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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #131, 98-12-01

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


Tuesday, December 1, 1998

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1		Secretary's trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida and Atlanta,

HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE 1 Opening of Conference 1 Briefing by Under Secretary Eizenstat

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA 1,4,5 Democracy in Serbia/Lifting of sanctions/Milosevic 2 Harassment of political prisoners/Shutting down of the independent media 4 Situation in Kosovo 5 Department's view of Senator Lugar's recommendations / proposals 6 Situation in Montenegro 6 Secretary Albright's meeting with Mr. Djukanovic

CHINA 7 The arrest or two prominent dissidents / detention of dissidents

CANADA 7 Elections results in Quebec 12 Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister 12,13 Canada view on NATO nuclear strategy

TURKEY/GERMANY/ITALY 8 US view of proposal for trial of Ocalan in an international courts

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 9,10 Remarks by Chairman Arafat at Donor's Conference re statehood 10,11 Status of release of prisoners 12 President's trip to Middle East

ROMANIA/IRAQ 13 Reported transfer of missiles by Romania to Iraq

CHILE 13,15,16 US conducting search of Pinochet-era documents

COLOMBIA 17 US counter-narcotics funds / purpose

INDONESIA 17 Anti-Muslim riots in West Timor 17 Security forces were not effective in restoring order

AZERBAJIAN 18 Crackdown on opposition and independent media 18 US calls on government to engage in dialogue with political opponents

NORTH KOREA 18-19 Dr. Perry's travel plans / discussions in Region

LIBYA 19-20 PAN AM 103 Anniversary / UN SecGen's plans to meet Libyan officials / Status of hand-over of suspects


DPB #131

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1998, 12:50 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Sorry for the delay. I was a little frightened of the cameras, so I needed to prepare myself for that.

We have one announcement with respect to the Secretary's schedule. Secretary Albright will travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Thursday morning, December 3, to witness the lift-off of the space shuttle Endeavor. The shuttle will be carrying the second element in the first launch from US soil of the International Space Station. The first space station element, the Functional Cargo Block, was launched November 30 from Kazakstan, and is successfully in orbit. During the mission, the one Russian and five US astronauts aboard will connect the second portion, Node-1, also called Unity, with this Functional Cargo Block, FCB.

Secretary Albright will meet with NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, to express support for NASA's efforts in promoting international cooperation through the space program. She will then travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to participate in the Rosalyn Carter Distinguished Lecture Series at Emory University on December 3. We will have some further information for you with regard to press coverage after the briefing.

With that schedule announcement, I turn happily to your questions.

QUESTION: I'll try a couple of quick Holocaust Conference questions on you. I understand - I didn't cover the story, but I'm trying to help the reporter who did - that she called for opening files, but she wasn't specific, the Secretary, about what files. Do you want the Vatican files opened? What files, -- if you have specific files in mind, what are they?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that Under Secretary Eizenstat and his people will be briefing at the end of the day on the specifics of the conference. I'd prefer to defer that until then, and they will have specific answers to those questions.

QUESTION: Yesterday's statements that were made here about Yugoslavia and Milosevic - one thing I noticed is that it states that until there is democracy in Serbia there will not be a lifting of the outer wall of sanctions. In that democracy in Serbia is associated with, I suppose, the removal of Milosevic, is that to say that there will be no lifting of the outer wall until Milosevic goes, in effect?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we try to make our policies clear; you sometimes try to connect the dots. What I can say about our policy is that we want to see democracy in the FRY itself. Democracy is more than an election; democracy is a process. It is a process that doesn't include shutting down independent media. It doesn't include harassing and jailing political opponents, and it doesn't include many other aspects of the behavior that has come to mark the Milosevic period in Yugoslavia's history.

We believe that President Milosevic's grip on power is weakening. We believe far from the "greater Serbia" he envisioned several years ago, things have shrunk. Not only is Croatia whole and independent, the Serbs of Bosnia have an assembly and government control by moderates which rejects Milosevic's influence. Montenegro has elected officials in open rejection of President Milosevic, and key municipalities in Serbia itself are controlled by opposition political parties.

And now Kosovo, which for ten years President Milosevic considered his own backyard with no outside interference, is now a location where up to 2,000 or at least 2,000 international verifiers are envisaged to supervise election. This most recent purge of senior officials in Belgrade, including the head of state security and the chief of staff of the army, smacks of desperation and distrust on his part.

Milosevic has been at the center of every crisis in the former Yugoslavia over the last decade. He is not simply part of the problem; Milosevic is the problem. We have been promoting democratic practices and reforms in Serbia in a number of ways, including through independent media, including democracy assistance programs for fledgling opposition parties. That is something we are going to continue to do.

As far as what standard we will apply to the three issues -- that is Kosovo, cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal and democracy in Serbia itself -- in order to change the sanctions policy, I don't want to prescribe for you exactly what those issues would require. Simply to say we will know cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal when we see it; we will know democracy in Serbia when we see it; and we will know a real change in the situation in Kosovo when we see it. We haven't seen any of those three things now.

