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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #110, 98-09-30

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

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


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


Wednesday, September 30, 1998


1		Cuban Human Rights Activists Charged with Sedition

LATVIA 1 Referendum Regarding Citizenship Law

SLOVAKIA 1,11 Parliamentary Elections /OSCE Report

NORTH KOREA 1-2 Third Plenary Meeting of the Four-Party Talks in Geneva 10/21 12 US-DPRK Missile Talks Begin Tomorrow in New York 12-13 Doctors Without Borders Withdrawing from North Korea 13 Status of World Food Program/Monitoring/US Contribution 14 North Korean Export of Missile Technology 14 Reported Diversion of Food Aid 14 US-DPRK Meeting on Terrorism 14-16 Funding for Heavy Fuel Oil /Status of Delivery/Shortfall

SERBIA (Kosovo) 2,6 Secretary Albright's Conversation with UK Foreign Secretary Cook 2 Reports of Atrocity in Gornje Obrinje 2-3 UN Security Council Action Regarding Atrocity 3 Fighting Continues in Kosovo 3-7 Status of NATO Planning/Use of Force/Timing 4,5 Status of Implementation of Security Council Resolution 7-8 International War Crimes Tribunal/Involvement in Kosovo

ITALY 8 Parliament's Support for PKK

AEGEAN 8-9 Disputed Islands/Assistant Secretary Grossman's Remarks

GREECE 9 Purchase of Fighter Aircraft/Consultations with Congress

VIETNAM 9-10 Secretary Albright's Meeting with Foreign Minister 10 ASEAN Summit Scheduled for Hanoi/Invitation

IRAQ 10-11 Reports of Iraqi Nuclear Capability 11 UNSCOM Documents, Accord Between Kurdish Leaders

CHINA 16 Secretary Albright's Meeting with Foreign Minister / Discussion of Taiwan

SUDAN 17 Mubarak's Reported Remarks on Al-Shifa Plant

ALBANIA 17-18 Formation of New Government


DPB #110



MR. FOLEY: Welcome to an on-time briefing. I apologize - truly - for the delay; I'm a little out of practice. That means you're going to be extra tough on me.

I have a number of announcements. First, on Cuba, we understand that the Cuban Government has now charged the four leaders of the dissident working group, namely Beatriz Roque, Vladimir Roca, Felix Bonne and Rene Gomez Manzano, with association for purposes of sedition and acts contrary to the security of the state.

The four have been held for 14 months in Cuban prisons. They have been held in inhumane conditions, which has included inadequate medical care. They have been held in cells with common criminals, and they've been denied their fundamental rights and the treatment that common decency demands. Their only crime was to speak the truth about the repression of freedom in Cuba; to criticize the government's failed economic policies; and to call for peaceful democratic change.

This self-condemning action by the Cuban Government starkly reveals its utter disregard of the international community, which has unanimously urged that the four be released.

Secondly, I'm going to post a statement on the upcoming referendum October 3 in Latvia, which the United States is following very closely. It's a referendum concerning efforts to amend Latvia's citizenship law in accordance with the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which the United States supports.

Also, a statement on the Slovak parliamentary elections following the judgment of the OSCE that they were conducted in a correct and orderly manner.

And finally, I would like to announce - and I think it's been reported elsewhere - that a four-party working-level group, as you know, met in New York last Friday to discuss arrangements for the third plenary meeting of the four-party talks. As a result of that meeting, the United States, China, South Korea and North Korea have agreed to convene the plenary meeting in Geneva beginning October 21.

In accordance with the established rotation, South Korea will be chairing this third plenary meeting. The goals of the United States in the four- party talks remain, number one, the reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula; and two, replacing the armistice by the achievement of a permanent peace agreement.

As in the past, the Swiss Government is providing facilitative assistance for the talks and we are grateful to the Swiss Government for its support.

QUESTION: Foreign Secretary Cook, as I understand it, is calling for an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Kosovo; and I also understand he had a phone conversation with the Secretary sometime today. Do you have anything on those subjects?

MR. FOLEY: Yes. It's true that Secretary Albright spoke this morning with Foreign Secretary Cook. They discussed the reports of the atrocity in Gornje Obringe , I believe it's pronounced. In that conversation, Foreign Minister Cook indicated what you know publicly, which is the UK believes that the United Nations Security Council needs to respond to this atrocity. He indicated that when the UK takes over the Presidency of the Security Council tomorrow, they would be calling a meeting to highlight the world's revulsion at this terrible deed. Secretary Albright agreed that this was a good idea that the United States supported.

