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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #44, 98-04-09

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>


416

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, April 9, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1		Statement Regarding the Secretary's Meeting with Philippine
		  Foreign Sec. Siazon
1		Announcement that there will be No Daily Briefing on
		  Friday, April 10
1-2		Secretary's Travel to Asia
16		Presentation of Secure Cellular Telephones

CAMBODIA 2-4 Update on the Plan to Apprehend Pol Pot 2,4 Discussions with Thailand over the Pol Pot Case 3 Connection Between the Pol Pot Case and the Upcoming Cambodian Elections 3-4 Legality of Pol Pot Trail Being Held in the United States 4 Whereabouts of Pol Pot 4 Pol Pot and the International War Crimes Tribunal

BOSNIA 5-6 Update on the Karadzic Case 6 SFOR Authority in the Karadzic Case 6 US View on Potential Negotiations Made in the Karadzic Case 6-7 Whereabouts of Rodovan Karadzic 7 Status of NATO Troops in the Arrest of Rodovan Karadzic 7-8 Option of Amnesty being Granted to Karadzic 8 Milosevic Statement Regarding the Karadzic Case 9 Update in the Mladic Case 9-10 US Support for a Third Courtroom for the Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal

PARAGUAY 8-9 ICJ Decision in the Breard Case

IRAN 10 US Reaction to Reports of Iran Receiving Nuclear Warheads From Kazakstan 10-11 US View on Iran's Nuclear Capability

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 11 Update on Ross' Meeting in London with the Israeli Special Assistant to the PM 12 Ross Travel Plans to the Middle East 12 US-EU Coordination on the Middle East Peace Process

GREECE 12-13 US Comment on the Attack Against Citibank 13 US Reaction to the Rhetorical Attacks on Amb. Burns by the Greek Government

COLOMBIA 13-14 US Reaction to Bob Novak's Column Regarding Guerrilla Insurgency

DEPARTMENT 14-15 Discussion between the Dept. of Defense and the State Dept. Regarding the Development of Weapons Systems 16 Presentation of Secure Cellular Telephone

JAPAN 15 US Reaction to the Announcement of Tax Cuts Designed to Stimulate their Economy

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC) 15-16 US Position on Establishing a Permanent World Court


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #44

THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 1998 12:55 P.M

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings, welcome to the State Department briefing room.

We will have a statement posted on the Philippines.

We will also not have a briefing tomorrow in honor of the respective holidays, and we will be available to take some questions if any of you have them.

Let me begin by announcing the Secretary of State's trip to Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia. She will be departing from Washington on Monday, April 27. This is the first of at least four trips that Secretary Albright will be making to the Asia Pacific region in 1998 -- including accompanying the President to China, heading the American delegation to back-to-back meetings of the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the post-Ministerial conference in Manila in July and participation in the APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November -- and therefore demonstrates the enormous effort and work that she has been putting into making sure that our Asia efforts include high-level visits and extensive work by the Secretary of State.

The purpose of this trip is for Secretary Albright to affirm continued US strategic commitments to Asia and take up specific regional and bilateral concerns, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula; the Asian financial crisis; progress towards free and fair and credible elections in Cambodia; as well as the ongoing subject of Burma.

Secretary Albright will make her second trip to Japan as Secretary of State on April 28 for high-level meetings to discuss the important cooperation between Japan and the United States on a wide variety of bilateral, regional and global issues. On Wednesday, April 29, the Secretary will travel to China, where she will lay the groundwork for President Clinton's June summit. Secretary Albright will meet with top Chinese Government officials to discuss our expanding strategic dialogue with China, and to facilitate progress on a number of issues between us and the Chinese.

The Secretary's visit to the Republic of Korea on May 1 will be the first opportunity for a top administration official to meet with President Kim Dae-Jung in Seoul and his new foreign policy team there. Secretary Albright will travel from Seoul to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on May 2, where she is looking forward to learning more about the important economic and political reforms advanced under the leadership of Prime Minister Enkhsaihan. The Secretary is scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday, May 3, so that you can all get back to work on Monday.

QUESTION: When does she leave?

MR. RUBIN: The departure is Monday, April 27.

