U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #35, 99-03-22
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Monday, March 22, 1999
Briefer: James B. Foley
1,2 US to provide an additional 100,000 tons of food aid, per
2,3 There is no link to talks on suspect underground
1,2 Humanitarian needs are dealt with on their own merits.
1,2,12 Report of willingness to lift sanctions wildly premature.
3 US estimates FRY has 40,000 army and police units in
3 Over 10,000 Kosovar Albanians were displaced this past
4,5,6 Amb. Holbrooke in Belgrade to present Milosevic with stark
4,5,6,7,9 To date, no sign of Serb willingness to agree to Contact
Group peace plan.
8 Albania has requested a meeting with NATO's NAC; it's being
9 NATO said on Jan. 30 it would act if FRY forces widely
10,14 No decision yet on China resolution at Human Rights
10,13 Investigation on-going with regard to possible espionage
activities in US.
11 US continues to look for hand-over of Lockerbie bombing
5,6,12 PM Primakov's visit will cover wide range of bilateral
12,13 Violence not the answer to problems of Palestinian people,
region in general.
13 Chairman Arafat to meet Secretary Albright tonight,
President Clinton tomorrow.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, MARCH 22, 1999, 1:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: I need a textbook definition: Do we have a quorum in the
absence of the Associated Press? Point of order.
MR. FOLEY: Oh, we do? George, you've changed places; still on the left
side of the hemisphere.
I have a few announcements I'm going to post: one, on behalf of the
chairman of the Monitoring Group in Lebanon; second, on the legislative
elections in Togo. Thirdly, I'd like to announce that in response to the UN
World Food Program's December 1998 appeal for humanitarian aid for the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the US Government has decided to
provide additional humanitarian assistance in the amount of 100,000 metric
tons of food aid, to help fill the remaining 209,000 ton shortfall in
Chronic food production shortfalls have resulted in widespread starvation
and malnutrition in the DPRK. Based on its recent nutritional survey and
crop assessments, the UN has concluded that the food situation remains
dire. This US Government assistance, sourced from PL 480, Title II,
Emergency Food Aid and 416 B, Surplus Agricultural Commodities, will be
provided to the World Food Program for distribution to the DPRK. Commodities
for this contribution will include corn-soy blend and corn.
As in the past, US assistance will be targeted at North Korean civilians,
who are most vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition caused by the food
crisis, including children in nurseries, schools and orphanages, pregnant
nursing women, handicapped people and hospital patients. To monitor the
contributions, in order to assure they're used for their intended purpose,
the World Food Program continues to maintain a staff of 46 food monitors in
six offices throughout North Korea.
The US will continue working with the World Food Program and US private
voluntary organizations to further enhance the effectiveness of food aid
distribution in the DPRK.
Finally, on the same general subject, I'd like to inform you that at 3:00
p.m., just a little more than an hour from now, US officials will provide a
background briefing on the pilot agricultural project that we announced on
March 16 in our joint statement with the DPRK.
QUESTION: How come the United States isn't providing the full amount? Why
did you arrive at 100,000?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we will, as with previous appeals, actively encourage
contributions from other donors with the objective of fulfilling this
appeal in a timely manner. We have this outstanding request for 206,000
tons. We are going to meet almost half of that; and, indeed, I would expect
that the World Food Program may be launching another appeal for food
assistance sometime in the spring. We would expect to respond to that, as
on similar occasions.
QUESTION: But I mean, you didn't really answer the question. What's the
reason we're not --
MR. FOLEY: No, I did answer it. I indicated we're going to be encouraging
other governments also to contribute to the World Food Program. The United
States, as I said, is a substantial contributor to World Food Program
appeals. I think we're the largest contributor; and we are proud of that
because there is, obviously, a very dire humanitarian situation. We don't
link our food aide to other considerations -- to political demands or
things of that nature -- but we do respond to the need. On the other hand,
we should not be the only government in the world providing such
aid. We provide a substantial amount. You can expect that we will continue
to respond positively to World Food Program appeals, but we should not be
the only donor. Sid?
QUESTION: You sort of just answered it, when you said you don't link your
food aid to political --
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: But I was just going to say, coming right on the heels of the
agreement from Kumchang-ni, so it seems to be a link.