In terms of our information on the massacre, international observers, as part of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission mechanism, visited the massacre site in this town of Gornje Obringe, which is in the Drenica region. So they were able to witness firsthand what, I think, international journalists have witnessed themselves and reported on. I think we've indicated that lacking forensic specialty we're not, obviously, able to make definitive judgments on what happened. That only highlights the need for the Serb authorities to allow international forensic experts to go in and take a look at this site, as other sites, that have been uncovered in the past.

It reveals also the need for an overall increase in access for international observers generally speaking to help through their presence to prevent these kinds of horrible massacres. Again, according to the international observers, at least 14 Kosovo Albanian internally displaced persons, it appears that they were mutilated and executed by members of Serb security forces. An elderly couple; five women -- one of whom was pregnant -- and at least six children were among the dead. Local internally displaced persons reported that the village had been besieged by Serbian forces on September 23, a week ago, and after two days of shelling on the 25th of September, those forces entered the village and proceeded to burn, loot and execute. So that's our information at this stage.

QUESTION: What do you expect the Security Council to do?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I expect, first and foremost, the Security Council is going to condemn this atrocity. I would expect that the Security Council will call on Serbian authorities to allow for a thorough-going investigation by credible international investigators, forensics experts, to determine what happened; and thirdly, for the Security Council to call on Serb authorities to follow up with their own investigation to determine who perpetrated these acts and to pursue them in a court of law so that justice be served in the wake of this terrible incident.

I don't have, beyond that, any more specific information as to what the United States is expecting to put forward in the Security Council. This is just something that's been reported, as you know, in the last hours. So we will be preparing for that meeting. But I'm giving you a general answer what, I think, at a minimum we can expect, at least the United States and the UK and other members of the Security Council, to be pursuing.

QUESTION: Can you tell me where the threat of the use of force, where that issue stands? Is the US, NATO, Europeans willing to do that and under what circumstances?

MR. FOLEY: As you know, NATO is in the last phases of its planning process; and we believe that NATO is, for all practical purposes, prepared to act.

You are aware that last week NATO military authorities were authorized to issue what in the jargon of NATO is called an Act Warn by which nations are invited to and requested to identify forces that they would contribute to a military operation, and that process continues this week. We welcome the support offered by allies, pursuant to this Act Warn, and we understand that's proceeding well. I don't have specific information as to what nations are offering what kinds of hardware. I'm not sure we could provide that in any event at this stage. But my understanding is it's going very well.

Obviously, a decision to commit forces or to actually launch military operations is a political decision that will have to be made by the member governments and ratified by the North Atlantic Council. That's a step that we haven't arrived at yet.

Clearly, the clock is ticking. I think we've said that there is no grace period for Mr. Milosevic; that everything, in our view - the view of the United States - is in place for there to be military action if he doesn't reverse course.

Now, we've seen some interesting statements out of Belgrade in recent days. The FRY authorities have informed us that they will be withdrawing forces from Kosovo. I think you've seen reports, including on television that some units have been withdrawn. But our information is that while that may be true, at the same time other units are rotating into Kosovo. We certainly have no evidence of a net draw-down of forces; and equally to the point, we continue to have reports of fighting - both small arms fire and artillery fire were reported on the ground again today in the Suva Reka province of southern Kosovo.

Indeed, it's now been six days since the Security Council issued a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. My understanding is that Secretary General Kofi Annan will be reporting to the Security Council - I think it will be sometime next week - on the status of implementation or lack of implementation of the Security Council resolution. His report may be pertinent to the decisions that the political authorities of NATO will have to take, based on whether Milosevic has reversed course and ended the repression.

I think the Security Council laid out what is expected, what is required in terms of the pullback, the withdrawal, the draw-down; and that's going to be the yardstick by which we judge Serbia's actions - not any words, statements or declarations.

QUESTION: Jim, you say the clock's ticking, but you've been saying that for quite some time; and the carnage is just getting worse. Milosevic is not drawing down -

MR. FOLEY: Well, if I can correct you, in our view, the clock started ticking on the basis of a couple of things that happened last week.

QUESTION: Six days ago?


QUESTION: Okay, well, nevertheless, it's been ticking for however you want to measure the yardstick, it's been ticking and things are getting worse. You even said that there's no evidence of a net draw-down.

MR. FOLEY: Right.

QUESTION: Okay, in light of that and the fact that Foreign Minister Cook seemed to suggest in his remarks today that an ultimatum -meaning a specific date - needs to be set for Milosevic to either pull out the troops or suffer the consequences. Does the United States share his feeling on that - that beyond an ultimatum, you need to be more date-specific about action?

