U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released online from January 1, 1997 to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for current material from the Department of State. Or visit http://2001-2009.state.gov for information from that period. Archive sites are not updated, so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
U.S. Department of State

Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


1Secretary Albright to speak at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Sept. 17
1ALBANIA: US condemns violence used for political ends.
1-2US has broad concerns about instability in the area.
2Kosovar Albanian negotiating team is representative of community's views
2,3Chaotic situation exists.
1,2-3US will not work with government instituted coming to power by violent means
4US Embassy status unchanged: Operations temporarily suspended.
4-5Secretary Albright has met with Kurdish leaders on Friday and today.
5-6Secretary Albright expects to host a meeting between both leaders later this week.
6-7Severing UNSCOM cooperation would be a flagrant violation of UNSC resolutions
7US watching situation closely; military action still on table.
7-8Foreign leaders have expressed confidence in, support for US policies, leadership.
8-9Secretary Albright has confidence in President Clinton's leadership.
9Policy Planning Director Gregory B. Craig discussing move to White House.
9US, Japanese and South Korean officials are meeting to discuss situation in DPRK.
10KEDO agreement issues are being discussed today.
17US analysis of missile firing concludes it was a failed satellite launch.
17-18DPRK missile technology has been marketed worldwide, including to PAKISTAN.
11-13Ambassador Ross says many interim issues and details remain to be worked out.
13-14President Clinton's trip remains on hold; Deputy Secretary Talbott's efforts continue.
14US welcomes invitation to Transportation Corridor Europe-Caucasus -Asia Conference
14US is deeply concerned about violence at public demonstration.
15US urges conditions to be created to allow free, fair elections.
15Ambassador Gelbard said elections were freest, fairest in Bosnian history.
15-16Political progress has been made, but refugee numbers are still unacceptably low
18Press conference to be held in Miami today by Attorney General's Office

DPB # 106
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1998, 1:30 P.M.

MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Today is Monday. Sorry for the delay this morning; we'll try to do better.

Let me first say that Secretary Albright will speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Thursday, September 17, on the topic of American security and foreign policy resources in the 21st Century. The address will begin at approximately 12:45 p.m., and we'll have more details for you.

I also would like to start the briefing with some comments about Albania. The United States strongly condemns the use of violence for political ends in Albania. The political leadership in the government and the opposition will be held responsible for resolving the current crisis. Members of all parties must work together toward a peaceful solution that respects the democratic process.

The United States will not recognize or work with a government that comes to power through violent means. We call on the political leadership of Albania to cooperate with the president in working on constructive proposals that will end the current upheaval. The leaders of all political parties in Albania must take responsibility for the behavior of their followers. Those that do not play a constructive role must bear the consequences.

The United States is consulting with the European Union to support those pursuing a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, and we are also committed to support actively any package of measures consisted with the rule of law adopted in the political consultations of the Albanian political leadership.

Obviously, this is a very serious situation. The capital is quite tense. I've seen a variety of conflicting reports about the extent of the chaos there. But clearly, this is the worst violence Albania has seen since the unrest of March 1997.

QUESTION: I wonder if any of this is spilling over into the Kosovo situation.

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not aware that the specific violence that's going on right now in Tirana is spilling over directly. But let me say this - one of the factors that has always been of concern to us is the risk of chaos in this part of the world; not only in Kosovo, but in Albania and potentially, if the situation got worse, in other countries in the region. So that, in and of itself, we would be concerned about the situation in Albania. But we're doubly concerned because of the risk that it could pose to broader instability in the region.

QUESTION: I kind of wondered the US' position is very much against a greater Albania. But the ethnic Albanians, who are on the defensive in Kosovo against the Serbs, look to Albania as refuge. They also have aspirations, support from Albania. So I just wondered if it makes the diplomacy in Kosovo any more difficult.

MR. RUBIN: Certainly, one of the things that has made the diplomacy in Kosovo difficult is the extent to which Northern Albania has been chaotic and lacking in central control, and there has been an inability to be able work directly with some of these people.

To the extent that Albania would become more chaotic, it does make it harder and harder to try and create a workable arrangement for Kosovo. On the other hand, we do now have a - the Albanian Kosovars have formed their negotiating team; and through the work of Ambassador Hill, it is our understanding they want to move forward. As you know, earlier this month, last week, I guess about ten days ago, the Yugoslav side announced its willingness to negotiate an interim accord. So we are still working on that assumption, but I can't rule out in the future that if the Albania situation got worse, that that would make it harder.

