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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #25, 98-02-25

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>


850

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, February 25, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

STATEMENTS
1		KUWAIT: National Day; Anniversary of Liberation
1		JAPAN: Consultative Committee on Fisheries Concludes
1		MIGRATION: International Conference, Feb 24-27

IRAQ 1-2,5,9-10 Agreement: Focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction / Sen Lott Criticism / Iraqi Implementation / Details to Address 2-4 Compliance: Reversal of Course / Accounting for Kuwaiti Prisoners 3-4,6-10,13 UNSCOM: Inspectors / Teams / Diplomats / Commissioner / Executive Director / Role of Chairman Butler / Responsibilities for Certification 5-6 Military Force: Costs for US Military Operations / Support from Other Countries /Additional UNSC Resolution 7-8 Sites: Access / Off-Limits Areas 12-13 Secretary: Feb 15 Mtg with UN Secretary General / Discussion of Diplomatic Solution / Rationale for US Policy

IRAN 10-11 EU Decision on Visits / Exchanges with US

TERRORISM 11 Calls for Terrorist Acts Against Americans / Public Announcements re Travel

KOREA 11-12 Inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea 12 US Support for North-South Dialogue

CHINA 14 Chinese Citizens Arrested in US for Selling Body Parts for Transplant Purposes


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #25

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1998, 12:40 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I have one statement that I'm going to read this morning. Today is Kuwait's National Day, and tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait. We celebrate the success of the international coalition in expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and re-emphasize our commitment to Kuwait's independence.

At the same time, we note the continuing legacy of Saddam's unprovoked invasion and brutal occupation. In a tragic reminder of Saddam's aggression, the fate of the more than 600 Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing remains unknown. Together with Saddam Hussein's obligation to provide free and unfettered access to the United Nations' Special Commission, his obligation to provide a complete accounting of the POW/Missing, as mandated in Security Council resolutions, remains unfulfilled.

The Iraqi regime has resorted to obstructionism and blatant denials to frustrate international diplomatic efforts to resolve the fate of the POW/Missing. These tactics must not allow Saddam Hussein to evade his regime's legal and humanitarian responsibilities to the families of his victims and to the community of nations.

We also have a statement on the US-Japan consultative committee on fisheries, as well as a statement on the international migration conference that will be issued after the briefing. But let me go right to your questions.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you happen to know if the 600 missing were part of Kofi Annan's brief?

MR. RUBIN: I believe the focus of his efforts was the weapons of mass destruction, but in the course of which the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, which do include this, I suspect came up in one form or another. But I think his objective was, again, to do what we've said, which is to get the best possible way to combat the threat of weapons of mass destruction implemented; and that best possible way is to get the inspectors back to work.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one late-breaking, as we say?

MR. RUBIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Senate Majority Leader Lott has really opened fire on the agreement. He says that Kofi Annan has put trust in somebody, meaning Saddam, of course, who can't be trusted - calls the agreement folly, et cetera. You've had criticism like that before. I don't know if you've seen the Senator's remarks, but is there a response to that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm familiar with the gist of what the Senator said. It's much like what some of the other Senators said yesterday.

Let me say this. Let's bear in mind why we believe that this agreement was a step in the right direction. This is a win-win situation for the U.S. Administration. If, as a result of Kofi Annan's efforts, Saddam Hussein changes course, proceeds from a pattern of stonewalling and non-cooperation to a pattern of cooperation, if he reverses course, the best way to combat the clear and present danger of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this dictator will be achieved; and that is the inspectors doing their jobs -- the inspectors who have been able to uncover tens of thousands of chemical weapons, missile systems and precursor chemicals and biologicals. This is the best way to combat the threat, if he reverses course and moves from stonewalling to cooperation.

If he reneges on this agreement as it is implemented, if he refuses to allow inspectors access, if he continues the pattern of stonewalling that was so evident over the last several years, we have very firm assurances from our friends and allies -- key members of the Security Council -- that they will be more supportive for the use of military force.

