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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #101, 98-08-24

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>


829

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Monday, August 24, 1998

Briefer: James B. Foley

SECRETARY'S TRIP
1		Croatia and Bosnia, Stops in Vienna and Moscow

KOSOVO 2, 3 US Efforts / Negotiations / Humanitarian effort 2, 3 Diplomatic observer mission / Displaced Persons / International Access, 3-4 Military Planning / Internal Displaced People / Destruction of Homes/Villages

SUDAN 4, 6 Pharmaceutical Plant / Confidence of Striking the Right Target / Observers 4 UNSCOM Inspectors / U.S. Approval of Sale from Pharmaceutical Factory / 4, 5 Legitimate Company / Oil-for-Food Program / Terrorist Aim 5, 6 Weapons of Mass Destruction /U.S. Withdrawal From Overseas, Killing of 6 Americans/Africans / Third Party Feelers / Terrorist Activities / Harboring of 7 Terrorists / Connection Between Osama bin Laden and Facilities Plant Owner / Financial Involvement / Talk Between U.S Officials with Sudanese Government Reasons for Attacks /

GREECE 8 Secretary Meeting with Foreign Minister Pangalos / UNGA

CYPRUS 8 Deployment of Russian Missiles

ST. KITTS 8, 9 "Little Nut" Extradition / Return of Students / Assistance to US Citizens

CUBA/CARIBBEAN 9-10 Human Rights / Economic Relations / Fundamental Freedom / Trade Relations,

RUSSIA 10 Economic Reform Agenda / Internal Matter / Private Investors / VPGore Spoke to Acting PM

NORTH KOREA 11 Discussions / New York

LIBYA 11, 13 Suspects / UN Sanctions

MEXICO 11 Combat Impunity in Chiapas / Peaceful Solution / San Andreas Accords Dialogue / Negotiated Settlement

AFGHANISTAN 12 Harbor Terrorists / Ambassador Richardson's visit

INDIA/PAKISTAN 12 Talbott's talk Jaswant Singh, Deputy Chairman Indian Planning Commission

CONGO 12 Fighting / Credible Reports / Regional Efforts / Continued Fighting


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #101

MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 1998, 3:00 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. FOLEY: Hello. I don't have any announcements so --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: Okay, thank you for coming.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Actually, are you briefing tomorrow?

MR. FOLEY: Is that the only question I'm going to have to answer? I have, actually a haircut appointment 30 minutes from now. Bill, do you have a haircut appointment?

QUESTION: No, not any more. Not since last night, thanks

(Laughter.)

MR. FOLEY: I'm not planning to brief tomorrow; I'm planning to brief on Wednesday. I will be, God willing, by my phone tomorrow and able to answer questions.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - taking Albright to Croatia and to Bosnia. The statement was just distributed. It's hardly an incendiary statement.

(Laughter.)

MR. FOLEY: In my name, I see.

QUESTION: But it also has a stop in Vienna, and I just - some of us, maybe partly for selfish reasons, like to do logistics. She leaves the President before he goes to Ireland. So I'm trying to get some measure of the level of activity in Vienna, since Austria is the current president of the European Union. She will have been to Bosnia, so that may take that off the table and Croatia. Do you see anything particularly significant to take up with the Austrians?

MR. FOLEY: Well, yes, given their presidency of the European Union. There's a whole range of issues, whether it hits on the trade front, the trans-Atlantic agenda front, the range of regional issues that the Secretary will be discussing. I think it's perfectly traditional for the United States to consult with the current chairman of the European Union; and so the Secretary looks forward to that visit.

I think as we get closer to the visit, we'll be able to brief you a little bit more thoroughly about the precise range of issues that she's going to be taking up there. But she will, as we've just announced, be going directly from Moscow to Vienna prior to her return home here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. FOLEY: Yes, it will, yes. My understanding is she comes home from Vienna that day.

QUESTION: On Kosovo, things appear to be going from bad to worse. Nobody apparently is able to stop what appears to be an attempt to exterminate a lot of Kosovars. Do you have any observations, any plans?

