U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #22, 99-02-23
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Wednesday, February 23, 1999
Briefer: JAMES B. FOLEY
1 Not Answer Questions Today About Events in Rambouillet
1 Background Briefing, Wednesday on Secretary's Trip to
1 Assassination of Shia Cleric in Iraq
1-2 India / Pakistan Summit Concludes
2-4,13 US Denies Hughes Company Export License for
Telecommunications Project / Satellite Purchase Approved
Earlier / Response by Chinese / Effect on Secretary's
Visit / Sales by Other Companies and Countries / Appeal
Procedure / Chinese Entity Concerned
3 Weapons Technology Transfers to Iran
11 Schedule for Premier's Visit to US
3 Missile Technology Assistance from China
4-5 Demonstrations and Casualties Resulting from Assassination
of Religious Cleric
8 Allegations of US Responsibility for Death of Cleric / US
Work With Opposition Groups
5-9 Scott Ritter's Book re CIA Personnel on UNSCOM Staff / US
Support for UNSCOM / UNSCOM's Procedures / Claim
Secretary Albright Wanted Ritter Removed from UNSOCM /
Ritter's Inconsistencies / US Commitment
9 US Opposition to Harboring Terrorists / Provision of Haven
to Ocalan / Placement on Terrorist List
9-10 Update on Implementation of New Measures / Baseball Team
10 GAO Report on Proliferation Risk and Aid to Scientists /
Screening of US Funds / Recommendation Dept of Energy
BURMA / NARCOTICS
10-11 Interpol Conference / Boycotting Countries
11 Issuance of Report / Briefing
11 Status of Y2K
11--12 Issuance of Report
12 Timetable for List of Countries / Changes
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
12 Revival of Syria and Lebanon Tracks
12-13 Recent Violence in South
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1999 1:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: Good afternoon. Fortunately we're not on TV, as I dropped
that important piece of paper.
First of all, as a preambular comment, I know this goes against the grain
of your instincts and probably your intentions, but I'm not in a position
to comment, at least today, on the negotiations at Rambouillet because, as
you know, it's our practice not to talk from this podium when the Secretary
is involved in a particular issue overseas. Mr. Rubin is speaking to the
media, as is the Secretary, in the field. Although upon her return, we'll
be in a different situation.
A few announcements -- first of all, tomorrow there will be a background
briefing by a senior Administration official on the upcoming trip of
Secretary Albright to China, Thailand and Indonesia. That will occur here
in the briefing room at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow.
Second, I'd like to draw to your attention a statement that I put out
yesterday -- let me just quote from it -- concerning the assassination of
the Shia cleric the other day in Iraq. The United States condemns the
killing of the Iraqi Shia religious leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Sader and
his two sons in the Iraqi city of Najaf last Friday. We also note with
grave concern reports that government security forces have killed civilians
demonstrating in Baghdad and -- Nassiriyah against al Sader's assassination.
Iraqi religious leaders and sources in the Iraqi opposition report that the
Baghdad regime is responsible for the assassination.
As the statement noted, we've seen widespread repression of the population
of Southern Iraq by the Saddam Hussein regime. Since 1991, there have been
now a total of four senior Iraqi religious leaders assassinated within the
past year alone. We very, very strongly condemn both this assassination
and the repression which has ensued on the streets of Iraqi cities in the
last few days.
Secondly, you will have noted the statement that President Clinton issued
yesterday evening about the successful India-Pakistan summit. On behalf of
the Department of State, I would like to welcome, on our part, the
successful summit meeting of the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers over
the weekend in Lahore, Pakistan. Prime Ministers Vajpayee of India and
Sharif of Pakistan have committed their governments to intensify efforts to
resolve the issues that have divided their countries for too long including
We are pleased that they have discussed steps to address nuclear concerns,
including confidence building measures and methods to avoid accidental
conflict. We also commend the attention paid in the Lahore Declaration
issued at the end of the meeting to improving the quality of life of the
people of India and Pakistan. The two leaders clearly understand that
economic growth and social progress are central to the futures of their
countries as they are to all countries around the world. The success of
their meeting demonstrates the ability of Pakistan and India to work
together to resolve their differences and to look to the future, not to the
While the US and the international community have encouraged the two
parties to resolve their differences through face-to-face discussions at
the senior level, the decisions that were taken to undertake these
courageous steps were made by the two prime ministers. They certainly
deserve an enormous amount of credit for the successful meeting.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the reports of certain categories of
high technology no longer being made available to China?
