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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #70, 98-06-10

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>


882

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, June 10, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

KOSOVO
1-2		Update on violence/Refugees to Albania/Sanctions
1-2,3		Amb. Gelbard at Contact Group meetings/G-8 Meeting on
		  Friday / Policy options
2-5,6-7		NATO's acceleration of planning process/Defense Minister's
		  Meeting tomorrow in Brussels/UN Security Council
		  resolution/Timing of NATO and UN actions 
3,5-6		FRY military operations in Kosovo
3-4		War Crimes Tribunal and possible definition of Kosovo
		  conflict as "internal"
6		Dialogue with Pres. Milosevic
6		Possibility of recognition as an independent country
7-8		Kosovar Albanians' peaceful tactics and international
		  support
8-9		Amb. Hill meetings with FRY officials and Kosovar Albanians
		  / Suspended talks
12		Discussion during Secretary Albright's meeting with
		  Senators today

ARMS CONTROL 9-11 Secretary Albright's call for stringent export controls on man portable air defense systems (MANPADS)/International meeting soon

INDIA/PAKISTAN 11-12 Secretary Albright's meeting with Senators on the possibility of new CTBT hearings/ Discussion on current legislation and the issue of sanctions

BELARUS 12-13 Update on Lock Out of US Ambassador in Minsk from his residence

TURKEY 13 U.S. Policy on Turkey and Kurds

SWITZERLAND 13 Wiesenthal Center Report on action of right wing groups during WWII

NIGERIA 14 U.S. Ambassador request for meeting with Gen. Abubakar

IRAQ 14 GOI reaction to Amb. Butler's "Road map"/GOI-UNSCOM cooperation


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #70

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 1998, 1:45 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Greetings. The lights seem particularly bright today; but fortunately for you, they're against your backs.

Welcome to the State Department briefing room. It is Wednesday, tomorrow is Thursday.

(Laughter.)

Let me start with Mr. Schweid.

QUESTION: We've heard a lot about India and Pakistan and that part of the London deliberation, but not much on Kosovo. Mr. Cohen is talking about Kosovo. What does the Secretary hope to accomplish on that end?

MR. RUBIN: Let me start, Barry, with a situation report. As we understand it, violence now does appear to be increasing in Kosovo, with fighting spreading to additional areas. Some fighting may be continuing in the Decani region. We also have preliminary reports of violence in the Klina region, on the highway between Pristina and Pec. The dialogue between the ethnic Albanians and Serbs is currently on hold, pending an improved security environment - particularly, and end to Belgrade's military operations.

Refugees continue arriving in Albania, albeit at a slower rate. There are currently some 200 crossing into Albania per day. We estimate that there are between 10,000 and 11,000 refugees in Northern Albania, and that the existing international assistance efforts of the UNHCR, the ICRC and the government of Albania can address the current needs of this population, but would need additional assistance if large numbers of new refugees begin to arrive in Albania.

With respect to the series of meetings that are occurring, I spoke to Ambassador Gelbard about an hour ago and he had just finished a meeting with his counterparts from the Contact Group. What he indicated to me is that going into the meeting on Friday of the foreign ministers - which will probably take place primarily through the G-8 formula where all of them sit - that there's a recognition that this is a matter of grave concern; that with respect to the prescriptive remedies, that is what we want to see happen -- namely a return of refugees, an observation force in a position to know what's going on there, a cease-fire and a situation that would enable the conditions for negotiations to return. That is what the foreign ministers will be moving to address.

On the sanctions side, as you know, the President decided to re-impose the sanctions that we first proposed. The executive order is in train, and I discussed in detail yesterday what that would mean.

What is happening right now is there is a growing recognition in the international community that the situation in Kosovo is deteriorating, and that its continued deterioration poses a threat to the region and by extension, therefore, a threat to international peace and security. The large numbers of refugees I just referred to is a harbinger of the danger of allowing the situation to deteriorate further without action.

As a result of that growing recognition, NATO's officials are now engaged in a very serious accelerated planning process. There will be a defense ministers' meeting in Brussels tomorrow that Secretary Cohen will be attending. The ambassadors are now working in preparation for that meeting. They're taking into account initial reports from the assessment teams that have recently been to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Given this deteriorating situation, our NATO ambassadors are discussing a wide range of options and exploring those options.

