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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #68, 98-06-08

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>


1055

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Monday, June 8, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

STATEMENTS
1		US-ASEAN Business Council
1		Attempted Coup in Guinea Bassau

NIGERIA 1 Reports of Death of Abacha / No Confirmation / US Policy Toward Nigeria

KOREA (NORTH AND SOUTH) 2,3 South Korea's President Kim Visit & Itinerary / Issues for Discussion, Including North Korea / US Sanctions on North / Secretary's Earlier Visit 2-4 Fuel Oil Delivery to North / Agreed Framework / Freeze on Nuclear Program / Adherence to the Framework By All Parties / DAS Kartman Mtg in NY 4 MIA Research With North

SERBIA (KOSOVO) 4-5 Update on Situation / Contact Group Mtg on Wed / Agreement on International Monitoring Mechanism / Contact Group Reps Visit Kosovo 5,8,9 NATO Options on Use of Force 5-7,10-11 Sanctions in Place & Proposed / Freeze on Assets / Investment Ban / US-EU Coordination 7-8 Negotiations / US Treatment of Milosevic 8 Military Campaign & Ethnic Cleansing 9-10 Contact Group Meetings in Paris and London This Week 10 British Draft UN Resolution on Deteriorating Situation & Refugee Concern 11 Stolen Military Equipment Spotted

BELARUS 11-12 US Ambassador's Residence Gate Welded Shut / Violation of Vienna Convention

VIETNAM 12 US Use of Nerve Gas During War

INDIA / PAKISTAN 12-13 Attendees at G-8 Meeting / Indian, Pakistani Reactions to P-5 Communique, UNSC Resolution 13 Pakistani Receipt of M-11s from China

CHINA 13-14 Secretary Raised Proliferation Issues With FM in Geneva / Current Attitude on Arms Control Issues / Technology Transfers

ETHIOPIA / ERITREA 14-15 US Diplomatic Efforts / US Evacuations / Travel by Asst Secy Rice / OAU Involvement & Action

MEXICO 15-16 Indictments of US Customs Service Officials / Presidents Clinton Zedillo Mtg in NY 16 Secretary's Mtg with FM Green re Operation Casablanca

CYPRUS 16 Rpt on Missing People and Inter-Communal Violence

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 16-17 Whereabouts of Amb Ross / Update on Talks / Settlers in East Jerusalem

TURKEY 17 Islamic Uprising


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #68

MONDAY, JUNE 8, 1998, 12:45 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing this Monday. We do have a statement for you on the US-ASEAN Business Council that will be posted after the briefing.

With regard to the situation in Guinea-Bissau, the United States deplores and condemns the attempted coup by elements of Guinea-Bissau's armed forces against the democratically-elected government. We call upon the rebels to return to their barracks and allow the government to resume normal operations. We urge all parties to guarantee the safety of civilians and foreigners living in Guinea-Bissau.

QUESTION: Same general neighborhood - any comment on the apparent death of President Abacha of Nigeria?

MR. RUBIN: We, like you, have seen the media reports about this situation. We've received some reports from normally reliable channels confirming that. On the other hand, we do not have any assessment or confirmation that General Abacha is dead. We are not in a position to confirm that at this time.

QUESTION: Jamie, the news agency of Nigeria, which I think is state-run, has announced his death.

MR. RUBIN: Again, we, as of a moment ago when I walked in and I spoke to the people monitoring this situation closely, they indicated to me that they had some reliable reporting to that effect. But absent some sort of official announcement -- and I think that Nigerian press would not quite meet that test - we're not in a position to make that judgment; although we are aware that many sources are reporting it, and that normally reliable sources are reporting it.

QUESTION: Be that as it may, do you want to make the call for a democratic transition?

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: Well, certainly we have said for some time, and I can reiterate today, regardless of the final resolution of this report, that we believe there should be a civilian transition in Nigeria - a transition that allows for a genuine democratic process, including allowing opposition parties to operate; allowing the media to cover the work of opposition parties; and allowing the transition that General Abacha promised to take place.

QUESTION: Another area of the world - Korea. President Kim meets President Clinton tomorrow. President Kim has called for easing of sanctions against North Korea. Do you have a response to that?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, let me say that we look forward to welcoming President Kim to Washington, to the White House. He arrived in New York on the 6th, and as I understand it, will arrive in Washington late this afternoon.

He will meet with the President tomorrow morning and will attend a luncheon hosted by the Vice President at the State Department later in the day and a state dinner hosted by the President in the evening. He will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, and will depart for San Francisco on June 11.