MR. FOLEY: I think you're referring to a particular sale. What I can
tell you is that the United States government has decided to deny the
Hughes Company a Commerce Department license request regarding the so-
called APMT project -- that's the Asia-Pacific Mobile Telecommunications
project. The United States Government decided that the proposed exports
are inconsistent with the foreign policy and national security interests of
the United States. Without commenting on the specific reasons for the
denial, I can say that we look at each application on its own merits and we
do not believe that this export would have been consistent with the foreign
policy and national security interests of the United States.
I would like to add that this decision does not mean in any way that we've
changed our policy concerning the launches in principle of US satellites in
China. Allowing the launch of commercial satellites from China is, we
believe, in the interests of both our countries; provided, of course, that
the appropriate safeguards are in place. So as I said, we've not changed
our overall policy. The US intends to authorize launches of US satellites
from China in the future. We will continue to review such export requests
on a case-by-case basis.
QUESTION: Can you say why, particularly, this was not in --
MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't want to get into the particulars. Except let me
make just one point, which is that this sale was approved in an earlier
period. What happened is that there was a change in the contract. In I
think more specific terms, there was a change in the make-up of the
consortium that wished to purchase the satellite. It became much more --
the consortium itself in its second iteration involved more heavily the
Chinese military. Our policy is to support the civilian launching of US
satellites on Chinese rockets, but not for military purposes or not for
military concerns in that respect.
So the nature of the project, the nature of the consortium changed
fundamentally from the time of the initial approval.
QUESTION: Has the US Government received any response from the Chinese on
the decision to not --
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that.
QUESTION: Follow-up on that -- is there concern on the part of the US the
Secretary's planning to go to China, leave Sunday, this coming just days
before her trip? What concerns if that's going to make a tenser time
during her visit?
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, I've not seen a reaction yet. The Secretary will
be in a position to explain, if the matter is raised in China, what the
reasons were along the lines that I have indicated. We support -- and I've
reiterated our overall policy of allowing such sales to go forward on a
case-by-case basis. But they must be consistent with US foreign policy and
national security interests and objectives. In this case, subject to
review, we determined that the purchasing body was not of a civilian
nature; and on that basis, we declined to approve the sale.
QUESTION: Does the United States have any reason to believe that China
might be providing assistance to North Korea in its missile program?
MR. FOLEY: I think you've been reading the newspapers this morning. Have
you not? Or did you originate this question --
QUESTION: It did come to me in my sleep.
MR. FOLEY: Ex nilho?
Yes, well, the newspaper article is not something that we can confirm. We
are certainly opposed to further North Korean rocket launches, and the
United States has made that very clear since August at the time of the last
missile launch. Our opposition to such launches includes launches intended
to orbit satellites because space launch vehicles and their technology are
interchangeable with ballistic missiles as demonstrated by the August 31
Taepo Dong I test. Such launches are destabilizing, in our view.
QUESTION: What about Chinese backing off uranium developments --
technologies on rockets and other nuclear front?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we have acted in that regard. We have sanctioned
entities that were involved in such actions previously. It's something
that we give the utmost attention to. We are against any kind of transfers,
of any kinds of weapons of mass destruction technology to Iran. We've made
that very clear in our discussions with China and other countries around
QUESTION: Do you have any assurance from either the Europeans or the
Japanese that they won't step into the breach and sell the Chinese that
same kind of satellite?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of what plans may be in store on the part of
other countries. We act on the basis of US technology, US firms that must
seek government authorization to engage in such sales or such transfers.
Our law is subject to US companies. We would certainly discourage any
companies of any country from -- I'm not sure if your questions related to
the last one that I just received about North Korea. We are certainly
opposed to any kinds of cooperation in that regard with North Korea. But I
have no information concerning the intentions of other countries or other
companies outside the United States in that regard.