Those options will then be reviewed by the defense ministers tomorrow. Then the foreign ministers will have an opportunity to engage, as well, on Friday. The key addition, obviously, on Friday is the presence of the Foreign Minister of Russia. We are supportive and acting in support of a resolution in the Security Council that, because of the deteriorating situation, would authorize all necessary means to restore international peace and stability to the region. That is a very significant next step in this process, and what I'm trying to communicate to you is that whether it's the political side, the refugee side, the humanitarian side or the military side, different countries, led by the United States and others, are engaging in a process to try to make sure that we deal with the situation early enough so that it doesn't spin out of control.

QUESTION: Jamie, you said the matter is grave. And I know that you don't want to commit yourself to certain language about military intervention, but you seem to be saying that military intervention - or suggesting, rather - is inevitable at this point because the situation is deteriorating.

MR. RUBIN: My words are chosen carefully. I did not say it's inevitable; what I said was that it's grave and that if President Milosevic doesn't get the message and walk back from the brink, the likelihood obviously will increase. We are considering serious military options because we believe the situation warrants it. But no decisions have been made. You have to start by planning; you have to start by figuring what you can and should do and what will work in combination with your political objectives before you begin to issue threats and then, ultimately, if necessary, carry out those threats.

So that's what we're doing. We're not presuming any one outcome or another, and we're not presuming any one decision or another. We're doing what we're supposed to be doing, which is getting ready.

QUESTION: I maybe reading too much into this, but you referred to what Belgrade's forces are doing in Kosovo now as military operations. It seems to me up until yesterday, it was referred to as paramilitary or police operations.

MR. RUBIN: I'm not trying to signal anything by that phrase, other than that clearly, military forces of various designations - namely, military equipment - is being used to conduct this campaign in Kosovo.

QUESTION: Would you say that equipment includes military aircraft, both fixed wing and helicopter, as well as regular forces from the Yugoslav National Army?

MR. RUBIN: I will try to get you an answer for the record as to what we can assess publicly as to what we think is going on there. But clearly, it is a military operation in the common sense definition that there are troops that are accompanied by military equipment that are conducting offensive operations.

QUESTION: Is any thought being given that the foreign ministers might issue a deadline for Milosevic to walk back from the brink, as you phrased it - to do the various things that you've outlined?

MR. RUBIN: Well, that is for the foreign ministers to decide. Obviously, we are in a situation where time is important. We want to make sure that we are acting with due care, exploring all the options. With respect to what the foreign ministers may do two days from now, I'd like to give them a chance to talk about it before we say it.

QUESTION: One issue that I'm a little in the dark about is the issue of, Jamie, doesn't Milosevic - isn't he actually conducting a civil war under territory that's in his own jurisdiction? And could you review what possible legalities there might be with regard to NATO or anybody else - the UN - taking any kind of military action in Kosovo?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Very briefly, the answer is that pursuant to the last Security Council resolution that imposed the arms embargo, the body of the world charged with restoring or maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council, determined that action in Kosovo posed a threat to international peace and security. It was by that nature that they imposed an arms embargo.

Clearly, the fact that we are now considering a measure that would authorize all necessary means makes it even clearer that the international community believes that this is a matter that affects the international peace and security, and therefore can appropriately be applied or acted on by the Security Council.

With respect to legal definitions of whether this is an internal conflict and what that would bring to bear, that's part of the War Crimes Tribunal issue that we addressed early on, where we have made clear that we believe the War Crimes Tribunal applies to this territory because it's in former Yugoslavia. It's up to the Tribunal to work on that.

QUESTION: Are you saying that whatever the Security Council says it is, as far as Kosovo is concerned, whatever it rules, then, will overrule whatever international law?

MR. RUBIN: Well, without purporting, I have never gone to law school and I don't want to overdo my legal understanding of this. But as I understand the situation, when the Security Council makes that kind of a determination, that governs; unless it affects in some way domestic law of various countries in the world. With respect to the United States, we have a veto in the Security Council and therefore, if we don't believe that's true, we're in a position to veto it.

But with respect to the precise legal situation, I'd like to leave that to the lawyers; other than to say that when the Security Council makes its determination, that's an extremely important determination.

QUESTION: Jamie, do you consider the Security Council resolution that you've described an essential prerequisite for any military action that NATO might take in or around Kosovo? Do you expect Russia and China to support such a resolution? And do you have any time table for when it might be adopted?

