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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #45, 98-04-13

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


Monday, April 13, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1		Laser Visa Program
1		Briefing Schedule for Week Ending April 17

RUSSIA 1 Yeltsin Resubmits Amended Version of Start II Treaty Duma 2 Modifications to Treaty/Negotiations through the Ratification Process

PARAGUAY & INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE 2 Justice Department's Decision in Regard to Paraguayan 2,3,5 Secretary of State Concerns for Safety of US Citizens Overseas/US Citizens access to Consular Services Overseas / Impact of Case on Americans Right to Consular Access Overseas and the Vienna Convention/Questions of Other Government Departments and Jurisdiction 4,6 Rule of International Law and Request of Stay of Execution and the Supreme Court/State Department's Intention to Respond to the Request/International Court of Justice and US Interests/Decisions Made in US and the US Constitution / Jurisdiction of US & International Courts 12-13 ICJ and the Difference Between the Croatian War Criminal in Argentina and Pol Pot

MEXICO 5-6 Deportations of Three Americans from Chipas/Privacy Waiver / Clashes with Journalists

CROATIA 7,8 Croat Mr. Sakic and War Crimes at Camp Jasenovac/Federal Judge Call for Detention of Mr. Sakic/US Belief Regarding Mr. Sakic / Possible Countries Where a Trail May Be Held

CAMBODIA 8,9 Pol Pot/Continued Fighting/Pickering's Meetings in China Concerning Pol Pot/US Belief that Pol Pot Should be Held Accountable for Actions in Cambodia/Possible Options to Hold a Trial Including the ICJ 9 Pickering's Meeting/Discussions with Chinese/Khmer Rouge Eminent Collapse/Access to Pol Pot 10-11 Pol Pot as a Target of Fighters/Questions of Assistance to Cambodia Army/Chinese Response to Pickering and Support and the Question of an Official Response/Condition of Pol Pot and Deals With the Chinese 11-12 Chinese Concerns of Trying an Asian War Criminal in a Western Court Genocide and Asians 12 ICJ and Permanent Members' Discussions Regarding Pol Pot / Charges of Genocide Against Pol Pot and the Legal Terminology of War Crimes & Genocide/Questions of Past Charges Against Pol Pot/Legal Term of "Crimes Against of Humanity" / Role of the Tribunal/Question of China's Role with Pol Pot

SERBIA 14 Questions of Whether Mr. Karadzic has Obtained a US Lawyer / Rumors of Karadzic's Possible Surrender/Role of a Possible American Lawyers and Sanctions/Success of War Crime Tribunals 15,16 Whereabouts of Karadzic/Tribunal's Role in Pursuing Justice / Justice McDonald's (Tribunal president) Remarks Concerning the War Crimes Tribunal and Lack of Countries Willing to Accept Prisoners/Third Courtroom/Number of Chambers and Number of Judges 16 General Mladic and War Crimes/Weight of Justice Between Mladic and Karadzic

NORTH KOREA 16,17 Food Shortages and Monitoring/World Food Program/Places of Delivery / US Humanitarian Contributions / Food Distribution and Diversion / Difficulties of Distribution Due to Lack of Monitoring / US Contribution 18 Secretary State's Visit to Asia and Topics of Discussion

SYRIA 18 PKK Activities/Cyprus Special Coordinator Ambassador Miller

CHINA 18,19 American Companies and Chinese Launchers and Satellites / Leakage of Information of US Technology / US Safeguards / Question of Report and Information Shared with the Chinese

COLOMBIA 19 Calls for Targeting of American Citizens by FARC and ELN


DPB #45

MONDAY, APRIL 13, 1998, 12:45 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. We are going to post a statement on our laser visa program.

Just in terms of the schedule, we will not be briefing tomorrow as the Secretary will be in a Howard University event where she will take a large number of questions and answers. We will be briefing on Thursday. Secretary Albright is planning to accompany the President and will be leaving on Wednesday. I am not yet sure what we will do on Friday. But that takes care of our briefing schedule; in other words, no briefing tomorrow, briefing on Wednesday, briefing on Thursday, and still to be determined regarding Friday.

Not seeing any - there is that esteemed member of the Associated Press who is just formulating his first question as he sits down in his chair. George.

QUESTION: President Yeltsin has resubmitted an amended version of the START II treaty to the Duma today. As I understand it, it has American acquiescence, the amendments. Is this as cut and dried as it might seem? Do you have any comment on it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly welcome the fact that the treaty has been submitted formally to the Duma. This is a very important treaty that will establish a control system on strategic nuclear weapons and ensure that they are continuing down the path to reductions that had been started under President Reagan, President Bush, and now President Clinton, which makes the world a safer place. So we certainly think it's good news that the Russian government is one step closer to ratifying this important arms control treaty.

As far as what will happen with it next, we are not going to start popping champagne corks until we see the process move. The Russian Duma is obviously engaged in another exercise of some importance with regard to the current government, and that does make it harder for them to focus on this right away. But we are certainly hopeful that once the government issue is resolved that the Russian Duma will turn its attention to this important treaty, which we believe not only advances the national security of the United States by locking in the system of reductions in strategic nuclear arms, but also is to the advantage of the Russian side. This arms control treaty was designed to serve the national security interests of both sides, and we hope that when the Russian Duma formally considers the document they will see that as well.

