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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #60, 00-06-16

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


713

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, June 16, 2000

Briefer: RICHARD BOUCHER_

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1	Secretary Albright's Travel
1	Community of Democracies Meeting
CHINA
2-3	Agenda with the People's Republic of China
KOREA
4	Secretary's Visit/Development of the Korean Peninsula/Easing Sanctions
5-6	South Korean Officials Visit  to Washington
GREECE
6-7	U.S. Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism
SERBIA
7	Attack on Vuk Draskovic
7	Violence fostered by the Milosevic Regime
INDIA
7-8	Prithvi Missile Testing/Nuclear Capabilities
PAKISTAN
8-9	Talbott and Pickering Talks/Restoring Democracy
10	UN to Toughen Sanctions Against Taliban
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
10-13	Andrews and Bolling Talks
12	Dennis Ross' Trip
14-15	Iraq-No Fly Zones
15	Reaction to Oil-For-Food Program
ARMS CONTROL
15-19	Russian Missile Defense Proposal

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB # 60

FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2000 12:55 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Okay, let me start off with a couple things. First, I want to tell you about the Secretary's travel and offer you a chance to sign up. Second of all, I want to tell you a little bit about the Community of Democracies meeting in Poland in about a week or do. And, third, I want to say something about Vuk Draskovic and the shooting that occurred. And then we'll go to questions.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will travel Tuesday, June 20, to the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. From June 25 to 27, the Secretary will travel to Poland to attend the Community of Democracies conference and meet with Polish officials. Other stops in Europe and the Middle East will be included in this trip. Sign-up for press wishing to travel is going to be available from today in the Press Office.

One of the events on this trip is the first-ever meeting of countries representing the world community of democracies. This meeting will be held in Warsaw June 25 to 27, hosted by the Government of Poland and co-convened by a number of other governments, including the United States. We'll give you a complete announcement on this meeting and, as I mentioned yesterday, we'll be doing a briefing here Monday afternoon.

But I want to point out this is a new initiative to try to form an international consensus among countries that are committed to the democratic path, to support and deepen democracy where it exists and to defend it where it's threatened. And we hope this meeting will help result in the shared commitment to a core set of universal democratic principles in a declaration that can be issued at the ministerial. This is an important trip, an important get-together of democratic countries and countries that are trying to build democracies. And we look forward to that meeting in Warsaw.

Any questions on the trip or the Community?

QUESTION: Well, you were a little vague about the Middle East. That follows Poland?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say "follows." I just said, "Other stops in Europe and the Middle East will be included." We don't have the dates pinned down yet.

QUESTION: You mean you have room between China and Poland to get the Middle East squeezed in, possibly?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to design this trip in a public briefing. This trip is being designed by people who set up trips and schedules. They're not finished with their work yet. And when we know the sequence, order and dates, we'll be glad to share it with you. All I can tell you is we're leaving Tuesday.

QUESTION: Well, you're leaving Tuesday and you're going to be in China when?

MR. BOUCHER: After Tuesday.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I'm sorry. The schedule's not set, okay?

QUESTION: Really, it's so bizarre. I mean, this has been -- it's all over the wires already out of China that she's going there. It's described as an incredibly hastily arranged meeting that I don't know what the urgency is, and I don't understand why you're flogging the meeting in Warsaw when you have the important stops in China, Korea and the Middle East.

What brings her in a rush to go to China? Is it the Korean summit or is it -- as it's being described by so-called Western diplomats out there_ -- _an attempt to continue to improve relations with China? What is the issue that takes her to China in a hurry?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Is that the question?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, if you can't tell us the order at least of where she's going, which is bizarre, which is bizarre four days before she goes --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I take it the question is: Why is she going to China?

QUESTION: Well, that's one of the questions.

QUESTION: Even if that's not the question, we can start with that --

QUESTION: It'll put words on the wire. Go ahead.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: All right. I want to point out we have a broad agenda with the People's Republic of China. The Secretary's upcoming visit is part of a series of ongoing, high-level exchanges as we pursue our interests with this important country. This will be the first senior visit, I think, since the House vote on permanent trade relations. Our discussions will include both areas of agreement and areas that are well-known differences between us.

During her visit, we expect the Secretary and her hosts will continue our efforts to expand strategic dialogue, to discuss regional matters such as the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and in cross-Strait relations, to discuss nonproliferation issues, bilateral economic issues including the recent passage by the House of Representatives of Permanent Normal Trade Relations status and also, of course, human rights issues.

QUESTION: What about Taiwan?

MR. BOUCHER: I said cross-Strait relations was one of the issues that was going to be discussed.

QUESTION: In which column, difficult or not difficult, does Taiwan fall? Trade has moved into another column. Where's Taiwan now? Is there still_ - - _because the new leader of Taiwan seems to have cooled down tensions at least, and is that still an area of disagreement or an area of semi- agreement?

MR. BOUCHER: Barry, these are all issues we will discuss in their completeness and their complexity. Obviously, we hope we agree on the need for a peaceful resolution and a peaceful dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, but we obviously have other differences in approach.

QUESTION: Just to try and -- I realize your reluctance to give specific dates because they're not down yet. But this isn't going to be like around-the-world-in-eight-days with the Secretary, is it? Or is it? Are we going to be back -- is she going to be back for the 4th of July weekend?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Are you going to be back, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Are you going to be back for the 4th of July weekend? Yes, you will be and I will be and I suspect she will be too.

