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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #38, 00-04-26

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, April 26, 2000

Briefer: James P. Rubin

1	Release of Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999 Report on Monday, May
	 1, 2000 
5	Secretary Albright's Participation in the Greek-Turkish Dialogue
5	Murder of Yugoslav State Airline Director Zivorad Petrovic
5	Allegations that Russians Participated in War Crimes in Kosovo
5	Ambassador Dobbins Athens Meeting with the Leaders of Serbian
6-8	Reaction to Senator Helms Speech Stating No Amendments to ABM
	 Treaty Arms Control Dialogue is Centerpiece of Albright-Ivanov
	 Meetings / Albright to Outline Changes to ABM Treaty in Three D's:
	 Not Destroying ABM; No Decoupling of Offense & Defense; and No
	 Chance of Deferral / Senate Consultations 
9	Putin's Expression of Understanding & Flexibility on the Existence
	 of New Threats 
8	Elian Gonzalez Case / No Official Request for the Eight Additional
	 Visas / Travel Plans for Teacher & Cousin 
10	Length of Stay for Classmates
8-9	US Position on Growing Conservative Backlash Against Majlis Elections
9	No Update on Kidnappings
9	US View on Reported Agreement & Progress of the Peace Process
11	US View on Presidential Debate
11-12	US View on Extradition Clause / Any Connection Between Cancellation
	 of POTUS Visit to Memorial & Usama bin Laden 
12	US Involvement in Peru Presidential Elections


DPB #38

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2000, 12:02 P.M.


MR. RUBIN: Well, you know, a long time ago they used to call this the "noon briefing." We changed that a lot. And on my last day, I wanted to come as close as possible as we could ever be to this returning to the noon briefing. It's now up to you, Mr. Boucher, to start the briefing every day at 12 o'clock. I'm sure you'll meet that standard. I have no doubt about that.

MR. BOUCHER: Just for the record, you're two minutes late.


MR. RUBIN: We only have one notice, that the Department will release our Global Terrorism Report for 1999 on Monday, May Day, the first day of Mr. Boucher's briefing schedule, barring any major crises on Friday this week.

That is the only announcement I have to make. And now I'm here to answer your questions.

QUESTION: I think Charlie wants to somehow muscle in here.

MR. RUBIN: Is he the President of the State Department Correspondents Association?

QUESTION: Very active.

MR. RUBIN: Can I ask you a question? How many members are there?

QUESTION: It's an intelligence matter.


QUESTION: Jamie, emblematic on behalf of my colleagues, first of all, I want to say we bought you a small gift. It is quite small and I assure you it falls under the $25 gift to federal employee category. So, emblematic of your ability to do a wonderful job from the podium, a job that your superiors I'm sure are very proud of, to spin every day, we've got you a little yo-yo here. And I call it the trifecta yo-yo because it is not only emblematic of your spinning ability but it also comes with a strobe light, which says a little something and, of course, it's made in China.


So I think we've hit the trifecta. There's a possible fourth use. At a certain age, a few years from now, you might be able to show your son a few tricks and then he'll say, pops, let me have it.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you very much. Thanks everybody, appreciate it.


QUESTION: Jamie, that's about it. We thought we'd go to lunch - it's a nice day - and find a couple of anonymous sources, get the wire, file early and then go home. Unless - (laughter) - no, wait a minute - get out of here. Unless - no, no, we've got a big question here and if he doesn't answer it, it's going to be on your head.

Is the skeleton ready? Because - (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The skeleton on the Libya report. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You are original in a lot of ways but I think you will be best remembered for developing the concept of a skeleton to a framework, to a possible interim agreement, that might lead to a final agreement, that could lead to a comprehensive settlement.

MR. RUBIN: Well, you know, that's why we call it the peace process, Barry. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: But unless you want to say something about Iraq which we haven't heard in a year - I guess the menace is gone - it's Joe who has the floor.

MR. LOCKHART: If you can stand aside a little bit, I just want to try to get comfortable here. This is kind of nice.