QUESTION: But if Milosevic is the problem -- and there is a lot of evidence to back what you are saying -- then how can you continue to deal with the problem? And how should the people of Serbia, or perhaps the various forces in or out of the government at the moment, deal with the problem?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let's remember there are sources of the problem, and clearly Milosevic is the source of the problem and the original sinner in this whole catastrophe that has befallen Yugoslavia in the last decade. We have no illusions about that.

At the same time, we did face this summer and fall the prospect of an humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo -- hundreds of thousands of peoples' lives were at risk. In order to deal with that humanitarian catastrophe, that very near-term disaster, we did meet with President Milosevic. And as a result of his belief that air strikes would ensue, he changed his policies, removed his forces, stopped marauding in the country side and, as I understand it, the UNHCR said that there is now no internally displaced persons without some form of shelter.

So this humanitarian catastrophe was dealt with in a way that we felt met the needs of the world in trying to prevent that catastrophe from unfolding in a rather unique way. In an unprecedented action, NATO made a decision to use military force inside Yugoslavia if he failed to meet the international community's demands. So we took unprecedented action in that regard and we dealt with President Milosevic, and he reversed course and stopped pursuing the behavior that was causing this grave risk to the people there and this grave risk of a humanitarian catastrophe. That is the reason we did so.

We have no interest in propping up President Milosevic. We do have an interest in preventing humanitarian catastrophe. We meet with many other - when Secretary Albright was there, for example, I know, she met with many of the opposition groups. She, I believe, spoke to B52, the radio. Ambassador Holbrooke and Ambassador Gelbard and others who have been in the region make it a point to try to lift up, through their activities and through financial assistance, the opposition groups and the independent media. That's how you balance principle and pragmatism in a very complicated situation like Serbia.

QUESTION: You say you have no interest in propping up Milosevic. Are you prepared to turn that around and say the US has an interest in seeing him leave office?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think I've stated rather clearly our views on President Milosevic. Nobody gets up in the morning thanking the Lord that President Milosevic is the leader of Serbia. On the other hand, we do go about promoting democratic change in Serbia as we do in other places through these programs. I certainly don't think anybody would lose any sleep if that changed.

QUESTION: One last thought. Kosovo is of great importance to Serbia. And you describe the fragmentation of, first, of Yugoslavia, the problems with what remains of Serbia - of what remains of Yugoslavia. Why then -- you're coming awfully close to being happy with a destabilizing situation. But why do you maintain a policy, then, of not wanting to see Kosovo go independent? Because, in a sense, that might be the last nail in his whatever - if he lost Kosovo.

MR. RUBIN: Those points were designed to make clear the extent to which Milosevic has harmed the interests of Serbs in Serbia and Serbs everywhere. We have demonstrated that, I think, through the points that I've made about the harm that his rule and his policies have caused. To the extent that Serbs better understand the harm that President Milosevic has caused them, perhaps they will understand better the danger of his rule to them. But that's a very different point than changing our view as to how borders should be changed in Europe in the modern era.

QUESTION: For the most part, I want to ask, has Milosevic kept the deal that he was forced to change his mind about, change his policy about? And if he's keeping the deal for the most part, then perhaps isn't he a guy that NATO would want to deal with if they have a proven track record of getting him to turn around? What do you say to that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, turning him around on problems he causes is not something we take great joy in. If he didn't cause the problem, he wouldn't have to reverse course and solve the problem. So that's the first answer to that question.

With respect to is he complying, let me say that largely, yes; largely Kosovo is relatively quiet. There are no cease-fire violations that have been reported. Our observers continue to accompany police patrols in the Malisevo area, and in that regard there is a concern we do have - that is the excessive Serbian police presence at Malisevo remains a troubling instance of Serbian failure to comply fully with the UN Security Council resolutions.

It is the primary cause of the high level of tension in the Malisevo area. The police presence in Malisevo is an issue that we have raised directly with the government in Belgrade, and we have underscored to them the importance of complying with UN resolutions in this as in all other cases.

As the verification agreement authorizes them to do, our observers are accompanying Serbian police patrols in the Malisevo region in an effort to reduce tensions in an area where the KLA is particularly visible. Our monitors' efforts have borne fruit over the last few weeks, as the number of incidents of violence has dropped significantly. But we still do have a problem with the excessive presence there.

QUESTION: But largely stable?

MR. RUBIN: Well, largely the compliance has largely occurred, as evidenced by the lack of cease-fire violations.

QUESTION: I'd like to go at Barry's question from a little bit of a different angle. There's a large British newspaper basing a report, as far as I can see, from your statements yesterday; saying that the Clinton Administration is actively seeking the overthrow of Milosevic. Is that true?

MR. RUBIN: As I said, I don't think we would lose any sleep if he passed from the scene. With respect to our policies and what we are pursuing, the policies that we are talking about are the ones that I am describing to you in promoting democracy. I know there are a lot of reports out there about other things that I just make it a practice never to talk about one way or the other. And that's not implied meaning there's any truth to them, either.