So we are in a win-win situation. If Saddam Hussein reverses course in practice, we will be combating the threat in the most direct possible way. If he fails to comply, if he reneges in front of the whole world, we believe we will have greater support for much stronger measures, as the President has indicated he would be prepared to take.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. Do you agree with Kofi Annan's assessment that UN inspectors have been cowboying in their duties? I believe he's reported to have said that to the Security Council in recent days. And secondly, can we gather from your opening statement that under no conditions will sanctions be lifted from Iraq until they account for the 600 missing prisoners of war?

MR. RUBIN: Let me make clear our position on both points. On the second point, we have said that he needs to comply with the relevant resolutions, one of the relevant provisions of which is the accounting for Kuwaiti prisoners. So yes, that is a part of the requirement that would yield a position by the United States that we could move towards sanctions relief if the relevant resolutions, including provisions on this, were acted upon.

But that's a long way off. That's a truly hypothetical question. We have seen no indication that Iraq is going to do this, nor have we seen any indication yet, until this agreement is tested, that Iraq is going to change its behavior.

On the first question, let me say this. A lot of people can focus on the words of the agreement. They could focus on the words that the Secretary General may or may not have said behind closed doors, after three and a half days of a long, long trip to Iraq. But what we're focusing on is the testing of this agreement. We're focusing on substance. It's not about the words of an agreement; it's not about the words of the Secretary General in characterizing Iraqi views about UNSCOM. What we are focused -- our efforts are now on clarifying the agreement, on getting the ambiguities resolved.

President Clinton, Secretary Albright and Ambassador Richardson have all been in contact with the Secretary General in the last 24 hours, as well as the UN Mission in New York being in discussions with the experts. As a result of those conversations, we have received assurances on some major points.

First of all, that Chairman Butler is in charge of this operation. Chairman Butler will be in operational control of this mission. Secondly, that Chairman Butler will not be reporting to some new political advisor in the Secretary General's operation. The relationship between Chairman Butler and the United Nations Security Council will remain unchanged. Thirdly, diplomats will accompany the inspectors, but they're not going to be the inspectors. The team leader - and this is the fourth point, and this is critical for those of you who want to know how this agreement is going to play out in practice if the Iraqis cooperate -- the team leaders for this special group in these special locations will be UNSCOM inspectors, reporting to the UNSCOM chairman, who will then be in a position to report to the Security Council. So the experts are in charge.

Fifthly, the commissioner for this special group will be one of the UNSCOM commissioners. This group will be within the construct called the UN Special Commission, UNSCOM. The executive chairman of that commission, with all its members, is kind of like the chairman of the board of a corporation with a lot of board members. So as the executive chairman of this commission, he is in charge. So all the assurances we've gotten are that the issue is not going to be so much what this agreement says, but the issue is going to be a lot more on whether Iraq changes course and moves from a pattern of non-cooperation to a pattern of cooperation.

The proof of this agreement will not come in the words or the clarifications. Ultimately, the proof of this agreement will come in its testing and its implementation.

QUESTION: Can I follow up here? Just this commission - I'm a little unclear on this.

MR. RUBIN: I'll do my best.

QUESTION: This is going to be another layer, another - can you just explain what --?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me try that again. One of the things that we felt strongly about was that this special group for this special purpose - inspecting sites that UNSCOM has never been to before, no UN inspectors have ever been - was within the UNSCOM system. The assurances we've received is that the UNSCOM commissioner, the person who will be selected to be the commissioner of this special group will be an UNSCOM commissioner, but not Butler. But Butler is the executive chairman of that commission.

QUESTION: So he'll be above - he'll still be above --

MR. RUBIN: He will be - I'm trying to give you the best analogy I can, which is there's a board called UNSCOM, there are board members and there's a chairman of the board. The executive chairman of the commission is Butler. There are 21 or so commissioners, one of which will be the commissioner for this special group within the UNSCOM system.

QUESTION: What's a long way off and hypothetical - that Iraq will satisfy all the resolutions, or that the sanctions will be lifted because Iraq has satisfied - it's practically the same thing? But I want to be clear what you think is a long way off.

