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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #16, 98-02-05

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>


313

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, February 5, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

DEPARTMENT
1		Secretary Albright's Activities/Meetings/Phone Calls

AFRICA 1 Reverend Jesse Jackson's Travel to Africa

NORTH KOREA 1-2,6 US Contribution to UN World Food Program

IRAQ 2-4,6-7 Iraq's Latest Proposal for Inspection of Sites 2-6,8,11 Secretary's Consultations with Russian Foreign Minister/ Key Leaders/Foreign Governments re Iraq 6-7 Israel's Right to Self-Defense If Attacked 5-6 Russian President Yeltsin's Criticism of US/Risk of World War 6 US Policy re Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction 7 Congressional Concerns re Saddam Remaining in Power

MEXICO 8-9 Drug Allegations Against Mexico Interior Minister 12 Mexican Foreign Secretary's Remarks re New Drug Strategy

UNITED KINGDOM 9-10 US Position on "Repatriation" of the Winnie-the-Pooh Stuffed Animals

SOUTH KOREA 10-11 Republic of Korea's Obligations to KEDO

SYRIA 11-12 Reported Remarks by Turkish Defense Minister re: Syrian Biological Chemical Weapons Production 12 Reports of Russian Cooperation in Building Nuclear Reactor

TURKEY 12 Destruction of Orthodox Churches


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #16

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1998 12:35 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. We're almost on time this morning, this afternoon. Let me say that as you know, we regretted yesterday the absence of many of the journalists traveling with the Secretary, and were pleased to see that at least we've made some significant progress and some of them are here.

Secretary Albright spoke to Foreign Minister Primakov this morning. She also attended the National Prayer Breakfast with President Clinton, Vice President Gore and other members of the Cabinet. She is now at the working lunch with Prime Minister Blair, and will participate in the President's meetings with Prime Minister Blair during the course of the day. She will be on the Hill this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in the House side, and later, an hour later, on the Senate side, consulting with members of Congress on the situation in Iraq. And she, of course, will be attending the dinner tonight at the White House.

I have two announcements for you. First of all, on February 7, Reverend Jesse Jackson will be making his second trip to Africa, as the President and Secretary of State's special envoy. He will visit Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia; and meet with various representatives of civil society, opposition figures; and reinforce the message of democratic governance, rule of law and respect for human rights that the Secretary brought on her trip to Africa.

Secondly, I have an announcement for you on our contribution to the World Food Program appeal to assist the people of North Korea. In response to the UN World Food Program's announcement January 6 of an appeal for some 650,000 metric tons of humanitarian food aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the United States Government has decided to provide humanitarian assistance in the amount of 200,000 metric tons of food aid, or about 30 percent of the appeal. This is consistent with previous US responses to international appeals for emergency food aid to North Korea.

The US Government's food assessment team which visited North Korea last year confirmed assessments by the United Nations that North Korea's 1997 harvest fell well short of meeting the minimum food needs of its people, and that substantial food assistance would be needed to help avert serious food shortages during this year.

The US Government's assistance in the form of PL 480, Title II Emergency Food Aid will be provided to the World Food Program in three tranches during the one-year period from April 1998 to March 1999 that the WFP appeal covers. Our 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.

In order to ensure that the donated food is used for its intended purpose, the program will nearly double its international staff in North Korea to 46, including 26 food monitors, and add two new regional offices.

That is our announcement on food for North Korea. I'd be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Primakov, did he tell you --

MR. RUBIN: Sorry.

QUESTION: Do you have a dollar figure?

MR. RUBIN: I do not think I have a dollar figure. One moment, please. I don't think we do, but we'll get you that.

QUESTION: The Administration hasn't been very impressed with what the Russians have conveyed from Iraq. Was there anything new today to revive any hope of a settlement through negotiations with Iraq?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, as you know, our position is very simple: full and unfettered access to the sites. It's a simple standard, and it has not yet been met in anything we've heard about. What we know is that insofar as we understand the current Iraqi proposal, nothing has changed; it does not meet this simple standard, and it falls short.