QUESTION: But do you have an expected return date?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an exact return date.

QUESTION: Late June, early July?

MR. BOUCHER: I would forecast -- I am virtually certain we will be back by the end of the month.

QUESTION: Virtually certain?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us more about Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you a little bit more about Korea. Obviously, this is the moment that we want to talk very closely with our Korean allies in the Republic of Korea. The Secretary's visit is obviously part of our pattern of close coordination and cooperation on issues related to the Korean Peninsula. While in Seoul, we expect to continue our discussions with South Korean leaders regarding the historic summit meeting that took place this week in Pyongyang and, of course, the Secretary will also reaffirm our strong bilateral relationship with the Republic of Korea.

QUESTION: And since we haven't yet officially lifted the sanctions that have been announced that they would be lifted --

MR. BOUCHER: Easing.

QUESTION: Easing. Are they going to try and time that so that she can do that while she's on her trip?

MR. BOUCHER: No. That's the simplest answer.

QUESTION: Korea is going to be a big issue with the Chinese, I take it, after she has left Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I said developments on the Korean Peninsula was clearly one of the issues that we wished to discuss with the Chinese. And we have had good cooperation in this area in the past and we'll obviously want to discuss the most recent developments.

QUESTION: Originally, the Secretary was going to China in mid-July, and I understand that it was the US who initiated to move this schedule up. So can you tell us why she's going next week?

MR. BOUCHER: I explained why she's going next week and all the important issues that we have to discuss. Exactly when pieces of trips and visits get scheduled is an arcane science. It depends on a whole lot of factors, and I don't think we should try to explain those in any policy terms. We put things together when we can.

QUESTION: Well, a lot of people are going to be a little upset with that. You just called all the trip planners arcane.

MR. BOUCHER: They're rocket scientists.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is there an envoy coming from South Korea to brief you folks on the summit?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me say yes and then see what more I can tell you. All right, here's what I can tell you. Mr. Hwang Won-tak, President Kim Dae Jung's national security advisor, was in Pyongyang for the summit. He will arrive in Washington this afternoon to meet at the State Department with Secretary Albright and with members of our North Korea policy team, including Counselor Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary Stanley Roth and Special Envoy Ambassador Charles Kartman.

Mr. Hwang will see President Clinton earlier today in New York. For further information on that meeting, obviously I will refer you to the White House.

We continue to consult very closely with our South Korean ally, and Mr. Hwang's visit is another welcome example of the extremely close cooperation between our two countries.

QUESTION: His visit?

MR. BOUCHER: His visit to New York and Washington.

QUESTION: The Secretary is going to both China and South Korea. Is there any chance that she might consult with the Japanese, perhaps in South Korea while there? Are there going to be one of these trilateral consultation meetings, perhaps?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that. I'm not aware of any such plan, but I'd better check on it before I say no.

QUESTION: Can you just expand so we can get this on the record, when you talk about recent developments in the inter-Korean -- or whatever it was that you said, can you exactly say just that we're going to be talking about both the historic summit and Kim Jong-il's visit to China?

MR. BOUCHER: We will discuss the whole issue of developments in the Korean Peninsula. I would expect both of those things to come up. Obviously, the most immediate event, the most dramatic event, is the summit and the reduction in tensions that we hope to see on the Peninsula.

QUESTION: Do you have any specifics on the Middle East countries yet?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Do you have any schedule to ease economic sanctions to North Korea -- by next week or this week?

MR. BOUCHER: We've talked about this a number of times. We're in the final stages of implementing the easing of sanctions that the President announced in September. We understand that the revisions to implement the President's decision to ease sanctions on North Korea will appear Monday, June 19th, in the Federal Register, and we'll take your questions regarding the details at that time.

QUESTION: Yes, on Greece. In the Senate hearing yesterday on terrorism, Senator Paul Sarbanes brought the issue of Mr. Lesperoglou, who has been arrested in Athens with a false passport. Do you have anything or do you know what it is about, about this case?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I'll have to check on it for you. We'll get back to you.

QUESTION: Senator Paul Sarbanes brought the name of the former prime minister of Greece, Konstantin Mitsotakis, and his daughter, Dora Bakoyianis regarding terrorism in Greece. Do you think your government is planning to use Mr. Mitsotakis as a witness in any form during your continuing effort to fight terrorism in Greece?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check on that as well.

QUESTION: And, also, a follow-up. Some former US officials are questioning now if the Olympic Games should take place in Athens in the summer of 2004 in connection with terrorism. I would like to know the US position on this crucial issue since it's an obvious campaign against Greece and the Greek people.

MR. BOUCHER: That's a question that I will look into but I don't necessarily promise that we've taken a position on that at this point.

QUESTION: Why your government, why your government has decided on this campaign to clamp down on terrorists in Greece now after 25 years and not earlier?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to say, I think that's a question I will respond to. That is a question that I will respond to.

We just had a very unfortunate and very regrettable killing of a British military attache in Athens. We have had continuing concerns that we have expressed along the way about the situation in Greece. This very tragic event only, I think, serves all of us to deepen our resolve to deal with the problem.

Now we've said we think the way to deal with the problem is to continue and deepen the cooperation that we've had with the Greek Government on the counter-terrorism issue. But it's very important to all of us that this cooperation work and that we get to results in terms of stopping the problem.

