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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #15, 99-02-02

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


967

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, February 2, 1999

Briefer: James P. Rubin

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		US-Pakistan Joint Statement

SERBIA (KOSOVO) 1,3,7,8-9 Rambouillet Talks: KLA in Favor of Attending Negotiations / Awaiting Serb Response / Kosovar Albanian Unity / US Delegation / Other Delegations / Secretary's Involvement / Amb Holbrooke's Role / Leeway on Opening, Closing Talks / Validation of Agreement 1-3,5 US Proposal: Decision on Final Status / 3-Year Self-Government / Autonomy Issue / Elections 3-4 Secretary: Consultations With Congress Today / With Allies 3-7 NATO Force: International Presence / US Role and Involvement / Options 9-11 Speculation on Inducements: Sanctions / War Crimes Tribunal

TURKEY 7,14-15 Whereabouts of Ocalan

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 11-12 Released Individuals Not Charged With Killings of AmCits / Security Issues Discussions / Charges Against Those Released 11-13 Secretary's Meeting with Chairman Arafat Tomorrow / Issues for Discussion

INDIA / PAKISTAN 13-14 US Policy on Non-Proliferation in Region / Progress Made in Dep Secy Talbott's Mtgs 14 Issue of Taliban With Pakistan

TERRORISM 15 Central Intelligence Director Tenet's Remarks on the Hill re Osama bin Laden

IRAN 15 Complaint About US Missile

RUSSIA 15-16 Topics of Secretary's Talks During Visit

COLOMBIA 16 Murder of Human Rights Activists


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #15

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1999, 1:00 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing. I see we have a critical mass of journalists to start the briefing. I have one statement to issue, which is the statement that was put out in Pakistan by Deputy Secretary Talbott and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary. That will be available to you here. With that brief announcement, let me go to your questions.

QUESTION: Jamie, the spokesman for the KLA says they'll be there and they'll name the negotiators tomorrow.

MR. RUBIN: This is good.

QUESTION: He also spoke of a proposition they intend to table that a protectorate -- there was a word before that - but it's some sort of a protectorate that, for three years, would leave a status of Kosovo to be determined, sort of a final status type of operation. I wondered, the Contact Group was very specific about the terms of a settlement. They knew what they wanted. Is there a reaction to a notion of a protectorate leaving that kind of an option?

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to get into a situation where we're pre- negotiating publicly a discussion that hasn't even started in Paris. But let me say this -- we are pleased that the Kosovar Albanian side appears to be coalescing in favor of coming to the negotiations outside of Paris. That is very important.

At the same time, we are awaiting the decision of the Serb side as to whether to attend these talks. Let me be very clear, NATO has indicated that there will be swift and serious consequences if the Serbs do not make that decision. This is a moment of opportunity, a window of opportunity for both parties to sit down with the international community, determined to help and try to resolve this conflict that has cost so many lives and that, obviously, needs to come to an end and cannot come to an end on the battlefield, can only come to an end at the negotiating table.

With respect to our proposal and how the views of Mr. Krasnigi applies to our proposal, let me simply say that we envisage a situation, where the highest possible degree of self-government will be provided to the people of Kosovo for three years. That will include police; that will include education; that will include health; that will include other instruments of self-government. And that will defer the question of what will happen to Kosovo after those three years.

Presumably, if this agreement works and there is implementation of the agreement, the circumstances that we'll be facing three years from now will be far, far different than the circumstances we face today where people are dying, where atrocities are committed, where Serb forces are on the rampage and where refugees or internally displaced persons are potentially at risk.

If one got an agreement and three years went by and one had a very high degree of self-government with all that entails, as I indicated, that would be a much better climate in which to make decisions about the permanent status of Kosovo. So we are trying to avoid a situation where we have to negotiate something that can't be resolved right now. All of the Kosovar Albanian parties are in favor of independence, not just the spokesman of the KLA.

