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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #19, 99-02-11

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>


1187

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, February 11, 1999

Briefer: James B. Foley

SERBIA (KOSOVO)
1		French and British Foreign Minister at the Peace Talks.
1		Secretary Albright's conversation with Ambassador Hill /
		  Status of Peace Talks.
2,4		No final decision on a Contact Group Meeting.
3,11		US position on Kosovo independence.
4-6,9		Possible US troop deployment.
6-8		Implementation force/NATO is working on an operational plan

TERRORISM 11 Taliban restrictions on Usama bin Laden. 12,14 Extradition of Libyan suspects.

TURKEY 13 Visit of Iraqi Deputy PM Tariz Aziz.

CHINA 14-16 Deployment of Missiles / Discussions with SKorea/Japan on missile Defense. 17,18 China's military build-up in South China Sea. 20 Ambassador Kartman's visit to Beijing.

GERMANY 16 Letter from German Chancellor regarding sentences of German-born brothers. 17 Prospects of intervention by Secretary Albright.

CUBA 18,19 Proposal to play Exhibition Game.

DEPARTMENT 19 Meeting between Secretary and Mayor of DC.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #19

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1999, 1:20 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: You're not wagering on my arrival time, are you?

QUESTION: No -- (inaudible) - bet on a sure thing.

MR. FOLEY: Thank you, Barry. I don't have any announcements to make so --

QUESTION: Well, I don't have any questions.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. FOLEY: Thank you all for coming.

QUESTION: The French and the British Foreign Minister found their way to the talks. I wonder if that means Secretary of State might also join the talks, go to a ministers meeting, travel over to Paris this weekend maybe; it is a three-day weekend.

MR. FOLEY: Secretary Albright spoke this morning on the telephone with Ambassador Hill for a status report on the negotiations at Rambouillet, and she's been doing that regularly - maintaining very close contact with Ambassador Hill and also with her fellow foreign ministers. I obviously can't get into the details of those talks, except to say that Ambassador Hill was reporting that some progress has been made.

Of course, as he's indicated in his public appearances in France, the negotiations are very difficult. It's tough going, but they are noting some progress. Foreign Minister Cook and Vedrine did return to Rambouillet today. They met over lunch with Ambassadors Hill, Petritsch and Mayorsky and with Contact Group representatives, following which they met with each of the two delegations, including with Serbian President Milutinovic. I spoke to our spokesman for the talks, Mr. Reeker, a few hours ago and he said that both sides are negotiating hard. They meet in plenary session among themselves separately still, and have broken up also at times into small working groups.

The presence of the two foreign ministers is a sign that the Contact Group is very committed to the success of these talks. Their periodic visits there are to keep the momentum going.

In regard to Secretary Albright's plans, as we've indicated, Secretary Albright would consider going to France perhaps this weekend to attend a Contact Group meeting if one is scheduled. We don't have a final decision yet on a Contact Group meeting; therefore, I have nothing to announce now on the Secretary's possible travel plans.

QUESTION: Well, Cook has been quoted as saying that there will be an extension; that the Serbs are causing some delaying problems over a question of these ten principles. But he said he expects the talks to be extended another week. So if that's going to happen, what's the point -- what's served by her going there?

MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, she hasn't decided whether or not she's going, number one. Number two, there has not been a formal decision to hold a Contact Group meeting, to my knowledge, yet. Number three, the Contact Group, in its decisions ten days or so ago, indicated that the talks would last seven days and that the Contact Group would assess progress at the seven day point to determine whether the state of the negotiations permitted the extension of that seven day limit a further seven days. So the Contact Group has to make that assessment. In the view of the United States, that question remains to be settled whether, indeed, at least as far as the United States is concerned, we would be in favor of a seven day extension.

QUESTION: So Cook was premature in saying this?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I have not seen what he said. As I understood the way you put his comment, Carole, you said that this was his expectation. I can't quarrel with his expectation. I'm simply stating what the position of the United States is, which is that today is Thursday and that we have a few more days before the Contact Group will make its assessment. The United States is reserving its judgment until that time.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about a specific - there was some references just now to the principles. I'm a little confused about sovereignty, territorial integrity, as a principle. In fact, yesterday I asked the Deputy Secretary if there could be a statement of territorial integrity. He -- unless I misunderstood - said no. Similarly, he said no to the Albanian demand that there be an election with independence on the ballot after three years. That, too, he thought would block a settlement. But now, if I read reports right, there will be some statement of Yugoslavia's territorial integrity. Could you clarify? How does it stand? Will there be? What's going on?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not aware of any international text, be it a NATO document or statements of the Contact Group, that have not made reference to support for the territorial integrity of the FRY. So that remains the position of the United States.

In terms of the question of a referendum, it is our view and the view of the other members of the Contact Group that the focus of the talks at Rambouillet should be to negotiate an interim settlement that immediately grants self-government to the people of Kosovo, ends the violence and replaces Serb security forces with Kosovo local police.