MR. RUBIN: Yeah, they're friendly here. No hard questions.

MR. LOCKHART: It's clean.

MR. RUBIN: They always stay on point.

MR. LOCKHART: It's clean, it's bigger, it's definitely more friendly. It's more full than my room right now, but that's a whole other story.

QUESTION: Sam Donaldson will be in in a minute.

MR. LOCKHART: That's good. That's good.

Jamie, I just wanted to come over. The President asked me to come over because he had a small token of his gratitude to you which I wanted to present to you, which is -

MR. RUBIN: If it's a bag of little carrots - (laughter).

MR. LOCKHART: Well, would I stoop to something so obvious? Of course not.

MR. RUBIN: It's big carrots. (Laughter and applause.)

You see, it was the little carrot that I said. That must have been that other anonymous official who said big carrots.

MR. LOCKHART: Big carrots work.

MR. RUBIN: Well, thank you and the President.

MR. LOCKHART: If I can, just on a serious note, speaking for the President, which I supposedly get paid to do, Jamie's service to us over the last eight years has been invaluable. He has been an invaluable resource for me, who thought foreign policy was the California electoral politics when I took this job. And I've learned a lot and everyone at the White House from the President to Mr. Berger and Mr. Steinberg, and those who are charged with doing this, are indebted to your service.

We thank you.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you, Joe.


MR. LOCKHART: You're welcome. Have fun.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm going to take my yo-yo and my carrots - and what's that?

(Squeaking and throwing of rubber duckies.) (Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: Well, that was clearly the easiest briefing I've ever had. I don't know what to do now. I guess --

QUESTION: Tell us the State Department's position if the Red Sox will win the World Series.

MR. RUBIN: All right. On that note, the noon briefing is hereby over.


QUESTION: Jamie, tell us why you think the Administration's foreign policy has been uniquely successful.

QUESTION: Don't worry, Joe has agreed to stay and take on a Kazakhstan question, as soon as he finds out where it is.

MR. RUBIN: All right. Well, let's line all these up. These will go very well in our baby's first official bath.

All right. Well, with those important props - carrots, yo-yos, rubber duckies - is there any foreign policy we need to do today? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Can you tell us whether or not the Secretary will participate in this Greek-Turkish dialogue next week, either here or in New York?

MR. RUBIN: She is scheduled to go to New York for that dialogue, yes.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know what day it is?

MR. RUBIN: I will get that for you after the briefing. That's after my date of departure, so those dates I've not spent the same energy and attention in focusing on as the rest of this week.

QUESTION: That sounds like Margaret Tutweiler describing something that happened before she got here.


MR. RUBIN: Well, it's better before - after than before.

Yes, Matt. I just hereby want to announce that for about two years now I've been commenting regularly that one of our fine wire service reporters has failed to wear a tie every day, and so I want to thank you, Mr. Matt Lee from Agence France Presse - that's Agence France Presse - has worn a tie. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes, and red, white and blue. Very patriotic colors.

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure that will go over big in Paris.

QUESTION: Vive la France. Red, white and blue are their colors, too.

Balkans. Yesterday, the Department released another travel warning in a series for all of Yugoslavia which said that - particularly noted Kosovo, and said that despite the efforts of the UN and NATO to clean up the mess there, it was still very dangerous and unsettled.

And I'm just wondering now, looking back from this point, if you think that perhaps KFOR might have been more effective and the people of Kosovo might have been better served if the entire operation had been made up solely of a bunch of Ukrainians running around with guns? (Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: Well, I see you've been doing a lot of careful research, and I really appreciate you reminding me of that comment by a very esteemed and thoughtful individual who spoke in very blunt and undiplomatic terms. But I stand by my position at the time.

QUESTION: That's it?


QUESTION: You're going to let him get away with that?