QUESTION: Put it in those terms, are you trying to discourage either
other alternative suppliers not to sell the Chinese this kind of cell phone
technology because it would have military use?
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, we look at these cases on a case-by-case basis.
What was presented to us was not something having been vetted through the
inter-agency process or something that we could approve. I'm not aware, as
I said, that other nations are planning to step into the breach.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, is this decision final? We understood from
some people that there may be some kind of appeal procedure or another
level of approval beyond this level?
MR. FOLEY: In response to the second formulation of your question, the
answer is it is final, as far as the US Government decision-making process
is concerned. Whether the company involved would have any opportunity to
appeal or to resubmit such an application, I'm not aware of. You'd would,
perhaps, want to ask the Commerce Department if there's any such right of
But if your question as you formulated the second time is, is this not the
final decision but rather is there not another level of decision-making,
the answer is it is the final decision.
QUESTION: And another question -- these satellite sales, they have very
strict safeguards attached to them. What makes you think the safeguards in
this case would not be adequate to prevent what you consider to be misuse
of this satellite?
MR. FOLEY: I stand by what I said earlier -- the fact that the nature of
the buyer changed. It was on that basis that we declined to approve the
QUESTION: Furthering your statement on Iraq, there are conflicting
reports in the press. What are your opposition sources or other sources
informing you about the number dead in these riots and where exactly in
Iraq they're taking place?
MR. FOLEY: Well, you referred to conflicting reports in the press. I'm
not aware of reports that conflict on the question of the assassination,
obviously, or on the fact of disturbances and of government repression of
civilians in Baghdad.
I think you're correct that different numbers have been suggested as to how
many casualties there may have been; and that's very difficult to verify in
a country as closed, as opaque, as oppressively run as Iraq is. As with
the case of the three previous religious leaders who've been assassinated
in Iraq over the past year, sources within the opposition as well as Muslim
religious leaders outside Iraq have, as I said, attributed the assassination
to the regime of Saddam Hussein.
I would note that in the months preceding this assassination, the Ayatollah
al Sader had reportedly been prevented from leading Friday prayers. He had
been interrogated and threatened by security forces of the regime -- all of
which point to the possibility of regime involvement in his assassination;
although we obviously cannot obtain independent confirmation of that. But
certainly there are credible allegations in this regard.
Information received from Iraqi opposition sources report widespread
demonstrations throughout Iraq in response to the assassination. These
demonstrations reportedly began over the weekend and may be continuing.
Again, we don't have independent confirmation of this, but the information
we receive is that over the weekend in Baghdad demonstrations took place in
the neighborhoods of Saddam city of Khadimiya, Jamila and Al Kifah.
Reportedly, 25 demonstrators were killed; 50 injured; 250 arrested,
including 15 religious scholars. Roads into Baghdad were reportedly cut
off during the weekend.
As you indicated, some opposition sources have listed as many as 300
killed. We cannot rule out this number, but we are confident with the
numbers that I just indicated of 25 because we've been talking to sources
that have proven reliable in the past.
In the Southern Iraqi city of Nassiriyah over the weekend, demonstrators
reportedly occupied the town hall, and security forces allegedly responded
by shelling the city with artillery; 18 people were reportedly killed. We
have also received reports of light arms clashes in Karbala and demonstrations
in Amara and in many other cities. In Najaf, the situation remains
QUESTION: Jim, also on Iraq, somehow galley proofs of Scott Ritter's book
found their way to The New York Times. According to the Times
article, the infiltration by the CIA of the UNSCOM teams was much wider and
much earlier than earlier reported and much more precisely directed at
collecting information that would be of use to the United States. Do you
have any comment?
MR. FOLEY: Well, my first comment is this is not the first report we've
had sourced to Mr. Ritter in this regard. Stories came out to this effect
a few months ago and we responded very clearly to them, as I will in a
I would also point out the fact that we continue to hear many different
allegations and policy positions on the part of Mr. Ritter that are
consistent only in their inconsistency. I can go through some of those, if
you'd like, in a minute.
