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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

INDEX
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 1999
Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN

STATEMENT: LIBYA

1 Secretary Albright is pleased Pan Am 103 bombing suspects have been handed over.

2 UN sanctions will be suspended when Secretary General notifies Security Council.

2 US has Libyan sanctions apart from UN sanctions.

3 US has been in close contact with families of victims.

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (KOSOVO)

4,5-7 US has made a decision in principle to temporarily take 20,000 refugees: No details yet.

4 It's preferable to keep refugees in region, to ease their eventual return to Kosovo.

4-5,10 Refugees continue to arrive in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

6,7 Ethnic cleansing is the reason for NATO bombing, not the result of it.

7-8,10 Ambassador for War Crimes Scheffer has traveled to the region, interviewed refugees.

7-8 Amb. Scheffer believes war crimes, crimes against humanity are occurring in Kosovo.

9 It's becoming harder to envision sitting at table with current Serb leadership.

9 US has reason to believe executions are occurring inside Kosovo.

10,11 Essential principles of Rambouillet accords must be accepted by Serbs for bombing to end. and a permissive environment to be created.

11 US believes Russia continues to talk with Serb government.

11 Milosevic will not get away with declaring a phony peace without agreeing to NATO's four principles.

11 US not prepared to speculate on whereabouts, condition of Dr. Rugova.

12 US has regular but infrequent contact with KLA, but not formal military cooperation.

12-13 US remains concerned about possibility of Belgrade crackdown on Montenegro.

13 US has been in close contact with Albanian government.

13 Deputy Secretary Talbott was in Albania Saturday, met with president and prime minister, said the meetings went well.

14 Refugee placement, funding details are being worked out on an urgent basis.

14 Issue of a protecting power has not been resolved; ICRC has not yet visited abducted US servicemen.

15 US working closely with NATO to keep crisis from widening.

IRAN

16 US deeply disappointed, greatly concerned about latest French deal in Iran's oil sector.

NORTH KOREA

16 US officials have been working out details of inspection of suspect underground site.

CHINA

16 US looks forward to Premier Zhu Rongji's visit, expects to work on areas of interest.

16-17 US will make decision on Chinese WTO membership based on the merits.

INDONESIA

17 US remains concerned about violence in East Timor, including latest reported deaths.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB #44
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 1999, 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing. Having heard about the improvement in the weather, I got a very good night's sleep last night. I hope everybody else slept well as well. Here's how we're going to proceed. I'm going to read a statement on behalf of Secretary Albright on the Libya situation, then take some of your questions on that. Then shortly after this briefing, we will provide some Administration officials who are experts on this matter to discuss the Lockerbie situation with you in greater detail.

Secretary Albright is very pleased with the news that today two persons accused of the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight 103 are now in the custody of Dutch authorities. The two were delivered by the United Nations. Legal proceedings will now take place in accordance with the US-UK initiative to bring the suspects to trial before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. This bombing, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, provoked international outrage. It has taken 10 years of efforts by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, with the support of many of our allies and friends, to bring the suspected criminals to justice. Many people played a critical role and in the statement we'll spell that out.

Let me say that the turnover of these two suspects marks an important milestone in achieving legal accountability for theses outrageous crimes. The Secretary wishes to commend the effort and energy of those British and American officials who led the investigation, a difficult, painstaking process.

Second, the counter-terrorism strategy initiated by the Bush administration and pursued by the Clinton administration has used carefully targeted, multilateral sanctions, an international program to compel Libya to surrender the suspects. Diplomacy, especially in coordination with close friends and allies, can be one of the most valuable tools in our arsenal against terror.

Third, in an extraordinary measure of international efforts to achieve justice, the British and the Netherlands agreed to provide for a Scottish trial, and the Secretary wishes to thank Foreign Minister Cook and the Dutch government for their determined efforts to bring this matter to this point. She especially wishes to commend all the work of those in the Administration who have worked so hard on this and the full statement will refer to the great work of Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela and several other key international figures. If you have any questions on that, we could go to that -

QUESTION: Just a quick one - maybe it's one step at a time. There's reference to sanctions. There's no reference to lifting of sanctions. Is that implied? I remember past statements that ---

MR. RUBIN: The sanctions will be immediately suspended upon notification by the Secretary General to the Security Council that they have been turned over. We expect that to happen very shortly. But sanctions will not be lifted. According to the UN resolutions, there are other issues that must be addressed, including payment of appropriate compensation, renunciation of support for terrorism and cooperation with the trial. The Secretary General will report on Libyan compliance in general, and we then will address the question of a permanent sanctions lift.

QUESTION: Has anybody applied for the rewards?