QUESTION: Then I guess my impression from last week is corrected. I, at least, thought that the US and the other countries as well had decided they don't support independence, they support maximum self-rule, autonomy; and that's that. If the KLA doesn't like it, well, we'll find others to negotiate with. And now I think you're saying that after three years anything is possible, including independence. Correct?

MR. RUBIN: I don't see how anybody could interpret what I just said in that way. If you'd like me to repeat what we said last week, I'd be delighted to do so for you. We do not support independence.

QUESTION: But in three years' time, all options are open. Correct?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, nothing has changed. You are always seeming to think you have found the pot of gold --

QUESTION: I didn't hear three years until today.

MR. RUBIN: -- something I said. And there is no pot of gold here.

QUESTION: I never heard three years mentioned until today.

MR. RUBIN: I've mentioned three years on numerous occasions.

QUESTION: Would you answer the question?

MR. RUBIN: What's the question?

QUESTION: The State Department position, if I understand correctly, is that for three years, if everything works right, they will have maximum self-rule; and after three years it is up to the parties to determine the future of Kosovo.

MR. RUBIN: It's up to the parties to determine the future of Kosovo now, but they are not doing so.

QUESTION: It isn't. You have told them what to do.

MR. RUBIN: We have come forward with the proposal.

QUESTION: Correct.

MR. RUBIN: In which we are laying out the highest possible degree of self- government for three years.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. RUBIN: We have no illusions that the aspirations and the intent of the people of Kosovo and their leadership will remain the same. All I am saying to you is that trying to resolve problems in the context of a war and in the context of ten years of political rights being stripped away is a very different thing than resolving problems and aspirations and issues of that nature after three years of a high degree of self-government. As far as the United States Government's position is concerned, nothing has changed; we do not support independence.

QUESTION: Jamie, how important is it for the Kosovar Albanian side to come to the table with a unified point of view? What I'm getting at is, if you do reach some sort of agreement between the government of the FRY on one side and this group of ethnic Albanians, how do you know you really have an agreement on the ethnic Albanian side? (Inaudible) -- a lot of opinions in that part of Serbia, not all shared even within the delegation.

MR. RUBIN: Well, that will obviously be an important question that has to be faced as people face the question of implementation force and other matters. But the more unified the Kosovo-Albanians are, the more likely they will be able to achieve their objectives. One of the lessons of most negotiations is that the other party tries to exploit differences between you. If you're unified, you're much more likely to achieve the maximum possible goals you've set forth for yourself.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you tell me, do you see a NATO force as an indispensable part of any agreement that is reached, that without that force on the ground you couldn't sort of enforce the peace?

MR. RUBIN: Let me make two points on that. First of all, Secretary Albright is leading a group of very senior officials - Secretary Cohen and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Shelton and, I believe, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger - to Capitol Hill later this afternoon. They will be discussing in detail the various issues related to Kosovo.

Secretary Albright will be laying out the stakes involved here -- the reasons why we thought it was so important to put together a diplomatic and military strategy that will enable us to resolve and help resolve this conflict now, rather than waiting for it to deteriorate dramatically in the springtime when weather will allow for greater military action, and what our national interests are in resolving the problem in Kosovo, preventing it from spreading and infecting the success of Bosnia, preventing it from spreading to a wider war and preventing the possibility of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Those are the stakes we have set forth. Secretary Albright has a very intense consultative process over the last week to try to get the allies together on a combined diplomatic and military strategy. That has worked to unify Europe and the world behind a resolution to this problem.

With respect to what we envisage, we do envisage some international presence that would be needed to implement this agreement. The exact nature of that presence -- whether it would require American participation, what it's mission would be, what the circumstances of our involvement might be and what the goals would be -- are things that Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen and others will be discussing in detail. As I indicated yesterday, we've made no

decision to my knowledge. It would be up to the President to make that decision as to whether the United States would participate.