QUESTION: Can I just get one fast one in ? What is your description of the coloration of this team? In other words, remember the old debate about all views being represented? Is this a team that the US finds receptively --

MR. RUBIN: I've spoken to Ambassador Hill about this question, and it is his assessment that this team does include all spectrum of opinion in the Albanian community and that it does, therefore, reflect the broadest possible views as would be necessary to get an agreement that would stick, if we can get such an agreement.

QUESTION: Two questions, Jamie - sort of a general one, do you there is a coup currently underway in Albania, first question? Second question, I gather from your comments that if the answer to the first one is yes, that perhaps the former president may have a role in it; is that your assessment?

MR. RUBIN: I am not in a position to declare a coup underway. Clearly there is chaos, significant chaos in Albania, in Tirana. I've heard reports of senior officials barricading themselves in their offices; vehicles being stolen; mobs rule, reigning in the streets; policemen not coming out. We have had a great deal of difficulty contacting senior leaders from the Albanian leadership. But to the extent that we are - I am not in a position now to declare it as a coup. Clearly there is a chaotic situation, a political crisis and a crisis for people living there.

QUESTION: And the former president's role in this?

MR. RUBIN: The former president's role is an important element in this. Certainly all of those political leaders, including Salih Berisha, ought to know that they will be held responsible for a failure to work this problem out in a civilized and diplomatic and non-violent fashion.

QUESTION: Just one more. So your comment about the US refusing to recognize or work with a party that comes to power through the violent means, I think you said; is that directed at the former president?

MR. RUBIN: It's directed - this is a very chaotic situation; it's very hard to know what's going on. I am not going to be more specific than to say that Salih Berisha is one of those leaders of one of the factions; and that any leader of any faction that is trying to make power come out of the barrel of a gun rather than the dialogue and civil discourse that we believe would be appropriate or political discussions will face the consequences of having power come that way; and we will not work with such a government.

QUESTION: I'm not an advocate of recognizing people who come to power by force, but the United States has --

MR. RUBIN: Well, that's very good to know.

QUESTION: Well, it's only in preference to the question. The United States has done that before, including in the Congo. So, I mean, how do you draw distinction between --

MR. RUBIN: Well, continually in this job and standing in this place, I'm asked questions that assume total parallelism around the world. What I try to do is to mix - as policy-makers what we try to do is mix the principles that guide us throughout the international system and the practical situation in particular circumstances. Depending on that mix, we make judgments. That's why we're here. We don't go on auto-pilot in every situation. It is our judgment that in this case, the situation warrants a very clear statement of our view that the coming to power through violent means will not be recognized by the United States. We think that's the best position to take at this point.

QUESTION: Do you have any reading on the army's activities? Is the army intact; is it divided? Does Berisha control part of it now?

MR. RUBIN: It's hard to be more specific without being an actual analyst of Albania, which I am not. But I can say that the situation is sufficiently chaotic; that the reports include the fact that government officials are unclear as to the extent to which the army and the police will play a role in stopping this mob violence. To the extent that I've seen reports of this, there are significant reports that both the army and the police are intending to stay in their barracks. So that's what I know. Beyond that, it would be hard to say.

QUESTION: Is the radio station now controlled by Berisha's people?

MR. RUBIN: We've seen reports that the radio station has been taken over by some of these mobs. Exactly who they're reporting to, I am not in a position to answer.

QUESTION: What is the American presence now in Tirana, Albania?

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, we have the embassy in a status of temporarily suspending public operations. We obviously have people there continuing to monitor the situation. We have active travel warnings for other reasons that are operative there.

QUESTION: On the military side - because NATO was setting up an office there. I think there was this big new exercise. I had the impression that there was going to be a substantial NATO presence at some point.

MR. RUBIN: I'd have to check with the Pentagon to see what military presence - whether there are any observers. Certainly, it's my understanding there are what we call a DATT, a defense attache, that is there.

QUESTION: The last question is that the government is clearly beleaguered and is obviously going to need some support. NATO has some kind of a structure there, and I know you have some presence there. Is there a readiness to come to the support of the government if they request it?

MR. RUBIN: That's premature at this point. What I can say is that we are consulting with our European allies about how to promote a peaceful resolution of the situation, which just emerged in the recent days. Any more on this?

QUESTION: On these considerations, do you know if the Secretary has any consultations with her counterparts from neighboring parties or if she is planning to have consultations?

