U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #13, 99-02-01
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Monday, February 1, 1999
Briefer: James P. Rubin
1 Secretary Albright's Remarks on the FY2000 International
Affairs Budget / Briefing by Ambassador Johnstone, Office
of Resources, Plans and Policy
1 Sixth Anniversary of Kidnapping of New Tribes Missionaries
1-2 Discussions with Kosovar Albanian Leaders Regarding
2-3 Secretary Albright's Discussions with Foreign Ministers on
3 National Security Interests for the US and European Allies
3-4 Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve Situation in Kosovo
4,6,8 Threat of Use of Force
4 Secretary Albright's Meetings at the White House /Reporting
4-5,7-9 Discussion of Implementation Force /US Participation
5,6 Prospects for Parties to Meet Deadline for Talks/ Serb
5-6 Visit of Albanian Prime Minister to Washington/ Mtg with
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
9-10 Reports Palestinians Releasing Terrorists
10 Palestinian Security Officials in Washington
10 Status of Wye River Memorandum Implementation
10 US Position Regarding Declarations on Palestinian Statehood
11 Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat's Visit to Washington
12 Conclusion of Talks between Deputy Secretary Talbott and
Indian Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh
12-13 Non-Proliferation Negotiations Progress and Sanctions
13-14 Reported Agreement on Access to Suspect Underground Site
13-14 World Food Program Appeal for Humanitarian Food Assistance
14-15 Whereabouts of PKK Leader Ocalan
15 Closure of US Embassy in Abidjan
16 Travel by Americans to Cuba
16 Cuban Anti-Narcotics Efforts
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1999, 12:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing here on
Monday. As you know, Secretary Albright will be here at about 2:15 p.m. to
lay out the State Department portion of the President's budget. And in his
final appearance, Craig Johnstone will be here to brief you on the
specifics and take your questions on that.
With that as an announcement, let me add one statement, which is that
yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the kidnapping in Panama of three
American citizens, Dave Mankins, Mark Rich, Rick Tenenoff, of the New
Tribes missionaries. These men were kidnapped by the members of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and taken to Colombia. The
return of these men remains a high priority to the United States Government.
We are committed to working with the families, the New Tribes missionaries
and the Colombian Government to resolve the case.
We call on the FARC, as the entity responsible for this act, to come
forward with a complete account of our missing fellow citizens.
With that statement, let me turn to your questions.
QUESTION: Jamie, on the effort to get negotiations --
MR. RUBIN: And a special welcome to all of those with us last week who
made it today.
QUESTION: Trying to get Kosovo negotiations going, the phrase "critical
mass" was floating around last week. The US was confident that there was a
critical mass of Albanians who would go to the table. Today it doesn't look
very positive; it doesn't look like Albanians want to go to the table and
talk about autonomy with Milosevic.
MR. RUBIN: On the contrary, Ambassador Hill has been in touch with many
of the key players in Kosovo - the key folks who need to participate in
this conclave if we're going to get these negotiations started. As a result
of his discussions, he is fairly confident that we will be able to get a
critical mass of Kosovar Albanian leaders who will reflect the various
points of view of the people of Kosovo. So we are going to continue working
with the Kosovar Albanian authorities to try to ensure that as this
weekend's deadline approaches, that they do, in fact, show up at Chateau
Rambouillet in France.
QUESTION: Like we said last week, too, that if the KLA doesn't want to go
to the table, that wasn't going to stand in the way, that there would be
enough people to go ahead with. When you speak of - and that sounds like
the old construction, a diversity of views -- do you expect the KLA to be
there? Do you expect people supporting independence to be there, and is
that a problem?
MR. RUBIN: We do expect people supporting independence to be there. I
believe all the major political groups in Kosovo support independence;
there's no question about that. The question is whether we can get a
critical mass of Kosovar Albanians to understand that this is an historic
opportunity that they should not miss; that the window of opportunity
created by the unity of the Contact Group, and the European countries, and
NATO's decision to back that up with a clear and credible threat to use
military force against the Serbs if they violate their commitments,
or refuse to agree to the Contact Group plan, is a unique an historic
opportunity for the Kosovar Albanians to achieve what their bottom line
demands are, which is that they can run their own lives - in the health
care area, in the education area, in the police area. They will have a very,
very high degree of self-government if they will come to Chateau Rambouillet
and negotiate seriously. They will achieve the practical things that the
people of Kosovo have been so sorely lacking.