As to the specifics, though, of the question that you raise, we, as a
matter of policy, do not comment on allegations about supposed intelligence
matters. I believe the article refers to Mr. Ritter's views on these
issues as speculation.
Certainly, we have made it very clear and have been very open about this,
that the United States Government has provided a lot of support to UNSCOM,
as have some 60 other nations. We did so because we were obligated to do
so under Security Council resolutions. Let's remember what UNSCOM's job
has been inside Iraq. It has been to unearth Iraq's secret weapons of mass
destruction programs -- programs that Iraq denies, programs that Iraq
conceals, programs that Iraq tries to cover with lies and with concealment.
Certainly, the very purpose of UNSCOM is to counter this policy of non-
cooperation, of confrontation, of concealment on Iraq's part. We've made
no bones about the fact that we have helped UNSCOM in its efforts to
uncover Iraqi programs of weapons of mass destruction. As Mr. Ritter has
made clear, the decisions on when and where UNSCOM inspected were made by
UNSCOM. He also has made clear he ran the UNSCOM unit that designed
inspections to uncover Iraq's concealment efforts. The inspectors that we
provided to UNSCOM were provided at UNSCOM's request in order to work for
UNSCOM and do UNSCOM's work.
The bottom line is that UNSCOM decided where to inspect and we did our best
to support UNSCOM. I believe that Chairman Butler of UNSCOM has publicly
indicated that some of Mr. Ritter's published remarks are not accurate. We
certainly support Chairman Butler. It is he who decides who his inspectors
will be. We nominate people in response to his requests, and as I
indicated when this story first came out a few months ago, we respond to
specific requests by UNSCOM for specific personnel with specific expertise -
- be it in the field of biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear
weapons, missiles and the like.
UNSCOM decides whether or not to accept the professionals that we propose.
In many cases they've accepted and in many cases they've rejected, based on
their needs. But what Mr. Butler may have decided in terms of whom to hire
and what he decided about how to assign Mr. Ritter, in particular, to do
certain tests is really between the two of them.
But to conclude, as far as the United States is concerned, yes, we have
supported UNSCOM very consistently in all kinds of areas in the field of
logistics, personnel, information, and of significant and steady and
consistent diplomatic support in the Security Council.
QUESTION: I think the thrust of what his allegations are is that some of
the American personnel who wound up on the team had dual occupations. Not
only were they searching for weapons of mass destruction under development,
but also picking up intelligence of specific use to the United States which
may not have been directly concerned with the UNSCOM inspections. Could
you address that?
MR. FOLEY: What you're asking me is what was asked and answered several
months ago, when apparently Mr. Ritter made similar charges which seemed to
be unfathomable except as elements which can only serve Saddam Hussein's
propaganda machine. They are otherwise inexplicable.
As we have said, we have provided all kinds of support to UNSCOM --
logistics, personnel, diplomatic support in the Security Council, equipment,
inspectors. Our support to UNSCOM has been second to none and it's been in
response to the obligations imposed on us by Security Council resolutions.
The personnel we have provided to work for UNSCOM have been expert and they
have provided UNSCOM with all the help that they requested.
QUESTION: Ritter also said that the Secretary tried to have him removed
because he had a habit of provoking the Iraqis, or words to that effect.
Do you have anything on that?
MR. FOLEY: I think the burden of what I read in The New York Times
was that he considered himself to be someone who was problematic because he
was doing a good job. In other words, the very fact that he was an
aggressive inspector was somehow seen as problematic. I think we've made
very clear that we respected his abilities as an inspector.
We've also made it very clear that Chairman Butler made all of the
decisions regarding the nature of UNSCOM inspections -- the timing of
inspections, the personnel involved in inspections. As I said a minute ago,
what Chairman Butler may have decided at any point in time about his
assignments for Mr. Ritter is between them.
I think the burden of the charge that the United States was in some way
lacking in vigorous support for UNSCOM is absurd and laughable on its face.
I think I would urge you to poll other governments and see if they believe
that there's any one government in the world that has been more vigorously
supportive of UNSCOM and of UNSCOM's right to conduct intrusive inspections
in Iraq than the United States. I would include Secretary of State as
second to none anywhere among those who vigorously supported UNSCOM. I
think that's generally believed.
