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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #17, 99-02-09

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, February 9, 1999


1		Secretary Albright's Upcoming Travel to China, Thailand and

SERBIA (Kosovo) 2-3,6 Update on Talks in Rambouillet 4-5 Possibility of a NATO Peace Implementation Force in Kosovo/Permissive Environment 6 Possibility of Travel by Secretary Albright to Rambouillet / Contact Group Meeting 6-7,8 Prospects of US Troops Participating in NATO Implementation Force/Other Countries 8-10 NATO Actions/UN Security Council Resolution/Contact Group

DEPARTMENT 10-12 Threatening Letter Received on 7th Floor of State Department

NORTH KOREA 12 Access to Suspect Site/North Korean Issue of Compensation 12 Congressional Report on North Korean Drug Trafficking 13 Discussions of Food Aid

TURKEY 13 Whereabouts of Ocalan/US Intelligence

CHINA/FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA 13-14 Reported Breaking of Relations by China with FYROM

INDIA/PAKISTAN 14 Non-Proliferation Issues

COLOMBIA 14 Peru's President's Comments on Colombian Peace talks

VIETNAM 15 Reported Arrest of American

BURMA 15 Drug Conference in Rangoon/US Position

TERRORISM 15 Bin Laden/US Efforts

GERMANY 15-16 Under Secretary Eizenstat and German Minister Hombach Meeting regarding Forced and Slave Labor, Deutsche Bank 16 Prospect for Release of East German Secret Police Files

JORDAN 16-17 US Government Representation at King Hussein's Funeral 17 US Contact With Russian President Yeltsin 18 US Support for Jordan

IRAQ 17 Threats Against Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait


DPB #17

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1999 1:00 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Today is Tuesday.

Let me start by announcing what has been prematurely reported. That is that Secretary Albright will travel to China, Thailand and Indonesia, departing from Washington on Sunday, February 28. The purpose of the Secretary's trip is to affirm continued US strategic commitments to Asia and take up specific regional and bilateral concerns, the Asian financial crisis, and progress towards free, fair and credible elections in Indonesia.

In China, on the first and second of March, Secretary Albright will meet with senior officials to discuss our expanding strategic dialogue with China and to facilitate progress on a range of bilateral issues. Obviously, she will be discussing issues related to the anticipated visit of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji to the United States this spring.

On Wednesday, Secretary Albright will travel to Thailand, that is March 3.

On March 4, she will be in Indonesia to provide her an opportunity to explore with the government and opposition leaders key developments, including preparations for national elections scheduled for this June; the future of East Timor; and strengthening prospects for early economic recovery. As some of you may know, this portion of the trip was scheduled for last November, following the APEC meeting and wasn't able to take place because of the crisis in Iraq.

QUESTION: Did the sign-up sheet come down yet?

MR. RUBIN: As soon as -- we usually don't sign up before we announce. On the other hand, we don't usually report before we announce either.

QUESTION: Sometimes it's awful close.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: March 6-7; we're still working on that time. Anything else on the trip?

QUESTION: Oh, is that it, or is there another announcement?

MR. RUBIN: No other announcements.

QUESTION: From those reports from the talks seem a little weak today -

MR. RUBIN: Depends on who you read.

QUESTION: No, the ambassador lectured the two sides about the need for progress. I don't know, I read the AP. It's giving a kind of a negative account. How bad is it? We're deadlocked, actually, it appeared, believe it or not.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I can certainly confirm that the agreement has not been struck in Rambouillet.

QUESTION: Filing break.

MR. RUBIN: A couple of points. First of all, let me say the situation on the ground in Kosovo remained generally quiet yesterday and overnight. Obviously, in Paris the negotiating teams have been meeting with the various delegations. Foreign Ministers Cook and Vedrine met with the negotiators at lunch today. There were meetings following that with the Serbian and Albanian delegations.

Ambassador Hill said that they were making progress, but he also pointed out that this is an extremely difficult enterprise. Let me emphasize to you that it is an extremely difficult enterprise. We have no illusions about the difficulty of reaching an agreement. That is why we're working so hard to try to bring home to the parties the importance of reaching an agreement and moving forward.