QUESTION: Actually, I do have - do you have any choice words to say about the assassination last night in Belgrade of the head of the Yugoslav national airline?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we do think this is another indication of the climate of violence and fear that exists in Belgrade. It's another indication of the criminality that reigns supreme in Belgrade as a result of the leadership of Slobodan Milosevic. We think that regime is becoming increasingly desperate. And every time we see another account of some criminal act or assassination or closing down of the free press, or trying to make it more difficult for the people of Serbia to pursue a new government, it's a further indication of the depth to which Belgrade has fallen under Milosevic's leadership.

QUESTION: Do you have any knowledge about Russians who may have participated in war crimes in Kosovo assisting the Serbian forces?

MR. RUBIN: I know those statements and allegations were made during the war by Kosovo Albanians. I'm not aware that we have any specific information on that, but I can check that for you.

QUESTION: Ambassador Dobbins met last week in Athens with a group of leaders of Serbian opposition. Could you tell us something about the purpose of the meeting or the results? And beside that, could you confirm the information by the Greek and Italian press that Ambassador Dobbins met a representative of Milosevic's regime in Athens, as well?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I don't believe that Ambassador Dobbins had any meeting with any representative of the Milosevic regime. On the contrary, Ambassador Dobbins in his work has made it a practice of meeting with Serbian opposition officials in almost all his trips to Europe. And he did avail himself of that opportunity in Greece. This is part of our continuous effort to work with the Europeans and the Serbian opposition so that some day -- hopefully sooner rather than later - the people of Serbia will be free of the boot of Milosevic's oppression.

QUESTION: On missile defense?

MR. RUBIN: Please.

QUESTION: Okay. Jesse Helms gave quite a speech on the floor of the Senate just an hour or so ago. He said he would basically entertain no amendments to the ABM Treaty for the duration of the Clinton Administration. In view of that, what does that do for prospects of initiating some sort of missile defense since you want changes in the ABM treaty before then?

MR. RUBIN: Right. Well, Secretary Albright is right now meeting with Foreign Minister Ivanov and his team. And she has a full team of officials from the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Defense Department. And they are working on this very question. Indeed, arms control is the centerpiece of the discussions that she's having here over the next couple of days. There will be a press conference with Foreign Minister Ivanov tomorrow afternoon.

Our approach in these discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov is to make clear our determination to adjust the ABM Treaty because the world has changed. The world of 1972 of the nuclear arms competition between the United States and the Soviet Union has changed, and now the real dangers that we face are from the third countries - the North Koreas, the Irans and others.

We've been making this case to the Russians. During the course of the next two days, I expect her to make the case very clearly that, in talking about changes to the ABM Treaty, three D's apply. The bureaucrats have come up with the three D's, and they are: number one, we're not talking about destroying the ABM Treaty; number two, we are not talking about the decoupling of offense and defense but, rather, both the offensive side and the defensive side; and that is, strategic arms cuts and adjusting the ABM Treaty need to move in parallel with the same level of effort and the same results; and, thirdly, that there is no chance of deferral. Clearly, the Russians would like to avoid this issue. They've made that quite clear and they would like the issue deferred. And Secretary Albright is making clear that deferral is not an option.

So this issue is being joined between the United States and Russians on our view of what's best for the United States of America, and that is to have a treaty that allows us to reduce our strategic forces with the Russians, get deeper cuts than we have now, reduce the nuclear danger that way; but, at the same time, allow a limited national missile defense that would allow us to defend against a small number of North Korean or Iranian missile warheads.

That is, in our view, the best and most secure way to defend the American people while advancing our security. If the Russians can agree to that, we will be making a very strong and powerful case that this is the course of wisdom for the United States. And it is not a surprise to us that there are senators who wish the ABM Treaty would go away. They've been trying to do that for quite some time. That's not new. And so what we will do is make the most persuasive case that we can, if we get this amendment, that this is the best way to defend the United States while advancing American security, and we hope that all senators put the national interest over any potential ideological opposition to a treaty from 30 years ago.

QUESTION: Is the plan to go to Congress to amend the treaty irrespective of Russia's position? And how can you --

MR. RUBIN: No, no, we wouldn't go to Congress to amend a treaty unless we had agreed to an amendment with the Russians.