MR. RUBIN: I certainly wouldn't rule out consultations in the coming hours or days. But as of now, that's not my understanding.

MR. RUBIN: Neighboring countries have paid a very important role in recent years.

QUESTION: No, I'm just saying in the current crisis as sort of a common front --

MR. RUBIN: Well, as you know, Italy played a very important role in assisting the stabilization of Albania in recent years. So again, this is an evolving situation that just emerged overnight, and I don't want to get ahead of ourselves nor rule out the possibility of other steps.

QUESTION: Iraq is apparently making more statements about cutting back it's cooperation with the UN.

MR. RUBIN: Let me give you a few points on that. First of all, the Secretary has met with two Kurdish leaders, Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talibani. She met with the second one this morning at about 11:00 a.m. She expressed the United States' continuing engagement with the Kurds there and our concern for the Iraqi Kurds and all the people of Northern Iraq. These leaders are real voices of the Iraqi people who represent the interests of millions of Iraqi Kurds.

Obviously this situation in Iraq was discussed. The current US policy towards Iraq, the security needs of the people of Northern Iraq, and the important humanitarian assistance programs going on there. The Secretary in both of her meetings emphasized the criticality of affecting a reconciliation between the Kurdish parties. She is expected to host a meeting later in the week of those two parties, which would be the first of such meetings to my knowledge.

QUESTION: When will that be?

MR. RUBIN: Later in the week, towards the end of the week.

QUESTION: Do you have a date?

MR. RUBIN: When I have a date and a time and a place, I'd be happy to give it to you.

QUESTION: And specifically what do you expect to come out of that meeting or hope to come out of that meeting?

MR. RUBIN: At this point I'm just telling you we're expecting to be able to host a meeting. Obviously, reconciliation between the Kurdish factions -- the Kurdish parties, rather, is an important goal of the United States. David Welch has been working on a this assiduously. In recent months he visited the region at the instruction of the Secretary, and this is a step in that direction. We will have more to say about that meeting when it happens.

QUESTION: But she said that this position - in other words, is this is a meeting that has to be held because they're resisting it or is the flow in that direction?

MR. RUBIN: On the contrary, I think there's a greater recognition of the importance of working together that their common enemy is Saddam Hussein and not anyone else.

QUESTION: Isn't it a powerful incentive, though, the fact that the United States now is ready to put up, again, a substantial sum of money that these groups could use?

MR. RUBIN: Well, these discussions have been going on for many months, and I am not in a position to analyze the motivations of these particular leaders; other than to say the trend is in the right direction. Secretary Albright is expected to host a very important meeting -- I believe the first of its kind with the Secretary of State -- on Thursday or Friday, and that's a step.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the meeting?

MR. RUBIN: Correct. I wouldn't use the word expected if I didn't expect it to happen, but obviously I didn't use a word beyond that.

QUESTION: Is this the first meeting since they went apart?

MR. RUBIN: I don't know whether they've met before, and I will have to check that for you.

QUESTION: If they have met before and if one of your people upstairs could find out when --

MR. RUBIN: The last meeting --

QUESTION: -- that would be helpful.

MR. RUBIN: Right, but I don't believe that there's been a meeting with the Secretary of State of the two of them before.

QUESTION: With Baker.

MR. RUBIN: Since the Clinton Administration.


MR. RUBIN: Yes, now to your question, Carol, about Iraq. Why don't you re-pose it.

QUESTION: Well, apparently Baghdad is saying that it's going to cut back its cooperation or cease all its cooperation with the UN, and I wondered where you go from here.

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this -- last week, an important resolution was passed in direct response to Iraq's decision to block inspections by the UN Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The resolution demands that Iraq rescind that decision and stipulates that until it does, all sanctions reviews will be suspended. Should Iraq compound its defiance of the international community by now blocking all monitoring of UNSCOM as well as inspections as threatened, this would constitute yet another flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions and thus be a direct challenge to the authority of the Council. In that event, the UN Security Council would have to consider further action.

During the course of the weekend, Secretary Albright has spoken to several counterparts about this subject. She spoke to Secretary General Annan; she spoke to French Foreign Minister Vedrine; British Foreign Minister Cook; the Swedish Foreign Minister -- in light of the fact that Sweden is the current president of the Security Council. She also spoke to her new counterpart, Ivanov, from Russia. She emphasized the extent to which this action, if it occurs, because it doesn't come as a surprise to us, would be a ratcheting up by Iraq of its confrontation with the Council and a flouting of the will of the Council and that we would need to consider further action.