QUESTION: You mentioned Cambodia; I have a follow-up. (Laugher) Do you have anything to say about this reported plan to capture Pol Pot?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this. We strongly believe that Pol Pot and other senior Khmer Rouge leaders should be held to account for the atrocities that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, and we would support international efforts to bring that about. We have discussed this issue with many governments over the past several months and years and have made it clear we are prepared to support and work to implement any of a variety of options should Pol Pot and others become accessible to the international community.

QUESTION: Have you devised a specific plan to take custody of him if he was offered to you, and to prosecute him?

MR. RUBIN: Obviously, this process I described that's been going on for some time now is an ongoing process. With respect to any specific order, any specific plan, any specific action, that is a hypothetical question that we are not prepared to answer at this time; and we're not prepared to answer questions about internal planning for such a hypothetical situation.

QUESTION: Can you say the governments with which you've discussed it, because Thailand today felt it had to say that it had not been approached by the United States to discuss this issue?

MR. RUBIN: Well, without referencing what they did and didn't say, because I think people have interpreted it different ways, obviously a country that we've been in touch with over the recent month includes Thailand. But I'm not going to get into a position of describing every diplomatic contact.

QUESTION: I might be mistaken, but nine months or so ago, when it appeared Pol Pot might emerge again and become available, there was very much the same sort of on-the-record guidance spoken from that podium.

MR. RUBIN: At least we're consistent.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is that your recollection, as well?

MR. RUBIN: More or less, yes.

QUESTION: I'm just trying to figure out what is new about this - what the Administration has been doing, and what's new about it.

MR. RUBIN: Well, maybe you'd have to talk to the reporters who think there's something new. What I can tell you is that we do not know the exact whereabouts of Pol Pot or other senior Khmer Rouge leaders. The situation is extremely uncertain, and we can't either confirm or deny reports that Pol Pot was recently within Thai territory. Therefore, it's inappropriate to speculate beyond that.

I think a lot of what happens here is that different reporting occurs about where he is and where he might be and whether it's more likely or less likely that he could be in a position to be brought to justice. And that yields continued consultations, and then occasionally these premature reports about something that hasn't happened - which, frankly, may make it harder for one of the worst war criminals in the 20th century to be brought to justice.

QUESTION: Do you think that this all might be wrapped up somehow in the upcoming Cambodian elections and the return of the Prince and so forth?

MR. RUBIN: Not necessarily. I think there are separate issues, which is the ongoing conflict in the part of Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge still have forces and what is going on within the Khmer Rouge in terms of the ups and downs of that civil conflict, and whether that might or might not lead to a greater chance that Pol Pot would be made available.

At the same time, with regard to the political situation, let me say that we welcome the UN's decision to monitor Cambodia's parliamentary elections. We share the concern that the elections may be threatened by the continued climate of fear and intimidation in Cambodia. We note the report that suggests that at least 90 supporters of Prince Ranariddh have been executed in Cambodia for political reason, and we urge the government there to establish conditions for free, fair and credible elections, which is a necessary precondition for a political atmosphere free of fear and intimidation, in which all parties and candidates can campaign freely.

I would not assume there is necessarily a connection here, other than to say that the ebbing and flowing of what the conflict involves in that part of Cambodia which is still seeing civil war, is what leads to reports about the likelihood, more or less likelihood, of Pol Pot being made available.

QUESTION: Is it - and you might not have the answer to this - strictly speaking, legally, is it possible for Pol Pot to be tried in the United States? Is he suspected of committing any crimes under US law?

MR. RUBIN: That is obviously a good question; but also obviously a question that is difficult for me, here at the State Department, to answer. I recommend you pose that question to the Department of Justice, which would handle American legal questions like that. But let me say this -- there are options. They include an international tribunal, a trial in a third country, or ultimately, a trial where the crimes take place. But, as far as the extent to which that would be possible in the United States, I'd recommend you address that question to the Justice Department.

QUESTION: Could you not confirm the report about him being within Thai territory because you don't know or because you don't want to talk about it?

