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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #22, 99-02-23

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

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


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing


Wednesday, February 23, 1999


1		Not Answer Questions Today About Events in Rambouillet

ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 Background Briefing, Wednesday on Secretary's Trip to Asia 1 Assassination of Shia Cleric in Iraq 1-2 India / Pakistan Summit Concludes

CHINA 2-4,13 US Denies Hughes Company Export License for Telecommunications Project / Satellite Purchase Approved Earlier / Response by Chinese / Effect on Secretary's Visit / Sales by Other Companies and Countries / Appeal Procedure / Chinese Entity Concerned 3 Weapons Technology Transfers to Iran 11 Schedule for Premier's Visit to US

NORTH KOREA 3 Missile Technology Assistance from China

IRAQ 4-5 Demonstrations and Casualties Resulting from Assassination of Religious Cleric 8 Allegations of US Responsibility for Death of Cleric / US Work With Opposition Groups 5-9 Scott Ritter's Book re CIA Personnel on UNSCOM Staff / US Support for UNSCOM / UNSCOM's Procedures / Claim Secretary Albright Wanted Ritter Removed from UNSOCM / Ritter's Inconsistencies / US Commitment

GREECE 9 US Opposition to Harboring Terrorists / Provision of Haven to Ocalan / Placement on Terrorist List

CUBA 9-10 Update on Implementation of New Measures / Baseball Team Exchange

RUSSIA 10 GAO Report on Proliferation Risk and Aid to Scientists / Screening of US Funds / Recommendation Dept of Energy Operate

BURMA / NARCOTICS 10-11 Interpol Conference / Boycotting Countries

HUMAN RIGHTS 11 Issuance of Report / Briefing

DEPARTMENT 11 Status of Y2K

NARCOTICS 11--12 Issuance of Report

TERRORISM 12 Timetable for List of Countries / Changes

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 12 Revival of Syria and Lebanon Tracks

LEBANON 12-13 Recent Violence in South


DPB #22

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1999 1:45 P.M.


MR. FOLEY: Good afternoon. Fortunately we're not on TV, as I dropped that important piece of paper.

First of all, as a preambular comment, I know this goes against the grain of your instincts and probably your intentions, but I'm not in a position to comment, at least today, on the negotiations at Rambouillet because, as you know, it's our practice not to talk from this podium when the Secretary is involved in a particular issue overseas. Mr. Rubin is speaking to the media, as is the Secretary, in the field. Although upon her return, we'll be in a different situation.

A few announcements -- first of all, tomorrow there will be a background briefing by a senior Administration official on the upcoming trip of Secretary Albright to China, Thailand and Indonesia. That will occur here in the briefing room at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow.

Second, I'd like to draw to your attention a statement that I put out yesterday -- let me just quote from it -- concerning the assassination of the Shia cleric the other day in Iraq. The United States condemns the killing of the Iraqi Shia religious leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Sader and his two sons in the Iraqi city of Najaf last Friday. We also note with grave concern reports that government security forces have killed civilians demonstrating in Baghdad and -- Nassiriyah against al Sader's assassination. Iraqi religious leaders and sources in the Iraqi opposition report that the Baghdad regime is responsible for the assassination.

As the statement noted, we've seen widespread repression of the population of Southern Iraq by the Saddam Hussein regime. Since 1991, there have been now a total of four senior Iraqi religious leaders assassinated within the past year alone. We very, very strongly condemn both this assassination and the repression which has ensued on the streets of Iraqi cities in the last few days.

Secondly, you will have noted the statement that President Clinton issued yesterday evening about the successful India-Pakistan summit. On behalf of the Department of State, I would like to welcome, on our part, the successful summit meeting of the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers over the weekend in Lahore, Pakistan. Prime Ministers Vajpayee of India and Sharif of Pakistan have committed their governments to intensify efforts to resolve the issues that have divided their countries for too long including Kashmir.