MR. FOLEY: There is no link. We've made that clear, I don't know how many
times, that we respond to the World Food Program. Their appeal did not come
last week or the week before. The appeal was in December.
MR. FOLEY: And we're responding now to that appeal, and we expect to
respond to future appeals. But we have consistently made clear that there
is no linkage; that this is food aid that we provide in response to a
specific humanitarian need, and in response to specific appeals from the
World Food Program. It is not linked to other issues. In other words, it
would be provided for humanitarian reasons, regardless of other considerations.
I think that's pretty clear.
QUESTION: Did the food aid issue come up in last week's talks?
MR. FOLEY: I believe that, in the context of all similar talks, the North
Koreans raised their food requirements or needs in this area. We responded
to them that we do not accept linkage between this humanitarian issue and
other issues, and that we would deal with the World Food Program on the
basis of their appeals.
QUESTION: Since former Defense Secretary Perry has said publicly that
that is one recommendation he's considering making to President Clinton -
MR. FOLEY: Which?
QUESTION: Linking aid to policy goals.
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that he said that. I've not seen that.
QUESTION: He said it; he said it in the presence of myself and about 12
MR. FOLEY: Well, I can only state to you that the policy of the US
QUESTION: Fine. It's not - for the purpose of stating that, it's a
preamble to my question. Why is it that the United States does not link
food aid to political demands? What's the rationale?
MR. FOLEY: The rationale goes beyond and transcends the Korean issue. We
don't make this a political consideration anywhere in the world, because we
believe that humanitarian needs have to be addressed on their own merits.
People around the world are victims, through no fault of their own, of acts
of nature, of misdeeds of their governments, forces beyond their control;
and they ought not to be punished for those factors. So it's a global
and consistent policy, not to link the provision of humanitarian assistance
to political considerations.
QUESTION: Kosovo. If we go over to - what does the Department see as the
current situation? Is everybody going to leave? The current situation with
regard to Serbian troops in the province of Kosovo, and what are the
activities of those troops; how many troops are over the limit?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, could you repeat that last part of the question?
QUESTION: How many troops now does Yugoslavia have over the limit in
MR. FOLEY: What I can tell you, Bill, is that we estimate that approximately
40,000 army and police forces are now deployed in and around Kosovo. That's
the figure that we understand, and reinforcements continue to move in. FRY
army and Serbian special police forces continue military activities and
actions in the central Kosovo region of Drenica, burning villages and
driving villagers from their homes.
In terms of the humanitarian situation, the Yugoslav military operation in
Central Kosovo has over the past weekend displaced over 10,000 people. The
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 100,000 have
fled their homes since the first of this year; and between 70,000 and 75,
000 of those have fled their homes in the six weeks since the beginning of
negotiations at Rambouillet. Many of them remain in the open in the
Cicavica Mountains, which still have several inches of fresh snow.
Non-governmental organizations have evacuated 95 percent of their
expatriate staff; nevertheless, the UNHCR and the NGOs continue to seek out
the displaced, and provide them with relief supplies in areas not cut off
by the fighting. Obviously, with the number of displaced persons mounting,
the harassment of humanitarian organizations increasing, and their human
resources diminishing, relief is reaching a declining proportion of those
QUESTION: Has a full-scale offensive begun?
MR. FOLEY: Well, it's very clear that there are widespread military
actions on the part of the Serb police and VJ army units taking place. This
is both disturbing and unacceptable to the United States and the international
community. That's why Ambassador Holbrooke is currently in Belgrade, to
test whether President Milosevic is willing to reverse course now at the
11th hour and allow for a peaceful solution of this conflict; because the
consequences of his failure to reverse course are severe, and he will
bear responsibility for those consequences.
QUESTION: Jim, the head of the Balkan Action Council, Jim Hoopers,* said
his understanding, from talking to people in this building, was that
Holbrooke essentially has no instructions to give him maximum flexibility.
Are you able to address what his instructions may or not be?
MR. FOLEY: No, no, of course not. But what I can tell you is what
Secretary Albright announced yesterday, that he's going - and as she
repeated today - he's in Belgrade to present President Milosevic with a
stark choice. Either he accepts the Contact Group peace plan, which
includes a NATO-led implementation force, number one; and number two, halts
the military actions and comes into compliance with his commitments from
last October, or else - the "or else" being he will face the full
consequences of NATO military action. Beyond that, I'm not going to comment
on his meeting in Belgrade, which as I understand, has just begun.