In that regard, let me say that Secretary Albright spoke this morning to Ambassador Hill, as she has been in constant contact with him. She spoke yesterday to Foreign Ministers Cook and Vedrine. She also spoke this morning to the President of Montenegro, Djukonovic, to thank him for his government's continued support for our efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis and noting the constructive role that Montenegro had played throughout this crisis and pointing out that Montenegro has been leading the way on democratization and economic reform in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In short, there are a lot of difficult issues to be resolved, if we're going to reach an agreement in this accelerated time table. But we believe that both parties have to understand that thousands of people have died, hundreds of thousands have been left homeless in the past; and that if we don't resolve this crisis now, we have a very real prospect of a seriously deteriorating situation in Kosovo this spring that will be even worse for Serbs and Kosovar Albanians. So it is strongly in the interests of both sides to work hard in Rambouillet and keep their nose to the grindstone and their hands off their cell phones and do the work that's necessary to reach and agreement. Without an agreement, they will not be able to avoid the kind of deteriorating situation we expect in the spring. So we hope and expect the parties to continue their work.

Ambassador Hill believes that they have been working from a text that we have put down; that the work is serious and constructive. It's not easy; it's not expected to be simple. There are major, major hurdles to an agreement. But the incentives are there, the reasons are there, the world is watching and it's up to the two parties to make the right decisions for peace and against war.

QUESTION: The last (inaudible) that I was referring to speaks to the two sides moving off the main points and talking about the border and all sorts of things that might be considered digressions. Could you either restate or tell me if I'm correct - the notion was at the edges there's some room for negotiating, but essentially what you want them to do is to pick upon this formula they've been presented with and not to start (inaudible) deal with the issue of Kosovo.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we believe we've come up with a formula and a plan and a construct that does not require either side to give up its dreams or its aspirations, but allows for an agreement that will entail great degrees of self-government for the people of Kosovo, including police, including civil institutions, including judiciary institutions, health institutions, educational institutions - their own institutions to run their own lives.

This has been sadly lacking as a result of the oppressive policies of President Milosevic for more than a decade. This is the construct which would entail three years of having their own institutions, having self- government and deferring the question of the ultimate status of Kosovo until after those three years when three years would have gone by in which the people would not be oppressed by the Serb police force, the Serb military forces, and the people would be living a life marked by their own institutions and their own right to run their own lives. That will be a markedly different situation than it is now.

We think that is what both parties need to work from, and Ambassador Hill thinks that is what they are working from. That doesn't mean there's an agreement, but it means that that construct and all that goes with it - the bulk of the agreement - is based on that construct; and that's not negotiable. That is the premise on which they were invited to Rambouillet, and that is the premise on which we will judge their behavior pursuant to NATO's decision on air strikes.

QUESTION: Does the US believe that it's a reasonable request on behalf of the ethnic Albanians to want a cease-fire before the negotiations proceed?

MR. RUBIN: There are different ways to deal with this problem. Let me say that the parties agreed to a cease-fire last fall in agreement struck as a result of the NATO threat to use military power against the Serbs. Both sides have violated that cease-fire. At different times, the fighting level has gone up or down.

To say that both sides have violated it does not mean that the results have been equal. The results have been one-sided because the Serbs have used overwhelming military power to rampage through Kosovo as a result of breakdowns in the cease-fire. But it is true that the cease-fire has been broken by both sides.

Our view is that rather than getting bogged down in a cease-fire which would only last as long as the remaining time to negotiate an agreement - remember, the difference here is that we're saying that they have a week, until this weekend, to agree. That would be followed by implementation of far more than a cease-fire; it would be followed by implementation of a peace agreement.

So the traditional goal of getting a cease-fire so that the parties can talk and then having a peace agreement many weeks or months later is not really relevant here.

QUESTION: Also, what is the US position on there being a NATO force in Kosovo after a peace agreement is signed and there is a cease-fire, or whether or not it would be acceptable to have a verification force? Is it either or; or is it both?

MR. RUBIN: If your question is about the dual-key question that arose today, let me say the following.

If a NATO force is deployed in Kosovo, there will be no dual-key arrangement. NATO will have undisputed military command in its sphere of operations. The duties and responsibilities of a NATO-led force in Kosovo are currently under discussion among NATO members. Obviously, NATO will coordinate those discussions with the Contact Group, where five of the six members are in NATO. But there will be no subordination of a NATO-led force to the Contact Group, as suggested in some erroneous reports today.

With respect to the Kosovar Verification Mission, let me simply say we are envisaging two issues. One is what will be necessary in terms of a peace implementation force that will provide the secure environment in which the agreement can be implemented - the agreement about police, the agreement about constitution -- responsibilities that will allow for the separate judiciary and other institutions for the Kosovar Albanians, including education and health. That is the secure environment.