We are pleased that they have discussed steps to address nuclear concerns, including confidence building measures and methods to avoid accidental conflict. We also commend the attention paid in the Lahore Declaration issued at the end of the meeting to improving the quality of life of the people of India and Pakistan. The two leaders clearly understand that economic growth and social progress are central to the futures of their countries as they are to all countries around the world. The success of their meeting demonstrates the ability of Pakistan and India to work together to resolve their differences and to look to the future, not to the past.

While the US and the international community have encouraged the two parties to resolve their differences through face-to-face discussions at the senior level, the decisions that were taken to undertake these courageous steps were made by the two prime ministers. They certainly deserve an enormous amount of credit for the successful meeting.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the reports of certain categories of high technology no longer being made available to China?

MR. FOLEY: I think you're referring to a particular sale. What I can tell you is that the United States government has decided to deny the Hughes Company a Commerce Department license request regarding the so- called APMT project -- that's the Asia-Pacific Mobile Telecommunications project. The United States Government decided that the proposed exports are inconsistent with the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States. Without commenting on the specific reasons for the denial, I can say that we look at each application on its own merits and we do not believe that this export would have been consistent with the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.

I would like to add that this decision does not mean in any way that we've changed our policy concerning the launches in principle of US satellites in China. Allowing the launch of commercial satellites from China is, we believe, in the interests of both our countries; provided, of course, that the appropriate safeguards are in place. So as I said, we've not changed our overall policy. The US intends to authorize launches of US satellites from China in the future. We will continue to review such export requests on a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: Can you say why, particularly, this was not in --

MR. FOLEY: Well, I don't want to get into the particulars. Except let me make just one point, which is that this sale was approved in an earlier period. What happened is that there was a change in the contract. In I think more specific terms, there was a change in the make-up of the consortium that wished to purchase the satellite. It became much more -- the consortium itself in its second iteration involved more heavily the Chinese military. Our policy is to support the civilian launching of US satellites on Chinese rockets, but not for military purposes or not for military concerns in that respect.

So the nature of the project, the nature of the consortium changed fundamentally from the time of the initial approval.

QUESTION: Has the US Government received any response from the Chinese on the decision to not --

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that.

QUESTION: Follow-up on that -- is there concern on the part of the US the Secretary's planning to go to China, leave Sunday, this coming just days before her trip? What concerns if that's going to make a tenser time during her visit?

MR. FOLEY: Well, again, I've not seen a reaction yet. The Secretary will be in a position to explain, if the matter is raised in China, what the reasons were along the lines that I have indicated. We support -- and I've reiterated our overall policy of allowing such sales to go forward on a case-by-case basis. But they must be consistent with US foreign policy and national security interests and objectives. In this case, subject to review, we determined that the purchasing body was not of a civilian nature; and on that basis, we declined to approve the sale.

QUESTION: Does the United States have any reason to believe that China might be providing assistance to North Korea in its missile program?

MR. FOLEY: I think you've been reading the newspapers this morning. Have you not? Or did you originate this question --

QUESTION: It did come to me in my sleep.

MR. FOLEY: Ex nilho?

Yes, well, the newspaper article is not something that we can confirm. We are certainly opposed to further North Korean rocket launches, and the United States has made that very clear since August at the time of the last missile launch. Our opposition to such launches includes launches intended to orbit satellites because space launch vehicles and their technology are interchangeable with ballistic missiles as demonstrated by the August 31 Taepo Dong I test. Such launches are destabilizing, in our view.

QUESTION: What about Chinese backing off uranium developments -- technologies on rockets and other nuclear front?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have acted in that regard. We have sanctioned entities that were involved in such actions previously. It's something that we give the utmost attention to. We are against any kind of transfers, of any kinds of weapons of mass destruction technology to Iran. We've made that very clear in our discussions with China and other countries around the world.

QUESTION: Do you have any assurance from either the Europeans or the Japanese that they won't step into the breach and sell the Chinese that same kind of satellite?

MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of what plans may be in store on the part of other countries. We act on the basis of US technology, US firms that must seek government authorization to engage in such sales or such transfers. Our law is subject to US companies. We would certainly discourage any companies of any country from -- I'm not sure if your questions related to the last one that I just received about North Korea. We are certainly opposed to any kinds of cooperation in that regard with North Korea. But I have no information concerning the intentions of other countries or other companies outside the United States in that regard.