QUESTION: Could I follow up? Is Jim O'Brien with him?
MR. FOLEY: I believe he is, yes.
QUESTION: And is he - he's an expert at the technical side of negotiations.
Is there a likelihood of technical revisions to the interim agreement?
MR. FOLEY: Look, I'm not going to comment on Ambassador Holbrooke's
meeting in Belgrade. The fact is, until now we've not seen any movement on
the Serb side, lo these many weeks of negotiations. So your question is
very hypothetical. What we're looking for is a "yes" - a "yes" to the
proposal of the Contact Group, which went through refinements and was
agreed recently by the Kosovar Albanians. It's a document that provides
a better future not only for the Kosovar Albanians in Kosovo, not only for
the Serbs in Kosovo, but for the people of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia as a whole. They have an opportunity to step back from the
precipice, to see peace in their country, and to see the prospect of
stability for the first time in many years.
Our point is that a NATO peace implementation force will provide peace and
security for all the peoples of Kosovo, and will grant the people of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia a different and a better future. President
Milosevic ought to see it, in the interest of his people if he cares about
his people, to make that choice. If he continues to proceed in the
direction he's obviously going in, with the military campaign on the ground
and the refusal to accept the terms of the Contact Group peace proposal and
political settlement, then he will bear the responsibility for the
severe consequences that will ensue in the event of NATO military
QUESTION: One more. Where's Jamie Rubin?
MR. FOLEY: Where's Mr. Rubin?
MR. FOLEY: I believe he's en route to Washington.
QUESTION: Jim, just to clarify -- the Secretary was asked this this
morning - is Ambassador Holbrooke's meeting with Milosevic the absolute
last diplomatic effort, the last effort before there would be NATO
MR. FOLEY: Well, of course, I'm not in any kind of a position to talk
about the timing of military action. That is so for obvious reasons. I
believe that all officials, not only in the United States but in Europe, I
think this morning at NATO as well, have indicated that this is a last
effort. I think Secretary General Solana used that term, and we don't
hesitate to use that term, either.
President Clinton was clear on Friday. He stated that the Serbs have
already crossed the threshold, in terms of their military actions on the
ground, also in their -- thus far -- clear-cut rejection of the Contact
Group peace plan. So the predicate for NATO action is there, but Ambassador
Holbrooke is in Belgrade to see whether President Milosevic, in view of
that prospect, is willing to reverse course. We felt it was the responsible
thing to do, to go the extra mile without any optimism, but with, obviously,
a sense of responsibility. The President and Secretary Albright asked
Ambassador Holbrooke to undertake this mission.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Secretary Albright said that timing would depend
upon Holbrooke's visit as well as the situation on the ground, which you're
now saying is even deteriorating since it was from Friday. How much does
Primakov's visit come into play in the timing of this attack? In other
words, if NATO wanted to go ahead tonight or tomorrow, would they go ahead
despite Primakov's scheduled visit tomorrow?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think you should know very well I'm not going to
answer any question about the timing of military action; except to say that
NATO will act at a time and place of its choosing, based on the requirements
and the situation on the ground. There are no extraneous factors involved
in that decision-making.
Obviously, with Ambassador Holbrooke in Belgrade, we want to see whether
this last hope is realized, whether President Milosevic, contrary to all
indications thus far, actually reverses course 180 degrees and opts for
peace. But if he does not, the consequences are clear. I'm not going to
specify anything having to do with timing.
QUESTION: But more along the lines of does Primakov have anything to - in
other words, is he not a factor in --
MR. FOLEY: I think I just answered that question.
QUESTION: Some of the reports this morning spoke of Holbrooke seeking a
cease-fire in Kosovo. I wondered how the United States and NATO would react
if Mr. Milosevic offered a cease-fire and just a cease-fire.