MR. RUBIN: I understand that the rewards team is looking into this. They have not made any judgments or provided awards. I don't know whether anyone has applied for it yet.

QUESTION: Jamie, the US has some unilateral sanctions against Libya. Have you all given any thought as to what might happen with those?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say with respect to our unilateral sanctions, these are the product of presidential executive orders. They predate the UN sanctions and in fact, some even predate the Lockerbie bombing. They're intended to limit Libyan access to funds and material for terrorist activities, weapons of mass destruction programs and other destabilizing military actions. Those will remain. We need to have additional concerns alleviated before we will address modifying our own sanctions.

QUESTION: Last month US officials, when they heard the news that Libya might turn them over, greeted it with skepticism, saying they'll believe it when they see it. So, two things - is the US surprised that he's actually gone through with it; and, two, what do you think his motivation is for actually turning them over?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we believe the sanctions policy and the determination of the international community to hold Libya's feet to the fire until they provide the suspects is what made the difference. Let's remember that about a year ago, after many, many months of behind-the-scenes consultation, Secretary Albright and Foreign Secretary Cook decided to change tactics - to try to take Libya's alleged willingness to allow a third-country trial, turn it into a proposal that was consistent with UN resolutions -- namely that it be a Scottish court in this third country -- and called their bluff. As a result of the sanctions and the flexible and creative diplomacy we've pursued in the last year, Libya has now come through. But we'll have to see how Libya will proceed on the other matters of interest.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate a little on the assurance that the aim of the trial is not to undermine the Libyan regime? Does this have any implications for the type of evidence that can be presented and the possibility of other Libyans facing charges in connection with --

MR. RUBIN: It is our view that now that a trial is imminent, that it would be inappropriate for us to make comments on very good questions like that, considering that a judicial proceeding is about to begin. The lawyers and other officials who are working on this will be in a position to explain to you the reasons why we think it would be inappropriate to make public comments now that a judicial proceeding is about to being.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- brief families on this and --

MR. RUBIN: We have been briefing the families on and off on this proposal. We've been in close contact with them since the attack took place. We believe that almost all of them have indicated relief that the suspects are finally in custody and will be tried.

QUESTION: You say that lifting sanctions permanently required measures linked with compensation, but obviously compensation cannot be decided until the trial is over. So, how can --

MR. RUBIN: If the trial indicates Libyan responsibility, there would have to be compensation.

QUESTION: Okay, so the trial won't be over in 90 days, we assume, so --

MR. RUBIN: But in practical terms, the Libyans know that specific sanctions that are in place now - namely, the ban on flights, the ban on petroleum equipment, the controlled assets. Those are now suspended. So in practical terms, they are able to go about their business, but they won't be lifted until we're satisfied that these three -

QUESTION: Does that mean until the trial is complete?

MR. RUBIN: They'll be lifted with the Secretary General determines that these three conditions - reports on these three conditions -- and the Security Council determines that they've been met.

QUESTION: How much did the sanctions hurt Libya? Are US companies going to be allowed to go back in?

MR. RUBIN: To the extent that the existing US sanctions do not prohibit US companies from participating in commerce that had been prohibited, they would be able to go back in. I think the sanctions hurt Libya just enough for them to turn over the suspects. Anything else?

Questions on Kosovo?

QUESTION: Business of refugees - I don't know how far along you are - the US is -- in its own plans to take in refugees -- where they might be housed temporarily. I hope this doesn't sound somewhat cynical, but wasn't the original intention to make sure these people get to recover their own homes? I mean, this is a pretty nice place to be, and considering what these folks have been through - as Germany and the US and others house them, might that in a way, in an unintended way, give Milosevic pretty much what he wants -- getting rid of a lot of people he finds annoying to him?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say that the current - the Secretary has been working the phones extensively all weekend, trying to work with partners and friends in Europe to try to accept certain refugees. The overall goal is to find some spots for some 200,000 people in and around the area and beyond. We've made a decision in principle to accept 20,000. We are still working on the location and arrangements for that. Several European countries have now indicated a willingness to accept some 41,000 refugees, so we are continuing to work this problem.

But let me be clear, that all of these arrangements are temporary arrangements, and are intended to be as such. We believe the refugees want to return to their homes, and we are going to make arrangements in order to alleviate the bottleneck where you see in Macedonia and Albania them being overwhelmed and indicating that in the absence of other people taking them temporarily, they won't be able to accept the continuing inflow.

So this is a temporary arrangement designed to deal with an emergency problem. It's not designed to have permanent relocation of these refugees. That's why, we're trying to see that as many as possible can be in the area, in and around Kosovo, rather than coming as far as Guantanamo and other locations being considered for the United States.

QUESTION: Could you tell us more about the Guantanamo, Guam option?