QUESTION: What about the modifications though in the form submitted by the Russians to the Duma?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we haven't had a chance to see all the detailed modifications but, as a general matter, we believe that this document submission is a step in the right direction and we are now a step closer to the long-awaited ratification of this important treaty.

As far as what is done to the treaty during the consideration by the Duma, we will have to wait and see, and we are still going to hopefully get a chance to study the submission during the course of the day.

QUESTION: Well, specifically, would it be acceptable to the United States to stretch out the various timelines?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we wouldn't want to see this treaty renegotiated through the ratification process in the Duma. We have made a number of adjustments through the various protocols that were signed by President Clinton and President Yeltsin at Helsinki, and we have made a number of steps at that time that we believe are sufficient to take into account these concerns. Any further steps we wouldn't be interested in negotiating through the ratification process, and I'm not familiar with whether any particular package that has been submitted goes farther than the steps in the protocols that have already been put out.

QUESTION: On the same subject, did the Russians not consult then before making these changes?

MR. RUBIN: Again, this just came over the wires about ten minutes ago. We are trying to get the details. We are trying to give you information as quick as we can. Rather than simply telling you I have no comment until I've seen the actual submission itself, I thought I would give you a general flavor of what we think about this step.

But as far as seeing the details of what has actually been submitted, arms control treaties require careful scrutiny. They employ a large number of lawyers and technicians. Before everyone has had a chance to review these documents in detail, I would like to refrain from making any specific comments on reported adjustments and amendments.

QUESTION: From the Justice Department's opinion about the case of the Paraguayan in Virginia, I believe it is. Is the administration concerned about the precedent this might set for world court rulings superseding the US legal system?

MR. RUBIN: I'll tell you what the administration is concerned about - and Secretary Albright is going to be communicating in the appropriate legal forum, probably in the form of a letter as early as today, if not later. What she is very concerned about is making sure that nothing that happens in this complicated legal situation undermines the important value that American citizens get for having themselves be able to meet with consular officers overseas.

The safety of American citizens is extremely important to the United States overseas. It is our highest priority, and Secretary Albright wants to do what she can to make sure that nothing that happens with regard to this case in any way limits the ability of American citizens around the world to get an opportunity to meet with American consular officers during the course of justice because we have to bear in mind, in many parts of the world, the justice systems are rather fragmentary and unfair on many occasions, and we want American citizens who travel abroad to get the best possible opportunity to have the best possible justice if they are brought before justice officials or tried in other countries.

So she is very focused on that aspect of this case. The Justice Department itself will be looking at this broader question of whether this court's decision should be accepted or not by the Supreme Court, and we'll be filing or not filing appropriately. But what the Secretary of State is doing is making sure that nothing that happens in this case undermines the important function that we here in the State Department have to protect our citizens abroad.

QUESTION: Well, is she looking into why this gentleman didn't get that right here?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think that has already been established that he didn't. What we have said previously is that based on the legal processes in the United States, there is no reason to believe that that would have changed the verdict.

QUESTION: What is it that causes her to be alarmed that this case might have an impact on Americans' rights to consular access overseas?

MR. RUBIN: Well, obviously, one of the issues in the case is the extent to which the Vienna Convention rules on consular issues were followed and, to the extent there is a risk by not pleading properly, that other countries would react to such a decision here by limiting their willingness to follow the Vienna Convention. That would be a risk to Americans that we are trying not to see happen. In other words, we need to go through a good faith process here to demonstrate our support for the Vienna Convention's rules on consular visits when people are facing justice abroad. So she is very focused on that, doesn't want to see any ruling or action in the United States undermine this important international principle that serves the interests of American citizens traveling.

QUESTION: It sounds as if that is an opinion that has percolated up after a lot of discussion, inter-agency discussions here. It almost sounds as if you might be foreshadowing what the position of the administration is on this.

MR. RUBIN: I am not trying to foreshadow the administration's position. This is obviously an ongoing process. The different agencies are seized with the different aspects of this case as it applies to their relative jurisdiction. But since the prime jurisdiction of the Secretary of State is to see that we've done what we reasonably can do to protect American citizens abroad, to the extent that she needs to engage - to the extent that Secretary Albright needs to react on this and have her lawyers put forward an American position on the part of the State Department, as opposed to the Justice Department, that is what she is seized with.

QUESTION: Doesn't she also have a concern about the rule of international law and international legal bodies and that their writ be respected?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the question of whether this court's request for a stay of execution should be granted is something the Supreme Court is considering. I am not in a position to tell you what the different departments' determinations are going to be about that request.

What I can tell you is that in considering that request, one of the issues that will be at the forefront of Secretary Albright's mind is making sure that how the United States reacts to that request takes into account the important principle of American citizens getting consular access abroad.