QUESTION: But the campaign, Mr. Boucher, started prior to the assassination. And I'm wondering why did you start it now?

MR. BOUCHER: I reject the use of the word "campaign." We've made quite clear our views. We made them quite clear in the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report, we've made them quite clear in other responses to questions and things that we were asked. We have our concerns about this. We have expressed our concerns about this and will continue to do so until we feel that the problem is really being handled and is really under control.

Okay, can we go back to Betsy? Oh, I was going to talk about Draskovic, wasn't I? Okay, let me do Draskovic in response to a question.

I want to make clear that the United States strongly condemns the very cowardly attack on Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic yesterday on June 15. We're heartened to hear that Mr. Draskovic suffered only relatively minor injuries in the shooting and that he is out of the hospital. We have conveyed our wishes to him for a speedy recovery.

This attack is the latest appalling incident reflecting the climate of violence and lawlessness that the Milosevic regime has fostered in the former Yugoslavia. In the last several months, the regime has been responsible for a wave of arrests, beatings of students, closures of media organizations and court prosecutions to stifle any dissent. Regime insiders participate in criminal activities. A wave of murders of senior figures has gone unsolved.

The regime has responded by launching ludicrous charges against nonviolent dissenters and outside forces. The regime's responsibility for the violence and oppression in Serbia, which Draskovic has rightly called "state terror", emphasize again the importance of Serbia's making the transition to democracy and assuming its rightful place in Europe.

Questions? All right, Betsy.

QUESTION: This is a different subject. The Indians fired a Prithvi missile today, test fired. Do you have anything on that? And does that, do you think, relate at all to a question I asked you about several weeks ago about the relative strength of the Pakistani and Indian nuclear capabilities?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me talk about the missile first and then I'll talk about the relative nuclear capabilities as much as we can. First, I want to make clear we regret the Indian Government's decision to proceed with this test. We have long urged countries developing missile systems, including India and others, to exercise restraint. Missile testing has the potential to increase tensions in the region, and we hope that India will consider the impact of missile tests under current circumstances.

On the question of relative nuclear capabilities, as before, this is not an issue that we can address in any kind of detail but we are troubled by the kind of speculation that these reports have generated, in the region especially. It is clear that both India and Pakistan have the capability to assemble and to use nuclear weapons, that both are pursuing means of delivery and both continue active programs to produce more fissile material for weapons. We're not prepared, as I said, to get into a public discussion of these capabilities. Suffice it to say, while there are differences in the programs between the two countries, overall we believe there is rough parity in their nuclear and delivery capabilities. Whatever differences exist do not appear to be strategically significant.

We note that both sides have said that they wish to avoid an arms race. However, we and the rest of the international community continue to be concerned about the possibilities of that kind of competition which would greatly add to the tensions and dangers in South Asia. Speculation about who could deploy more bombs or who has more nuclear-capable aircraft or missiles is, in itself, potentially destabilizing. We've had some experience with this in the Cold War, when misunderstandings and misinformation led to accelerated strategic competition. We hope that India and Pakistan do not go in that direction.

QUESTION: Could I do a follow-up, please? Is the Prithvi a nuclear- ready missile? Was the test successful?

MR. BOUCHER: I think those are questions you're going to have to ask the Indian Government. I'm not sure exactly how they have described it, and I am not in a position to do that here.

QUESTION: I think you may have answered this in the end, but when you said you were troubled by the kind of speculation these reports have generated, are you troubled by the fact that there is speculation at all or are you troubled by what the speculation actually is? You're certainly not suggesting that analysts and other people looking at this shouldn't be saying what -- giving their opinion about it?

MR. BOUCHER: I think what I would say is we're troubled by some of the conclusions being drawn; we're troubled by some of the speculation about the implications of differentials which, as I said, we think there's basically strategic stability, equality of capabilities. We're worried about the potential that perceptions of some kind of gap or difference could lead to more actions that in themselves enhance destabilization in the region, and so worry that the perceptions of strategically significant differences, which we don't think exist, could then lead to actions which would have further destabilization.

QUESTION: Are you suggesting that pundits and experts in this area just shut up and stay quiet, not say anything?

MR. BOUCHER: We're trying to help them with their conclusions so that they understand the situation better in their analysis and have the benefit of ours as well.

QUESTION: Has this topic come up in the meetings between the Pakistani Foreign Minister and Mr. Talbott or Mr. Pickering? And what else has been going on in those talks.

QUESTION: Okay, let me try to give you a rundown. Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Abdus Sattar, met with Deputy Secretary Talbott on Thursday, June 15. After an hour-long, one-on-one session, the Deputy Secretary hosted a working lunch with the Foreign Minister.

Discussions between Minister Sattar and the Deputy Secretary focused on our mutual concerns about preserving South Asian security, about preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. The two also explored how to reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, primarily over Kashmir.

There was agreement to continue to work closely together to prevent further proliferation, an arms race, and conflict in the region. The United States urged Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty soon, as it has indicated it would. The two sides discussed how best to move ahead on negotiations over the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and the possibility of a multilateral moratorium on the production pending conclusion of the treaty.

They also agreed on the need for further consultations on enhancing Pakistan's export control mechanisms so as to better support the objective of preventing the spread of nuclear missile weapons technology and capability.