Only after we have reached a political settlement and the Kosovar Albanians have real self-government should the parties turn to the question of Kosovo's ultimate status. We believe it would not be useful to support a referendum on independence that could become a political lightning rod for these negotiations and for implementation of any settlement.

QUESTION: The point would be election - a ballot with independence on the ballot. That would also not be useful?

MR. FOLEY: I think that this is merely a semantic issue. Whatever you call it, certainly part of the Contact Group proposal is a provision for, obviously, true self-government; and that includes free elections in Kosovo.

As to the question, though, of the status of Kosovo beyond the three-year period envisaged in the interim settlement that's been proposed by the Contact Group, again our view is that should be addressed only when we have a political settlement and when the Kosovar Albanians have had the opportunity to exercise self-government during this three-year period.

QUESTION: Policy check. Do you all oppose independence for Kosovo under any circumstances at any time?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we've made clear that we do not support Kosovo independence. I don't care to elaborate on that.

QUESTION: You don't support Kosovo independence now. What about giving the people the right to choose after three years, as a number of US officials have --

MR. FOLEY: Again, I'm stating the policy of the United States Government. It stands for our policy, whether it's today or tomorrow. This is our view, that we don't support independence. Normally our positions and our policies don't have a time fuse attached to them.

I think that our view that the Kosovar Albanians should be given the opportunity

to enjoy the exercise of true self-government in a way that they have never had previously in terms of their political institutions, police, education, health, all kinds of social activities. Our view is this will mark a dramatic and historic improvement in their every day lives, and that the question of the future disposition of Kosovo ought to be left to a later period.

QUESTION: What about after three years? I mean, you have a conflict now with one side to fight and die for independence, and the other side willing to fight and die to suppress independence. You have a plan for an interim period. Haven't people here thought beyond the interim period and have some sort of a wish scenario for what should happen after three years? Or do you just - the troops come home and they're on their own again.

MR. FOLEY: First of all, in any negotiation, if a conflict is to be settled peacefully and not on the battlefield, each side has to make compromises. Each side will find its maximalist aspirations disappointed in a peaceful negotiated outcome. But each side will find substantial benefit and substantial improvements to the status quo.

In the case of the Kosovar Albanians, who have been repressed, who have been the object of discrimination, repression and aggression, these activities will cease. They will govern themselves and they will enjoy a dramatic improvement in their living conditions.

That fact itself may, as it plays out over the three-year interim period, may affect the calculations and the perceptions and perspectives of the different parties in ways that we can't anticipate at this time. It will certainly be an improvement for the people of Kosovo; it will be an improvement for the people of Serbia, we believe; and it will certainly be a dramatic advance in stability in the southern part of Europe.

But our view is that, it is simply more important for us to concentrate on the challenge of bringing this conflict to an end; bringing to an end the danger of further instability in a critical region of Europe; bringing to an end the suffering that's been going on. We'll deal with that question as circumstances change over the period of this interim settlement.

QUESTION: A couple of questions, one is a clarification. If I understand you correctly, Jim, you're saying that Secretary Albright's decision to attend a Contact Group meeting hinges on whether or not a, one is announced; is that correct? What will it take for Secretary Albright to make the decision to attend?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think Mr. Rubin has indicated previously that her view historically has been that she's willing to attend such meetings when they've been well-prepared and when there's work to do. I simply don't want to prejudge her decision. We don't yet have a formal decision from all of the Contact Group members to have such a meeting. I'm not certainly saying one won't take place or that she won't go. I'm simply saying that there's been no decision.

QUESTION: Also, according to some of the negotiators, one of the key points that's blocking any progress that's being made on a political agreement is this military security annex that's currently at NATO being worked on. One of the things that's holding that up is a decision by the US President to commit troops and also to announce how many troops will be committed. Would you agree that that's a fair characterization of what's holding up a decision, particularly by the Kosovar Albanians who need to know how many Americans will be there?

MR. FOLEY: First of all, at NATO today in its meeting, the North Atlantic Council agreed that NATO military authorities should use the text of the military annex as the basis for planning for a NATO implementation force in Kosovo should there be such a force. Contingency planning for such a force is proceeding rapidly, but no decisions regarding the deployment or characteristics of such a force have been made.

In terms of the position of the United States is concerned, Secretary Albright, in her speech to the Institute of Peace, as well as other senior Administration officials, have laid out the stakes involved for the United States of the question of peace or continued conflict in Kosovo. We believe that we have a national interest in a negotiated, peaceful resolution of this crisis. The President is seriously considering the question of US force participation on the ground. If there is a peace agreement, if there is a permissive environment, he is considering that possibility.

But I don't believe it's having any impact, though, on the work that NATO is doing to prepare for a possible implementation force. I think that we've made clear that the President is going to be considering a number of factors, including the nature of the agreement, the definition of the mission, the military tasks involved in an implementation force, the question of the exit strategy. All of these issues would factor into his decision.