The President and President Kim will review a broad range of issues that bear on our security alliance, as well as issues related to the Korean economic recovery. We work closely with the Republic of Korea on issues relating to North Korea; and our policy towards North Korea, our joint efforts to see peaceful resolution of issues to reduce tensions and will surely be discussed.

With respect to sanctions specifically, as you know, the United States has a series of sanctions in place that are quite stiff on North Korea. We have also said that in the context of implementation of the agreed framework, that we would be moving towards greater bilateral contact and relations with North Korea. Those have been the standing policies of the United States. We certainly will look with interest at what President Kim might have in mind. Secretary Albright had a good chance to exchange views with President Kim when she was in Seoul some weeks ago, and we would expect President Kim and the President to have a really full and thoughtful discussion about the future of the Korean Peninsula, and we will look forward with interest to having that discussion with him.

QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on the fuel oil issue with regard to North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. I'm sorry you lost your question, but it happens around the briefing room.

The issue is one where we are working with the Congress and with other interested parties around the world to try to make it possible for the fuel oil to be sent to North Korea, pursuant to the schedule laid out. There was a delivery, I believe last month, and we will be working with Congress and others to make sure the deliveries happen.

But let me be clear - the United States is going to live up to its part of the bargain, and the North Koreans should do nothing to act in any way in contravention with the 1994 agreed framework, which did so much to advance the security of the entire world by freezing their nuclear program in its tracks, getting unprecedented access for the international community's agent in this regard -- the IAEA -- to monitor that program. As far as I've been informed, that monitoring continues and that program is frozen.

But North Korea should know that we are going to fulfill our part of the bargain. We're going to work on ways to do that; we're consulting with Congress and other countries in order to do that. I would expect that issue to come up in discussions with President Kim because the question of the freeze on North Korea's nuclear program is a matter of such importance to the United States, to South Korea and to the region that I would expect it to come up.

QUESTION: When the Secretary was in Seoul, there was some talk about the South Koreans needing some help to carry their share of their obligation under the accord.

MR. RUBIN: That's not exactly the way I recall it. The way I recall it was that we were trying to ensure that South Korea understood the importance of it pursuing the part of the arrangement that envisaged the construction of a light water reactor that is more proliferation-resistant. We worked with them to make sure that, together with the Japanese and other countries, that everyone is in a position to construct that reactor.

In addition, Secretary Albright pointed up the urgency of the problem, noting, as I think it should be evident to all right now, that protection against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- especially nuclear weapons - is the highest priority for the Administration, and should be the highest priority for countries around the world; and obviously wanted to make clear to the people of South Korea the importance of following through on our share of the program and working constructively where problems arise to try to make sure that the North Koreans don't make excuses to not live up to their share of the bargain.

QUESTION: One last one - is there any sign the North Koreans are not living up to their end? I mean, there was this question of pieces of fuel rods around.

MR. RUBIN: As a technical matter, it's my understanding that the IAEA believes the freeze is still in place. As a policy matter, however, we are concerned about some of the rhetoric coming out of North Korea, suggesting that they will be looking for excuses not to follow through with this agreement.

We do not want to see that happen, and we are going to be working to make sure that the North Koreans understand that we are going to do what we need to do to get the heavy fuel oil provided, and they should not be looking for reasons to not follow through with the agreement.

It's my understanding that a meeting did take place on Saturday in New York. On our side it was principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Chuck Kartman who met with his counterpart from North Korea in the context of welcoming President Kim here to the United States.

MR. RUBIN: Met with his North Korean counterpart in the context of going to New York to meet the delegation from South Korea coming to the United States.

QUESTION: Oh, I see, he wasn't talking about greeting President Kim with the North Koreans.

MR. RUBIN: No, no, no. I was merely pointing out that he was in New York for that reason, and took that opportunity to meet with his counterpart.

QUESTION: Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Okay - there might be - same on South Korea? Yes.

QUESTION: There has been coverage of a joint MIA research with North Korea. Can you give us any understanding of --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, let me get you some material for the record on that, immediately after the briefing?

QUESTION: Right, do you know that North Korea demanded to postpone their joint research?

MR. RUBIN: We have been trying to work with the North Koreans, and consider it a high priority to get them to provide as much access as possible to allow for the finding of the remains from missing in action servicemen. We consider that a high priority.

But as far as the current state of play in that discussion, which tends to be between the Pentagon and its counterparts, let me get you some information for the record.