MR. RUBIN: All I can say on that is we're seriously considering that. We haven't made any final decisions. People are obviously working very intensively to try to deal with this urgent crisis. That is certainly a strong possibility, but no final decision has been made on that.

QUESTION: Is 20,000 it, or is there a possibility that the US may up that number in days to come?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't want to predict what the future will hold. Right now, we've agreed and told our allies that in principle we're prepared to accept 20,000. We're trying to encourage others to take large numbers so that this number of 200,000 or so can be accepted so that we can deal with the backlog. Let me say in that regard, the situation is still a major problem. We are prepared to provide temporary asylum for 20,000 refugees as part of a multinational effort to ease the burden.

The situation, as I understand it now, is in the last 24-hours some 22,000 refugees arrived in Albania bringing that total up to 244,000. In Macedonia, the 5,000 that arrived in the last 24-hours have increased the total there to 136,000. There are also some 65,000 between Yugoslavia and Blace that have no shelter.

The first thousands of people trapped in this area have begun moving to newly established areas last night. Montenegro now hosts over 60,000, including the 2,700 that have arrived in the last 24-hours. So we're trying to do is alleviate the bottlenecks that have been created by this swelling in primarily Albanian and Macedonia.

QUESTION: But the answer to my question is, you will reconsider it, could end up being more than 20,000?

MR. RUBIN: Well, nobody's made any decisions beyond 20,000. That decision was made over the weekend as a way of dealing with the crisis. I'm not aware that additional decisions have been made to accept more other than this single decision. I'm not going to rule out anything out for all time, but that is the current decision.

QUESTION: In regards to - are there any other sites being considered other than Guam and Guantanamo and, in particular, are there any sites that are on the actual mainland?

MR. RUBIN: These arrangements are still being worked out, and I do not have details of what is being considered.

QUESTION: Can you say a little bit more on the logic behind moving them from the region? Surely, logistically it's less difficult, easier to house them and tend for them in the region than it is to move them and deal with them elsewhere.

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're trying to galvanize an international effort. We're trying to galvanize as many European countries as possible to take - countries in the region to take refugees. We think part of that process has to include the United States stepping up to the plate and accepting 20,000 refugees on a temporary basis so that it will be easier for others to do as well. We think that's part of the burden sharing process. I don't think it makes that much difference if you're going to fly to a West European country or you're going to fly to some location like this. You're going to be flown out on a temporary basis to be returned.

QUESTION: Jamie, how soon could they be coming to the United States and any decisions on how they would get here?

MR. RUBIN: Those details are still being worked out. This decision was just made yesterday - as soon as the detailed plans are finalized, we'll try to get them to you.

QUESTION: Can I get a follow-up too? You said about the European countries that agreed so far to take, what, 41,000?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: -- and 20 - that's, obviously the math, 61 -

MR. RUBIN: These are announced numbers that I'm prepared to announce. I think there are a lot of other countries that are trying to make clear what their pledge would be and haven't yet been prepared to announce it. We believe that the European Union, for example, indicated their intent as a whole to accept 100,000. But each of the detailed provisions haven't been spelled out.

QUESTION: But the US is confident that getting an amount of 200,000 -

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't know about confident. I know that we're going to work on it, and we're going to try to make that happen. The European Union indicated 100,000. So we're going to continue to work the problem. There are countries in the region who are not part of the European Union that we're working with as well.

QUESTION: -- being interviewed for asylum if they request such interviews?

MR. RUBIN: The details of the plan for their temporary location here in the United States is being worked out and so I'm not able to predict what arrangements and procedures will be followed. All I wanted to do was be able to indicate to you that the 20,000 had been accepted in principle, but the details of that are still being worked out.

QUESTION: Could you respond for the record for charges that in doing this, NATO countries are helping Milosevic with ethnic cleansing?

MR. RUBIN: I think that is simply wrong. What we are doing is dealing with a crisis that President Milosevic created. The refugee crisis is not a result of the NATO bombing -- it's the reason NATO bombed -- that Milosevic would conduct this kind of ethnic cleansing. Let's be clear. We would fully think it's possible in the coming days for President Milosevic to having eradicated the key elements of the Kosovar Liberation Army, having ethnically cleansed whole sections of Kosovo, to suddenly announce he wants to pursue a peace plan of some kind.

We are very clear that we're not going to accept anything short of the four objectives spelled out by the five foreign ministers this weekend, and, that is self-government; the return of refugees; the Serb military, paramilitary and special police out; and acceptance of a NATO-led implementation force to provide security in both for the self-government and for the refugees that are returning. Anything short of that is simply unacceptable.