QUESTION: Let me put it another way. If Milosevic complies in all these areas to your full satisfaction, you're willing to continue to work with him?

MR. RUBIN: We want to see democracy in Serbia. There is no democracy in Serbia. That is the long-term policy of the United States - to have democracy in Serbia.

When you talk about dealing with Milosevic, as in response to the last question, and is he complying with a particular promise, let me point out the promise that he's complying with is something that was only necessary because of the policies that he pursued in the first place, which generated the humanitarian catastrophe that then he turned around in the face of NATO air strikes and solved.

So we prefer not to have the problem in the first place that Milosevic would then have to reverse course to help solve.

QUESTION: But if he woke up a different person tomorrow morning and did everything you want him to do, it's fine with you if he stays in power.

MR. RUBIN: Democracy in Serbia is the goal. It's not a personality-driven policy; it's a process-driven policy - the process of democracy.

QUESTION: Can we move to another undemocratic country? Senator Lugar yesterday, I think, in The Washington Post, wrote a list of suggestions on what might be done regarding Yugoslavia. Do you have any reservations about the various proposals he's made?

MR. RUBIN: Well, when we looked at them, in large measure we supported them. That is largely because many of them are things we are trying to do. We'd love to have additional support from the Congress for additional programs to assist the media and to assist the promotion of democracy there. That is something that we have been doing. It's a cornerstone of our policy in the Balkans, to promote democracy and to assist in the development of a free and independent media.

As I indicated yesterday, we are spending $15 million in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including $2 million for independent TV. So the kind of measures that Senator Lugar helpfully emphasized are measures that we do agree with. We're always looking at ways to pursue such policies better, and we'll take a careful look at his ideas.

QUESTION: What about his (inaudible) perspective, though; do you share that as well?

MR. RUBIN: You need to be more specific.

QUESTION: Well, he does say that there is -- no lasting solution to the Balkan crises is possible without fundamental change in Serbia and in the leadership of Yugoslavia. Do you have any reservations --

MR. RUBIN: We have no illusions about President Milosevic. We do not see him as a guarantor of stability in Kosovo or elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia. We also recognize quite clearly, as I have in several responses this morning said to you, that we believe he is the cause of many of these problems not the solution to many of these problems.

Beyond stating these positions as I have, I don't know how to be more specific in response to your question.

QUESTION: You're not exactly stating a reservation to what Lugar is saying.

MR. RUBIN: We read it with interest.

QUESTION: Then the other issue that comes up that I think you mentioned earlier was Montenegro. That's really a place where they are trying to go their own way, but it's a direct threat to Milosevic's rule. I was just wondering, should the Montenegrins continue down the path they're taking and find themselves in some jeopardy as a result, to what extent is the United States willing to support them so that they are not put in jeopardy or put at risk?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright had a very constructive with Mr. Djukanovic when he was here in the United States. Other than being a very tall person, which was astounding, he was someone who had a very tall view of democracy and a view that we found quite appealing.

We have not taken the position that we are in favor of some breaking away of Montenegro. We have said, and I can repeat, that we respect the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as the final act of Helsinki commits us to do. But we will insist that the authorities in Belgrade, including President Milosevic, meet their commitments under the Helsinki Final Act to allow for democracy, independent media and freedom of association and expression in Montenegro.

Beyond saying that, I don't know how to respond to what I think you would acknowledge is a hypothetical case. However likely it might be, it is hypothetical at this point.

QUESTION: Do you want to give an assessment, then, of what is a threat to the regime of Djukanovic? Milosevic now has a new security chief, a new army chief, people who may not be so reluctant to intervene in Montenegro as the previous people.

MR. RUBIN: It's a matter of concern for us.

QUESTION: How do you address that concern, both with regard to dealing with the Montenegrins and the Yugoslav regime? Are you warning Milosevic or telling him what you think he should do there, or are you giving the Montenegrins some sense of --

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're in regular touch with the Montenegrin authorities - part of our normal policy in the region. We have certainly made clear to President Milosevic the fact that his isolation from the world is not solely a function of what he was instigating in Bosnia or not solely a function of what he was instigating - the effect he was having on the people of Kosovo, but is also a function of permitting the kind of democratic freedoms and the freedom of independent media and association and expression in Montenegro. We've made that very clear to him.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the arrest of two prominent dissidents in China?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to that issue, let me say that we understand that on November 30, Public Security Bureau officials formally detained Xu Wenli. The officials also reportedly searched his apartment and removed a computer, fax machine and documents related to the "China Democratic Party."

Xu has been involved in recent efforts by political activists in China to register a political party. We view his detention for peacefully exercising fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international human rights instruments as a serious step in the wrong direction. We conveyed our strong views to officials in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs today in Beijing, and urged the authorities to release Xu immediately.