The Deputy Secretary last met with a senior Pakistani official to discuss these issues in February of last year, and this remains a subject of great importance to the United States.

Minister Sattar also met with Under Secretary Pickering to discuss other important issues. Secretary Albright briefly joined that meeting. They viewed the steps that Pakistan has taken to restore a democratically elected civilian government. While the United States is pleased that General Musharraf has accepted the Pakistan Supreme Court three-year time limit for restoring democracy, we continue to believe that a detailed road map should be presented and that the process should be carried out as quickly as possible.

Minister Sattar and Under Secretary Pickering discussed our shared concerns about terrorism, Usama bin Laden, and ending the use of Afghanistan as a haven for terrorists. They also talked about Pakistan's economic reform efforts. Under Secretary Pickering noted that the United States supported the reform measures to overcome Pakistan's economic difficulties.

That's the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

QUESTION: A question on that. Mr. Abdus Sattar came here with a proposal for reciprocal nuclear restraint by Pakistan and India. Can you tell us whether they discussed that, and how does the United States feel about that? Do you have any ideas on how they might go about agreeing on nuclear restraint?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the issues that we discussed are quite clear. It involved a considerable amount of restraint and adherence to international regimes with regard to nuclear issues. That's our position. I don't have a comment on any specific positions that he might have brought.

QUESTION: Can we still stay on this?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we'll stay on this and then we'll do Cuba.

QUESTION: You mentioned Usama bin Laden. Has there been any further sign that the Pakistanis are going to help find him or help the US bring him to justice in some respect?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I think that's the only way I can answer that.

QUESTION: Do you have anything new to tell us about the proposals to toughen the sanctions against the leadership of the Taliban? And what's your response to Abdus Sattar's comment that these sanctions are, in fact, counter-productive and that the best thing to do is to engage with the Taliban?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see those comments, but I think certainly I can say that we believe that the best thing to do is to carry out the United Nations resolutions with regard to the Taliban and to continue the efforts that we're making to see that they live up to those.

As far as tightening the sanctions, I'll see if I can get your something on that.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment or reaction to the proposal of Senator Dodd to create a new bipartisan commission to review the US policy toward Cuba in the last 40 years?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see if the Administration has taken a position on that. I don't know at this point.

QUESTION: Two quick questions about the talks at Bolling and Andrews. The difficulty with the prisoner release and with the third redeployment were probably discussed with the President. Are those talks continuing in the absence of the Secretary or are they breaking up today, or what is the situation? And I have a follow-up on that.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. The talks at Bolling and Andrews are ongoing. Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak both remain committed to working to achieve a peace agreement. We've said the parties have expressed their desire to have American help. We're doing that. President Clinton has made clear that we're willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

As far as the issue of another troop withdrawal, this was an issue that was discussed between the President and Chairman Arafat yesterday, as well as by the Secretary in her lunch with Chairman Arafat. It remains an issue of discussion between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The important thing is that both parties continue constructive discussions on issues like these.

QUESTION: May I have a follow-up on that? You didn't mention the prisoner issue. As you know, they've offered only 3 out of 250, and there are 10 Americans among those 1,500 being held by the Israelis. We have affidavits indicating that there were torture and confessions forced from some of those Americans, and I know that the Secretary raised this with Foreign Minister Levy -- am I saying that correctly -- last August/September.

Is there any advance on the subject of raising with the Israeli Government the release of Americans who obviously have been committed with torture and false confessions in the background?

MR. BOUCHER: I have to check on anything -- any update of the Americans.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On the --

MR. BOUCHER: I was going to go over here, if I can. I'm going to stand more squarely in the center. George.

QUESTION: Good idea. Did you see the story in the Post about the consequences of the air campaign in the no --

QUESTION: Can we please stay with the Israeli-Palestinian talks?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: You asked yesterday about taking a position on the June 23 deadline for the third withdrawal.

MR. BOUCHER: I asked?

QUESTION: You were asked. Can you tell us whether -- you didn't have an answer yesterday. Do you have an answer on that one? And why is it that the United States is so reluctant to take a position on implementation of agreements which are, in fact, written down and public?

MR. BOUCHER: Jonathan, I think I was just asked about another troop withdrawal, and I just gave you an answer on that.

QUESTION: You didn't take -- you didn't say whether you were_ -- _whether your position

was that the agreement should -- that the withdrawal should take place prior to June the 23, which is the question.

MR. BOUCHER: I was just asked about what our view is of another troop withdrawal, and I gave you our position on that. Now, I didn't say what you want me to say, but I said what our position is.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: I said the important thing is that the both parties continue constructive discussions on issues like these.

QUESTION: You're still not taking a position on whether --

MR. BOUCHER: That's our view of the situation.

QUESTION: Why are you so reluctant to take a position on implementation of a written agreement?

MR. BOUCHER: I've told you what our position is. Why am I reluctant to take the position that you're advocating for me? Because that's not our position.

QUESTION: Whoa, wait. Well, first, I don't think he's advocating any position. But you haven't -- you just said it was discussed. Anyway, that's not my question.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm asked a question about this issue. I'll tell you what I can. I'll tell you what our view is. But I can't just go putting words into my own mouth.

QUESTION: Okay, can I ask you this, then? Obviously, you're now deeply engaged in this Israeli-Palestinian thing. Have you yet got to the stage of making your own proposals?

