U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #17, 98-02-09
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, February 9, 1998
Briefer: James B. Foley
1 Posting Public Announcement on Chad and statement on laser
visa replacing border crossing card in Mexico
1 U.S. estimated cost of enlargement; apportionment of costs
1-2 Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic willingness to support US
2 No U.S. "deadline" for international diplomatic efforts to
secure Iraqi compliance
2-5,7-9,13 U.S. response to charge of Arab unwillingness to support
any U.S. military action
3-4,6-8 U.S. confident of all necessary cooperation, understanding
3 Concerns for Iraqi people
3-4,7,9,13 Decline to respond to queries on operational details,
4-5 Difference between Gulf War support and current situation
5-6 Purpose of U.S. military assets stationed in Persian Gulf
6-7,15 Turkey DepPriMin claims U.S. intent to establish Kurdish
state in northern Iraq
7 Reported Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq; GOT
8-11 Assessment of diplomatic initiatives to date; effect on
timing of potential U.S. action
11-12 Potential for wider conflict
12 Effort by RUSSIAN opposition member Vladimir Zhirinovsky to
position Russians in sensitive sites / Sanctions
Committee consideration of Yerevan flight
12-13 Pro-Iraqi demonstrations in Arab world; role of Palestinian
13-14 Sen. Lott supports Iraqi pro-democracy efforts;
14 U.S. goal in dealing with Iraq
15 U.S. view of autonomy for Kurds in Northern Iraq
UKRAINE / IRAN
15-16 U.S. concerns about Ukraine support (turbines) for Iranian
Bushehr nuclear reactor; status of bilateral
16-17 No effect on current U.S. economic aid, possibly on future
17 Okinawa Governor rejects off-shore base for relocating
Futenma Marine Base
18 USG concerned about detention of dissident Wang Bingzhang
19-20 Citizenship status; USG assistance to U.S. legal permanent
resident or citizen
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
18 PA & Israeli delegations to meet Amb. Dennis Ross;
18-19 Minister of Interior Labastida threat to file suit against
Washington Times; alleged CIA report on potential
involvement w/ narco-traffickers
19 MinIndustry Natan Sharansky not expected in Washington this
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1998, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: Good afternoon. It's good to see everybody back today, I
think. I have no announcements that I'm going to read, but we'll post
announcements -- a public announcement on Chad and on the laser visa
replacing the border crossing card in Mexico.
So, Barry, let me go right to your questions.
QUESTION: Thank you. The Secretary made a speech today, and there was
only time - which isn't unusual - for two questions. One was about Slovakia,
and the other was about - I forget, but for those of us who have more
direct interest in the story, she made the point about NATO that the price
is right for NATO expansion. What is the calculation now of how expensive
it would be to expand NATO? Now that you know who's coming in, it's no
longer as hypothetical as it was when the Pentagon authorized Rand to give
them a low-ball figure. What is the current rate?
MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, I categorically reject the premise of your
question. I believe that Rand sometime, a year or two ago, had figures that
were enormous and that were totally out of line with what turned out to be
the case after careful study by the relevant NATO bodies.
I don't want to misspeak, Barry, so I'm going to get the answer to your
question. We do have the precise cost estimate that came out of NATO, that
turned out to be substantially lower than even had been predicted or
estimated, going back about a year ago, based on a revised estimate of the
infrastructure that was in the countries that will be coming into NATO than
can be used. So those figures turned out to be quite manageable, and
we're confident that the United States, our current NATO allies and
the new members will be able to bear those costs reasonably and equitably.
But I'd like to get you the figures.
QUESTION: Is France contributing?
MR. FOLEY: All NATO members will, through whatever common costs are
QUESTION: Because at Madrid, Chirac said --
MR. FOLEY: Our understanding is that all NATO members will contribute, as
they do to NATO common costs, through the normal budget processes of
QUESTION: The Secretary also announced that Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic are supportive of our military aims in Iraq, would provide support
Two questions. I imagine there are some skeptics out there who would wonder
whether there was some sort of quid pro quo, some sort of arm-twisting
relating to that support, coming as it is, just a couple of days before the
Senate will be asked to consider the NATO enlargement plan. And secondarily,
what type of support are those countries going to provide from Eastern
Europe for air strikes in the Middle East?
MR. FOLEY: In response to your second question, the Secretary referred to
a meeting she had just had, just minutes before the speech. I don't have a
read-out of that meeting. And I believe she also noted that the ministers
indicated they would be consulting with their governments. But I would take
the question, and if I can get a specific answer to you, I will.