MR. RUBIN: I would start with what's genuinely hypothetical. We're from Missouri on whether Saddam Hussein is going to comply with this agreement. And before we can even begin to discuss whether it's this accord, this area of weapons of mass destruction or all the other areas, we need to see a pattern of continuous cooperation from Iraq - a pattern that has been sadly missing from their behavior in the past. Until we see a pattern of cooperation and the UNSCOM inspectors can do their work, we're not going to be in a position for the experts to make any judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction: have they destroyed them; have they destroyed all the precursor chemicals that Iraq apparently had imported prior to the war?

These are the kind of expert judgments that are a long way off because of the Iraqi behavior. If their pattern of behavior changes, they'll be less long way off. But we don't have any reason to know at this point that he indeed will change from non-cooperation to cooperation.

QUESTION: But the other resolutions are still in play?

MR. RUBIN: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Kuwait has to be satisfied, et cetera.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: And that obviously is a long way off if you have this pattern plus other things.

MR. RUBIN: Correct, yes.

QUESTION: You've just said over and over again, as well as others, and the Secretary has said this - that Saddam doesn't have the proclivity for cooperation.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: What makes you confident - and I have a second question - that this time around, this agreement and this promise is any different from the behavior we've seen from him seven years - throughout the seven years? What makes you all --

MR. RUBIN: I don't think anybody has expressed confidence that he's going to implement this agreement. We've expressed confidence that, as we've sought additional assurances from the United Nations, we've received clarifications that are moving in the right direction; that make clear that the UN Special Commission Chairman Butler will be in charge; that the experts will be doing their work; that the team leader of the inspections will be from the UN Special Commission. Those are the items we're increasingly confident about, but I don't think anyone has expressed confidence that Saddam Hussein is going to reverse his behavior.

What we've expressed confidence about is that we are in a situation where, either way, we're better off. If Saddam Hussein does change his behavior -- and that's a huge if, as the President said -- we will be able to combat the threat of weapons of mass destruction through the best means, which is the inspectors doing their work. If Saddam Hussein doesn't change his behavior, the whole world will watch him renege on an agreement signed with the Secretary General and the support of many nations in the world. And we've received concrete assurances from key countries that in that event, the severest consequences will ensue and that we will receive support for the military action the President has spoken of.

QUESTION: Just to follow up about --there are reports now that it's costing to keep troops over there about $600 million, and those costs could increase the longer troops are over there. Is the United States prepared to keep the troops over there indefinitely and ratchet up these kind of costs?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think you know that costs for military operations are better directed at my colleague Ken Bacon at the Pentagon. But as far as the overall posture is concerned, the President has made clear we will keep our forces at this high state of preparation for some time. Until the President changes that decision, that is the plan.

QUESTION: Jamie, do these five clarifications that you went through, does that clear up all the ambiguities?

MR. RUBIN: No, there are still details to be worked out with regard to the mapping of the sites and how that exactly will be worked, how the diplomats will be chosen. There are ambiguities that still need to be clarified, and we want to continue to do that work.

But as far as some of the key principles that have undergirded our position on this from the beginning -- namely, that the experts are in charge, that the agreement will be tested very quickly -- we've received assurances -- I would say this is a sixth assurance -- that the agreement will be tested very quickly. We expect that to happen as soon as possible. Thirdly, that the integrity of the process is protected because the team leaders will be from UNSCOM, will report to the UNSCOM chairman, and the relationship between this chairman of the UN inspectors and the Security Council will not change; and lastly, that the access is total.

I think, if anyone looks at this agreement, I would urge you to read it carefully, from the leaked copies I've seen in some of the news account. And I would point you to the fact - what I've been saying to you for some time here - this is not about presidential sites; this is about a whole slew of sites across Iraq, a whole pattern of cooperation. In that case, the agreement is very explicit with regard to information, materials, means of transportation, all the other locations in Iraq. Iraq has to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and provide full and complete access.

QUESTION: You talked about key countries indicating support if he reneges. Do you want to say which ones they are? Do you want to say how many there are?