Again, the fact that these proposals are being tossed around and there is discussion of possible access to these sites, it does seem that Iraq is moving towards a recognition that the blocking of presidential sites is an untenable position. And that, in turn, shows the importance of the international community's standing firm and insisting that Iraq allow this simple standard to be met: full and unfettered access.

QUESTION: The report that surfaced last week while we were all - some of us and the Secretary were on the road, turned out to be basically an old offer by Iraq -- the eight sites offer, let's call it. Are they saying something more now? Are they coming - I know what your standard is -- your standard in the Middle East is a settlement, but, I mean, if you make headway, you say you make headway. Is there any headway here? Have the Iraqis improved their offer?

MR. RUBIN: I would dispute the premise that this is the same old offer. I mean, there have been many different versions of offers. And to the extent we understand this, we believe it falls short. So when we say what our standard is and then describe whether it meets the standard, that is designed to give you some information.

This current offer, to the best of our understanding of it, falls short, because it does not allow full and unfettered access. But we think it may mean that the Iraqi regime is starting to get the message that their position that no access to presidential sites is an untenable position. Certainly, Secretary Albright found on her trip, in her meetings with all the key leaders in Europe -- or many of the key leaders -- as well as key leaders in the Arab world, that all of those leaders believed the Iraqi position is wrong, that it is the requirement of the UN resolutions that full and unfettered access be provided.

What I can't tell you is whether every nuance of everybody's stated version of this offer is different, because there are a lot of people in Baghdad right now, or have been in the recent days, and they may all be talking about the same offer and talking about it differently. But to the best of our understanding of this offer, it doesn't meet the standard; it falls short.

QUESTION: Your statement falls considerably short of the virtual ridicule that the Iraqis' position was subjected to on the trip, that he's only feinting, he's only fooling around.

MR. RUBIN: I'll be happy to say it again if that will help you.

QUESTION: I'm not talking about helping me; I'm talking about the clear change in the US posture on Iraq. You're now speaking as if they're engaged in negotiations. It isn't quite what you want, but you're hearing new stuff. And that's different from saying they feint and they cut and lie and --

MR. RUBIN: There is no negotiation, there is no --

QUESTION: Not with the US. There is no negotiation --

MR. RUBIN: There is no negotiation. This is a simple standard of required access by the Iraqis to the standards laid out in Security Council resolutions.

To the extent that this offer does not yield full and unfettered access, it falls short. To that extent, it is another feint, another parry, and not the full and unfettered access that we need if this crisis is to be resolved.

QUESTION: One last one - and the US posture, all options are on the table, you haven't been so - you haven't heard such sweet music that you've taken the military option off the table?

MR. RUBIN: On the contrary, Barry. The principle applied here - diplomacy backed by the use of force and the threat of force - is very much alive.

QUESTION: Jamie, you mentioned that the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Primakov. When she talks to him and other foreign ministers, does she convey a message to them to be relayed to Baghdad?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry, please repeat the question. I got interrupted by some discussion in the front row.

QUESTION: I know, it's very distracting.

(Laughter.)

Okay, you mentioned the Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Primakov this morning.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: When she speaks to him and to other foreign ministers, does she convey an American message to be relayed through them to Baghdad?

MR. RUBIN: We don't normally -- to my knowledge, in all the discussions I've seen with Foreign Minister Primakov, we don't relay messages to Baghdad through the Russians. What we do is make clear to the Russians what our standard is; what falls short of that standard; what would meet that standard. And that is what Secretary Albright communicated to Foreign Minister Primakov in her meeting with him in Madrid and in a phone call this morning and in phone calls yesterday morning. But as far as a message to Baghdad, I'm not aware that that was the intent of the call.

QUESTION: But you've said innumerable times the American position is simple and clear: full, unfettered access.

MR. RUBIN: Right. Yes.

QUESTION: How many times does she have to repeat that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I know that that question may easily fall of your lips, but the issue is - as we discussed a few times, in response to the last questioner - is when ideas are thrown out, if we don't think it meets that standard, we think it's worth repeating.