QUESTION: But my question is regarding the respect given to the court itself, which is an instrument of international -

MR. RUBIN: Well, obviously, the United States is a country of laws that is going to give due respect to the international court of justice. That doesn't mean we have to agree with it. It just means that we will give respect to it and we will act accordingly and make our decisions based on our laws and our Constitution, and the extent to which we want to see the principles of international law accepted.

So all I am telling you, without prejudging or pre-shadowing or foreshadowing the decision of the United States about this issue, is that in her deliberations - I can tell you because I was there - forefront in her mind is making sure that American citizens' rights to consular access overseas are not undermined by this case.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you say to whom she was writing this letter?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I believe there will be a State Department view that needs to be put into the legal mix, but to whom the letter is addressed I do not know.

QUESTION: Will it be like a friend of the court type of -

MR. RUBIN: As I have just indicated, I really don't - that's a legal question. We'll try to get you some answers during the course of the day. All I can tell you at this point at 1 o'clock is that we do intend to respond and the administration is deliberating as to how best to respond, and when we have responded, we will try to communicate that to you as quickly as possible. But in considering our response, what is forefront on her mind is the consular issue that I have discussed.

QUESTION: Of course, but -

MR. RUBIN: I'm really wishing that I had gone to law school.

QUESTION: Me, too. So Secretary Albright believes then - and correct me if I'm wrong - that the stay of execution should be granted because this man's rights were violated under the Vienna Convention?

MR. RUBIN: God, I hope that's not what you took from what I said. That's not what I said. That's not what I intended to say. What I intended to say that in deciding how the US government should respond to this request for a stay of execution, one of the issues that will be foremost in the Secretary of State's mind is the important principle of consular access for American citizens overseas. How that plays into the administration's and the State Department's overall view of this request for the stay has not been determined, and I will try to communicate that to you as soon as it has been determined.

We'll go here and then I think I know where we're going. Well, let's stay in the same region and we'll come back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments from the recent deportations by the government of Mexico from Chiapas of Americans and other foreigners and also the attacks to the foreign journalists in Chiapas?

MR. RUBIN: Our embassy in Mexico City confirms that three US citizens were deported from Mexico yesterday. They are Michael John Sabato, Jeffrey Wright Conant and Travis Blaize Loller. We are confirming their names because they were previously released by the Mexican authorities.

The three US citizens did not sign Privacy Act waivers for release of information about their case to the press. We understand that the government of Mexico charged them with immigration violations related to their presence in the community in Chiapas. The consular officer from the embassy in Mexico City was granted phone conversations with the three on April 11th and an officer from our embassy in Mexico City met April 12th with the three citizens at the airport before their departure.

We can't talk in detail about their case because of the absence of privacy waivers, but I can say that we hope that foreign observers will continue to be permitted to travel to Chiapas or to live and work there to conduct activities that are consistent with Mexican sovereignty and respect Mexican law.

With regard to the journalists, we have seen reports about this clash and they are indeed troubling. We support the right of journalists to carry out their legitimate functions without fear for their safety.

QUESTION: Does the US believe that the three individuals that you mentioned, that their activities were consistent with Mexican law?

MR. RUBIN: I believe I am restrained from talking about that because of the privacy waiver other than saying who these names are, but perhaps we can get you some more information about that during the course of the day.

QUESTION: Okay. Although the fact that you said you hope that the individuals, observers, will be allowed to continue doing activities consistent with Mexican law implies that in this case they -

MR. RUBIN: Well, in general, if you put this case aside, as a general matter we are concerned about this issue. And that is why I pointed that out and said to the extent that all of you were following the issue and seeing this particular arrest and deportation in that context, we think it's very important for the world to know what our view is on these observers.

With respect to the question of whether they were acting within Mexican law as interpreted by the Mexicans, apparently not. But with respect to our view of that, it is difficult for me to comment given the lack of a privacy waiver.

QUESTION: Strangely enough, not Greece and Turkey but a question on the world court. I want to clarify what you said. The US respects the international court of justice but does not - and does not accept its decisions if they do not conform with US interests. Is that -

MR. RUBIN: No, absolutely not. My formulation was as if I had gone to law school. It was a formulation that said that we respect the international court of justice but our decisions have to be made in accordance with the American Constitution, which is a legal framework, not a description of American interests.

QUESTION: As a matter of fact, doesn't the United States accept their jurisdiction in -

MR. RUBIN: Right. But as you well know, for all the issues you've covered over the years, there are oftentimes when US Constitutional principles supersede international legal principles. That is why these lawyers are so abundant in the building and why there are so many lawyers around town, because they have to decide as to whether a particular case of the domestic and international law can be reconciled. But if not, the Constitution clearly rules in our country, as it does in every country.

QUESTION: I have another international justice question, so you know.

MR. RUBIN: Good segue. You can go almost anywhere.

QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on the various war criminals or potential - suspected war criminals -

MR. RUBIN: You pick the country. I'll talk about a war criminal.

QUESTION: For example, the Croat in -- supposedly in Argentina who is reputed to be a World War II concentration camp commander. Has the United States addressed the whole issue of where he might be tried and -

MR. RUBIN: Mr. Sakic is alleged to have been one of the camp commanders at the Jasenovac -- how did I do?