QUESTION: On Kosovo, Pope John Paul II has called just yesterday for intervention in Kosovo, saying that violent options, repressions and flights of people in Kosovo must not leave the international community inert. I believe that the latest offensive by the Serbs in Western Kosovo has killed over 250, has leveled several towns - it's just been a scorched earth policy. Where does the Administration now stand on possible intervention to quell this disaster?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that as far as today is concerned, we do have indications there is a reduced level of violence, although fighting has continued in the Decani region. We will be meeting with our European allies in the Contact Group on Wednesday to review further steps the international community should consider.

Following Ambassador Hill's meetings over the weekend with President Milosevic, Belgrade did agree to an international monitoring mechanism for the region, drawing on foreign embassies in Belgrade. Foreign missions in Belgrade, according to this agreement -- which we'll have to see whether it's carried out - will permit unrestricted access to all parts of Kosovo. Our embassy is working with key other embassies, especially from the Contact Group, to make arrangement for frequent visits to the effected area.

As a first step, Contact Group embassies were escorted yesterday by Belgrade authorities to several parts of Western Kosovo. Ambassador Hill visited the Decani region today with a representative of the ethnic Albanian leadership, Dr. Agani. They saw significant destruction of houses and evidence of widespread armed conflict. We do not, however, have a complete report on his findings.

With respect to the use of force, we have long said that we are not ruling out military options, and that remains our policy. We are working actively with our NATO allies and partners in NATO channels; and the NATO authorities are pursuing a variety of plans in this area. Clearly, we believe this is a deteriorating situation. This is a situation that is dangerous, that effects the security of the world, and effects particularly the security of Europe. That's why it's so important to work with our friends and allies on this subject, and we will continue to do so.

QUESTION: On that very point, I think the European today imposed sanctions on investment in Kosovo. Is the United States going to follow suit or where do we stand?

MR. RUBIN: Let me start by turning the tape back slightly to remind all of you that it was the United States, at Secretary Albright's behest, that convinced the European allies to impose sanctions in the first place. We now have in place essentially three sanctions prior to this EU action. One is an international arms embargo pursuant to a Security Council resolution; the other is a voluntary ban on equipment that can be used for repression; and the third is a prohibition on government financing for investment and trade in Serbia.

We also pushed our allies to support the idea of a freeze on assets and a ban on private investment in Serbia, as well. We suspended those steps as a result of the decision by President Milosevic to engage in a serious dialogue with the Kosovar Albanian leader, Dr. Rugova. We created a mechanism here in which the on-off switch can be easily turned in sanctions. That's something the United States has long believed we need to be able to do if we're going to influence Belgrade.

As a result of the recent deteriorated situation and the use of military force in Kosovo, we are clearly moving in the direction of re-imposing those sanctions. No final decision has been made, but obviously we are moving in that direction. We're going to have meetings in the next couple of days, some internal meetings today. I'm not in a position to make a final announcement, other than to say that clearly the situation has reversed in terms of what Milosevic has done; and therefore we are moving in the direction of imposing these additional sanctions, and that should happen soon.

QUESTION: On this point - have the Europeans taken a step before the United States in this particular case?

MR. RUBIN: This isn't a score card, Roy; it may be score card for some of you. We imposed --

QUESTION: I'm not asking about a score card, I'm just asking about the sequence of events --

MR. RUBIN: No, but it seems that you're trying to keep score on the situation. What I would say to you is that the United States has been certainly in the lead in getting agreement for sanctions to be put in place, getting agreement on a mechanism to turn them on and turn them off as appropriate. Just because at 1:00 p.m. on Monday I am not in a position to announce final decisions for you doesn't mean that decisions aren't in the works.

QUESTION: Did they coordinate their decision with --

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Secretary Albright had a meeting with Foreign Secretary Cook in Geneva in which we talked about next steps. Our ambassadors and working level officials have been in regular touch over the last four days.

QUESTION: What is the consideration in not imposing sanctions right now?

MR. RUBIN: The consideration is that when the senior officials of the United States Government are ready for an announcement to that effect, they will announce it. I am trying to be as clear as I can that we're moving in that direction without making an announcement.