So he is not going to gain anything by the fact that we are dealing with the refugee crisis. I think it would be irresponsible of us, having seen what's going on on the ground in Albania and Macedonia, not to try to deal with it. That's what we're trying to do but in no way should it be seen - and I doubt it will be - in Belgrade as some indication that we are going to stop the bombing campaign unless he accepts those four points.

QUESTION: Have you made any decisions yet on the selection criteria for these refugees? Will it be done at random, or is there -

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated to you, we're still working out the procedures. We're trying to finalize that. I wanted to indicate the 20,000 number, but these procedures are being worked urgently by the refugee bureau.

QUESTION: Have you all been in touch with some of the Arab countries, say, Saudi Arabia or Oman, and have they stepped up to the plate to maybe take some of the refugees?

MR. RUBIN: I think, primarily, the Secretary's calls have been in and around Europe and primarily in the region, in the Balkans, including the European Union countries. That has been the focus of our effort. I think if UNHCR has other ideas, they may pursue that. But we've been focused on European countries to try to, in principle, keep them as close as possible to where they came from. But as I indicated, we thought as an indication of our good faith and intent and willingness to bear our share of the burden, that we were going to take 20,000 of our own.

QUESTION: Robin Cook said this morning that this is mass deportation on a scale that Europe hasn't seen since the days of Stalin or Hitler. Is this a war crime in the view of the United States, and what is this government doing to help the tribunal gather evidence and prosecute Milosevic?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this, Ambassador Scheffer, our Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes has just filed a report with the Secretary, the key elements, which I'm prepared to share with you. He went to the region, and he worked very closely with a number of the international relief and other international personnel there. They conducted a large amount of interviews. He said that there was remarkable consistency in the refugees accounts and that the large and growing number of consistent reports by the refugees is too significant to either ignore or understate.

We believe these reports, coupled with what we are learning from other sources of information, clearly demonstrate that ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity are occurring in Kosovo. The widespread and systematic character of the criminal conduct of Serb military, paramilitary and police units in Kosovo points to many of the indicators of genocide. Kosovars are fleeing Kosovo, not because of the NATO bombing campaign but because of the Serb assault on the civilian population.

He indicated that the pattern basically, that I'm about to describe, is based on interviews he personally conducted with these refugees. Serb forces usually masked to hide their identities barge into private homes and order the occupants to leave permanently within five minutes with a number of derisive epithets. In Pristina, the Serbs yelled, "There will be no Albania Pristina after tonight." Pristina is being expunged neighborhood by neighborhood with seemingly calculated and planned efficiency. Kosovars are shaken down for their cash, money and their jewelry. Those Kosovars who resist expulsion from their homes are killed. The basic message is, "You leave or you die."

Killings and beatings are common. Many refugees reported about individuals killed in their homes either by gun fire or by torching the homes while they are inside. Executed bodies were seen on the streets of Pristina and other towns with no apparent effort to remove them.

There was a forced march of thousands of Kosovars from Podujevo to the train station in Pristina. The paralyzed were either shot in their homes or pushed in wheel barrels. Serb forces told these residents you are the most resistant ones, so now you march. The Pristina train station had tens of thousands of Kosovars crammed together under orders not to move, subjected to the cold weather and deprived of food.

Many refugees confirmed that their attackers were neighbors, wearing black masks. They could tell by their voices. The refugees said their neighbors donned the characteristic black uniform at night and joined the Serb forces. There was an indication, that with respect to the trains, that Kosovars were packed into each train like sardines. One refugee called it the, "train of misery." Another refugee estimated there were 300 Kosovars in each train car, and the train had 21 cars. When it arrived at Blace, Ambassador Scheffer witnessed thousands disembarking into the already crowded field.

Those are the conclusions based on some initial reporting by Ambassdor Scheffer who is our Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes. Those were pretty dramatic conclusions that he's reached based on his own interviewing. He will be provided assistance to the Tribunal and working both with refugee accounts, individual interviews, documenting this information so that it's spelled out as close to the events when it happened, has the most credibility as possible. Then the rest of our government will be working with Ambassador Scheffer's office to provide the necessary information for the War Crimes Tribunal to do its job. We intend to support them, and we hope they will follow the evidence where it leads.

QUESTION: At this point, can you conclude that Milosevic is responsible for the actions being -

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I indicated to you that we do believe war crimes, crimes against humanity, are being committed. We believe they're indicators of genocide. As far as President Milosevic is concerned, we have said for some time that the question of command responsibility is one that needs to be addressed. We have no doubt that President Milosevic is politically responsible for what is going on in Kosovo.

The legal responsibility is pursuant to the rules of the international tribunal is what they have to determine. We don't want to prejudge that for them. We want to give them all the help they need in order to draw their independent conclusions in the hopes that whatever conclusions they do reach are as widely accepted as possible.