The point I was making earlier is that it's hard to determine exactly where
Mr. Ritter stands or what he believes on any given subject. He has said
that the United States worked to prevent intrusive inspections. He has
charged that the United States has pushed intrusive inspections, which he's
deemed provocative. He has charged that we denied intelligence support to
UNSCOM. He has also charged that we gave undue intelligence support to
UNSCOM. He has argued that the United States had been avoiding military
confrontation with Saddam Hussein. He is also charging that we undertook
military confrontation with Saddam Hussein. That was his reaction back in
December. Of late, I believe he has come out against UN sanctions against
So if you can make any sense of these many contradictory positions, I would
invite you to do so; because they're baffling in their particulars and
they're certainly unfathomable in their effect.
QUESTION: Is that a long way of saying, you don't want to answer the
question as to whether the Secretary wanted him off UNSCOM?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we addressed those questions in August, at the time
when they were first raised. What we said is that, a, Chairman Butler made
the decisions; b, that we gave him advice based on our read into the
Security Council, where, let's face it, the United States was not
necessarily fully supported by other members of the Security Council in
supporting UNSCOM. We gave tactical advice to Chairman Butler from time to
time concerning the timing of inspections and tactics surrounding
inspections. But we did not certainly try to tell him how to do his job.
He made his own decisions. He's indicated that he has some very serious
disagreements with Mr. Butler. I would leave it to the two of them to
QUESTION: Still on Iraq, but back to the cleric again. What do you make
of -- I realize you've already condemned the assassination. But the Iraqi
Foreign Minister, I believe, in Beirut this morning, suggested that the US
was actually behind the assassination of this guy saying that it's well-
known the US has a $90 million program to try to get rid of Saddam
MR. FOLEY: That is a baseless and shocking and completely erroneous
accusation. It is clear this is the fourth religious cleric who's been
assassinated in Iraq in the last year. This is an esteemed religious
figure who has been visited by and threatened by Saddam's security forces.
We, for our part have been working with Iraqi opposition elements, to
include Iraqi Shia groups who support the Ayatollah who was killed. We
want to work with all Iraqi opposition groups to promote regime change in
Iraq. We support, certainly, all of the people of Iraq.
All of the groups that we support have committed themselves to the
territorial integrity of Iraq, to religious tolerance, to respect for human
rights and democracy. This is, by all accounts, another act of brutal
repression on the part of the Iraqi regime.
I think that that kind of a charge is not going to fool anybody. We've
seen very strong emotional reactions throughout the region, not only inside
Iraq, to this assassination. I think that nobody is fooled by these kinds
of lies and this kind of propaganda.
I would add, furthermore, that it's very clear that Saddam is becoming more
and more rattled concerning his situation. Clearly the military campaign
in December and the ongoing enforcement of the no-fly zone have lead to
significant losses of his military capabilities. There's been a profound
lack of support in the region for his continued flaunting of his international
obligations. Now there's growing consternation over his repression of his
own people. So he is clearly confronting strong and popular expressions of
dissent, both within Baghdad and in the south of the country, and he's
certainly not finding support internationally for what he's doing.
QUESTION: Don't these allegations and these charges by Ritter simply fall
into the hands of Saddam Hussein, who kicked him out originally because he
accused him of being a spy? I mean, how much damage is his book and his
comments causing to the American line on the Security Council?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I would refer you to what I said a minute ago, which is
that certainly what he says sometimes echoes the propaganda line of the
Iraqi propaganda machine. But it doesn't in any way deter the United
States. I believe the international community, from remaining steadfast in
our commitment to the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
to the containment of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and to a policy of
promoting regime change in Iraq so that the people of Iraq can enjoy a much
better future, reintegrated into the region and into the international
community, whatever he says will have no effect, I can assure you, on the
steadfastness of our policy and our position.
QUESTION: President of Turkey Sulyman Demirel, who long remained silent
on the attempt by the Greek Government to deliberately provide secret
shelter in Kenya for Turkey's number-one criminal, yesterday in Manila he
said Greece should be added to the list of countries that support terrorism
and harbor terrorists; a country like that can only be described as an
outlaw state. My question is, do you subscribe this view, and would you
consider putting Greece on the list of countries who support terrorism?