She had those discussions with those ministers to preempt what I would expect to be your next question. They made clear to her that they agree with the substance of the American position and to the extent that they can, would try to communicate the foolishness of the Iraqi position directly to the Iraqis.

QUESTION: Would military action be on the table?

MR. RUBIN: As far as military action is concerned, in the first instance it is up to the Council to respond to this if it were to occur. However, let me reiterate that the United States is watching very closely; we're watching the situation closely, and as we look ahead we will decide how and when to respond to Iraq's actions based on the threat they pose to Iraq's neighbors, to regional security and to American vital interests. And we have most certainly not taken that option off the table.

QUESTION: Another topic?

MR. RUBIN: Any more on this?

QUESTION: What are the formulas on the table for reconciliation between two Kurdish factions?

MR. RUBIN: In the run-up to this meeting on Thursday, I will try to get you more information about that subject. For now, having had these meetings, some of it obviously will have to remain private, but I will try to get you more information in the coming days.

More on Iraq?

QUESTION: Thank you, Jamie. Has Ms. Albright received any feedback or what has been the feedback from foreign governments regarding the crisis here with Mr. Clinton and the Congress? And has she got anything to say personally about her confidence in the President or any reaction to the whole matter?

MR. RUBIN: First of all, you must've missed it on Friday, but Secretary Albright did speak to that issue directly; and she expressed her strong confidence in the President's leadership and his ability to make sound judgments in foreign and other policy areas. She made that very clear on Friday.

With respect to your question of what other foreign leaders have said, let me emphasize that I'm responding to a question here. And my understanding of those conversations was that in the bulk of them, the issue did not come up at all. To the extent it did come up, there was a difficulty on the part of some in understanding the nature of this situation. But to the extent that further views were expressed, they tended to be views in which the leaders expressed their appreciation for the American policies that have been pursued in recent years; the leadership the United States has shown on various issues; and the importance to those leaders that those policies continue.

On a personal level, I would be surprised if there weren't some expressions of support. But on a substantive level, those were the answers.

QUESTION: Let me just follow briefly. Does the Secretary of State believe that it will be wise and in the personal interest of the President to seek some kind of a program for his personal recovery or getting over the vulnerabilities that are expressed in the Starr report?

MR. RUBIN: To the extent that you are credited in many buildings, I think those questions about this issue ought to be directed at those in other buildings. I told you on Friday - the Secretary told you on Friday, for those of you who were there and followed it and understood it, very clearly her views on this subject. I've reiterated them; I'm not sure there's any point in continuing to discuss it.

QUESTION: To what extent, though, does the crisis surrounding the President affect the ability to conduct foreign policy? I mean, I know she's having phone calls; she's dealing with all the issues one by one. But still, does it slow the ability to get decisions here? It must be much harder to get the President's focus, clearly. I mean, how much is the administration of foreign policy affected?

MR. RUBIN: Well, again, the answers to these questions about this issue in general, I believe belong in a different building. But to the extent you're asking a direct question about the views of the Secretary on this and I am in a position to answer, let me say the following.

Secretary Albright has made clear that she has never had a problem in recent months or years in getting the President on the phone when she needs him and doing the work that she needs to do when it needs to be done. As many of you are aware, there was a foreign policy team meeting on Saturday; so meetings continue to be held and her ability to talk to the President about matters of national security have remained the same.

Secretary Albright was involved in many discussions with the President in recent weeks - in particular, a long discussion last week about the state of the world economy, which led, as you know, to the President's very important speech today. The State Department's views about the importance of several issues being reflected in this speech were reflected in the speech, including the importance of having the World Bank increase its support for the social safety net in Asia, which was a core theme of remarks the Secretary made in ASEAN; including the importance of resisting protectionism and strengthening the World Trade Association; as well as the comprehensive trade agenda.

So the work, just as an example, this past week went on, on the subject of the global economy. The views the Secretary held and shared with the White House and the President were fully reflected in his speech. Beyond that, all I can say is that Secretary Albright continues to do her job and has confidence in the President's ability to lead this nation and to make the sound decisions necessary on foreign policy.

For those of you who, as I indicated last week, feel the need to speculate and analyze and guess how things are going inside the government and what's happening, it's really not my place to answer.

QUESTION: Jamie, sort of related to this, but more of an administrative question - Greg Craig's name is being floated around and reported as a possible choice to defend the President, should this matter go up to the Hill in impeachment procedure or otherwise. Would he have to, if that happened - would he just take a leave of absence from his duties at the State Department or how would that work?