QUESTION: Jasenovac.

MR. RUBIN: -- Jasenovac concentration camp in what is now Croatia. Independent scholars agree that many thousands of people were killed there. Estimates range from 80,000 to 600,000. The charges surrounding Sakic's role at this camp are extremely serious and deserve to be fully reviewed by a court of law.

The Argentine government has announced that it has asked a federal judge to order this gentleman, not so gentleman, be detained for questioning. We applaud the seriousness with which the Argentine government appears to be taking this matter and urge it to take all necessary steps to assure that Mr. Sakic is brought to justice. These allegations are very serious and we believe that he should be detained quickly and vigorously prosecuted.

There are a number of countries that could try him, including any of the countries that formerly comprised Yugoslavia; however, given that the alleged crimes took place in Croatia and that many of the victims were Croatian residents, we would think that Croatia would have an especially strong interest in seeing Sakic brought to justice.

Many countries assert universal jurisdiction for prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity, so he could be tried in any number of countries. Aside from Croatia, other former republics of Yugoslavia, including Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, are options. They would have an especially strong case for putting him on trial since many of the Jasenovac victims were from their territories. One place that is not possible, it has been suggested, is the international tribunal on the former Yugoslavia which is, by statute, only prosecuting crimes that occurred after January 1st, 1991.

QUESTION: Has the US government been in touch with the Croatian government or any other governments to help encourage them perhaps to take this case on?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I indicated, we were applauding the Argentine government's step in this regard. I know we have been in touch with them. The extent to which we have at the legal level got into this, I will have to check for you.

QUESTION: Could he be tried in Argentina as well?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I would have to get you more information about Argentina's legal status, whether it asserts universal jurisdiction. I can say that we welcome reports that Croatia will request his extradition and we look forward to a vigorous prosecution and a fair trial in a court of law if that moves forward.

QUESTION: So then can you go on to the other two?

MR. RUBIN: I suspected. I've got different colors, one for each region.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) news reports that Croatia will or -

MR. RUBIN: They are news reports, yes.

QUESTION: Nearly news reports.

MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that. Sometimes news reports are accurate. Sometimes they are not.

QUESTION: So then on the question of Pol Pot, what do we know about his whereabouts and also where he might be tried should he turn up?

MR. RUBIN: Well, with respect to Pol Pot, what I can say on the situation there is that fighting continues between Khmer Rouge hardline forces and Royal Cambodian Army troops near the Thai-Cambodian border. We have seen reports, press reports, that the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng may have fallen to Cambodian government forces, but the situation remains extremely uncertain and we can not confirm these reports.

While in China, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Pickering raised with the Chinese officials our ideas and concerns about arranging a tribunal to try Pol Pot. We didn't receive an official response from the Chinese, but we do hope they will cooperate with efforts to capture Pol Pot and bring him to justice.

We also note that King Sihanouk has supported efforts to try Pol Pot, and given the important role he plays in his country's affairs, we look forward to consulting with him about that.

With respect to the options, we do not know the exact whereabouts of Pol Pot, to the best of my knowledge. The situation is extremely uncertain. We have, however, stated, and I will repeat, that we believe Pol Pot and other senior Khmer Rouge leaders can and should be held to account for the atrocities that took place in Cambodia and we would support international efforts to bring that about. We have discussed that issue with many governments over the past several months and we have made it clear we are prepared to support and work to implement any of a variety of options.

Now, as far as the options are concerned, there are different possibilities out there that include being tried in Cambodia, the country where these crimes took place. The difficulty there, obviously, is the fragile justice and political situation in Cambodia. A third country which asserts universal jurisdiction could, of course, try him. We have also been looking into the possibility of an international tribunal, for example, expanding the jurisdiction of the tribunal in the Hague that is now so successfully prosecuting war criminals rising out of the war in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia.

So these are options. I am going to be very circumspect as far as what is exactly going on between various agencies in our government and with other countries for fear that public discussion of these issues might make it less likely that one of this century's worst war criminals might not be brought to justice.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know if China asserts universal jurisdiction? I don't know the answer to that.

MR. RUBIN: I don't. I don't know the answer. I'll check for you.

QUESTION: Is it safe to assume that the options you just discussed were those that Pickering discussed with Beijing, or could you be more specific?

MR. RUBIN: I mean, without saying exactly what went on in that meeting, I can say these type of options have been out there. And to the extent we have discussed this with other governmetns in recent weeks, those tend to be the headings for the discussions that we have had.

QUESTION: Was this the first discussion of it with the Chinese government?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think so. I suspect it was a fairly high level discussion given that Under Secretary Pickering had quite high level meetings there. I suspect this has been discussed at lower level diplomatic channels prior to that.

QUESTION: Why is this coming to a head now? This is well over 20 years after the fact after the bulk of the killings took place. Why is this coming to a head now?

