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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #33, 00-04-14

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


Friday, April 14, 2000



1 Relocation of the Houston Passport Agency

1 Canada-US Partnership Forum


1 Bolling Talks / Discussions Scheduled to Conclude this Weekend

2-4 Skeleton Developed Which Contains All the Core Elements Needed for a Framework Agreement to Achieve a Permanent Status Agreement by September 13


4-6 Civil Complaint Filed in Federal Court Regarding Elian Gonzalez and the Human Rights Convention / Department of Justice to Respond to Arguments Made Miami Relatives' Attorneys

5 Human Rights Report about Cuba / US Pursuing and Supporting Polish-Czech Resolution in Geneva Commission on Human Rights Condemning Cuba's Rights Record


5-8 US Imposes Penalties on North Korean and Iranian Entities for Knowingly Engaging in Missile Technology Transfers / Sanctions Imposed on One North Korean Entity and Four Iranian Entities / North Korea Missile Proliferation / US Concerned About North Korea Exports of Scud Missiles


9-12 Duma's Ratification of Start II Treaty / U.S. Considers Important Day for Arms Control / Russia's Duma Action is a Major Endorsement of the Arms Approach that US and the Russian Leaders have been Taking for the Last Decade

10 Negotiations on Start III / ABM Treaty


13 Opposition Rally in Belgrade / Opposition Leaders Working to Bring About a Democratic Change in Serbia's Leadership


DPB # 33

FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2000 12:35 P.M.


MR. RUBIN_: Greetings. Welcome to the State Department briefing. Today being Friday, the last day of the week; that is, the work week.

I have for you a statement on the relocation of the Houston Passport Agency, as well as a statement on the Canada-US Partnership Forum, which held its first meeting, and I'll be happy to provide those statements to you after the briefing. With those statements out of the way, why don't you ask me your questions?

QUESTION: Jamie, it's been a couple of days since we sought a reading on the Bolling negotiations. A little confusion if they were to end today. It would also be interesting to know if the Secretary did get to talk to the folks a little bit before taking off. Bring us up to speed, would you please?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. She did not talk to them before she took off. She left last night. But let me say the following. The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have engaged in intensive, serious and substantive discussions throughout the week. These discussions have focused primarily on trying to work out a skeleton for a framework agreement on permanent status. During the course of these discussions, the two sides exchanged papers on this subject of how to create a skeleton for a framework agreement.

Clearly, there are tough issues and gaps that remain, but obviously we want to continue working with the parties to overcome those gaps. The two sides continued to discuss the issue of the third phase of further redeployment. My understanding is that the Israelis and the Palestinians will conclude their discussions at Bolling this weekend and then return home for consultations. They have agreed to continue negotiations in the region some time at the end of the month. During this period, Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross and Deputy Special Middle East Coordinator Aaron Miller will remain in contact with the parties.

QUESTION: From here. All right. A couple of quick things. Does the skeleton -- there's a nice new word to throw into the mix. It's hard to ask a question about a skeleton. Why can't I speak English -- let me try. This little step you've taken -- or maybe major step -- does it cover all the issues on an overall settlement in one way or another -- the key issues? Are they all covered by this --

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the framework agreement is designed to set the framework so that you can have an outline for agreements to complete all the areas that are outstanding. And you know what they are. I will list them for you again. Borders, the statehood, water, refugees, Jerusalem.

A skeleton, as you know, has the core -- creates the core of the human body. Without your skeleton, you don't have an arm, or a leg, or a head, or a thigh. So the skeleton is within all the elements of the human body. So therefore I think it would be a good assumption, from your standpoint, that the skeleton contains within it all the core elements needed for a framework agreement to achieve a permanent status agreement by September the 13th.

QUESTION: Thank you, Doctor. (Laughter). And did the attending physicians, Ross and Miller, contribute in any -- of course they contribute even by their very presence, but did they contribute any ideas or -- do you remember the notion that they would bridge? Did they have a major input in the construction of this?

MR. RUBIN: No, the parties exchanged papers with the objective of creating a skeleton for the framework agreement. That is -- those were their papers. As I have indicated before, we do not think the time is right for the United States to propose ideas to close gaps or resolve problems.

We do think -- and this was agreed with Prime Minister Rabin -- Prime Minister Barak, that we would play a more intensive role in the discussions and have greater involvement in the discussions. And that will happen, and so we will be in touch with the parties and, obviously, we want to discuss all of this with Chairman Arafat when he gets here next week.