MR. BOUCHER: That's a question I'll have to check on, whether we've made any so-called bridging proposals, as they are known in the trade.

QUESTION: You say that the talks at Bolling and Andrews are ongoing. Do you have any kind of idea -- I guess the Palestinians are saying that they expect them to be over on Sunday. Is that a likely time frame? And, also, do you have -- is Dennis Ross' trip next week contingent on when these talks end? Or has that been set or has it not been set?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have dates yet for Dennis Ross' trip next week. I think we said yesterday we would expect the talks to continue for a few days. That's not inconsistent with what you might have heard elsewhere.

QUESTION: Well, I know it's not. But is his trip out there, is it contingent on when this "few days" is over? I mean, are we looking at early next week, the middle of next week, end of next week, for him to go?

MR. BOUCHER: We're looking at next week for him to go. I would expect he would go after the talks in Washington, after the discussions in Washington had concluded and when the negotiators travel back to the region to talk to their leaders. At some point then --

QUESTION: The answer to my question, then, being yes?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's right. "Contingent" is a little strong.

QUESTION: All right, Richard, I have another question on that. Is this partly a result of waiting for the new Barak Government, if there is one, or waiting for things to settle down in Israeli politics?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Is that why Ross is being so indeterminate on what she's going to do? She's not going to Damascus this time?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any specifics on the stops in the Middle East.

QUESTION: You said the talks are ongoing. Can you just be a little more specific? Can you say that both tracks -- in both tracks of talks the Israelis and Palestinians sat down together today?

MR. BOUCHER: The meetings at Bolling and Andrews are ongoing.

QUESTION: Did you hear anything after the meeting yesterday between Chairman Arafat and Shlomo Ben Ami? The two met briefly at Andrews as Arafat was leaving. Did you hear anything out of that meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a readout of their meeting. I knew that the parties were going to meet yesterday and have discussions. I don't really exactly know who, and I certainly don't have a readout of their meeting.

QUESTION: Same issue? When you say "ongoing," of course, that leaves two things out: whether they actually met today and whether it's the Americans meeting with either or both groups separately or they meeting with each other. It's not an academic question; it goes to the Palestinians having broken off part of the talks and demanding now, through an anonymous negotiator, that the prisoners issue and the withdrawal issue be resolved within 10 days or -- because they don't know her schedule either, any more than we do -- before Albright gets there.

So can you tell us if they actually had face-to-face talks today? And I guess that's the point. Did they meet today, and are they between Israelis and Palestinians as well as between Americans and either or both sides?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's fairly clear, at least to me, to say that the talks are ongoing at Bolling and Andrews is to say that they are having meetings at both locations between the parties. To say that we are participating means that some of those meetings involve us as well.

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to give you a precise schedule of meetings and say that they have met as of this moment. But there are ongoing talks between the parties at both locations.

QUESTION: You may have seen the story in The Post this morning about the attacks over the past 18 months in the no-fly zones and the toll on the civilian population in Iraq. Is that State Department or Pentagon business?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, first of all, the Pentagon will give you more information and operational details. But I do want to take the opportunity to talk about some of the basic facts of the no-fly zones.

They were established under UN Security Council Resolution 688 following the Iraqi regime's brutal action against its own citizens in the south and the threat against Iraqi citizens in the north. The American and British flights in the no-fly zones are there to maintain protection for Iraqi citizens in those regions. There is no relationship between enforcement of the no-fly zones and the United States regime change policy for Iraq.

Coalition aircraft act in response to Iraqi threats. They never target civilians or civilian facilities. If Iraq would stop targeting these aircraft that are carrying out a humanitarian mission of protection, there would be no need for pilots to respond in self-defense. Since the no-fly zones were established, they have succeeded in preventing the Iraqi regime from using air power to threaten citizens in the south and the north as they have done in the past.

Under this protection and with UN supervision in the region, Iraqi citizens in the north live in far better conditions than Iraqis who live under the rule of Saddam Hussein. We look forward to the day when these protective flights are no longer needed and to an Iraqi Government that respects and protects its own people.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- just a minor question. Are the French part of one of the no-fly zone operations, as they have been? They were balking -- if you happen to know?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on that, Barry. I don't remember.

QUESTION: On the same topic. You know, this ongoing public relations problem that the Administration and the State Department have over Iraq. Pickering was heckled loudly with a group of Arab-Americans last week and that was over Oil-For-Food and now this Washington Post article got a great deal of prominence and led with the death of a 13-year-old innocent civilian.

So in terms of just the public relations of the US policy towards Iraq, including Great Britain in the no-fly zones as well, but what are your concerns in terms of how other Security Council members have become increasingly distanced from US policy?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the first thing to say is that these resolutions continue in effect. The policies continue in place because they are the right policies and they are the best policies for all of us. Naturally, any time innocent civilians are killed, it's a very regrettable incident. These facts are very regrettable. The suffering of the Iraqi people is very regrettable.

But we follow policies which we think and firmly believe are in the best interests of the Iraqi people. We remember the use of aircraft by Saddam Hussein to bomb and kill his people in the south and in the north. And we think that the kind of protection afforded by the no-fly zones is what's preventing that from happening again. We remember and note the cruelties with which Saddam Hussein's regime has handled his own people. We know that they are the major impediment to full implementation of the Oil-For- Food Program. Where the Iraqi Government is not in the way, in the north, UNICEF and other reports show that the health and welfare of the population is much better.

