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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #17, 98-02-09

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>


1176

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Monday, February 9, 1998

Briefer: James B. Foley

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		Posting Public Announcement on Chad and statement on laser
		  visa replacing border crossing card in Mexico

NATO Enlargement 1 U.S. estimated cost of enlargement; apportionment of costs among members

IRAQ 1-2 Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic willingness to support US on Iraq 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, "post-attack" plan 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 denies report 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 Authority 13-14 Sen. Lott supports Iraqi pro-democracy efforts; Congressional consultations 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 consultations 16-17 No effect on current U.S. economic aid, possibly on future bilateral cooperation

JAPAN 17 Okinawa Governor rejects off-shore base for relocating Futenma Marine Base

CHINA 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; delegates

MEXICO 18-19 Minister of Interior Labastida threat to file suit against Washington Times; alleged CIA report on potential involvement w/ narco-traffickers

ISRAEL 19 MinIndustry Natan Sharansky not expected in Washington this week


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFF-CAMERA DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #17

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 involved.

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 NATO.

QUESTION: The Secretary also announced that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are supportive of our military aims in Iraq, would provide support for them.

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 destruction.

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 about that?

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 problem.

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 enough."

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 get.

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 deliberately vague.

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 need.

I can't be more specific than that, Carol.

QUESTION: Well, why is the Pentagon able to discuss this with more forthrightness?

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 need.

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 state.

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: Yes.

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 embarked upon.

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 detail.

QUESTION: You have the means, certainly, to determine yourselves what is going on.

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 that square?

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. However --

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 100 --

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 force.

MR. FOLEY: You're asking me to predict how they might --

QUESTION: Well, you're answering that you think if it fails, they will understand.

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 military action.

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.

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 up?

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 compliance.

QUESTION: Is there any sort of an American diplomatic initiative?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the Secretary of State just returned from a trip to the region.

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 Iraq.

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 my question.

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.

(Laughter.)

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.

QUESTION: Seriously?

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 region.

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?

QUESTION: No.

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 streets.

MR. FOLEY: Well, again, I'm not aware of any official connection to those demonstrations.

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 no.

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 to that?

(Laughter.)

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 its neighbors.

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 neighbors.

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 it?

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 day.

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 of Iraq.

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 continue.

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.

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 context.

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 Japan.

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 there.

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 opposition rally?

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 week.

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 meetings?

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 the moment.

QUESTION: And who are the officials that are representing the two sides?

MR. FOLEY: On the Israeli side, Mr. Naveh and, I believe, Mr. Arad; and Mr. Erekat on the Palestinian side.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

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 Washington Times.

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 time.

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 you.

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.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:50 P.M.)


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