We are waiting for further information from Chinese authorities on the case. Specifically we have asked what crime Xu is suspected of committing, and we do expect further information on this point. We have said for some weeks now that we are disturbed by the recent number of detentions of dissidents that serve to limit political debate in China. We have repeatedly communicated this view to Chinese authorities, underscoring the importance that the international community does place on freedoms of association, expression and assembly.

QUESTION: On Quebec - have you picked an ambassador yet?


Let me say, what's your reaction to the prospect of a separatist movement success in any future referendum? How do the results of the election -- how have they been received by the State Department?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to that issue, the choice of a provincial government is an internal matter for the citizens of that province. With respect to the question of secession, our position on this issue is clear and long-standing. The United States recognizes this is an internal issue for Canadians to resolve within their constitutional, legal and political system.

We have always valued our close and productive relationship with a strong and united Canada. We share many common bonds, including an unwavering commitment to the importance of social justice, elections, an independent judiciary and the rule of law. We greatly admire what Canada has achieved, and see it as a model of how different people of different languages and traditions can work together in peace, prosperity and respect.

QUESTION: So you'd like to maintain the territory -- you'd like to see Canada's territorial integrity maintained? One of its great achievements, of course, was building a nation out of disparate elements with different European and other traditions. Would you like to see it break away?

MR. RUBIN: The United States recognizes this is an internal issue for Canadians to resolve within their constitutional, legal, and political system. We have always valued our close and productive relationship with a strong and united Canada.

QUESTION: Do you look forward in the future to such a relationship?

MR. RUBIN: We recognize this is an internal issue for Canadians to resolve -


-- within their constitutional, legal, and political system. But we have always valued our close and productive relationship with a strong and united Canada.

QUESTION: Jamie, don't you have interests? I mean, this is a major trading partner, you share a border, and it is a country that has threatened - well, some would say - threatened to collapse. Why - well, won't there come a point when you'll have to maybe say something?

MR. RUBIN: Do you want me to do that again?


QUESTION: No, I'm trying to address the fact, why you are sticking to the policy.

MR. RUBIN: We recognize that this is an internal issue for the Canadians to resolve - their constitutional system. I don't know how to be more clear than that. At the same time, we've always valued a close and productive relationship with a strong and united Canada.

That is what we think is appropriate for us to say about an issue that Canadians are wrestling with.

QUESTION: Have you ever met with PQ leaders?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check on that; I don't know the answer.

QUESTION: So, do you know about their platform?

MR. RUBIN: Well obviously, Canada is a democracy and an open democracy, and their material and positions are quite well-known to Canadians; and we're capable of reading the newspapers.

QUESTION: Jamie, another subject -- is the United States supporting the proposal by both Germany and Italy to try Ocalan in an international court?

MR. RUBIN: We are continuing to work with Turkey, Italy, Germany and the international community to ensure that Ocalan is brought to justice for the terrorists crimes he is accused of in a manner consistent with international standards for due process and domestic legal requirements.

As we have said, our main priority is that he face justice. We will continue to work with Italy, Germany and Turkey to achieve that end. We understand that there is an obligation under the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism to submit the terrorism charges for domestic prosecution if he is not extradited. That is in Italy. We do want this to be resolved. The idea you mentioned is one I know that people are wrestling with. For now, we want to make clear that our bottom line is that he should face justice. Beyond saying that, I don't have any new views to communicate to you.

QUESTION: Does the United States wants to solve Turkey's Kurdish problem using the PKK or the Ocalan case?

MR. RUBIN: This is a terrorism case to us. It may be a lot to a lot of other people and may have a lot of other meaning to a lot of other people. But to the United States, where terrorism is one of our highest priorities, we consider this a terrorism case. When a terrorist is responsible for the killing of innocents, they should face justice. That is the way we view it. I know others have other views.

QUESTION: Your notion of justice doesn't encompass the type of sentence that might be imposed?

MR. RUBIN: I think we should start with the trial.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about Yasser Arafat's remarks late yesterday at the new conference and also - well, I'll take it one at a time. I suppose your answer will be in line with previous answers.

MR. RUBIN: I will do them one at a time.

QUESTION: All right, so here we go. Jerusalem -- there he is at the end of a day of great generosity, which the President thinks contributes to the peace process, declaring unilaterally that Jerusalem is covered by the 242 and 338, and should be turned over to the Arabs. Presumably he just means East Jerusalem. What do you think of that public statement?

MR. RUBIN: We are not unfamiliar with the process by which people on both sides of this issue express their views on permanent status issues. We have stated that unilateral actions or unilateral statements that are designed to prejudge the outcome of what we hope will be a successful discussion and negotiation on permanent status are not helpful. That remains our position.

There is modulation on both sides at different times and different locations and different places. The bottom line is the less both parties say to try to prejudge issues that are now under negotiation, since the permanent status talks have begun, the greater the chance that we will be able to have success in those negotiations. That's our view.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - Arafat and your answer applies to both sides, correct?