So we try to make these programs work. We try to help the Iraqi people where we can, whether it's protection of the no-fly zones or the Oil-For- Food Program and helping get them the kind of food and medicines that they need to survive. But in the end, the fact that the Saddam Hussein regime maintains a kind of cruelty against its own people that it's always had, is really the best argument in favor of maintaining the kind of sanctions regimes and UN resolutions that we still do have, so that they do not again become the kind of threat to the neighborhood and to their own people that they were in the past.

QUESTION: Would it be a fair and accurate paraphrasal of your remarks to say that these civilian casualties are a regrettable but acceptable collateral damage for a good policy, or at least a well-intentioned policy?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: As you know, last week one of the chief advisors on arms control to the State Department, Richard Garland, spoke here on limited missile defense shield. And he said it would be far easier to put a shield over North Korea than an umbrella over the United States. And his proposal was actually very similar to that of the Russian president.

Subsequently, our government rejected the Russian proposal and there was a very large article yesterday in The Washington Post you probably saw about the fact that our assistance on constructing missile defense is undercutting our credibility in all the arms control treaties, including the NPT. And can you comment on the inconsistency between general policy and the suggestions and advice of the top advisors to the State Department in this?

MR. BOUCHER: All right, there are a lot of pieces involved in that; let me try to break them down a little bit.

First of all, on the issue of umbrellas or boost phase or some of these other ideas that are out there that we've heard from the Russians and elsewhere, we do in fact have cooperative relationships with the Russians on various aspects of theater missile defense. We see these ideas as potentially valuable; we are willing to explore them. But they do not appear to deal with the kind of threat that we see emerging. We consider them possible complements but not substitutes for the kind of missile defense we think we need to pursue. That's been made quite clear; that's been discussed, and I think we had more discussions when Secretary Cohen was in Moscow the other day.

On the other aspect of sort of where we stand in the arms control regimes generally, we have had what we consider a very successful review conference for the Nonproliferation Treaty in New York. I would say, despite some of the criticisms of the United States and, in particular, our failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we are able to pursue these arms control regimes and try to strengthen them and build on them.

Naturally, we hope that other things could happen, like ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, that would help us in that endeavor and so we wouldn't hear the criticism. But, in the end, we managed to get a successful result from a conference in New York.

QUESTION: The United Nations inspectors from the International Atomic Agency, the IAEA, said that they proposed that aggressive diplomacy would be a far more effective way of handling this and they said that North Korea was, in fact, very cooperative with their efforts to have ongoing inspections. So there seems to be at least from other -- other analysts a real reduction in the threat from these few small countries, and how then to justify such a large-scale program?

MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I would have to say on that is, I think if you asked our friends, neighbors and adversaries around the world, they would feel that we have been pursuing pretty aggressive diplomacy on the issues of nonproliferation, export controls, missile technology and the other international regimes that are in place, largely with the strong support through the work of the United States. We do cooperate with many countries in this regard, but it hasn't prevented successfully at this point the emergence of capabilities that we're going to have to deal with.

As we see these capabilities proliferate around the world, we continue to try the diplomatic route of putting in place the kind of regimes on technology and other components that could prevent the spread of these kinds of weapons. But we nonetheless see technologies emerging and capabilities emerging in the near future, and part of that judgment and that ongoing assessment is what will form the President's decision.

We see these technologies emerging, capabilities emerging, that we have to deal with because they're a threat to the United States.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Boucher. Ken Bacon yesterday did reveal from the meetings with the Russians, Mr. Cohen's meetings with the Russians in Moscow on this national missile defense matter, he did reveal that the Russians -- Putin had said to Mr. Cohen that they wanted teams to get together and bridge the gap. And apparently on the 25th of June, there will be a meeting of experts on missile defense in Moscow to do just that.

And my question is, that's a good thing, I'm sure. Second is, does this represent the beginning of Russia and the United States doing what the President suggested about getting together, working together on missile defense? Has that started, do you think?

MR. BOUCHER: I hate it when somebody gives my only news on the subject in the question. Okay, we had a statement on strategic stability that was issued in Moscow, as you correctly note, with the President during the President's visit there. And in that context, we noted that we would follow up when we had discussions.

We do agree that we face a growing missile threat; the United States and Russia do, as noted in that statement. Russia, as you know, has made some proposals on how to address this threat, which we are studying. We've agreed to talk with the Russians -- and with our NATO allies as well_ -- _frankly about theater missile defense systems. And as the President has agreed, this goes back actually to agreement between President Clinton and former President Yeltsin in Cologne last June and then again during the Moscow summit. The US is engaged in high-level discussions with Russia on the ABM Treaty.

Since Cologne, we've had extensive discussions with senior Russian officials on both START III and ABM issues. These discussions are ongoing and there's a bilateral meeting in this context that's being held in Moscow on the 25th.

QUESTION: So what do you think? Have we begun the process of colluding with the Russians on missile defense, on defending against rogue nations?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I refer you back to the statements issued in Moscow. We've always had a willingness to cooperate with the Russians on theater missile defense. In Moscow, in the statement, you will see an acknowledgment that there is a threat and naturally we continue to believe that the national missile defense will be necessary to deal with that threat.