There's a second issue about police and how will that work. With respect to the police, let me simply say, I'm not going to get into a discussion of how the Kosovar Verification Mission might participate in a peace implementation process, except to say that there are two different issues. If you look at Haiti or look at Bosnia or other similar models, there are different responsibility that different organizations perform. For example, in Bosnia, the military - NATO's military force - performed certain functions. Then there is a separate function performed in standing up and supervising a police force. Then there's a third function performed by the international community to monitor and implement the civilian implementation. So it depends on the function.

To the extent that we want to see both a secure environment, a police capability that takes away and involves the removal, in large measure, of the Serb military police that have been responsible for the most egregious behavior there, we would want to see standing up a local police. How that police is stood up and monitored and supervised is one of the things we're talking about. But that is different than the question of a NATO force.

QUESTION: Has there been discussion about this so-called dual-key arrangement; or are you saying there was never even any discussion of it?

MR. RUBIN: It was an erroneous report.

QUESTION: Secondly, what does the US see happening after the three-year period?

MR. RUBIN: We see no need to discuss what will happen after the three- year period. What we see a need to focus on is what's going on right now. And without prejudice to the party's positions, after the three-year period, we think we can work on a high degree of self-government in Kosovo for that three-year period.

As far as the American position on Kosovo, nothing has changed.

QUESTION: I don't mean, do you think there should be independence after three years. I mean, do you foresee a vote or a referendum or more negotiations?

MR. RUBIN: I think to get into that beyond to say that their construct is a three-year period where the level of self-government will operate and then discussion after that, I do not want to be specific.

QUESTION: How do you explain the apparent fact that this whole issue of a NATO peace implementation force is not quite as front and center in these discussions as it was at Dayton? Apparently, the equivalent of Annex 1-A is not even on the table yet, and you've got the Russians saying that it's not even on the program of discussion. What's going on?

MR. RUBIN: Well, for those of you who covered Dayton and covered the Bosnia crisis, you know there are similarities between Dayton and Rambouillet and differences. Dayton was preceded by three major foreign minister events -- one in New York, one in Geneva -- where many of the political arrangements were worked out, approved. The final phase in Dayton was nailing down the specifics of the political arrangements and dealing with the military annex.

So if you want to use your Dayton analogy, I would say we're somewhere between Geneva and New York rather than in Dayton, if you see my point.

So this has all been telescoped into a two-week period because prior to now, although familiar with the text, they have been unable to agree on anything of substance. We weren't able to peel away agreements on political arrangements, constitutional arrangements and other things that we did in Dayton, in New York and Geneva at the foreign minister level before we got to Dayton.

QUESTION: So these will come up before the end of the week?

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to prescribe precisely, but we want to be able to close this agreement down this weekend. That's what the Contact Group plan envisages. We will have our ducks in a row in order to do that if the parties are willing to make the tough decisions.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. Does the Secretary of State have any plans to go to Rambouillet?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright has indicated to Ambassador Hill that she is prepared at the appropriate time to go to Rambouillet. There was discussion of a Contact Group meeting this weekend. As you know, our position on that has been that the parties' progress will be assessed this weekend, pursuant to the Contact Group decision by a report to the foreign ministers of the Contact Group. Whether that report will be in person or not is an open question. We want to ensure that before we make arrangements to go to such a meeting, that it's properly prepared. So Secretary Albright has made no final decision as to whether she would participate in such a meeting.

With respects to the talks, per se, as opposed to the meeting connected with the talks, I think she is prepared to participate at the appropriate time. But that will be a decision that she will make as a result of consultations with Ambassador Hill.

QUESTION: One other question - several times, you've mentioned a three- year period. But several others - in fact, I think the Secretary of State at the Institute of Peace, the other day - mentioned a more flexible schedule, three to five.

MR. RUBIN: Well, thank you for pointing that out, Jim. You haven't found a pot of gold. Secretary Albright was indicating and repeating the US position on a three-year period. If the word five got in there, it's of no relevance whatsoever.

QUESTION: So it is a flat three-year period?

MR. RUBIN: As I've been saying for the last 20 minutes, yes.

QUESTION: Your remarks about a properly prepared report sort of passed over my head. Do you mean, she's prepared to - because you want an agreement by this weekend but there is the contingency of another week, I guess, if they're doing well enough to keep going. So the decision is based on whether an agreement is ripe this weekend? Is that what you mean by a properly prepared report?