MR. RUBIN: This is a White House personnel matter and, again, like many of the questions, probably belongs in a different building. That may be a pattern you see me answering many times in the coming days.

But with respect to your question, I understand that Greg has stated publicly that he has been discussing such a thing with people at the White House. It would be my expectation that it would involve him resigning, if he were to do such a thing.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the meetings here today with the Koreans and the Japanese? What exactly are you aiming to do?

MR. RUBIN: US, South Korean and Japanese officials are meeting here today to continue coordinating policy discussions on North Korea. From our side, Charles Kartman will convene the discussions with the Director General of the South Korean Foreign Ministry and the Director General for Asian Affairs of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

As you know, we have consulted very, very closely with our Japanese and South Korean allies in the implementation of the agreed framework and the policy towards North Korea. These talks represent a continuation of that consultative process. We will coordinate on all North Korean issues, including its recent missile test, which is a priority concern for all three governments.

QUESTION: The Japanese suggested that they might launch a satellite themselves in order to be able to more closely monitor what happens with North Korea. How does the United States feel about that?

MR. RUBIN: Japan is a very close ally, and many other allies have their own such programs. Given that they're allies, I wouldn't expect us to have a problem. That doesn't mean it wouldn't be something that would be talked about; I would it expect it would be, on the contrary. They would be looking for our assistance in some form or another - whether it be technical or not technical in the sense of equipment, but tapping into our long experience in this business.

QUESTION: And who would --

MR. RUBIN: I notice there was a slight uptick in the --

QUESTION: (Laughter).

MR. RUBIN: I really don't know further than to answer the question to say they're a close ally and if they want to launch a satellite, we wouldn't have a problem with that. It's something I would expect to be discussed.

QUESTION: The Japanese have been waiting for some kind of expression from the North Koreans in order to get back to the KEDO framework. Japan has suspended to pay its share for the light water reactor construction. Has the US put any influence to the North Koreans to persuade them to come back with some kind of international appeal or something?

MR. RUBIN: The question again, please.

QUESTION: The Japanese have been asking for some kind of cooperation from the US to persuade North Koreans to come up with some kind of international expression to express its remorse, whatever, for the missile launch test in order for the Japanese to come back to the framework agreement.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're discussing those very issues today with Japan and South Korea; and perhaps after such a discussion we might be in a position to talk more about what the future will hold. But we do believe it's important for the KEDO to be funded and for the heavy fuel oil and the reactors to be funded; because let's remember what we're dealing with here -- the very real and tangible possibility that in the absence of a framework, we would have a crisis with North Korea and the prospect of a nuclear armed North Korea in Asia, which should frighten both those countries there and any sane citizen. The idea of a nuclear armed North Korea is a very sobering prospect and has great ramifications and could, again, rivet the world the way it did in 1993 and 1994.

So we're working on this problem. I'll leave the Japanese position to be described by the Japanese, but it's something we're working on very closely together and consulting very closely.

QUESTION: What is the current US position on the cost-sharing for the light water reactor?

MR. RUBIN: Nothing has changed there.

QUESTION: Nothing has changed at all?


QUESTION: Ambassador Ross, can you update us?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I spoke to Ambassador Ross a few minutes ago, and he is continuing his work. He's working on all parts of the effort; and I hope you all understand what difficult work it is that he conducts and how much time and effort and hard work goes into it and would respect that a little bit more.

QUESTION: Does he say he's making progress?

MR. RUBIN: With respect to the specifics, he indicated that there are a large number of details to be worked out, a large number of issues to be worked out. And remember again what the purpose of this exercise is. If the American ideas could be agreed to, then we would be moving from the interim accords to a final status negotiation. The idea would be to resolve as many of the interim issues as could be resolved in this proposal and this agreement so that one could move immediately to the final status, the permanent status talks; which means not only the security issues, the further re-deployment, the issues related to Gaza, the seaport, the airport, the safe passage, a whole series of issues that would constitute the completion of as much of the interim agreement as was possible so that we could move immediately to final status talks. That is no mean task and is not a simple proposition; and that is why he is working so hard to achieve it.

QUESTION: Here's a question that I hope you won't think is sarcastic because by your own description of end-game -- when you get to end game, things that weren't all that big a deal become a big deal.

MR. RUBIN: Right.