QUESTION: Put it in those terms, are you trying to discourage either other alternative suppliers not to sell the Chinese this kind of cell phone technology because it would have military use?

MR. FOLEY: Well, again, we look at these cases on a case-by-case basis. What was presented to us was not something having been vetted through the inter-agency process or something that we could approve. I'm not aware, as I said, that other nations are planning to step into the breach.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, is this decision final? We understood from some people that there may be some kind of appeal procedure or another level of approval beyond this level?

MR. FOLEY: In response to the second formulation of your question, the answer is it is final, as far as the US Government decision-making process is concerned. Whether the company involved would have any opportunity to appeal or to resubmit such an application, I'm not aware of. You'd would, perhaps, want to ask the Commerce Department if there's any such right of appeal.

But if your question as you formulated the second time is, is this not the final decision but rather is there not another level of decision-making, the answer is it is the final decision.

QUESTION: And another question -- these satellite sales, they have very strict safeguards attached to them. What makes you think the safeguards in this case would not be adequate to prevent what you consider to be misuse of this satellite?

MR. FOLEY: I stand by what I said earlier -- the fact that the nature of the buyer changed. It was on that basis that we declined to approve the sale.

QUESTION: Furthering your statement on Iraq, there are conflicting reports in the press. What are your opposition sources or other sources informing you about the number dead in these riots and where exactly in Iraq they're taking place?

MR. FOLEY: Well, you referred to conflicting reports in the press. I'm not aware of reports that conflict on the question of the assassination, obviously, or on the fact of disturbances and of government repression of civilians in Baghdad.

I think you're correct that different numbers have been suggested as to how many casualties there may have been; and that's very difficult to verify in a country as closed, as opaque, as oppressively run as Iraq is. As with the case of the three previous religious leaders who've been assassinated in Iraq over the past year, sources within the opposition as well as Muslim religious leaders outside Iraq have, as I said, attributed the assassination to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

I would note that in the months preceding this assassination, the Ayatollah al Sader had reportedly been prevented from leading Friday prayers. He had been interrogated and threatened by security forces of the regime -- all of which point to the possibility of regime involvement in his assassination; although we obviously cannot obtain independent confirmation of that. But certainly there are credible allegations in this regard.

Information received from Iraqi opposition sources report widespread demonstrations throughout Iraq in response to the assassination. These demonstrations reportedly began over the weekend and may be continuing. Again, we don't have independent confirmation of this, but the information we receive is that over the weekend in Baghdad demonstrations took place in the neighborhoods of Saddam city of Khadimiya, Jamila and Al Kifah. Reportedly, 25 demonstrators were killed; 50 injured; 250 arrested, including 15 religious scholars. Roads into Baghdad were reportedly cut off during the weekend.

As you indicated, some opposition sources have listed as many as 300 killed. We cannot rule out this number, but we are confident with the numbers that I just indicated of 25 because we've been talking to sources that have proven reliable in the past.

In the Southern Iraqi city of Nassiriyah over the weekend, demonstrators reportedly occupied the town hall, and security forces allegedly responded by shelling the city with artillery; 18 people were reportedly killed. We have also received reports of light arms clashes in Karbala and demonstrations in Amara and in many other cities. In Najaf, the situation remains extremely tense.

QUESTION: Jim, also on Iraq, somehow galley proofs of Scott Ritter's book found their way to The New York Times. According to the Times article, the infiltration by the CIA of the UNSCOM teams was much wider and much earlier than earlier reported and much more precisely directed at collecting information that would be of use to the United States. Do you have any comment?

MR. FOLEY: Well, my first comment is this is not the first report we've had sourced to Mr. Ritter in this regard. Stories came out to this effect a few months ago and we responded very clearly to them, as I will in a minute.

I would also point out the fact that we continue to hear many different allegations and policy positions on the part of Mr. Ritter that are consistent only in their inconsistency. I can go through some of those, if you'd like, in a minute.