With respect to the KLA itself participating, I think the KLA is a bit of a
misnomer. There are a number of military insurgency groups who are broadly
defined as the KLA. But there are many, many different groups within that
organization. It isn't a unified organization with a clear leadership. But
we do believe that political figures, and others who represent their views,
and are in close touch with them, will be part of a delegation that comes
to Paris if that comes to pass.
QUESTION: I'll get back, but I want to go to something else.
QUESTION: Jamie, what would you say - what does the United States think
led to the change in mindset on the part of the Europeans to participate in
a more active way, not only as members of a professional troika, but also
in offering up a European venue for the negotiations to take place?
MR. RUBIN: Obviously, it's up to the Europeans themselves to explain
their viewpoint. Let me just say that I think Secretary Albright had a very
intensive and important series of discussions with both Foreign Minister
Ivanov and a host of foreign ministers from NATO countries in the course of
her trip last week, in which she made clear to them that what happens in
Kosovo matters to all of us. She made clear to them that, if we are going
to not repeat past mistakes in dealing with President Milosevic, we
have to combine our diplomatic strategy, which the Europeans and all
of us have supported, with a carefully crafted military strategy -- a
strategy that makes clear that air strikes will be conducted against Serb
targets, if President Milosevic fails to have a delegation show up for
these talks, or fails to agree to the Contact Group plan.
That is the way in which we can deal with this problem now, instead of
waiting for spring, because during the springtime we're going to face a
situation where the weather will permit a much greater degree of hostilities
than is permitted in the winter. We've seen that pattern repeat itself last
spring, and we've seen it, obviously, in nearby Bosnia.
So I think they will have to explain to all of their publics, and others,
what their thinking is. But I think our view, that we expressed strongly to
them, is now we have a unique window of opportunity to combine a military
strategy with a political strategy so we can get ahead of this problem
before it deteriorates in the spring.
Let's remember that there are significant national interests at stake here,
for the United States, as well as our European allies. First of all, we
have the reality that if this problem is not handled properly, we have the
potential for a humanitarian catastrophe this spring, that we avoided last
fall. Secondly, we know that this conflict in Kosovo carries with it a
grave risk of spreading, to NATO allies and other countries of interest to
us in the region. We want to be sure that we've done all we can to avoid a
spinning out of control of this conflict, and leading to a wider Balkan
Finally, we've all talked a lot about the importance of having a Europe
based on the principles of not changing border by aggression; of having a
Europe based on democratic principles, united in the 21st Century. If we
all believe what we have said about this, this Kosovo problem is right on
Europe's doorstep; and they have a special responsibility to deal with it.
What we've been trying to do is calibrate, carefully, our interest in
dealing with this problem, with the fact that it is occurring in Europe,
and make sure that we are applying our interests and applying our ideas,
so that we can get a resolution of this problem, knowing full well that
this is Europe and that, therefore, Europeans bear a special responsibility
QUESTION: All of those ingredients that you just listed there certainly
existed last fall, when Richard Holbrooke headed up his negotiations with
Milosevic. What has changed between then and now, such that the United
States felt that it was no longer necessary that it be the sole negotiator
MR. RUBIN: It's never been our position that we be the sole negotiator.
Everyone takes one case and applies a broader principle to it. Last fall,
we thought we could deal with an impending humanitarian catastrophe by
making clear the possibility of air strikes, and by asking Ambassador
Holbrooke, and then Generals Naumann and Clark to go to Belgrade and deal
with President Milosevic, and get certain conditions met. Those conditions
have not been met. They were met temporarily, and we were able to avoid a
humanitarian catastrophe last fall. But as we all said at the time, the
underlying political crisis was not resolved.
We are now seeking to do something entirely different. So it's important
not to make a comparison to a different situation. Last fall, we were
dealing with the narrow question of the humanitarian catastrophe. Now we're
dealing with the broader question of resolving the Kosovo conflict. Our
strategy is aimed at resolving the political conflict, not the humanitarian
catastrophe that we were focused on last fall; in which case the Europeans
bear -- in our view, should be playing a significant role. Obviously, if
there's a peace implementation force, we are welcoming the fact that
they are offering significant participation in such a force.
So the difference between now and last fall is: Last fall we were trying to
ameliorate and avoid, in very short time frame, a humanitarian catastrophe.
This winter, in the last couple of weeks, we're trying to focus on a much
bigger problem, which is the political crisis that has created the
conditions for both the humanitarian catastrophe and possibly a wider
QUESTION: Jamie, on the implementation force, there's been some talk that
it might be headed by a country other than the United States, or by
countries other than the United States. What's your thinking on that?
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright has been at meetings at the White House.