QUESTION: But doesn't Primakov understand that? Does he have to be told again that an offer of eight sites is not acceptable?

MR. RUBIN: Again, Foreign Minister Primakov can speak for himself on this issue; and I'm not going to purport to speak for him. What we are doing is setting out our standard in our discussions behind the scenes, and setting out the standard for all of you. And to the extent that I can talk about proposals, the last one we understand, as best we understand it, falls short. I don't know how else to say it.

QUESTION: There is a French Foreign Ministry official also in Baghdad. Do we have any - have you all received any information as to what he is up to?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I'm trying to do the best I can to communicate to you what we understand the latest Iraqi proposals are - not the latest French proposal, the latest Russian proposal, the latest Turkish proposal, or the latest Arab League proposal. These are governments or people who are there communicating the determination of the international community to resolve this problem.

During the course of our discussions, we try to understand what it is the Iraqis are saying. To the best of our knowledge, the most recent Iraqi position falls short of our standard. But we hope it signals that they're getting the message that their position that presidential sites will not be allowed access is an untenable position; and that makes the point that we've been making to foreign ministers and heads of government around the world that the stronger the will of the international community, the more likely it is that Saddam Hussein will reverse course.

QUESTION: Jamie, what is the Russian goal, do you think, in all of this? Yesterday, as you probably know - I think you already reacted to it - President Yeltsin talked about the risk of another world war if the United States went on the way it is. Are the Russians more worried about us or more worried about the Iraqis? And what are they trying to achieve, really?

MR. RUBIN: We have no reason to doubt the Russian goal is to achieve Iraqi compliance. We don't always agree with the methodology; we don't always have the same degree of optimism, perhaps, as the Russians that we can achieve that. But Secretary Albright came away from her discussions with Foreign Minister Primakov, and as I understand it, President Clinton as well, that the Russians want to see, with us, compliance by Iraq with UN resolutions. They have voted for resolutions to that effect repeatedly in the Security Council, including supporting statements in the early '90s - in 1991, '92 and '93 - declaring Iraq in material breach at various occasions because they, like us, understand the inherent dangers of weapons of mass destruction. We have no reason to doubt that.

QUESTION: So what do you make of Mr. Yeltsin's language, which sounded as if it was worried about the US starting a war?

MR. RUBIN: Well, it's no secret that we and the Russians have disagreed on the means to achieve these objectives. What we've said is that diplomacy should be given its chance, but that the diplomatic string is fraying and that it's only the threat of force and, if necessary, the use of force that can achieve our objectives. They have a different view of that, but that's quite different than the premise of your question, that the Russians have some other goal here than compliance.

QUESTION: They said that - Yeltsin reiterated this morning, said that Russia had no interest in being involved in a war. And he - Mr. Rubin, I would ask you, has the US gone to the Russian leadership to ask for an explanation of why the Russians think that there's a risk of a large world war coming out of this Iraq crisis? And secondly, does this have anything to do with the Israelis saying that they may not be restrained if Iraq attacks?

MR. RUBIN: First let me - one clarification for you, George. My understanding is, the value is $75 million for this WFP food program.

Again, I'm not going to try to analyze the motivations of the President of Russia. I will be prepared to talk about what we understand their position to be. There were some press reports in the United States that the US is planning to use nuclear weapons to destroy chemical and biological storage facilities in Iraq. Those reports have no basis in fact. The US has no plans or intentions of using nuclear weapons.

If any country were foolish enough to attack the United States, our allies, or our forces, with chemical or biological weapons, our response would be swift, devastating and overwhelming. We have worked hard to fashion non-nuclear responses to the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction, in order to give military commanders and the President a range of options from which to choose. As Secretary Perry said in 1996, we are able to mount a devastating response without using nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, we do not rule out in advance any capability available to us. I stress that these policies have to do with a situation in which the US, our allies and our forces have been attacked with chemical or biological weapons.

There was a highly inaccurate press report about this issue that was circulating in Russia, that made the rounds in the Duma, that may have given rise to unjustified concern about the implications of the use of force in the Middle East. But that is our position.