QUESTION: Are there any other sanctions that are under consideration besides these, or is this sort of the last set that you plan to impose?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we have a variety of ideas that have been kicking around as to what is the best way to continue to bring home the mistake to Milosevic that he's making. And let's bear in mind that with each day that he allows his military or his military police or his internal security apparatus to use military force in Kosovo is another day that the UCK forces are gaining support amongst the people. And with every day that he makes the mistake of using force rather than finds the wisdom to negotiate at the negotiating table, he becomes the membership chairman in the UCK's efforts, because he continues to push the people of Kosovo into a more extremist posture than they otherwise would be.

At some point we hope he stops shooting himself in the foot and shooting the people of Serbia in the foot and gets the message that the way to protect the interests of Serbia is to work at this problem at the negotiating table, come up with a comprehensive set of confidence and security-building measures that can make sure that this problem is solved at the negotiating table. His failure to do so only harms his own interests.

With respect to your question about what other factors might be motivating him, all we can say is that we are moving in the direction of not suspending sanctions, but imposing sanctions. If we conclude there are other steps that can bring that message home, we would not hesitate to deploy those steps.

QUESTION: Do you think it was a mistake, perhaps, for Richard Holbrooke to suspend them before they were actually even introduced a couple of weeks ago when he met Milosevic?

MR. RUBIN: We think that the steps that Ambassador Gelbard took with Ambassador Holbrooke were designed to allow for a negotiating process. It's easy to look back at every situation and point fingers and find blame, and I know some of you have to do that for a living. But in our business, what we're trying to do is influence the situation. We do believe that sanctions can have an influence, and that being in a position to impose them and suspend them at will is a way to influence the behavior of President Milosevic.

Prior to that time, there had not been a meeting between President Milosevic and Dr. Rugova; and prior to that time, President Milosevic had refused to take personal responsibility for this issue. He now has; but he has made the mistake of using the discussions as an opportunity to accelerate the violence rather than an opportunity to stop the violence and improve his own country's security. As a result, the European Union took the step that it took, and we're moving in that direction for early action as well.

QUESTION: Which were the sanctions which were suspended by the United States?

MR. RUBIN: Everyone, I believe, suspended the asset freeze and the private investment ban.

QUESTION: Jamie, just to touch upon Roy's question about the treatment that the US has given Milosevic during this process - you said that you believe that negotiating is always the best option initially. However, as you've moved the tape back, would you say there was any room in your policy that could have been a little more room for heavy-handedness toward Milosevic?

MR. RUBIN: Negotiating is not always our policy, and it's not always going to be our policy. What we realize, as the Albanian leadership realizes, a lasting solution to this problem can only occur through a peaceful discussion that gives greater autonomy to the people of Kosovo. That is the solution to this problem.

That can't happen out of the barrel of a gun. That has to happen through a negotiating process. The sooner that President Milosevic realizes that, the sooner the people of Serbia will be in a position to integrate into the rest of the world.

With respect to looking back, all I can tell you is the United States made clear once this started - as those of you who traveled with the Secretary may remember or have chosen to forget - the United States led the European countries and the rest of the world in identifying this problem; reminding other European countries of the lessons of Bosnia; making clear that what President Milosevic understands is pressure - and not positive pressure, but negative pressure; and got agreement from the European allies to a set of sanctions - some of which certain countries did not want to see implemented.

So we took a very robust approach up until we had an indication that President Milosevic was, for the first time, willing to take personal responsibility of this. We have now given that a try, as we have to do if we want to solve it peacefully. So far what we've seen is President Milosevic using these discussions as an opportunity to pursue a military campaign in Kosovo. As a result, the United States is now working with its NATO allies and other partners to consider the military planning that NATO is doing. We have not ruled military options out, and we are changing the direction on sanctions.

So therefore, it would be hard to identify a more robust posture for the United States to have taken during these last few months.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on the NATO contingency plan that Albright discussed back in Luxembourg, I believe, a couple of weeks ago now? Would you say that NATO troop intervention is right around the corner, as we look at the Kosovo situation that seems to have hit a melt-down point?

MR. RUBIN: I am not going to make any assessment of the timing of any action that is now under the planning phase. What I can say is that we're not ruling military options out and that NATO authorities are engaged in a very determined effort focused on what NATO can and should do to deal with the deteriorating security situation that I've said effects the security of Europe. But I am not going to get drawn into any further discussion of military options.

QUESTION: Could you say that maybe they're more determined now than they were two weeks ago?

MR. RUBIN: I would say that there has been a steady determination on the part of NATO, led by the United States, to try to bring home to President Milosevic the danger of not solving this at the negotiating table, and to prepare the Alliance with its friends and partners for any action that might be necessary if that lesson is not learned.