MR. RUBIN: I believe the Thai Government has said publicly he was not; and so that's an important point for you to understand about what we can and can't say. I think there is no doubt that not only is this person one of the most horrible war criminals of the 20th century, but also a rather elusive character, who -- the reports about him change a lot. So it's unclear exactly where he is, and we can't confirm or deny it because we don't know where he is. The Thai Government has said publicly, it is my understanding, that he was not on Thai territory; so that's certainly one point that I would point out to you. And that statement doesn't differ from anything they've told us.

QUESTION: The options on an international tribunal -- are you thinking of simply expanding the scope of the existing International War Crimes Tribunal under the Security Council?

MR. RUBIN: There are discussions under way; that's certainly one way to do it. There are other ways to do it. I don't want to prejudge a very complicated legal process, but that's certainly one way to do it.

QUESTION: Jamie, it may be a matter of semantics, but can you say the same thing about what the Thai Government has told you in relation to having Pol Pot in custody, regardless of whether he's in northern Thailand or parts of Cambodia?

MR. RUBIN: I'm going to be reluctant to get into much detail about what we and the Thai Government talk about in this regard. The question was, was he in Thai territory; and therefore I tried to point to a Thai Government statement that said that he never was. And I can't confirm or deny his whereabouts.

QUESTION: Do you see an opportunity, given the fighting there, to apprehend him?

MR. RUBIN: It would certainly be good news for justice and for the world if this terrible war criminal were made available for justice.

QUESTION: Staying on the subject of bad guys --

MR. RUBIN: Boy, we could keep going on that for a while.

QUESTION: And war criminals and the tribunal. Karadzic - there's a lot of reporting today about Karadzic's negotiations might bring him to The Hague fairly soon. What do you know about that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first let me say that the pick-up yesterday of two Bosnian Serb indictees is another indication of the determination of the international community and SFOR to move forward on this subject and the resolve of the international community to bring these people to justice. Frankly, we urge Karadzic and other indictees to surrender themselves to the Tribunal. We continue to keep all options open.

Clearly, the space in which Karadzic can operate is shrinking by the day. The forces of moderation are increasingly in charge in Bosnia. The forces of extremism and the indicted war criminals are shrinking in their ability to operate. The support of the Bosnian Serb population is shrinking. His co-conspirators have been increasingly brought to justice. So clearly, his ability to operate is shrinking, and the only course of wisdom - if there is any wisdom left in that man - is to turn himself over and face the justice that has demonstrated that it is fair through the different decisions of the court.

With respect to his whereabouts, I'm not going to get into a position of identifying for the world what we know or don't know about the whereabouts of indicted war criminals. That would be just plain stupid.

QUESTION: And what about the issue of, are there negotiations? What do you know about any negotiations between Karadzic and the court?

MR. RUBIN: We hear reports of this from time to time. It's really a question that ought to be addressed to the Tribunal, because if in fact this is going on, obviously, they would be the ones that would be involved in such a hand-over or such a surrender.

But again, let me say that it behooves the people of the Bosnian Serb Republic to make clear to him that so long as he refuses to accept justice, so long as he refuses to face the music of the Tribunal, that the people of the Bosnian Serb Republic are harmed. It would be in his interest to find a way to turn himself in and face international justice.

The extent to which feelers may have been sent out by different lawyers or friends of his is not up to us to comment; that's really up to the Tribunal. But we would certainly welcome any effort to have him voluntarily surrender.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that he might place himself in custody any time soon?

MR. RUBIN: The reason to believe that he could is the reasons that I just gave you -he is isolated; he is increasingly unable to operate; he's increasingly unpopular; his supporters are reducing in number, reducing in power. It therefore is the time for him to turn himself in. Those are the reasons we might have to believe that he will turn himself in.

As far as any separate negotiations are concerned, if they are occurring, it's up to the Tribunal to talk about them. We hear reports of this from time to time, and many times they turn out to be smoke and no fire, so to speak. All I can say is that if there is such discussion, it ought to be discussed by the Tribunal.

QUESTION: Several questions - one, there are officials in Europe who are saying that -

MR. RUBIN: I hope I have several answers; I'm skeptical.

QUESTION: I do, too - that in the last few days, SFOR moved in and photographed and fingerprinted a large number of the armed men who were guarding Mr. Karadzic; and that a large number of them decided that it was better, for various reasons, not to be there any more and that they have basically been disbanded. What do you know about that? What can you tell us about that, first of all?