In relation to your first question, however, the premise is really, I think,
erroneous, Sid, if I may say so. First of all, there's no arm-twisting in
such a relationship between three upcoming members of NATO and the United
States. Secondly, as the Secretary pointed out, we have solidarity with
these future NATO members, in terms of how we view the security threat
posed to the world by the ongoing crisis surrounding Iraq's weapons of mass
Thirdly, the fact of the matter is that these countries have already been
invited to join NATO. They were invited after a several-year process, in
Madrid at the NATO summit. The invitations were tendered, and the question
now - the remaining question as far as the United States is concerned is
the ratification of the amendment to the Washington treaty by the United
States Senate. So the idea of a quid pro quo just really wouldn't apply in
this case at all.
QUESTION: We seem to be sliding to the subject of Iraq. There's a report
out of the Middle East that the US is telling some of its friends there
that there's a deadline for Iraq to comply and for US action. Can you talk
MR. FOLEY: Well, of course, it would be very imprudent, from a public
forum, to talk about any aspect, operational aspect, of future military
actions, if it should come to that option. Second, I'm not aware of any
specific deadline. I think we've been stating consistently from this podium
over the last week or two that there are no deadlines or timelines, but
that the opportunity for diplomatic activity is waning, and we are
not far from concluding that the diplomatic option has ended and that
we'll have to move to other means and other options.
But we continue to hope that diplomacy may bear fruit. But as I said, we
are increasingly skeptical that the diplomatic route is going to solve the
QUESTION: The Secretary, at the end of her trip last week, was quite
upbeat about support from Arab countries.
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: And I have to tell you that the more and more I read and see,
the less I see the basis for that kind of optimism. Now we find out that
Saudi Arabia isn't even going to be formally asked for the use of its bases,
because they've already said forget it. And there's a story today on the
wire in which King Hussein of Jordan says, "I don't think I would support
action that would affect the people of Iraq; the people have suffered
So I just wondered whether there's any sort of revision of the Secretary's
optimism, based on what appears to be the reality of today.
MR. FOLEY: No, I would say there's no need for any revision, because I
don't see a change in the reality. I think that the Secretary's trip
demonstrated a couple of things: first, that there was unanimity that Iraq
must comply fully. No one challenged the goal that all of us have, which is
full, 100 percent compliance.
Second - and I'm going to add three, I think, not only two, as I indicated -
second, there was consensus among all of her interlocutors that the fault
for the crisis lies with Saddam Hussein; and in the event that it comes to
the use of force, that he will be the one responsible for it.
Third, though, in reference to your particular point, it's clear that no
one prefers a military option, including the United States. We all hope
diplomacy will succeed, and we share that objective with our European
partners, with our Arab friends and partners. And lastly, I think all of us
are genuinely concerned with the situation of the Iraqi people, the
humanitarian plight they are suffering under Saddam Hussein's regime. So we
understand the feelings in the Arab world, in particular, towards the
plight of the Iraqi people, who are the unfortunate victims of the
policy of their leader.
QUESTION: But that wasn't the question. The question is that when it
comes to the bottom line, you can't even ask Saudi Arabia, formally, to use
the bases, because they've already made it clear that they're not going to
do it. I mean, how do you call that support from a country that the United
States has --
MR. FOLEY: Carol, I'm not going to get into the nature of our diplomatic
exchanges with the Saudis or other governments in the region. But I have to
take issue, though, once again, with the premise of your question. The
Secretary had very positive meetings with the Saudis. It is our view that
we are going to receive the cooperation that we require from the Saudis,
and that there has been no reluctance on their part to cooperate with
us in the degree that we think will be necessary in order to pursue
our options in the Gulf.
QUESTION: All right. But cooperation - perhaps we have to parse the word
cooperation. Are you willing to acknowledge publicly, though, that the
United States is neither asking for nor getting the use of Saudi bases for
air strikes on Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not in a position, at least from the State Department, to
talk about military arrangements with our friends in the region. I'd
suggest you ask the Pentagon that question, and I doubt that even over
there they're going to get into the detail of our sensitive diplomatic and
military consultations in the region.
QUESTION: Well, Cohen already talked about it.
MR. FOLEY: But the premise, though, that we refrained from asking for
something that we thought we wouldn't get, I would challenge, though. My
understanding is that we have had successful meetings with the Saudis; that
the cooperation that we will need, we're confident we're going to
QUESTION: So has the United States asked Saudi Arabia to use air bases,
if necessary, to launch military strikes on Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: Again, I can't get into that kind of detail. It's extraordinarily
sensitive, and I'm just not in a position to do so. But we are confident
that we will have the cooperation that we will require from the Saudis and
our other friends in the region to do what must be done.
QUESTION: But if you - if the Secretary has held it as a principle of her
tenure in office to explain US policy to the American people and to make
that policy credible and understandable to the American people, it would
seem to me that, in a situation like this, which is deadly serious, if the
United States is going to use force to carry out its aims, that the State
Department ought to be able to explain what it means by "support from
friends and allies" in a crucial situation like this. You're leaving it
MR. FOLEY: I'm leaving it deliberately vague, because what you're talking
about are the most sensitive aspects of potential military operations. And
I simply, for the sake of prudence and security, cannot get into those
kinds of details. I think I've been fairly clear, though, in, number one,
rejecting the idea that we refrained from asking for something that we
thought would be refused. We've asked for that which we think is necessary
for us to conduct operations, and we will have the cooperation we
I can't be more specific than that, Carol.