QUESTION: But do you have an opinion of whether this force is absolutely necessary to maintain any agreement that may come out of these meetings?

MR. RUBIN: We do believe some international presence will be necessary. The exact nature of that, the size of it, the rules of engagement and all of those critical factors are things that are under discussion. But I think everyone recognizes that an agreement is going to require some international presence, the exact nature of which is what people are discussing.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you listed at least four US interests in the area - national interests. Would it be possible for those interests to be safeguarded by a peacekeeping force that doesn't include American troops?

MR. RUBIN: I am not going to be drawn into very good questions that lead to answers to the question that the President has not yet made, which is should the United States decide. I don't want to tip the balance one way or the other by answering your question. Obviously, that's a subject of intense interest. We have played the lead in gathering together the NATO allies and the Russians and the Contact Group in a strategy to bring them to the table and hopefully get them to reach an agreement.

I've just indicated I think it's fairly obvious that some international presence will be necessary. The question of what kind of presence, the circumstances in which it would be involved, the participation of European countries - these are all factors that will be weighed and that are going to be discussed extensively with Congress.

QUESTION: But if these four folks go up to the Hill, do they have a concept, for instance, of how large a force? For instance, yesterday, you knew that if any Americans - if Americans were involved, ultimately -- their commander would be General Clark. They would be, ultimately, under an American command.

MR. RUBIN: If it were a NATO force, yes.

QUESTION: Yes, so some things have been thought through a little bit.

MR. RUBIN: They've all been thought through. That doesn't mean we necessarily want to discuss them in public at this time, prior to consultations with Congress.

QUESTION: All right, so my question is, is there a concept now of how large a force - apart from its composition - could do, would be needed, to do an effective job of maintaining the peace and protecting American interests in the Balkans?

MR. RUBIN: I can assure you that in the contingency planning that has been done here that we've been examining a number of options for many months now in NATO and elsewhere. We're continuing to look at various assumptions and considerations in regard to that planning that was instituted last fall. This is only prudent, but I don't intend to provide you a steer as to what the outcome of these consultations are going to be.

QUESTION: You mentioned the thing where the Kosovars will have degrees of autonomy - police, education, health and other things. Let me ask a couple of other things. Overall security would remain in the hands of the Serbs; is that right?

MR. RUBIN: The question of how the details of this agreement will be spelled out does not strike me as useful to negotiate such a situation in public, prior to the arrival in Chateau Rambouillet of the parties. I have described in general terms the high degree of autonomy and self-government that we envisage, including very real institutions that affect the lives of the people of Kosovo. But the exact terms of the agreement that we intend to put to the parties on Sunday, including the very good question you asked me, is not something we're prepared to discuss fully in public prior to presenting it to the parties.

QUESTION: Will self-government include local elections?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Do they exist know? I don't know.

MR. RUBIN: They've had elections that have not been recognized, as I understand it, from Belgrade. They've had elections. That's how Ibrahim Rugova has been repeatedly ratified and validated as the leader of the Kosovar Albanians.

QUESTION: Will there be some kind of international supervision to make sure that these elections are not skewed?

MR. RUBIN: That is normally part of such a peace process, yes.

QUESTION: Have you gotten into this matter that Secretary Cohen discussed yesterday about - he said absence of an agreement of at least two sides of this issue in Kosovo, no deployment is possible. He said that deployment of combat troops of any kind - I believe he meant ours or other NATO troops - would not be done to make the peace. Is that consistent with your understanding and this Department's understanding?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think anybody is considering the deployment of American combat troops into Kosovo. Let's remember, there's three possible outcomes with some gray. One is that the two sides reach an agreement. That would be a permissive environment, in which some international presence would obviously be required, the exact nature of which is under discussion. The second possibility is that the Kosovar Albanians agree and the Serbs do not. NATO has spelled out very clearly that that would subject the Serbian side to air strikes by NATO. The third possibility is that the Kosovar Albanians refuse to agree and the Serbs agree, in which case the international community, as I indicated yesterday, would almost assuredly lose its enthusiasm for supporting the Kosovar Albanians in their aspiration for legitimate rights and in their effort to avoid being attacked by the Serbs and, furthermore, that we would take steps to cut off their ability to continue the conflict.