QUESTION: Some negotiators say that the nature of the agreement hinges on NATO and hinges on the character - the make-up of this implementation force; and until they know whether the United States will participate and to what degree it will participate, they can't gauge and they can't answer other questions, like what the size of the Serb police or the military should be.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think this is what we call an iterative process. In other words, NATO is working on the military plan. As it's working on that plan, NATO - and obviously, we are consulting closely with our allies, consulting with Congress - the NATO military planners are answering some of the questions that need to be addressed to permit American participation, if that's what the President decides.

Those include the fact that we need to ensure that NATO has developed an operations plan with a clear mission and chain of command, robust rules of engagement and a realistic exit strategy. The President will make his decision. I'm not, obviously, in a position to forecast that decision. But I think Secretary Albright has laid out very clearly the stakes involved for the United States and Kosovo, the stakes involved for the United States and NATO in its role and its ability to continue to maintain the peace and stability in Europe. On that basis, we are moving to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict in Kosovo which would, in all likelihood, require a peace implementation force. We're looking very seriously at US participation in that force.

QUESTION: How strong is the opposition from the Pentagon to the idea of US ground troops in Kosovo; and what is the nature of their opposition and how do you factor that into your decision-making?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm sorry, I can't share the premise of your question. I think it's very clear you're referring to some news stories this morning which included anonymous sources speaking from across the river. I'm simply afraid that I can't credit what some people may or may not be saying anonymously.

I think that certainly as the President makes this decision, he's going to be taking very seriously the military as well as political advice he's getting from his military and political experts. There's no doubt that the sort of questions that I've laid out are the ones that need the adequate answers to permit the President to make his decision. That's what we're working on. Certainly the political leadership will make the decision, but will make it on the basis of very sound military advice.

I would point out that in their testimony, I believe, to the Senate a few weeks ago, that both Secretary Cohen and General Shelton also echoed the themes I've been sounding concerning the national stakes that we have in Kosovo, that we have in NATO doing its job successfully -- the view in NATO that a peace implementation force is likely to be necessary, the view of our allies that US participation would be necessary. I think, in other words, the military and civilian leadership at the Pentagon has made very clear what the stakes are for the United States in the success of bringing peace to Kosovo.

They also, in that same testimony, laid out the questions to which sufficient answers are necessary to enable the President to make a decision.

QUESTION: Are you suggesting, then, that that report is wrong; that, in fact, the Pentagon is on board - that the Pentagon is supportive of the use of ground troops?

MR. FOLEY: I'm simply saying that almost for reasons of principle alone, I'm not going to comment on what people do not have the ability to say publicly. I won't comment on anonymous sources.

QUESTION: What are your remarks about participation -- (inaudible) - ground troops, right?

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: Well, I just want to follow up. You've talked a lot about US ground troops participating. I guess Deputy Secretary Talbot told some reporters that another option would be US naval and air power backing up European ground troops. Can you talk about if that's another option, and is that option -

MR. FOLEY: First of all, going back to what I was saying a minute ago, let me hasten to add that we've indicated - and Secretary Albright did so explicitly in her speech to the Institute for Peace - that if the US were to participate on the ground, that our ground force participation would be relatively small in relationship to the total size of the force. The word she used is that the European allies, and perhaps non-NATO participating nations, would contribute the lion's share to a ground force deployment.

I'm aware, in very general terms, of the Deputy Secretary's remarks yesterday. My understanding is that he indicated that the contemplation of that air-only option was not likely to convince skeptics who believe that, indeed, on-the-ground participation by NATO would be necessary with American participation should the President so decide, in order to provide the Kosovar Albanians the assurance they need in order to complete the agreement and abide by it. He was simply responding to a question in that narrow subject.

QUESTION: On the military strategy, as I understand it, one of the requirements -- even though no decision has been made yet - but one of the requirements is a permissive environment and that if the environment were not permissive, the force would be withdrawn. Doesn't that create a situation where if the Serbs want to resume the fighting, all they have to do is create a hostile environment and the NATO forces would be withdrawn?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I suppose that similar arguments were made at the time of Dayton when NATO, including the United States, was contemplating a force deployment to implement a peace agreement. The United States made it crystal clear, prior to Dayton, that we would not participate in a peacemaking force. In other words, we would not fight our way into Bosnia; we would only go in there if the parties had agreed to a peace agreement, a negotiated settlement and had agreed that NATO would participate in the implementation of that agreement.

There were all kinds of dire forecasts at the time about what the NATO forces would encounter in Bosnia, which were not borne out by the facts. I'm not saying that Kosovo and Bosnia are the same situations. Clearly, when you deploy military forces and when we deploy US forces, the possibility of hostile action is always present. That's why our military commanders want to be very certain - as I believe General Shelton indicated in that testimony that I referred to -- that the issue of force protection is paramount; that the parties have agreed to the peace agreement; that the parties have agreed that NATO forces would enter in; and that, therefore, there would be a permissive environment.

I think it's a very hypothetical question which you're raising - namely, after all these conditions have been satisfied after a punitive NATO force is there, if there were difficulties, what might happen? I can only tell you, without getting into in any way the details of what's being negotiated, which I can't do, but that certainly the international community and NATO will ensure that they have a preponderance of force and that the disposition of the so-called warring party is such to permit, indeed, the permissive environment and its enforcement and verification.