MR. RUBIN: What we try to do here is give you as best an indication as we can about the views of other countries. But until those other countries have made their views public, we're reluctant to do that for them. But what I can say is this: when it comes to the key members of the Security Council, the ones whose votes count the most, we have assurances that they will be increasingly supportive of the prospect of military force if Saddam Hussein reneges on this agreement.

QUESTION: Jamie, will you all seek another resolution in the Security Council to try and lay out parameters for non-compliance that could lead to military actions, or would you prefer to keep this vague?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly don't want to keep anything vague, Betsy. The memorandum of understanding is between the UN Secretary General and Iraq. It consolidates commitments made by Iraq concerning the ability of the UN Special Commission inspectors to pursue their mandate.

This mandate and the UN Special Commission itself were established by the Security Council. It is therefore appropriate for the Council to take action to codify developments that affect the implementation of that mandate. As far as what such a resolution should or should not include, all I can say is we're consulting on this. We do think it's important to make abundantly clear to Iraq that they must provide the unfettered access, and the Iraqis should understand that we will go back to a situation if they fail to comply in which the United States has made clear there will be serious consequences if he fails to implement this agreement.

This is a very serious matter, and there will be serious consequence if Iraq reneges on this agreement.

QUESTION: Jamie, one point - I think you have made clear that the person who is head of this diplomatic component for these teams is a commissioner that will report to Butler; correct?

MR. RUBIN: In the sense that a chairman of the board sits on a board and the board members look to the chairman of the board to be their leader. Again, UN bureaucrats --

QUESTION: That puts him above Butler.

MR. RUBIN: No, no, on the contrary, Betsy. What I'm trying to explain - reporting to is a term of art for bureaucrats, even for journalists who have to report to producers and executive editors. And I want to be very clear on this: when it comes to the meat and potatoes of the work of inspectors, the team leader -- even for these sensitive sites, these so- called presidential sites - will be from UNSCOM, will provide his report directly to the executive chairman. The executive chairman will make his report to the Security Council. So there is a direct line between the experts doing the inspecting and the Security Council evaluating the process.

As far as who will be the titular head of this special group within the UN Special Commission, UNSCOM, process, it's complicated. The simple way to analogize is the titular head of that special group within the UNSCOM process is equivalent to a board member; the chairman of that board, being executive chairman, Richard Butler.

QUESTION: Will this person make a separate report, separate from --

MR. RUBIN: No, Butler does the reporting. There's no question about that.

QUESTION: So is this person there just to give face - or allow the Iraqis to save face? Is that the point of this?

MR. RUBIN: Look, I'm not going to psychoanalyze the reasons the Iraqis might have decided to reverse course on paper. They've clearly reversed course on paper. They're now prepared to say that they're going to give the access they've refused to give. Whether they reverse course in practice remains to be seen. We want this process to be tested; we want it to be tested as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Well, I ask the question because the Iraqis are saying Butler is not in charge --

MR. RUBIN: We've received firm assurances that Butler is in charge.

QUESTION: Jamie, is the U.S. understanding that the special group will search the entire boundaries of the presidential sites? And is that acceptable to you, as opposed to just the presidential palaces, which was the position at one point?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that there will be total access. The precise way in which that will be accomplished is one of the details that needs to be clarified within these compounds, but the access is total.

QUESTION: In other words, they will have responsibility for certifying - the special group, that is - certifying compliance within those boundaries; is that right?

MR. RUBIN: That's not the way it works. An inspection team doesn't certify compliance of anything. An inspection team sets out a decision: I want to go somewhere. They then ask for access to those locations. Then they go and they evaluate the information they a factual report -- to the executive chairman. And he is then analyzing that information on the basis of all the information he has.

Let me remind you, one of the reasons why these presidential sites were important is because we can't have a sanctuary. Not so much that people thought that there were weapons of mass destruction hidden there, but people knew that if you had a sanctuary, a place that was off-limits to the inspectors, then the Iraqis could take material, evidence, documentation, or in the extreme, weapons of mass destruction, move them from places you were inspecting into places you couldn't go.