QUESTION: Can the United States not negotiate with a head of state who is also an indicted war criminal?

MR. RUBIN: I don't want to prejudge the future. I will say this: There is a growing sense in this Administration and among western governments that it is harder and harder to see how we can sit down at the table with somebody who is at least politically responsible for these horrendous and barbaric acts. It is harder and harder to see whether we can do that. I wouldn't want to rule it out in the interest of achieving the peace that the people of Kosovo want and the objectives that we've described. But it's certainly harder and harder to see.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. RUBIN: Well again, for example, with our objectives there are other ways in which we could know that the Serbs have agreed to the four objectives that we had other than sitting down at the table with Milosevic. We would have to judge whatever agreement were reached to achieve our objectives based on concrete indicators that that is real, but it is possible to imagine how to do that without sitting down with him.

QUESTION: Reports of the exodus note, several of them do, an absence of males of fighting age. Does Scheffer deal with that at all? Is their fate more gruesome? It can't be happenstance, can it?

MR. RUBIN: I think clearly our own indication suggest that the worse plight is for those who are still in Kosovo. We know that Serbs have herded Kosovars into larger towns from small villages, where they've been subject to brutality and execution. But as far as the specific report of Ambassador Scheffer, I don't believe he dealt with any conclusions about that. We've all seen some rather dramatic footage by the BBC and interviews in the region by various news organizations that indicate what the refugees and witnesses have said they've seen. We have reason to believe that there are real executions going on inside Kosovo. But I don't have anything based on Ambassador Scheffer's report.

QUESTION: Is there a belief that some of these men have gone off to join the KLA? Are their ranks swelling?

MR. RUBIN: It's hard to know for sure, but again if you're talking about a situation where villages and towns were surrounded by Serb forces, I doubt the Serbs were going to let them do that. If you're talking about a situation where people might have already left in advance, that's certainly possible.

But let me say as far as the KLA's concerned, the attacks of the military and police are concentrated in the Klina, Pec and Decani region of western Kosovo, near the Albanian border. They continue their massive shelling of Malisevo. Clearly the KLA is having a very rough time of it, and there is less and less territory of which they have any control of.

But as far as when people are rounded up in the villages and towns and cities and the men, women and children are surrounded, that's -- the question of where are those men of fighting age who are not elderly or not children are - is one of the most horrific question to contemplate.

QUESTION: A couple of questions -- do you have a new total figure for the number of Kosovar refugees?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I gave you the number for the three countries. There are additional numbers for the total within Kosovo and within other parts. The total if you address the question of refugees outside and internally displaced persons within the FRY, is now in upwards of 855,000. But that includes people who were outside of Kosovo prior to this most recent episode, 459,000 -- 395,000 new arrivals in Montenegro and other countries; 31,000 new arrivals in the last 24-hours, for a total of 855,000. That's outside Kosovo and IDPs.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate or explain what the Secretary meant over the weekend when she talked about ways of creating a permissive environment?

MR. RUBIN: There's been some misunderstanding of that. I talked to the Secretary, and I even watched the show, and I did not interpret it the way some news accounts did. What is going on here is people are dealing with the following situation, which is that everyone realizes that the Kosovar Albanians and many in countries around the world have not made - it's harder and harder to imagine accepting all the elements of the Rambouillet accord, which had 82 pages, a large number of legal and constitutional and political pieces built into it.

But the basic principles of that accord - self government, Serb forces out, acceptance of an international security presence led by NATO and now refugee return - are our goals and objectives. We would require acceptance by the Serbs of those four points in order for us to cease the bombing. That situation would be a permissive environment, which would allow for the deployment of the NATO-led implementation force. The Secretary was not suggesting that there was some other scenario where the decision has been made or even to contemplate deploying ground forces. I think that was something that was misunderstood.

QUESTION: Could you tell us whether Ambassador Scheffer or anyone else for that matter has yet reached the stage of identifying Serbian individuals who might be responsible for some of these atrocities?

MR. RUBIN: Let me say this, I don't have details of that. I think that he did receive a lot of information from these refugees. He's putting it down - documenting it, providing it to the War Crimes Tribunal. If there's any chance that this information from this briefing can break through the propaganda wall of the Serb television, let me say that those people conducting this type of atrocity should know that the international community will not rest until the evidence is provided and those responsible are brought to justice; and that they should know that. That means individuals who -- information develops that justifies an indictment by the Tribunal, and that means individuals as far as the evidence will lead.