MR. FOLEY: I think what you're raising is - I don't mean to minimize its importance, but it is, I think, a question of tactics in terms of whether it's necessary to reformulate and formalize what the position of the United States, other members of NATO, of the Security Council is - which is that Milosevic has to stop the repression, has to stop the offensive, has to pull back his forces. That's what needs to be done. We've indicated very clearly that NATO is prepared to act if that doesn't happen, and that time is running out.

Whether you need to formalize that in the form of, as you say, an ultimatum or not remains to be decided. I think that's not really the critical element. The critical element is whether this withdrawal takes place in the coming days or not. We'll be able to judge that, and we believe NATO should act and will act if that doesn't happen.

QUESTION: So giving him a date you don't think would push the --

MR. FOLEY: I'm not ruling that out; I'm just saying that that's a tactical question we haven't decided yet. It's not as important as the substantive issue, which is, has Milosevic reversed course?

When I say reverse course, I don't mean to take actions that can be easily changed or themselves reversed -- if you put some forces in barracks that can then come out or if you do things with your troops that can be changed within 24 hours. We need to see evidence that a strategic decision for peace has been made; because after all, we are not pushing for an end to the offensive in a vacuum. At the same time, we're actively pursuing the negotiating front; and Ambassador Hill, whom I spoke to a few hours ago, is hard at work on that. He's working with both the Serb and the Kosovo Albanian side on the basis of US proposals to achieve an interim settlement. He believes that he can make progress with both parties, and that it is possible to reach this kind of an agreement. But he believes very equally strongly that this is not going to happen unless there is an absence of military activity and end to the repression.

QUESTION: Is there any link between these two tracks - between - you say a decision by NATO to move would be a political one. Would a UN Security Council resolution with tough wording make it easier for NATO members to take that political decision and go ahead with military action?

MR. FOLEY: Well, you've asked the $64,000 question, which is one that we've addressed on numerous occasions from this podium. The United States has always believed and continues to believe that NATO has the authority to undertake action - military action - on its own initiative, but that we would certainly welcome any statement from the Security Council that supported NATO's determination to act. We believe that the latest Security Council resolution lays out in crystal clear terms what Milosevic has to do to avoid military action. Our position on that hasn't changed.

QUESTION: Could I ask you to clarify something here about the - you said Kofi Annan's report is going to come and then the decision will be made. In other words, there will be no NATO military action until after Kofi Annan reports to the Security Council?

MR. FOLEY: I don't want to be tied down that specifically. As I said, the questions you raise are legitimate ones, but they are tactical issues and issues of timing, and we don't want to be lost in that thick. We will make the decisions that we think will achieve our strategic objective, which is to getting peace in Kosovo. If that takes diplomacy, then that's what we would prefer; certainly everyone prefers a diplomatic solution. If it requires use of force, then that's the road we'll go down. But in terms of the question you raise and that Crystal raises - we'll be addressing those in the next days.

QUESTION: But the NATO action doesn't depend on Kofi Annan, or does depend?

MR. FOLEY: What I'm saying is that the NATO action depends on whether Milosevic has truly reversed course and withdrawn his forces in accordance with the demands of the Security Council.

QUESTION: How much proof, though, of Milosevic's bad faith do you need? I mean, from my - again, this is just eerily reminiscent of the whole Bosnia situation where you put - you keep saying we're threatening him with force; we're threatening with some sort of action and you keep dragging it out and dragging it out and dragging it out, waiting for somebody to prove his good faith and yet with every day he proves his bad faith and there are people dying and there are people who are displaced. I'm just wondering why are you continuing to put your faith in Milosevic when he's proven time and again that it's not worth it?

MR. FOLEY: We're not putting our faith in Milosevic. The burden of your question is why haven't we launched military action to date -- if I read you correctly - to put it in unvarnished terms. And we --

QUESTION: Well, it's a little more complicated than that, because you keep threatening to take some sort of action and if you don't intend to take that kind of action, then you shouldn't threaten it.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think we're talking about different time frames, Carol. As I said, it's been six days and that clearly, based on the evidence of the last six days, we don't see that Milosevic has gotten the message in reverse course. In terms of when we make the final determination as to whether he's complied or not, pulled back his forces or not, ended the repression or not, and whether or not we have to use military force, I'm not prepared to answer today -- Wednesday, six days after the Security Council issued its resolution. That day is coming. But I don't see that the issue of trusting Milosevic and having been strung out, if you will, is relevant to something which, in our view, is six days old.

QUESTION: Except that the Secretary of State, months ago, had made it clear, when all of this activity in Kosovo began, that the United States wouldn't tolerate another repetition of the Bosnian situation.

MR. FOLEY: But we don't conduct a hair-trigger foreign policy here. The use of force is a very serious issue for the United States. Before using force, it is imperative for all kinds of reasons -- both diplomatic and practical -- to do a lot of work, of diplomatic work in order to try to achieve your aims by peaceful means and diplomatic means. We've done that.