QUESTION: So this is a totally innocent question. Since he's been on this current run for about a week, do you have more issues to be resolved or fewer issues to be resolved or about the same number as when he started out?

MR. RUBIN: I'd have to ask him that question directly. But from my experience in these matters and as stated in the preamble to your question, as far as the number of issues, I would expect the number might go up and down, especially towards the end.

The question isn't so much how many issues there are; the question is how hard it is to resolve each one. If one says one had a couple dozen substantive problems with the Gaza seaport and the industrialist state and the safe passage issues, that number could be very high as compared to a question like security work plan or the size of a further redeployment, which could be one issue but could be much more difficult to resolve. So I wouldn't focus so much on the number, but I would agree with you that the number of issues can increase often at the end if you count them at their most detailed levels.

QUESTION: You won't object if we take note of the fact that you didn't use the word "progress" or he didn't tell you to use the word "progress"? Or would you like to say he's making progress?

MR. RUBIN: I will certainly say that in recent weeks and months there has been progress.

QUESTION: But not this last spin -- this last push - this last drive?

MR. RUBIN: At this point all I can say is there are a lot of issues to be worked out.

QUESTION: And you left out one thing, if I may.

MR. RUBIN: Only one thing?

QUESTION: No, no - you actually named specific issues --

MR. RUBIN: They were examples. They are not intended to --

QUESTION: Yes, but I forgot about the seaport - it's been so long since we heard seaport. But to some of us who were over to the Israeli Embassy several months ago - I think spring was still in the air - the Israeli Ambassador was talking basically of two issues to wrap it up - a nature preserve and whether to the extent that it would be subjected to density; to how much building would be around it or whether it would be kept pretty much a preserve.

MR. RUBIN: There are more issues.

QUESTION: There's more than just a nature - is the nature preserve still an issue or is it --

MR. RUBIN: I don't intend to comment on that specific issue, other than to say that there are more issues.

QUESTION: Is the extent Israel's withdrawal - is how much land Israel turns over to Yasser Arafat still an issue?

MR. RUBIN: Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

QUESTION: The Azerbaijani election?

QUESTION: To what extent did the recent violence there complicate Ambassador Ross' trip? And do you whether the Palestinian - (inaudible) -- security participated in the raid on the two mens' home?

MR. RUBIN: I think you'd have to ask them about that; and he did not make any comment to me about that issue when I spoke to him.

QUESTION: We take it as somewhat of a promising sign that we're hearing about more issues this time around, as Barry mentioned, than simply the security and Palestinian covenant and the re-deployment of troops?

MR. RUBIN: I won't tell you how to read the tea leaves, because I'm losing my ability to read them myself. (Laughter.)

MR. RUBIN: Right, but that doesn't mean, again, this is a very serious subject. This is an excruciatingly difficult enterprise. If it weren't, we wouldn't be at it so long and those involved wouldn't recognize the excruciating difficulty.

To the extent that one gets down to details related to the interim issues like seaport, airport or safe passage or industrial state, that could be a sign that one is even closer to the end of the end-game. However, because of the nature of the breakdown of confidence and trust between the parties, the salient point is the one I think I just stated, which is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed; and that any issue in the current climate can be an obstacle that is insuperable, given this climate.

So all I can tell you is that one could see it that way, but it depends.


QUESTION: You mentioned a foreign policy meeting. Now, the President in Ireland --

MR. RUBIN: I'm sorry not to be more responsive, but that's my best assessment.

QUESTION: You mentioned that there was a foreign policy Saturday. The President, in Ireland, reasonably speaking of the gains made in that part of the world, was hoping and expressed the hope that this example could be replicated between India and Pakistan, between Israel and the Arabs. Do you know of any initiative that is being put together on India and Pakistan, particularly?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly have the question of the President's trip being currently on hold and under review and the work that Deputy Secretary Talbott has been doing to try to deal with some of the critical arms control issues. Beyond that, I'm not aware of a new proposal, other than to say that these are the kind of efforts - as was the case in Ireland and has been the case in many other issues - where one continues to work at it, pressing, pushing; and then at some point, the parties themselves decide that they want to put aside their animosities and enmity. That's where the facilitator and mediator role can best be served.

But in none of these cases have we stated or do we believe that the United States can force the parties to come to that moment of recognition that it is better to resolve these problems peacefully than to let them fester and risk greater and greater violence.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the UN an opportunity?

MR. RUBIN: Beyond that, as far as any new - I don't have anything to share with you today.