MR. RUBIN: The only thing I know about this issue -- and I urge you to speak to the Pentagon further about it -- is that as part of the Dayton IA Annex, the police that have been operating there fall under the jurisdiction of SFOR. SFOR has the right and the authority to check on what they're doing and what their weapons are and how they are operating. And that that operation, I believe it was last week, which took place was under that rubric What SFOR actually did at that level of detail would obviously be something for SFOR or the Pentagon to do.

But to whatever extent the people in that part of the world, in Pale, get the message that their days are numbered in terms of political power and their only chance is to face the music of international justice, the better it is.

QUESTION: On the question of negotiations - there are reports that Mr. Karadzic is seeking assurances, first of all having to do with the kind of legal representation he would have, and secondly having to do with where he would spend time in jail, assuming he were convicted. There are certain countries he doesn't want to go to. Would the United States support giving him any assurances if it would lead to his, of that sort -- if it would lead to his surrendering himself?

MR. RUBIN: Without getting in the middle of any potential discussion, which I am not confirming because we are not a position to do so, let me say this. The Tribunal has demonstrated enormous legal flexibility in terms of being able to show that indictees and defendants get a fair trial and get fair treatment. Sentences have been greatly reduced, some cases have been dropped, if I'm not mistaken. So there's no doubt that this tribunal is a fair instrument of international justice. And whatever legitimate concerns that Mr. Karadzic had would surely be addressed by this legitimate instrument, the Tribunal. We, as a rule, I would say in general, would be prepared to live with whatever decisions the tribunal made in that regard.

QUESTION: You say you're not prepared to say, for obvious reasons, where you think Mr. Karadzic is. Are you prepared to say, perhaps, where he is not? Is he not -

MR. RUBIN: That tends to narrow the -

QUESTION: Yes, it does. There's the world behind you, can we eliminate Belarus as a possibility?

MR. RUBIN: But if I started to do - I think we can eliminate Belarus, but I'm going to stop there because the practice of getting into saying where he isn't ends up saying where we think he is, which may give him information about what we do or don't know, which is downright stupid.

QUESTION: Jamie, this is a fairly simple question. Maybe you can answer it, maybe you can't.

MR. RUBIN: Who knows?

(Laughter.)

Sometimes we can, sometimes we can't here at the podium.

(Laughter.)

We definitely answer on background, though.

QUESTION: Well, that's true; those senior officials, they're everywhere. Would you say, simply, that NATO troops are closing in on arresting Karadzic?

MR. RUBIN: I would say that NATO troops have been engaged in closing in on the political power that Karadzic has by making clear that SFOR and the Dodik Government is in charge of Bosnia, and that the ability of Karadzic to have any operating space is shrinking rapidly. But as far as an arrest issue is concerned, I will return to our standard formulation, if you want me to, which is that SFOR has the authority to arrest war criminals, and it's up to the local commander to make a military judgment as to whether doing so is wise.

QUESTION: Would you say, though, that the troops perhaps - just to put it another way - may be tightening the noose around his neck? You said that the circle was closing in.

MR. RUBIN: Certainly the international community is tightening the noose around the neck of Mr. Karadzic by shrinking his political space, shrinking his power base, shrinking his ability to operate and increasing the power and political space for those moderate Bosnian Serbs like Prime Minister Dodik, who are determined to see the people of the Bosnian Serb Republic regain the benefits that the former Yugoslavia had and to move away from the kind of extremism that Mr. Karadzic's faction represents.

QUESTION: Jamie, is some sort of amnesty in a third country out of the question for Karadzic, as far as the United States is concerned?

MR. RUBIN: This man belongs in The Hague; that's where we think he belongs.

QUESTION: So it's out of the question?

MR. RUBIN: It's our view that indicted war criminals belong in The Hague.

QUESTION: Jamie, Milosevic has long argued that it would be political suicide to turn over Karadzic. Do you have any indication that he might have changed his mind?

MR. RUBIN: For who; for Milosevic himself?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. RUBIN: I mean, this guy will say almost anything on any given day to pursue some tactical agenda.