As you know, we've been operating on different tracks -- on a negotiating track, on a humanitarian track and on a diplomatic track to marshal in the necessary support for military action if it has to come to that. The actual decision to use force, though, may not be far away if, indeed, the situation doesn't change rapidly. I would simply urge you to hold your fire and we'll see over the coming days what happens and what we do.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, did the Secretary and Foreign Minister Cook discuss NATO military action in Kosovo?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a thorough going read-out of her conversation. I haven't spoken to her in the wake of the phone call. I learned that simply because there were reports about the UK intention to move at the Security Council. I informed myself that this had been raised in the conversation, but I don't have anything further on that. I would be surprised if they didn't discuss all aspects of the Kosovo situation.

QUESTION: Just one other point -- you seem to be suggesting today that really we're talking about days in terms of coming to an assessment instead of perhaps --

MR. FOLEY: Well, I think that the other answer to Carol's question also is the humanitarian dimension of the situation. When you have literally hundreds of thousands of displaced persons exposed to the elements, unable to return to their homes, facing really dire prospects as winter comes -- and winter in some places in the mountains has already started to come in Kosovo -- that is also another oppressing factor in terms of requiring action to change the situation, if not on Milosevic's part, then on the part of the international community.

It really would be imprudent and irresponsible for me to lay out a time table for this decision which, after all, involves 16 NATO member nations and I just can't do that.

QUESTION: Jim, how would the NATO political authorities take such decision? What would it be -- would they all have to meet together? Could they do it over the phone? Would the ambassadors do it in their regular meetings --

MR. FOLEY: The North Atlantic Council would convene to take such a decision.

QUESTION: At what level?

MR. FOLEY: Presumably ambassadorial level, but I have no reason to think it would be other than ambassadorial level at this stage. But again, I don't want to signal that that decision is inevitable, either. Certainly NATO has done everything to put itself in a position to act now. Clearly, Milosevic has begun to get the message that military action is a live and real prospect if he doesn't reverse course. He's gotten the message because he started to signal that he's going to move in a different direction. But so far these are only words, and we're not going to be certainly satisfied with words; we've got to see on the ground, real evidence that he has ended the repression, he's withdrawn the forces as called for by the Security Council, or else.

QUESTION: Do you know if the work of the International War Crimes Tribunal extends to Kosovo?

MR. FOLEY: I believe under Dayton is does, indeed, extend to Kosovo, as part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. We have been calling all along for the International Tribunal itself to involve itself in an investigation of reported atrocities and potential crimes of that nature in Kosovo, and we've at the same time been urging Belgrade to allow them the access they need to conduct their investigations.

QUESTION: Are US representatives in that area collecting evidence towards that end?

MR. FOLEY: Again, our diplomats are part of an international observer team effort, called the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Teams, whose purpose is two-fold; number one, to be able to inform the international community on what's actually going on on the ground. As you know, this is a very remote area and difficult terrain with warfare occurring. Under dangerous, difficult circumstances, we have diplomats out there, trying to assess what's going on. At the same time there has been the hope and, to some degree, the result that their presence has been a mitigating factor, although not in any large sense. But in terms of their ability to conduct the kind of professional investigation of alleged war crimes, that requires professional experts, that requires forensics experts and that's not either their job or their capability.

QUESTION: How confident are you that you will have UN consensus if you wanted to launch a military strike?

MR. FOLEY: We believe that we will have that consensus if conditions are such. Again, I point you to what I said a minute earlier about the onset of winter and the possibility of a humanitarian catastrophe happening right in the heart of Europe. Even nations that would prefer an explicit Security Council authorization, which we don't believe is necessary -- even those nations, faced with a humanitarian catastrophe of that magnitude on their doorstep, would be willing to act within the NATO context.

QUESTION: Earlier this week the Italian parliament give their strong support for the PKK affiliate, the Kurdish parliament in exile. Do you have any reaction?

MR. FOLEY: I didn't get the whole question. The Italian parliament gave its --

QUESTION: Strong support for the PKK affiliate -- the Kurdish parliament in exile (inaudible). Do you have any reaction on this?

MR. FOLEY: I would hesitate to comment, not being aware of the report; except to state our view that the PKK is indeed a terrorist organization. But I'll have to take the question.

QUESTION: Foreign lobbyists attributed to Assistant Secretary Marc Grossman a statement regarding 132 Greek islands claimed brutally by Turkey that should be addressed to the International Court of Justice for a peaceful solution. Could you please confirm and comment?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of any statement by Assistant Secretary Grossman, so I couldn't comment on a statement I haven't seen. I can tell you what our general view is on that Aegean question. The United States stresses to both Turkey and Greece, our close friends and NATO allies, the importance of establishing a process to resolve disputes peacefully through such mechanisms as the International Court of Justice or similar forum based on the principles of the rule of law.