MR. FOLEY: Look, I've not seen that report, number one. Number two, I'm
not going to talk about Holbrooke's meeting; it's just started. But I refer
you to what Secretary Albright stated yesterday: we're looking for two
things, not one thing. We're looking for an end of military activity and a
return to compliance with his October commitments, and we're looking for a
"yes" to peace - in other words, a "yes" to the Contact Group
QUESTION: The State Department has said in the past that they're looking
forward to working with another leader, as opposed to Saddam Hussein. Is
there something going on here in Yugoslavia? I mean, are you working
opposition groups to see if there's someone else, besides Milosevic, that
you can work with?
MR. FOLEY: Well, certainly our hope is that the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia joins the march of history. They've been on the outskirts of
history these past ten years. It's almost as if the fall of the Berlin Wall,
and the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet
Union from communist dictatorships to democratic systems, has left the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia untouched.
Certainly, long-term, if not shorter, the sooner the better, we believe the
transformation of the FRY into a functioning and flourishing democracy will
serve the interests not only of the people of the FRY but of peace and
stability in that region.
Now, it is a fact that President Milosevic is president of the FRY. He
commands the army and the ministry of interior police forces. He has
authority, therefore, to implement command decisions and agreements with
those institutions. So we are meeting with him now to persuade him to do
the right thing, and issue the right commands to those institutions. But we
make no bones of the fact that we believe and support the forces of
democracy in the FRY. We have tried to help the independent media, labor
unions and other democratic forces. Certainly, we believe that long-term,
that is the solution to the problems and challenges facing the people of
QUESTION: Jim, I think I know what you mean, but let me just pin it down.
You say you're looking for a "yes" from Milosevic, and it has to be a "yes"
in totality. He can't say, yes, we agreement except we don't like
paragraph 6 or paragraph 7.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I've been pretty clear thus far, Jim, in not being drawn
out about his meeting in Belgrade, which has just started. I've also been
clear in pointing you to Secretary Albright's statement yesterday, in which
she indicated that the purpose of Ambassador Holbrooke's visit is to obtain
President Milosevic's reversal on two questions: one, the peace agreement,
which he must accept; and two, the military activities, which he must bring
to an immediate halt. Beyond that, I have no comment.
QUESTION: The Holbrooke visit aside, I think what you're saying is that
the time for diplomacy and negotiation is finished, and now it's crunch
time, as you put it the other way. It either has to be a yes in toto or the
MR. FOLEY: Well, we can stand here for many, many minutes and hours if
you'd like. I'm not going to be drawn out on the question. It is crunch
time; I agree with you. He's gone there at Secretary Albright and the
President's direction, to try to obtain a yes to the peace plan, as well as
an end to the military activities.
QUESTION: Do you know what the Secretary meant when she said, in
reference to Americans, when she said she owed it to the Americans who
would be involved to go this last mile -- or whatever it is - this last
effort to persuade Milosevic to make the right decision? The peacekeeping
force is not the issue. Now, does she mean Americans in any bombardment; is
that what she means?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, yes. I think that's clear. NATO is poised to conduct air
operations over the FRY in the event that we don't see a dramatic change in
the prevailing circumstances, and that's what she was referring to.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- part of that?
MR. FOLEY: Of course.
QUESTION: Okay, can I ask you this? The President took no questions. He
made reference to civilians -
MR. FOLEY: I haven't seen his statement.
QUESTION: Well, this is what he said. He said that the refugees, one out
of eight Kosovar residents have been displaced. They're going to other
places, other countries. He spoke of - without using the word spill-over -
spill-over of fighting. I don't understand if the US is preparing now to
take on the role of protecting civilians outside of Serbia if they're
pursued by Serbian forces. I mean, what is it that the Administration
fears the Serbs might do beyond the border; and what is it that you're
prepared to do about it?
MR. FOLEY: Well, of course, you've been here many more years than anyone
else, and you know how we feel about hypothetical questions, but let me try
to help, nevertheless.
QUESTION: The President mentioned it. It's not my -
MR. FOLEY: We have indicated - let me answer it this way, Albanian today -
the government of Albania - requested a meeting of the North Atlantic
Council at NATO to discuss Kosovo under Article VIII of the Partnership for
Peace agreement with Albania. NATO is currently considering the request. We
understand that Albania is concerned about the spill-over problem that
you're talking about - the spill-over of violence into their territory,
and coping with a possible influx of refugees. We have expressed our
support for the government of Albania during this critical time. We have
urged their restraint in the face of possible Serb provocations, and we've
also expressed our willingness to help them cope with the possible influx
We have reiterated our belief that any move by President Milosevic to
expand the borders of the conflict in Kosovo would have grave consequences.