MR. RUBIN: Right now we are in a consultation phase. And we are not supporting it for no reason; clearly, we think it would be useful. Whether its failure to pass would kick in certain other factors which your question implies, I don't care to speculate at this time.

We think it would be useful for the Security Council to act in this general way. We are now working on the language. We think that if President Milosevic understands the road he's heading down better than he obviously understands it now, the chances of him walking back from the brink are greater. But we do not have a firm understanding of what all the countries in the Security Council will do. We will be working on a text in New York, and at that time we'll know better what the countries are going to do.

We obviously would like to see any such resolution receive the support of all the countries that are on the Security Council because the chances of us ever having to consider implementing that resolution in a way pursuant to NATO military planning would be less if the resolution knocked some sense into President Milosevic.

QUESTION: Timing?

MR. RUBIN: Timing - this process takes some time, and it's just began in the last few days and it's in the consultation phase.

QUESTION: When you say it's useful, do you mean it's essential or can action be taken under Chapter 7 without that resolution?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, you're trying to drag me into a lawyer's discussion. What I can tell you is that for now, we would like to see this resolution passed. There are certainly countries in the world that have traditionally not wanted to act in the absence of Security Council resolutions. You know the United States has different legal interpretations than some other countries, and different political imperatives than other countries.

So for now, what we are focused on is planning in NATO and a Security Council resolution in the UN in New York. And, hopefully, the planning will be completed on an accelerated basis, as President Clinton indicated yesterday. And, hopefully, countries will realize the wisdom of supporting such a resolution as a way of, at a minimum, getting the message through to President Milosevic to walk back from the brink.

QUESTION: When is planning to be completed in NATO?

MR. RUBIN: The defense ministers will meet tomorrow, and they will accelerate some of the guidance for the planners to do their work. They would be in a better position to know the answer of timing after they have a chance to meet with the planners tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could I go back, also, to Sid's question about the forces on the Yugoslav side? Can you say anything about the extent to which the federal army is engaged, as opposed to police, at this stage?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that there are components from basically all the different designated types of forces in Serbia that are engaged in one form or another. What we want them to do is to go back to their barracks - the ones that were in Kosovo, and those that were not there at all, to return from where they came from.

QUESTION: Do you know about the numbers? Have the numbers increased in the last --

MR. RUBIN: Right, I mean, clearly, there's been an increase in the violence and, therefore, by implication it would be logical that there's an increase in the force levels. But giving you an order of battle from the podium is not something I'm in a position to do.

QUESTION: Last night there was a report, or yesterday there was a report out of Kosovo that a substantial number of new tanks or armored vehicles were brought into the area - 50, at least - and 1,500 new troops and things like that. In this way, is there any sense that a build-up is continuing, even as the conflict continues?

MR. RUBIN: I think I indicated in the response to the first question that the violence is increasing in the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: My question is on the build-up.

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the exact order of battle, I will try to get you an answer for the record as to what we can say publicly about what we know that's going on there.

QUESTION: Jamie, this man Milosevic, with whom we've had dealings in the past, has now, under some pressure, agreed to hold talks with Mr. Rugova, and under the cover of those talks, launched what appears to be a rather massive at least paramilitary operation.

MR. RUBIN: Sounds like you read my briefing yesterday.

QUESTION: Yes. Is there any point in doing business with this man at all in the future? His word appears not to be worth much.

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I said yesterday, the credibility of President Milosevic is certainly a waning asset, in light of the fact that he has used talks as an opportunity to pursue this kind of military action. But for now, he is the President of Serbia; and if one wants to see this conflict - the President of the FRY, Serbia and Montenegro - he is the person one needs to do business with if one wants to get things to change on the ground. It is very easy to simply say, let's not do business with him, unless you don't want a negotiated outcome.

If you want a negotiated outcome, you need to do business with a person able to deliver. We still believe he's able to deliver. If you don't want a negotiated outcome, then you're in a position to adopt sort of a laissez faire attitude, well then let's not do business with him. We, the United States, and the international community believe that it will be better for the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia, more broadly, if this problem is resolved at the negotiating table. Therefore, one needs an interlocutor capable of delivering.