QUESTION: Can we talk about the events last week - the military events to which you alluded? Do they constitute ethnic cleansing on the part of the - or the beginning of ethnic cleansing on the part of Milosevic and Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: When you see a determined effort to focus a military campaign against one ethnic group to move people out of villages, to use heavy fire power against one ethnic group, that is ethnic cleansing in my book. There is no legal term "ethnic cleansing;" isn't equivalent to other legal terms that have some meaning in the international legal lexicon. And if I make a mistake on this I think there's someone in this room who might correct me. But the bottom line is we've seen the movie called ethnic cleansing before; we didn't like it the first time, and we still don't like it.

QUESTION: It appears that several times now that the Clinton Administration is not ruling the military option out --

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: -- and NATO is planning for it. Your statement is supported by numerous US officials in various buildings. However, Sandy Berger this morning on Air Force One said that there is no consideration for military action.

MR. RUBIN: I've read the quote of what he said; I spoke to Mr. Berger this morning - there is no disconnect on this point. The fact that NATO is planning now makes it not on the front burner for what the United States is talking about today. One of the issues that we're talking about is the timing of the re-imposition of sanctions, and so it's not different because NATO is now planning for that.

Furthermore, within the construct of military options, there are different military options, some of which might not be contemplated at this time. So I think Mr. Berger would agree, and told me what I could comfortably say, was that we are not ruling military options out. I think he was asked a specific question about a particular type of action that may be considered today in the United States. I think he was signaling two things -- number one, that the action for planning is now in Brussels, where NATO authorities are contemplating what next steps might look like, not on the table in the United States; secondly, that within the construct of military options, there may be things that are not being considered. But we are not ruling military options out.

QUESTION: I gather that what he was saying was--

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to parse this much further, but I think I know where you're going.

QUESTION: Okay. We're talking - the focus, I imagine, was on American troops?

MR. RUBIN: Or unilateral - or something like that.

QUESTION: Not unilateral, okay. My question is will American forces do their share in NATO's operations if it comes to that?

MR. RUBIN: We've made no decisions - we've made no decisions on that.

QUESTION: Not even whether you would do your share?

MR. RUBIN: What we've done is ask NATO to plan; that is the first step in this process. That decision has been made - to ask NATO to plan. The next steps in the decision-making chain on the use of force have not been made to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Where and what level will the Contact Group meeting be on Wednesday?

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, it's a political directors' meeting, with Ambassador Gelbard representing the United States in Paris. They will be setting up a meeting the foreign ministers of the Contact Group, probably, plus some other countries will have on Friday in London. It may be that as a result of the arrangement for India-Pakistan that other countries may participate in this discussion as a way to avoid breaking up the meeting. But nonetheless, the six Contact Group foreign ministers, if they all attend, will be in London on Friday, and be meeting on the subject of Kosovo, based on discussions their political directors will have in Paris on Wednesday.

QUESTION: What about the United Nations, Jamie? Are you seeking any sort of resolution there that would authorize action in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the fact that the British have drafted a resolution in this regard appears to have been widely publicized. Let me say that we are going to work with the British Government and others on the situation in Kosovo.

As part of a previous resolution, the Security Council has made clear that depending on the conditions that the situation in Kosovo can pose a threat to international peace and security, thereby triggering Chapter 7 action. We are of the view that the situation has deteriorated, there is a regional threat as a result of these steps. You can see the large numbers of refugees crossing from Kosovo into Albania, which is the essential basis for why this is an international matter.

We are going to be working with the British on that. But with regard to what we'll exactly support and how the language will emerge, that will be something that we'll be deciding in the coming days.

QUESTION: You're not co-sponsoring that?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Jamie, is there a circumstance under which the United States would not impose these additional sanctions on Yugoslavia?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if in the next few hours there were a massive turn- around on the part of the government of Belgrade.

QUESTION: And what would a massive turn-around look like?

MR. RUBIN: I think we'd all know it when we saw it.

QUESTION: Just a moment, are you asking them for some specific actions in order to avoid this next -- having to take this next step?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not going to be in a position to get into any of the diplomatic steps that we're taking right now in real time, Roy. What I can say is, we're clearly moving in the direction of re-imposing sanctions; and barring some unforeseen development in the coming hours, that is the direction we're moving. But I'm not in a position to make known publicly a final decision before the people involved have made it.

QUESTION: Opening up the Kosovo to diplomatic inspection is not a dramatic turn-around, as far as you're concerned?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Speaking of people being forced from their homes, what can you tell us about the US Ambassador in Belarus?