Obviously, she has been reporting to the President on the whole panoply of
issues related to Kosovo, including briefing the President on the work that
occurred last week in the Contact Group, on the combined NATO strategy of
making credible the threat of force, and the diplomatic efforts we're going
to take to marshal the international community behind achieving an
agreement in these negotiations. She also briefed the President on initial
consultations that she's been having with Members of Congress, on whether
there should be US participation in a peace implementation force if
an agreement can be struck.
Obviously, we will have to look at what the mission is, what the circumstances
are, what other countries are prepared to do - including and especially
European countries, and we'll continue our consultations with Congress.
With respect to various ideas that have been thrown out there, let me just
make clear that, since Kosovo falls within what is called the AFSOUTH area
of operations, the commander of a NATO force in Kosovo, whatever his
nationality or the nationality of troops under his command, would report to
the American CINC-South, Admiral Ellis; and Admiral Ellis, of course,
reports to the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, American General Wesley
Clark. So whatever of the various considerations that go into this, I
think people ought to bear in mind that there is a clear chain of
command to Wes Clark, the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe.
QUESTION: But one thing that raises the - up until now, the United States
has been the biggest single troop provider, let's say, in cases like
Bosnia. Is the thinking that perhaps somebody else would be a bigger troop
provider on this occasion?
MR. RUBIN: It's very difficult for me to speculate with you, in public,
in this forum, about the various contingencies being considered by the
President and his national security team, on matters like American
participation in a peace implementation force, other than what I have
already reported to you.
I think it is not new for the United States to participate, around the
world, in peace operations that have operational control in the hands of
non-Americans. What we've tried to do in those cases is make sure that the
non-Americans are allies and friends who we've worked closely with, and who
we can consult closely with. But even in this case - what I'm trying to
suggest to you is the circumstances envisaged of a NATO force would involve
an American chain of command, through the Supreme Allied Commander in
But beyond saying that, and indicating that the Secretary has been
reporting to the President on her consultations with Congress in this area,
it's very difficult to speculate in this forum.
QUESTION: What are the other - or does anything else come to mind? I
can't think of anywhere the --
MR. RUBIN: I will get them for you. I remember, from my UN days, I used
to have to reel them off; but it's been a long time - two years - since
I've had to reel them off. So let me try to reel them off after the
QUESTION: Jamie, have you seen the report out of Belgrade that the
Yugoslav Government thinks that this proposal is something that should come
before the Yugoslav Parliament? That would seem to reduce chances that they
could meet this deadline of this weekend.
MR. RUBIN: My impression is that President Milosevic can get these things
done, if that's his decision. So I wouldn't say anything reduces chances or
increases chances. My understanding is, he told Foreign Secretary Cook that
he would seriously consider this requirement, and we will be awaiting his
answer. But he should be aware that Secretary General Solana has received,
this weekend, political authorization to use military power, through the
limited air options that have been before NATO for some weeks and
months now, in the event that the Serb side refuses to not only agree
to come to France to negotiate, but accept the Contact Group plan.
QUESTION: Also, the Albanian Prime Minister or Foreign Minister is on the
Secretary's schedule today. What's the purpose of that?
MR. RUBIN: Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko is visiting Washington
February 1 through 4. He will attend the National Prayer Breakfast on
Thursday; will meet with several Cabinet members. He will then travel to
New York, meet with various Albanian-American groups.
Secretary Albright and the Albanian Prime Minister will meet later this
afternoon. It is expected they will discuss Albania's democratic and free
market economic reforms, obviously the developments in Kosovo that I've
been talking to you about, and US-Albanian relations. It will be an
opportunity for Secretary Albright to commend the accomplishments of the
Prime Minister's first four months in office, citing the successful
adoption of a new constitution, improved dialogue with the opposition, and
rapid progress towards membership in the World Trade Organization.
QUESTION: Will the subject of arms flows through Albania came up?
MR. RUBIN: I am sure that they will discuss the developments in Kosovo,
which include that issue.
QUESTION: You mentioned that there might be air strikes against Serbia,
should they not attend and should they not agree to whatever is proposed in
Rambouillet. What's the counterpart with regard to the Albanians, to the
MR. RUBIN: First of all, we need to bear in mind that the primary
responsibility for the crisis in Kosovo rests squarely on the shoulders of
President Milosevic, for his failure to allow the people of Kosovo to have
their legitimate rights for the past decade. Through his oppression
politically, and his most recently oppression militarily, we are faced with
a grave crisis that not only has a humanitarian dimension, but also poses
the risk of a wider war. We believe that that is the primary cause.