MR. RUBIN: I could answer it specifically to Arafat, if you'd like.

QUESTION: Why don't you try, because that's what I asked about. I can ask about Netanyahu, too, if you want, because he then said - which he has said also many times -- that Jerusalem is Israel's eternal and undeniable capital.

MR. RUBIN: Our view is that we don't intend to express a view on that because of the importance of not undermining the environment for permanent status talks.

With respect to Chairman Arafat's statements about statehood, it has been our position and remains our position that unilateral actions or unilateral statements of that kind are not helpful.

QUESTION: Let me try one other thing. He has made it a point here - and there's a point to my question - he's made a point here and elsewhere, and his colleagues have, too, that Israel is not releasing a sufficient number of political prisoners - or what they call political prisoners. He's made this pitch to the President; I understand he's made it to the Secretary. She's seeing him again today. Does the US have a view as to whether the Wye agreement specifies at what stage, of the agreed releases, political prisoners should be? Would you prefer, in the spirit of whatever - reconciliation - that more political prisoners be released? What is the US' position on this dispute?

MR. RUBIN: We prefer not to state our view on this subject. We do know that there are strong feelings on the part of the Palestinians. We also know that the agreement was to, in three tranches, release 250 prisoners; and the first tranche has happened.

We are going to encourage - and it has already occurred - discussions between the two parties, which is the best way to resolve problems like this, so that the concerns are resolved. Whatever our view might be, we don't think it would be helpful to make that public right now. We've had a long experience in dealing with nettlesome issues in the Palestinian- Israeli peace process, and we've found that on some occasions it's preferable for us to state our views and on some occasions it's preferable not to state our views. This is in the latter category.

QUESTION: If you saw a violation, the US wouldn't be shy about saying so, would it?

MR. RUBIN: We hope that we're in a position to talk about successes and talk about the way in which the agreement is implemented. There have been many steps forward in recent weeks, and hopefully that's what we'll be able to focus on.

QUESTION: But is release of political prisoners a helpful, positive step so far? Has it been proceeding in a positive, helpful way?

MR. RUBIN: The 250 of the 750, as per the tranches, have been released; and that's certainly a good thing. With respect to the composition of that group, I am not expressing our view.

QUESTION: Jamie, what is the purpose of the meeting with him this afternoon?

MR. RUBIN: Well, there will be a meeting of the US- Palestinian joint commission, which is part of the way in which we build our relationship with the Palestinians. I believe this is either the first or the second such meeting. I'll try to get you the details on that.

QUESTION: I think it's the first.

MR. RUBIN: Okay, the first meeting of this commission, which is designed to build stronger ties between the Palestinian Authority and the United States Government.

QUESTION: Is it a warm-up for inter-governmental relations?

MR. RUBIN: It is what it is.

QUESTION: Yes, but what do you think it is. I think I know what it is; but what do you think it is?

MR. RUBIN: We think it is what it is, which is way to --

QUESTION: A relationship between a government and a --

MR. RUBIN: The Palestinian Authority.

QUESTION: This is going to be formed along the same lines as similar commissions like Gore-Chernomyrdin and --

MR. RUBIN: We'll have to see exactly how it plays out. After their meeting, I'll try to get you some more details on what the procedural plans for the future are.

QUESTION: There will be a read-out afterwards?

MR. RUBIN: I will try to get you a read-out.

QUESTION: Jamie, for months now - maybe for years already - the US position has been that unilateral acts by both sides are not helpful. And yet we go through what I'm going to call a dance from this podium, from Mr. Arafat's comments, from the Prime Minister's comments. Is that the way you see it - that everybody's just doing this for --

MR. RUBIN: The Middle East peace process is not a dance or a game to us; it's a very serious business.

QUESTION: No, but when you say that you don't like unilateral acts and you've expressed this view publicly and privately to both sides, and yet they both go ahead with it --

MR. RUBIN: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

QUESTION: And you think your influence on them has stopped them from going ahead at various --

MR. RUBIN: It depends; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

QUESTION: A little ahead of the presidential trip - I wondered if you had any plans or near plans - plans I suppose is the wrong way to get an answer. There are never plans; things just happen.


Are you working on any possible arrangement for informing other countries in the region of the outcome of the talks the President, the Secretary and others will be having with Palestinians and Israelis?

MR. RUBIN: I think I know where you're going with that. I don't -

QUESTION: I haven't gotten there.

MR RUBIN: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I think I know where you're going, where we're all going.

MR. RUBIN: Where we're all going. I wouldn't bet on it.

The planning for a presidential trip and all its aspects is best announced from the White House.

QUESTION: No, no, I'm asking about travel that would not involve the President.

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright will be accompanying the President on his visit to Israel and to Gaza. If she has additional stops in her plan, I will let you know. But as far as I know, there are no such stops planned or likely. Does that help?