MR. FOLEY: Well, the situation is certainly not good. I can't quarrel with your overall assessment, Jim. In terms of the United States' efforts, our concern, though, we're operating really on several fronts - three fronts, to be exact - both in terms of our negotiating effort, in terms of the humanitarian effort and, lastly, within the NATO alliance with the military planning that is continuing. Of course, we had military exercises, NATO exercises in Albania last week.

Let me just give you the information I have about the current situation there, and then I'll talk just a little briefly about the negotiations. Serb authorities yesterday reportedly shelled villages south and west of Pristina. The Kosovo diplomatic observer mission today visited Pec and Pristina in those regions, but observed no fighting. However, they did observe Serbian tanks in the area.

This weekend the Kosovo diplomatic observer mission conducted missions to Pec and other smaller towns throughout Kosovo. They reported that the situation in the Suva Reka region is becoming more tense. The Serb offensive appears to be progressing in the area around Komorane. Civilians in the region claim their villages are routinely shelled at night.

On the humanitarian front, access for humanitarian agencies and diplomatic observers remains unsatisfactory; although in some areas it has improved. Groups have been able to gain access to internally displaced persons in the Decani area - the site of previous fighting. Also some foreign disaster assistance assessment team plans to arrive in Kosovo this week to begin evaluating the humanitarian needs in the region.

Ambassador Chris Hill was in the Pec and Decani areas today. I haven't spoken to him yet today; I hope to do so. But his focus on this visit was the situation involving the internally displaced persons and access for humanitarian agencies and diplomatic observers. He's going to Belgrade tomorrow to meet with President Milosevic. It goes without saying that high on his agenda will be a very strong intervention with Mr. Milosevic concerning the ongoing Serb offensive which must stop if we are to get negotiations in a successful mode. But he will also be underscoring the need to make good on Serb promises of allowing international access to monitor the human rights situation; and in particular, to provide relief for displaced persons and to enable the so-called "internally displaced persons" to return to their homes. That is really of critical importance.

On the negotiating front, I think that we have indicated already last week what kind of mode we are in currently. Obviously, we're not in a situation where the Serbs and the Kosovar Albanians are negotiating at the same table with or without us present. That's not the case now, but we are actually very vigorously involved in trying to promote the negotiating effort. We're doing so working separately with each side at the moment. We are working on ideas or a set of elements of a negotiation which we think, if agreed by the parties, can enable negotiations, when they take place, to succeed.

So at the moment, my understanding is that the Kosovar Albanian side is considering ideas. They're going to be bringing them back to us sometime this week. So I know - and one cannot dispute, I think, the premise of your question - the fact that the situation is dire there. But on the other hand, I can assure you that the United States is engaged on all fronts and that we believe it is possible, if we have - especially on the part of the Serb side and President Milosevic - a willingness to call off the offensive finally and allow humanitarian access, that that would create the framework and the environment necessary to get negotiations to succeed. But we are moving forward on the negotiating front in the midst of all these difficult circumstances. We have reason to believe that these efforts could prosper -- again, given the right environment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - continue to try to get commitments from Milosevic when he appears to have an almost perfect record of breaking every promise he has ever made?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think that to be accurate, you're probably nine-tenths correct; you said each and every. On the other hand, he made a strategic decision in Bosnia to end the war and to cooperate with the US negotiating efforts. Certainly, the robust demonstration of NATO military force was not entirely foreign, I think, to his decision-making process. In that respect, the very fact that NATO is conducting military planning and preparing for possible action cannot be entirely lost on him.

But I would take it a step farther, though, because we believe - and I don't pretend that this is his view, but let me state our view - that in a fundamental sense, what his military and police forces are doing now in Kosovo is counter-productive; counter-productive, that is, to his own self- interest and national interest. The reason is that we don't believe that you can have a solution on the battlefield there. Certainly, Serb forces have scored battlefield successes in the last few months; but those will prove ephemeral; those will prove only to radicalize further the Kosovar Albanian population and make a negotiated solution ultimately impossible.

Let's not forget that the Serb presence in Kosovo is a small one. I believe it's about 10 percent of the region. The Serb position is not sustainable by military means in the long run. So we're trying to bring that home to him - concerns of what is in the interest of his people - as well as reminding him that NATO is preparing to act if necessary.