So what you need is a closed circle by which hard-nosed, trained inspectors can do their job, report to the UN Special Commission chairman, Richard Butler, and then he can report to the Security Council for the Security Council to make judgments.

QUESTION: Jamie, you have used the phrase "we've gotten assurances the agreement will be tested very quickly," things like that. Can you put that into, as best you can, a time frame? Are we talking about days? Are we talking about weeks? Butler is supposed to go next week.

MR. RUBIN: That decision will be up to UNSCOM to make. But what we wanted to see, and we're pleased that we received assurances regarding, is that this will be tested quickly, because our view is the proof of this agreement is not in the wording or the nit-picking, but in the testing.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Rubin. Is there going to be any place in Iraq that is off-limits where the inspectors cannot go, or is this access to the total totality of Saddam's territory?

MR. RUBIN: Our understanding is it's total access.

QUESTION: Can you go back to this board member who's going to head up the special sites. It just sounds a little odd to me.

MR. RUBIN: I think you haven't spent enough time in the private sector, Sid.

QUESTION: Clearly, looking at my bank account.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Or in international relations.

QUESTION: Thanks, Charlie.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: This person is a member of UNSCOM?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, is an UNSCOM commissioner.

QUESTION: He's an UNSCOM commissioner?

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: Someone who - an existing UNSCOM commissioner?

MR. RUBIN: Maybe one - there are vacancies. He might be from a vacancy.

QUESTION: Okay. This person will decide how -- where to inspect?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: No?

MR. RUBIN: This person will be in charge of developing and overseeing the special group. The special group's procedures will be based on the key point - and this is what I would focus you to - that in the case of how this special group will operate, the team leader for an inspection will be an UNSCOM inspector. Diplomats will accompany; diplomats will observe; diplomats will not inspect. Professionals will inspect.

Furthermore, we've been assured by the Secretary General that his selection of this commissioner will be a professional arms control expert. Again, the importance here is that even when the Iraqis wanted an outside evaluation of the work that UNSCOM had done -- the so-called technical evaluation teams that I reported on to you last week - it was clear to this outside evaluation team that Iraq was doing all the things that UNSCOM said. They were non-cooperating in documentation; they were challenging the facts; they were not providing information. And there were these gaps in the areas of chemical weapons, biological weapons and missiles.

So the point is, when experts who understand the parameters of these issues, examine the issues, there are no alternative facts possible. What we've seen time and time again is every time someone evaluates Iraq's cooperation, they conclude they're not cooperating, and every time someone evaluates Iraq's behavior, they conclude there are still huge gaps between what they say they have and what UNSCOM can prove they've destroyed.

QUESTION: And one last one - has the Clinton Administration now accepted the Secretary General's - the product of his talks in Baghdad?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we think this agreement is a step forward, but we think it will be a real step forward if its implemented properly.

QUESTION: You've now accepted what has been presented to you.

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, those are your words. My words are the ones that I can use, which is the agreement is a step forward and if it's implemented rigorously, tested rigorously, over time, it could be a major step forward. But we've seen agreements in the past. What we've never seen is a pattern of cooperation on the part of Iraq.

QUESTION: Jamie, just going back to the special group again, initially - I know, it's beating --

MR. RUBIN: I thought we beat this special group to a dead horse.

QUESTION: I guess we're going to beat it until it dies again and is reincarnated. But initially, Iraq had said that they felt as though UNSCOM was not doing their job. You mentioned the gaps, and then they called for an outside - not an outside group, but they called for another group, independent --

MR. RUBIN: Additional evaluation, yes.

QUESTION: -- to have some kind of expert opinion. So it would seem to the average person, perhaps, listening to you today, that this is - the special group was a concession made to appease Iraq and their grievances and make them happy with UNSCOM.

MR. RUBIN: I am confident that an average listener would have trouble understanding half of the things I said, let alone concluding what you concluded.

There are no concessions. Iraq has reversed course on paper. The question is, will they reverse course in practice?