There's no question that President Milosevic delivered in Dayton. For those of you who covered Dayton, you know that happened. And so, clearly, he is in a position to deliver. That doesn't mean we enter into discussions with him with joy and happiness, considering what he has been responsible for. But it does mean those in responsible positions who want to get a negotiated outcome need to deal with that person who can deliver.

QUESTION: Let me just, in this context, try one softball - one off-the- wall question.

MR. RUBIN: I like the idea of a softball better.

QUESTION: No, this is an off-the-wall question. Is there any consideration being given to recognizing Montenegro as an independent country?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that at this time.

QUESTION: Jamie, can I take you back into the legal side, but it's one I think you can handle, even as a non-lawyer? Am I correct that it is possible for NATO to act without a UN resolution?

MR. RUBIN: Certainly.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RUBIN: But as I indicated, there are some countries who see UN Security Council resolutions as a necessary prerequisite for their participation. So that may end up being a hypothetical legal point.

QUESTION: This is somewhat of an oddball question, too

MR. RUBIN: Another off-the-wall question.

QUESTION: Well, since '92 - I may have my dates wrong, but roughly '92 - the Kosovars have basically not participated in Serbian politics and institutions. They set up their own shadow government and shadow institutions and so forth. Does the US think that was wise policy on their part; and do you counsel Rugova to change policy at all?

MR. RUBIN: Well, pursuant to the agreement that the Italian interlocutors made with regard to the education agreement, we were looking for a way for the Kosovar Albanians to participate in the school system and be in a position to, thereby, participate more broadly in the situation.

We're not in the second-guessing business; we're in the problem-solving business. Clearly, by avoiding violence, the leaders of the Kosovar Albanians have won greater support in the world for their legitimate effort to pursue their rights than they would if they were acting by random killing and taking some of the steps the UCK took, which we condemn.

So the ability to obtain support around the world for your cause is often directly related to the tactics you pursue. The peaceful tactics that were pursued by Dr. Rugova, including non-participation in the activities of the authorities there because their rights weren't being respected, is all of a piece. One can't just take a piece out of it and say, well, gee, it would have been better if they did this or they didn't do that. Where we are today is that there is a broad body of opinion amongst the Kosovar Albanians that they want to resolve this problem peacefully and receive their legitimate rights.

What President Milosevic doesn't seem to understand is that with each tank and with each gun and with each use of force, he's decreasing the number of Kosovar Albanians that want to pursue a peaceful solution and increasing the numbers who support the UCK or the KLA.

QUESTION: Don't you think the Kosovars have a right to defend themselves from this onslaught?

MR. RUBIN: Well, one always gets into the chicken and the egg situation. Inherently we recognize people's right to defend themselves; but we believe that the violence has to stop on both sides. Clearly, what has outraged the international community is the fact that a modern army is being used in Kosovo against a largely unarmed civilian population. But that does not excuse those who commit acts of random terror as part of their pursuit of their cause; we cannot support that.

QUESTION: Back on the issue of diplomacy, the talks that were suspended last week, they were scheduled, I guess, to resume this week. What is the outlook; and also, what are you advising Dr. Rugova to do?

MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Hill is in contact with both of the parties. I would prefer not to get into a discussion of tactical concerns that we may be discussing with the two parties on a daily basis. Those are private communications. But in general, we would like to see the negotiations resumed. We want to establish a situation where both sides recognize the solution is at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield.

The best way to do that is for President Milosevic to come up with a credible confidence- and security-building plan that will give the Kosovar Albanians new confidence and new assurances that by negotiating, they are not simply masking Serbian attempts to use force in Kosovo. So what precisely the nature of that confidence- and security-building plan would be is something that we would obviously be prepared to work with the Serbian authorities on. But that's the principle that is governing our desire for negotiations.

QUESTION: What must happen before the talks can resume in the --

MR. RUBIN: Well, we don't have preconditions; these are talks between the two parties. They have indicated, and we understand their feelings - they, being the Kosovar Albanians - that to talk in the absence of a confidence- and security-building plan and in the presence of this kind of onslaught is simply untenable; and we certainly understand that. So what we are trying to do is work on the goals, which are refugees returning, reconstruction of the houses that have been destroyed, observers to make sure this doesn't happen. As goals, I am not going to say that each one of those things has to be done in full and in advance before one could start talking again, but clearly some confidence has to be provided to the Kosovar-Albanians that when they talk, their people aren't going to be slaughtered.