QUESTION: The Secretary last night met with the Canadian Foreign Minister, and apparently he raised again the issue of no-first use in nuclear weapons. I was wondering if you could -

MR. RUBIN: Well, our view on that has not changed. We don't see any need to open the can of worms that would be associated with a major discussion of NATO nuclear strategy. We think NATO nuclear strategy has served the Alliance and the world extremely well, and we don't see the need to cast doubt on such an issue or to change the uncertainty that is created by NATO's nuclear strategy. So we think NATO's nuclear strategy is doing just fine, thank you. We have made that view known to all those who have expressed concern about it or desire to have an extensive dialogue about it.

QUESTION: What about the argument that it would go a certain distance in addressing the situation with India and Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: We think the argument is actually backwards; we think that argument is incorrect. We think that the countries in the world that pursue nuclear programs do it without regard to what NATO's nuclear strategy is. They do it for their own reasons and they don't make those decisions based on whether NATO does or doesn't have a first-use policy.

In fact, the reverse is probably true, which is the uncertainty created by the United States' nuclear strategy provides a certain degree of protection to countries that might, in the absence of that protection, consider the need to develop nuclear programs.

So we think the best way to promote non-proliferation is to continue down the successful path we've been going down for these long years and deal with the cases -- India, Pakistan, others -- as they arise on their own merits, rather than promoting a new situation where other countries feel the need around the world to develop some nuclear defense of their own.

QUESTION: While we're on nuclear, has the US picked up any suspicious behavior by Romania, so far as Romanians - not necessarily with government approval - providing nuclear technology material to Iran or other such states?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I know there's an issue with Romania and Iraq that came up today. I believe it was with regard to missiles and not nuclear. But other than that, it was a perfect question. (Laughter.)

My answer will be almost as effective as the question, which is that we've seen the reports; we are looking into it. It's obviously based - underlyingly based on an intelligence issue, which makes it difficult to discuss in a public forum. But we're going to look at it and if we have something, we will get back to you.

QUESTION: There's a rumor that you're going to release some Pinochet-era documents. Is that true?

MR. RUBIN: On the subject of Pinochet, let me simply state that the - we have condemned the abuses of the Pinochet regime when it was in power and played a very supportive role in encouraging Chile's difficult transition to democracy. We are committed - the United States is committed to the principle of accountability as evidenced by our support for the tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. The record of the United States in seeking to hold accountable those who abuse human rights is very strong.

Different countries, when emerging from authoritarianism and conflict, strike different balances between justice and reconciliation and have done so without sacrificing the principle of accountability. South Africa has had its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There was a different model in Bosnia, where we sought to prosecute war criminals. There is no single right answer to how a country should balance these demands. It is important to support democratic countries in their efforts to strike this balance. While it is vital to promote accountability, there may be different ways to accomplish this goal.

In that regard, let me say we're not prepared yet to state our views about the legal merits of the law lords' decision. We continue to study the opinions. But with respect to documents that may shed light on human rights abuses during the Pinochet era, due to the interest in this case the Administration is conducting a review of documents in its possession that may shed light on human rights abuses during the Pinochet era. We will declassify and make public as much information as possible consistent with US laws and the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States.

QUESTION: Would the US support an alleged deal between Britain and Chile to let him go home?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I tried to state our view very carefully, and I'm going to do that carefully in response to your question -- and that is that we don't have an opinion on the merits of this case. We think this is a matter for the courts.

We do have an opinion on Pinochet's behavior, and we've stated very strong condemnation for the abuses that took place during his rule. We also have a general view about the importance of giving respect to democracies as they go through the process of balancing justice and reconciliation so long as they do so without sacrificing an important principle of accountability. That is our view. This is a matter for the governments concerned. We have not been agitating to one or the other to do a particular thing, but the views that we have expressed privately, as you can imagine, would be consistent with the ones that we have expressed publicly.

QUESTION: What will you be doing with these documents?

MR. RUBIN: Well, right now we're going to be reviewing the documents that may shed light on human rights abuses; and then we will declassify and make public as much information as possible, consistent, obviously, with our laws and national security and law enforcement needs.

QUESTION: Why are you doing this?

MR. RUBIN: Because of the interest that this case has generated.

QUESTION: These documents will deal only with the human rights abuses, and will not deal with US policy toward Chile during the late Allende period?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I understand the mandate - I mean, this is going to be something that evolves over the time when one tries to collect all these documents. The reason and the motivation, because of public interest in this case, is to focus on documents that shed light on human rights abuses during the Pinochet era and not every different thought anybody in the government might have had about Latin America.

QUESTION: Jamie, any idea how long this could take?

MR. RUBIN: No, I don't have any prediction at this time. Obviously it's a significant number of documents.

QUESTION: Jamie (inaudible) that Chile has tried to achieve reconciliation through its reconciliation commission. But there is a question of whether they've achieved sufficient accountability. I'm just wondering if you have view on that point.