MR. FOLEY: We've been in frequent contact with the Greek Government, as
I've indicated previously. I'm not going to discuss the details of our
diplomatic contacts. Our position, our opposition to the harboring of
terrorists is well-known.
There's no question that Greece provided haven to Ocalan in recent weeks,
and we made our position very clear on that. However, the issue of --
let's remember, Greece is a friendly government; it's an allied government;
it's one we work with; it's a country that we support in many different
fora and many different ways. I've made clear to you our difference of
opinion on the question of the harboring of Ocalan. But you have to place
that against the overall picture, which is one of solidarity among two NATO
allies and common work on all kinds of economic, political and security
Let me just say, though, that the question of placing governments on the
state sponsors of terrorism list is a very serious matter. We only place
governments on that list when we have clear and compelling evidence of a
pattern of continued support over time at the highest levels of government.
QUESTION: It seems like in the case of PKK, based on what Ocalan says and
based on what Turkey has been providing, it is quite a long time activity;
it's not just a one-shot deal.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I would draw a distinction between what we know to be
true because it was acknowledged -- the temporary harboring of this person -
- and the question of a consistent pattern along the lines which I
described, which is a very high threshold of official high-level support
for terrorism. I've not seen evidence to that. If we receive any specific
information, we'll certainly look at it, but I'm not aware of any.
QUESTION: What's the latest on the Orioles' attempt to set up these
demonstration matches in Cuba? And can you update us also on what
practical effects the other measures in that Cuban package have had over
the last two months?
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to take the question in terms of the degree of
implementation of those measures, and I'd be happy to get you an answer
afterwards. I'm not aware of any new development, though, regarding the
QUESTION: I wonder if there's any reaction in this building to the GAO
report, basically criticizing the program giving US aid to some Russian
scientists, saying that some of that money went to Russians who were
actually working on weapons programs. I wonder if there's any reaction and
is there any concern in this building that this report is going to
negatively impact future US programs?
MR. FOLEY: The Administration is deeply concerned that Russian economic
problems are increasing the risk of proliferation of sensitive materials,
technology and know-how. This is one of the most urgent security
challenges we face. That is why the President announced a nearly two-
thirds increase in the Administration's New Independent States threat
reduction programs. This initiative builds on a number of successful
programs run by various agencies. The program that was mentioned in the
article you're referring to only represents a small portion of this overall
Projects are carefully screened to ensure that US funds do not support
research that can contribute to weapons development. This is a key aspect
of our overall policy. These programs work with former Soviet weapons
experts to redirect their time and efforts to peaceful purposes not,
obviously, to further weapons programs. Russia is a nuclear weapons state
and has a responsibility for the safety and stewardship of its nuclear
materials and stockpile. These are legitimate activities that may engage
scientists also being supported under our non-proliferation efforts.
We certainly don't believe these projects support Russia military
modernization. In our view, the GAO report did not take adequate account
of the dramatic improvement in the Department of Energy's program
management over the past 18 months. This includes much better inter-agency
coordination on project reviews for precisely the reasons that are
mentioned in the GAO report.
QUESTION: Can you take a follow-up on that? I think Senate Chairman
Helms was suggesting that the program would be better run out of this
Department -- the Department of State -- versus DOE. Does this building
have anything to say on that?
MR. FOLEY: I've not seen that recommendation.
QUESTION: Jim, there's a conference in Burma on heroin. As you are aware,
the United States and Britain are boycotting, and the Burmese used the
occasion this morning, of that meeting, to criticize the absence of the
United States and Britain. Do you have any comment?
MR. FOLEY: Sure, we reject the criticism. The United States did not
send anyone to this conference because we would have preferred that
Interpol hold the conference in another location. The United States
believes that the Burmese regime could use the conference to create the
false impression of international approval, both by Interpol and by
participating countries, for its counter-narcotics and anti-crime
The US wants to avoid any misinterpretation of its policy toward Burma.