Those are the three options. I'm not aware there's any serious consideration of American combat troops in any of those three outcomes.

QUESTION: Well, don't you call the troops that are deployed by the US in Bosnia combat troops? And won't we be talking about armed soldiers that would somehow provide a buffer?

MR. RUBIN: I'm distinguishing, Bill, as you probably know between a permissive environment and a non-permissive environment. In a permissive environment where the two parties have agreed to allow and signed up to an arrangement by which an international presence would include a NATO force, they would not be combat troops, per se, because they would not be entering combat. They would be entering as peacekeepers and peace implementers pursuant to a peace agreement.

American ground forces entering in a different context -- not a permissive environment -- is not something under serious consideration.

QUESTION: I understand that's what Cohen said.

MR. RUBIN: That's good.

QUESTION: Okay. I think we may be in agreement.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: But you're talking about troops that would be functioning much the same as a la Bosnia, a la current deployments; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: I indicated in response to Betsy's question that some international presence is obviously required. The exact nature of it, the mission, the size, the participation of the Europeans or others are all things being considered. I don't intend to spell out the mission for a force for a peace agreement that hasn't yet even begun to be negotiated in public at this time.

QUESTION: Could we go back to the Kosovar Albanians who are going to show up? How much confidence is there that these are the people that could actually deliver on any promise?

MR. RUBIN: We have to rely on Ambassador Hill's judgment in this regard. He's the one who's spent more time with the Kosovar Albanians than perhaps anybody else. He has a sense, in conjunction with Ambassador Walker -- who has made a number of cease-fire agreements and made a number of agreements for prisoner releases and things of that nature -- that there are people you can talk to that can deliver.

With respect to whether every Kosovar Albanian is going to agree with what might come out of the peace talks, I suspect they won't. But we believe we will be able to discuss this with a critical mass of Kosovar Albanians who are in a position to make an agreement. At the end of the day, we are not going to let one particular splinter group be the spoiler.

QUESTION: What does that mean -- you're not going to allow them to be the spoiler? Let's say that there is - obviously, it's a hypothetical - but that there is an agreement that the KLA then breaks. What happens then?

MR. RUBIN: One can speculate on many hypothetical possibilities and that is the business of our planners. Our planners are considering all the options; and until our planners decide that it is useful to speculate on those options publicly, I don't intend to do so.

QUESTION: You have been quoted by the Turkish press today saying off the record that Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan is in Corfu, Greece?

MR. RUBIN: Who is quoted?

QUESTION: The Turkish press. You said to the Turkish press off the record --

MR. RUBIN: I'm quoted off the record to the Turkish press?

QUESTION: I don't know.

MR. RUBIN: Is that what your question had in the preamble?

QUESTION: The question is, (inaudible) that you said something like that?

MR. RUBIN: I will never and will not start today respond to a question that breaks all the rules of journalism to ask.

QUESTION: Who is going to be in the US delegation.

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Hill will be leading the American delegation. There will be an inter-agency process that Secretary Albright is actually working on right now to ensure that the Department has the necessary support from the various Departments in the government. I think Secretary Albright has indicated that at the appropriate time, if necessary, she is prepared to also participate in these talks.

With respect to other governments, I think it is clear that the European Union will have Ambassador Petritsch participating. The Russians will also have a participant. Then there will be the involvement at the sort of co- chairman level of Foreign Minister Cook and Foreign Minister Vedrine. Then I expect there will be a lot of busy phone work.

But we will have an inter-agency team over there. We will have an inter- agency backstop in process here at the State Department. Secretary Albright is prepared to involve herself as appropriate if necessary.