QUESTION: Jim, can we go to Sudan or is there more on this?

MR. FOLEY: I don't want to go to Sudan, but -- Charlie?

QUESTION: Jim, I'm perplexed slightly. While I understand and hear what you're saying about the US being engaged on various fronts, I also hear you talk about the internally displaced people and that one of the efforts, you say, of Ambassador Hill is to get the internally displaced persons back to their homes; but their homes have been destroyed. Where are they going to go, should he even be successful?

MR. FOLEY: I believe it's our judgment that while there has been destruction of homes and significant destruction of homes, that in the larger picture, that has not been to such a degree that the great mass of internally displaced persons cannot return if not to their homes, then to their villages where they can be accommodated and they can be reinserted into their former lives.

It is a fact there has been destruction of homes, destruction of villages. But our understanding is that it has not been on that kind of a scale that these people - the bulk of the internally displaced persons - cannot return home.

QUESTION: I know you don't want to go to Sudan, but I've been asked to take you there nevertheless. The Sudanese, as I'm sure you're aware, the government is saying that the pharmaceutical plant was, indeed, a pharmaceutical plant and nothing more than that. How confident is the US that they struck the right place is the first question.

MR. FOLEY: We're very confident that we struck the right place. I would simply refer you to the statements of all the senior Administration officials who spoke on this subject last Thursday, and the fact that we had convincing evidence and, Mr. Berger indicated yesterday, physical evidence confirming the fact that this plant was engaged - regardless of what else it was producing - that it was engaged in the production of precursor chemicals.

I'm not going to share evidence with you from this forum; but we believe it is convincing. I think Mr. Berger noted also that the mere fact that observers walking around the ruined hulk of that factory were not able to find anything is not terribly significant. I think I'll just quote him; he said, "I'm not sure that anyone visibly can identify what chemicals might be in and around the vicinity."

I think that by way of illustration, I would simply point out the fact that in Iraq the UNSCOM inspectors have been going places many times over many years where they suspected there had been activity, but were not able to find any such evidence until the Iraqi defector exited Iraq and confirmed what was suspected; and then the Iraqi regime acknowledged this fact thereafter. So this is not something that's necessarily evident by simply strolling through the wreckage that's there.

QUESTION: Also, just to bring up something else, it looks like the United States approved a sale from the pharmaceutical factory back in - I guess it looks like June of 1998. The sale was - the Sudan mission applied for a humanitarian sale of medicines to Iraq, and it was approved by the UN which seems, they're saying, to support this claim that this company is very legitimate and only - it sells pharmaceutical goods.

MR. FOLEY: Well, as I indicated in my previous answer, that facility may very well have been producing legitimate pharmaceuticals. That in no way contradicts our assertion that that facility was also producing precursor CW - chemical weapons - precursor elements. It is true that the facility was once approved by the Iraq sanctions committee as a source of pharmaceuticals provided to Iraq under the oil-for-food program. But again, that approval which occurred in January of this year in no way alters the fact that the facility was also producing those precursor elements.

QUESTION: I have a question in the realm of the cause for the retaliatory strike in Sudan - namely, the bombing at the Nairobi embassy, if I might go on to that. There is a report in Jane's that's been picked up by The Washington Times that a major US Army headquarters station and a major CIA listening post were taken out by this blast in Nairobi. First, can you comment on that particular article as to that particular comment or that content? Secondly, was, in fact, the Nairobi embassy targeted because of those particular facilities attached to the embassy?

MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, I, of course, cannot comment on intelligence matters. In terms of the Department of Defense question, you'd have to ask them; I don't know the answer to that question.

QUESTION: I would then follow by asking, there was an attack in 1983 in Beirut that apparently was aimed at US intelligence facilities within an embassy. There have been other targetings - Pan Am 103 took five of our State Department people down with it - probably the cause of that particular bombing. Is there any indication that the terrorists are aiming specifically at DOD or CIA personnel?