QUESTION: All right. One quick last thing. My pad doesn't show you saying anything about whether this is a step forward. Maybe you did, and I missed it.

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to overstate the significance of exchanging papers that can lead to a skeleton of a framework agreement for a permanent status peace accord. What I want to tell you is what has happened, and those papers have been exchanged.

I think if a skeleton were created, that is, the essential elements in all the areas needed for a framework agreement or the core of the issues needed for a framework agreement, that would be a step forward. But at this time, what they're doing is exchanging papers with the aim of achieving that skeleton.

QUESTION: So that, in other words, Jamie, what we've seen then is the Israelis have written down their positions on a piece of paper, the Palestinians have written down theirs, and they've just swapped them? Is that what's happened?

MR. RUBIN: I think that would not be the way I would describe it. Yes, the Israelis have written down their views of what a skeleton needs to contain, and the Palestinians have written down what their views of what a skeleton needs to contain. But, again, we're using the word "skeleton" because we're describing core elements, not all the positions that each side might have on all the elements of an issue.

QUESTION: Okay. But do they have anything -- do they include what the other side has said, or is it merely a statement of each --

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to describe what each party's paper says. What I can tell is they've exchanged papers, so there is an Israeli paper and there's a Palestinian paper. And the papers, if they can become an agreed paper, have the aim of being the skeleton of the framework agreement.

QUESTION: Why is it significant that they would exchange papers? They've been at this for so many months, and clearly both sides know what the other wants. Why is it significant that they would put it down on a piece of paper?

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I recall, last week I was having an extensive discussion on the significance of pieces of paper so, really, it depends on what's on the piece of paper, not the fact of a piece of paper. So what's significant is not that they've exchanged papers, but that they exchanged papers with the aim of achieving a skeleton -- a skeletal agreement -- that would constitute the way forward to develop a framework agreement which would fill out the core elements, and then set a path to achieve a full agreement by September.

QUESTION: So we're at a pre-skeleton stage, sort of?

QUESTION: Amoebae.

QUESTION: And people accuse diplomats of being ambiguous. (Laughter).

QUESTION: Just bare-bones.

MR. RUBIN: Oh, that was good.

QUESTION: Would you venture -- although the comparison might be considered odious considering the current state of the Syrian track -- would you compare this to that very famous, or at least at the time it looked important, the piece of paper that was put together at Wye -- in Shepherdstown?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think the Shepherdstown paper that you probably had a chance to take a gander at in the Israeli press --

QUESTION: No, they got it first.

MR. RUBIN: No, that you had a chance to gander at in the Israeli press.


MR. RUBIN: And you can't imagine where they might have gotten it in the Israeli press.

QUESTION: Can't imagine.

MR. RUBIN: You could see that that was actually a draft treaty.

QUESTION: So it was more pronounced, more advanced?

MR. RUBIN: That was a treaty.

QUESTION: Congratulations, since I haven't seen you.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you very much. I'm still accepting congratulations.

QUESTION: Continuously, till he turns 16, and then you take donations for the car.

MR. RUBIN: That's true.

QUESTION: Can you explain how this civil complaint that's been filed in federal court regarding Elian and the Human Rights Convention works, and how the State Department is expected to respond? And is this something that's been done before?

MR. RUBIN: Right. Let me say I'm aware of the filing. The matter is obviously currently in litigation and the Department of Justice's job is to respond to the arguments made by the Miami relatives' attorneys. And so I can't really respond directly to the filing, but I can say this: Separate from the filing, it has long been our view that Cuba has a worse human rights situation than the United States, and that has not impeded our desire to uphold the fundamental right of a father to be with his son.

And so, in our view, the case has not been about does Cuba have a better or worse human rights record than the United States. I can say with great confidence that we believe we have a far, far superior human rights situation in this country than Cuba has in Cuba, and that their situation is far, far worse. But that's never been the basis of our view and the Justice Department's view and the INS's view that the father has this fundamental right to make decisions for his son.

QUESTION: Without asking you to comment directly on the filing, but can you just explain the process to me? Does it require -- is the State Department going to have to file?

MR. RUBIN: Well, this is a Justice Department response. The Justice Department will respond to the arguments, not the State Department. Given the nature of this case, obviously we will provide information to the Justice Department that they think is germane and relevant to their response.

