reluctant to
get into great detail about what we were discussing with the Israelis, the
same holds with the Palestinians; other than to say that there have been
problems, that there have been successes, but there's more work that needs
to be done. The areas include the one you mentioned, about arrests. The
areas include infrastructure. So what we are looking to do is to develop a
parallel, step-by-step process whereby additional security measures
are taken; and a parallel, step-by-step process whereby the further
redeployment from additional territory takes place, which will meet the
needs of both sides.
I can't be more specific as to what is entailed in each of the steps,
because that's what we're discussing; and it would be inappropriate to talk
about that publicly in mid-stream in a diplomatic negotiation.
QUESTION: At what point would the United States envision the talks moving
into permanent status issues?
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, that is one of the pieces of the puzzle that we
are trying to put together. The sooner the better, but it is -- the timing
of the different steps is one of the issues under discussion. But obviously
we would like to move soon to a situation where the peace process is back
on track, further redeployments pursuant to the Oslo Accords take place and
the prerequisite of security cooperation occurs. At that point, we're
hoping, this integration of those two with the timing for permanent status
will put everything together in an integrated way. But as far as a date for
such talks or their supposed length, that's premature to discuss publicly
at this time.
QUESTION: Have the second and third redeployments now been replaced, in
your thinking, by a series of smaller redeployments?
MR. RUBIN: It's a completely legitimate question, Mark. All I can say on
the subject of how the further redeployments would occur is that it's a
subject of discussion. We stand by Secretary Christopher's letter on the
subject, and it's a subject of discussion.
QUESTION: Before we get off the Middle East, some of those close to
Chairman Arafat are expressing some dismay at what they are calling his bad
luck -- that he's come to Washington at a time when the President and some
of his senior aides may be somewhat distracted. Is this a subject that's
come up at all between the Palestinians and the Americans, and --
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard it.
QUESTION: -- any reaction to that, those expressions.
MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard it, and there's been no effect that Secretary
Albright has been aware of. She was at meetings with the President today,
and there will be meetings this evening.
QUESTION: Can I ask two more on this subject, Jamie? In addition to hard
decisions that have to be made by the parties, isn't there a hard decision
that has to be made by the United States, which is whether this process in
its current form can in fact move forward?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we always make hard decisions here in the United States
at the State Department; all our decisions are hard. Is this harder than
other decisions? All I can say is that Secretary Albright has been working
at this for many months now. She is determined to see whether we can,
through extensive diplomatic work, through meetings, through ideas, through
exhortation, through explanation, through understanding and all the
techniques of diplomacy, try to convince the leaders to make these tough
decisions. If we get to a point where we think that's not the case, we'll
cross that bridge. That is not where we are now.
QUESTION: What's the latest on Arafat's visit to the Holocaust Museum; do
MR. RUBIN: You'd have to check with the museum on the visit. I don't know
what the latest plans are, and I just don't know. I wouldn't be surprised
if it happened, but I just don't know what the final schedule that he's
QUESTION: Has the Palestinian delegation asked for the US Government to
do something to restore the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act, the one
that closed the PLO office here?
MR. RUBIN: Well, this has been a matter for discussion for some time. I
don't know that this - the meeting I was at, I didn't hear that come up. I
am sure that they would like their office to be restored to its previous
situation, because we've heard that in the past. But I didn't hear - I
think with the issues that we're discussing here of redeployment, of
entering a negotiation to lead to a permanent peace treaty, that that has
been the focus of the discussions at the Secretary's level.
Have they talked about this? It's possible; I just don't know.
QUESTION: About two hours ago, State Department officials met with the
Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Philadelphia District Attorney,
concerning the extradition of a convicted killer, Ira Einhorn, back to the
United States from France. I'm wondering what comment you have on that - if
you can tell us any more about the State Department's plans?
MR. RUBIN: Yes. The Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Philadelphia
District Attorney met with officials from State Department's Legal
Adviser's Office to discuss the Ira Einhorn case this morning. The
discussion centered on the best strategy to obtain Einhorn's extradition to
the US to face justice. Representatives of the Department of Justice also
participated in the meeting.
It is our view that the United States was disappointed with the decision of
the French court to deny the extradition request. The French Ministry of
Justice has been exceptionally cooperative on this matter since the ruling,
and I understand they are continuing to pursue the matter through their
system. Because it's an ongoing case, there aren't a lot of details we can
provide; other than to say that the Department of State presented the
original extradition request in June 1997, and the French Government took
responsibility for representing the US. The US Embassy in Paris worked
closely with French authorities on preparations and strategy. We are
consulting on a daily basis with the Department of Justice on the next
steps to take, and will present any further requests for extradition
at the appropriate time.