MR. FOLEY: They were aiming - and I think they've made it very clear in their public statements - bin Laden and associates - that they were aiming at the United States of America. The aim was to sow terror and to oblige the United States to withdraw from its policy of overseas presence and engagement. I think it is a little irrelevant to try to parse the particulars of whom they were trying to kill. They were trying to kill Americans. I think it's indisputable they were knowingly killing Africans as well, given the size of the bombs that they placed there.

Bin Laden himself in public TV interviews noted that when he said strike and kill Americans, he was not distinguishing between, for example, military and civilian Americans.

QUESTION: I've got two questions on Sudan. The Information Minister said yesterday that the Sudanese Government had gotten through third party feelers or suggestions from the United States that it wanted to put relations with Sudan on a better footing. He suggested that the United States was sorry about what had happened. A, can you confirm any of these third party contacts; and B, do you have any response to what he said?

MR. FOLEY: I certainly can't confirm any such contacts, either direct or through third parties. I asked the question earlier today, and the answer was that no one - and this is not sort of a finessed answer - no one I spoke to was aware of it. I think it's simply not true that there was any such contact.

It seems to me that we have communicated with the government of Sudan publicly. We've stated that we did not aim the attack against the government of Sudan as such. We have not concluded, at this stage of the investigation, that the government of Sudan had been involved in any of the terrorist activities which triggered our attack. We were aiming strictly at this facility that is producing precursor chemicals. We've also communicated publicly with them our belief that they need to change their attitude towards terrorism, towards harboring terrorists if they hope to have a better relationship with the international community. Beyond that, though, the report as far as I can tell is absolutely not true.

QUESTION: And on the facility itself, can you share with us any information you have about connections between Osama bin Laden and the facility or investors in that facility. Some doubts have been raised about any connection that the owners of this facility had with bin Laden.

MR. FOLEY: I'd have to refer you to the transcript of the briefings that took place, I believe, mostly on Thursday in this regard. I do recall last week when we were preparing all of ourselves for those briefings that the point here was not, as I recall it, necessarily ownership of a particular facility, but ownership participation or investment in, I believe, the umbrella para-statal organization or I think it has something - a name, something like Military Industrial Concern or Complex that is the parent owner of that pharmaceutical plant. We had reason to believe that bin Laden had a financial interest there. Apart from the question of whose name may appear on the lease or on the deed of ownership, we believe he had a financial involvement. Beyond which we have had reason to believe for some time that bin Laden has had an active interest in obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Has the United States issued an indictment against bin Laden?

MR. FOLEY: That's a law enforcement matter; I can't comment on it. I'd refer you to the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, you said that the Administration spoke to the government of Sudan publicly. What do you mean by that?

MR. FOLEY: No, I didn't say that we spoke to the government of Sudan. I said we issued public declarations in the wake of our strikes on Thursday, indicating that we were striking the facility and not seeking to attack the government of Sudan or its people.

QUESTION: Has the Administration talked with the government of Sudan since the strikes?

MR. FOLEY: I think I just tried to answer Mark's question in that respect; and my answer was no.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the Administration was not - officials of the US Government haven't talked with officials of the Sudanese Government?

MR. FOLEY: I'd be willing to check the record to see whether here in Washington, as apparently they're packing their bags, whether there's been any contact between their embassy here and the Department of State.

Certainly, the question as put was the leader in Sudan alleged that there had been a message or a third party message delivered from the United States. My information is that is not true.

QUESTION: But direct contacts haven't taken place. I mean, forget about the third party; have direct contacts taken place?

MR. FOLEY: I answered that, too.

QUESTION: And the answer is no?

MR. FOLEY: I said either direct or indirect; didn't I, Mark?

QUESTION: You said we didn't directly or indirectly give them assurances. He's stripping - I think what Eric's doing is stripping potential subjects of conversation from the question. Did you talk to them about the weather or anything else?

MR. FOLEY: I'd be happy to take the question and look into it. I'm not aware of any direct contacts with the government of Sudan. I think, obviously, we don't have an embassy functioning there right now. If there were any contact - and I'm not saying there has been - it would have been with their embassy here; but I'm not aware of it.