QUESTION: Okay, and then just finally, are you aware -- the Cuba Desk was not aware of this being something that's been done in the past, and these kinds of -- certainly this is an exceptional case. But is this common, unusual, unheard-of? How would you describe it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, this is quite an unusual situation, yes.

QUESTION: Jamie, the State Department, or the US Government, has returned close to 500 children, I think, since 1996. Have any of these kids been returned to countries whose human rights record the US has, or the UN, has determined to be less than satisfactory; in fact, in some instances horrible?

MR. RUBIN: Well, why don't you give me a few examples and then I can answer your question?

QUESTION: Well I seem to remember in a previous briefing you mentioning that children have been returned to Iraq. That was one country that jumped out --

MR. RUBIN: I think it's our view that there are a number of countries in the world that we return children to -- pursuant to our policy of the rights of parents to be with their children -- that have worse human rights records than the United States. Let's bear in mind that we may not be perfect, but we believe that we are a beacon when it comes to protecting human rights and living up to human rights standards, and that our human rights record is second-to-none.

QUESTION: Would it go without saying then that there would be no such chance of the amendment that would be required by this filing? I mean, there's certainly nothing since the last report on human rights that would make you think that Cuba could be upgraded in any way.

MR. RUBIN: No, on the contrary, our last Human Rights Report about Cuba was quite dismal. There have been a number of crackdowns on dissidents and individuals seeking to express their right of free expression or free association. People are jailed regularly. So we have very clear eyes when it comes to the human rights situation in Cuba. In fact, we are pursuing and intend to support the Polish-Czech resolution at the Geneva Commission on Human Rights condemning Cuba's human rights record.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on sanctions against North Korea and Iran, please?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, but let's stay here for a second. I don't know, I've been doing a lot of fancy footwork on this issue, but I'll keep dancing.

QUESTION: This is a little different. Let's go to visas. That's usually pretty easy for you.

MR. RUBIN: Okay. That's much easier. A very clear step on that one.

QUESTION: I can even imagine what you're going to say. But, given the fact that the Department of Justice could -- is considering voluntarily keeping Elian -- or compelling Elian to stay in the United States during the appeals process that we envision, would there be any chance then that the visa issue might -- well, it is going to come up again, obviously. Does it seem to you that the government will be taking a more flexible view on these other 22 applications?

MR. RUBIN: I have nothing new for you on visas. We are still reviewing the other cases, and I have nothing new for you on that.

QUESTION: Iran and North Korea sanctions.

MR. RUBIN: We have imposed penalties on North Korean and Iranian entities for knowingly engaging in missile technology transfers. These penalties will be announced in the Federal Register very shortly. The penalties are for a North Korean entity, the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation of North Korea, and four Iranian entities: the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, the Aerospace Industries Organization, the Shahid Hammat Industrial Group and the Sanam Industrial Group.

We imposed these sanctions on North Korean and Iranian entities for the knowing transfer of equipment and technology controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime. And under that regime, the primary type of prohibition is under a Category I Annex, and this is for technology controlled by that Category I Annex.

As examples of Category I items -- and that is not to say that that's what's involved here, but as examples -- that would be complete missile systems, major subsystems, rocket stages or guidance systems, production facilities for MTCR-class missiles, or technology associated with such missiles.

So I can't say that the technology transferred is any one of those examples that I gave, but those are the kinds of examples that fit under the Category I classification that have led to this imposition of sanctions. And bear in mind again that an MTCR-class missile is a missile that is capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload longer than 300 kilometers, or to a range of at least 300 kilometers. An example of an MTCR-class missiles, for those of you who follow this closely, obviously is a Scud.

The penalties involved are, for Category I activity, they require the United States to deny the sanctioned entities for at least two years all new US Government contracts and new individual export license for items controlled by the Commerce Department and the State Department. In addition, because this activity was judged to make a substantial contribution to missile proliferation, an additional penalty was imposed requiring the denial for at least two years of the importation into the United States of all products produced by the sanctioned North Korean and Iranian entities.

Finally, North Korea's status as a non-market economy that was not a member of the former Warsaw Pact required that this sanctions be applied not just to the particular corporation but also to all activities of the North Korean Government related to the development or production of MTCR Annex items, electronics, space systems, or equipment in military aircraft.

In Iran's case, only the four named entities are sanctioned.