As to the specifics, though, of the question that you raise, we, as a matter of policy, do not comment on allegations about supposed intelligence matters. I believe the article refers to Mr. Ritter's views on these issues as speculation.

Certainly, we have made it very clear and have been very open about this, that the United States Government has provided a lot of support to UNSCOM, as have some 60 other nations. We did so because we were obligated to do so under Security Council resolutions. Let's remember what UNSCOM's job has been inside Iraq. It has been to unearth Iraq's secret weapons of mass destruction programs -- programs that Iraq denies, programs that Iraq conceals, programs that Iraq tries to cover with lies and with concealment.

Certainly, the very purpose of UNSCOM is to counter this policy of non- cooperation, of confrontation, of concealment on Iraq's part. We've made no bones about the fact that we have helped UNSCOM in its efforts to uncover Iraqi programs of weapons of mass destruction. As Mr. Ritter has made clear, the decisions on when and where UNSCOM inspected were made by UNSCOM. He also has made clear he ran the UNSCOM unit that designed inspections to uncover Iraq's concealment efforts. The inspectors that we provided to UNSCOM were provided at UNSCOM's request in order to work for UNSCOM and do UNSCOM's work.

The bottom line is that UNSCOM decided where to inspect and we did our best to support UNSCOM. I believe that Chairman Butler of UNSCOM has publicly indicated that some of Mr. Ritter's published remarks are not accurate. We certainly support Chairman Butler. It is he who decides who his inspectors will be. We nominate people in response to his requests, and as I indicated when this story first came out a few months ago, we respond to specific requests by UNSCOM for specific personnel with specific expertise - - be it in the field of biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, missiles and the like.

UNSCOM decides whether or not to accept the professionals that we propose. In many cases they've accepted and in many cases they've rejected, based on their needs. But what Mr. Butler may have decided in terms of whom to hire and what he decided about how to assign Mr. Ritter, in particular, to do certain tests is really between the two of them.

But to conclude, as far as the United States is concerned, yes, we have supported UNSCOM very consistently in all kinds of areas in the field of logistics, personnel, information, and of significant and steady and consistent diplomatic support in the Security Council.

QUESTION: I think the thrust of what his allegations are is that some of the American personnel who wound up on the team had dual occupations. Not only were they searching for weapons of mass destruction under development, but also picking up intelligence of specific use to the United States which may not have been directly concerned with the UNSCOM inspections. Could you address that?

MR. FOLEY: What you're asking me is what was asked and answered several months ago, when apparently Mr. Ritter made similar charges which seemed to be unfathomable except as elements which can only serve Saddam Hussein's propaganda machine. They are otherwise inexplicable.

As we have said, we have provided all kinds of support to UNSCOM -- logistics, personnel, diplomatic support in the Security Council, equipment, inspectors. Our support to UNSCOM has been second to none and it's been in response to the obligations imposed on us by Security Council resolutions. The personnel we have provided to work for UNSCOM have been expert and they have provided UNSCOM with all the help that they requested.

QUESTION: Ritter also said that the Secretary tried to have him removed because he had a habit of provoking the Iraqis, or words to that effect. Do you have anything on that?

MR. FOLEY: I think the burden of what I read in The New York Times was that he considered himself to be someone who was problematic because he was doing a good job. In other words, the very fact that he was an aggressive inspector was somehow seen as problematic. I think we've made very clear that we respected his abilities as an inspector.

We've also made it very clear that Chairman Butler made all of the decisions regarding the nature of UNSCOM inspections -- the timing of inspections, the personnel involved in inspections. As I said a minute ago, what Chairman Butler may have decided at any point in time about his assignments for Mr. Ritter is between them.

I think the burden of the charge that the United States was in some way lacking in vigorous support for UNSCOM is absurd and laughable on its face. I think I would urge you to poll other governments and see if they believe that there's any one government in the world that has been more vigorously supportive of UNSCOM and of UNSCOM's right to conduct intrusive inspections in Iraq than the United States. I would include Secretary of State as second to none anywhere among those who vigorously supported UNSCOM. I think that's generally believed.