Let me - I have to correct myself there, because I reported here on Friday in my briefing that Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, had called in the Sudanese charge, I believe. It must have been on Thursday, the day of the strikes. What I said on Friday - and I can see if there's any more information about that conversation - was that she had simply stated the reasons for the attack, as I have described. I believe she also conveyed our view that it was their responsibility to protect our diplomatic facilities in Khartoum.

QUESTION: Back on the facility, since the briefings you mentioned occurred on Thursday, there have been press reports pointing to ownership of this facility by Saudis and native Sudanese who are Yemenites, with no known connection to Osama bin Laden at all. I wonder if you've seen those - particularly one this morning in The Wall Street Journal - and have any comment on those.

MR. FOLEY: I can only repeat what I said in answer to your earlier question, Mark. We believe that bin Laden was involved in the umbrella organization, regardless of whose name may appear on a deed for a particular facility.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary of State is planning to meet the Greek Foreign Minister, Theodore Pangalos, during the UN General Assembly session in New York City?

MR. FOLEY: Mr. Lambros, I don't know the answer to that question. Certainly, we have another three and a half weeks or four weeks before the General Assembly takes place. The Secretary will be having a wide range of meetings with counterpart foreign ministers in New York, I can tell you that.

QUESTION: Under heavy US pressure, the Cyprus Government is going to delay the deployment of Russian missiles S-300 for nine months. Do you have any specific form of resolution?

MR. FOLEY: I've not heard that report. Certainly, we've urged the government of Cyprus not to take delivery of those missiles; but I hadn't heard that particular announcement.

QUESTION: I was told that your legal department, a long time ago, concluded that Greece is going to lose her fight for Imia in the International Court of Justice. I'm wondering if you communicated that to the Greek Government, since already you've communicated that to the Turkish Government.

MR. FOLEY: I think I'd have to tally up the number of premises in your question which are wrong; but they are all wrong. We haven't come to any such conclusion. We've said that that's a matter that could usefully be adjudicated by an international court. We certainly haven't stated our view as to how that court would rule, and much less have we communicated any such view to any government.

Mr. Lambros, it's time to move on.

QUESTION: Mr. Foley, your legal department concluded officially that if Greece is going to address this to the court, it's going to lose. It's a legal opinion - (inaudible) - do you know if this has been communicated to the Greek Government? This is my question.

MR. FOLEY: I simply reject the premise of your question, that our legal department has made any such conclusion.

QUESTION: According to a --

MR. FOLEY: We'll come back to you.

QUESTION: Hopscotching the world, is there anything new on "Little Nut"?

MR. FOLEY: On what?

QUESTION: "Little Nut" - I believe that's his name, isn't it - on St. Kitts, the drug - I mean, I was away for a week, but --

MR. FOLEY: But you came back.

QUESTION: Hopscotching the globe --

MR. FOLEY: About 60 US citizens left St. Kitts before the end of the semester at the Ross Veterinary University, August 14. We believe the majority of the 280 American students at Ross left for the break period and will return for classes September 7.

Of the approximately 600 US citizens, which includes students who were in St. Kitts when we issued our public announcement on July 29, 110 reside on the island and just under 200 are vacationing there. We are working with the local association of US citizen residents to update information on their whereabouts and to maintain communication with them. The State Department is closely monitoring the situation on the island, and assistance to US citizens remains available.

I think as to the substance of your question about the legal proceedings in St. Kitts, I'm not aware that they've run their course. The government was appealing a court decision in the interest of moving forward with an extradition; but I don't believe that has played itself out.

QUESTION: And is the State Department still maintaining extra Diplomatic Security personnel on the island?

MR. FOLEY: I couldn't tell you what the numbers are. My understanding is there is still such a presence there, yes.

QUESTION: The President of Cuba has been meeting with a lot of Caribbean leaders and they are, according to the reports, agreeing to have (inaudible) support to get economic relations with the European countries. Do you have any comments on that?

MR. FOLEY: It is our strong view, and we've made it clear to the nations of the Caribbean, that governments which choose to engage with Cuba have a moral obligation to do so in a way that encourages fundamental, systemic change by the Cuban Government and respect for human rights and peaceful democratic change. We expect that our Caribbean friends, whose systems are fundamentally different from Cuba's, are urging the Cuban leader to take concrete steps towards democracy, human rights and a free economy.