QUESTION: How early might she --

MR. RUBIN: It's a little too speculative at this time, but presumably during this period -- the two-week period for reaching an agreement.

QUESTION: Can I follow up that quickly? While we're running through participants and backup teams, the question keeps coming up, is there a role in any of this for the most experienced American diplomat in the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke?

MR. RUBIN: What's the question?

QUESTION: Is there a role in this process for the most experienced American diplomat in the Balkans - comma -- Richard Holbrooke?

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: Is there a role?

QUESTION: Is there a role? Will Holbrooke play a role?

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Holbrooke and Secretary Albright talk about this regularly. Ambassador Holbrooke is obviously focused, as UN Ambassador, we hope, on resolving the issues that are being discussed. We certainly hope that they can be resolved very soon and that we can have him move forward to perform his mission as UN Ambassador upon being confirmed by the Senate. But certainly Ambassador Holbrooke and Secretary Albright have been in regular consultation and discussion on a subject where he has special knowledge.

QUESTION: Could there be any leeway on the timing of the talks if the FRY said that they could do talks, say, the week after or two weeks after, but not that weekend.?

MR. RUBIN: There is no leeway on starting the talks. I've heard nobody suggest that we're going to move on that issue. With respect to the one- week time frame for completing the talks that will then allow for a review of up to another week, certainly nobody -- as Secretary Albright likes to say as a former professor -- she is simply not willing to entertain questions from her students at the beginning of the term about how they want an extension on their term paper at the end of the term. They should all get started and work.

As far as the two-week time frame for getting the negotiation completed, that is backed up by the authorization to Secretary General Solana to use military force through air strikes if that isn't completed.

QUESTION: While we're in this mechanical mode, is there any view here as to how -- again, it's all hypothetical, should there be an agreement. Is there any view as to whether there should be some process of having the people in the two communities validate it? In other words, you know what I'm thinking. In terms of the compression of time --

MR. RUBIN: I think there is no question that the Serbian Government can deliver the Serbian forces in Kosovo. We have tried to gather together a cross-section of the Kosovar Albanian community, some of whom have been elected or are representatives of those who have been elected. We have tried to handle this as best we can, given the urgency of resolving the problem.

QUESTION: You realize my point - that it goes to the compression of time. In other words, if there is an agreement, there's no process that's necessary. A post-negotiation process is not necessary.

MR. RUBIN: The agreement envisages an election for self-government. As far as who will come in the next four days, these are the delegations that we think are sufficient to do the job. Let's remember, there is a great urgency to getting this job done so that there isn't a massive deterioration and a humanitarian crisis in the extreme in the springtime. It sounds like a consulted question between two news agencies. It is always worse when there are two of them putting their heads together.

QUESTION: You threw me off track.

MR. RUBIN: Good.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: There are reports out of the region suggesting that there will be inducements for the parties to make peace, which is a pattern the Clinton Administration - many administrations have followed.

MR. RUBIN: You mean without using that vegetable word, you're trying to ask me --

QUESTION: Easing the sanctions on Serbia and construction aid.

MR. RUBIN: There are those in Europe who may have their ideas and they may have communicated those to us. We have not entertained serious discussion with our European allies on easing sanctions. Let's remember, there are two sets, basically, we're talking about here.

One set of sanctions were imposed during the last year on Serbia with respect to airplane flights, investment, investment credit for the crackdown that has occurred in Kosovo for the insertion of additional security forces, the failure to comply with the War Crimes Tribunal. We, the international community, has laid out quite clearly what needs to happen for those particular steps to be suspended. That is compliance with, essentially, UN Resolution 1199 and some that have gone before it.

There is a second issue, which is the so-called outer wall of sanctions. We have made clear at the time and throughout that our view is that the outer wall should not be breached in the absence of progress on not only the Kosovo issue, but on cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal and the democratization in Serbia. That has been our position.