For that reason, NATO has set up a structure to impose the possibility of
military air strikes on Serb authorities, in the event that they do not
comply with the requirements of the agreements from last October, as well
as the Contact Group demands on this front.
With respect to the Kosovar Albanian side, I don't think anybody is
considering military air strikes. I do think that people realize, and are
going to make very, very clear - crystal clear -- to the Kosovar Albanians,
that a failure by them to come to the table or to agree to the Contact
Group plan that meets the legitimate rights of the Kosovars, in the areas
of self government, and police, and health, and education, that if they
fail to agree to that plan they will lose the international support that
has been so evident for recent weeks, where NATO has garnered the
support to conduct air strikes, if necessary, against the Serbs on
behalf of the Kosovar Albanians. That support will evaporate if they
are the cause of a breakdown in the negotiations.
Similarly, we will be looking at ways to ensure that they are not in a
position to continue the conflict by the flow of arms, as well as any other
steps that people might consider. In short, right now the international
community is prepared to use military power in their behalf, in the sense
of stopping the Serbs from their oppression, and ensuring that the Serbs
give them their legitimate rights. But if they over-reach and demand what
they cannot achieve, in trying to achieve some sort of independence
that the international community is not going to consider, or demand the
unreasonable and refuse to negotiate seriously and refuse to agree, this
international support that has been gathered together painstakingly in the
last week will evaporate. Steps will be taken to affect their ability to
continue to conflict.
QUESTION: In terms of President Milosevic and the conference starting
this weekend, is it necessary for him to come, or can he just designate a
MR. RUBIN: I don't think anybody has specified that he himself has to
come, but certainly we expect a Serbian delegation to be in a position to
QUESTION: It looks like the possibility of a Bosnia-like settlement - the
Contact Group and a Bosnia-like settlement, where there's a buffering by
military. Is this the general plan? And if this is the case, then who would
be responsible for the safety of the verifiers, and all others in Kosovo?
Would it still be the Serbs' responsibility, or would some kind of a buffer
military force do that?
MR. RUBIN: Boy, that was quite a question there, Bill. Let me try to
parse out the best I can. Maybe you can consult with your colleague sitting
to your left, because many of these questions we dealt with at the
beginning of the briefing.
With respect to the KVM, the Kosovar Verification Mission, we know they
have emergency procedures to enable them to leave in extremis. We also have
an extraction force in nearby Macedonia to assist them in extremis. That is
the current conditions. With respect to the future, if one has an agreement
and one has a peace implementation force, as I indicated in response to
some of Roy's questions earlier, the Secretary reported to the President
on her consultations with Members of Congress on whether the United
States should participate in any peace implementation force. Obviously, the
factors that would go into that decision include the question of what the
mission is, what the circumstances are, what other countries are prepared
to do and, obviously, the consultations with Congress.
So speculating on what that mission would perform, what duties, in the
context of a peace that we don't yet have, is not something I'm prepared to
do today from this podium.
QUESTION: A while back you were asked about the American role in peace-
keeping. You made some reference to we'll have to see what the European
role would be. Could you elaborate a little bit? Are you talking about
there would be some division - if the Americans get involved - specialization,
or more of a European role, or less of a European role -- the consideration
there - how it plays against each other.
MR. RUBIN: It's a very good question. Let me just say, today is Monday;
the President just had a briefing from his national security team.
Obviously, some of the questions that have to be addressed include what the
mission is, what the circumstances are, what others are prepared to do and
the intensive consultations with Congress.
Beyond saying that publicly, I'm not really prepared to comment as the
decision-making process unfolds.
QUESTION: And does the reduction in Bosnia and the experience in Bosnia,
where no one was really hurt - I think there was one accidental death -
does that enhance the Administration's argument, should it make the
argument, that America has a stake in Kosovo in order to back up its
rhetoric with bodies?
MR. RUBIN: Certainly I can't answer it, with respect to your last
formulation. I just don't understand the last formulation. But with respect
to our views --
QUESTION: Well, with "peace-keepers," if you like.
MR. RUBIN: The Bosnia experience was one of major progress made. We had a
war; the war was stopped; the killing stopped. A Bosnian state has been
established. Peace-keeping forces have been there; they've performed
brilliantly. I think all of those who have observed it have seen the
extraordinary work that they've done. They obviously have had limited
direct casualties, and that is an experience that's relevant; but it's not
precisely the same.