MR. RUBIN: Well, clearly, the Khmer Rouge movement is collapsing and, increasingly, their fighters are defecting and their ability to prevent outsiders from getting near these Khmer Rouge leaders who may have been responsible for some of these war crimes is less and less. And to the extent that the numbers of fighters are down in the hundreds rather than in the thousands or tens of thousands, it becomes much more likely that the international community will be faced with a situation where they could get access to Pol Pot.

Prior to this time, he's been fairly well entrenched in a corner of Cambodia with a lot of support from the Khmer Rouge movement that has been active in that area. And to the extent that the fighting between them has limited his power and caused defections and seen the Cambodian government get jurisdiction over larger and larger parts of Cambodia with fighters possibly ending up having to flee into Thailand, this becomes an increasingly likely possibility. Given that it's likely and given the nature of these crimes, what we are doing is exploring options, as we should be.

QUESTION: Jamie, are you concerned the other way that as the Khmer Rouge collapses that Pol Pot, himself, becomes a target of fighters who fear that he may implicate them in any kind of trial?

MR. RUBIN: That can't be ruled out, although I hesitate to use that phrase, but it is certainly a possibility that people in that movement have shown a blood-thirstiness that has included killing each other and that can't be ruled out.

QUESTION: Jamie, does that suggest some sort of assistance to the Cambodian Army in trying to get him?

MR. RUBIN: Again, the extent to which we are in discussions with other governments about what is the best way to pursue what I've said our objective is, I am going to be very circumspect. Our goals, our ends, are very clear in this case: Pol Pot should be brought to justice. The means that we are considering are not appropriate for public discussion.

QUESTION: You did say the Chinese did not respond to Mr. Pickering's entreaties?

MR. RUBIN: No, I didn't. I said that we hope that they will be supportive of these efforts. The Chinese -- I said that he raised them and we hope the Chinese will be supportive of efforts in this regard. The Chinese response, I recommend you contact the Chinese embassy.

QUESTION: I'll certainly not contradict you but --

MR. RUBIN: I hope I didn't, because I usually try not to. Let me go back. But please contradict me if I'm wrong.

QUESTION: Okay. What I wrote down is we didn't receive an official response from the Chinese.

MR. RUBIN: An official response. That may be a term of art there, but let me check. They will hopefully be supportive of these efforts. As far as what they specifically said back, often what happens in these meetings is a senior official will give a tentative unofficial response, talk about some concerns they might have with different options, and then say that we will get back to you with an official response. I presume that the Chinese side did have something to say after Under Secretary Pickering discussed this, yes.

QUESTION: Well, we'll see when the Secretary is in Beijing. But wouldn't you want to be sure that Pol Pot is actually alive before you, for lack of a better word, strike a deal with the Chinese for their support on his extradition that could possibly have some sort of quid pro quo to it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we don't make deals with quid pro quos in other areas. That is not our approach to dealing with the Chinese. When we're talking about human rights, when we're talking about missile proliferation, we deal with the issue as it is. To the extent that one has watched television or read the newspapers recently, there has been pretty clear evidence that he is alive up to now. We certainly wouldn't want to be caught in a situation where we would be asked very good and justified questions by all of you and others as to why we weren't in a position to act if the opportunity arose.

So, what we are doing is what responsible governments do, preparing for a possibility, having preliminary discussions and other kinds of discussions with governments concerned and making decisions based on achieving our objective, which is bringing him to justice.

QUESTION: Just one more sort of philosophical question.


QUESTION: How do you allay Chinese concerns about allowing the sole remaining superpower to come to Asia and abduct an Asian alleged war criminal and spirit him off to justice in a western court?

MR. RUBIN: I don't even think the Chinese could formulate the question quite that way, but let me try to answer it in a way that might have been formulated or could be formulated by anyone but a journalist. The fact that Pol Pot committed and his blood-thirsty movement committed these crimes, is something the world is pretty darned sure of. They are so evil and make him such a horrible war criminal that we think it is appropriate that a country that has done more than any other country to try to bring to justice war criminals in other parts of the world should not consider the lives of Asians less valuable than we have of Europeans and other parts of the world where we have taken the lead in trying to pursue this.

So we don't consider human life less valuable because it's Asian human life when we're talking about genocide. Genocide is genocide. We have taken the lead in Europe. The idea that we shouldn't take the lead in Asia because it is Asians, strikes us as fundamentally opposed to the basic doctrines of the universality of human rights that we believe so strongly.

QUESTION: In connection with the options when you're discussing the international tribunal, have you also talked with the other permanent five members or the other three members of the permanent five to discuss what would have to be, I guess, fairly quick approval for expansion of the mandate?

MR. RUBIN: Again, we have been in touch with a lot of governments. We are trying not to leave ourselves in a position where we didn't do the necessary prep work, but exactly who we spoke with with regard to what proposal, I am being told is something I should not discuss publicly, for fear that it makes it less likely that it will happen.

QUESTION: Did you mean to suggest earlier that Pol Pot could be charged with genocide?

MR. RUBIN: I believe that it is pretty well established that the crimes that were committed in Cambodia amounted to war crimes. Whether one uses the legal term, "genocide," or not, they involved hundreds of thousands if not millions of people and were war crimes on the scale that we haven't seen since World War II that merit the strongest possible condemnation from the international community and whatever efforts are necessary to make sure we are in a position to bring him to justice should that be possible.