QUESTION: Could you please take my question because as I understand, up to the present your policy was that only the isle of Imia should be addressed to the International Court of Justice. Why did Mr. Grossman extend this up to 132 islands? That's why I need an explanation if it's possible to take my question.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not going to give you an explanation about a statement that I haven't seen and am not familiar with. Again, I will repeat what I said our general policy is, which is that we've stressed to both allies the importance of establishing a process to resolve disputes peacefully; and certainly, we have spoken in specific context about the International Court of Justice. But the fact is that the two nations have issues between them and they need to find a way of addressing those issues as they see fit, each in its own sovereign way; and we support that effort.

QUESTION: The message that has been sent to the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, by the two prominent congressmen -- (inaudible) -- expressing their objection for sale to Greece of F-15 planes. What is your position on this issue?

MR. FOLEY: I'm aware of that letter; the State Department has received that letter. I can tell you that we carefully study each proposed transfer of arms to our Greek and Turkish allies. You know what principle applies in these cases. We seek to assist these allies to meet their self-defense requirements and fulfill their NATO obligations while we continue to seek a reduction in regional tensions.

The Administration has supported US firms' participation in Greece's competition for a replacement fighter. We authorized them to compete, if you will, in that proposed purchase. There are other international competitors. At this time, all of the international competitors have forwarded their individual proposals to the Greek Government for consideration, and the Greek Government may make a selection later this year or perhaps in 1999.

All that I can tell you in advance of that decision, since we're not going to make a decision on our part until the Greeks have made their selection, is that we are going to consult very closely with the United States Congress on this question. I have nothing more specific to say on this.

QUESTION: Do you believe the Turks submitted similar requests, because you are saying you have to consider them separately?

MR. FOLEY: We take each request on its merits.

QUESTION: And the last one - so the sale will be under condition for the Greeks?

MR. FOLEY: I don't understand your question.

QUESTION: I am saying you are going to provide some consultations with the Congress that if the specific - (inaudible) - will be given to Greece. And my question is, whatever will be the decision, will be under condition that it's going to be used for NATO purposes, et cetera? Or Greece will have the right to use also for self-defense purposes?

MR. FOLEY: I described the general principles that govern our approach to such sales. We are very sympathetic to the self defense needs of our allies, but we take each proposed sale on a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: Can you comment on the Secretary's meeting with the Vietnamese Foreign Minister?

MR. FOLEY: I have sort of a preliminary read-out, if you will, of the meeting. I was told that the meeting, the talks were very cordial and useful. The meeting was an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm the importance of steps Vietnam must take to achieve closer bilateral trade ties and become a part of the international economic community.

As you know, we have been in discussions for some time with the Vietnamese about a bilateral trade agreement. I have nothing specific to report on that. But the talks also provide an opportunity to emphasize the importance of continuing cooperation over the MIAs. We believe that cooperation has been very good with the Vietnamese, and we want to see that continue; and also our concern for human rights in Vietnam, as well as the status of refugees. They exchanged views on some developments in the region, including Cambodia. Both sides expressed an interest in greater cooperation in the area of science and technology.

I don't have a more thorough going read-out at this point; that meeting just concluded.

QUESTION: Can you comment on Iraqi progress towards nuclear weapons?

MR. FOLEY: Are we still --

QUESTION: I have a Vietnam question - the ASEAN summit scheduled in Hanoi for mid-December - has the US been invited to that; and if so, who's likely to attend?

MR. FOLEY: I think I'd have to take the question. I am not familiar with the date or the summit itself - I'd have to see; I don't know that. Of course, we attend, at the foreign minister level, the ARF and the Post- Ministerial Conference, which next year, I believe, is in Singapore - next summer - and we will be attending. In terms of the ASEAN summit and past practice, I just would have to look into that for you.

QUESTION: Can you remind us of the steps that Vietnam must take for an improvement in trade ties?

MR. FOLEY: I don't have that, and I wouldn't want to get it wrong, George, so I'd rather take the question. Certainly what we're looking for, though, is accelerated internal economic reforms, I believe in the banking sector and the foreign investment area. But beyond that, I'd rather get you a considered and correct answer.

QUESTION: I was just asking about the Iraqi progress towards nuclear weapons. There is two reports in the past two years, apparently, that the United States has been told that Iraq is building atomic bombs, at least the nuclear shells, the nuclear weapons without the atomic cores. Can you comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: Well I'm not aware that the United States has been told any such thing. But what I can say in response to your question and the articles is that we are aware of the allegations that Iraq retained weapons- related components, but we cannot confirm these allegations.