QUESTION: Well, why is the Pentagon able to discuss this with more
MR. FOLEY: I would be surprised if they - if over at the Pentagon they're
getting into, in any kind of public forum, operational details. I stand to
be corrected on that, but that would surprise me.
QUESTION: Jim, I don't think this government was bashful in 1990 and 1991
about talking about the size of the coalition against Iraq. And I dare say
that if you had that support, you'd be trumpeting it now. Would it not be
in the interest of presenting a united front around the world to Saddam
Hussein to be able to say you do have that support?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the situation that we're facing today is different from
the one we faced in 1990 and 1991. In particular, insofar as the Arab world
is concerned, an Arab nation had been invaded -- it was virtually unheard
of in contemporary history -- invaded and occupied. And so it's perfectly
natural that there was groundswell of support, even a willingness to
participate on the ground in the coalition to evict Iraqi forces from
Kuwait. This is a different situation. It's, unfortunately, less tangible
for people in the region who, let's be honest, look at the plight of the
Iraqi people and feel solidarity with the Iraqi people. We fully understand
that. It is unfortunate but true that Saddam Hussein holds his people
hostage, in effect. The very fact that he's unwilling to apparently
relinquish his programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, to make his
people pay under sanctions for that policy, is an unfortunate fact we have
to deal with.
Now, on our part, we have been, since the beginning of the Gulf War crisis
in 1990, '91, and ever since the end of the Gulf War, endeavored to do
everything we could to see that the Iraqi people received the food and
medicine they need. Saddam Hussein thwarted that for five years - refused
to consider what became the oil-for-food program; and once that program was
established, then worked to thwart its effective functioning.
Now we have on the table a new set of recommendations from the Secretary
General of the United Nations that I can talk about if you're going to lead
questions in that direction. But we want to make that program work better,
and make sure that the Iraqi people do have the food and medicine they
QUESTION: But your answer suggests that you're conceding the Saudis,
among others, don't find the threat today as serious as they did in 1990;
that they don't find the weapons of mass destruction as threatening to them
as the US seems to think it is.
MR. FOLEY: I misspoke if I left that impression. I think that --
QUESTION: In other words, -- (inaudible) - serious in 1990.
MR. FOLEY: What I said was that it was certainly more tangible, it was
more demonstrable. You had an occupying army, Iraqi army in Kuwait. The
threat of weapons of mass destruction, I think, is recognized almost
universally in the region as a threat facing everyone in the region. I
think Saddam Hussein's neighbors know what he has done, using chemical
weapons against Iranians, against his own people. They know what he's
capable of, and they understand what is at stake here.
The Secretary was pleased with the results of her visit insofar as she
found unanimity on the question of the need for Saddam to comply with the
weapons inspection regime.
QUESTION: Jim, why maintain all those military assets in Saudi Arabia, at
great cost to the American taxpayer, at great risk at times to the people
who are actually there - Khobar Towers. Why maintain that if, when you need
to use it, the Saudis won't let you?
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, I, for the third time, have to reject any idea
that we've not received assurances of the kind of cooperation we will need
from the Saudis in order to conduct operations, if that becomes necessary.
And secondly, in response to your more philosophical question, we have
forces stationed in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf in the furtherance
of our shared interest in stability in the Gulf, and in furtherance of our
national security interests, which include the defense of Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Right, but you're getting what you need, you say, from them.
But hordes of US officials say that it would be easier if you could use
Saudi Arabia as a point to launch strikes, and not have to bring in
aircraft carriers; to get something from them other than refueling and
AWACS -- permission to use refueling aircraft and AWACS. It would be a lot
easier if you could just do the whole thing out of Saudi Arabia.
I mean, the rationale of the strategy, the dual containment strategy, rests
on that - pretty much rests on that. And now they're not letting you do it.
Why even bother with it? What's the point? Why not just concede that you're
not going to be able to project your policy as you would like, your
military policy, as you would like out of Saudi Arabia, and just turn to
Bahrain and Kuwait, who appear to be very supportive of your strategy?
MR. FOLEY: First, we'll be doing what we need to do in order to pursue
successfully the military option if that becomes necessary.
I really don't have anything to add. I think I've made clear that we will
get the cooperation that we need, including from the Saudis. And I have to
refer you, really, to military experts over at the Pentagon to answer the
question about the flexibility and the nature of the advantages that accrue
to the use of moving platforms in the Gulf, in the form of aircraft
carriers. I think they can speak more eloquently to that technical question
than I can.