MR. RUBIN: No, a properly prepared meeting. There are certain things that we in the Contact Group are discussing, and we don't see the need to go to meetings for meetings' sake. So if there's something to be done at such a meeting other than simply meet, we would be willing to go. But we need to be sure there is something that justifies such a meeting. Unless, of course, she's going to be there anyway to participate in the negotiations at the suggestion of Ambassador Hill; and then the issue doesn't arise perhaps as significantly.

QUESTION: Jamie, about the matter of the three forces, the question that Andrea asked, are these issues of NATO forces, Serbian forces and, let's say, the non-force, which is the verifiers, are those issues being discussed currently at Rambouillet? Second question is, has the United States definitely, absolutely committed a certain number of troops to a possible NATO buffer force?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to your second question, Secretary Albright delivered an extensive speech last week on the subject of Kosovo. The Secretary indicated that there were compelling reasons for us to seriously consider participating in a NATO implementation force. That is where the matter stands. The President has made no final decision on the matter.

With respect to your first question, I must confess that I'm a little puzzled. Could you run that by me again?

QUESTION: Well, I'm just asking - I guess another way to put it, is it possible that NATO forces, Serbian forces and verifiers could all work together, and that they might work together in Kosovo as a part of this settlement? How's this being handled at the conference?

MR. RUBIN: We are envisaging NATO participation if, and only if, the parties invite that participation by agreeing to the agreement and allowing an international peace-keeping force to be deployed. In that context, we're not envisaging the immediate withdrawal of every single Serbian troop or policeman.

Just like in the Bosnia peace agreement and many other peace agreements, what we are envisaging is a set of arrangements by which the various forces that would remain are deployed and affected by the military arrangements agreed to so that they pose no threat; and that the implementation force would be deployed only under conditions where various steps had taken place to ensure that they didn't pose a threat. But as I've indicated in response to one of your colleagues questions, there is no doubt that the Serbs have a right to have a minimal force on the border. So that would be in Kosovo as well.

So, yes, one could envisage a permissive environment where arrangements - practical military arrangements - were made to ensure that Serb forces would be deployed in such a way that we would have an implementation force there in much the same way you have it in Bosnia and other countries.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on that and then another question. The plan doesn't envisage any sort of equipment training sort of arrangement with the --

MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard that.

QUESTION: Okay, so there will be no effort other than the reduction of Serbian forces to create parity and all that?

MR. RUBIN: In principle, yes.

QUESTION: In principle. And then another quick one. Is it too early to say whether there can be - whether there's been enough progress made to grant the one-week extension?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, too early to say that. That's what the meeting on Sunday would be there to determine.

QUESTION: Some talk about some sort of an envelope arriving here, some sort of a threat - anthrax or something?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Any more on Kosovo?

QUESTION: Jamie, can I try one more? On the subject of a permissive environment, if all Serb security forces and troops were withdrawn from Kosovo, presumably the permissive environment would be easy to achieve because the people of Kosovo might want the protection of an international force. But if the agreement calls for leaving Serb security forces in Kosovo and the Serbs themselves are opposed to having a foreign presence on their own soil, then what happens? How could you guarantee the political agreement that the Kosovar Albanians want?

MR. RUBIN: Let me try to answer that question in two ways. First of all, for example, the Serb Foreign Minister said today under no conditions would they allow a NATO force to be deployed. Let me say that that position is a big, big mistake on the part of the Serbs.

NATO has decided that - let me rephrase that. There is no consideration of a NATO force being deployed in the absence of an agreement by the Serbs and the Kosovars towards presence, point one.

Point two, NATO has also decided that if the Serbs fail to agree to the Contact Group plan and the Kosovar Albanians do - and a prime example of failing to agree would be to refuse to allow the peace implementation force - the Serbs will be subject to air strikes. So they would be making a big mistake to hold up this agreement over the question of allowing forces in if the Kosovar Albanians are prepared to do so. That flows from the logic of NATO's decisions of the last ten days.

With respect to some forces remaining, I tried, in answer to Bill's question, to say that there have been plenty of cases where the presence of an implementation force has provided sufficient confidence in security to the people of a particular area that they have not required the forces that were engaged in some sort of conflict with them to leave entirely. So it depends on what the practical arrangements are. We are going to insist that the practical arrangements are such that our military will be in charge.

QUESTION: How would the --

MR. RUBIN: Again, please, anyone who's reporting on my comments, this is all in the subjunctive. That is, if the President were to decide to participate in a force and if an agreement were achieved.

QUESTION: Also in the subjunctive, how would the peace implement --

MR. RUBIN: See, the subjunctive is something I can talk about. It's the hypothetical that I can't.