QUESTION: Are you able to characterize the Talbott discussions - progress, no progress, et cetera?

MR. RUBIN: When I scanned the characterization provided to me, it did not look like it would merit you putting pen to paper.

QUESTION: On Azerbaijan election and violence which took place in Baku last Saturday, the - (inaudible) - opposition tried to contact - (inaudible) - was brutally dispersed by police. US-based organization which had a presence in Azerbaijan, NDI - National Democratic Institute -- condemn the use of violence by police and other against the demonstrators? And while US Ambassador kept silent, German ambassador was expressed its concern saying that this is a violation of democratic rights. What would be the State Department reaction to this?

MR. RUBIN: Let me make two comments with respect to that situation. First of all, with respect to the meeting that took place which is also relevant, we welcome President Aliev's* invitation to Armenia to attend the Transportation Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia Conference -- that is some conference, the Transportation Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia Conference -- which we view as a gesture of goodwill. We look positively on these types of contacts, and we continue to encourage the parties to work together toward resolution of the conflict.

US policy is to support a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and we continue to play an active role. With respect to the events of Saturday that you described, it is our understanding that members of the Azerbaijani opposition attempting to hold a political rally were prevented from doing so by Azerbaijani police. We understand a number of people were beaten and arrested by the police. The United States Government is deeply concerned by this violence. The right of peaceful assembly and demonstration is a crucial international principle to which Azerbaijan is committed as a member of the OSCE and the United Nations and a right provided for in Azerbaijan's own constitution.

We urge the government of Azerbaijan to respect that right.

QUESTION: Just for follow up, President Aliyev, when he was in the United States last year, he met with Madeleine Albright, he met President Clinton and he took some commitment to conduct fair election. Now the five main opposition members - (inaudible) -- the election because President Aliyev controls all central election. Do you try to explain to President Aliyev, there is one month left until the election, that the election is out and opposition is not election at all; or the US Government is simply going to congratulate after the - and saying that we are supporting the status quo -- thank you for our oil, thank you for your support for -- (inaudible), and that's it? And we will have same picture that we have in Cambodia. Azerbaijan does not look like Uzbekistan or Central Asia. In Azerbaijan, there is some - (inaudible) - of democracy. This country had the first free election in the region. Are you concerned with the situation? Will you talk with the government? The same kind of statement you made last time - two times you made such a statement asking the government to continue the - (inaudible) - opposition. The government is refusing to conduct - (inaudible) - opposition. What are you going to do with this situation?

MR. RUBIN: Do you wish to continue?


MR. RUBIN: You're finished?

QUESTION: I've finished.

MR. RUBIN: To the extent I detected a question in your comments and your commentary, let me say that we urge conditions be established to allow free and fair elections in Azerbaijan. I wouldn't assume that we have an intention or a plan to dismiss the failure to do so.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about another --


QUESTION: Can you comment on the Bosnian elections?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. I spoke to Ambassador Gelbard earlier today, and he indicated to me that these elections were the freest and fairest elections in Bosnia's history; that there were very few - and there have been a number of elections in that history - that there have been few reports of problems; that as far as he could tell, it was very few percentage points of the polling places where there were problems.

We will be awaiting both preliminary and official results of the election, but it is our view that we will be really waiting to see what actions the elected officials and the policies the elected officials pursue and that will be the guide for how we respond.

So we'll have to see how the positions unfold. In general, I think it's fair to say that in recent years and months, political, social and economic reform have moved in the right directions, including elections, growth, pluralism; that political extremists have been removed from office; that joint institutions have been developed; that police and judicial reform is underway; that there are independent media that has been developing; that the GDP grew an estimated 35 percent in 1997; unemployment has dropped from 90 percent at the end of the war to 31 percent in early 1998; electric power has been restored to major cities. These actions and trends obviously need to become self-sustaining. But for those who are familiar with the conditions that people lived in in Bosnia during the recent years, I think would agree that that is major progress.

QUESTION: Jamie, there are some findings, I guess is the right word, of campaign violations - posters --

MR. RUBIN: Prior to that - yes, there was an issue of posters that Ambassador Gelbard said he had raised with the Croat side and was looking for them to condemn those violations. I believe it involved putting up posters of those indicted war criminals that had been transferred to The Hague - or two of them.

QUESTION: And you'd like the Croat side to condemn that?

MR. RUBIN: To condemn that, yes.

QUESTION: Jamie, you didn't list return of refugees on your list of accomplishments?