QUESTION: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister --
MR. FOLEY: Is this an Iraq question?
QUESTION: This is about Iraq. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Ecevit, said
if something happened militarily against Iraq, afterward the United States
is planning to establish in the north of Iraq an independent Kurdish
MR. FOLEY: What is your question?
QUESTION: After the military action or operation against Iraq, the
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister claimed that the United States give
permission or to plan --
MR. FOLEY: Has given, did you say?
QUESTION: To establish a Kurdish state.
QUESTION: Independent Kurdish state in Northern Iraq.
MR. FOLEY: No, I'm not aware of any such report or any such information.
But I can state, though, that as a matter of policy, the United States
supports the territorial integrity of Iraq.
QUESTION: And also, the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Mr. Cem, said that
visiting US officials, which is Assistant Secretary Grossman and General
Ralston, they didn't give any answer when they asked the question about
what about after the - or post-attack plan. What is the United States' post-
attack to Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to get into, from this podium, any kind of
speculation about possible consequences of actions that we have not yet
QUESTION: The Turkish issue, there's a report on the wire that several
thousand Turkish troops have crossed into northern Iraq. What can you tell
us about that?
MR. FOLEY: Well, we've seen the press reports also, but we have no
confirmation, independent confirmation, of such troop movements. In fact, a
Turkish Government spokesman has stated that no such operation is taking
place. I'd have to refer you to the Turkish Government for any kind of
QUESTION: You have the means, certainly, to determine yourselves what is
MR. FOLEY: Well, as I said, we have no independent confirmation of any
such troop movements.
QUESTION: And have you inquired of the Turkish Government?
MR. FOLEY: Well, you can address your question to the Turkish Government.
QUESTION: But have you, the United States Government inquired?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware, because these reports, I think, have just been
coming out this morning.
QUESTION: Can you square for me something that doesn't seem to make sense,
but maybe it does? And I'll let you try. The Secretary says that all of the
Arab allies that she spoke with, to try to quote her phraseology, did not
tell her to come back and not tell the President not to attack. And King
Hussein of Jordan now says he's against a military option. How does
MR. FOLEY: Well, I answered a similar question just a few minutes ago.
What I said is that clearly our friends in the Arab world would prefer that
there not be a military strike. And we prefer - thank you, Barry - that
there would not be a military strike, as well.
QUESTION: You know what you prefer. We'd prefer that they open their
sites and permit inspection, and everybody would live happily after. But
you're saying diplomacy is about done. The Administration is talking about
a military attack as a last resort. We went on a trip with the Secretary of
State, who spoke to six Arab leaders; and we were told by her directly that
none of them urged her to tell the President, call off, don't attack,
don't engage in military action.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: We're trying to determine how many of those six are opposed or
support military action as a last resort.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think you'd have to ask them, first and foremost.
QUESTION: King Hussein's already told us.
QUESTION: You have a credibility gap here.
MR. FOLEY: No, I don't think we have one.
QUESTION: You don't? You don't think the Saudis and the King and the
Palestinians in the street mean anything?
MR. FOLEY: I think the questions are speculative. Wherever the Secretary
went, she was assured that all of her interlocutors expect Iraq to comply
QUESTION: We know --
MR. FOLEY: Well, let me finish - 100 percent with the requirements of the
United Nations Security Council. The diplomatic efforts that we have seen
to date do not constitute a solution to the crisis, which would involve
free, unfettered, unqualified access for UN inspectors.
In the event that these diplomatic efforts continue on this path and do
fail, I believe that the nations of the region, as they indicated to the
Secretary of State, will understand that the use of force had become an
unavoidable necessity. But time will tell. As I said, the question is
speculative and we'll have to see.
QUESTION: So to follow up, the distinction you're making is they will
understand the use of force, as opposed to they're against the use of
MR. FOLEY: You're asking me to predict how they might --
QUESTION: Well, you're answering that you think if it fails, they will
MR. FOLEY: Still, you're asking me to predict what the reaction will be
after it has become crystal clear that Saddam Hussein was unwilling to
comply with the standards that they, in their meetings with the Secretary
of State, had agreed to were necessary.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) doesn't mean support.
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, it's speculative.
QUESTION: Not when you use the word understand.
MR. FOLEY: I can only repeat that on the Secretary's trip, that she came
back with several convictions: number one, that they all supported 100
percent compliance, no tricks, no games; and secondly, that the fault for
the crisis lay with Saddam Hussein, and would lie with him in the event of
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Are you insinuating in any way that
there are differences between what you hear privately from Arab leaders,
and what's said publicly? There was a report in The Washington Post today,
saying that the Saudis would support military action if it will take out
Saddam, for example.