There's little doubt, however, that Iraq has sought a nuclear capability and has withheld information and weapons-related items from UN inspectors. That is why we've always supported active UNSCOM and IAEA inspections. Iraq's current refusal to allow these inspections is, as the Security Council agreed unanimously recently, is totally unacceptable.

In terms of the allegation itself, again, it's not something we can confirm; it's important, though, to understand the potential ramifications. Having several components of a warhead does not mean that one necessarily has a usable nuclear weapon. In this regard the IAEA, we're told, feels confident, that Iraq does not have sufficient fissile material or the ability to produce that material for a weapon.

Again, this really underscores our concern about the lack of intrusive UNSCOM and IAEA inspections. The limited ongoing monitoring program can help deter obvious Iraqi attempts to rebuild their WMD capability during this period, but we are very concerned, obviously, about the longer run.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have any of the documents that were mentioned in The Washington Post report that purportedly indicated that Scott Ritter had talked to the CIA about the acquisition of this shell material?

MR. FOLEY: Well, if you've been in this briefing room more than once, you know that we can't comment and do not comment on intelligence matters; nor can we comment and necessarily know about UNSCOM's relationship with other countries, as well. As you know, the Security Council has invited all members to cooperate with UNSCOM and provide information to UNSCOM, and I'd have to refer you to them.

QUESTION: Change of subject - in the light of elections in Slovakia, were American officials already are in contact with the new prospective leaders?

MR. FOLEY: I can't speak specifically to the activities of our embassy. Certainly they always maintain, as do all of our embassies around the world, a range of contacts with all political parties and governments, so I certainly wouldn't want to rule it out.

Obviously, these are Slovakian decisions to be made in the aftermath of the elections, the constitution of a new government. I believe -- and you'll see my statement indicates this -- I think the OSCE has in its preliminary findings determined that the voting was conducted in a correct and orderly manner.

I think the point that is really critical from our perspective -- and this we concur with the OSCE -- that there can really be no final assessment about the electoral process until after the process of forming a government by democratic and constitutional means is completed. The OSCE is maintaining observers on the ground and, together with these observers, will be closely following the process of forming the new government, which we hope is genuinely reflective of the results of the elections and of the will of the Slovak people.

QUESTION: The missile talks with the North Koreans that start tomorrow - they're definitely starting tomorrow?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, they are.

QUESTION: And what can you say about what you're trying to achieve - I mean, I know in the long term what you're trying to achieve, but tomorrow. Is it just a one-day meeting or are you going to be meeting for a couple of days?

MR. FOLEY: I believe it's a two-day meeting, and its possible that some of our officials may be in a position, to some degree, to comment in New York, following those talks.

QUESTION: Are the talks in New York?

MR. FOLEY: I believe they are in New York, yes.

The US delegation will be led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn; the head of the North Korean delegation will be Mr. Han Chang On, who is Director General, Department of US Affairs in the North Korean Foreign Ministry.

This round of talks is a follow-up to the April '96 and June '97 talks in which the two sides discussed missile proliferation issues. As you know, the United States has very serious concerns about North Korea's indigenous missile activities and exports, including the attempt in August to use a Taepo Dong I missile to orbit a very small satellite.

As we've said before, that launch represents another step forward in the DPRK's missile development program, and is a matter of great concern to the US because of its destabilizing impact in the region. We certainly plan to raise these concerns at that meeting.

Beyond our specific concerns about their missile programs, the capabilities of those programs, the danger of export, it's also a fact that addressing our missile concerns is also linked - is a key part of what the DPRK must do to realize an improvement in our bilateral political and economic relations.

QUESTION: Have you seen the statement by Doctors Without Borders that they're pulling out of North Korea because they can't guarantee that the food is going to --

MR. FOLEY: Yes, I've seen that.

QUESTION: Is this giving the US Government any pause in its decisions to send this extra 300,000 tons of wheat?

MR. FOLEY: No, it doesn't. I'm not going to second-guess the decision that they felt that they had to make. It's true their assistance - Doctors Without Borders - has eased the suffering of many thousands of North Korean children. It's unfortunate that they are going to be pulling out. We agree with them fully that food and other humanitarian assistance should be distributed to those most in need, and we are disturbed by reports that access was denied to the Doctors Without Borders professionals.

We call on North Korean officials to remedy the access problem immediately so that this group can resume its activities. But under our arrangement, as you know, we send all of our food assistance to North Korea through the World Food Program. Under our arrangement with the World Food Program, monitoring of food assistance is required. It's required so that we can be sure, for moral and ethical reasons, and that we can be sure vis-a-vis our taxpayers, that the assistance is going to those in need. This is humanitarian assistance. We've always refused to link this humanitarian assistance to any political considerations; it's based on need.