QUESTION: Richard, on the same subject?

MR. BOUCHER: Let's try this side.

QUESTION: Different subject. That's okay.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's stick with this.

QUESTION: Just this morning, Putin has issued -- basically issued an invitation for Europe to join with the US and Russia in cooperating on missile defense. And I'm wondering if you think this is anything new or is this just basically what, you know, the US has said all along? Or are the Russians trying to preempt possible US plans for a larger scale system by making this invitation?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we've seen ideas like this before. I don't know the exact nature of President Putin's statement today. We have discussions with the Russians on all these strategic issue and we have cooperation, or try to have cooperation, on theater missile defense in other areas. We're setting up, you know, joint early warning in Moscow on these things.

At the same time, I have to say, we have been through this subject quite extensively. The President has decisions to make in the near future because there is an emerging threat. Russians have recognized that threat in the statements in Moscow. The question now is how to deal with it.

As we've looked at the question of how to deal with it, we continue to come back to the National Missile Defense as the most viable option to deal with this. And these other ideas that we've seen, some of them have been looked at, some of them will be studied further. But we see them as potential complements and not a substitute for the need for a real National Missile Defense.

That decision -- final decisions on these things will be made by the President according to the four key factors.

QUESTION: Which is all great. But what about this invitation that Putin just made to the Europeans?

MR. BOUCHER: Not knowing the specifics of it, I would lump it in with these various ideas that have been discussed, that deserve more study and discussion, but that we don't see it as a substitute.

QUESTION: In Japan, the Dowager Empress died today, and I was just wondering if you had a comment on that.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get you something later on that. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: This may be news to you too, but Kofi Annan announced that all Israeli troops have withdrawn from Lebanon finally. You haven't heard anything on that, perhaps?

MR. BOUCHER: As I came in here, I was still told it was expected soon.

QUESTION: You didn't prepare something in case? No?

MR. BOUCHER: The verification process is nearing completion. We hope the Secretary General will be able to confirm the withdrawal this weekend. So if he's done it already --

QUESTION: He's done it.

MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, this is something he's been working on for quite a while, something we've welcomed. And we will again look for all parties to cooperate with the United Nations to help implement Resolution 425 and maintain peace, stability, security and restraint in the area.

QUESTION: Apparently the wife of Edmond Pope feels that the Government hasn't done all it can on behalf of her husband. Can you comment on that, please?

MR. BOUCHER: We talked about this quite a bit yesterday.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to add?

MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I'd say is that we have raised the issues of concern about Mr. Pope repeatedly and at pretty senior levels in Russia. I was asked yesterday what level we've raised the letters question and, frankly, I didn't have an answer on that. But I think we do need to point out that we have raised with the Russian Government the specific issue of his not having received the more than 50 letters. We have raised the general issues related to Mr. Pope's situation.

Ambassador Collins has personally raised Mr. Pope's situation on two separate occasions with Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov on May 30 and again yesterday, just before we spoke. Both times, Ambassador Collins requested that the Russian Government provide the Embassy with additional details about the specific actions of Mr. Pope that led to his arrest and charge, as well as more information about the time for the investigation.

Ambassador Collins also requested that, in light of Mr. Pope's medical history and condition, that the Russian Government release Mr. Pope from prison to remain in Moscow where his family can arrange for him to be seen by appropriate medical specialists familiar with his condition pending further adjudication of his case.

QUESTION: I have three questions on Latin America on three different countries. First on Chile, the loss of Mr. Pinochet, of his senatorial privilege, do you think will change the investigation of human rights by the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That's something I'd have to check on. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: And second, on Mexico, Lino Gutierrez, the Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Affairs, in the House told the legislators there will be no surprise for the United States if there will be claims of fraud and irregularities on the elections of July the 2nd. And two opposition candidates in Mexico have just said there is kind of intervention by the United States in the Mexican national issues. Do you have any response to that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I'd just say we stand by the testimony.

QUESTION: Stand by the testimony. And the last one on Cuba. Senator Dodd -- you said you didn't see the proposal for the new bipartisan commission, but he said that the United States is playing a two-faced foreign policy toward Communist countries. There is now the Administration position to have permanent commercial relations with China and now you are thinking about to lift sanctions against North Korea. And the Administration is saying your policy of commerce and contact with Communist countries will be at the end, open the door for new change in those countries. And he says, why cannot it be with Cuba now? Do you have any response to those statements?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen the full context of the Senator's remarks. I would say that we have seen those kinds of arguments before and the thing that we point out is, first of all, you can't have the same policy for every country in the world because countries are different and situations are different. And, frankly, in different situations, you want to apply a different mix of pressures and incentives.

Second of all, we respond best to places where there has been a fundamental decision for change. We have made quite clear that our policy towards Cuba would change dramatically if there was democratic government in Cuba.

QUESTION: In the case of North Korea, you are worried about the threats of nuclear attacks. Cuba doesn't have any things like that.

MR. BOUCHER: That's pointing out that things are different in different places. We have different policies to deal with those things.

QUESTION: Why you are still applying a US policy that has been in place for almost 40 years and Fidel Castro is still in power? It's obviously a failure of the US policy toward Cuba. Isn't it, 40 years?

MR. BOUCHER: Would you like me to agree with that? No.