QUESTION: Does the Administration believe that a political settlement is necessary before this military or security annex is presented?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I can't get into the details of the negotiations. Like yourselves, I've been pouring over the transcripts of what the negotiators and what the spokesmen have been saying. Probably every second or third line of the transcript, you find the line, we can't talk about what's going on inside, that's what we agreed - apart from whatever leaks that have been occurring.

So I can't get into that kind of detail. What was your specific question again?

QUESTION: Just because the Kosovar Albanians, for instance, are saying that before they can sign off on a political agreement --

MR. FOLEY: Oh, I see what you're saying. In very broad terms, my understanding - and I'd refer you to your colleagues who are on the ground covering the Rambouillet talks - but my understanding is that at this stage, they've been tacking the political side of the equation -- the institutions that will govern Kosovo in the period of the interim settlement; what Kosovo will look like; how it will feel; how it will be experienced; what will be the dramatic, improved changes that the Kosovar Albanians will enjoy - and that the agreements that they reach on the political side can be implemented, are workable. That's what they're focusing on now. They will be moving towards, I believe, the military and police annexes as the week goes along. But I don't have any specifics for you on that.

QUESTION: Jim, is it done? I mean, are they still working on the military annex and they just haven't sent it over and they haven't seen it here so they haven't decided on ground troops? Can you give us a sense of where is it now?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that's being worked both in Rambouillet and in Brussels. But I think, like all negotiating texts, it's a living body that can be updated. I don't think there's anything particularly newsworthy on that. But the plan, which encompasses the political and the military and police and other elements, in its near entirety was already agreed several weeks ago by the Contact Group. It remains fundamentally that same document.

QUESTION: So, Jim, the President now - he knows what that document says, and he's just deciding whether the exit strategy is there?

MR. FOLEY: As I indicated, NATO is working on an operational plan. I think what Andrea was asking me about was the military annex to the peace agreement. And on that basis, NATO is -- I believe the North Atlantic Council today tasked the NATO military authorities, on an accelerated basis, to develop a detailed operational plan; and that's what they're doing.

QUESTION: Sort of technical question. As to the Contact Group and the decision-making apparatus that goes with whether there would be a meeting or not, how does it operate decision-making wise? I mean we know NATO's a consensus thing, et cetera, et cetera. How does the Contact Group operate that way?

MR. FOLEY: Well, of course, the Contact body is not a formal mechanism with its own bylaws. As successful as it has been over the years, it's a small group headed, ultimately, by the foreign ministers. They talk on the telephone and they come to agreements as to when they meet and what they're going to talk about. So it's fairly easily done. The Secretary, as I said, has been on the phone with her Contact Group colleagues and others.

QUESTION: Jim, you said awhile ago that it's the view of the allies that American ground participation is necessary. Has the US given the allies a commitment that if there is a peacekeeping force on the ground, Americans will be involved?

MR. FOLEY: That commitment can be given by one person only, and that's President Clinton. In advance of the President's decision, none of his negotiators or ambassadors have made any such commitment.

QUESTION: All right, so if I understand correctly, you don't know this is their view by mind reading. You must know it because they've said it.

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: So when they say it, what do the Americans say? They just say what you say, it's up to the President? Or do they stare out the window or -

MR. FOLEY: They not only say that it's up to the President; they say, as has been indicated by the President and the Secretary of State and others, that he's very seriously considering this.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask you on the legal thing, you've mentioned several things that have to be resolved. You also said there's a possibility, which, of course, is obvious, of hostile action. Mr. Pickering went to the Hill yesterday and told Congress that Congress' approval is not necessary to send troops there. Presidents have been saying this since Vietnam, and thousands of Americans get killed in undeclared wars. Is there no legal question to -

MR. FOLEY: Americans have not been killed in action in Bosnia.

QUESTION: I know. Well, that's one of the lucky ones. Vietnam was a little different.

MR. FOLEY: That's your opinion.

QUESTION: After Vietnam, War Powers Acts were passed to, some would say, to put the White House and the Constitution on the same line. But in any event, can you say whether the legal issue, as far as the State Department is concerned, is precluded? There's nothing more to think about. The President has the constitutional authority to send American ground troops in as peace-keepers even with the possibility they'll be the target of hostile action?

MR. FOLEY: Well, as I've said quite a number of times and all other Administration spokesman have said, we will not consider sending American ground forces into Kosovo in anything but a permissive environment in which the parties have agreed to make peace with each other, have agreed the terms and the details of peace and how they will manage that period. Until the parties have agreed that a NATO force can come in and create the secure environment necessary, those are the conditions. Under those circumstances, I stand by what Spokesman Rubin said yesterday and what Mr. Pickering said yesterday about the legal issue.

QUESTION: There's nothing to ponder?

MR. FOLEY: Not as far as we're concerned.

QUESTION: Can you tell me where this authority is drawn? What part of the Constitution gives the President the authority, without consulting Congress, to send American troops into a permissive environment that may get hostile at any particular point?