QUESTION: You say that you're trying to work on these things in the absence of talks. I know Christopher Hill saw Milosevic on the weekend. Are there continuing talks with Milosevic on these issues?

MR. RUBIN: Again, we are in contact with both parties about the issues in Kosovo. As far as who is talking to whom on an hourly basis, it is not appropriate for me to say.

QUESTION: Have the talks moved into kind of a proximity phase where --

MR. RUBIN: No; there are no talks in the sense that the meeting scheduled has been canceled between the Kosovar Albanians and the Serbian authorities. What I am saying is that we are in touch with both sides on a daily basis.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - talks were canceled for this week?

MR. RUBIN: Last week.

QUESTION: But what about this week?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not under the impression that any new session is scheduled.

QUESTION: Do you want there to be talks this week?

MR. RUBIN: Roy, you know, you come in here and - I've said we want the talks to start.

QUESTION: Well, these are American-organized talks with an American present with Dr. Rugova coming with the American. This is not exactly happening with by Dr. Rugova himself; it's an --

MR. RUBIN: Roy, if you want to be a diplomat and find out everything that happens on an hourly basis, I will get you a form so you can join the Foreign Service, and then you can know on an hourly basis every contact that we have with each of the parties.

For now, in a public forum while diplomacy is going on, our position is as follows. We want negotiations to occur; we believe they need to occur; we understand the Kosovar Albanians unwillingness to participate in the last session of talks because of what was going on in Kosovo; we are in touch with both parties to try to create conditions under which the talks can resume. Beyond saying that, I have no comment on your specific questions.

QUESTION: Different subject -- the Secretary, in her speech, called for export controls on shoulder-fired missiles. Can you shed some light on why she raised that; is there a new and growing threat?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. As part of the response to airline safety problems, in particular the TWA flight, Vice President Gore set up a commission that was looking into airline safety matters. A particularly dangerous type of weaponry is known as MANPADS - man-portable air defense systems - which is a particularly non-politically correct definition of a weapons system. They provide a low cost, easily deployable, highly portable and extremely lethal surface-to-air missile capability. An example, on the US side, is the Stinger. These platforms are hard to defeat, and their proliferation presents a significant risk for use in terrorist activities -- in particular against civil aviation.

The proliferation of these systems is expanding -- the armed forces of more than 115 countries and dozens of sub-national groups are now equipped with portable surface-to-air missiles. In light of this, we have imposed some rather stringent export restrictions, and we want to promote similar stringency around the world. What the Secretary is calling for is a process whereby those countries that are in the position of supplying these weaponry are able to apply rather rigid end-user controls so that the weaponry does not fall into the wrong hands.

We consider this a growing threat; it's a threat that we want to deal with. We've imposed some rather strict controls on exports of these weapons of our own, and we're trying to get other countries to do so, as well.

QUESTION: When will those controls be imposed?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you the details on precisely when - I think it's increasing over the years.

QUESTION: A lot of those got on the market through the US supplying Afghan rebels.

MR. RUBIN: Right. Thank you for the history lesson.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: Well, I just don't understand what relevance that has if we're trying to put controls on them and we're trying to get others to put controls on them, to point out that we have recognized the problem - it's obvious - it's well known fact that in the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan, there was an increasing problem with this. That's why we're trying to deal with it. But if you want the United States Government, through it's spokesman, to take blame for all the problems in the world, you'll have to find another spokesman.

QUESTION: It certainly wasn't the Clinton Administration that pursued the policy arming the Afghan rebels, but there was a program that was implemented late in their Administration to buy back the Stingers which - and I don't believe they were able to purchase any of them back. I'm just wondering whether you're thinking of maybe re --

MR. RUBIN: I think what I'm trying to say is what we're doing now is making sure that those countries that export them have a very tight export control system. We have imposed that. They are some of the most stringent export controls we have. We now need to get other countries to do that. To the extent we are pursuing other measures to try to buy back existing systems out there, I would have to get you an answer for the record, but the initiative, which was what the question was about - what Secretary Albright's initiative was - is the one I so stated.

QUESTION: Jamie, are there other countries who have expressed interest in this?

MR. RUBIN: We are going to be having a meeting in the coming weeks to try to get interest by the key suppliers. Yes, there are others.