QUESTION: There is one report, and I won't name the paper, by someone known favorably to all of us, that even suggests that Milosevic is going to ask, sort of quietly, to have a guarantee from the United States that there be no war crimes --

MR. RUBIN: I am sure that there are those in that country who are speculating on that, and a good reporter is likely to report on that speculation. As far as the question is concerned, this came up, I would say, once a week from 1993 until 1995, where everyone speculated that the international community would trade immunity from prosecution for war crimes in exchange for a settlement of the Bosnia crisis. I remember being at the receiving end of those insistent queries, and we made clear at that time that we did not intend to do so nor could we do so; that the tribunal was set up by the Security Council and that it was up to the prosecutor to pursue leads and investigations where the prosecutor saw fit.

Sure enough, the agreement was signed and no immunity was offered. There have been a large number of arrests and detentions and voluntary surrenders pursuant to the indictments of the tribunal in Bosnia. There are some still outstanding, and those people should not rest easily. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

Essentially, the same applies to this question. The tribunal has been given the mandate to look into crimes against humanity -- war crimes -- in the former Yugoslavia, which includes Kosovo, obviously. It is only Justice Arbour who can make decisions as to what leads she should pursue and who merits prosecution. I've heard nobody suggest anything of the sort. The first I heard of anybody even mentioning it was when I read my newspaper this morning.

QUESTION: Okay, so as far as the Clinton Administration is concerned, it's out of the question.

MR. RUBIN: This is not for us to decide. It's for the tribunal to decide, so this is not something I've heard. I'm not aware of any discussion of it - zero, nada, nil. The decision is for the prosecutor to make. We have held a principled position on the war crimes issue for the last six years, and there would be no reason to change that.

QUESTION: Tomorrow, Arafat comes calling. Others are saying it's at 10:00 a.m. I don't know if that's correct, but he sees the Secretary. If that's right -- if it isn't, please correct me - but could you give us an idea of what her plans are to take up with him? Will it include the Israeli allegation that there's a revolving door for releasing terrorists and, indeed -- just so I get it all I one question, be done with it - you said yesterday, you couldn't find any evidence but it was a serious allegation and US would be talking to Palestinian security experts. Has that happened yet?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the last question first, we have seen the charges; we take them seriously. We have checked into this thoroughly, and we have not seen any evidence that would confirm the charges that the individuals released were involved in the killing of Americans. So those charges, so far as we can tell, are simply not proven by any evidence. With respect to other related issues of larger numbers of people in the revolving door, let me say that we do have concerns. We are raising them with both sides. We had long discussions with the Palestinians over the full range of security issues, including these points of concern.

But we also discussed ongoing security operations, including the successful Hamas arrest yesterday in Gaza. An important point here is that the security discussions with both sides are part of a process, and we are going to look into trying to get all the information we can.

With respect to Chairman Arafat, the Secretary will meet Chairman Arafat tomorrow morning. I don't have a time; I think it might be around 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. We'll get that for you. She'll be discussing the full range of issues relating to what needs to be done to move the Wye implementation forward and accelerate the permanent status talks.

QUESTION: Could you go back to the first because it was so direct an answer, I wasn't ready to take it down?

MR. RUBIN: We have checked into these charges thoroughly. We have not seen any evidence that would confirm these charges - namely, that individuals released were involved in the killing of Americans.

QUESTION: I understand. Do you know whether the individuals - taking out the American part of this --

MR. RUBIN: Well, that was one of the charges.

QUESTION: No, of course, that's central.

MR. RUBIN: It was something we took particularly seriously.

QUESTION: Of course, if Americans were victims. But taking Americans out of the equation, which you just did, were individuals released who are, indeed, important terrorism suspects?

MR. RUBIN: We are discussing this issue with the security officials. We have concerns that we are trying to address by getting information. I don't have a conclusion to offer you, other than to say that we're seeking the maximum amount of information. But with respect to a specific charge that was made and widely publicized, we have no evidence and have looked into it extensively.