QUESTION: Different pictures being aired of Ibrahim Rugova, this time meeting with a Russian official. What have you determined about his status? Also, what are the Russians up to? Do their diplomatic efforts continue in some way?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we certainly believe the Russians continue to talk through a variety of channels with the Serbs. That's clear to us. The Secretary has been in touch with Foreign Minister Ivanov on a regular basis. She continues to explain to him our objectives. I know she spoke to him this week.

As far as Dr. Rugova is concerned, we're just not going to speculate on what the conditions are of these statements reported or contributed to him, or whether this is a fair representation of what's going on. I would urge as journalists, all of you, to bear in mind that the Serb government is simply not allowing journalists to do their job in Kosovo - go into all the places, get independent access, and make these judgments for yourselves.

From our perspective, until we get an opportunity to see Dr. Rugova, to speak to him, to know that he and his family are safe, we're not going to react to purported descriptions of his position. Again, let me say in that context, if President Milosevic thinks that in the coming days he can stand up and declare this thing over through some action short of the objectives that we have set forth, he is sadly mistaken. This bombing campaign is going to continue. We have made clear what our four objectives are, and we're not going to allow him to preempt those objectives with some phony peace deal in the coming days.

QUESTION: What made you say that - lead you to suspect that he might unilaterally declare victory and --

MR. RUBIN: Past practice indicates that that's possible. We don't want to rule that out. We think it's possible and we think it's important to say that we're not going to accept that.

QUESTION: But have others suggested that to you?

MR. RUBIN: I think people have suggested that that's a possibility and we have indications that's a possibility. But we don't know what's going to happen. It's impossible to know what's going to happen. But in light of that possibility we're trying to be very clear. The Secretary's work with the German, French, Italian and British foreign ministers is to deal with that possibility by making clear that NATO countries are simply not going to accept some phony peace deal.

QUESTION: Going back to if the bombing does not bring about the agreement on those four principles you laid out and if, at some point down the road, bombing does end because the US and NATO do feel that they've degraded Milosevic's military capabilities to the point where they're satisfied, is it possible then that this international security force could go in and bring those refugees in?

MR. RUBIN: The only consideration being given is to a permissive environment, defined by Serb acceptance of such a force.

QUESTION: Have there been failed attempts to get in touch with Rugova?

MR. RUBIN: I think we've been trying to get in touch with him. Primarily, it's Ambassador Hill's area, and he's been working with him closely for many, many years now. I don't think his phone has been answering to my knowledge, and we're not getting access to him. I don't know what attempts have been made formally, but I think attempts have been made. We certainly would want to get an opportunity to talk to him and make sure that he and his family are safe before we judge what his intentions or purported statements were.

QUESTION: There are some suggestions that the Milosevic - Rugova meeting shown on Serb TV last week was actually a Spring rerun of a meeting that was held between the two, two years ago or so. Have any of your sleuths --

MR. RUBIN: We don't know. We just don't know.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what is the level of cooperation - diplomatic, military or otherwise -- between the United States and the KLA? Is there any consideration being given to stepping up that level of cooperation?

MR. RUBIN: We have received infrequent, but regular, contact from the KLA to describe the conditions they're living under, to request air drops and to identify the horrors going on inside of Kosovo. That has gone on through a variety of channels here and in Macedonia and in other places.

But as far as formal military cooperation, I think right now the KLA is having a tough enough time trying to keep its own positions and avoid being overrun completely, and avoid being defeated completely. I'm not aware there's any formal military cooperation. We have not made any decision to assist the KLA with arms or weaponry or anything of that sort. That's not going to solve this problem in the near term. That's a long-term proposed solution by some well-intentioned members of Congress, but I'm not aware of any real formal military cooperation.

QUESTION: Over the weekend, the KLA actually called for more support from their own folks -- they said people between the ages of 18 and 55 should join up. Is this a bad idea? Does the US think this is a bad idea?

MR. RUBIN: I don't think it would be appropriate for us to comment on what the horrific circumstances are of the people of Kosovo and what decisions are made by people trying to defend their homes and their wives and their daughters and their families from this horrific slaughter. It wouldn't be appropriate for us to tell them what to do in such a terrible tragedy.

QUESTION: Jamie, last week you made statements several times from the podium telling Milosevic to stay out of Montenegro and that you all had indications that there was a possibility that he might try and move on Montenegro. Does that situation remain, and has it altered at all?

MR. RUBIN: We still believe there are indicators of a Serb intent to act. One of their top ministers indicated they intend to respond and not accept some sort of coup d' etat. But at the same time, the situation in Montenegro is generally calm and peaceful. We remain concerned about the potential for a Belgrade crackdown. Indications are that pro-Belgrade forces are now attempting to impose Serbian TV and other propaganda on the people of Montenegro in an effort to undermine peace and stability. The humanitarian situation remains a cause for concern. The UNHCR informed us that supplies to meet the needs of displaced persons in Montenegro are generally adequate, and the situation has not reached the grave proportions seen elsewhere.