QUESTION: Here at the State Department or somewhere?

MR. RUBIN: We will get you details on where that meeting will take place.

QUESTION: Who else makes these weapons?

MR. RUBIN: More details to follow.

QUESTION: On the Secretary's speech , she made a rather pointed appeal to Senator Helms to take CTBT out and dust it off and have a committee meeting about it. Is there any reason to believe that he is more flexible on that than he has been in the past? Have India and Pakistan made a difference?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright had a very constructive meeting on Capitol Hill this morning with about 50 senators on the subject of India and Pakistan, and what we need to do to try to restore our ability to deal with such problems. She will be initiating a series of meetings with members of Congress on the whole question of sanctions. In that meeting, she felt a growing recognition on the part of senators of the need to provide flexibility to the Administration in the area of sanctions.

With respect to the Comprehensive Test Ban, there is a growing number of senators who are asking Senator Helms to conduct hearings; and she has talked to him about it. As far as what his intentions are, I think you'd have to address that question to Senator Helms, not to us. But as Secretary Albright indicated, she is ready, willing and able to testify at the earliest possible time.

QUESTION: Does she have a specific request in mind with regard to the Glenn Amendment? Does she want Congress to either repeal it or to re-write it?

MR. RUBIN: This is a process; it has to begin somewhere, and the process began with the Secretary of State having a discussion with members of Congress - senators - roughly half the Senate - about the problems of lack of flexibility with various laws in the sanctions area. We are not at a point where we are seeking a particular piece of legislation; no such legislation has been drafted. Broadly speaking, we are supportive of Senator Lugar's effort to bring greater rationality to laws on sanctions.

But with respect to any specific legislation, the key legislation now before the Senate is Senator Lugar's legislation, and we want to work with members of Congress to make it possible for the Executive Branch to have greater flexibility so that the pursuit of diplomacy doesn't become simply the imposition of sanctions -- that we are in a position to have the incentives and disincentives we need to influence the behavior of other countries. That's the purpose of diplomacy and the purpose of our foreign policy. I am not in a position to announce or reveal any new position by the United States on the Glenn Amendment, other than to say that broadly speaking, we think we need greater flexibility.

QUESTION: Does she feel that the Glenn Amendment specifically does tie her hands as she is trying to involve a new policy - because it requires, I think, a completely new authorization from Congress to lift any of those sanctions?

MR. RUBIN: The law is in place; we intend to follow the law. We will work with Congress if we believe there is a need to adjust any provisions in the law. We will follow the law. I am not in a position to make a specific comment on any specific legislation, Roy. I am in a position to talk about a process the Secretary began to begin to work with the senators on dealing with the inherent lack of flexibility in a large number of laws passed by the Congress.

QUESTION: Did she tell them that in this specific case there's really so little - she is very limited in what the United States can do because it's such an all-or-nothing sanction?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think that's a self evident fact; I can certainly tell you that.

QUESTION: Did the meeting this morning with the senators cover just India and Pakistan or was Kosovo also addressed?

MR. RUBIN: I believe there was some discussion of other matters, but the purpose of the meeting was India, Pakistan, and I believe Kosovo came up.

QUESTION: Can I ask about Belarus? I saw a report that the United States is prepared to cut off electricity and the water at the Belarus Embassy in Washington if they go ahead with their eviction plans. Is that true?

MR. RUBIN: Let me run through a little bit of where we are. We have had an intensive dialogue with the Government of Belarus on this issue. On June 9, Foreign Minister Antonovich informed Ambassador Speckhard after a renewed protest that President Lukashenko has authorized a one-week extension of the June 10 deadline. There have been several extensions of the deadline, to get to your question from yesterday, since the Foreign Ministry first informed embassies of the Belarusian Government's April 23 decision to remove all residents from Drozdy, ostensibly to conduct utilities repairs.

Throughout the past six weeks, we have repeatedly met with senior officials in the Belarusian Government here and in Minsk to protest the crass and disingenuous eviction attempt. Other countries have done the same. We have warned that these measures violate the Vienna Convention, specifically Article 22, which provides for the inviolability of ambassadorial residence, and that the United States would be forced to take retaliatory measures if the Belarusian Government carried through with its plan.

As a signatory of the convention, the Belarusian Government is obligated to take all appropriate steps to protect the residence and to make sure that it is supplied with adequate services.