That applies to other neighbors of the FRY as well.
QUESTION: What does Article VIII do?
MR. FOLEY: It enables a member of the Partnership for Peace to seek
consultations with the North Atlantic Council.
QUESTION: Another Kosovo question, having to do with NATO air power. With
the increase in the Serb ground activity, with the displacements that are
going on of the Kosovar Albanians, Jim, do you believe, or is there any
indication - can you even respond to the subject - air power would first
and wisest be applied to the Serb activities in Kosovo? Is this correct, or
can you comment on this matter at all?
MR. FOLEY: Well, it's very difficult -- I appreciate your acknowledging
that - for us to talk in any explicit terms about the nature of any
military action. What we have stated is that we hope - obviously, in the
first instance, that the very real prospect of NATO military action will
have a sobering impact on President Milosevic, and that he will reverse
course. That's why Richard Holbrooke is in Belgrade right now. But the
purpose of military action, should it come to that, is to deter the
Serbs from launching a massive military offensive. It's to achieve,
through military means, or through military action what was not achieved
through diplomacy; namely, to severely impede and damage and undermine
Milosevic's capability to further repress the Kosovar Albanian population.
QUESTION: Can you consider what is now in place as far security for the
ethnic Albanians -- does the United States consider that a security
guarantee to the Kosovars?
MR. FOLEY: I don't quite understand the question.
QUESTION: Is there a US or NATO security guarantee to the Kosovar
Albanians at the moment, if they are attacked?
MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, the technical answer to your question can
be found in the NATO decisions of January 30, which indicated, under one
circumstance, that if Milosevic was widely repressing the people of Kosovo
that NATO would act. That's apart from the negotiations aspect, and you're
very familiar with each of these considerations. So in that respect, the
answer is already on the record; and the President indicated on Friday
that indeed the Serbs have already crossed that threshold. So that's
the precise answer.
But let me answer a little bit more philosophically. The very reason the
international community has been so engaged on Kosovo over the last year,
is precisely to try to bring this suffering to an end, which has continued
to intensify. The international community believes, for a number of reasons
-- first of all because of our humanitarian concerns -- that we have to
bring this conflict to an end; but there are larger political and security
considerations at play, too. We don't believe, as we've stated, as
Secretary Albright has stated, that there are natural borders to conflict
in the Balkans. We believe - and this relates to Barry's earlier question -
that this is a conflict that could very well spread, if it's not contained,
and if it's not brought to an end. So there are all kinds of considerations
that go behind our willingness to, first of all, engage in this intensive
diplomatic activity which produced the Contact Group peace plan, and
produced one party's agreement to the plan, and to marry that diplomatic
effort to the credible threat of military force.
QUESTION: I was asking about the other side of it, and you kind of
answered with grave consequences with reference to the NATO actions. We
understand; for months we've been hearing about a spill-over concern. What
we're trying to find out - and I think you just about answered it is, will
the US and/or NATO, which, in a sense, is the same thing, take it upon
themselves or itself to extend their protective cover, protective
umbrella over the Albanian civilians, particularly, to other countries?
Will the US feel that it has the right or the authority to defend them or
to keep Milosevic at bay by bombing or doing something else if they attack
them in Albania or Macedonia or Greece or Turkey or in Australia? I just
don't know where the US --
MR. FOLEY: I'd just refer you to my statement. I'm not going to be able
to be specific.
QUESTION: I mean, it's a reach but it's --
MR. FOLEY: We made very clear to Milosevic --
QUESTION: It's an extraordinary issue.
MR. FOLEY: First of all, we've made clear our concern that the conflict
of and by itself may spread.
QUESTION: That we know, but what are you going to do about it if it
MR. FOLEY: We've also warned Mr. Milosevic not to deliberately spread it,
either. I think I was clear on that.
QUESTION: New subject. China -- Geneva: Has there been a decision yet
made on any kind of a sponsorship of a human rights condemnation of China
in light of the fact that it began today, didn't it?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, as far as I know, we've not made a final decision
in that regard. Obviously, we're going to be pursuing our human rights
concerns, including on China, at Geneva. But I have nothing to announce
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - decision?