QUESTION: It doesn't seem that the sanctions have much practical effect; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me say this: The sanctions were imposed for a two- year period and will expire in April 2002. I think it's worth bearing in mind that the United States Government is engaged in an administrative review right now aimed at revising certain regulations to implement the President's decision to ease sanctions on the import and export of non- strategic commercial and consumer goods, on commercial financial transactions, investment, and transportation for North Korea pursuant to a decision that we had made some months ago.

When the implementing regulations are indeed published, they will describe what financial, commercial and other transactions are permitted, as well as any restrictions stemming from the missile sanctions just applied and imposed, and from any other aspects of US law.

In a sense, these kinds of sanctions are a way for us to make very, very clear the importance that we attach to dealing with the issue of North Korea's missile proliferation activities, and this is an issue of serious concern to us, and that it's necessary to achieve progress not only on missile development within North Korea but also on the question of the proliferation of North Korean missiles.

Finally, I think it's worth pointing out, although the US does not engage in trade activities with these entities now, addressing the causes that have led to these sanctions are an additional hurdle that must be cleared if we are to improve economic and trade relations.

QUESTION: Jamie, I think you may have just answered my question, but what in recent years has the US either exported to or imported from either North Korea or Iran? Is the answer nothing?

MR. RUBIN: Right. As of now, these sanctions -- the relevance has not been to what we've done in the past, but they are relevant to two things. One, our decision to ease sanctions on North Korea, the regulations of which have not been published yet and are still being worked out, and this may have an impact on that.

Number two, if Iran or North Korea and the United States develop better relations because we have dealt with issues of concern to us and there is an attempt to move forward and improve trade relations, say, or allow certain things, the underlying cause of this sanction that we just imposed will have to have been addressed before they can cross that hurdle.

QUESTION: Did the governments in either North Korea or Iran -- were they aware of this?

MR. RUBIN: We are in the process of informing the government of North Korea, and I will have to check with respect to the proper answer on the government of Iran.

QUESTION: Is this one of the issues that is coming up in the high-level meeting with the North Koreans?

MR. RUBIN: I don't believe so.

QUESTION: I take it from the way you've answered this -- but maybe I've got it wrong -- that this will have no effect on the recently announced easing of trade -- other items with Iran?

MR. RUBIN: No, no, those were very specific issues -- pistachios, food items, caviar -- not this kind of trade that would be prohibited by the sanctions.

QUESTION: Right. But there's no effect on those items?

MR. RUBIN: To my knowledge, there isn't. But those are the kinds of regulations that would have to be examined because, in the Iranian case, it's only the four companies, the four entities that are involved. And to my knowledge, none of those four engage in the export of carpets or caviar.

QUESTION: Who were they going to export to, or did you actually catch them in the act of exporting?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not in a position to detail the specifics of the case. What I can say about the case is it involved a North Korean aerospace company, on the one hand, four Iranian companies on the other hand, and it involved an item or items that we call Category I items. Those are major subsystems, missiles or key production facilities for missiles. So they're big and significant items, not Category II items which would be much less useful than Category I items in creating medium-range missiles.

QUESTION: With the announcement of these sanctions at the same time, two different countries, are we wrong in coming to the conclusion that there's a link between the two?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think I'll call up and yell at you if you drew that conclusion.

QUESTION: Were the countries to which --

MR. RUBIN: Not that I would ever call up and yell at you. You know that never happens around here. We only deal in diplomatic ways with each as friends and colleagues working together for higher interests.

Sorry, I'm just going on. I think the last two weeks I get to go on like this.

QUESTION: Were the countries that were importing these -- you haven't given us --

MR. RUBIN: I haven't identified who was the exporter or who was the importer; I've just described the companies.

QUESTION: Okay, so we can't talk about possible sanctions for anyone as breaking UN resolutions?

MR. RUBIN: I did mention that Scuds were an example of missiles that were covered by this agreement.

QUESTION: Isn't it a matter of record that the North Koreans are exporting to Syria?

MR. RUBIN: It's a matter of record that we are concerned about North Korean exports of Scud missiles.

QUESTION: Aren't they Scud-like? Isn't it No Dong?

MR. RUBIN: No Dong is a Scud -- No Dong is an expanded, enhanced, larger, bigger, better Scud. But Scud is a particular type of missile that was originally, I believe, a Russian manufacturer. That is how that went to North Korea.

QUESTION: Can we switch to another subject?

MR. RUBIN: Please.