QUESTION: How would the peace implementation force coordinate with the Contact Group? And do you anticipate any Russian participation at all?

MR. RUBIN: Obviously, it will be up to Russia to decide whether to offer participation. We would certainly welcome it. I've seen different indications from different people, suggesting that might happen. But we don't know the answer to that question. I think that a fair way to think about this is much the way it worked in Bosnia; which is that if the Russians were participating, they would, obviously, be participating -- and they - and the other five members of the Contact Group, I would point out, are in NATO.

So we've worked out arrangements that ensure a purity of NATO's chain of command, while allowing Russian participation in the past. So there's no real issue there.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: Essentially there is - I'm a little puzzled by these news reports on that subject. There are always legal debates about the relationship between NATO's actions and the UN Security Council. We do not believe a Security Council resolution would be required to deploy a NATO- led force in Kosovo because it would only be deployed in the context of an agreement by the parties to deploy.

Therefore, there is a legal construct that is created by their permissive environment, their agreement to have NATO deployed. We're not opposed to a resolution, and therefore we have no problem with it being endorsed. But that gets into the kind of legal territory that a lot of different lawyers in NATO circles spend a lot of time focusing on.

QUESTION: My question was about how it would coordinate with the Contact Group, rather than the Security Council.

MR. RUBIN: Well, no final decision has been made to implement. If there were an implementation, all I can guide you to is the way things have worked in the past. The Contact Group existed for Bosnia; it exists for Kosovo. Five of the six members of the Contact Group are in NATO. The only member that's not is Russia. NATO and Russia have a consultative mechanism that's worked in the past. NATO and Russia have worked together as partners in Bosnia. So we'll work through the basic same kind of way we have in the past. I don't think anybody has proposed a Contact Group-NATO organization of coordination. I've never heard such a thing proposed

QUESTION: Like in Bosnia, will the NATO troops have the additional responsibility of apprehending individuals indicted for war crimes?

MR. RUBIN: That's a premature question.

QUESTION: After Greece, the Italian Prime Minister last weekend announced against some NATO troops deployed to Kosovo. He said that his government is against deploying NATO forces in Kosovo.

MR. RUBIN: I would have to see the specific quote. We are discussing with our Italian colleagues in the various channels and through the Contact Group and through NATO, the possibility of a peace implementation force by NATO. I'm not aware that - I think you have to be very careful what the quote is. Some people talk about what would happen if there weren't a permissive environment - would they support forces. Others talk about permissive environment. So I'd have to see the quote.

QUESTION: Can you deal with that letter - the anthrax or whatever, please?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, on that subject. At about 11:00 a.m. on the seventh floor of the State Department in the 500 corridor, a letter was received in which pellets fell out of the letter and there was a note saying that by opening this letter the participants or the openers were hit now by anthrax.

The Emergency Response System worked reasonably well - very well in this case. The DC Police were involved; the Joint Terrorism Task Force was involved, including the FBI. The area was cordoned off. The medical folks were in. Field tests were done on the pellets and determined that they were not harmful. Three employees who were exposed were brought for observation and have been cleared to return to their work.

So we basically see this as a hoax, but given the nature of it we are going to continue to investigate.

QUESTION: Was the letter addressed to anybody?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know the answer to that.

QUESTION: And when you say these other - these various groups were involved, I mean, did they have people on the scene?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, this was all done by 12:00 p.m. They were able to confirm that all was clear. So it was a very quick response. Within one hour, this Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to operate and make these determinations.

QUESTION: Where were these three people checked out?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know what --

QUESTION: On the scene or they didn't go to a hospital, did they?

MR. RUBIN: No, right, in the Department. They were checked out by medical personnel who concluded that they were cleared to return to work.


MR. RUBIN: Today, yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the pellets were?

MR. RUBIN: They determined that they were not harmful. What exactly they were, I don't have that information.

QUESTION: What office received the letter?

MR. RUBIN: On the seventh floor. I don't have the name of the office. I can try to get - if you have a series of very detailed questions about this, we'll try to get it for you after the briefing. This just happened; it's 1:30 p.m. now. I worked very hard in the last few minutes to get you as much information as I could. I think I've exhausted my knowledge of this.

QUESTION: It wasn't the Secretary's office, though?

MR. RUBIN: No, it was on the 500 corridor.

QUESTION: Oh, I see, okay.

MR. RUBIN: It's a very different location.

QUESTION: In light of the fact that this has just happened, how worrisome is this to the State Department, and do you think that this is something that might cause a re-evaluation of the way that mail is received here?