The point I was making earlier is that it's hard to determine exactly where Mr. Ritter stands or what he believes on any given subject. He has said that the United States worked to prevent intrusive inspections. He has charged that the United States has pushed intrusive inspections, which he's deemed provocative. He has charged that we denied intelligence support to UNSCOM. He has also charged that we gave undue intelligence support to UNSCOM. He has argued that the United States had been avoiding military confrontation with Saddam Hussein. He is also charging that we undertook military confrontation with Saddam Hussein. That was his reaction back in December. Of late, I believe he has come out against UN sanctions against Iraq.

So if you can make any sense of these many contradictory positions, I would invite you to do so; because they're baffling in their particulars and they're certainly unfathomable in their effect.

QUESTION: Is that a long way of saying, you don't want to answer the question as to whether the Secretary wanted him off UNSCOM?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we addressed those questions in August, at the time when they were first raised. What we said is that, a, Chairman Butler made the decisions; b, that we gave him advice based on our read into the Security Council, where, let's face it, the United States was not necessarily fully supported by other members of the Security Council in supporting UNSCOM. We gave tactical advice to Chairman Butler from time to time concerning the timing of inspections and tactics surrounding inspections. But we did not certainly try to tell him how to do his job. He made his own decisions. He's indicated that he has some very serious disagreements with Mr. Butler. I would leave it to the two of them to explain that.

QUESTION: Still on Iraq, but back to the cleric again. What do you make of -- I realize you've already condemned the assassination. But the Iraqi Foreign Minister, I believe, in Beirut this morning, suggested that the US was actually behind the assassination of this guy saying that it's well- known the US has a $90 million program to try to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

MR. FOLEY: That is a baseless and shocking and completely erroneous accusation. It is clear this is the fourth religious cleric who's been assassinated in Iraq in the last year. This is an esteemed religious figure who has been visited by and threatened by Saddam's security forces. We, for our part have been working with Iraqi opposition elements, to include Iraqi Shia groups who support the Ayatollah who was killed. We want to work with all Iraqi opposition groups to promote regime change in Iraq. We support, certainly, all of the people of Iraq.

All of the groups that we support have committed themselves to the territorial integrity of Iraq, to religious tolerance, to respect for human rights and democracy. This is, by all accounts, another act of brutal repression on the part of the Iraqi regime.

I think that that kind of a charge is not going to fool anybody. We've seen very strong emotional reactions throughout the region, not only inside Iraq, to this assassination. I think that nobody is fooled by these kinds of lies and this kind of propaganda.

I would add, furthermore, that it's very clear that Saddam is becoming more and more rattled concerning his situation. Clearly the military campaign in December and the ongoing enforcement of the no-fly zone have lead to significant losses of his military capabilities. There's been a profound lack of support in the region for his continued flaunting of his international obligations. Now there's growing consternation over his repression of his own people. So he is clearly confronting strong and popular expressions of dissent, both within Baghdad and in the south of the country, and he's certainly not finding support internationally for what he's doing.

QUESTION: Don't these allegations and these charges by Ritter simply fall into the hands of Saddam Hussein, who kicked him out originally because he accused him of being a spy? I mean, how much damage is his book and his comments causing to the American line on the Security Council?

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would refer you to what I said a minute ago, which is that certainly what he says sometimes echoes the propaganda line of the Iraqi propaganda machine. But it doesn't in any way deter the United States. I believe the international community, from remaining steadfast in our commitment to the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and to the containment of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and to a policy of promoting regime change in Iraq so that the people of Iraq can enjoy a much better future, reintegrated into the region and into the international community, whatever he says will have no effect, I can assure you, on the steadfastness of our policy and our position.

QUESTION: President of Turkey Sulyman Demirel, who long remained silent on the attempt by the Greek Government to deliberately provide secret shelter in Kenya for Turkey's number-one criminal, yesterday in Manila he said Greece should be added to the list of countries that support terrorism and harbor terrorists; a country like that can only be described as an outlaw state. My question is, do you subscribe this view, and would you consider putting Greece on the list of countries who support terrorism?