QUESTION: Excuse me, I spoke too rapidly. There are things you have to go to Congress with regarding the ABM, the succession - the accession of Russia, Ukraine, et cetera, to the Treaty, for instance.

MR. RUBIN: That's a separate protocol, yes.

QUESTION: I'm asking - the question before you is: What about Senator Helms' rather clear warning? Are you still willing to risk --

MR. RUBIN: Well, there's nothing new about Senator Helms' view that he doesn't want to see the Senate approve anything that could strengthen the ABM Treaty. We think there are two protocols that could strengthen the ABM Treaty. We're going to consult with the Senate about the best way to proceed; in the meantime, proceed apace with the Russians in this intensive way over the next couple of days, leading to a summit in June with President Clinton and then President Putin - because he's now President- Elect but by then he'll be then President Putin - and work on that then.

If we are able in the course of that do arrange for this amendment to be approved, then we would consult with the Senate on that, too. I'm not prepared to speculate on what time we would submit these protocols or any potential amendments we negotiate with the Russians to the Senate.

QUESTION: When you speak of consulting with the Senate, do you mean specifically Senator Helms as well as --

MR. RUBIN: Well, of course. He's the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. His views are obviously well known to us, but we would obviously consult with him.

QUESTION: So you're not taking no for an answer?

MR. RUBIN: Well, Senator Helms is not the entire Senate. He's an important senator and, we have - in the past, treaties have been approved that he voted against and that he opposed.

QUESTION: Is it the understanding of the United States - have you been sitting in on the discussions with Mr. Ivanov - that there will be no further reductions on the part of the Russians of their nuclear stockpiles as long as there is some chance that the ABM Treaty would be modified in this country; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: That's not the Russian position. The Russian position, as stated by President-Elect Putin is that, if the ABM Treaty is eliminated by American action, they will consider themselves no longer bound by the START II and the START I Treaty. But that's not a problem for us because we're not interested in destroying the ABM Treaty. That's one of the D's that we're not interested in. We're interested in amending it. If we succeed in amending it, then this will not be a problem.

QUESTION: You're talking about the complete destruction of --

MR. RUBIN: They've said if the ABM Treaty becomes null and void, their support for these other agreements will become null and void.

QUESTION: Has the United States Government received information by the Cuban Government that a cousin and a teacher of Elian are on their way to the United States? And have you received the request - the official request - of the other eight visas?

MR. RUBIN: Right. On the official request for the other eight visas, we have not received any request on that. The visas for the former school teacher and the cousin were issued some time ago. I do not have any information about their travel plans. That would be done privately and it wouldn't be something that would be announced by the State Department.

QUESTION: How concerned is the US about this - what appears to be the beginning of a conservative backlash in Iran against February's Majlis elections?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we have watched very closely over the years the political developments in Iran, and we responded to a number of those developments with important announcements by the Secretary of State, most recently in her speech last month. We have watched this very closely. We are obviously concerned whenever press freedom - whenever there is a crackdown on press freedom. And we have watched, as most of the world has, with interest and encouragement as the Iranian people have embarked on a path toward greater freedom and democracy.

In the end, however, the pace and scope of change in Iran will be determined by the Iranian people themselves. We believe that freedom of expression and freedom of the press should be safeguarded, which is a safeguard that is built into internationally recognized human rights. But how Iran evolves is something that will be determined by the Iranian people themselves.

QUESTION: How serious would the US interpret a deferral of or actually a cancellation of the next round of these Majlis elections?

MR. RUBIN: I am not going to speculate on what might happen. Obviously, in Iran or in any country in the world, if there is a step back from democracy, we'd be concerned.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the ABM issue?

MR. RUBIN: Oh, good. I like that best.

QUESTION: I knew you'd be delighted. When the Secretary was in Moscow, she talked about a certain flexibility on the part of then-Acting President Putin.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: Is that still the case? Because what he said in New York and what he said here has been slightly contradictory.