MR. RUBIN: Given that it just happened an hour ago, I think drawing any long-term conclusions about changes in policy and practice would be inappropriate.

QUESTION: Jamie, sort of the same question. Isn't it surprising that, given such a high state of alert in all federal buildings now toward that kind of attack, that an envelope like that would be able to get through the system?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm sure all of you are familiar with your own mail. If what we're talking about here is an envelope with a piece of paper in it and a few pellets, I think to be able to scan every envelope to ensure that a piece of paper and a few pellets of undetermined size or significance could not be delivered to a government office building would require an enormous amount of resources.

That doesn't mean we're not going to take what precautions we think are appropriate. But in reporting and thinking and analyzing these, I hope people will not immediately jump to drastic, unrealistic proposals.

QUESTION: It was a letter - mailed letter?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, a mailed letter.

QUESTION: A letter.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, a letter; a very normal sized letter with a piece of paper and some pellets in it.

QUESTION: Can you find out where the postmark was?

MR. RUBIN: I assume that's the subject of the investigation. That wouldn't necessarily be provided publicly.

QUESTION: A couple of quick questions. One, you can confirm, I guess, that the United States is not willing to make a $300 million cash payment in return for the right to visit a suspect nuclear weapons site in North Korea?

MR. RUBIN: That was what we call a leading question. Let me say that we have been in discussions with North Korea about getting to the bottom of the site in Kumchang-ni that we are concerned about, which, if we do not get to the bottom of it, would affect the viability of the agreed framework we negotiated with North Korea in 1994.

The North Koreans have obviously, at various times, put out different versions of what it would take to allow us multiple site access. We will not pay compensation to be permitted to ensure that an agreement is being properly implemented. That is our principled position.

QUESTION: Jamie, a related question -- a congressional office today has put out a report claiming that the North Korean Government, as a matter of state policy, is involved in extensive illegal drug trafficking. There are several members who are saying that the State Department is basically turning a blind eye to this for fear of rocking the boat, I guess.

MR. RUBIN: Let me assure any member of Congress who throws the blind eye quote around, which I think is pretty much used on every subject by a member of Congress. I remember writing it myself, when I was a congressional staffer. That's your basic criticism --turning a blind eye. We take very seriously the issue of drug smuggling, and drug efforts receive a very high priority in this building. As far as a specific response to this North Korea drug report, I prefer to wait until we've had a chance to fully review the report. But I can assure anyone concerned that we take any subject of drug smuggling very seriously and with both eyes open.

QUESTION: Can you confirm or clarify how Charles Kartman has been discussing food assistance or grain assistance with his talks in South Korea?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as you know, for those of you who cover this issue regularly, the North Koreans always raise different things related to food. What position what we've been taking is that we have been the largest contributor to the World Food Program support for North Korea because we believe there are real needs. The World Food program is able to ensure those needs are met without significant diversion of any of this food assistance. So we take that very seriously. We're looking seriously at the latest World Food program appeal. That is our public position; that is also our private position.

QUESTION: New subject. Today, it has been reported in Turkish media that the United States has not been forthcoming in sharing intelligence report on whereabouts of Ocalan. Do you have anything on that, as well as apparently, the Turkish Parliament has opened some kind of investigation having American troops using up to 2,000 illegal employees on Turkish bases in Turkey.

MR. RUBIN: I have no comment on either subject.

QUESTION: China broke off relations with Macedonia. Do you have any view on that? Have you approached the Chinese on this question of what attitude they're going to take towards the UNPREDEP force in Macedonia?

MR. RUBIN: Do it from memory. We had a very good discussion with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia officials in recent days. Secretary Albright had a good meeting. We do not believe that there ought to be any linkage between issues of concern by China on some bilateral nature and the international peace and security responsibility that China as other permanent Security Council members have when it comes to the question of supporting and endorsing a peace-keeping operation in Macedonia. So we are familiar with the pattern here. This is not new. With respect to Haiti, an issue came up. But at the end of the day, we believe one should not link this issue to the question of UN peacekeeping forces in Macedonia. The United States certainly supports the renewal of the mandate of the UNPREDEP.

So I can't speak for the Chinese. I can certainly tell you that the Chinese will not be surprised to hear what I just said -- that we believe that each of these issues should be decided on the merits, and that these kinds of linkages undermine each country's - that it's very important for each country to remember, that's on the Security Council, they have an international peace and security responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council.

QUESTION: Can I follow that up? Have you discussed this with the Chinese, and do you have any real assurances?