MR. FOLEY: We've been in frequent contact with the Greek Government, as I've indicated previously. I'm not going to discuss the details of our diplomatic contacts. Our position, our opposition to the harboring of terrorists is well-known.

There's no question that Greece provided haven to Ocalan in recent weeks, and we made our position very clear on that. However, the issue of -- let's remember, Greece is a friendly government; it's an allied government; it's one we work with; it's a country that we support in many different fora and many different ways. I've made clear to you our difference of opinion on the question of the harboring of Ocalan. But you have to place that against the overall picture, which is one of solidarity among two NATO allies and common work on all kinds of economic, political and security issues.

Let me just say, though, that the question of placing governments on the state sponsors of terrorism list is a very serious matter. We only place governments on that list when we have clear and compelling evidence of a pattern of continued support over time at the highest levels of government.

QUESTION: It seems like in the case of PKK, based on what Ocalan says and based on what Turkey has been providing, it is quite a long time activity; it's not just a one-shot deal.

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would draw a distinction between what we know to be true because it was acknowledged -- the temporary harboring of this person - - and the question of a consistent pattern along the lines which I described, which is a very high threshold of official high-level support for terrorism. I've not seen evidence to that. If we receive any specific information, we'll certainly look at it, but I'm not aware of any.

QUESTION: What's the latest on the Orioles' attempt to set up these demonstration matches in Cuba? And can you update us also on what practical effects the other measures in that Cuban package have had over the last two months?

MR. FOLEY: I'd have to take the question in terms of the degree of implementation of those measures, and I'd be happy to get you an answer afterwards. I'm not aware of any new development, though, regarding the Orioles.

QUESTION: I wonder if there's any reaction in this building to the GAO report, basically criticizing the program giving US aid to some Russian scientists, saying that some of that money went to Russians who were actually working on weapons programs. I wonder if there's any reaction and is there any concern in this building that this report is going to negatively impact future US programs?

MR. FOLEY: The Administration is deeply concerned that Russian economic problems are increasing the risk of proliferation of sensitive materials, technology and know-how. This is one of the most urgent security challenges we face. That is why the President announced a nearly two- thirds increase in the Administration's New Independent States threat reduction programs. This initiative builds on a number of successful programs run by various agencies. The program that was mentioned in the article you're referring to only represents a small portion of this overall effort.

Projects are carefully screened to ensure that US funds do not support research that can contribute to weapons development. This is a key aspect of our overall policy. These programs work with former Soviet weapons experts to redirect their time and efforts to peaceful purposes not, obviously, to further weapons programs. Russia is a nuclear weapons state and has a responsibility for the safety and stewardship of its nuclear materials and stockpile. These are legitimate activities that may engage scientists also being supported under our non-proliferation efforts.

We certainly don't believe these projects support Russia military modernization. In our view, the GAO report did not take adequate account of the dramatic improvement in the Department of Energy's program management over the past 18 months. This includes much better inter-agency coordination on project reviews for precisely the reasons that are mentioned in the GAO report.

QUESTION: Can you take a follow-up on that? I think Senate Chairman Helms was suggesting that the program would be better run out of this Department -- the Department of State -- versus DOE. Does this building have anything to say on that?

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen that recommendation.

QUESTION: Jim, there's a conference in Burma on heroin. As you are aware, the United States and Britain are boycotting, and the Burmese used the occasion this morning, of that meeting, to criticize the absence of the United States and Britain. Do you have any comment?

MR. FOLEY: Sure, we reject the criticism. The United States did not send anyone to this conference because we would have preferred that Interpol hold the conference in another location. The United States believes that the Burmese regime could use the conference to create the false impression of international approval, both by Interpol and by participating countries, for its counter-narcotics and anti-crime performance.

The US wants to avoid any misinterpretation of its policy toward Burma. Burma's counter-narcotics efforts, while improving, are far from what is necessary. Burma, of course, persists in its disregard for political and human rights.