MR. FOLEY: Well, we've talked about this from this podium before. I don't
care to get into that kind of issue, unless you're asking a specific
QUESTION: The Secretary suggested it would be weeks, and not days or
months, before the decision is made and action might be taken.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: So what are the components that go into the timing right now? I
mean, what diplomatic initiatives have to play out or what's holding it
MR. FOLEY: Well, that's a question involving military operations. I can't
answer it, for obvious reasons. Secondly, we're not going to signal
anything that sensitive of a military nature. But as we have stated before,
we don't see that there's anything to negotiate. There's no room for
negotiations; there's no need for negotiations.
There are some diplomatic efforts underway which aim to achieve Iraqi
compliance, 100 percent compliance with the Security Council resolutions,
but to this date and to this hour, we have not seen evidence that they meet
the standard that is set by UNSCOM.
QUESTION: What are the operations that you're listing there? Obviously,
the Russian official - just tell me, what is in play now, diplomatically,
that has to play itself out?
MR. FOLEY: Well, there are a number, as you say, of diplomatic initiatives
underway: the French, the Russians, the Arab League, the Turkish Foreign
Minister visited there. And again, we've not seen evidence that any of
these missions have borne fruit.
QUESTION: Or any evidence that they're even continuing now. I mean, what
is the state of play of diplomacy, as you understand it?
MR. FOLEY: I have no information today concerning what the latest Iraqi
position is in response to any of these initiatives. What I can tell you is,
what they have indicated to date falls well short of the standards of
QUESTION: Is there any sort of an American diplomatic initiative?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the Secretary of State just returned from a trip to the
QUESTION: American diplomatic initiative with Iraq.
MR. FOLEY: And Secretary Cohen is in the region now.
QUESTION: No, I'm thinking of an American diplomatic initiative with
MR. FOLEY: Well, as I said, Roy, we don't see a need for negotiations.
Now, others have taken it upon themselves to attempt to persuade Iraq to
comply with the Security Council resolutions. We don't feel that there's a
need to do so. We've stated that while we wish our friends and partners
well in these diplomatic efforts, that we are skeptical on our part that
they will produce success.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I had a different question about that. I was
wondering, sincere or insincere, whatever their motives are - who knows
what their motives are? If the Russians, and the French, and the Arab
League and everybody else press what they call diplomacy, will that forever
restrain the United States from the military option? I'm saying, if there's
a diplomatic thing going on -- and the US Government feels that diplomacy
has really about run its course -- but so long as a major ally or
friend of the United States is engaged in what it says is a diplomatic
effort to get a peaceful resolution, will the US stay its hand from using
force, if this goes on for weeks or months?
MR. FOLEY: First of all, I'm not going to give you a timeline, except --
QUESTION: But if it gets to weeks or months.
MR. FOLEY: -- except to reiterate what the Secretary said yesterday,
which is that it's not days, it's not months, it's weeks. And I think you
should take that at face value. Yes, there are initiatives underway, and we
have said - and I won't beat that old metaphor again about the string
running out, but in our view it is running out. So I've just repeated it.
Sorry. And so there is a time limit, but I'm not in a position to give you
what that is.
QUESTION: But you get my point?
MR. FOLEY: I do. I do. At the current moment, yes, there are efforts, and
there are a variety of factors, which I can't get into, which would go into
QUESTION: But the fact that there are efforts going on does not restrain
the United States from acting, if it concludes the time has come to act, is
MR. FOLEY: Well, that's a judgment call. And certainly there are
diplomatic efforts underway. But we've stated very clearly that, while we
wished them well, we were skeptical, and there wasn't much time left. I
can't really, for obvious reasons, be more precise than that.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Two other issues.
MR. FOLEY: Iraq?
QUESTION: On Iraq, yes. Issue number one goes back to last week. Yeltsin,
several times, warned of a widening war coming, or a world war coming if
Iraq is hit and Iraq then retaliates. Today, Mr. Cohen, having asked the
Israelis to hold their fire if they're fired upon, the Israelis now are
saying they're going to fire back. Doesn't this, indeed, set the stage for
a widening conflict, if Iraq does launch missiles against - and some of
their weapons of mass destruction against the Israelis?
MR. FOLEY: Let me answer that one first.
QUESTION: No, wait a minute --
MR. FOLEY: Bill, let me answer that one first.
QUESTION: Let me put this on the record.
MR. FOLEY: I'm going to forget your second question.
QUESTION: Well, okay, I haven't got to that yet.
QUESTION: The President had said on Friday, Jim, the President said, I
can't imagine what could lead to a world war.
MR. FOLEY: You just got my answer to your first question.
QUESTION: Is that the answer?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: You cannot imagine? How about one other thing, while I've got
you here. Zhirinovsky is trying to get Russians into Baghdad so they can go
to the palaces and get in the way, basically. Would the US prevent them,
using our aerial patrols, from going into Baghdad?