MR. FOLEY: If you would like, I will read what Mr. Rubin said yesterday. I can simply reiterate that.

QUESTION: I was here -- (inaudible) - question. He pointed to the part of the Constitution that gives the President this right?

MR. FOLEY: He answered the question.

QUESTION: Or does he just say it's an intrinsic right, which the Nixon White House said all the time about all sorts of behavior.

MR. FOLEY: We'll get you the transcript afterwards.

QUESTION: Jim, it sounds as if you've answered my earlier question as to whether or not the US believes, then, that it's necessary for their first to be a political settlement before the decision on troops would be announced.

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, I was answering a different part of your question. The President will make his decision, which he's seriously considering, about American participation

in a NATO peace implementation force on its merits and on the basis of the answers to the questions that I noted to you.

The question as to whether the parties at Rambouillet can agree to the political aspects prior to that, I think, is not necessarily a related question.

QUESTION: So they can happen on two simultaneous tracks?

MR. FOLEY: Let me put it this way - the Contact Group laid down not only the terms of agreement - a detailed plan for the interim settlement in Kosovo - but also laid down some deadlines. They have got to agree, either within seven days, or if the Contact Group agrees, within 14 days, to the agreement. There was no reference to one nation's particular decision on participation in a peace implementation force.

QUESTION: But the President can decide in principle to participate if there's an agreement?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, certainly.

QUESTION: Same subject, different area. Regarding the Serb minority in Kosovo, do you foresee this agreement having - without going into details of the negotiation - having some guarantees for their freedom and protection if they choose to stay in Kosovo? And do you also foresee - would this agreement have some sort of special provision so that Serbs living outside of Kosovo would still be allowed access to the sites that they consider culturally important?

MR. FOLEY: I don't know the authorized answer to your question; but I'm certain that the answer is yes on both counts.

The Contact Group, in its statement launching the negotiations a couple weeks ago, made it clear that protection of minority rights of all ethnic groups in Kosovo is of paramount importance. You can be certain that under the peace agreement, under any implementation formula, that due care will be taken to ensure the rights and the security of all the people of Kosovo. That would, I'm certain, also satisfy the second question you raised in terms of the access of Serbs to religious sites which are of enormous significance to them.

QUESTION: Kosovar - with minimal presence of Yugoslav security there could give the Kosovars the ability to essentially control their own little borders and - not to be insensitive to the --

MR. FOLEY: I can't go into the details of the negotiations. I think Mr. Rubin has already indicated, though, that under what is envisaged there would be the opportunity for a legitimate number of FRY military forces to deploy along the borders, close to the borders to ensure the sanctity of the borders.

QUESTION: Serbs throughout Yugoslavia will have free access to Kosovo, regardless of any settlement.

MR. FOLEY: That would certainly be my assumption because, again, we support the territorial integrity of the FRY and Serbia. So Kosovo would remain a part of the FRY under our proposed agreement, while enjoying a kind of thorough-going autonomy and self-government that they've never had previously.

QUESTION: By the way, has Belgrade responded to the complaint about the ICN take-over a few days ago?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware. I can check for you, but I'm not aware that they responded.

QUESTION: Can we move to Taliban?

QUESTION: Please.

QUESTION: The Taliban has cut off radio facilities and telephone facilities for Osama bin Laden. Does the US feel any safer, or is it still nothing less than extradition; or, as the British indicated in Islamabad, just control Laden and we'll be satisfied? What is the US stance?

MR. FOLEY: Our view is what they have announced falls woefully short of that which is required. We're certainly aware of their announcement. It does not address the central issue of concern to the world community and the United States.

We have repeatedly made clear to the Taliban our view that Osama bin Laden should be expelled from Afghanistan immediately to a place where he can be brought to justice for his crimes. He has been indicted in connection with the cold-blooded murder of 263 innocent Kenyans, Tanzanians and Americans.

Let's remember, this is someone who has killed innocent civilians, number one; and number two, who has promised to continue killing innocent civilians. Therefore, he must be brought to justice. And we continue to call on the Taliban to expel him from Afghanistan in such a way that he can be brought to justice.

QUESTION: There's a number of media outlets in South Asia - Pakistan - that are reporting the following -- if you could just comment on them, clarify them - that Rick Inderfurth gave the Taliban an ultimatum and a deadline: that if they do not expel Osama bin Laden, then the United States will act militarily against targets in Afghanistan. Secondly, that position was reiterated during a news conference by White House official Richard Clarke, and even more specifically so -- this ultimatum and this threat. Can you comment on those?

MR. FOLEY: I can't comment on the content of a private diplomatic exchange. You can be certain that Mr. Inderfurth, when he met with a Taliban official in Islamabad, certainly reiterated privately that which I've just stated publicly about our view that bin Laden must be expelled. The particulars of how he articulated that position is not something that I can get into.

But I would note that Secretary Albright, in her recent testimony before the United States Senate, stated that we - meaning the United States - will not hesitate, where necessary, to use force to respond to or defend against acts of terrorism. She also noted that force is only one element in our strategy.