Clearly, the forces of moderation are ascendant in the Bosnian Serb Republic; and therefore, those kinds of statements are ridiculous.

QUESTION: I'm a little curious as to why you're ruling out on the amnesty question, or why you answered it the way you did. Are you saying that amnesty is still a hypothetical possibility, as far as the US is concerned?

MR. RUBIN: No, I am saying - and let me repeat it, and maybe you didn't get it, let me try it again. Our view is that Radovan Karadzic belongs in The Hague. I don't see how I could be more clear about that.

QUESTION: That's your view, but do you rule out amnesty?

MR. RUBIN: If I got into the business at this podium of ruling in and out every intelligent question you asked me, I couldn't say anything. So I'm not going to play the rule-out/rule-in game with you. What I'm going to say is what our view is: our view is he belongs in The Hague. I've heard nobody of any seriousness, other than you two, suggest a third country.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask on another issue, but related to The Hague. Is the US going to follow the decision taken by the International Court of Hague, asking for a suspension in the execution of Paraguayan national in Virginia? The execution is supposed to be happening on Tuesday.

MR. RUBIN: The ICJ this morning issued a provisional measure, stating that the United States should take all measures at its disposal to ensure that this gentleman - or, not really a gentleman - is not executed, pending the court's final decision.

The state of Virginia has the order. We expect it to be lodged with the US Supreme Court today. The Supreme Court has asked the US Government to file a statement of its position on the matter on Monday. We are urgently exploring the legal effects of the court's order with the Department of Justice. I don't want to speculate on how the Supreme Court and the state of Virginia will resolve the matter.

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations required that Mr. Breard be told he could speak with Paraguay's consul. Virginia acknowledged that this was not done. The US argued vigorously at the ICJ that Breard was guilty; was not prejudiced by the lack of consular notification; that the court did not have jurisdiction; and that it was inappropriate for the ICJ to interfere. This issue is now being discussed urgently by our lawyers, and when we have anything new to say about it we will give it to you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Bosnia for one second? A lot of talk about Karadzic, very little talk about Mladic. Where is the noose in relation to his neck? And why is there so little said about him these days?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I guess because you all only ask me about Karadzic, and you've now fixed that problem.

We think that all indicted war criminals belong in The Hague. That is our view; that is our strongly held view. For all of the skeptics who ask us these legitimate but skeptical questions over the years, I think you'll see a steady and determined view on the part of the United States, and increasingly on the international community, to get indicted war criminals to The Hague; and you'll see that dozens and dozens of them have ended up just there.

So all we can do is tell you what our view is, our determination to see that indicted war criminals are brought to justice and have you wait and see what happens. And if you have waited and seen from the time that this process started, you will see that several dozen people have ended up at The Hague, and our determination in this matter should no longer be questioned.

QUESTION: It's just curious. For example, you volunteer yesterday, when the other two were arrested, that it was Karadzic who ought to get the message; you didn't say it is Karadzic and Mladic who ought to get the message.

MR. RUBIN: And the reason for that is because the question that's normally asked of us is about Karadzic; and therefore I was presuming, as was demonstrated by our last exchange, that most of the interest about this question is on Karadzic. It's also true that General Mladic has no political power; and to the extent that Karadzic has any, it would be nice to get rid of it sooner rather than later.

QUESTION: Given the increasing work load of the court, is the United States going to support a third courtroom with judges for the Tribunal?

MR. RUBIN: I will check on that question; I've never heard that question addressed before. I can say that I think when we provide you with the information on it, you will see a remarkable record of US support for the War Crimes Tribunal in terms of prosecutors, in terms of funding, in terms of in-kind support. And I think it's a record that demonstrates for all to see that the United States has been in the lead in this area and will continue to do so. Whether the third courtroom, I'm aware of a second courtroom issue; I'm not aware of a --

QUESTION: The chief judge was in town the other day and she seemed unclear as to whether or not the United States would support this request.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'll get you the facts for the record, but I can assure you that the United States will continue to play the leading role that we've played in funding, through money and in-kind assistance, the International Tribunal.