MR. RUBIN: Right. What we thought was interesting was the extent to which - I'll fix that in a second. Thanks.

What we were interested in and intrigued by was the fact that Acting President Putin, who has since become President-Elect Putin and will soon be President Putin and will be then- President Putin, indicated an expression of understanding for the new threats that exist in the world and offered to work with us on those new threats, both on assessing what they are and on figuring out ways to deal with them, while maintaining the fundamental principles of the ABM treaty.

Well, that's our position. We want to maintain the ABM Treaty, but we want to make an amendment to deal with one of these new threats. In Foreign Minister Ivanov's comments in New York and in his public statements in one of our nation's major newspapers, he has indicated that there are new threats and he has proposed the way to deal with them is through anti- tactical ballistic missile cooperation, below the threshold of the ABM Treaty.

And we think that's fine and that's a necessary area to work on, anti- tactical ballistic missiles, but it's insufficient. So it's necessary but insufficient to work on ATBM and I want to therefore say that we still believe that it is possible that as we and the Russians cooperate and work together in the coming days, that they will see the wisdom of proceeding down the course that we've set forth. And we've heard nothing since that meeting the Secretary had with Acting President Putin that indicates that he has moved backwards from that position that we regarded as constructive.

QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the hostages, the Malaysian hostage situation?

MR. RUBIN: We have no update. As far as we know, there are no Americans in the remaining group, but you would have to approach the other governments on that.

QUESTION: Jamie, apparently across the pond, the site of your future home, the Foreign Office is considering a request from the British Association of Talmudic Scholars and the London Branch of the Israeli Correspondents Association to have you PNG'd from the United Kingdom. I am wondering if you have any comment on that.


MR. RUBIN: Wow. Well, I am hoping to have a meeting very shortly with the British Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Christopher Meyer, and I will take this issue up with him and raise my concerns about this matter and hope that he can resolve any potential issues that might emerge in the future.

QUESTION: I'm going back to Cuba. Sorry.

MR. RUBIN: Do you have any more in that notebook? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: This is not a joke. (Laughter.)

This one is more or less serious. Regarding comments yesterday about, for example, the expected length of stay of these schoolmates, usually, as I understand it, the INS grants length of stay at 30, 60 or 90 days. Does this mean that there has been a decision in advance that these kids would, for some reason, be allowed to stay less amount of time?

MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that the visas will restrict their time to precisely two weeks.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the two new people who are coming? Are there any sort of measures taken on --

MR. RUBIN: The other one, I believe, was for 90 days. The original visas were 90 days. The new set of eight would be two weeks each.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.


QUESTION: Do you have any comment or reaction today to the new plan of President Pastrana to deal with the other - the second paramilitary group?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. We don't have any details on this reported agreement. In our view, the government of Colombia must be free to make its own decisions on what will best yield progress on the peace process and we welcome developments that help Colombia move towards peace and national reconciliation. That's our reaction to that. We don't have all the details. And we think it's up to the Colombian government to make these decisions and we welcome efforts at national reconciliation.

QUESTION: Can I ask you another question on Latin America? Do you have any comments about the presidential debate last night in Mexico?

MR. RUBIN: That sounds to me like not only is it a political matter but it's an internal matter in another country, so I get to say, no, on both political grounds and - and whatever the other argument is.


QUESTION: Thank you, Jamie. This has been a unique opportunity for me, since you are parting us. And on behalf of all my peers and friends and colleagues here, we have been so grateful to you and very thankful to you.

Since I come from Bangladesh and since the historic visit of the President has been made in that region, and I see on my right and left there is no one from South Asia, so I take the indulgence of getting - on behalf of South Asia, we would like to thank you and we are privileged enough to have Christiane Amanpour here, your honored wife, and the baby that we have been talking about. So all the best and the best of press from all us in your long journey that you will be taking in the next few days or few months. And we wish you all the best.

The question on Bangladesh is -


MR. RUBIN: It better not be on the oil and gas industry.

QUESTION: I understand that. And I believe that that has been taken care of by Secretary Bill Richardson.