QUESTION: That's a very general, very ambiguous statement. Was she referring to Afghanistan -- among the things she might have been referring to was Afghanistan, the Taliban?

MR. FOLEY: It was a general statement, but it certainly has application wherever terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians, including Americans, may seek refuge. I don't wish to particularize it because it was a general statement. But I think that the President made it very clear - I think the date was August 20 -- when we launched military strikes in response to the Africa bombings in anticipation of the danger of future terrorist attacks, that we would not allow terrorists sanctuary.

QUESTION: But the fact that you chose to rule that statement in the context of this discussion does particularize it to any reasonable person, it would seem. So can we carry it a little bit further?

MR. FOLEY: I told you I'm not going to get into the details of the private diplomatic exchange. My words speak for themselves.

QUESTION: I didn't ask you to get into the details or private diplomatic exchange. Does the United States perceive that there are targets in Afghanistan which, apart from Osama bin Laden's camps, might meet your definition of terrorist strongholds or -

MR. FOLEY: I have no information in that regard. Certainly, we demonstrated last August that we believe that bin Laden and his camps and infrastructure constituted such targets, if you will. But I'm not aware of other such problems.

QUESTION: When did the Secretary make that --

MR. FOLEY: She testified, I believe, it was last week. I can check that for you.

QUESTION: Kurdish Parliament in exile, which the shadows organization for PKK terrorist organization. They are gathering in Spain -- Basque autonomy region. Do you have any reaction on this?

MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, I've not heard that. I'd have to look into it.

QUESTION: The second question is, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz will visit Turkey next Monday. The United States Government trying to push hard to get rid of the government of Baghdad. At the same time, one of your coalition partners is getting together. Do you have any on the subject?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I have to say that we don't understand Prime Minister Ecevit's decision to host Tariq Aziz at this time. Obviously, we'll be in diplomatic contact with the Turkish Government on this matter. We're aware, of course, that he's going to visit Ankara on February 15. Turkey is a close NATO ally and valued partner in the international effort to bring Iraq into compliance with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Turkey has joined the United States and the rest of the international community in calling on Iraq to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions. Because of its failure to do so, Iraq bears full responsibility for the current confrontation with the international community. We expect that the Turkish Government will make it clear to Tariq Aziz that the roots of the current confrontation with Iraq are Baghdad's eight-year-long refusal to meet its UN obligations and, more recently, it's challenges to the no-fly zones.

QUESTION: Another terrorist question. Has there been any movement at all, that you're aware of, on the extradition of the Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie case? There was a report in a London newspaper this morning, an Arabic newspaper, that following the visit to Libya of the South African envoy, the Libyans were getting ready to --

MR. FOLEY: Yes, I'm aware of that report. The requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1192 are clear and straightforward. The suspects should be turned over for trial under Scottish law in The Netherlands. Secretary General Annan is empowered by that UN Security Council resolution to facilitate transfer of the suspects.

We have not been informed by Secretary General Annan of any developments with regard to this issue, and so we won't speculate on the basis of these press reports. As we've said ever since we made our offer, what would the most eloquent and, indeed, the only satisfactory answer to the proposal of the United States and the United Kingdom is the actual physical rendition of the suspects to The Netherlands.

QUESTION: Different subject. Do you have anything more to say today than Jamie did yesterday about the Chinese deployment of missiles - alleged deployment - pointing at Taiwan? Apparently, rather detailed discussions - at least more detailed than were indicated yesterday - of the deployment of a theater missile defense?

MR. FOLEY: Discussions - I'm sorry?

QUESTION: On the deployment of --

MR. FOLEY: Where, though; what discussions?

QUESTION: Here. Jamie mentioned there had been some preliminary informational discussions with the Taiwanese about a missile defense - something like that.

MR. FOLEY: I don't have his exact words, but he did say that, to our knowledge, their interest was informational at this stage.

QUESTION: Informational, but there are reports today and plenty of US officials speaking without names saying that there have been discussions with South Korea, Japan on this theater missile defense, as well as Taiwan; and it's gone quite a bit further than merely informational, at least on the other two countries and to China. So this is what's causing China to go ahead with that deployment.

MR. FOLEY: I wish you'd continue on with your question, because I'm looking for my answer.

The United States has long-standing security ties with both the Republic of Korea and Japan. Our activities with each country to deter aggression and help ensure peace and stability in the region are consistent with and fully within the context of these long standing arrangements.

The United States has serious concerns, in this case, about North Korea's missile activities and has conveyed these concerns directly to the DPRK. We are seeking an end to its development testing and export of missiles and missile technology. But of course, as we noted, North Korea's launch last August of its missile test produced an extremely negative reaction in the region and in the United States. We have warned that a repetition would bring serious consequences in our relations with the DPRK.

Our efforts in bilateral talks with the DPRK on the missile issue and the four-party peace talks have been aimed at reducing security risks posed by North Korea's missile activities and the tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In terms of the first part of your question, the Administration is aware of the growing deployment by the PRC, in recent years, of missiles nearby Taiwan. This is not a new threat; it stretches back more than half a decade.