QUESTION: Are you aware of a report in the Jerusalem Post alleging that Iran has received four nuclear warheads from Kazakstan -- actually that part is somewhat old -- with the help of Russian underworld figures, and that those warheads are still obviously in Iran and being maintained by Russian experts?

MR. RUBIN: I am aware of that report and I am looking for the misplaced location of its response. Let me just see out of curiosity where --

We understand that the Jerusalem Post is reporting that it has obtained Iranian Government documents which support previous reports that Iran acquired nuclear weapons. While we remain concerned about Iranian intentions to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities, we have no information suggesting that Iran is in possession of nuclear warheads acquired from the former Soviet Republic of Kazakstan.

We looked into this issue in 1992 after some reports of this kind surfaced, and concluded that there was no evidence to substantiate such claims. To my knowledge, no one in the US Government has seen the specific documents referenced in that report.

But we do believe Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, and has an organized structure dedicated to acquiring and developing nuclear weapons by seeking the capability to produce both plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which are the critical materials for a nuclear weapon. We are aware of this through a variety of data, including information on Iran's procurement activities that are clearly at variance with a purely peaceful nuclear program.

QUESTION: Do you believe Iran has the bomb, or not, at the moment?

MR. RUBIN: I think I couldn't have stated it more clearly.

QUESTION: No, you said, from Kazakstan.

MR. RUBIN: Our view is that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon; and our view is that they are seeking a nuclear weapons capability; and our view is that this report, that Iran received nuclear weapons from Kazakstan, we have no reason to believe is true.

QUESTION: Well, the documents -- in your investigation in 1992, did it cover these alleged documents that have now been exposed?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that, but there's a tendency for these kinds of stories to come out. They're usually based on the same sourcing, and they kind of come out every once in a while. We've got pretty good sources in terms of this kind of a question, and we have no information to substantiate that claim.

QUESTION: Also on the Middle East, can you tell us anything about the meeting in London between Dennis Ross and the Israeli Special Assistant to the Prime Minister?

MR. RUBIN: Other than to say that they met and that they discussed the issues that are in play, I don't think there's really - it was not a particularly significant meeting. If there are going to be next steps, I would expect them to be Ambassador Ross going to the region, and those would be much more significant meetings.

QUESTION: Where is he now -- Ambassador Ross?

MR. RUBIN: I believe he's here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: I believe so, yes. In fact, I saw him this morning, twice. But that was a few hours ago so -

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: So you wouldn't rule out him having left the building in the last few hours?

MR. RUBIN: Let me state - although I hate to answer the ruling in and ruling out questions, I cannot rule out that Ambassador Ross has left the building.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Would you rule out an answer on a question about Colombia if it were posed?

MR. RUBIN: No. I much prefer this ruling in and ruling out; it will totally confuse me by the end of the briefing.

QUESTION: Is it a coincidence that --

MR. RUBIN: By the way, one point on this - for those of you who don't understand these formulations, the formulation "I will neither rule it in nor rule it out," is the functional equivalent of "no comment."

QUESTION: I didn't know that.

MR. RUBIN: Because it means you're not ruling anything in and you're not ruling anything out, which means you haven't said a thing.

QUESTION: It means all things are possible, nothing is possible.

MR. RUBIN: That's correct.

QUESTION: Is it just a coincidence that Ross is likely to be in the Middle East the same time as Tony Blair? Are we looking at --

MR. RUBIN: I think his trip has been scheduled for some time. We tend to pursue our Middle East peace process based on our own determination of what the right pacing is. Dennis Ross' trip -- Ambassador Ross' trip, as I think is obvious from what I said yesterday, is partially related to the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

QUESTION: There is no EU-US coordination?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there is EU-US coordination on the Middle East peace process; there always is. Ambassador Ross did have a chance to brief the EU on America's ongoing efforts to bring the peace process back on track, and we will continue to do that. But as far as sequencing dates in some way like that, I don't think so.

QUESTION: I'm intrigued by your saying that the meeting Tuesday was not a significant meeting. Was it not significant because you didn't expect anything of it, or because the Israelis weren't very forthcoming?