QUESTION: You don't see this kind of agreement as a failure of the US policy trying to form a strong alliance in the Caribbean on the side of the US policy on Cuba?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think it's clear that the Cuban system is bankrupt. The Cubans themselves know that there are no new markets for communism. Cuba is not listening to the message of others that the time has come for fundamental change. But we believe that the Cuban Government is hearing the message from others more than ever before, that it's time to open themselves up to the rest of the world, as the Pope urged when he was there, and to allow the Cuban people to enjoy fundamental freedoms and economic prosperity. We think that Cuba's system is an anachronism, and is recognized as such.

QUESTION: But the countries - they don't pay attention to the message of the United States. They're still trying to form an alliance with Cuba. So you don't see it as a failure of the US policy - trying to convince these Latin Americans in the Caribbean countries and Europeans to get trade relations with Cuba?

MR. FOLEY: To be perfectly honest, the Cuban system is bankrupt, as I said. There's very little in the way of outside interaction that can fundamentally change or, indeed, save a moribund system. Sooner or later, the kind of change that has swept the hemisphere and the entire world will come to the shores of Cuba; it's only a matter of time.

QUESTION: On Russia, given Victor Chernomyrdin's previous five-year record as Prime Minister, what's the confidence level that he'll be able to get the reforms through that the US says is necessary?

MR. FOLEY: Well, that's the fundamental challenge facing the Russian Government, regardless of who's prime minister, who's leading it. It's, indeed, the challenge of getting the reform process going and on a sustained basis. I think we've made clear since the news came out yesterday of the changing government that we view this as an internal Russian matter, that we're watching closely. The United States will certainly continue to work with the Russian Government to advance the economic reform agenda.

I think you put your finger on it - the key question facing the new acting Prime Minister is the challenge of taking the effective and necessary steps to deal with the economic issues facing Russia. We certainly hope the Russian Government will continue to work closely with the international financial institutions, private investors, Russian business and the Russian legislature to restore investor confidence and put Russia on a path to growth.

I think it's been indicated already that Vice President Gore spoke with acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and former Prime Minister Kiriyenko yesterday, and that both reaffirmed to the Vice President the determination of the Russian Government to move forward on its reform program.

QUESTION: Would you say it's better that we're getting something we know rather than something we don't know? I mean, we've got a record to look at and we can say --

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have worked productively with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin; certainly no one more so than the Vice President. He's facing daunting challenges, but he has a record of commitment to reform. His challenge is enormous and we think that he is someone who understands the problems facing Russia and what needs to be done. Obviously, it's very difficult at the moment in Russia, but we're confident nevertheless that he is someone who has both the knowledge and the ability and the political acumen needed to move forward on the reform front.

QUESTION: Do you have anything new on the US-North Korea discussions happening in New York?

MR. FOLEY: I don't. As you know, they took place on Friday but they continued today. I'm not in a position to comment on them. I haven't heard from colleagues in New York that those have completed today. Maybe we'll have more to say later in the week.

QUESTION: Can I clarify one thing on Lockerbie, if possible? Earlier we heard that if, in fact, the two suspects were given over to authorities that the UN sanctions would be suspended. Was that, in fact, all of the UN sanctions or part of the UN sanctions? I wasn't clear on exactly --

MR. FOLEY: Well, as you know, we had a major background briefing; and if that was not covered in the transcript, I'd rather take the question and get you an answer.

QUESTION: The UN has issued a statement saying that the government of Mexico needs to do more work to combat impunity in Chiapas. Do you have any comment on that since the Secretary of State has been saying that the US is going to continue to pressure the Mexican Government to find a peaceful solution in Chiapas?

MR. FOLEY: I don't believe that the Secretary has used the term pressure.

QUESTION: She used it at the Congress, in the Senate.

MR. FOLEY: I think that she's made clear that we have a very friendly relationship with the government of Mexico; and among friends, each side is not afraid to talk about all the issues before them in an honest way. We present our views, but we have a relationship of equals, and I think that should be noted.