QUESTION: Well, Jamie, on this since you're giving me the floor and I have the indulgence, on the question of Bangladesh, the prime minister of Bangladesh during the visit of President Clinton made it very clear that - about the extradition clause which has been - either in the process of being implemented or has been given a serious thought to it. What is the position of the State Department on this vital issue, which is emotional in nature, and also - it is also a type that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made it very, very clear?

And, number two, the question is that, on the security lapses that prevented the President to visit the memorial in Savar was that any indication of any bin Laden activities in Bangladesh, quoting the President that Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim country? What is your comment?

MR. RUBIN: Well, let me make a couple of comments to that. Number one, there is nothing in my briefing book on that subject - either of those subjects. Number two - I've been waiting to say this a long time?

QUESTION: Are you going to resign in protest?


MR. RUBIN: Number two, I don't know the right answer to that question.


MR. RUBIN: And rather than giving you the wrong answer, we are going to take that question and Richard Boucher is going to answer it for you.

QUESTION: Just as a note, as a footage to that, then thank you very much once again from my behalf and on behalf of Bangladesh. We are very thankful to you and to your wife. Thank you very much.

MR. RUBIN: Thank you. Oh, one more over there, yes.

QUESTION: Still on Latin America. You said you don't have any views on political issues in countries. But yesterday President Clinton signed Resolution 43 that puts conditionalities --

MR. RUBIN: No, we were talking about a presidential debate - what is exchanged in a presidential debate. But I appreciate you continuing down this path. I really do.

QUESTION: But the president of Peru says that the signing of the Resolution 43 is a direct intervention by the United States to the electoral process in Peru. What do you respond to this?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, my response is that we have taken what we thought were the appropriate steps in the final days during the first round of elections. And we believe it's extremely important that the democratic trend that has swept Latin America be maintained and that elections be free and fair. And we will not hesitate to make comments about the importance of free and fair elections and our reaction to the failure to have free and fair elections. So that is something we believe in very strongly and we will continue to comment on.

Now, since - oh, my God. Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait - let her have the last one. I got one more.

MR. RUBIN: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: This being your last day, I was hoping that you might be able to take a little veil of secrecy off some of the things you've said before, so I'm asking you now to finally confirm for the record that, in fact, all of US foreign policy is based on wire reports.


QUESTION: And to dispel this myth out there that national technical means involves espionage and satellites and other types of reconnaissance and is, in fact, really some guy on the third floor typing away,pulling up old versions of MapQuest on the Internet.


MR. RUBIN: You know, my only response to that is to take these little yellow duckies and see if I can still juggle.


MR. RUBIN: Yes, I hear - yes, yes.

QUESTION: His earlier question. Your revelation of your meeting with Ambassador Meyer deserves a follow up. You're not going to do an Anthony Hopkins on us and switch your citizenship and become a diplomat? (Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: I have no intention. I already have a British wife and a son who has two options. Last question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, I'm not sure whether it's the last one, but following up on some of the comments about your concerns of leaving this high profile job and moving to England, much has been made, Mr. Rubin, of you leaving in order to spend more time with your wife and child and, indeed, to become Mr. Mom. So what I want to know is how you can assure an understandably skeptical son about your commitment to one day change a diaper?



QUESTION: Tell Tony Blair he has to change diapers.


MR. RUBIN: Well, if they had provided me an answer to that question, I would have been surprised. Let me say this, that I will do whatever is necessary and appropriate. (Laughter.) Thank you all very much.

Let me just say that it's been a great honor to stand here and represent the United States through this podium for such a long time. And as much as some days it may have not looked like it, it was a privilege to exchange with you difficult questions, hopefully decent answers. And the time when issues were debated here, discussed here, and I faced sometimes difficult questioning - particularly in the context of Kosovo - was the most challenging professional experience of my life. And I will remember it both with fondness and a little bit of anxiety. And I just want to thank all of you for doing it so professionally. Thank you.


(The briefing was concluded at 12:35 P.M.)

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