MR. RUBIN: I only say that because you all tend to hyperventilate when you think something is a secret, and therefore assume that a secret meeting is more important than a non-secret meeting. What I can tell you is that the serious business that is done on the Middle East peace process tends to be done by the Secretary of State or the President; and it's pretty hard to keep such meetings secret. So I am merely pointing out that the hyperventilation that was going on yesterday struck me as a little much.

QUESTION: Well, we can assume, can't we, that one of the things --

MR. RUBIN: Let me add, every time we meet with the Israelis on the Middle East peace process, there is some level of significance.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes, there was a bombing attack against Citibank in Greece, and the terrorist organization, 17 of November, claims responsibility with a statement today in the Greek press for this attack and other recent attacks against American companies. Do you have any comment?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the rocket attack against Citibank offices in Athens. This is the seventh such attack on an American firm since November. Our embassy is working closely with the Greek authorities in the hope that the perpetrators of this attack will be apprehended.

The suggestion that this attack is a response to claims made by Ambassador Burns about the danger to American companies, creating a dangerous business climate that needed to be addressed - not that it is a dangerous business climate, but this points it in that direction - is twisted and outrageous logic, which cannot possibly reflect the views of decent people.

In general, the attacks on Ambassador Burns strike us as almost anti- democratic. I should point out that Greece is the cradle of democracy in the world; and one of the principles of democracy is that governments and people should be able to express their views freely. Discussions should be held, hopefully with the ability to discuss these issues and talk about them - good and better decisions are made. That's the Greek tradition of democracy that the United States looks up to, and has looked up to in its creation.

These kinds of ridiculous claims that Ambassador Burns should not be stating what America's concerns are in public is genuinely anti- democratic.

QUESTION: Have you made a formal protest to the Greek Government about the kinds of rhetorical attacks on Burns?

MR. RUBIN: I think they're quite aware of how we feel about them. Ambassador Nick Burns is an able ambassador, as he was an able Spokesman, and I'm sure is ably informing the Greek Government about our views in this matter.

QUESTION: Is the US Government satisfied with the statement for Ambassador Burns by the Foreign Minister of Greece, Theodore Pangalos, who defended the Ambassador?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we'd point out that the Greek Government has endorsed Ambassador Burns' right to speak. I'm merely pointing out that those who were challenging him are pursuing what is essentially an anti- democratic and, therefore, in our view, anti-Hellenic tradition.

Boy, I tiptoed into the Greek-Turkey issue today.

QUESTION: Bob Novak has a column this morning in which he suggests that the Administration has been dragging its feet in providing Black Hawk helicopters to Colombia. And he also says that the United States has been sitting idly by while guerrillas make significant gains in Colombia. Any comment on either of those?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me say that there has been some increase in the intensity of guerrilla warfare, the guerrilla insurgency in Colombia. We also know that some of the guerrilla movements fund their cause through participation in the drug trade.

The United States has a national security interest in Colombia to stop the cultivation. We are working diligently with elements of the Colombian Government. Our policy is to assist in fighting narcotics production and trafficking. Our assistance to the government of Colombia was over $100 million last year - the largest single counter- narcotics program in the world. In the final analysis, the responsibility to deal effectively with narco-trafficking rests squarely with the Colombian Government.

With respect to the issue of Blackhawks, we believe that purchasing and maintaining three Blackhawks is not the best expenditure of taxpayer dollars. They are extremely costly to buy, maintain and operate. We are planning to address the problem of range and mobility at altitude through alternatives, including the upgrading of existing helicopters to Super Hueys. We're working with the government of Colombia on this. They have some Black Hawks in their stock.

With regard to a particular quote in the column you're referring to, I found it demonstrably incorrect, and was stunned and surprised that the columnist didn't make even the most minimal effort to contact those he quoted or those he attributed certain views to. Let me point to a statement by the Drug Czar today, making clear that Barry McCaffrey, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, namely the Drug Czar, made clear to Secretary Albright that he supported in great detail the testimony she made to Congress in which she explained his and her view that we would be robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that when you have to stop doing nine things to pay for the tenth thing - the helicopters - the tenth thing you are doing is not going to work because the nine first things are the basis to make that tenth thing work.