Reports that suggest that there has been a sudden new deployment are wrong. As part of its military modernization, China has been deploying missiles for some time. Indeed in 1996, tests by the PRC of such missiles near Taiwan lead to a decision by the President to deploy to the area two carrier groups.

The United States has a strong interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. For this reason, we approved defensive arms sales to Taiwan consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and the 1982 US-PRC joint communique. Among the items Taiwan has purchased has been technology for Taiwan's modified air defense system, which is a low altitude anti-missile and anti-aircraft system. We will continue to monitor the military balance in the Taiwan Strait closely and meet our obligation to provide Taiwan the arms it needs for an adequate defense.

High altitude theater missile defense technologies are in the development stage currently. Therefore, decisions on whether Taiwan needs additional anti-missile capabilities will be made in the future, taking into account the development of such technologies, Taiwan's defense needs, and how, in our view, it is best to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

QUESTION: Do you see this deployment by China, even if it has been going on for a few years -- a decade as you say - as a threat to Taiwan - a threat to Taiwan that the United States needs to respond to?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think if you take the question generally, anywhere in the world, military capabilities are military capabilities. What is often as important are intentions, political context behind military capabilities. Therefore, I think the question has to be answered in a wider context.

Again, this is not a new threat, as I said. China has been active in the missile development area and their deployments in this configuration and this locale date back more than half a decade. I wouldn't want to characterize further. It really depends a lot on the political context. But I did indicate that we will continue to assess the requirements of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

QUESTION: Is the United States in any way, understanding that TMD is still under research and development right now, but is it in any way considering the possibility of expanding the TMD umbrella to include Taiwan?

MR. FOLEY: didn't say that.

QUESTION: No, I'm just asking you.

MR. FOLEY: Mr. Rubin indicated yesterday that Taiwan's interest in the issue is informational at this stage. I believe that, as I've indicated, we have to await technological developments; we have to continue to consider Taiwan's defense needs; and we have to judge the impact on our interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. It's simply not something that needs to be answered at this stage.

QUESTION: So the US is not ruling out the possibility that it might do so at some point in the future?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not addressing the issue at this stage. It's certainly premature.

QUESTION: Jim, you say no sudden new deployment; but do you notice any uptick at all in the Chinese deployments?

MR. FOLEY: I believe that the Pentagon is preparing a report on that very subject. I'm not directly familiar with the contents. I believe that will be issued - that it's issuance is forthcoming; so I don't want to jump the gun on that.

QUESTION: Well, then, you're great emphasis on there's no new deployment, that it's been going on for a decade is somewhat disingenuous. I'm not calling you into question; I'm just saying the answer is somewhat disingenuous. Because if you say there's no new deployment, that implies things are static; but in fact, the reports say there has been - while the fact of deployments in general is not new, there has been three-fold or more increase in the number of missiles that have been deployed, which is quite a change.

MR. FOLEY: I don't have that information.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen the report, and I'm suggesting that we await the issuance of the report.

On the issue of the existence of missiles so deployed, it's not a new threat. Whether you reach a qualitatively different threshold is something that I'm not in a position to assess at this stage.

QUESTION: Jim, another subject. The German Chancellor, who is in Washington today, has sent a letter to the US Government asking that the death sentences due to be carried out this month against two brothers - German-born brothers in Arizona - be commuted. Some time ago, in a somewhat analogous case, Secretary Albright intervened in the state of Virginia and sent out word that all states should be aware of the consular requirements. Question, has Secretary Albright intervened in this case of the two German brothers in Arizona?

MR. FOLEY: Has she what?

QUESTION: Has she intervened?

MR. FOLEY: No, not to my knowledge, no. German Foreign Minister Fischer wrote to the Secretary on January 27, asking that she support his appeal to Arizona Governor Jane D. Hull for clemency. My understanding, though, is that the issue of consular notification, which has been raised - I don't believe in that letter but has been raised separately - is certainly an important one. But the US courts have upheld the treatment and sentencing of the two brothers in this case. I'm not aware of any intervention on her part.

QUESTION: In her round robin letter to state governments, the Secretary asked them all to be particularly alert to the requirements under the Vienna Convention that foreign born prisoners be allowed access to their consular officials of their country. The lawyers for these two brothers say that they were not given access. In that sense, is the State Department going to take a position?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we are in constant contact with state authorities at various levels to remind them of their duty to provide consular notification. Certainly, we have, at times, followed diplomatic requests and brought to the attention of judicial or local authorities claims of lack of consular notification, claims that such a lack of notification ought to be considered either in the sentencing area. We've been certainly willing to do that because we regard the consular notification as a vital issue important because it's an obligation that we've incurred and because it's an obligation that we expect other governments to live up to when dealing with our citizens overseas.

My understanding in this case is that the two brothers who were arrested for murder in Arizona and sentenced to death are German-born. They've lived in the US since they were around four or five years old. They raised the issue of the failure of consular notification, but the courts governing the case decided that the issue should have been raised earlier in the proceedings in order to be considered. That was the decision of the courts.