MR. RUBIN: I would have to check what bilateral contact has been made with the Chinese about it. But whether it has happened or whether I intend to be able to make that public are two different things.

QUESTION: Also, do you take a position on China's decision to break relations? Do you regret it; do you think it's an unwise move, unfortunate?

MR. RUBIN: I will have to check what our view is on China's decision in this regard. But let me say that, with respect to the security question, let me add that it is our view, and has been for many decades, that we should have an unofficial relationship with Taiwan and that we recognize one China. So that is our position.

QUESTION: The US has been trying to get China to contribute somehow to non-proliferation in India and Pakistan. Has the US gotten anywhere with those talks unofficially with China? Secondly, is Secretary Albright planning to take that up in her visit to China next time?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure the subject of India and Pakistan will come up in her discussions with the Chinese Government. I know there were some Chinese officials here and they received a briefing from Deputy Secretary Talbot about our efforts to work on the efforts to work on the India-Pakistan problem. But I wouldn't be able to give you publicly any unofficial results of any such diplomatic contact.

QUESTION: After President Fujimori came to Washington last week, he made a couple of remarks talking about the threat that Colombia posed to the neighbors because of the weak peace process and also because of the guerrilla and narco-traffic going on. But he also, yesterday, ordered to put some troops near the border, and is causing some bad environment between the two countries. I don't know if the US got any -

MR. RUBIN: Let me say the following on that. I want to reiterate, the United States continues to support fully the peace effort of the government of Colombia. We hope the peace talks will end the violence in Colombia. President Fujimori has his own views of those talks, which he said were not intended to interfere in Colombia's internal affairs.

We do share Peru's concern that narcotics trafficking and terrorism pose regional threats in the Andean region, a concern which the Colombian Government also shares.

President Fujimori has indicated that Peruvian Government will step up its security efforts in the area of Peru bordering Colombia and Brazil, a region particularly affected by narcotics trafficking. We encourage countries to work together in the region on counter-narcotics activities, and we hope Peru and Colombia will continue to cooperate in this area.

So the bottom line is that President Fujimori has expressed his view, and I just expressed ours.

QUESTION: Jamie, the US has helped the country of Venezuela in the past with troops to control the border with Colombia. Is the US ready to do that in the case of Peru or Ecuador?

MR. RUBIN: I have not heard such suggestions.

QUESTION: I have two questions on Southeast Asia, actually. One is, have you heard anything about an American being arrested in Vietnam for possessing anti-Communist literature?

MR. RUBIN: I have nothing on that. We can check for you.

QUESTION: The second one is, apparently, the Burmese are having some big drug conference in Rangoon, and it's been reported that the US is boycotting this. Is that -- perhaps, pointedly not attending might be a better word.

MR. RUBIN: Let me get you some information on both of those subjects.

QUESTION: Some former officials of the Department have criticized the US efforts -

MR. RUBIN: God forbid, criticism of the Department by former officials? Did they say we were turning a blind eye?

QUESTION: -- efforts to capture Mr. bin Laden - no blind eye. The question is, has the United States reevaluated its efforts to isolate, capture or in some way get Mr. bin Laden to cease his activities?

MR. RUBIN: The short answer to that question is no, there hasn't been any reevaluation. There are a number of things that we have been doing and that we will continue to do. We will work on the basis of the efforts that have been put forward. I will try to get you some more specific information in response to former officials/current critic's criticism.

QUESTION: What does the United States think of the German proposals put forward at the meeting with Mr. Eizenstat yesterday on settling the claims against German companies?

MR. RUBIN: They exchanged views at this meeting on ways to provide justice and compensation for victims of forced labor and slave labor. German industry has committed itself to establishing a foundation. This effort has the German Government's active support. Such a foundation would provide compensation for forced labor and slave labor. Under Secretary Eizenstat, Administer Hombach discussed this initiative and related issues.

We also included several of the leading class action attorneys who have brought the suits, along with leaders of the two major organizations representing Jewish survivors. We are pleased that we are able to develop a process on this subject. The parties agreed that we would not disclose the substance of our discussions. But we did have a very encouraging exchange of views that reflects a real determination to find solutions to these complex and sensitive issues. The focus was on how to address these matters fairly and expeditiously.

We are encouraged by reports that the World Jewish Congress and Deutsch Bank had direct discussions with respect to Holocaust-related claims and that they will continue these discussions. Discussions regarding such mergers should be considered on their merits and banking criteria, not burdened by other issues. We applaud Deutsche Bank's efforts to research their archives and to turn over documents to an independent historical commission. We understand that the Bank commissioned historians from Israel, the United States, Britain and Germany to study the documents and issue a report.