Look, it may be the right policy to pursue. It may continue to be the right policy. Certainly there have been a succession of administrations of both parties, including I would say responsible people from both parties on the Hill and elsewhere who believe this is the right policy to pursue. The Secretary has in recent years -- the Administration has -- tried to open up a bit more contact and space for contacts with the Cuban people because we don't want them to be the ones to suffer. But vis-a-vis our attitude towards the government, I don't think that necessarily has to change with the duration of time; I think that should change with the change of policy in the Cuban government.

QUESTION: Are the Cuban people suffering as a result of this policy? You say you don't want them to suffer. It's 40 years. There might be some impact by now on the Cuban people. Can you measure it and are they doing as well as the -- I don't know what, some of your other targets?

MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I think I'd have to say that we think that the suffering and the difficulties experienced by the Cuban people are the result of the Cuban Government and not the result of our sanctions. And to the extent that we can open up some avenues for the Cuban people to have a better life, we're happy to do that.

QUESTION: Richard, on the same subject, should the Castro Government draw the conclusion that the way to gain Washington's attention is to develop a nuclear and a missile program_ --

MR. BOUCHER_: No, I think they should draw the conclusion that the way to draw our attention and have better policy is to have a democratic election.

QUESTION: On Albania, the other day you issued a travel advisory for Albania. Do you know what prompted you to do that and -

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I'm not hearing the question.

QUESTION: Sir, the other day you issued a travel advisory for Albania. Do you know what prompted you to do that and how long will it be effective, this travel advisory?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to go back and look at the text. I think the text of the travel advisory usually explains the reasons for it.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Draskovic for a second?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe the accusations made by him and his wife that Milosevic was personally behind -- not pulling the trigger, I mean, but -

MR. BOUCHER: I think, technically, that the details of the shooting are still under investigation in Montenegro. We do take seriously the statements by Draskovic and by the Montenegrin Government that assign blame to Belgrade. But I don't have any independent information for you.

QUESTION: What does that mean, you take seriously? Does that mean you believe them?

MR. BOUCHER: That means we take them very seriously.

QUESTION: But does -- well, do you believe that Milosevic personally is behind not just this attack but also previous ones, the ones that were perpetrated against his opponents?

MR. BOUCHER: Matt, I don't_ --

QUESTION_: Okay, you can answer that.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any independent information to share with you. We have seen the statement by both Mr. Draskovic and by the Montenegrin Government, and we treat those statements with great seriousness because we believe that those are responsible people in this situation.

As far as the general climate and the many other things that have occurred, I said before that we hold the Milosevic Government responsible for the climate of lawlessness and for many of these things that are occurring. Does that mean that I can actually accuse him of a specific crime? Maybe not. But the general atmosphere that is being created there and the situation that has been created there by the Milosevic regime to us is quite clear and is very much his responsibility.

QUESTION: Just to recall, you have joined on in accusations, specific accusations against Milosevic before -

MR. BOUCHER: If we have the information, we'll join in. At this point, I am not able to do that on this particular situation.

QUESTION: You said you take the statements seriously. Would it be too far to say you don't differ with his statement?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't differ with those statements; no, we don't differ.

QUESTION: But taking the fact that the Secretary will be out of the country, when are we going to have the announcement of another suspension of Chapter 3 of the Helms-Burton? She has to.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the timing of that. I can't tell you at this point.

QUESTION: It has to be next week.

MR. BOUCHER: I assume then it will be, if it has to be. We'll get it done one way or the other.

QUESTION: Mr. Gusinskiy has now been charged with embezzlement. Have you prepared anything on that? Does this kind of change your -- does this appease your concerns to any extent, the fact that they've charged him? Or are you suspicious of the charges against him, as you were suspicious against the motives for the raid on his headquarters?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd go back to what I said yesterday, basically. We're aware of the fact that he's now been charged with violating Section 159 of the Criminal Code, of large-scale fraud. I think I mentioned yesterday that Ambassador Collins was raising our concerns with senior Russian officials in Moscow yesterday and his lawyers are now saying it's unlikely he'll be released soon.

Our concern remains where it was yesterday, that there be due process, that the rights and the protections accorded in the Russian constitution be respected. And we've noted the fact that many Russian political and business leaders have spoken out over apparent political motivation behind Gusinskiy's arrest and the raid on Media Most. Russia's international standing will be severely damaged, we believe, if the government lets stand actions that are intended to intimidate independent media and those with whom it does not agree. There have been a series of events in Russia which have drawn our attention to this and we are following these circumstances very closely.

QUESTION: Okay, but independently of what prominent Russians have said, do you have any reason to believe that these charges are politically motivated?

MR. BOUCHER: I guess I would probably have to say we take those concerns very seriously. The circumstances and the series of events that have occurred are, indeed, of concern to us.

QUESTION: Is the timing significant, so soon after the President's trip and his pitch, or the US pitch, for press freedom and other virtues of democracy? Is this, do you think, some sort of slap at the United States that they moved so soon after the summit as they did?

MR. BOUCHER: There have been a series of events, Barry, and some of them, like the raid on the Media Most headquarters, occurred before the summit. This perhaps more difficult event, more grave event, has occurred after the summit. What we're concerned about is this pattern that seems to be developing and the prospects that this is a politically motivated campaign against the media. We think independent media are a very important part of free society. The President and the Secretary made that point quite clearly when they were in Moscow.

Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:10 P.M..)

[end of document]


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