No US aid is distributed if it cannot be monitored. The World Food Program and the US Private Volunteer Organization consortium monitor the distribution of US food aid in the DPRK. No significant diversion of US Government assistance has been detected. With the recent announcement that you refer to of an additional 300,000 metric tons of food that the US plans to contribute, the number of monitors also will increase.

A nutritional survey is now underway and an FAO World Food Program crop survey is scheduled after the current harvest. The current situation is far from ideal, but we believe it's allowed our assistance to reach those for whom it is intended.

QUESTION: Two questions on North Korea - you said the number of monitors is going to increase. Do you have --

MR. FOLEY: I don't have specific numbers on that. Over the summertime, there were three congressional staffers who went to North Korea. They issued a report, and they concluded that the international food aid is clearly saving lives in North Korea. They stated that food assistance is feeding nearly every child under the age of seven. Most US Government assistance is directed to children 12 years and under.

As I said, it's less than ideal, the situation. We'd like to see greater openness regarding the food situation, regarding access. The congressional staffers noted that there are more than 30 food aid monitors in North Korea. They spend most of their time in the field. While the access and tempo of operations conducted by the monitors is improving, they're still prevented from conducting unscheduled, unsupervised visits. So there are problems in this area, and we'd like to see the number, for example, of Korean-speaking monitors increased. We made clear to the North Koreans the importance of this matter.

I won't bore you, George, with recitation of how we've gone through this issue. We had a visit last October of US food needs assessment team, and in the last year we have succeeded in getting the number of monitors increased. And as I said, with the additional food aid we'll be giving, there will be an increase of monitors. If I can get a figure for you at some point, I'll do that.

QUESTION: All right. The second question, also on North Korea, could you bore me with more details on to whom or to which countries North Korea has been exporting missiles and missile technology? You haven't talked about that in a long time.

MR. FOLEY: I'll get you that for the record.

QUESTION: Last week in Congress, Congressman Chris Cox said that US food aid had been found on North Korean submarines that had been on commando missions in South Korean waters.

MR. FOLEY: First, I'm not aware that he said that. Second, I'm not aware that the report is something that we've confirmed. I won't repeat everything that I just said; but this is a very important matter. We believe that the food aid we give is justified, because there are many millions of people in need in North Korea, through no fault of their own. We believe that our assistance is going to the people in need, and we believe that our assistance is monitored.

I was careful in how I characterized the breadth of monitoring. I believe I - if you give me one second, I will find the reference. But no significant diversion is the key sentence. In other words, when you're giving many hundreds of thousands of metric tons of food assistance, you cannot rule out that a small quantity here and there might end up somewhere where it wasn't intended to go. You just can't humanly and mathematically rule that out.

We're very confident, though, and we wouldn't be continuing to pursue this program if we didn't believe that it was going to the people in need and that it was being adequately monitored.

QUESTION: What is the result of the US-North Korea terrorist meeting last Monday?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, it was a meeting held mostly for informational purposes, if I can put it that way. In other words, we sat down with the North Koreans; we explained our Patterns of Global Terrorism report; we explained what our information was, what our concerns were and what we strongly believe the North Koreans need to do in order to be removed from that list. So they took that information on board.

I don't have a more precise read-out of their reaction, what may happen next. But it was an important opportunity for us to explain to them what they need to do in terms of changing their practice in that area.

QUESTION: Jim, has there been any change in the status of money for the oil that we owe them under the KEDO agreement?

MR. FOLEY: I understand there's been an announcement, I think at the White House, on this. The White House apparently announced a Presidential Determination under 614(a) authority to fund a US contribution to KEDO for the purchase of heavy fuel oil for delivery to the DPRK. It's a provision of an additional $15 million which allows the US to continue to fulfill its commitment to deliver heavy fuel oil to the North Koreans.

We continue to believe very strongly that it's important to go forward with implementation of the agreed framework and it is essential in this regard for the US to live up to its commitments just as we demand, obviously, that North Korea fulfill all of its own obligations under the agreed framework.

QUESTION: Is that money that Congress gave or was this coming from another pot?

MR. FOLEY: Again, this is - the President has under Section 614(a) authority to make this determination. I'd have to take the questions if you want to press me further on those specifics of the - of that presidential authority.

QUESTION: Is this - does this take care of all the money - of all the fuel oil you owe them this year?

MR. FOLEY: I think it's something that we still are working on. So far, KEDO has delivered 216,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea. We're committed to - under the agreed framework, KEDO is to provide 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea each year.