With respect to your specific legal question of genocide, as I have already indicated, I am not a lawyer and I will try to get our lawyers now to prepare something for you to describe what we have surely said on many occasions before are the extent of these war crimes and put it in the context of the convention that you must be referring to.

QUESTION: Has he been charged --

MR. RUBIN: I don't think he's been charged anywhere.

QUESTION: -- by any court anywhere?

MR. RUBIN: Right. There has been evidentiary packages put together by the UN, by the U.S. Government. A whole series of bodies have put together evidentiary packages explaining what went on and detailing what went on in Cambodia, but no court, to my knowledge, has charged him with genocide. I am merely trying to bring to bear the massive horror of the scope of this crime against humanity that occurred but, as far as the use of the word, I'll get back to you on that. I will have a lawyer draft a considered document for your perusal.

QUESTION: But, you know, "crime against humanity," is also a legal term. I just don't know. Has he ever been charged with a crime against humanity from any --

MR. RUBIN: I am trying to tell you that I will get you the information as soon as it is available, and I don't have any further information to impart to you on this.

QUESTION: But it raises the general question, can you really create a tribunal just in order to try a person who hasn't been previously charged until that tribunal comes about?

MR. RUBIN: I believe that we are in a position to pursue legal remedies in the international system. That is what we are working on. The exact rationale for them we believe exists. The extent to which we would want to talk about them publicly prior to full consultations with other governments, I do not know; but to the extent that we want to define what we think Pol Pot did to your satisfaction, I will try to get you a legal answer, yes.

QUESTION: I am probably going to be asked this question and I'd like to see if you could help me figure it out. In the case of the Croatian in Argentina, you specifically said that the international tribunal was not an option because the tribunal was set up for crimes after a date of 1991. In this case, apparently, it is an option the U.S. is considering. What is the distinction that I am probably missing?

MR. RUBIN: It is a good question and I'll have to get you the answer. I am sure there is a good reason. I just don't know.

QUESTION: I'm sure there is, too. I just couldn't figure it out.

MR. RUBIN: It is a totally good question and as you formulated it, I concluded that we had an inconsistency in this legal argumentation that we need to fix.

QUESTION: It is after all only a question from a journalist, however.

MR. RUBIN: It might result in an accurate report or an inaccurate report.

QUESTION: Right. Exactly, yes.

QUESTION: This week --

MR. RUBIN: We are going to stay on this. I don't know that there is much more to do.

QUESTION: How is it that in the administration's view China gets off scott free for Pol Pot's actions in Cambodia?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know how to answer that question. I don't think anyone said anyone gets off scott free or doesn't get off scott free or anything like that.

QUESTION: Okay. So in the administration's view then China does -- did play a role in the reign of Pol Pot --

MR. RUBIN: I didn't make that point.

QUESTION: Can you offer an opinion on that?

MR. RUBIN: I will get you an answer for the record by those who were around and in a position to examine the historical evidence from the Seventies about this issue and we will get you whatever we can in writing.

QUESTION: Is there any doubt in this administration's mind that China played a role in the support of Pol Pot?

MR. RUBIN: Before you work yourself into a full-fledged outrage, let me tell you that I am going to get you an answer to the question, and I don't have any more information to impart to you at this time.

QUESTION: Can we stay on the subject of war criminals, but move to Mr. Karadzic?


QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government have any information as to whether or not he might have retained a US lawyer?

MR. RUBIN: There have been a number of reports out there over the last few days about what Mr. Karadzic may or may not be doing with respect to preparing for his surrender. I have two comments to make about those reports. Number one, there is only one place this person belongs and that is in The Hague before the international tribunal facing the justice for the crimes he has alleged to have committed.

With respect to what he may be doing to organize himself for that, we do not have any information. We have been reading with interest some reports, apparently accurate, and some inaccurate, as to what has been going on in Bosnia over the last several months in this regard, but we don't have any information to suggest that he is negotiating his surrender. That doesn't mean that he isn't talking to people that we're not talking to about his surrender, but with respect to those officials who work this issue in the government, I made a number of calls this morning to try to get my best judgment from them to get their best judgment as to what is all this rumoring about his impending surrender and his efforts to surrender. To the best of our knowledge, this is no more than rumor.

QUESTION: Can we get to the specific question? Has he retained a US lawyer.

MR. RUBIN: I do not know how to address that. We haven't been provided information that he retained a US lawyer. There were reports that Ramsey Clark was going to defend him months ago. We are not in a position to confirm what the activities are of what increasingly our large number of lawyers in the United States do.

QUESTION: Would that be in violation of the sanctions the United States has imposed or the United States participates in?

MR. RUBIN: I'll check that. I doubt it. If an American lawyer wants to get him into The Hague and that we can facilitate that by allowing an American lawyer to represent him and that will get him to The Hague, I don't think we would want to see sanctions interfere with Radovan Karadzic's well-deserved trial in The Hague.