MR. FOLEY: I would expect that's sort of a sarcastic question on your
part, but I don't have an exact time for you. I would expect that we'll
have a --
MR. FOLEY: Sid, this is something that we're --
QUESTION: That was Sid's question; that was Sid, not me.
MR. FOLEY: I know who it was.
QUESTION: Are you expecting to make -
MR. FOLEY: I'm not giving you an exact time.
QUESTION: But you said you expect to make the decision prior to Premier
MR. FOLEY: I am not aware of the precise answer, but I believe it's being
worked on very assiduously, even as we speak.
QUESTION: Jim, on Friday Fox News reported that according to US
intelligence and military sources, that the Chinese may have stolen nuclear
technology from US labs during the Clinton Administration and that the
Administration was aware of this. A couple of questions for you, if you can
answer. Do you know if the Secretary was aware of these allegations and if
she brought them up in any way or talked with the President about them?
Do you know if the Secretary has talked about these allegations to
the Chinese? And how concerned are you?
MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, let's just put this under the general
topic of allegations of Chinese espionage generally. That is something that,
indeed, we have raised with the Chinese and we have made very clear our
utter opposition to such activities, and our expectation that the Chinese
will obey our laws in the United States and that we will react very
strongly. But the more fundamental answer to your specific question is that
there's an investigation underway, and it's under CIA direction. I
believe there's also a separate body which is looking at the whole
matter. I'm certainly not aware of the results of an ongoing investigation.
I think we're going to have to await that investigation before we can
respond to such specific inquiries.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up, though? Was the State Department aware of
- before these reports came out - of an ongoing investigation involving
allegations during the Clinton Administration?
MR. FOLEY: Well, you're talking about Department of Energy labs.
MR. FOLEY: They have certainly very much tightened up their procedures
over the last year since some of this activity came to our attention. But
I'd have to refer you to them in terms of any specific indications of that
nature. But there is an investigation or a damage assessment, if you will,
being undertaken by the CIA, and I would refer you to them. I doubt whether
they're speaking publicly about an investigation that's not complete.
QUESTION: Let me just ask, finally, can you say when the US took this
matter up with the Chinese and expressed concern and asked the Chinese to
cooperate with US investigative -
MR. FOLEY: Well, I believe that the Chinese Ambassador was received at a
fairly senior level in the Department last week. I believe we'd also had
diplomatic contact with them on this subject previous to that. I don't have
QUESTION: You've probably had time to have a close look at the Lockerbie
proposals which the bureau produced, and also received briefings from the
Saudis and the South Africans. What conclusions have you now come to? How
confident do you feel that the Libyans will make good on this promise?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think you won't be surprised with my fundamental
answer, which is that we want to see the suspects transferred to The
Netherlands for a Scottish trial. That's really the only thing we're
looking for. So if you ask me, does this latest indication on Libya's part
that they intend to transfer the suspects -- is this a good thing, I can
really only answer that when we see whether they've actually transferred
the suspects. It would be imprudent, given past practice, to be optimistic
in advance of that happening.
I will say that this is perhaps the first time that the Libyans have
indicated a specific date; because according to the letter they sent to the
Secretary General of the United Nations, they're committing to hand over
the suspects on or before April 6. So that's precisely what we're looking
for: the hand over of the suspects on or before April 6. We certainly
salute Secretary General Annan and also President Mandela and the Saudi
authorities for their efforts to persuade Mr. Qadhafi to make good on his
obligations in this regard.
QUESTION: There was a report in one of the Japanese wire services
yesterday, I think, which said that the US Government is considering
lifting sanctions in North Korea, in exchange for cooperation in the
missile talks. I was wondering, first of all, whether that report is
accurate; and second, if it is, what level or type of cooperation would we
be looking for in that kind of arrangement?
MR. FOLEY: First of all, I've not seen that report. Secondly, that's
wildly premature. What we need to see is our concerns, on a broad range of
issues, addressed by the North Korean authorities. We hope that it will be
possible to achieve satisfaction of our concerns. We have missile talks
later this month. I believe we have Four-Party Talks next month in Geneva.