MR. FOLEY: I understand that the question of that particular flight is
being reviewed within the UN Sanctions Committee - excuse me -- members of
the Sanctions Committee have requested additional information that will be
used in making a decision on the flight.
QUESTION: What's the Administration's opinion of the motivation behind
the pro-Iraqi protests in Palestinian-held territories? Do you believe that
the PLO or the Palestinian Authority is organizing these, or is it a
popular -- expression of popular support for Saddam Hussein?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't know the answer, honestly, to the question. My
understanding is that within the Palestinian leadership, there have not
been expressions of support for Saddam Hussein in this latest crisis. But
you're absolutely right, there have been some demonstrations, I think, in
Bethlehem, which are surely a reflection of some frustration on the part of
the Palestinian people.
But we believe that Saddam is an enemy of peace, and it's important that
everyone in the region, including the Palestinians, including everyone in
the region, recognize that fact, that he is an enemy of peace. His
objective is to advance his own interests, which are not the same as those
of the peoples in the region. And again, his programs and development of
weapons of mass destruction are a threat to all the peoples in the
QUESTION: Can I follow-up? As the Human Rights Report you issued last
week pointed out, the Palestinian Authority has complete control over
public protests; they issue licenses and so forth for that sort of thing.
So it would only make sense, following on that, that they are allowing, if
not actually issuing permits for these types of protests.
MR. FOLEY: I can't join you in your leap to a conclusion which may or may
not be correct. I truly don't know. It seems to me that it is possible that
demonstrations could take place without the PA's necessary involvement.
That's a fact that would need to be checked. Therefore, I really am not in
a position to answer the question.
Did you have another question, Sid?
MR. FOLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: To follow that up, it was reporting today that Yasser Arafat's
Fatah group did, in fact, organize demonstrations in the West Bank in favor
of Saddam, complete with the burning of US flags, pictures of Saddam and
such. Where does the line blur between Fatah and the PA? And doesn't that
constitute official endorsement?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think it has to be the American view, no matter what
your political opinion, that people do have a right to peaceful assembly,
assuming that there was peaceful assembly. People do have a right to
demonstrate. People do have a right to express their views, to disagree
with American policy, for example. We've stated that in other situations. I
think we disagree with that sentiment profoundly and unreservedly, but I
can't comment further, though.
QUESTION: The issue is the Palestinian leadership, not the people in the
MR. FOLEY: Well, again, I'm not aware of any official connection to those
QUESTION: Jim, just going back to what you said about the Arab nations,
you seem to suggest that when push comes to shove, they will give their
cooperation and come to the realization that the ultimate end game is force
here. Does that you're not ruling out the Saudis will suddenly, at the last
moment, make their air bases available to the US for strikes?
MR. FOLEY: I can only repeat, Crystal, what I said; that we have asked
for and received the cooperation that we believe --
QUESTION: -- specifically ruling out whether or not the Saudis - because
right now they're saying no. But are you ruling out that this --
MR. FOLEY: Again, I rejected the idea that the Saudis have said
QUESTION: Senator Lott suggested today, apparently, that maybe we ought
to start considering some middle ground between diplomacy and force, and
look into the idea of bolstering pro-democracy forces in Iraq, assuming
they haven't all been wiped out or shipped to Guam. Do you have a reaction
MR. FOLEY: Well, it would surprise me if Senator Lott is in any way
suggesting any change in the very strong congressional bipartisan backing
that the President has received thus far for pursuing all means necessary
to achieve compliance on the part of Saddam Hussein and his regime. So I
would have to see specifically the quote you refer to, which I have not
seen. But again, I would truly be surprised if there were any weakening of
resolve on the part of the Congress to stand with the President to see this
crisis through to success.
On the matter, though, of political developments inside Iraq, clearly we
believe that the Iraqi people would be better off with a different regime.
We, indeed, look forward to working and dealing with the post-Saddam regime
in Iraq that relinquishes weapons of mass destruction and does not threaten
We have supported opposition groups in the past, and would be interested in
more effective ways of doing so.
QUESTION: So looking forward to a new regime is not the same as helping
bring it about. And Senator Lott, in his remarks yesterday on one of the
talk shows, said he still could not see that there was a coherent long-term
policy. He also thought there hadn't even been a final decision as to what
the goals would be of a military intervention.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think the Administration could not possibly be clearer
about what he goals of a military action would be, if it comes to the use
of force. And I can repeat what they are, and the Secretary did in her
speech this morning. The fundamental goal is to substantially diminish
Iraq's capacity to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction and
delivery systems, and also to reduce Iraq's ability to threaten its
QUESTION: Senator Lott, in full cognizance of this expression of the
goals, says that it does not constitute - he think there still is not a
final decision, and that this is not --
MR. FOLEY: A final decision on what?