Just as in response to other questions, I hesitated to compare what's
happening this winter with what was happening last fall, because there is a
big difference, I would hesitate to make the direct analogy between Kosovo
and Bosnia, because you have different players, including the Kosovar
Albanians. But a failure to deal with Kosovo not only carries with it the
risks of a wider war, and the risks of a humanitarian catastrophe, but also
carries with it the risk of chaos in Kosovo infecting the successful
work that we've been able to do in Bosnia.
QUESTION: The follow-up escaped me. Never mind; it's gone.
MR. RUBIN: That happens to me all the time.
QUESTION: To the issue of the threat of the use of force by NATO if the
parties don't appear, there's also the possibility that one or both of the
parties will use force, both in the run-up to the talks and during the
talks, in a way that could affect the outcome of the talks. I mean, it's
possible that you could have more massacres, you could have more provocations.
How do you deal with that one? Is there a threat to this --
MR. RUBIN: Well, Secretary General Solana has been authorized to order
limited air strikes pursuant to the air operations considered in recent
months. So he has the authority to authorize a substantial air campaign.
That authority is based on two considerations: one, compliance with the
requirements of this fall's agreement - including the cease-fire and the
military force levels, and including other aspects of the agreement that
Clarke and Naumann struck with President Milosevic. That authority now
rests with him. President Milosevic would be making a grave mistake if he
were to allow his forces to take any steps that would involve casting into
doubt the essential components of that agreement.
Similarly, we have said that if the Kosovar Albanians become the problem
here, either through action on the ground, or failure to agree at the
negotiating table, it will redown to their great disadvantage, because the
international support we have been able to painstakingly put together on
their behalf will evaporate.
QUESTION: Without asking you to go into the specifics, which you've said
you wouldn't and I'm not asking about, is it realistic to envision any
international presence without some US participation?
MR. RUBIN: All I can tell you on this subject is that the Secretary has
been consulting with Members of Congress. She reported on those consultations
with Congress to the President, regarding whether the United States should
participate in a peace implementation force. But I'm not prepared to speak
for other countries, as to what they would or wouldn't do depending on
America's decision. You're welcome to ask them.
QUESTION: Are they consulting already?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Did this begin with her return, do you know?
MR. RUBIN: She's been consulting all along. I don't know the current
state of the phone calls.
QUESTION: This is a question I asked you last fall, when things were
getting hot in Kosovo. With the United States taking most of the air
responsibility; all of the naval responsibility, as far as I know; all of
the diplomatic responsibility, does the United States really need to get
into Kosovo with ground forces? Haven't we done enough?
MR. RUBIN: No decision has been made with respect to ground forces;
therefore, I'm not going to defend a decision that hasn't been made,
against your assault.
But let me say that the United States has tried to calibrate very carefully
what the relative roles and responsibilities of European countries and the
United States ought to be. Let me say that we do believe that the Europeans
have assumed a more prominent role in Kosovo than they did in Bosnia. The
bulk of the verifiers, and the entire NATO extraction force, are European.
The Contact Group-sponsored negotiations are in France, under the
chairmanship of Foreign Ministers Cook and Vedrine. Several of our
European allies have already expressed a willingness to commit troops
to an eventual force in Kosovo to implement a peace agreement.
But both Bosnia and Kosovo have demonstrated that there is a need, and an
urgency, for American leadership and determination, if these problems are
to be dealt with effectively. That's what we've learned in recent weeks and
years. We believe that promoting peace and stability in the Balkans is in
the national interest of the United States, both to prevent a humanitarian
catastrophe, to prevent a wider war, and to ensure that the work that we've
done in Bosnia is not infected by potential chaos in Kosovo.
QUESTION: The Israeli Government seems convinced that some five known
terrorists - they have the names - have been released. So I have a two-part
question: what does the US know about this; and, obviously, what do you
think about this, if true? And secondly, some unnamed American official -
this was while we were all away, some of us were away - anonymously is
saying that the Israelis don't have their facts right. Can you deal with
the facts, as well as whatever reaction -
MR. RUBIN: First of all, I can't respond to anonymous -
QUESTION: I mean out in Jerusalem, not here.
MR. RUBIN: -- anonymous American officials who, as you know, there are
thousands of American officials, each one of which has an opinion. Opinions
are like noses, everybody has one. But as far as what our government's
position is on the charges: We are aware of the charges that have been made
on this issue, and we take them seriously. We are discussing these concerns
with the Palestinians. We received assurances at Wye there would be
no revolving door, and we expect the Palestinians to live up to that
There are two senior Palestinian security officials here in Washington,
that are going to be meeting with our negotiators, and our experts. We are
going to raise these serious charges with them. We are concerned about them,
and are looking into them. But at this time we do not have any information
that would confirm that any of the releases include individuals implicated
in the killing of Americans, as suggested.