We understand that the Pennsylvanian legislature has been very active in
enacting a law dealing with trials in absentia to take the French concerns
into account. And we have worked very closely with the French authorities
and the Philadelphia prosecutors every step of the way and we will continue
to do so. We intend to continue to pursue this vigorously in the most
effective way possible, and we are committed to seeing that Ira Einhorn is
returned to Pennsylvania to face justice.
QUESTION: Is there anything realistically that the State Department can
do, however, more than just keeping an eye on the legal proceedings at this
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, we have some pretty smart lawyers here at the
State Department. When the United States Government believes that
extradition is appropriate, we can provide assistance in the process and
also ensure that we know all the permutations in the French legal system
that would be useful to the lawyers involved.
So, yes, we think we can be helpful. That doesn't mean we can be determinative,
QUESTION: So the State Department is more in a supportive role, or in a
lead role in this case?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think we're working closely. I don't know how to say
who's number one or number two. As I understand it, when they left the
meeting today, they were quite supportive of what we were doing. I think
it's a team effort.
QUESTION: Contrary to what you said earlier in the week, is the FBI
getting involved in the Guatemala incident?
MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, the request was made by the Guatemalan
authorities for assistance, and some assistance is being provided. But as
far as the details on that, I'd refer you to the FBI.
QUESTION: Earlier today, from what I understand, the parents and the
lawyers for Lori Berenson were at the State Department in the lobby. They
also have filed a petition with the OAS in reference to having her trial re-
heard. And they've also said that the State Department hasn't put forth a
hard enough stance to the Peruvian Government. Do you have any comments on
MR. RUBIN: Yes. Let me say this - the US Embassy in Lima is continuing to
provide all appropriate services for Miss Berenson, as we do for any
American citizen incarcerated overseas.
We have made very clear to the government our desire to see Miss Berenson
receive a trial in a civilian court. I can say that she has been visited 27
times to date by US consular officials - most recently on January 9. She is
seen in the prison where she was transferred on January 17, 1996. The
Embassy is in constant contact with Peruvian authorities at the highest
level regarding Miss Berenson.
Let me reiterate that the United States considers that Miss Berenson's
trial by a military tribunal did not meet minimal international standards
of due process. We continue to raise this issue with the Peruvian
Government, and will continue to do so and hopefully will have some success
in this area.
QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu left us a little confused with regard
to the extradition arrangements between Israel and the United States. Could
you take the question of whether there is an extradition agreement, though
not a treaty, between Israel and the United States, and whether the
Sheinbein case is still very active, from your standpoint, as well as the
Green case, with regard to Alex Odeh?
MR. RUBIN: I will take that question --
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. RUBIN: -- and put together in one informative answer.
QUESTION: What's that?
MR. RUBIN: Whatever it is.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the President gave a couple interviews to NPR and
PBS, and Iraq came up, among other things. And he said that he suggested -
I'm not going to try to verbate his words, because I don't remember them
verbatim - but he suggested that diplomacy is really wearing out, and he
said words like the US is prepared to act alone, if necessary. We'd like to
work with our allies and the other members of the Security Council,
but we're not going to wait this thing out endlessly and forever.
And I know I've asked you this before, but just another attempt at this, is
- would you - is the road to diplomacy crumbling? Is it losing its legs?
And when - how long is it - it seems like the President says it's dead-
MR. RUBIN: I'm amused that you each time find a new analogy to ask the
question. The President made very clear his determination -- and Secretary
Albright feels very determined, as well -- that this is a major problem,
that we need to get the kind of access that Iraq has denied. Ambassador
Richardson reported to us this morning that Council members were quite
disturbed by the initial reports they had heard from Chairman Butler's
visit. And the President made clear that, although he is not anxious to go
it alone or anxious to rush to use military force, he is determined, and
that option remains open. That is our position.
When we believe that diplomacy has reached the end of the road, whether the
road has crumbled or not, then we will tell you. But at this point, the
next step is to receive the report from Chairman Butler; to have the UN
Security Council absorb the rejection by Iraq, the new excuses by Iraq; and
then to determine our next steps. In short, the President is determined,
the Secretary is determined, but we're not going to be rushed either.