Some of you may be aware there was a rock concert held in Podgorica last night. We have heard reports that during this rock concert, pro-Belgrade elements had hoped to use this as a means of promoting anti-Western, anti-Djukanovic fervor. However, indications are that the Montenegrin students who organized the concert blunted these efforts keeping the focus on music and entertainment.

QUESTION: How has the US responded to concerns from the Albanians that the deployment and then possible use of these Apache helicopters might draw them into a war with Serbs?

MR. RUBIN: Well, the US Government has been in very, very close contact with the Albanian Government, both in terms of dealing with the refugee crisis that's so massive. In terms of other military questions, I would have to refer you to my Pentagon colleagues to talk about any military arrangements for any equipment.

I know that there are significant efforts being made to send -- as yesterday and the day before -- 100,000 daily rations to Albania by American aircraft. I'm sure that the Albanian Government is concerned about the future. They have every right to be. Under the Partnership for Peace, they're in a position to ask for a meeting with NATO to discuss matters of concern. We would certainly respond to that.

As far as the basic situation is concerned, however, I think they recognize the need to deal with the refugees with whatever means are necessary. I think they've been very welcoming of the military equipment that has now been brought to bear to help deal with that. As far as the military question you're asking me, I would have to refer you to my colleagues at the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Has there been any diplomatic initiatives to kind of calm the fears that the Albanians do have that if these helicopters are used, that the Serbs might retaliate -

MR. RUBIN: Deputy Secretary Talbott is in the region, and these are the kinds of subjects that he's discussing. He's felt that he's had very good cooperation from the people he's been meeting with. I would have to refer that question to his return and any comments he might make on that. He was in Albania on Saturday, where he met with the president and prime minister. As I understand it, he felt those meetings went quite well.

QUESTION: Going back to the refugees and the 20,000 coming here, where are the funds coming for that? Are they in a refugee budget existing or you have to ask Congress for more money? Where does that stand?

MR. RUBIN: In the area of finalizing the details of this program - where they would go, what questions they would be asked, where the funds would come from - that is something we're finalizing. You first have to make a decision in principle, and then you have to work out the locations, the financing and the procedures for that. That's what we're doing right now. When we have details about financing, procedures or the locations, we'll provide that to you expeditiously.

QUESTION: Are there refugee resettlement funds that can be -

MR. RUBIN: There are funds but exactly where the funds would come from for this is something that is being worked out on an urgent basis.

QUESTION: Do you have any information on the three soldiers?

MR. RUBIN: No, I don't have any information on that. We have tried through the Swedes and through the ICRC to get access to them. We are in discussion with the FRY to ensure that the interests of the US and the FRY are covered by the services of an appropriate protecting power, but the issue has not yet been resolved. To my knowledge, the ICRC has not yet gotten access to them as required by an international law.

QUESTION: On that, the Swedes said over the weekend that Belgrade was no longer allowing them to serve as a US protecting power.

MR. RUBIN: The Serb authorities have informed Sweden that it can no longer be the US protecting power in Serbia. We are discussing the situation and exploring alternatives.

QUESTION: Is this a violation of the Geneva Convention?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't think they have to accept any particular protecting power. We're trying to work on arrangements to get the protecting power to be accepted by the Serbs so that they can look out for our interests.

QUESTION: Can they do that though? Can they say no, you can't -

MR. RUBIN: Yes, they don't have to accept any country who volunteers to be the protective power. They just have to accept the idea of a protecting power, I believe.

QUESTION: -- Internet gossip column, Friday or Saturday, which said that the Secretary's neighbors were so concerned about the possibility of a Serb terrorist attack in Georgetown where she lives that they were requesting that she move or be relocated some government compound. Can you comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't normally comment on gossip columns here from the State Department podium. Normally, I'm not asked about them. But as far as the substance of that piece of gossip, it is baseless.

QUESTION: Former Maryland congresswoman of Serbian descent, Helen Bentley has offered her services as some kind of a go-between with the Yugoslav Government. Is she getting any encouragement?

MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard anything about that.

QUESTION: -- involvement of the NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia destroying part of a railway link. Are you concerned that the involvement of the NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia will send the Yugoslavians the opposite message that you've been stating, which is not involving any outside states and that NATO peacekeepers are fair game, especially in light of the capture of the three last week - US soldiers.