On the more general point, let me just reiterate that we have pursued
vigorously every charge related to the killing of Americans. That is with
respect to the claim that Palestinians who are responsible for killing
Americans have been released.
More broadly, with respect to the Middle East peace process, let's
reiterate where we are. Yesterday the deadline passed for the three months
that we envisaged the Wye River Memorandum being agreed. We find it very
unfortunate that the Wye River Memorandum has not been implemented. The
first phase was implemented successfully, because both sides worked out
their problems. They have not been able to work out their problems during
the second phase. The memorandum needs to be implemented. It is essential
that the problems that have arisen in the second phase be addressed by the
parties, so that implementation can move forward.
We've seen a lot of accusations from each side that the other is responsible
for the problems of implementation. Our focus is not on assigning blame,
but on getting the agreement implemented. The first phase was implemented
successfully. During the second phase, the Palestinians have completed some
of their obligations, but not all. The Israelis have not carried out their
obligations under Phase II. The important point is: Both sides need to
engage directly on the issues which concern them. That is the official
view of the United States Government, as opposed to the "nose" view of some
QUESTION: I don't know that anyone was there from the State Department,
but some of us heard Hannan Ashrawi this morning. She said that statehood
isn't negotiable, it's a right the Palestinians have - that's all there
really is to it. Your comments would be welcome. But there seems to be some
concern on her part - and I'm sure with other Palestinians as well - that
some dickering will go on while Arafat is here to delay this May 4th
whatever you want to call it - deadline or hoped-for conclusion - and
that somehow this will impact on Palestinian statehood. Do you want
to take on any of that?
MR. RUBIN: We do not believe it is a good idea at all for the Palestinians
to declare statehood, or make any other statements that affect a position
that we want to see negotiated in the permanent status talks. We have been
consulting, talking to, discussing the dangers of so doing to the
Palestinians for some time. We will continue to do so, because we think
that it would be a mistake to try to predetermine the outcome of one of the
permanent status issues that is obviously the most sensitive. We are going
to make that point known to the Palestinian leadership in its discussions
here, as we have been for some time. That's a regular part of our
QUESTION: I was just going to follow up, asking you about what, if
anything, you have to add that the United States will be saying to Chairman
Arafat when he's in town this week? Will there be any other extended
MR. RUBIN: Well, we'll be talking to him about implementation of the Wye
Agreement. We'll be talking to him about the issue that I just discussed,
and we will be consulting with him on deepening our relationship with the
Palestinian Authority, through the commission that has been set up, and
other steps that we think are appropriate.
QUESTION: When you just said - and I think this is a little bit of
interpretation - I don't mean interpreting; this isn't precisely your words,
but I think you'll agree that it's a fair summary: You said the Palestinians
are carrying out some of their obligations and you said Israel isn't
carrying out its obligations under Phase II. If everything is synchronized
in Wye, wouldn't the Palestinians be justified in doing nothing further, if
the Israelis are doing nothing?
MR. RUBIN: It's a strange question, coming from the quarter it's coming
from, but let me suggest that we want both sides to implement the
agreement; we expect both sides to implement the agreement. The only way to
get both sides to implement the agreement is for them to get together, and
resolve problems together. Then maybe we can achieve the kind of success
that we had during the first phase.
QUESTION: I ask basically in the context that Arafat is going to be here.
I mean, it would seem logical you would say to him we want you to do
things. And he knows and you know that it's a synchronized arrangement,
MR. RUBIN: Well, as you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear
that he would comply with the agreement under certain conditions. Some of
those conditions we don't agree are part of the Wye Memorandum. But we do
believe that both sides need to fulfill their obligations, and that's what
we're going to be pressing - on the Palestinians to fulfill their
obligations, on the Israelis to fulfill their obligations.
QUESTION: Jamie, going back to the National Prayer Breakfast, I
understand that the US Government has invited a number of NGOs from India.
They have something to do with the violence going on now. Is there any
reason that --
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on the invitation list of the
Prayer Breakfast, but I can try to get that for you after the briefing.
QUESTION: And number two, the eighth round of talks between the United
States and India have already ended with no outcome. So what is the future?
Why the world's largest two democracies cannot get together or solve their
MR. RUBIN: There was a joint statement issued, and I think the negotiators
would greatly contest your "no outcome" conclusion. Let me say that there
were a number of discussions about the various issues of non-proliferation
in the US-Indian relationship.