QUESTION: Jamie, you said that a number of the reports were accurate and a number were inaccurate. Perhaps could you just -

MR. RUBIN: The accurate ones were the ones that described the increasing success of the War Crimes Tribunal and the work that the western powers have done to bring to justice an increasingly large numbers of those but an increasingly large number of war criminals, much to the skepticism in great contra-distinctions to the skepticism that many suggested would not lead the west to bring these people to justice.

QUESTION: Among the reports there were a number that suggested that Karadzic had fled Bosnia.

MR. RUBIN: I am not going to -- as I said for those who attended the briefing on Thursday, and you might even have read the transcript --

QUESTION: I did, indeed.

MR. RUBIN: So then you know that I specifically said that I think it would be foolish, and anyone who cares at all about Karadzic getting into The Hague would agree that it would be foolish, for us to describe publicly what we think and know about his whereabouts.

QUESTION: I was just wondering whether those are at the level of rumors or there might be --

MR. RUBIN: But answering that question, I would be giving succor to those who do not care about Radovic Karadzic getting to The Hague who want him to know what we do or do not know about his whereabouts.

QUESTION: Does the administration think he should have any say in where he would serve a term?

MR. RUBIN: I do not have any new information on that. On Thursday, I believe, when asked this question, what I said is that the tribunal has demonstrated great skill in pursuing justice on these issues to the satisfaction of many indictees who negotiated arrangements with the tribunal with regard to their trials and pleas and et cetera. I will leave it to them to make any decisions about that, other than to say that there should be no question that this tribunal is pursuing justice fairly, and what that means is up to the tribunal and its judges and prosecutors to decide.

QUESTION: Jamie, on the matter of detention. The other day, Justice McDonald told some of us that one of the problems is that the War Crimes Tribunal does not have enough countries which are willing to take prisoners once convicted. Has the United States made a decision whether it would accept convictees, convicts, from the War Crimes Tribunal?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check that. I don't know the answer to that. With regard to a question earlier last week -- was this posted about the third courtroom? I have an answer about the third courtroom. The Tribunal now has two physical courtrooms. A third courtroom funded by the United States in the Netherlands will be opened in June. This will help the Tribunal deal with its expanded caseload more expeditiously.

As a separate issue, the Tribunal presently has three trial chambers of judges who hear and decided cases. Each trial chamber consists of three judges. One of the three trial chambers has a limited term to finish hearing the Srebrenica trial which is now underway and is expected to finish later this year. The Tribunal's president, Judge Gabriel McDonald of the United States, has asked the United Nations Security Council for an additional permanent trial chamber to deal with the increase in indictees now awaiting trial.

This matter is now under discussion at the United Nations. The U.S. Government supports the Tribunal's request. We recognize that any such expansion would involve an increase in the staff and resources for the Tribunal and we are looking into how best that can be addressed. Success does bear its cost. The more we have indictees in The Hague, the more work there is to do to bring them to fair trials and the more resources are necessary. We, in the United States, have been leading the international community in providing money and in-kind services. We will try to continue to do so.

QUESTION: With all the focus on Karadzic in the last week or so, does the US place the same emphasis on getting the noose tightened around General Mladic and getting him to The Hague?

MR. RUBIN: General Mladic, like Radovan Karadzic, has been indicted for some of the most horrible war crimes of this decade and there is only one place he belongs, too, and that is in The Hague. With respect to which one should go there first and with respect to whether we have an equal desire to see justice done, let me say that justice is equal. We believe that justice should be pursued in both cases.

There are other factors as well, which is that Mladic is not a political force of any kind in the Bosnian Serb Republic and even though Radovan Karadzic's political space is shrinking, his ability to weld power is shrinking, his ability to have supporters act in contravention of Dayton is shrinking, there is some residual capability there. So to the extent that your goal is Dayton, you want Karadzic to be in jail for justice reasons and for increasing the chances that the Dayton agreement will work. To the extent your concern is solely justice, you would want them to be going on an equal basis.

QUESTION: Back to Asia. You talked last week about the status of food shipments to North Korea. Over the weekend there were some interviews given by several groups that are involved in distributing food there. One of them that I am going to ask about is the World Food Program, whose director I think was quoted as saying they had warned the North Korean government about increasing restrictions on monitoring capability. Do you have any comment on how the monitoring is going and whether it is affecting in any way the flow of U.S. or western food to North Korea in general?

MR. RUBIN: Monitoring and distribution of food aid where it is currently delivered by the World Food Program remains adequate. The WFP has informed North Korea that it will not expand its program into areas where the WFP, the World Food Program, is not allowed to monitor its distribution. The agency will only deliver food aid where it can observe its delivery. This is the long-standing policy of the World Food Program.

That is why we have chosen to make our humanitarian contributions done through the World Food Program because we have great confidence in their determination to make sure that they will only give food to those places where they believe their monitoring is adequate. Our aid is not going to be given if it can't be monitored. The World Food Program is able to monitor the distribution of our food aid in the DPRK.

While the present situation is far from ideal, it has allowed our assistance to reach those for whom it is intended with adequate monitoring. North Korea remains an opaque society, but we are confident that there has been no significant diversion of assistance provided by the United States through the WFP.