QUESTION: Could you give us your comments on the Russian Duma's ratification of the START II Treaty? Can you also give us an indication of how your talks are going with the Russians regarding modifications to the ABM Treaty, perhaps addressing a view which is being expressed in Europe that, by ratifying START, the Russians are taking the high ground in arms control negotiations and have increased their leverage over the United States by this action?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this: We consider this a very important day for arms control, and it's an important step forward for arms control for two major reasons. Russia's legislative body has now endorsed the START II treaty that has been languishing for seven years, and that's an important step forward. It's also an important step forward because, as you know, that treaty was often held hostage to perceived linkages in the US-Russian relationship. Sometimes it was Iraq, sometimes it was Kosovo, sometimes it was Chechnya, sometimes it was some other issue

-- ABM. There was also something that caused the Duma to not go forward and ratify a treaty that we thought was in our interest and their interest.

So, clearly, Russia's Duma action today is a major endorsement of the arms control approach that we and the Russian leaders have been taking for the last decade.

Secondly, we believe that by endorsing this treaty, and by ratifying this treaty, there will be an ability for Russia and the United States to intensify our efforts to pursue even deeper cuts. What this treaty does is reduce levels from roughly 6,000 warheads down to 3,000 to 3,500 and prohibit for all time land-based, multiple-warhead missiles, which were the source of such great concern to planners and analysts and strategists over the years. Now we can move in an accelerated way to negotiations on START III, which would reduce the level even further down to 2,000 to 2, 500.

We are studying very carefully the resolution that has been passed. We're aware of certain conditions on it, and we're aware of the fact that it is linked to our submission to the Senate of certain protocols, including the protocol that extends the time by which Russia and United States would have to destroy the missile systems and weapon systems to go from 6,000 to 3,000- 3,500.

We are consulting with Congress. We intend to consult with Congress extensively on those protocols, those additional protocols, and also consult with Congress on START III. And given that this ratification now by the Duma, which we expect to not have a problem show up in the Federation Council that also needs to act, we believe that there will be a shot in the arm to the arms control process in making it possible to move quicker, to even deeper levels and make the world even safer than we've made it by reducing over many, many thousands of nuclear warheads over the last decade.

With respect to who's got the upper hand and the moral high ground, I don't think we see it that way. We ratified, obviously, START II many years ago, and it's only today that Russia's Duma has finally acted. So I don't think there's a real question of who's got the upper hand. Clearly there are some issues coming down the pike, including the ABM issue, that are controversial, but we believe that our policy of pursuing very prudently, very carefully and very responsibly a course of action that would enable us to deploy a limited missile defense system, to defend against the states that pose real dangers to both Russia and the United States, is an appropriate course.

We are not proposing to throw the ABM Treaty. We're proposing modest amendments, and President Putin has indicated most recently to Secretary Albright, in a face-to-face meeting, that he is prepared to discuss those issues with us. So we and the Russians will now be in a position to discuss more quickly, more comprehensively, and hopefully more intensively, and hopefully more successfully the whole set of issues that constitute strategic arms control.

I hope that was responsive to your question.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the opposition rally in Yugoslavia -

QUESTION: Can we stay on -- if you don't mind. Jamie, does the fact that the Russian Duma has said that they wouldn't exchange instruments of ratification on START II until the protocols had been approved, does that make START II non-binding then?

MR. RUBIN: Well under international law, once two parties sign a treaty, they are obligated under the customary international law not to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, meaning not to severely undermine it. So both we and the Russians have had international legal obligations. Now that's different than domestic law, and what you can and can't do under domestic law, and there are a lot of debates over the supremacy of one or the other.

But to say that it's not binding, I think, would be going too far. The ratification by the Duma is another step towards entry into force. It is entry into force that is the ultimate act of ratification. But with the United States having ratified and signed START II, and now with Russian having signed and ratified START II, there is even greater weight given to the obligation of both sides not to defeat its object and purpose and live up to it.

QUESTION: Is there any way you can summarize in a couple of sentences what's involved in these protocols?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, the two protocols involve, one, extending the schedule by which the United States and the Russians can and must destroy the 3,000 or so weapons they have to destroy, extending it to the year 2007. In addition, there is a protocol that relates to defining the line between a short-range anti-missile system and a long-range anti-missile system. The short-range systems are permitted by the ABM Treaty, and the longer-range systems not. So defining the line between these -- the so-called demarcation agreement -- is also one of the protocols that we are consulting with Congress about.