QUESTION: There was no - this - it would be impossible to perceive this creation of a special group as somehow meeting Iraq halfway.

MR. RUBIN: I said yesterday that critics will criticize, and I'm sure somebody can conceive of it that way, but a fair-minded person needs to focus on two points. We demanded total access; they agreed to total access. We demanded that UNSCOM will be in charge; UNSCOM will be in charge. The question for this agreement is not what it says on the piece of paper; the question for this agreement is what will happen in practice.

QUESTION: Iran?

MR. RUBIN: Sure.

QUESTION: Russia and Iran today vowed to strengthen their economic and political ties. After the EU established high-level contacts with Iran, I believe, Sunday, foreign minister of Italy, Dini, is traveling to Tehran. I was wondering, what's the US evaluation of these developments?

MR. RUBIN: As we understand it, EU foreign ministers decided to resume official bilateral ministerial visits to and from Iran. We view this decision as the EU's to make, but have urged that contacts with Iranian officials be used to register concern over Iran's objectionable policies. In this regard, we note that the EU decision stipulates that enhanced political contacts between the EU and Iran should lead to a dialogue on areas of concern, including on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, human rights, including the fatwa against Salman Rushdi*, and Iran's attitude toward the Middle East peace process.

So we have had differences in tactics with many countries about how to deal with Iran. Let me just say this -- that with respect to the visitors that are in Iran, the academics that are there, we welcome the apparent Iranian decision to encourage these kinds of visits as a way of expanding contacts with the US, in line with President Khatemi's call for people-to-people contacts.

We have said we are ready for official talks with the Iranian Government to discuss issues of concern to both governments. Iran has said that it is not yet ready for an official dialogue. People-to-people exchanges, however, which appear to be starting up, are valuable and can help prepare the ground for government-to-government talks. We encourage those who wish to participate in such contacts to do so. When Iranians wish to come to the US, we will work to facilitate visa issuance on a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: Following up -- on the issue of fatwas do you have any comment on the report yesterday out of London of a group of unnamed religious leaders issuing fatwas against American citizens?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. We understand that there was a published fatwa that was attributed to Saudi financier Osama Bin Ladin. It is an open invitation for terrorists to attack American civilians. We strongly, strongly condemn this and all such exhortations to violence. There is no basis in Islam, or any other religion for inviting such cowardly terrorist attacks. The United States takes this and all such threats seriously. We are studying it carefully and evaluating its implications. However, there is no specific threat contained in the fatwa. The Department does, however, remind Americans that several recent public announcements relating to travel in Europe and the Middle East remain in effect.

QUESTION: South Korea has a new president. Do you have some words of welcome for him?

MR. RUBIN: We do congratulate President Kim Dae-jung and the people of Korea on the inauguration of Korea's new president. The smooth transfer of power was an impressive demonstration of the Republic of Korea's commitment to the democratic process.

President Kim takes office after the third free presidential election since the end of military rule, the first to involve a transfer of power from the ruling party to an opposition party. President Kim is well known as a supporter of strong relations between the United States and Korea. In his inaugural address, he cited US support for Korea in its time of economic crisis, and pledged to strengthen US-ROK security ties.

President Kim has many friends here, and we look forward to working closely and cooperatively with him in the future.

QUESTION: You didn't mention North Korea. Do you have any words there on his views on North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: I don't always have to have words to make up words; but I will answer your question as follows.

We do support meaningful dialogue between North and South Korea. We have said that for some time. We think this complements very well the idea of the four-party talks. We have long supported the implementation of the 1991 basic agreement. We support this meaningful dialogue, including the implementation of that agreement's specifics. It fits well with the four- party talks. President Kim has stated his support for the four-party process, and preparation for the March meetings in Geneva are moving forward.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Mr. Kim's proposal to the North Korean authority, especially on exchange of envoys?

MR. RUBIN: Again, within the context of the 1991 basic agreement between North and South Korea, we do support meaningful dialogue between North and South Korea on trying to implement that agreement as a key to lessening of tensions on the Peninsula.