QUESTION: One more --

MR. RUBIN: Good link, though. That was pretty good.

QUESTION: Are you aware that some of the armored personnel carriers or other equipment the Serbs are supposedly using in Kosovo were spotted by Dutch experts as among the equipment that was stolen from the UN, the Dutch contingent in - (inaudible)?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that, but I'm not surprised you would know about it and ask me about it.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Belarus --

MR. RUBIN: Could you pose the question again, please?

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the American ambassador and his family being evicted, locked out of their - welded out of their residence?

(Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: It's a new phenomenon - welded out. Workers from the Belarusian Government earlier today welded shut a side gate leading to the residence of the US Ambassador, Daniel Speckhard. The front gate to the residence is still open, though indications are that road access to the area will be blocked in a few days. Ambassador Speckhard continues to use the residence at this time.

These actions are apparently being taken pursuant to a government decision to evict diplomats from their residences in the suburban Minsk neighborhood of Drozdy. The government indicated that all residences in the area should be vacated by Wednesday, June 10. Ostensibly, the reason for this decision is to allow the government to replace utility lines in the area.

We and the dozen other countries facing eviction have made clear that this action by the government of Belarus is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The residence of an ambassador is inviolable. The host government is obligated under the convention to take all appropriate steps to protect the residence and to make sure that it is supplied with adequate services. This action is also inconsistent with our lease, which will remain valid until 2001.

The government of Belarus has once again chosen to precipitate a crisis in its relations with the United States and other governments. We have urged the government to halt this self-destructive action. And if the government of Belarus makes it impossible for our ambassador to carry out his responsibilities, we will be forced to take retaliatory action.

QUESTION: Which is?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly would have options of our own in the welding area here in Washington.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on a CNN-Time report that the US military used nerve gas in the Vietnam War?

MR. RUBIN: I am under the impression that Secretary Cohen has said there is no evidence for this. I am not aware of any evidence for it. Obviously, this is something that happened a long, long time ago. It's my understanding that the Pentagon will be looking into it. But we have no evidence for the claim in those esteemed organizations' report.

QUESTION: Jamie, can you say who is going to attend the meeting in London - the G-8-plus? Do you know if India and Pakistan are going to be invited?

MR. RUBIN: I do not expect India and Pakistan to be there. My understanding is that the meeting will consist of the G-8 plus, I gather some countries were being added. I don't want to name them before they've been invited. But other countries outside of the G-8 who would have special influence and responsibility and expertise in the proliferation area are expected to be invited to a part of that meeting.

QUESTION: Has there been any reaction from either India or Pakistan to the findings of the communique of the meeting on Friday?

MR. RUBIN: Well, not surprisingly the Indians have taken the position that somehow - what was the word they used - grotesque -- regarded the P-5 communique as grotesque. Well, we didn't; we regarded it as a responsible step from the international community to try to bring to bear some reason on the situation between India and Pakistan, to set forth some clear goals for India and Pakistan -- essentially to stop nuclear testing; to not deploy nuclear weapons; to not test or deploy ballistic missiles; and to begin to deal with the underlying dispute, including Kashmir, that has led to such tension between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistani Government has had differing reactions to both the P-5 document approved in Geneva on Friday and the subsequent Security Council resolution approved over the weekend.

The bottom line is, both of these countries are countries that should realize the international community is trying to help them dig themselves out of the hole they've dug for themselves. The fact is that we are going to be working bilaterally; other governments are going to be working bilaterally. We're not trying to isolate them; we're trying to engage them to move away from the direction they were going, which only will lead to a futile nuclear arms race and danger to their people, and move toward the kind of responsible policies that would put them back into the mainstream of countries in the world that accept the proliferation norms, that accept the fact that nuclear weapons are not going to make them more secure, and begin to pay a little more attention to the needs of their people and a little less attention to the perceived value of nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: Staying on Pakistan - Defense Department officials told reporters a few weeks ago that Pakistan may have nuclear warheads for their M-11 missiles that it bought from China several years ago; and the amendment to the Arms Export Control Act requires economic sanctions to be imposed on the sale of missiles, which the M-11's do fit under. Why haven't there been sanctions imposed on China? And now how can Pakistan dig its way out of the hole?