QUESTION: I don't want to beat it to death, but the Israelis produced five names. And they said these five were involved in --

MR. RUBIN: Killing Americans.

QUESTION: In killings that Americans were among the victims.

MR. RUBIN: Right. We have no evidence --

QUESTION: Okay. I got you. I got the American angle straight. Were these five named individuals indeed released or do you know? Forget the American angle.

MR. RUBIN: I don't think I'm in a position to answer that question; but to the extent that the claim made was that they were involved in killing Americans, there is no evidence that we're aware of, having looked into this extensively, to confirm these charges.

With respect to the broader issue of releases, we have concerns that we are addressing directly with the Palestinians.

QUESTION: There will be other things that I assume they talk about. Can you sort of go over them?

MR. RUBIN: They will be talking about, I think I said that, but discussing the full range of issues relating to what needs to be done to move the Wye implementation forward and accelerate permanent status negotiations and obviously, the issue of deepening the US-Palestinian Authority relationship.

QUESTION: They will be talking about how to deepen the US-Palestinian relationship?

MR. RUBIN: Correct. Through their commission and other continuing discussions and meetings.

QUESTION: Will they be possibly planning the first meeting of the commission?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check on that. Perhaps after the meeting, I'll be in a better position to talk about specifics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- whether the commission is up and running would be helpful?

MR. RUBIN: We will go into the commission in excruciating detail.

QUESTION: One more mechanical -- I don't suppose there are any chances of having an opportunity to question either the Chairman or the Secretary at this time?

MR. RUBIN: I think that it is not going to have a press conference.

QUESTION: Do you think that the US policy towards nuclear proliferation in South Asia has changed or calmed down a bit? The US doesn't really expect non-proliferation anymore, just maybe restrained, not in the reversal or the rollback since?

MR. RUBIN: Was this designed as a softball? The short answer to that question is, no, absolutely not. We have made clear that we have very clear and important objectives that we have laid out for some time. We believe that it is extremely important to protect not only the non-proliferation regimes, but also the world from the danger of an arms competition between India and Pakistan.

We have called for the signature and ratification of the CTBT, a restraint regime covering nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, an export control system, a moratorium on the production of fissile material pending negotiation of a treaty banning the production of such material, and, obviously, the importance of direct talks between India and Pakistan on the issues between them. Those are our objectives; they have not changed.

We have always said that we are prepared to use our tools in a discriminating and flexible way to achieve those objectives. To the extent that we can achieve progress towards those goals, we want, of course, to encourage that through incentives and disincentives. That's always been our policy; nothing has changed. I think, if anything, our determination to continue to try to achieve these goals has been shown with each additional mission by Deputy Secretary Talbott to that end.

QUESTION: You did point out yesterday that the Talbott mission did achieve some progress and momentum and movement, you said. You may be familiar with the joint statement that has been issued. Can you please point out or just highlight any concrete progress that has been made?

MR. RUBIN: We believe that concrete progress was made, I think I indicated in comments yesterday, in particular with respect to the signing of the comprehensive test ban and the timing of that signing. We have some important movement on that. You can shake your head and frown but that's a fact.

QUESTION: Have the Pakistanis also given Talbott a similar, more concrete promise as to when they will sign the CTBT?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that.

QUESTION: Jamie, did they talk about Kashmir; and if so, is there anything you can report?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think there was much movement on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- the Taliban?

MR. RUBIN: The Taliban is a separate bilateral issue between the United States and Pakistan. Deputy Secretary Talbott's mission was focused on the India-Pakistan angle. We have many different ways in which we can raise the bilateral issues between us and Pakistan and we will do so.

QUESTION: Do you have any new information on whereabouts of Ocalan? Also, what I want to find out -- you made it very clear in the past the position of America in terms of the Ocalan and him being in Italy and so on. But what is your position now since he is going from country to country, if he is still going? Would you make any arrangement for him to let him give himself up in Turkey?