The DPRK accepted a visit in October 1997 by the first US Government Needs Assessment Team which examined the distribution and monitoring system. They went to previously uninvited areas and held extensive discussions with North Korean officials. They saw no evidence of diversion or significant problems with the monitoring system. In short, we give the food through the World Food Program because we have confidence that they can monitor that it goes to the right people and only to the right people. And when they don't have confidence, as they obviously don't in certain cases, then we would not want to see aid go to those places.

To the extent that there is a barometer here, it is that the World Food Program has shown a determination to not send aid where they can't do monitoring. The discussions that we have seen publicly are about the difficulties they have been having in committing to new areas where they might distribute food without adequate monitoring.

QUESTION: Do you have a current assessment of North Korea's food situation? It's food/famine or food hardship situation and the prospective need for additional contributions?

MR. RUBIN: We announced a contribution of 200,000 metric tons in January. The first shipment of approximately 22,000 metric tons of rice and corn arrived in North Korea on April the 3rd. It is, again, an opaque society and it is, therefore, fairly difficult to make a definitive judgment about what the situation is, but we do believe it is serious and that there is a serious food problem there. That is why we have been so generous in our humanitarian donations.

QUESTION: The other shipments are not on hold or anything like that?

MR. RUBIN: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: They are proceeding as they would otherwise. The last question on this subject, do you have any prospect or does the Secretary have any prospect of dealing with this issue either in Beijing or at some other stop on her upcoming Asia trip?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the food monitoring issue, I doubt. But, with respect to the overall question of a North-South dialogue that has been occurring over the last few days with the overall question of the future of North Korea, she has obviously engaged with her South Korean colleagues on that subject and I am sure that she will talk with the Chinese about the prospect for the Four Party talks in South Korea.

QUESTION: Any chance that she might talk with North Korean officials during the course of that trip?

MR. RUBIN: I have heard nothing to suggest any such contact. In the back.

QUESTION: This week US News and World Report magazine they published the report that Syrian military training to some of the PKK terrorists that destroyed the Turkish (inaudible) dam. Did you have any information?

MR. RUBIN: I haven't seen that report, accurate or inaccurate, and I will have to take a look at it and get you an answer.

QUESTION: And also, one of the Greek newspaper report that the Special Cyprus Coordinator, Mr. Miller, claimed that the government of Turkey softened a position against the Greek's S300 missile. Is that -- those I understand now, is that the US government elevation?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there is a region of the world where the ratio between accurate and inaccurate reporting is particularly high. In light of that, I am going to wait and look at that report and talk to Ambassador Miller about it before making any response.

QUESTION: Can you tell us on the Pentagon reports that Hughes Electronics (inaudible) gave sensitive information to the Chinese that may have helped their missile program?

MR. RUBIN: What I can say about that is that the question of allowing American companies to launch their satellites on Chinese launchers is an obviously a very important question that bears both on our high technology capabilities in the area of satellites and the importance of promoting those high technology advantages that are inherent to the United States in an information age, as against trying to do what we can to prevent unauthorized leakage of know-how or technology during the course of those launches.

Because we are so determined to make sure that we do not provide technology transfer during such activities, we have very, very strong safeguard programs and we work very hard to make sure that those safeguards are put in effect. We also investigate this issue very carefully when we think it needs to be investigated. We have maintained a very strict policy, including these strong safeguards, to prevent the unauthorized transfer of sensitive missile technology to China. For example, the US-China agreement on satellite technology safeguards specifically precludes US companies from providing assistance to China with respect to the design, development, operation, maintenance, modification or repair of launch vehicles.

With respect to a reported report in a news report, let me say this, that that is a matter under investigation and one of the issues that is germane is the extent to which anything might or might not have harmed the national security. And so we would not want to say anything publicly that could interfere with such an ongoing investigation. Although I doubt it, I could refer you to the Justice Department for further information.

QUESTION: Jamie, this report, not the newspaper report but the report that -

MR. RUBIN: That I can't comment on?

QUESTION: The one that was allegedly shared with the Chinese to look at why the rocket malfunctioned. Can you say whether the report, just the report itself, not whether it damaged US interests, to give it to them, whether the report itself was shared with the Chinese?

MR. RUBIN: Again, the extent to which a report and which report and what part of a report may or may not have been shared with the Chinese bears directly on the question of whether harm came to US national interests and technology transfer or know-how occurred, which is the subject of an investigation which I don't want to be interfering with.

QUESTION: Who is investigating this?

MR. RUBIN: The Justice Department.

QUESTION: The Colombians, both of them the FARC and ELN have said this weekend that they are going to target all American citizens and all kind of agents that are working in Colombia. Do you have any idea what is happening there and could you comment on it?

MR. RUBIN: Our former ARA expert, Lee McClenny, able deputy number two, will be happy to provide you some information after the briefing.

Last question.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the state of Kurdish Turkish affairs? The PKK has contacted the Turkish government about a cease-fire contingent on the beginning of peace negotiations.

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any information on that report. We can try to get that for you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)

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