MR. RUBIN: With respect - I've heard about such a briefing; I've never seen a transcript of it. I would refer you to the Pentagon for the specific details of what this official may or may not have been referring to. But it is the position of the United States Government that we have not determined that Pakistan has received M-11 missiles from China. We have serious concerns about transfers. We're watching these issues very closely, but as a government, we have not made that determination. So that official, if accurately quoted, was mistaken. But I would refer you to the Pentagon for a formal response to that official's briefing.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise this issue with the Chinese Foreign Minister on Friday - Thursday?

MR. RUBIN: The Secretary raised with the Chinese Foreign Minister a whole series of issues related to proliferation of missiles, of nuclear weapons and the importance of dealing with the situation in India and Pakistan.

Let me say that Secretary Albright was very pleasantly surprised at the cooperative spirit that the Chinese showed in dealing with a real problem the world faces. It's very easy to focus on the past and what may or may not have happened ten years ago, 15 years ago or 20 years ago; but what we as a government need to focus on is what's happening today. What's happening today is the Chinese Government has been helpful and supportive in trying to deal with one of the biggest dangers the international community has faced in a long time, has behaved responsible, chaired this meeting, took very forward-leaning positions and, in the proliferation area, has changed its behavior.

Whether it's on missiles, on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and nuclear weapons, whether it's chemical weapons, whether it's a whole series of detailed negotiations related to technology transfer, the Chinese Government today behaves in a way that would have been unthinkable ten years ago, for those who were studying the proliferation issue. Our cooperative relationship with them enhances the security of the United States, makes it easier for us to fight the battle against proliferation. And as much as some would like to focus on what happened 15 years ago, reality dictates that we focus on what cooperation we can get now, and it has been significant.

QUESTION: But isn't it a lot less than 15 years ago? This Administration imposed sanctions against China --

MR. RUBIN: Are you referring - there are several issues and I can run through them with you, George. One of the issues was nuclear transfers to Pakistan that date back to the '80s that we have deep concerns about and made very clear and took steps to respond to in the '80s and '90s - early '90s.

More recently, there have been concerns about technology transfers by China to certain countries and concerns in the missile area. But if you look at the whole panoply of chemical, nuclear weapons and missiles and missile technology -- something that ten years ago the Chinese were prepared to justify a transfer in -- they now indicate they will not support; and something four years ago that they would not agree to - namely an agreement not to provide nuclear cooperation with Iran - that they were defending as their sovereign right four years ago they've now cut off.

So if you look at the panoply of issues - whether it's missiles, civilian nuclear cooperation, nuclear cooperation more broadly, chemical weapons - there has been a broad-based policy decision by the Chinese to change their behavior and that has redound to the advantage of the security of the United States.

That doesn't mean there aren't problems. China's a very big country with a lot of companies and needs a lot of experience in export controls that will prevent problems from happening. But to go from a situation where no export controls were promulgated and, in fact, their transfers were defended to some of the most dangerous countries in the world to a situation where those transfers are rejected, export controls are promulgated but there are problems in the implementation, is a massive change in behavior.

QUESTION: Do you have anything Eriteria, Ethiopia - either the war or the diplomacy?

MR. RUBIN: Assistant Secretary Rice has been briefing the Secretary and other officials over the weekend, and I gather Mr. Berger indicated the President had spoken to the two leaders over the weekend. We have not heard reports of continued fighting along the border. Ethiopia declared a moratorium on air raids for Saturday to allow the evacuation of expatriates. We have no information that a bilateral cease fire has been concluded. We have evacuated approximately 200 Americans by various means -- the embassy staff is now down to six official American volunteers. We are obviously monitoring the situation closely. The embassy in Asmara is considering an additional charter flight that would leave late Tuesday night local time.

Essentially, we are trying to get the parties to realize they need to resolve this peacefully; we've been working on that for many weeks now. Assistant Secretary Rice has been there a couple of times and, as I indicated, the President spoke to the leaders this weekend. But beyond saying we are trying to help them resolve it peacefully, I don't have any additional details.

QUESTION: Why did Secretary Rice come back when the conflict is still going on apparently?

MR. RUBIN: Her travel schedule isn't only determined by whether there is fighting; her travel schedule determined by a variety of factors, including whether she thinks it's necessary to consult with senior officials.

I would also point out, as she indicated this morning, that a couple of hours after her plane left Asmara, bombs dropped in the airport. So that's another reason why she may have needed to move. More importantly, she went to the Organization of African Unity and got agreement on a US and Rwandan effort to try to encourage the parties to resolve this peacefully. Some of the observers from the OAU said it was one of the first times that the OAU had acted so quickly in such a situation and responded extremely well to her presentation.