QUESTION: On what the goals are, and he says - and he's not a man who's
just off the street; he's gotten his briefings from the Administration. His
view is that it is not a coherent set of goals. I mean, how do you deal
with Senator Lott, if that's what his view is. How do you clarify
MR. FOLEY: Well, we are in constant consultations with the Congress.
Secretary Albright is, Secretary Cohen and the President himself. We
believe that our goals are crystal clear, and we've explained that to the
congressional leadership. I think there's been some talk about - that
you've seen in the press, about the Iraqi opposition, about doing more in
this area to produce political changes in Iraq. And we have, as I did a
minute ago, stated our view that it would be much better for the people of
Iraq to be living in a post-Saddam world, and we look forward to that
But the Secretary this morning in her speech noted that the Administration
is not proposing a reconstitution of the Gulf War ground force deployments,
which involved upwards of half a million Americans, and which, at its time,
did not itself result in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. That's
not, clearly, what our goal is in this particular crisis. But again, the
goals are two-fold. I don't have to repeat them, Roy. We believe that they
are very clear, and we also believe that they are achievable.
QUESTION: Do you have any change in your Northern Iraq policy, which you
stated on this podium several times?
MR. FOLEY: Do you have a specific question?
QUESTION: Yes, do you planning to --
MR. FOLEY: The simple answer is no.
QUESTION: -- independent Kurdish state in Northern Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: I stated 20 minutes ago, while we were still on the subject of
Iraq, that the United States continues to support the territorial integrity
QUESTION: Would autonomy for the Kurds in Northern Iraq be consistent
with US support for territorial integrity of Iraq?
MR. FOLEY: Well, as is our policy around the world, we believe that
within a given nation, within a given political entity, that people ought
to have an opportunity to express the attributes of their ethnic heritage.
I don't believe that there's any kind of a blueprint in our mind or anyone
else's about what Iraq would look like post-Saddam Hussein. What we do know
is that it's an appallingly bad political system that represses the rights
of all of its people.
In a post-Saddam Iraq, we would certainly hope that that government would,
as I indicated, relinquish its weapons of mass destruction, cease
threatening its neighbors, and also, if it's a regime that seeks to promote
universal standards of human rights, would be one that respected the rights
of all of its people including its component in ethnic minorities.
QUESTION: On another subject, I apologize if you dealt with this or
somebody dealt with it last week when I wasn't here. The discussion between
the United States and Ukraine about its efforts to sell nuclear reactors to
Russia, I gather, so that Russia could then complete the Bushehr project -
can you talk a little bit about that?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the United States has been discussing with Ukraine our
concerns about assistance to Iran's nuclear program in cooperation with the
Bushehr project. We have made clear our strong desire that Ukraine not
provide such assistance.
The United States and Ukraine share common interests with respect to
nonproliferation, and we are engaged in a range of cooperative efforts
beneficial to both sides. We and Ukraine would like to see these efforts
QUESTION: And would you be specific as to what it is that Ukraine - you
don't want Ukraine to provide?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I think you referred to it in your question. It's a
question of turbines that would be --
QUESTION: Two turbines or - I mean, can you be specific?
MR. FOLEY: I don't want to misspeak. I could check that for you, how many
turbines are involved, to go to Iran's Bushehr reactor.
QUESTION: And what are the Ukrainians telling you?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to get into what they're telling us, but
our discussions are ongoing. Ambassador Sestanovich was in Ukraine a month
or two ago, I believe it was in December, to pursue this among other
subjects involving the bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: But you haven't gotten any satisfaction from these discussions?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that it's been conclusive, the discussions. I
think they are ongoing, on this subject.
QUESTION: And what happens if you can't reach agreement with them?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't want to speculate that we're not going to reach
agreement with them. I think that we understand the problems Ukraine faces,
economically, and we want to be able to increase our economic cooperation
with Ukraine, and also to be in a position to ease the impact of any
Ukrainian decision not to participate in the Bushehr reactor. So obviously,
we're discussing with them those kinds of aspects of the question.
QUESTION: Well, they already get a considerable amount of aid from the
United States. Is this likely to be effective?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that we're talking about the aid that we're
currently giving, because we believe that Ukraine's successful transition
to a market economy, its viability as a New Independent State is linked to
our ability to continue to help them in this transition. But we could have
a significantly improved economic relationship. One of the elements that
would be possible is an agreement on peaceful cooperation in nuclear
energy. This sort of agreement would certainly be linked to this kind of
QUESTION: And how close is that to being finished?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not sure what the exact status is of that today.
QUESTION: Jim, I just want to be clear. So you're telling the Ukraine
that there are financial rewards from the United States involved that would
be coming to them if they do not supply the turbines to Iran?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't have specifics to give you today.
QUESTION: But in general, is that --
MR. FOLEY: But the general point of enhanced economic cooperation, I can
say, is something that we're discussing with the Ukrainians in this
QUESTION: Different subject, Japan?