As far as the Israelis are concerned, Secretary Albright made clear in her discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel, as any other country, has the absolute right of self-defense; that the United States has an iron-clad commitment to Israel's security; and that an attack by Iraq on any of Iraq's neighbors, including Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or others would be met with a swift and forceful US response.

So in this kind of environment, it often does happen that the reporting isn't perfect, and some of the results of that you might have seen.

Let's go to Crystal, and then back over here.

QUESTION: Do you think - I know that we've gone over this many times, but these recent proposals from Iraq, do you think they in any way indicate that Saddam is getting weak in the knees, and there's still a chance that you'll be able to resolve this, though a small chance, without force, from the signs that you --

MR. RUBIN: Number one, the diplomatic string is fraying. Number two, the latest proposals fall short. Number three, they could signal, however, Iraq's recognition that it's position is untenable. If they do, and he allows full and unfettered access, then the diplomatic string will firm up.

QUESTION: Do you think the window, though, is cracking a little bit in his defiance; and that maybe is it just opening a little more than it was, let's say, in November?

MR. RUBIN: Can't we stick to our one metaphor here, which is string?

(Laughter.)

If the Iraqis do, indeed, get the message that has been drilled to them by leader after leader, resolution after resolution, Secretary Albright's statements, the President's statements, and they do, indeed, come up with a way for them to meet what they have been yet unwilling to meet, which is the simple standard of the Security Council, and give the UN - that is, UNSCOM - the access it needs, then the diplomatic string will stop fraying.

QUESTION: If it frays all the way and Iraq falls short and all of that and push comes to shove, Secretary Cohen said, I believe yesterday, that the US will urge Israel very strongly not to retaliate if Israel is attacked. How does that coincide with what you just said Albright told the Israelis, in that they have the right of self-defense? Then you seem to confuse it further by saying that the US would defend Israel if Israel is attacked.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I certainly don't think I confused anything further. It may have confused you, but what I was trying to say -

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: I'll accept that.

MR. RUBIN: -- is that the United States' position is very clear on this. It may not be as forthcoming publicly as you would like, but it's quite clear; that is that Israel has the right of self-defense. Secretary Albright made that clear to the Israeli Government; number two, that our commitment to Israel's security is iron-clad; number three, that if Iraq were to make the serious mistake of attacking any of its neighbors, including Israel, that our response would be swift and forceful. Number four, the United States will stay in close consultation with Israel through the course of this crisis. Beyond that, I'm not prepared to say.

QUESTION: The Israelis are essentially saying, forget it, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's office, that they will defend themselves.

MR. RUBIN: Well, you've recorded a very different version of the Prime Minister's statements that I've seen. But all I can say - and I'd be happy to repeat it for you - is that we have an iron-clad commitment to the state of Israel in terms of security, and that we stand by that; that every country has the right of self-defense; that we're going to stay in close touch with the Israeli Government; and that if Saddam Hussein were foolish enough to take this kind of action, that our response would be swift and forceful.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you have a response to Senator Lott and Speak Gingrich, both of whom say the US policy is too narrow because it doesn't deal with Saddam remaining in power?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this - our goal here is to thwart, as the President said last night, Iraq's capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and threaten his neighbors. We have said before, and I will say again, that we look forward to the day when Iraq has new leadership that would allow it to join the family of nations. So we certainly share the views of the members of Congress in this regard.

However, Desert Storm, the Gulf War, demonstrates that it would take hundreds of thousands of ground troops to remove the current leadership by force. Our current policy, preventing Iraq from threatening the region, serves the objectives and interests of the United States, our friends and our allies. That policy is based on the goals of thwarting his capacity to develop or use weapons of mass destruction and limiting his ability to threaten his neighbors. That is our view of what is the appropriate policy at this time.

Any more on Iraq?

QUESTION: Did you hear of any consultations with the European Union for the Iraqi crisis?

MR. RUBIN: Well --

QUESTION: Besides with Russia, France?

MR. RUBIN: The European Union?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. RUBIN: Well, the president of the European Union is now meeting with President Clinton, and I have total confidence they are discussing Iraq.