So there are several places in which we can do our best to help. One is in the region, in capitals, working with the leaders; another is at the OAU, trying to bring to bear influence of the African countries; and a third is here in Washington, talking to the Secretary and, by extension, the President to try to engage their actions. So she's making her decisions about where to be based on where she can best be helpful.

QUESTION: Does she plan to go back?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any current schedule at this point, but I wouldn't rule it out.

QUESTION: Have you talked to the Ethiopians and the Eritreans about the kinds of targets that they have chosen for their --

MR. RUBIN: I don't have that level of detail.

QUESTION: On another subject, has the United States Government now received confirmation that the government of Mexico is handing down indictments of some US Customs officials?

MR. RUBIN: I have not heard that we have any confirmation of that. The President is expected to meet President Zedillo this afternoon, but I've heard nothing official on that. We see a lot of press reporting about all sorts of things that don't get communicated in official channels.

QUESTION: On Mexico --

MR. RUBIN: You mean, where the President is going to meet with President Zedillo in New York and they'll be giving a full briefing after that?

QUESTION: No, this has to do with Madeleine Albright being in Caracas. Could I ask a question on that?

MR. RUBIN: Okay.

QUESTION: All right. It was reported, I believe by The New York Times, that Madeleine Albright had a conference with Mrs. Rosario Green, and she had to apologize, I believe, for the Casablanca undercover operation and said to Ms. Green, "I had no knowledge; I did not know myself." Is that correct; did Ms. Albright not know about this three-year sting operation?

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated at the time, the State Department was informed in advance of the public announcement. Beyond saying that, and saying that I don't intend to confirm any statements that Mexican officials may have attributed to the Secretary in a private meeting, I can say that the State Department was informed prior to the announcement.

QUESTION: The State Department was.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - President, a few weeks ago, submitted his report on the missing persons on Cyprus, the five Americans, to Congress. In his transmittal letter, he referred to the issue as a result of inter-communal violence. Since many Greeks were killed by the Turkish invasion forces, do you have a comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: I'm glad you asked this, because I would like to clarify any misunderstandings. Of course, we believe that while people on both sides were missing as a result of inter-communal violence, it is equally true, as the report clearly states on page three, that people were missing as a result of inter-communal violence during the 1960s and the 1974 conflict.

So there was an editing error in terms of making sure that the transmittal letter had all the information and conclusions in it that the report itself did have.

QUESTION: Dennis Ross - is he in Washington, or is he jetting around somewhere else?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to be in a position every day to tell you where Ambassador Ross is. I can say that my understanding is he is in New York today with Israeli Minister Kahalani, discussing a number of issues of mutual interest.

We are continuing to work with the parties to overcome the differences so that we can reach an agreement based on our ideas. Our hope is to conclude that as soon as possible so that accelerated permanent status talks can be re-launched.

We have been trying to close the gaps between the parties in a variety of ways. Some of the discussions we've had have been useful. And we're going to continue working as long as we believe there is a possibility of reaching an agreement. When we believe that it is not possible, we will make that clear.

With respect to some of the reporting about our ideas, let me point out that we have not - and I emphasize the word "not" - provided our ideas in writing to either party. But other than saying that, I can't get into further detail.

QUESTION: Do you have reason to be optimistic to the --

MR. RUBIN: Given the nearly, let's see, nine months I've been doing this from the podium, optimism goes up and down based on a daily basis. Some have developed, I guess, what they call an optimism index. My standard optimism about diplomacy and the hard efforts of Ambassador Ross and the Herculean efforts of Secretary Albright is tempered by the reality of the last nine months. So it's hard to be optimistic when so little has happened for so long.

QUESTION: Jamie, on that subject - some Jewish settlers took over some homes in East Jerusalem. Do you feel that the Israeli Government is doing what is required to keep up the momentum?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that issues involving Jerusalem are the most sensitive of all the peace process issues, and we hope that this kind of dispute can be resolved peacefully.

There was reportedly some scuffling between Palestinians and Israelis over a housing dispute in East Jerusalem. We're looking into the incidents, but let me say this - we call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint, both in their actions and their rhetoric, especially when it comes to issues as sensitive as Jerusalem.

QUESTION: Last week I asked a question on this same thing. What is the purpose of several State Department officials discuss in the defense university Islamic uprising in Turkey?

MR. RUBIN: We'll get you something for the record.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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


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