More broadly, the German Government has indicated that it wants to assure that individuals who were subjected to slave or forced labor during World War II are compensated. We applaud this historic initiative, which reflects moral leadership on the part of Chancellor Schroeder. Both governments hope it will be possible to achieve some measure of justice for those who suffered and closure on these issues.

QUESTION: Related to that - maybe it's going to be the same answer, but Deputy Secretary Talbott's -

MR. RUBIN: Oh, okay.

QUESTION: I was going to add that at the end. Is that basically the same thing that Talbott and Hombach are talking about?

MR. RUBIN: They might have been talking about US-German relations and not so much that particular compensation issue.

QUESTION: Might have included the files?

MR. RUBIN: On the files issues, we do not comment on intelligence matters or alleged intelligence matters. German Chancellor and Minister Hombach is in Washington this week and has had meetings with senior State Department officials on a range of issues. However, in regard to the specific question, we do not comment on intelligence matters or alleged intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Can you at least tell us whether Mr. Hombach asked for these files?

MR. RUBIN: Why don't you ask Mr. Hombach?

QUESTION: Jamie, I would normally have one of my colleagues at the White House ask this question, but there is no briefing today so I'm hoping that you will be able to entertain this question. I know that Secretary Albright was not at yesterday's funeral, but some members of her staff were.

MR. RUBIN: True.

QUESTION: I'm wondering whether or not the US Government saw anything in the guest list of those who showed up at the funeral, anything encouraging or promising in terms of Mid-East peace, in terms of various concerns that we have there, that there was such a high showing, for instance, of Arab leaders.

MR. RUBIN: First of all, I think Secretary Albright indicated, yesterday, very clearly our view that King Hussein's role in the Middle East process will be sorely missed. But at the same time, we believe King Hussein has created a legacy that will outlive him in the peace process - a legacy of Jordan's peace agreement and Jordan's leading role in promoting peace in the region.

We do sense that the outpouring of support demonstrated by the world yesterday may prove part of that legacy in promoting the prospect of peace in the coming weeks and months. But it will be impossible to know that until more formal discussions are held and more specific issues are addressed.

QUESTION: On the subject of the funeral yesterday in Amman, two questions. One, did any US officials have contact with Mr. Yeltsin while he was there? Secondly, is there a concern, a sympathy on the part of the US Government that Mr. Yeltsin is really not able to function outside of the sanitarium, as it would appear, but he's apparently very much handicapped?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is President Clinton did have a chance to do what Under Secretary Pickering described as a number of snippet diplomacies and that is short discussions with a number of leaders who were in the same room at the same time. That included a discussion with President Yeltsin.

According to the Kremlin, President Yeltsin continues his course of recovery from stomach ulcers. He interrupted his recovery regimen to attend the funeral of King Hussein in Jordan. When he returned to Moscow, President Yeltsin returned to a Moscow area sanitarium to continue treatment. We certainly wish him a speedy recovery but, beyond saying that, I have no particular comment on your question.

QUESTION: He appears to be handicapped by his trip to -

MR. RUBIN: We wish him a speedy recovery.

QUESTION: Because of the cooperation with the United States and British, the government of Iraq yesterday issued some threat against Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that Iraq would be making a grave mistake if it didn't understand that we have indicated that any threat by Iraq to its neighbors would be a big mistake. We would be prepared to act.

QUESTION: On Jordan, yesterday's show of support - the presence of all these leaders - how much of it, at least from American side, can be expected to be projected for the new Administration there, which Jordan, right now, is in the dire straits in many ways?

MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright pointed out yesterday that we will stand with Jordan, that we believe that Crown Prince Abdullah, as he told us, will carry his father's flag and pursue the same policies that his father pursued on the peace process, on Iraq, and on internal matters. We began discussions with King Hussein some weeks ago about a program to assist the Jordanian government, and over the weekend we announced the essential elements of that, which included accelerating the $300 million over three years we intended to add to Jordan's bilateral assistance program, as well as discussions about debt rescheduling through the Paris Club; and finally, financial discussions through the IMF that are ongoing. So we will stand by Jordan. We want to ensure we do what we can to assist their economy.

QUESTION: Would you consider - there will be some programs like investment programs or new businesses in Jordan or something?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I've described what our current package consists of and beyond saying that, I would say that it is our intention to encourage the growth of the Jordanian economy. But I don't want to comment on that specific proposal.

(The briefing concluded at 1:55 P.M.)

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