QUESTION: So the State Department is not joining in any appeal or any -

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that, no.

QUESTION: Can I go back to China for one second? Are you aware that the Chinese have built an airstrip on the aptly named Mischief Reef to extend their military claim and reach?

MR. FOLEY: The United States wishes to see preservation of peace and stability in the region and protection of our fundamental interests in freedom of navigation. The Chinese construction in the South China Sea on disputed islands is a potentially provocative unilateral activity. We hope the Chinese will continue discussions directly with all parties involved.

Construction activities by claimants, while potentially provocative, have not thus far hindered freedom of navigation. We note claimants - and there are many nations that claim the Spratlys -- they claim its past statements on the South China Sea, including the December 1997 joint statement by China and ASEAN, which have indicated a willingness to resolve territorial disputes through peaceful means and in accordance with universally recognized international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We urge China and all claimants to use all appropriate diplomatic channels to resolve the dispute.

QUESTION: On that same subject, US has a defense treaty with the Philippines.

MR. FOLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And Mischief Reef is, as I understand it, claimed by both China and the Philippines. Does the defense pact between the US and the Philippines at all come into play vis-a-vis this dispute?

MR. FOLEY: Well, again, we don't take a position on the legal merits of the competing claims to sovereignty in the area; noting, though, that maintaining the freedom of navigation is a fundamental interest of the United States. As I said a minute ago, we've called on all claimants to intensify their diplomatic efforts to resolve their competing claims peacefully. We understand that the bilateral dialogue between the Philippines and China has included discussions of the Spratly issue and that China's activities on Mischief Reef came up during the recent ASEAN Summit in Hanoi.

The United States is naturally concerned about any unilateral actions in the South China Sea which increase tensions in that region, and is strongly opposed to the use or threat of force to resolve competing claims. We have particular concerns regarding any such developments which involve our treaty ally, the Philippines.

We've consistently, as I've said, urged all claimants to exercise restraint and to avoid destabilizing actions. I'm certainly not in a position to comment on possible US Government action in any hypothetical case, but I've think I made clear our views on the matter.

QUESTION: Regarding the Baltimore Orioles, I believe there was a report today - just sort of where do things stand about the team playing -

MR. FOLEY: We're at least in the tenth inning now of the briefing but anyway -

QUESTION: Oh, okay, - where things stand and according to this report, the organizers are waiting for some report from the State Department. Is that true? What are they waiting for; what's the hold up?

MR. FOLEY: That's not my understanding. We understand that major league baseball and the owners of the Baltimore Orioles remain in discussion with the Cuban Government on the modalities of two possible exposition games between the Orioles and the Cuban national team. The representatives of the Orioles and major league baseball traveled to Cuba under a license granted by the Treasury Department with State Department concurrence last month to negotiate with Cuban officials.

Our Cuba policy objectives are clear: to benefit the Cuban people through increased contacts and support to them. We hope that Cuban officials will be able to conclude with major league baseball on the Orioles terms, which will permit the athletic competition to happen.

I don't have any further comment except to say, again, we hope that the people of Cuba will have the opportunity to watch US baseball in action. I can't comment on the details.

QUESTION: What was the purpose of the breakfast this morning between the Secretary and the Mayor?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a detailed read-out for you, but I believe that the Secretary, first of all, was very eager to meet with the new mayor. Obviously, we have a significant interaction with DC Government and are very grateful to the support that we are receiving from the government of the District of Columbia, having to do with our security needs and requirements.

As you know, we've been undertaking upgrades to the physical security of the building and its environs. I think the Secretary wanted to thank Mayor Williams for the excellent cooperation we've enjoyed with the DC Government. I believe she was also discussing with him arrangements for the NATO Summit in April, again, another important international event for which the DC Government is contributing a lot. I think she wanted to confer with him about that. There may have been other issues that they discussed. I just haven't had a chance to get a read-out of that meeting.

QUESTION: Was the closure of C Street discussed?

MR. FOLEY: I couldn't tell you. I don't have the details.

QUESTION: Could you get an answer?

MR. FOLEY: I can look into it.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think at the time -

QUESTION: -- whether she informed him that the Department feels that it's now time to close C Street - if she informed him of that?

MR. FOLEY: A, I don't know whether she raised that; b, I don't know whether I'll be in a position to come back to you to confirm whether or not she raised that. We're not in the habit of necessarily forecasting steps we take to enhance our security. I'll look into it, but I can't promise you an answer.

QUESTION: Don't you feel like there should be a degree of public debate when the State Department goes to close down a street in a city that it doesn't run?

MR. FOLEY: Again, this is a hypothetical question. I don't know whether it was raised. It's something that, if raised, is a legitimate matter for discussion with the DC Government. But I have nothing public to say at this point, and I don't know whether it was raised.

QUESTION: I want to go back to China. I believe Mr. Kartman was in Beijing yesterday, and I wanted to know if there was a read-out on the meetings there.

MR. FOLEY: I've not had a readout. I'm sorry, Tony, I'll look into it.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:20 P.M.)


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