QUESTION: Speaking of human rights, do you know what the drill is on the human rights report coming out?

MR. FOLEY: I'll come to you. Same question?

QUESTION: Burma. But first, wasn't the human rights -- there was just a sheet handed out about that?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, we've just issued an announcement on that. We expect -- I think Secretary Albright will be speaking about the 1999 Human Rights report on Friday at 10:00 a.m.

QUESTION: It's Koh, I think. On Burma, it's not just --

MR. FOLEY: It's Secretary Albright.

QUESTION: -- that the US and Britain, right, that are boycotting?

MR. FOLEY: I believe that Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Ireland have also announced they're not attending the conference.

QUESTION: Do you have a schedule for the Chinese Premier's visit to the US?

MR. FOLEY: No, I don't know if the dates have been fixed, either. It's expected, I believe, in April but I'm not aware that we've had an official announcement or any official dates.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the congressional panel looking at the Y2K problem has given the State Department an F.

MR. FOLEY: I believe that we are actually on schedule. Of course, it's a massive effort involving State Department installations worldwide. I spoke to the responsible official this morning, who indicated, I think, there were different time lines suggested. We have been sticking to our own time line, I believe which will have us complete all of our requirements by June.

QUESTION: Will Friday be also the day in which you release your international drug trafficking --

MR. FOLEY: I don't know whether we have a final decision as to when that will be released. Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Your list of countries which sponsor terrorism, I believe those decisions are made each January. Is that true, do you know?

MR. FOLEY: I have to check, George. You've been here a lot longer than I have, though, so you're probably right.

QUESTION: It seems to me it's in January. If this is available to us, could you say whether the list remains the same or whether there have been any changes in that list?

MR. FOLEY: What are you trying to suggest?

QUESTION: Well, are there still seven countries? Perhaps one or two have been added or deleted. I don't think the subject has come up here.

MR. FOLEY: Well, first of all, I'm asking if you're implying something.


MR. FOLEY: Whether you have a specific country in mind or you're driving at something.

QUESTION: The discussion on terrorism triggered this question, that's all.

MR. FOLEY: We make this determination once a year and we submit it at a given time. We can check when that is. As far as I know, it's a once-a- year exercise, based on the evidence and the performance that's been reviewed over the preceding year.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- on Martin Indyk's very interesting speech before the Jewish Public Affairs Council, concerning the fact that the present peace process seems to be stalled and suggesting that the Administration is very interested in turning towards some solution on Lebanon and Syria in this interim period before the election. He didn't say it quite that way, but it was interpreted that way. Do you have anything to add to the activity on the peace process, running up to the elections?

MR. FOLEY: I've not seen the text of what he said. I certainly stand by anything that Assistant Secretary Indyk said. However, we've made it clear all along that we were interested in seeing the Syrian and Lebanese tracks revived, and we stand ready to support that in any way if it's possible to achieve any movement there. That's been stalled, obviously, for quite some time.

QUESTION: Follow-up on that -- the incident yesterday in which three Israeli officers were killed -- do you have any comment on that?

MR. FOLEY: Well, we have been watching closely the situation in Southern Lebanon. I believe that's what you're referring to. Of course, we would regret the loss of life in that incident. We note with concern the recent violence between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters in Southern Lebanon. We are urging all the parties to act with restraint in an effort to calm tensions.

QUESTION: Back to the satellite. Can you be more specific on the entity - - the Chinese Government entity close to the military which has a stake in this?

MR. FOLEY: I'm surprised. I think this was the first question we started with 45 minutes ago.

QUESTION: You never named the entity, as far as I know.

MR. FOLEY: The Asia-Pacific Mobile Telecommunications consortium.

QUESTION: Yes, where does the Chinese military come into that?

MR. FOLEY: As I said, our information is that they are involved in that consortium.

QUESTION: They have, sort of, a stake in it, a share in it -- they're a shareholder in it?

MR. FOLEY: That they're involved in the consortium, yes.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:30 P.M.)

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