QUESTION: Well, Butler said - I believe he said yesterday that he's
prepared to send his inspection teams in and try to get into the palaces
and the places that Saddam has cited as off-limits. Is this something that
the US thinks is a good idea?
MR. RUBIN: Yes, we support the UNSCOM team's efforts to find out what
happened in Iraq in the area of weapons of mass destruction. And all that
keeps happening when Baghdad has new words to say is there are new excuses
for why UNSCOM can't do its job. As I indicated, Ambassador Richardson told
us that the Security Council members are increasingly frustrated by the
excuses, and that they are disturbed by the initial reports from Chairman
But what next steps will be taken, I'm not in a position to report today;
other than to say that we are determined to protect the security of the
United States, to continue to contain Iraq's potential military threat to
the region and its potential threat of weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: The other day you said something about how Iraq's continued
defiance was beginning to cause impatience, even among those in the
Security Council who had previously been arguing on Iraq's behalf. Which
countries were you talking about? Were you talking about France?
MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to get into naming countries. I was trying to
give you a general mood that is reported to us by diplomats in New York. I
think there are many countries in the UN system who have, while not
agreeing with Iraq, have been prepared at least to entertain Iraq's
arguments. Those countries, my impression was, from the report I received
from New York, were finding it increasingly frustrating to make Iraqi
arguments that boil down to Iraqi excuses.
QUESTION: Given that Council members already know the gist of what Butler
is going to be expanding on, and are disturbed by it, what contacts is the
US making with other Council members regarding the next step?
MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware that the Secretary has made any calls in this
area. I think we are obviously giving some thinking to what will the next
steps be, but the first next step is the report from Chairman Butler
tomorrow. After that, then I will be - it will be harder for me to avoid
your questioning. I'll figure something out, though.
QUESTION: Do you foresee a period of time of going beyond tomorrow? In
other words, will the Council need time to digest this information -
perhaps into next week? Or might there be action tomorrow?
MR. RUBIN: Action tomorrow I would think would be extremely unlikely.
QUESTION: About your contact with the Iraqi Kurdish group, do you expect
some kind of peace between the two northern Iraqi Kurdish groups soon?
MR. RUBIN: You asked me yesterday about a particular gentleman, who I
gather is not the person you thought he was. There was a former NEA/NGA
office director named Bob Deutsch, but I'm told that was a former office
But the answer to your question is that there have been two recent positive
developments: one, a new peace proposal put forward by the KDP; and two, a
meeting between the PUK, Mr. Talabani, and the Turkish Government in
Ankara. We continue to remain in touch with the two leaderships, and are
working closely with them on this matter.
QUESTION: Has there been any decision yet about amounts of money that
would be pledged in the new food drive for North Korea?
MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of a decision. I certainly can repeat our
standard formulation on this - that we've been responsive; we've been a
leader; and I would expect us to continue to be so. But I don't have an
announcement of a decision, or even am I aware that a decision has been
QUESTION: Do you expect a decision soon, given that high-level State
Department officials have been in Korea recently?
MR. RUBIN: Soon is probably a good word.
QUESTION: Whatever happened to the four-party talks?
MR. RUBIN: Let me get you the details on the next meeting and when that
will happen. I think we all know, as well, that the election of a new
president in Korea is a development that will have an effect on unification
issues in Korea. He has some views of his own. But the four-party talks are
still the basis for how we believe that some of the problems can be
resolved there and a final armistice agreement can be achieved. But as far
as the schedule for the talks, let me try to get you that in a taken
QUESTION: I was just going through my notes. Did you say where and when
the subsequent meeting between Secretary Albright and Arafat is going to
MR. RUBIN: No, I think I very specifically did not, because I didn't say
there was going to be one.
QUESTION: You think there's going to be one.
MR. RUBIN: No, I did not -- I said that we are hopeful - oh, between
Chairman - not the trilateral, the one - the Arafat meeting. Sorry. There
is going to be a meeting with Chairman Arafat this afternoon at his hotel.
I believe it is about mid-afternoon, 3:30-ish, around then.
QUESTION: And do you know if the Secretary will make her remarks there or
MR. RUBIN: I don't think there will be any remarks made here, but I think
she may have something to say during the course of the day.
QUESTION: Which hotel is that?
MR. RUBIN: We'll have to get you the detail. I don't know which hotel it
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the civil aviation negotiation between
Japan and the United States?
MR. RUBIN: On the --
QUESTION: Civil aviation negotiation.
MR. RUBIN: Let me get you - we do have some guidance on that, and let me
get that for you after the briefing.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)