The dialogue was productive, and generated new momentum. There is some
encouragement on the part of our negotiators. Deputy Secretary Talbott has
discussed this with the Secretary, and there are some indications that the
Indians are going to move in a direction that will allow us to respond with
moves of our own. So on the contrary, I think there were some indications
that this was a very good session.
QUESTION: Can you say something on the conditions underlying India's
conditional offer to sign the CTBT? And also, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary
has said that we're not aiming at any agreements; none are required, he
says. Could you give your comments on that?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I will leave India and Pakistan to describe their own
positions to you. That's not really appropriate for me to say.
We have said all along that our sanctions policy will be adjusted, based on
progress in non-proliferation negotiations. Progress has been made in these
most recent negotiations, and we are consulting with Congress and other
members of the international community, on how to respond to movement in
the right direction, in terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban. So we've seen
some indication of movement in the right direction, and we have always said
we would respond to movements in the right direction by India and
Pakistan with easing of some of the steps by the United States.
So Secretary Albright has been apprised of the progress in these discussions,
and we are considering next steps in that regard.
QUESTION: What is this movement in the right direction that you're
MR. RUBIN: With respect to the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban, the
QUESTION: Have they given you a date-certain?
MR. RUBIN: We've received some encouraging indications on the timing that
we are considering how to respond to; but I can't be more specific than
QUESTION: All right, so, in response to this, then, the United States
would lift its hold on international financial institutional lending?
MR. RUBIN: That is much too broad a response to that.
QUESTION: World Bank loans.
MR. RUBIN: We are considering the appropriate response, and we've always
said that we would respond to progress by India and Pakistan on non-
proliferation with easing steps of our own. But I'm not prepared to
describe specifically, in this particular forum, what we're prepared to
QUESTION: When do you expect to make a decision on that?
MR. RUBIN: Soon.
QUESTION: Jamie, can you say whether these steps will include having to
consult with Congress, and for Congress to take certain actions?
MR. RUBIN: No, that's not required. We consult with Congress because of
the subject matter, but we're not envisaging steps that would require new
laws or anything like that.
QUESTION: There's a report in a Japanese newspaper that the United States
and North Korea may be near agreement on access to this suspect underground
site in North Korea.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, I've read that report. Let me simply make a few points.
Number one, we've made clear that we need multiple site access to the
Kumchangni facility in order to resolve our concerns that this facility
could affect the viability of the Agreed Framework. That is a requirement
that we've been very clear on, and we've been very insistent on.
We have always taken the view that, depending on the calls for food aid put
out by the World Food Program, that we would be responsive. We have been
the leading contributor to the World Food Program's efforts for many, many
years now. In that regard, let me say that, as there remains a substantial
need for humanitarian food assistance to the North Koreans, the US
announced last September an additional contribution of 300,000 tons. We
will judge additional contributions based on the assessments of the World
Food Program. The situation there remains serious, but we do not have
estimates of the precise numbers of people affected. We want other members
of the international community to contribute.
Thirdly, we have long said that, in the context of implementation of the
Agreed Framework, and improvement in a number of areas, we could see a
parallel process of improvement in relations. So those have been our long-
standing views. What sometimes happens in these articles is people conflate
all those things. I would urge you not to read every word too literally in
that. But clearly, we are insisting on multiple access to the site, and we
have always said that we will respond to World Food Program appeals.
QUESTION: But are you near agreement or not?
MR. RUBIN: With the North Koreans, there is no agreement until there's an
agreement. Anybody who tries to characterize the words "near" or "far," or
this or that, ends up eating their words. I'm going to avoid eating my
words, because I use a lot of words, and that would fill me up.
QUESTION: One more on that, Jamie. Do you have a date certain for a next
round of talks?
MR. RUBIN: I would expect there to be an additional round soon. I don't
have a date for you right now.
QUESTION: Is there's an outstanding appeal by the World Food Program for
MR. RUBIN: I think this is the one we responded to - on December 15,
there was an additional appeal. Our last announcement was September 21,
1998. I don't have any new announcements for you.
QUESTION: So there is -- I mean my understanding is that there is an
outstanding appeal by the World Food Program that the US has not responded
to yet; correct?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any quibble with that.
QUESTION: PKK terrorist organization leader Ocalan last 24-hours on the
plane over - he is looking for some defecting country.
MR. RUBIN: And not doing very well, I understand.