So it was an illogical column in that regard, and particularly outrageous that no effort was made to contact the Secretary about this. I can point to a letter from Barry McCaffrey to the Secretary of State commending the Secretary for thoughtful and courageous remarks at her appearance before the House Foreign Relations Committee in resisting efforts by those who want to earmark more than one-fifth of the entire budget for the purchase of three new Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters. Such a spending plan would effectively end alternative development programs in Peru and Bolivia this year.

So those who are pursuing this project are undermining our battle to fight drugs, because the Blackhawks contribute less to our objective of an overall reduction of coca than we could accomplish by properly supporting programs in the whole coca-producing region. Those are the comments that Director McCaffrey made to Secretary Albright. The columnist's casual and irresponsible claims of what he said about the Secretary of State are therefore not a tribute to your profession.

QUESTION: There's an article today that suggests that the State Department wants to take away the Pentagon's power to develop weapons systems. Can you address that?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, those bureaucratic struggle arguments don't resemble the meetings that I see; everyone is usually very friendly in the meetings that I see.

But let me say this - of course, I don't walk into the room when they're all screaming at each other. But there has been a long-standing process by which the Department of Defense has been responsible for ensuring that our programs are consistent with our arms control obligation. We and they are working closely together to see whether there are ways to make sure that process works best. That process goes on all the time. But as far as the specific claims in that article, they struck me as a little hyperventilating, as well.

QUESTION: On Japan, Prime Minister Hashimoto announced today the income tax cuts of $3.5 billion in order to revive the Japanese economy. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. It is encouraging that Japan is taking steps towards stimulating domestic demand. When we know the full details of the stimulus package, we in the markets will be better able to assess the impact. But of course, Japan has the second largest economy in the world, and its policies have an enormous effect on economic conditions in other Asian countries, in the US and worldwide. That's why the United States and other governments have indicated that a substantial fiscal stimulus in Japan is necessary to restore economic growth.

QUESTION: To go back to the last question, does the State Department think it's very important that they have a bigger say in the --

MR. RUBIN: No, what we think is very important is that the government does its best to make sure that its weapons programs are compliant. We are always working on ways to ensure that the government is doing its best. We like to do our very best here in government; and that's what we're always working to do.

With respect to any inter-agency low-level, one guy wants to sit in one meeting, another guy in another meeting, that happens all the time -- not all that different than it happens in your newspapers, when you're trying to rush in the door to be the one to report some story. But in this regard, people feel the process works quite well, and all they're trying to do is make sure it can work even better.

QUESTION: I'd like to back-track just a bit. What is the US position on talks about a permanent world court? And is this legally possible?

MR. RUBIN: On a world court? I put out a statement last week on this, which I can get you a copy of - on the International Criminal Court, is that the question? I can get you a copy of that afterwards.

The three-week meeting in New York was the sixth and final meeting of international experts to develop a treaty. We believe the New York meetings focused the international community's agenda on a Court, and have improved the odds for a successful diplomatic conference. We have been the principal supporter of a strong International Criminal Court, and President Clinton most recently reaffirmed our support during his speech in Rwanda two weeks ago.

Now, I have a piece of show-and-tell for you, which I do rarely around here. But I thought this was interesting enough, even for you cynical and jaded journalists. This is a secure cell phone. Lieutenant General Kenneth Minihan, Director of the National Security Agency, presented Secretary Albright with a bank of Motorola Cipher-Tac 2000 security modules to provide secure cellular communications.

This state of the art secure voice cellular technology will offer the highest level of security wherever and whenever the Secretary and her top advisors need to protect their communications. So when you see us carrying this beast around, rather than the slim-line phones we usually like to use, you'll know that's because we're trying to have a secure call. That is not only for the obvious good reason that we want to make sure nobody is interfering, but we also want to make sure that nobody is making transcripts and passing them around for a variety of perfidious reasons.

So this here is the original, first secure cell phone to be delivered to Secretary Albright, and we thought you guys might get a kick out of that.

QUESTION: Can you make a call?

QUESTION: And the number is?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Are you going to keep it on?

QUESTION: He hasn't ruled it in --

MR. RUBIN: Don't rule it in, don't rule it out.

(The briefing concluded at 1:30 P.M.)


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