MR. RUBIN: Clearly, significant political progress has occurred, but numbers are still quite low when it comes to refugees; and progress in that area is threatened by many obstacles, including anti-return politics of many of the leaders, including legislation problems, including forced returns from Europe.

Minorities have returned to areas where many thought returns would never happen, but the pace is unacceptably slow. There have been only 50,000 minority returns and the majority of the 1.4 million Bosnians who are still displaced come from minority areas. We continue to work on this problem and we are going to pursue it as vigorously as we can. But ultimately, it depends on the policies of the leaders who are either promoting or not facilitating returns. Certainly, our assistance policies will be geared to those leaders and municipalities and regions that implement the Dayton accord. One prime element of the Dayton accord is to make such refugee returns possible.

QUESTION: There's been some early reporting that the conservatives or the more radical elements are in the lead and that Plavsic, in fact, may have lost. Are you saying that you've detected none of those trends; it's just too early?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, that's what Ambassador Gelbard's view was.

QUESTION: On that subject, political extremists have been removed from power. Who in particular?

MR. RUBIN: Well, Karadzic used to be the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic.

QUESTION: Back to North Korea really quickly, to the extent the missile launch was a satellite, are we ready to make any revised statements?

MR. RUBIN: On that issue, let me say that our analysis regarding the August 31 launch continues. We have concluded that North Korea did attempt to orbit a very small satellite. We also have concluded the satellite failed to achieve orbit. Nevertheless, the North Koreans have demonstrated in this launch a capability to deliver a weapons payload against surface targets at increasing ranges, confirming the inherent capability to threaten its neighbors.

So we regard this missile as a threat to US allies, friends and forces in the region. As far as the specific capabilities of this missile, I'm not in a position to state anything more than we continue to examine it. But that is our conclusion at this point.

QUESTION: Follow on that - is it legal to launch a missile over somebody - some other country's airspace?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get that. We regard this as something we don't want to see happen again. It demonstrates a dangerous capability, a destabilizing capability. As far as the technicalities are concerned, I'll have to get a legal answer for you. But regardless of the technicalities, we do not want to see it happen again.

QUESTION: Is the US going to go so far as to condemn North Korea for doing what they did, even though --

MR. RUBIN: I think we've stated very clearly our opposition to these tests time after time after time.

QUESTION: Could you comment on the reports that the North Koreans were shipping warhead canisters to Pakistan a couple of months ago?

MR. RUBIN: I can. I know it's in here. It is well-known that North Korea has marketed its missile technology and equipment world wide, including to Pakistan. North Korean, Pakistan cooperation on the Ghauri missile also has been documented. The United States takes this matter very seriously and has been addressing it.

In April of this year, we imposed sanctions on North Korean and Pakistani entities for their involvement in transferring from North Korea to Pakistan items controlled under Category I of the Missile Technology Control Regime related specifically to the Ghauri missile. The sanctioned entities are the Changgwang Sinyoung Corporation of North Korea and the Khan Research laboratories of Pakistan.

We have sanctioned North Korean and Pakistani entities for the transfer of equipment and technology. Again, this is under Category I which refers to complete missiles, major sub-systems or production technology for a missile system capable of delivering a 500 kilogram payload to a range of at least 300 kilometers. I cannot be more specific than that, other than to say that Pakistan has announced that the Ghauri has a payload of some 700 kilograms and a range of 1500 kilometers which is - and the parameters, therefore, described by Pakistan are consistent with our understanding of the parameters of North Korea's No Dong missile.

QUESTION: When was this sanctions decision made?

MR. RUBIN: In April 1998.

QUESTION: Do you know what kind of satellite they were lofting?

MR. RUBIN: I have no further information.

QUESTION: Do you have any announcement as far as the Secretary's schedule in New York, specifically like the --

MR. RUBIN: Not yet. Later in the week.

QUESTION: One more question. It's our understanding that later this afternoon there's going to be a press conference in Miami to discuss the arrest of, I think, ten Cuban spies. Did the United States know about the presence of these spies prior for many years, or has this been a new discovery; and why are they only being arrested now, if that's the case?

MR. RUBIN: We have no information to provide you as of 2:20 p.m. at this time on that story. It is my understanding the US Attorney and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be holding a press conference in Miami this afternoon, and they will be in a position to provide the information on a subject of this seriousness. This is a very serious law enforcement matter and it should be discussed first by them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 2:20 P.M.)

[end of document]

Back to the Press Briefing Calendar.
Return to the Home Page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.