MR. RUBIN: Well, there have been numerous calls and they've been increasing in recent days in Chile for additional efforts at truth, reconciliation, and accountability. We've taken note of those calls. Again, I'm trying very carefully not to declare ourselves on a issue that is not right for us to declare ourselves on. I think it's appropriate for us to make clear that we give respect to Chile as a democracy that's going through this wrestling with the demands of justice and the demands of reconciliation as other countries -- South Africa, El Salvador and elsewhere -- have done.

On the other hand, let me make clear that we regard the abuses of Pinochet as condemnable and have condemned them. And finally, this is a matter before the courts and we are obviously awaiting final decisions by the home secretary. It is not the place of the United States Government to give advice to Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, nor are we giving advice to the Chilean people or anyone else. Therefore it's very important not to overstate any particular view we might have at a time like this.

QUESTION: Would it be (inaudible) the Chileans devising some kind of instance or form or court to provide more accountability in this case?

MR. RUBIN: There have been calls for additional efforts at truth, reconciliation and accountability and we think that's a good thing, yes.

QUESTION: Another subject -- are you planning to release also documents of the Americans who were killed or disappeared during this regime?

MR. RUBIN: To the extent that they were killed or disappeared pursuant to human rights abuses, which I think goes without saying, yes, the documents would reflect that.

QUESTION: And also, are you condemning his success in overthrowing democratic and an elected president (inaudible) Allende in Chile, or just the human rights abuses?

MR. RUBIN: The human rights abuses is the motivation for this current case. It is the motivation for the public interest in the case, and therefore what we focused our documentation on and we will do the best we can on this. It is very complicated; we don't do it very often. Perhaps it might even be noted that we are going to extraordinary lengths to try to do it because we believe in this and we are doing it to try to shed light on human rights abuses that occur during that period. That is the reason.

QUESTION: Can I follow up in this continent?

MR. RUBIN: Unless someone else has this case. This continent and then we'll go over here and then over here and then behind.

QUESTION: On Chile, could you expound a little about the motivation for this. You said because of the interest this has aroused. What do you intend to do? Do you intend to come to any conclusion or recommendation as a result of this review of documents?

MR. RUBIN: I think you know there are many groups, many governments, many people who are interested in these cases. There has been interest expressed in what we might have available that will help people come to their own conclusions about what transpired. This is not a report of the United States Government; it's not a conclusion of the United States Government. This is an effort on our part, given the extensive human rights abuses that occurred in Chile, to try to assist those who want to know more about a problem like this.

That is the reason for it. It's not designed for us to reach conclusions, but for us to provide raw information that will help others reach conclusions.

QUESTION: But it would strengthen the case of those who want to see the --

MR. RUBIN: Well, it depends on what the documents say. I mean, presumably; but we can't know that until we have the documents.

QUESTION: Those documents will be provided to the Chilean Government, for example?

MR. RUBIN: They would be declassified and made public, as much information as possible.

With respect to other governments - that is, in particular, the Spanish judge who is looking into this - the United States, through the Department of Justice, has been cooperating with the Spanish court for over a year, pursuant to a request under the US-Spain Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. We will continue to do so. We have not received any new requests from the Spanish court to review secret files. If we receive a new request from the government of Spain, we will cooperate under the terms of the MLAT, consistent with US laws and the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States.

For questions about this MLAT and how that might work, I would have to refer you, in any greater detail, to the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: On Colombia, The New York Times has an article on the front page saying that with the increase of the US military aid to that country, the national police could be using this equipment against the rebels. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: You always find an interesting way of interpreting these articles.

QUESTION: No, it's what they said.

MR. RUBIN: That's not the way I read the article. We support the recent funding increase for counter-narcotics in Colombia. As this particular account notes, 80 percent of the cocaine used in the United States is grown, processed or transported through Colombia. In addition, more than half of the heroin used in the eastern part of the United States comes from Colombia.

Our current counter-narcotics program, which includes eradication of illicit coca and opium poppy, alternate development, interdiction and judicial and legal cooperation will be expanded with these additional resources. In particular, we will step up our eradication efforts against these illegal crops.

We do not provide assistance for counter-guerrilla operations in Colombia. Our assistance is provided to combat narcotics production and trafficking and may be used to counter all those who are actively involved in the drug trade. When personnel and equipment are attacked during counter-drug operations, whether by guerrillas, paramilitary or narcos, they will return fire in self-defense. The US government does not provide assistance for any counter-guerrilla operations.

QUESTION: How about to Indonesia -- more reports of religious warfare - large numbers of people, Muslims, fighting Christians, things out of control there. Does the United States have faith in Mr. Habibie's government to be able to keep this situation under control, or to bring it back to control? What do you have to say about it?

MR. RUBIN: Reports from West Timor indicate that attacks on mosques and shops there continue. While details are unclear, it appears the disturbance began during a day of mourning for those killed in a Christian-Muslim clash in Jakarta on November 22. Security forces are on the scene, but they have not been effective in completely restoring order.

In cases such as this, there is a clear need for law and order to be responsibly enforced by the security forces in order to protect all Indonesian citizens and prevent acts of violence and vandalism. We call on all Indonesians to assert opinions and express grievances in a peaceful manner and to refrain from violence.