QUESTION: When you say consulting with Congress, do you actually mean you're going to submit the amendments to Congress?

MR. RUBIN: Well at this point there are several amendments, including the amendment to START II, the so-called protocol extending the destruction schedule. There is the protocol dealing with the drawing of the line between short- and long-range defenses, and there's a protocol about the succession as a result of the Soviet Union breaking up there.

So I believe there's three of them, and they've been discussed with Congress and consulted with Congress, and it's our intention to continue to consult with Congress about those protocols, even as we consult with them about the emerging agreement we hope to get with the Russians on START III.

QUESTION: Okay. But my question was are you going to submit -- do you need to submit them to Congress?

MR. RUBIN: Well, ultimately, we do need to submit them. The timing of submitting those is obviously something we haven't made a final decision on.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you expect START II to actually go into effect any time soon?

MR. RUBIN: Well again, you have to think about what "effect" means. "Enter into force" is the term of art that means that all of the i's have been dotted, t's have been crossed, and it is now an official treaty pursuant to the rules of treaties under the Vienna Convention. Short of that, countries do abide by treaties, having signed them or having given advice and consent to the ratification of them.

So depending on the issue, some of these provisions have already been abided by by either us or the Russians. And we can do it voluntarily. A treaty's entry into force makes it mandatory. So with all the signs leading to entry into force, both sides can work on arrangements that they're not as formally bound to as they would be if it were entering into force, but that show both sides' commitment to do so.

QUESTION: So do you see the US unilaterally beginning to reduce its --

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to make a judgment on that until we've had a chance to study this and all the decisions have been made. But, clearly, we've made adjustments in our arsenal over the years. Clearly, the Russians have. And we are going to act according to our laws, but with our best national interests in mind.

QUESTION: Okay, and do you know what the current warhead level is for US and for --

MR. RUBIN: I believe that's a classified number, but I can tell you generally speaking, I believe that under START I, the level was 6,000, but the actual deployed number is not a number I believe I'm permitted to give. But the START I Treaty created a level of 6,000, START II created a level of 3,000 to 3,500, START III a level of 2,000 to 2,500. And if any of you are interested to know that my original career was in the arms control business, I'm really enjoying going on and would welcome more questions.

QUESTION: What about on the Russian side?

MR. RUBIN: The Russian side, I believe what we've seen there is that they have already gone below the 6,000 or will soon -- as a result of their modernization of programs and lack thereof, the Russians' numbers were declining in the absence of a treaty. That's why the Russian military said it's better to get the US locked in so they're forced to go from 6,000 to 3, 500, because we're going that way anyway. So they're heading towards 3,000- 3,500 without the treaty and are below, I believe roughly below us, at this point.

QUESTION: Different subject?

QUESTION: Can I get my answer?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry. Did I --

QUESTION: It was about the opposition rally-

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I just lost it in the midst of my joy at talking about arms control. It appears that many tens of thousands of Serbs have come from all over Serbia today to take part in a massive opposition rally in Belgrade. This large demonstration shows again that the Serbian people are fed up with the repressive and undemocratic regime President Milosevic has inflicted upon them, and he has undertaken a campaign to try to silence the opposition, silence the media. But clearly the Serbian people have voiced their outrage today about Milosevic's desperate attempt to silence his legitimate critics.

Serbian opposition leaders organized this demonstration together, which we think is important, along with the opposition mayors that met with Secretary Albright in Washington last week. They have been working hard to bring about a democratic change in Serbia's leadership so that the people of Serbia can get what they've long been denied, which is the opportunity to return to their rightful place in Europe, an opportunity that has been denied by the repressive policies of President Milosevic, the policies for which he has been indicted as a war criminal by The Hague.

QUESTION: A little follow-up. Was the Secretary's meeting with the mayors a prelude? Was the rally and the organization discussed?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I think she certainly discussed with them their plans and intentions in the future, but we intended to not get involved in the details of how they go forward, but rather urged both the mayors and the opposition leaders in Belgrade to work together in a united way so that they together can get what the Serbian people so desperately want, is to get out from the yoke of Milosevic's oppression.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: There will be the meeting for review of the NPT in New York, I guess April 19th. Will you have something on this, or --

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we'll be obviously having a lot to say as that meeting begins, and some significant representation there. And I'll try to have Julie get you some material on that after the briefing.

Over and out.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 P.M.) _

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