MR. FOLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: On Friday, the governor of Okinawa rejected the idea of a
floating base, and I wondered if you had any comment on that. And also, if
Tokyo cannot negotiate with the governor of Okinawa to let this base go
forward, are there any other plans in the making as a substitute?
MR. FOLEY: We are aware of the governor's statement, but we are confident
that the government of Japan remains committed, fully committed, to the
goals of the process that occurs under the aegis of the Special Action
Committee on Okinawa that we and the Japanese have established. For our
part, we, too, remain committed to the goals of this process and will
continue our close consultation and cooperation with the government of
In terms of what happens next, the Special Action Committee on Okinawa
developed recommendations on ways to realign, consolidate and reduce US
facilities and areas, and to adjust operational procedures of US forces in
Okinawa in order to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa. The
proposal to relocate the air base offshore grew out of these series of
discussions and recommendations.
As far as the United States is concerned, we remain committed to these
goals and to the steady implementation of the initiatives in the SACO, as
we call it, final report. And we will continue our close consultations with
the Japanese Government and cooperation on this subject.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, given what the governor of Okinawa said, do
you see any way that you can go forward with this floating base project?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the floating base was an alternative, an option. It was
not necessarily the only option, but it is the one that was discussed
between the United States and Japan and one which we supported, that would
both, as I said, reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa of US forces
there, and also enable US forces to continue to do their job effectively
We still think that that is a good option and a viable option, but clearly,
the Japanese political process will have to address this issue and find its
way forward towards a solution that we both can agree on, whether it's this
option or another option.
QUESTION: Yes, on China, what is the State Department doing to try to get
back -- or are you trying to get back Wang Bingzhang from China, who was
detained, I believe, the other day, before he was about to set up an
MR. FOLEY: Given our long-standing commitment to urging China to improve
its human rights record, we are concerned about the detention of democracy
activist Wang Bingzhang. Our Embassy in Beijing and our Consulate General
in Shanghai have expressed US Government concern to the Chinese Government,
and have asked for more details about the case. We understand, and are
seeking to confirm, that Mr. Wang is a Chinese citizen and a legal
permanent resident of the United States.
QUESTION: The Israelis and the Palestinians are due here, I believe, this
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how you're going to proceed with that -- when
it's going to happen, when you're going to brief on it and so forth?
MR. FOLEY: Well, I believe that they are here tomorrow, that meetings are
to take place tomorrow and Wednesday, with Ambassador Ross. The purpose of
the meetings will be to discuss Palestinian and Israeli responses to the
ideas that President Clinton and Secretary Albright put forward when the
Prime Minister and Chairman Arafat were here a number of weeks ago.
QUESTION: Are these trilaterals or bilaterals?
MR. FOLEY: They are bilaterals.
QUESTION: Will the Secretary be doing any scolding during those
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that a meeting between her and the respective
officials is scheduled. I wouldn't rule it out, but it's not planned for
QUESTION: And who are the officials that are representing the two
MR. FOLEY: On the Israeli side, Mr. Naveh and, I believe, Mr. Arad; and
Mr. Erekat on the Palestinian side.
MR. FOLEY: Yes, that's my understanding.
QUESTION: Yes, I have a question on Mexico. Mexico's Labastida is saying
that he is considering filing some type of legal recourse against The
Washington Times, and also that he is -- in regard to the CIA report. And
the CIA has not yet denied the report, the findings of the report. Does the
State Department have any comment on this?
MR. FOLEY: On which aspect, Toni?
QUESTION: Well, on the report, and also on whether - what can be done if
Mexico can file this suit against the United States - I mean, against The
MR. FOLEY: I don't think we would comment on such a matter, which would
be one between the entities involved. But in terms of the report, though,
you won't be surprised that we do not ever comment on intelligence or
alleged intelligence reports, or allegedly leaked intelligence reports. The
State Department has received a diplomatic note concerning this matter. We
are studying it, and I would have to reserve further comment at this
QUESTION: Is Natan Sharansky, the Israeli Industrial Minister, coming
here this week?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware that he is.
Yes. One more question.
QUESTION: One last question.
MR. FOLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: About Mr. Wang --
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- you said he's a legal resident, not a citizen.
MR. FOLEY: We're seeking to confirm that.
QUESTION: Oh, you're not sure yet?
MR. FOLEY: We're seeking to confirm it.
QUESTION: Okay. Regardless of that, what sort of protection is he
entitled to, either as a resident or - of course, a citizen -
MR. FOLEY: Well, if he's an American citizen, then he's entitled to - I
believe, in both cases - let me be careful about the distinction between
what our embassy can do on behalf of an American citizen and what we can do
on behalf of a legal permanent resident. I'd like to get that for
Certainly, in the case of someone who is a citizen of a foreign country
where he's been detained, our ability to influence matters is less than
involving an American citizen himself.
(The briefing concluded at 1:50 P.M.)