QUESTION: That's in West Timor?

MR. RUBIN: It's West Timor; it's called Kupang.

QUESTION: On crackdown on opposition in Azerbaijan, there are many reports about efforts by the Azerbaijani Government to crackdown on opposition and the independent media. The hunger strike of 20 newspaper editors has continued for 19 days. One opposition activist was jailed last Friday. What is the State Department prepared to say to the Azerbaijani Government about these events?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the 18-month prison sentence given to a 23- year old student for writing an article that was never published, let me say the US is concerned by this verdict, which is the latest in a series of government steps to harass the opposition and restrict freedom of thought and expression.

We call on the government of Azerbaijan to engage in dialogue with, not harassment of, its political opponents.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea when the Administration is going to have a final decision on the proposition to create a national commission to review US policy --

MR. RUBIN: When we have a decision, we will tell you very early on.

QUESTION: How is Dr. Perry acclimating to his new position?

MR. RUBIN: Very well.

QUESTION: Very well, good. In his review of the US strategy to gain access to the underground site, is he entertaining any new incentives, any new strategic ways to entice the North Koreans?

MR. RUBIN: The next meeting of that is scheduled for the end of the week in New York and then in Washington the beginning of next week. That will be the next opportunity for the United States to make clear to the North Koreans the critical importance of their providing access to the site.

With respect to Dr. Perry's conclusions, my understanding is he is expected to go to the region shortly, in a short number of days. At that point, he will have a chance to talk to officials in South Korea, Japan and China. He's been working in the Department with experts here - Secretary Albright had a lengthy dinner with him last week. When he is ready to draw some conclusions and make some recommendations, we will provide that to you at the appropriate time but not in a seriatim, half-baked way. I mean, we're going to - he's doing a very serious project and when he has some recommendations to make, he will make them; and I'm not going to preview what they might be.

QUESTION: But could you announce the trip when it's nailed down, please?


QUESTION: Do you think he might come down and see us before he goes?

MR. RUBIN: When he's ready to see you all, I will tell him of your interest, yes. I believe everyone of you in some form or another has expressed some interest in that, yes.

QUESTION: Lockerbie -- the anniversary is approaching and a few things seem to be happening. What signals are you getting from the Libyans on this, on whether they are willing to go along with your plan or not?

MR. RUBIN: We have seen reports that the Secretary General plans to meet Libyan officials in the region on this upcoming trip. We do not have specific information of where and with whom these meetings will take place.

The Security Council resolution makes it clear that the United Nations Secretary General is responsible for the implementation of the resolution in arranging the physical transfer of the suspects to the Netherlands. We would expect a meeting between the Secretary General and Libyan officials to substantially advance the hand-over of the suspects. The Secretary General and his legal representative have been providing to the Libyan legal team clarifications on legal and procedural matters relating to UN Security Council Resolution 1192. This is not an negotiation. We are expecting a prompt response from Libya to the Security Council's demands. Secretary General Kofi Annan will be in a position, presumably, to advance this issue.

With respect to what the Libyan position is, over the years I have watched this very carefully and I've come to regard with great skepticism the different comments of lawyers and officials purporting to speak on behalf of Qadhafi. We will believe that they are willing to hand these suspects over when they do so. In the meantime, we are leaving the clarifications in the hands of the Secretary General.

QUESTION: Are you concerned, though, that the Secretary -- you seem to suggest that the Secretary General is traveling here without your advance knowledge.

MR. RUBIN: It's his job to clarify legal and procedural matters relating to the Security Council Resolution 1192. We have briefed the UN legal team extensively on our proposal. They know what's required; they know that this is not a negotiation -- that clarifications are one thing; negotiations are another, and they are not engaged in negotiations. They are clarifying the proposal that Qadhafi's people allegedly wanted all along.

We have now said that a Scottish trial in The Hague with Scottish justice meets the demands of justice and the question is whether Qadhafi is going to put up or shut up on this subject.

QUESTION: Do you have the date of when your proposal was made?

MR. RUBIN: I'll give it to you after. I couldn't possibly have that kind of data in the book in front of me.

QUESTION: I only ask that you provide it, if you would, given your response that you expect a prompt response from the Libyans. It strikes me that the proposal was some months ago, right?

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: It can't be prompt if he's three months or four months behind schedule already.

MR. RUBIN: It all depends on how you define prompt with Qadhafi.


QUESTION: Is Qadhafi's willingness to cooperate, other than handing over the suspects, his willingness to cooperate by providing evidence and witnesses. Do you have an opinion on that?

MR. RUBIN: That's a factor, obviously, yes.

QUESTION: Given the jailing of two of the key witnesses -- the conviction of two key witnesses --

MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything new to offer on that. I mean, look, if this happens it's going to be an extensive and unprecedented exercise; and we will comment on that aspect of it if it happens.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:45 P.M.)

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