QUESTION: Today The Washington Times, on the front page, has a story that says according to a top secret report from the CIA, the new Interior Minister of Mexico is linked to the narco- traffickers. Do you have any response to that, or any --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, the Interior Minister, appointed by President Zedillo, was Secretary of Agriculture in the Mexican Government. In his new capacity, he has the task of restoring momentum to the stalled peace process in Chiapas, which President Zedillo has set as a high priority.

He previously was governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, an area infamous for narcotics trafficking activity, where the Mexican Government has devoted substantial efforts to eradicating drug crops and suppressing drug trafficking. President Zedillo has demonstrated that he will act against drug corruption, even at the highest levels of his administration, as he did last year with the arrest of Mexico's drug czar.

Corruption fostered by the drug trade remains a major concern of our two governments. The Mexican Government is taking strong actions against corruption within law enforcement agencies, including completely overhauling and vetting the counter-drug agency. Mexico's Attorney General has acknowledged that corruption remains a serious problem that will take time to root out.

We continue to support President Zedillo's efforts to address drug trafficking and related corruption, which he considers Mexico's main national security threat. As you know, I'm not going to get into the habit of commenting on intelligence reports, but I can say we did not discuss the new secretary's appointment with President Zedillo.

QUESTION: But are you waiting to consider this issue as an issue that you have to consider for the certification of Mexico? This certification process is coming this month. And I am talking about this guy - the report says, since he was governor of Sinaloa. Did you in the past receive any report about this guy? Nothing about it? From this podium, it has been said - named four or five governors of Mexico linked to the narco-traffickers. Do you have anything on this guy, something different to say?

MR. RUBIN: What I'm prepared to say to you today is that I will not comment on an intelligence report of this kind; that the State Department is in the process of formulating its recommendations to the Secretary and then to the President on the certification issue. And as always, it will take into account the issue of corruption on the drug issue in the Mexican Government. But as far as this specific individual is concerned, I am not prepared to comment on an alleged intelligence item.

QUESTION: Another subject in bilateral British-American relations, not perhaps as critical as Iraq. You're aware of the controversy over the Pooh dolls that are in New York - (inaudible) - that they'd like them returned.

QUESTION: Winnie the Pooh.

QUESTION: Oh, really.

QUESTION: This is a serious question.

QUESTION: You're a serious questioner.

QUESTION: Do you have any guidance on it, Jamie?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first let me say, far be it from me to ever pooh-pooh an issue of this significance.

(Laughter.)

But the US Government takes no position on this issue, which involves privately-owned assets. And we do not expect the issue to be on the formal agenda of the meeting between President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair.

QUESTION: Is "pooh-pooh" written down?

MR. RUBIN: No, I just thought of that, Barry.

QUESTION: Jamie, could I come back to Korea for a moment?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Has the US Government been approached by the South Korean Government, and has the US Government been asked to take a greater share of the financial burden of the North Korean nuclear deal, in view of the financial crisis in South Korea?

MR. RUBIN: The reports to this effect we regard as incorrect. The Korean Government and President-elect Kim Dae-Jung have consistently stated that the Republic of Korea will meet its obligations to KEDO -- that is, the Korean Energy Development Organization -- including funding for the light water reactor project. To put this in perspective, let me note that the Republic of Korea has the world's 11th largest economy, with a yearly government budget of some $40 billion. The cost of the reactor project, spread out over ten years, is about $5 billion, and Japan will also fund a significant part of the project's cost. KEDO already has funding for the first year of costs for this project, approximately $45 million, which has been supplied by the Republic of Korea. There is occasionally debt servicing needed here, because this organization is obligated to deliver heavy fuel oil on a fixed schedule, and therefore from time to time, it must incur short-term debt. As far as the second year of funding is concerned, early costs are relatively small and therefore manageable for both South Korea and Japan, which will together fund most of the project's cost. Let me remind you here that the construction has begun on the first of two safer proliferation- resistant nuclear reactors to be built in North Korea, and delivery of heavy fuel oil for specified civilian use continues. Construction of the reactors will take several years; meanwhile, the North Korean's own nuclear program remains frozen and the process of canning spent fuel rods from its reactor at Yongbyon is nearly complete - all under the continuous supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is the important point: before any key nuclear components are delivered for these two safer reactors, the international community, through the IAEA, must be satisfied that North Korea is in full compliance with its safeguards agreement. North Koreans must take all steps deemed necessary by the International Atomic Energy Agency to verify the accuracy and completeness of their data. And those verifications can include visits by the IAEA to any sites it deems necessary.