MR. RUBIN: It is not up to us to make those arrangements. As I indicated, I feel great sorrow for the pilot of that small plane who can't find a place to land. We have no information on his current whereabouts. The United States believes that he should be brought to justice for the terrorist crimes of which he is accused in a manner consistent with international standards for due process.

In addition to denying terrorists such as Ocalan safe haven, refuge or asylum, countries should take steps consistent with their national legal systems to assist Turkey's international efforts to bring Ocalan to justice. That is our position. We think he needs to be brought to justice, and we think all those who can assist in that process should do so.

QUESTION: So, since he's on the air now, what's he to do?

MR. RUBIN: I don't understand the question.

QUESTION: Well, since he has gone from country to country to country and you have a very clear position, what is the prescribed action?

MR. RUBIN: Those who might be in a position to assist Turkey in its effort to bring to bear justice should do so through bringing him to justice.

QUESTION: So, in other words, he'd have to land in some place, some country.

MR. RUBIN: Planes do have to land, yes.

(Laughter.)

It's one of those laws of physics and nature, yes.

QUESTION: So some country will have to accept him to take the whole thing into the direction of justice.

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: So are you suggesting any country to do that?

MR. RUBIN: Every country should take the necessary steps, if possible, to assist Turkey in its effort to bring to justice this terrorist leader.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the Hill today, George Tenet said he was increasingly concerned about Osama bin Laden's activities. He said that recently, activities similar to what occurred prior to the Africa embassy bombings, they've been noting that. Can you elaborate on that or has there been increased threats or security --

MR. RUBIN: That's a CIA judgment that he made that I would leave to he and his agency to elaborate on. We have taken the position that we obviously cooperate very closely with the CIA and other organizations in making sure we've done all we can to identify threats in advance. As you know, Craig Johnstone laid out yesterday the steps we're taking to try to protect against those threats. But I am not in a position to elaborate the specific dangers and the specific threats that DCI Director Tenet may or may not have been referring to.

QUESTION: Jamie, has the US made any response -- in its Interest Section or any other forum -- to Iran's complaints that a US missile landed on its territory last week?

MR. RUBIN: We will have to check that. I am aware of the complaint. I don't know what steps we took. I suspect there wasn't - I don't know; I will have to check that.

QUESTION: Jamie, I wasn't on the trip and --

MR. RUBIN: We missed you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I missed Moscow in January.

I was wondering if you would be so kind as to review what you can of the results of the conversation between Madeleine Albright and Mr. Yeltsin, number one. And then the other open conferences, what you can say about progress or lack of progress, receptivity, willingness to work these problems out on Iran, on Iraq, on Kosovo, all these major issues and the ABM Treaty, as well.

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's about 45 minutes into the briefing and I think the most efficient and official way to resolve that very, very good question is for me to get you copies of all the transcripts in which Secretary Albright, herself, addressed each one of those questions after the trip to Moscow, and I would be happy to do that for you.

QUESTION: If I could just narrow it to Yeltsin? Did he say, da, we're going to work something out here on Iraq? Was there good camaraderie there?

MR. RUBIN: She spoke to him on the phone for 25 minutes, they had a good conversation and I am not in a position to get into the details.

QUESTION: On Colombia, I guess. A group of American congressmen - from both the Senate and the House -- are sending two letters to President Pastrana urging him to protect human rights protectors in Colombia - two of them were killed over the weekend and four more were kidnapped - all of the in Colombia. Do you have any reaction to this?

MR. RUBIN: We deplore the recent outrageous murder of human rights activists. The targeting of human rights activists is particularly repugnant as these people work to defend and protect the human rights of all Colombians. We deplore and condemn the murder of innocent civilians and call for an immediate end by all combatants to these senseless murders. We do not know who committed this act. We note that the government of Colombia is investigating this crime. No matter who committed this act, it is an atrocity, and we would expect the government of Colombia to resolve this case as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)


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