We have a range of concerns with them. But we have stated, since the time
of the Agreed Framework, that as those concerns are addressed we look
to undertake reciprocal measures, and to work towards better relations, and
ultimately addressing the sanctions issue as well. This is a report I've
not seen, but it's certainly very ahead of it's time.
QUESTION: On Primakov, could you just set up his trip - the importance of
his trip - to the United States to, I would presume, improve relations?
Also, he's looking for assistance from the World Bank, and on Thursday, he
signs an agreement with Gore. Could you just set up his trip?
MR. FOLEY: Briefly. Secretary Albright spoke to that from this podium a
few hours ago. Prime Minister Primakov is traveling to the US March 23 to
26 for meetings of the Gore-Primakov Commission, and for a private visit to
New York City. He'll, of course, be meeting with the IMF and other
During the Commission meetings, the US and Russia will cover a full range
of Commission issues from business development to environment to space
cooperation. This will be the 11th session of the US-Russia Joint
Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation; the first one between
Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Primakov. Beyond that, he will be
meeting with IMF Managing Director Camdessus while the Prime Minister is
here in Washington. The IMF and the government of Russia are focusing on
what still needs to be done to make Russia's 1999 budget realistic. Russia
needs to address this and other fundamental economic policy challenges it
faces, which includes stabilizing the exchange rate, fighting inflation
and restructuring the banking system, as well as legislative, regulatory
and judicial reforms, which will improve the climate for investment.
QUESTION: Jim, Chairman Arafat is due here soon for talks with the
Secretary and the President. Do you have any comment on a speech he made
last Friday in Ramallas, when he spoke to his Fatah group and he talked
about waging battle against any person or persons who tried to prevent the
Palestinians from declaring a state on May 4?
MR. FOLEY: I've not seen that comment, and I'd hesitate to analyze or
respond to a statement I haven't seen. Certainly, any indications that
anybody - and I'm not saying he did, because I haven't seen the speech -
that anybody's suggesting that violence is an answer to the problems the
Palestinian people face, or the problems that all the peoples of the Middle
East face, is very misguided. Again, I'm not comment on his remarks; I
haven't seen them. But we all know that the only progress that's ever
been achieved has been achieved at the negotiating table. The United
States is very committed to the Middle East peace process. We think that's
the avenue for addressing the legitimate security needs and political
rights of the Israeli people, as well as the political aspirations of the
QUESTION: On the same thing, is Arafat still meeting the Secretary
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: And that's here?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have the exact location. It's tonight. And he's
meeting with the President tomorrow.
QUESTION: Will there be any event on that of any kind?
MR. FOLEY: I wouldn't anticipate it.
QUESTION: On the record? Off camera? What kind of coverage?
MR. FOLEY: I wouldn't anticipate it.
QUESTION: Nothing up there?
MR. FOLEY: No.
QUESTION: You're not sure if it's here, even?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have the exact location.
QUESTION: Could you get that for us, please?
MR. FOLEY: I can check on it.
QUESTION: In case we want to hang outside the door.
MR. FOLEY: I'll check on it. Bill, is this a motion to adjourn?
QUESTION: This may be, but don't adjourn yet. Let me ask - Jim, can you
make any comment about the Chinese Government comment about the Los Alamos
scientist that allegedly was involved in espionage? The Chinese say this
man is perfectly innocent and that they never would involve themselves in -
the Chinese would never involve themselves in taking secrets from the
United States. It sounds like a bit too good to be true.
MR. FOLEY: First of all, I can't comment on that particular individual. I
believe he was terminated by Secretary of Energy Richardson. He has spoken
to that, and I have nothing to add from my perspective here at the State
But in response to a more general question, I mangled my answer, as Matt
helpfully pointed out, twice on Thursday, I think. Let me try it again.
It's not unusual for governments to deny involvement in activities of that
nature. We wouldn't expect differently, but we still don't tolerate
QUESTION: Yes, they did rather embrace this fellow as their brother -
this particular guy from Los Alamos, whose name I can't remember. But it
sounds like they went a little bit overboard on that. Okay.
QUESTION: The UN Human Rights Commission, I believe opens today in
Geneva. Do you have anything at all on what you're going to do about China
MR. FOLEY: I just got that question. We haven't made that decision
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
(The briefing concluded at 2:25 P.M.)