With respect to the lease question that came up yesterday, the Belarusian Government owns the entire complex. The US Embassy and the Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister signed a lease on the residence in July 1992, valid until March 2001.

With respect to what we would do here, let me say that our ambassador is still in his residence in Minsk. It would be premature to speculate on what steps we may be prepared to take; but our response would be measured and appropriate to the violation of international law involved.

QUESTION: Jamie, the inviolability of the ambassador's residence would also apply here in Washington. You all are not prepared --

MR. RUBIN: Right, but in any convention, if one side violates the convention, appropriate and proportionate responses are understood in international law to be proper.

There, I pulled a little legal mumbo-jumbo out of my pocket.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Another subject - one of the State Department employees, he works for the Policy Planning Department, he wrote a book about the Turkish- Kurdish problem. He advised the Turkish Government to sit and open a dialogue with the PKK terrorist organization, and he also defends the same subject in Berlin about the Aspen Institute. I believe it is to prepare some kind of conference. I wonder, as the State Department, did you change your policy - (inaudible) - and discuss with the terrorist organization?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm glad to see you've been doing your reading; and we welcome reading of books, especially. But my understanding is that the policy of the United States has not changed in this area. That doesn't mean that officials of our government are not permitted to express their own views in their writings.

QUESTION: Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a report which analyzes the activities of right wing groups in Switzerland during the Second World War, and comes to the conclusion that the Swiss society was saturated from top to bottom by the ideology and activities of these groups. The report creates outrage in Switzerland; the Swiss object to many things, among them, at the pinnacle of their influence, these groups had 1.5 percent of the popular vote. Many other objections are made. Does the State Department have any comment on this report?

MR. RUBIN: We have not had the chance to review the report in detail. We understand, however, that it portrays Switzerland as heavily pro-Nazi during the war, and links support of Nazi Germany to anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is a phenomenon that has been present in many societies around the world. But it is important to note that those same Swiss took in 50,000 Jewish refugees, of whom 30,000 remained throughout the war and probably owe their lives to having refuge in Switzerland.

There is no doubt that there were pro-German elements in Switzerland, as there were in so many other countries during the war. But it is clear, as Under Secretary Eizenstat stated in his recent comments here, that the Swiss people were overwhelmingly sympathetic to the allies, even against the backdrop of Switzerland's strict neutrality. We would be concerned with any broadside attack and urge anyone engaged in re-examining this topic to strive for balance, not rush to judgment until all the facts are fully established.

We continue to believe that Switzerland, in the past year and a half, has taken the lead among wartime neutrals in reviewing this dark chapter in their history, and in committing itself to provide justice in concrete ways to Holocaust victims. In this regard, we look forward to the Historical Commission report on Switzerland's relationship with Nazi Germany. This commission has already issued a no-hold barred report on gold transactions; in the fall, it plans to release its report on refugees.

The Commission eventually will address Switzerland's overall relationship with Nazi Germany. We have great confidence in the integrity and probity of that commission, and we look forward to what we expect will be a candid account of these issues.

QUESTION: Jamie, is there anything new on Nigeria today? Has our ambassador been in to see this new government?

MR. RUBIN: We would like to meet with the new Nigerian leadership. Our ambassador in Nigeria has requested a meeting with General Abubakar, and we hope the meeting takes place in the next few days. After the meeting occurs, we will be in a position to review what our next diplomatic steps ought to be.

QUESTION: Is there anything on the Middle East? Still close?

MR. RUBIN: We're working hard.

QUESTION: Any comment on - Mr. Butler's going to go back to Iraq, and Iraq has already said we don't want your road map for disarmament. So where does it go -- where does it go if they don't cooperate, as they said?

MR. RUBIN: We'll have to see what happens. Iraq is famous for making a lot of different kinds of statements. What has to happen in order to get sanctions lifted is Iraq has to provide UNSCOM with the material it needs to get the job done. That material and cooperation has been laid out by Ambassador Butler. And one hopes that the Iraqi Government, instead of trying to deny humanitarian aid from coming into its country as it has most recently, will realize that the welfare of its people, the welfare of its nation and the welfare of Iraq in the world will be improved if they finally come clean and provide the cooperation that's been so sadly missing.

QUESTION: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 2:25 P.M.).


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