QUESTION: According to latest wire reports, he just landed in Athens
airport. Do you have any reaction on the subject? Also, Turkish Prime
Minister, Mr. Ecevit, he claimed that the last couple of weeks he was
staying in Italy instead of announcement in -
MR. RUBIN: Let me say, first of all, I would hate to be the pilot of that
Secondly, we understand that The Netherlands Government decided not to
allow a private plane carrying Ocalan to land in The Netherlands on January
31, yesterday. The United States believes that Ocalan should be brought to
justice for the terrorist crimes of which he is accused, in a manner
consistent with international standards for due process and domestic legal
In addition to denying terrorists, such as Ocalan, safe haven, refuge or
asylum, countries should take steps consistent with their national legal
system to assist Turkey's efforts to bring Ocalan to justice.
With respect to the report about Greece, let me say that it was our
understanding that he sought to land in Greece, may have landed, but is not
now in Greece. Greece, like other countries, is not allowing him to stay
there, which is why we would refer you to the Greek Government for the
exact details. But again, I think that private plane is flying around
without a home.
QUESTION: Well, what do you say about the Turkish Prime Minister's claim?
Instead of him flying to Russia or any other country, he was staying in
Italy. The announcement from the Italian Government is not correct.
MR. RUBIN: We were advised that he left Italy, and I have no information
to suggest that he didn't leave Italy. I just told you where our information
QUESTION: Jamie, what can you tell us about why the US Embassy and other
American Government offices may have been closed today in Ivory Coast. Did
you see that?
MR. RUBIN: The "whys" of security matters usually don't yield long and
robust responses by me. But let me do the best I can here. The embassy in
Abidjan, the US Embassy, is closed for normal business today. We did have a
security threat that justified this action. We don't comment on the
specific information we receive about threats for security reasons, but
this action was carefully considered in view of the information at our
disposal. The embassy is providing emergency services only to American
citizens through the embassy duty officer. We do expect the embassy
will open for business tomorrow on February 2.
QUESTION: Is there a similar situation in the UAE?
MR. RUBIN: Sometimes you find out about these things before I do, but I'm
not aware of that - not before the State Department does, but before little
ol' me does.
QUESTION: On Cuba, have you seen the article in The New York Times about
Americans traveling to Cuba? Do you have any response to that?
MR. RUBIN: Legal travel by Americans for approved purposes, as set forth
in Treasury regulations, and reflecting the policy of increased people-to-
people contact is increasing. Approved contacts are for academic, religious,
cultural and similar purposes. Travel for tourism or business purposes is
illegal. The regulations apply to all persons subject to US jurisdiction,
including residents, not just US citizens. Those who spend money in Cuba,
without the required authorization from Treasury, are subject to civil
and criminal penalties for violating the sanctions, ranging up to
ten years in prison and up to $250,000 in individual civil penalties. Civil
penalties can be levied up to $55,000 per violation. Further information
would need to come from the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control.
QUESTION: I have another one on Cuba. Congressman Ileana Ross-Lehtinen
said this morning that -
MR. RUBIN: She's having a very good, interesting exchange with the Drug
Control Director. I'd refer all of you, too.
QUESTION: -- in terms of the letter that Congressman Dan Burton sent to
the State Department, she says that the Republicans are not happy with the
answer by the State Department, in terms of -- sometimes you say when Cuba
confiscates on drugs, you applaud Cuba by that action. She says it's not
the way the Americans have to deal with Cuba's policy.
MR. RUBIN: It's inconceivable to me that we would ever be able to satisfy
some Members of Congress' views on anything related to Cuba. But the fact
is that the lack of authoritative information about the illegal narcotics
situation in Cuba makes it difficult to assess the severity of Cuba's drug
use and smuggling problems.
Cuba's location between the United States and the hemisphere's principal
drug-exporting countries make it a logical transshipment points for
traffickers. In 1998, traffickers' use of Cuban airports, airspace and vast
territorial waters for transshipments appears to have increased. We
understand that Cuba is cooperating with Colombia on the investigation of
the seven-ton cocaine shipment seized in Cartegena, Colombia, in December.
The cargo manifest indicated the shipment was destined for Cuba. The
Colombian national police investigation indicates that this shipment was
ultimately intended for Europe.
Since the discovery of this shipment, our embassy in Bogota has worked very
closely with the Colombian national police in this investigation. We have
urged the Colombian Government to leave no stone unturned in this
investigation. We have received two preliminary reports from the Colombian
Any suggestion that we or the Colombian Government have sought to cover up
any possible Cuban Government involvement in this shipment is completely
erroneous and ridiculous in the extreme. How's that for clarity?
QUESTION: That's good. Through your diplomatic representation in Cuba,
had you contacted the government of Fidel Castro about it?
MR. RUBIN: I would not be in a position to give you regular contact
between our interest section and the Cuban Government.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:35 P.M.)