For this year, Congress agreed to the Administration's request to appropriate $30 million for KEDO funding. A contribution from the EU of about $60 million is expected to be received by KEDO shortly to help KEDO retire its debt for past oil purchases. Additional contributions for heavy fuel oil shipments have been received, including from Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Singapore and Finland. As you know, we've been working very hard to help KEDO raise additional funds from other countries, but KEDO so far has not raised sufficient funds for its heavy fuel oil deliveries this year.

The US remains committed to the successful implementation of the agreed framework. As the President stated on June 9 of this year, he is prepared to work with Congress to utilize certain provisions of law - US law - to provide funds to help KEDO fulfill its commitments. It is in that sense that this action was taken by the White House.

QUESTION: What's the short fall ? Now the US has given this $15 million - what's the bottom line short fall ?

MR. FOLEY: There's probably a simple answer to how much $15 million buys you. I think it purchases about 150,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil. So that gets us closer to the goal and indeed to our commitment to see that KEDO is providing 500,000 metric tons per year. So we're getting there and we're committed to meeting our commitment and reaching the goal by the end of the year.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) you're sure about 140,000?

MR. FOLEY: If you do the math, but again, there are other possible offers in the pipeline. There is still a short fall - I can't give you the magnitude right now.

QUESTION: Do you have any targeting date when you guys - (inaudible)

MR. FOLEY: I don't have a targeting date for you today, but obviously we want to meet the 500,000 metric ton commitment by the end of the year. That's what we're pledged to do.

QUESTION: Do you have a date when the President signed this waiver?

MR. FOLEY: I don't.

QUESTION: You don't?


QUESTION: This week or last week?

MR. FOLEY: I believe it was this week - do we have that?

QUESTION: New subject?


QUESTION: Just one more on this terrorism meeting, do you have a commitment for another follow-up meeting or was that a one-shot deal?

MR. FOLEY: I'll have to check on that for you.

QUESTION: Before his meetings - discussions with Secretary Albright yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Minister stated again the Chinese position that Taiwan is the most sensitive - the core issue in US-PRC relations. Can you tell me what the following discussion was like on that particular issue?

MR. FOLEY: I think it was a discussion in which both sides stated existing policies on each side. I think the Chinese Foreign Minister echoed privately what he said publicly and the United States restated its position on Taiwan. Certainly we believe that Taiwan's future is a matter for the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resolve. Our concern is that any resolution be achieved peacefully and as I think the Secretary said publicly, we welcome the fact that through recent efforts, the two sides are beginning to restore a meaningful substance of dialogue, and we want to encourage that.

QUESTION: Did they touch upon possible visit by Chinese Premier?

MR. FOLEY: It didn't come up in the meeting that I attended. I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm not aware of it.

QUESTION: Was it important that Ankara again approached Baghdad for a joint military action against the Kurdish people of northern Iraq? How do you comment on the recent meeting here in Washington, DC, between the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that report; but again, we've stated from this podium our view that the accord between the Kurdish leaders was a very important development; that it's fully within the scope of the Ankara process; and lastly, that both Kurdish leaders pledged their support for the territorial integrity of Iraq, and we support that.

QUESTION: On a different subject, on Sudan. President Mubarak said in an interview today in Cairo that the Al Shifa factory was located next to a chemical factory -- the Al Shifa factory that was bombed last month. Do you have an understanding of what he's talking about?

MR. FOLEY: Well I think you're basing your comment on press reports and -- I've only seen press reports. My understanding was that he'd indicated that the plant that we hit was one that was producing, or had the capability of producing, chemical weapons or precursors. I don't see daylight between what he said and what we've maintained all along, but again, both are coming in on press reports. I've not seen a definitive text or analysis of his speech.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the current efforts to form a government in Albania?

MR. FOLEY: Yes. First of all, we are satisfied that the socialist party which was duly elected last year has followed proper constitutional procedures to select a prime minister. I think there was some question raised internally about that, but we believe that indeed they followed their constitutional procedures.

I think the important point from the American perspective is that the selection of a leader by the socialist party and its coalition partners presents Albania with an opportunity to address the political polarization which has characterized Albanian politics over the past year.

The United States stands with the international community in urging all of Albania's leaders, both in government and in opposition, to forge new relationships and to develop a constructive role for the opposition in Albanian politics. In other words, we would like to see the government do what is necessary to reach out in the spirit of national reconciliation, to move beyond the period of polarization that has characterized Albanian politics over the last year or so.

Equally there is in a democracy an obligation democratic parties in opposition to be what's known as the loyal opposition. In other words, to support the democratic process, the verdict at the polls, to work constructively on the needs of the country in cooperation with the government, and to await the day to contest power by the ballot at the next elections.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:45 P.M.)

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