QUESTION: Jamie, since the Secretary was in Riyadh have there been any further discussions with the Saudis about military cooperation in the event of --

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of any high-level interchange, other than --

QUESTION: Well, even low-level. (Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of an interchange --

QUESTION: No, high-level would be the Secretary's level, and that's over.

MR. RUBIN: Or the Secretary of Defense, who might be there shortly. So if there have been any exchanges, as there normally are between our two governments, I don't think they've moved the ball beyond where we were prepared to place it on the trip.

QUESTION: If there have been discussions --

MR. RUBIN: Well, if there have been any lower-level discussions, as there normally are between our two governments on a variety of subjects, I am not aware they have moved the ball significantly beyond where we placed it after her visit.

QUESTION: Let me rephrase the question. When you left Riyadh, we were told that the Saudis would consider the military situation, the use of the bases, et cetera, and then they would get back to the US on it. They didn't say - we weren't told low level, high level, or any particular level. Have the Saudis gotten back to the US in any way since the stop in Riyadh?

MR. RUBIN: Right, I think I answered your question.

QUESTION: No, you said normally there are - you told me the way diplomacy normally works. I'm asking you about the specific situation.

MR. RUBIN: No, Barry, if you listen to the whole answer, I think you would have had your answer. The answer is, I am not aware of any contacts that have moved the ball significantly beyond where she left it before. Have there been discussions? Presumably; but there's no new information of significance to impart to you.

QUESTION: Turkish Defense Minister, Mr. Sezgin, he said yesterday that Syria has biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction as much as Iraq. After Saddam, are you planning to direct your attention against Syria?

MR. RUBIN: Let me get you a list of our views, as we can express them in an unclassified form, of our concerns in that regard. But let me also point out a simple fact, which is that the Security Council resolution that is binding under Chapter 7 applies to Iraq and not other countries.

QUESTION: On Syria, weeks ago there was a report that got some attention in this building that Russia is helping Syria with a reactor that could be used for unpleasant aims. In all your discussions with the Russians and all your fretting about Iraq, have you gotten into the Syrian situation at all?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any new information for you, but I can assure you and the American people that the United States, in its discussions with the Russian Government, has focused very heavily on the dangers of proliferation in the nuclear area, including the issue that you mentioned.

QUESTION: Yesterday and the day before, Rosario Green, Exterior Minister of Mexico, spoke of a new strategy - and I hope it's a new strategy - which will - where the US and Mexico will move forcefully against the drug lords and their criminal organizations. I asked today in the Justice Department, to a high-ranking official, if our - the United States' requirements were being satisfied in this new strategy, so that it might, in fact, be successful. Can you make any comment at all about this, what is going to be revealed tomorrow?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the way you ended the question, it sounds like I don't want to answer it.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I know that the State Department is involved. The State Department will be there.

MR. RUBIN: Let me get you what we can for the record, through the course of the day.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you have anything on attacks on Orthodox churches in Turkey? You were asked yesterday, and I think --

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me just say, generally, that the United States Government considers attacks of that kind cowardly and condemns them in the strongest possible terms. The most recent on the Shrine of Therapon, in Istanbul, appears criminal in nature. Turkish officials are investigating this crime as well as the December bombing attack. We look forward to learning more about this, and we note that Turkish Government officials have also condemned these attacks and have taken steps to increase security at such locations. In the wake of this attack, we would encourage the Turkish Government to reassess the adequacy measures at other religious sites.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:10 P.M.)


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