QUESTION: Jamie, to go back to the Annan-Iraqi agreement, did the Secretary meet with the Secretary General two Sundays ago to talk specifically about the package that he would carry with him, or the negotiating position that he would - not the negotiating position, you'll knock that one down straight away.

(Laughter.)

The position he would take --

MR. RUBIN: You've got my number, Steve.

QUESTION: The position he would take with him if/when he went to Iraq? And was the broad framework of the agreement we see today something that was already worked out in consultation between the Secretary and the Secretary General and perhaps others, before this mission began last week?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright did meet with Secretary General Annan in New York on Sunday, February 16 - or is the 15th? They had a luncheon meeting, one-on-one; and Secretary Albright laid out the rationale for our support for a diplomatic, peaceful solution.

The rationale she laid out was that if, as a result of Kofi Annan going to Baghdad, the Iraqis were to reverse course and begin to comply and cooperate with the UN Security Council, the best way of combating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be developed. And that was our preferred course, and the President made that very clear.

Equally important, she explained that if this agreement failed to yield Iraqi compliance or if his mission failed to yield an agreement, the whole world would see that Iraq was refusing to comply with the United Nations, and the prospect of support for military action would be increased. During the course of those discussions, the Secretary did state America's position on the matter, which included a description very much like the descriptions that I had been giving you publicly about our red-lines, in terms of what any discussion could entail -- namely, that UNSCOM would be in charge of the process and that access would be permitted to all sites in Iraq. And we do believe that the outlines of the agreement fit within those parameters, but there are some important details to be clarified.

QUESTION: Was the concept of chaperones talked about in that meeting?

MR. RUBIN: The idea -- I think -- I believe soon after that meeting we all made the point that we had no problem with diplomatic chaperones accompanying technical experts; and so I suspect that that did come up in such a meeting. But beyond these broad points, I'm going to be very cautious not to get into the substance of a private discussion like that.

QUESTION: What are the chaperones going to do, Jamie?

MR. RUBIN: These are one of the issues to be talked about, but the assurances we've received during the course of the last 24 hours, through the conversation the President had with Kofi Annan, through her discussions, through Ambassador Richardson's work in New York, are that they are to tag along rather than conduct the inspections.

QUESTION: Will the head of the team have authority over the chaperones?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if this system is not worked out in such a way that will prevent any diplomat from interfering with the integrity of an inspection, then this process won't work. But those are the kinds of implementation details that need to be discussed by the experts.

QUESTION: Who will be the chaperones?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the way the agreement spells it out - and these are some of the questions we need to work on - is that the commissioner of this special group, who operates within UNSCOM, will select diplomats. But again, the team leaders and the core of that group will be from the UN Special Commission.

QUESTION: Jamie, different subject?

MR. RUBIN: Please.

QUESTION: There is a story that there are several Chinese who have been trying to sell organs from political prisoners who were killed in China. Do you have anything on that? Are we in touch with the Chinese?

MR. RUBIN: We can confirm that two Chinese citizens were arrested on February 20 for alleged violations of US laws prohibiting the purchase of human organs. The Chinese Government was notified of these arrests on February 23, in accordance with our consular obligations. We are continuing our efforts to ascertain additional facts in the case.

Let me say this -- we find the idea of trade in human body parts to be abhorrent. The State Department's 1997 China human rights report states that there have been credible reports in recent years, that body parts from executed prisoners were removed, sold and transplanted in China. Chinese officials have confirmed that executed prisoners are among the sources of organs for transplant, but maintain that consent is required.

We have raised this issue with China time and time again. We expect China to enforce applicable laws and regulations. These are very serious allegations. This is abhorrent behavior, if true. We have repeatedly raised this issue in meetings with senior Chinese officials, asked for results of investigations into this matter and will continue to do so.

QUESTION: Is this the first time that you're aware of this sort of open market in this country?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I would refer you to the human rights report from 1997. I'll have to check on what information we may have had about various reports in the United States prior to this.

QUESTION: Have the Chinese responded at all?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on their response.

(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)


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