But in answer to your question, we understand the one point in the resolution that you refer to called on the parties that signed the San Andreas accords in 1996 to resume a process of dialogue on the conflict in Chiapas. Our long-standing position on the conflict has been that it ought to be resolved peacefully by a negotiated settlement, acceptable to all of the involved parties.

QUESTION: Going back to a sore subject, reports are coming in that the Taliban says that they've spoken to bin Laden and asked him not to attack Americans. Can you comment on that? Has the State Department or the Secretary been in touch with the Taliban and have you heard that report?

MR. FOLEY: First of all, I hesitate to acknowledge that that is a positive development - merely to talk to bin Laden and to urge him to act differently. I think even before the bombings we've made clear that the Taliban should not harbor terrorists on the soil of Afghanistan, and that they ought to take action to shut down his capabilities which, indeed, are giving the Taliban a very bad name in the world today, and that they ought to expel bin Laden, not just talk to him.

But in terms of contact, we've long had contact with the Taliban, with other Afghan factions and with other prominent Afghans who are not affiliated with any faction. As part of this dialogue, the United States has urged the Taliban militia to honor internationally recognized norms on human rights, narcotics, terrorism - including the need to restrain bin Laden and no longer to harbor terrorists on Afghan territory. We've also called upon them to protect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls.

We, of course, are interested in talking to the Taliban about bin Laden and other international terrorist threats.

QUESTION: So give him up or else - is that what you're saying? No talk - just give him up or else?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I indicated that we're prepared to talk to them and we have talked to them before. You're aware of Ambassador Richardson's visit there in April. But there have been other contacts with them subsequently.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Strobe Talbott talks today with Jaswant Singh?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a read-out of those talks at this point. I can just give you a little bit of a sense of what the schedule is. As you know, the United States is engaged with the governments of India and Pakistan in a senior-level dialogue on non-proliferation and security issues. We have had three sessions so far with both countries. Deputy Secretary Talbott has been designated by the President and Secretary Albright to lead our delegation.

As you say, he is meeting today in Washington for a fourth session with Mr. Jaswant Singh, who is Deputy Chairman of the Indian Planning Commission and Special Envoy of Prime Minister Vajpayee. Tomorrow he will have similar meetings in London with Mr. Shamshad Ahmad, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary. The goal of the talks with both countries is to explore how the US and the international community can work with India and Pakistan to bring them back into the international non-proliferation consensus, reduce tensions and address their security concerns.

We have discussed Kashmir with Pakistani officials in previous sessions of these talks, as well as at other venues.

QUESTION: Where does the US stand on the increasingly complicated military picture in the Congo with all sorts of outside countries getting involved and the rebels 18 miles from Kinshasa?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we've seen the reports that Angolan and Zimbabwean troops are now in Congo. We regard those reports as credible. There are also unconfirmed reports of continued fighting in both the southwest and eastern Congo. As you know, we've noted earlier the reports that we believe also are credible that both Rwanda and Uganda have engaged in the conflict.

We may have an announcement to make later in the day on this subject. But let me just say that the United States supports regional efforts to negotiate a cease-fire and find a swift political solution to the conflict. We've made crystal clear that we believe strongly in the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of Congo; that foreign forces ought not to be there; that there is a risk of a wider conflagration involving the region; and that all sides who have an influence ought to bring that influence to bear to bring the fighting to a halt and a halt to foreign involvement.

QUESTION: Is that risk of greater conflict in the region increasing; does it appear to be?

MR. FOLEY: Inasmuch as the fighting continues, yes. But given the possibility that the regional states could, indeed, pause and waive the regional consequences of continued fighting in Congo, we think there's an opportunity to bring it to a halt.

I'll take one more question.

QUESTION: On the Lockerbie bombing, is there information available on how exactly this is going to work - what country the suspects will be turned over; whether families will be able to attend the trial; where they would serve their sentences if --

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would refer you - we have a transcript of a background briefing by senior Administration officials earlier who, I believe, answered all those questions concerning that they would be sent to The Hague, obviously, initially, we believe, in Dutch custody, and then under the jurisdiction of the Scottish court, and that sentences would be served in Scotland. But I'd refer you to that briefing.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 3:30 P.M.)


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