Burma's counter-narcotics efforts, while improving, are far from what is
necessary. Burma, of course, persists in its disregard for political and
QUESTION: Speaking of human rights, do you know what the drill is on the
human rights report coming out?
MR. FOLEY: I'll come to you. Same question?
QUESTION: Burma. But first, wasn't the human rights -- there was just a
sheet handed out about that?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, we've just issued an announcement on that. We expect --
I think Secretary Albright will be speaking about the 1999 Human Rights
report on Friday at 10:00 a.m.
QUESTION: It's Koh, I think. On Burma, it's not just --
MR. FOLEY: It's Secretary Albright.
QUESTION: -- that the US and Britain, right, that are boycotting?
MR. FOLEY: I believe that Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Ireland have
also announced they're not attending the conference.
QUESTION: Do you have a schedule for the Chinese Premier's visit to the
MR. FOLEY: No, I don't know if the dates have been fixed, either. It's
expected, I believe, in April but I'm not aware that we've had an official
announcement or any official dates.
QUESTION: Any reaction to the congressional panel looking at the Y2K
problem has given the State Department an F.
MR. FOLEY: I believe that we are actually on schedule. Of course, it's a
massive effort involving State Department installations worldwide. I spoke
to the responsible official this morning, who indicated, I think, there
were different time lines suggested. We have been sticking to our own time
line, I believe which will have us complete all of our requirements by
QUESTION: Will Friday be also the day in which you release your
international drug trafficking --
MR. FOLEY: I don't know whether we have a final decision as to when that
will be released. Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Your list of countries which sponsor terrorism, I believe those
decisions are made each January. Is that true, do you know?
MR. FOLEY: I have to check, George. You've been here a lot longer than I
have, though, so you're probably right.
QUESTION: It seems to me it's in January. If this is available to us,
could you say whether the list remains the same or whether there have been
any changes in that list?
MR. FOLEY: What are you trying to suggest?
QUESTION: Well, are there still seven countries? Perhaps one or two have
been added or deleted. I don't think the subject has come up here.
MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, I'm asking if you're implying something.
MR. FOLEY: Whether you have a specific country in mind or you're driving
QUESTION: The discussion on terrorism triggered this question, that's
MR. FOLEY: We make this determination once a year and we submit it at a
given time. We can check when that is. As far as I know, it's a once-a-
year exercise, based on the evidence and the performance that's been
reviewed over the preceding year.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- on Martin Indyk's very interesting speech before
the Jewish Public Affairs Council, concerning the fact that the present
peace process seems to be stalled and suggesting that the Administration is
very interested in turning towards some solution on Lebanon and Syria in
this interim period before the election. He didn't say it quite that way,
but it was interpreted that way. Do you have anything to add to the
activity on the peace process, running up to the elections?
MR. FOLEY: I've not seen the text of what he said. I certainly stand by
anything that Assistant Secretary Indyk said. However, we've made it clear
all along that we were interested in seeing the Syrian and Lebanese tracks
revived, and we stand ready to support that in any way if it's possible to
achieve any movement there. That's been stalled, obviously, for quite some
QUESTION: Follow-up on that -- the incident yesterday in which three
Israeli officers were killed -- do you have any comment on that?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we have been watching closely the situation in Southern
Lebanon. I believe that's what you're referring to. Of course, we would
regret the loss of life in that incident. We note with concern the recent
violence between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters in Southern Lebanon.
We are urging all the parties to act with restraint in an effort to calm
QUESTION: Back to the satellite. Can you be more specific on the entity -
- the Chinese Government entity close to the military which has a stake in
MR. FOLEY: I'm surprised. I think this was the first question we
started with 45 minutes ago.
QUESTION: You never named the entity, as far as I know.
MR. FOLEY: The Asia-Pacific Mobile Telecommunications consortium.
QUESTION: Yes, where does the Chinese military come into that?
MR. FOLEY: As I said, our information is that they are involved in that
QUESTION: They have, sort of, a stake in it, a share in it -- they're a
shareholder in it?
MR. FOLEY: That they're involved in the consortium, yes.
(The briefing concluded at 2:30 P.M.)