MR. RUBIN: Each of the decisions have to be made on their basis. The SFOR commanders decided that based on their authorities under the Dayton agreement that it was prudent and proper to prevent a situation where the Dayton agreement could be affected by the situation in Kosovo and the Serb behavior towards the Kosovars. They made that judgment, and we felt we did what we had to do.

Let's just be clear. President Milosevic is trying to expand the conflict. That's why he's sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into Albania, into Macedonia, to try to destabilize these regimes. This is precisely what we feared and why we said that Kosovo was in the national interest - acting in Kosovo was in the national interest - because of the risk of the conflict spreading. President Milosevic is trying desperately to do that. We are working closely with our NATO allies to prevent that by trying to shore up the capabilities of the Albanian Macedonia Government to deal with these refugees.

QUESTION: But by their being involved, doesn't that leave them to open to retribution or retaliation?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we think it would be a grave mistake for President Milosevic to try to lash out at the forces in Bosnia. When the two MiGs tried to do that, they were shot down.

QUESTION: Back to Libya, there was a report over the weekend, a Reuters report, that said Congressman Hilliard had said Congressman Hilliard had been invited to Tripoli for the handover this morning, and I was wondering if you might have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have anything on that. I believe that Under Secretary General Corell flew the suspects to the Hague, which is where it is just held a press conference. I'm just not familiar with the presence of a member of Congress. I'm not familiar with that.

QUESTION: ELF, the French oil company trying to deal with Iran - I can't recall all the details, but do you - does this fall - is it liable to be sanctioned under the ILSA?

MR. RUBIN: We are deeply disappointed and greatly concerned about this development. The US remains strongly opposed to investment in Iran's petroleum sector. We have repeatedly urged the governments of France and Canada, at the most senior levels, to discourage this investment. As in all such cases, we will look closely at the facts of what has happened and will be assessing the implications under the Iran-Libya sanctions act.

If sanctionable activity is found to have occurred, we will decide upon and take appropriate action. As I have explained on a number of occasions, in any case, we follow the same procedure - evaluate the facts, determine whether sanctionable activity has taken place and, if it has, decide in light of our national interests what action under the law to take. That is what we intend to do in these cases.

QUESTION: Do you care to address how long it might take to reach a decision on this?

MR. RUBIN: No.

QUESTION: Earlier this year there was another similar deal - Total, right. Has a decision been made on sanctions on --

MR. RUBIN: Total, the decision was made last year. There are number of cases that are under examination, and I don't have any new information for you on them.

QUESTION: Apparently, the US and North Korea just finished four days of talks, going over details of what they call technical matters regarding the visits to Kumchang-ni, and I was wondering whether you have anything at all reporting what they may have agreed to?

MR. RUBIN: Well, they have been discussing in recent days the arrangements necessary for the Kumchang-ni site inspections. We are working on that closely. I don't have a report on the final stage of these discussions, but we would expect to be able to proceed on the basis of the agreement struck in New York.

QUESTION: Rongji about to start his visit - outlook for that? Also how will it be affected by Johnny Chung's admissions that the chief of Chinese military intelligence gave him $300,000?

MR. RUBIN: I'm aware there have been some press reports on that. It's an ongoing investigation, and I'm not prepared to comment on any element of that report or thereby speculate on what a truth or falsity of that report might impact on a visit that is going to happen.

So let me simply say that we want to work with the Premier. We want to advance our national interest to work with China where we can, on areas of interest, on the matters of North Korea that was just asked about on the question of nonproliferation in the subcontinent, on nonproliferation more broadly, on terrorism. We're obviously working closely on the WTO - the World Trade Organization accession talks, which we intend to pursue.

On objective criteria, if the Chinese meet the objective criteria, we would like to see a situation where our exporters can get access to the Chinese market. As far as what the other political components, obviously Secretary Albright told the Premier about the difficult time in Washington right now, and made clear that there was unanimity both in congress and the executive branch with respect to the human rights situation. That is why we've gone forward and are pursuing a resolution in the United Nations Human Rights Commission to call on the Chinese to reverse the actions they've taken on human rights, to try to get people out of prison and try to improve the situation on human rights.

So there's a complex relationship here. We don't think each visit is going to necessarily going to have a breakthrough. We want to have a regular dialogue with the Chinese. That means regular visits by ministers - like the Secretary and other ministers and Prime Ministers. So we'll have to see what his visit will bring.

QUESTION: When you said each visit doesn't necessarily have to bring a breakthrough, are you signaling that there won't be a WTO --

MR. RUBIN: Well, we're going to make that decision based on the merits, and we'll continue to work with the Chinese. There are discussions ongoing. We don't expect every meeting to have a breakthrough, but we want to get market access for our companies to the Chinese market, and we will continue to pursue that so long as the objective criteria are being met.

QUESTION: In light of the ongoing air strikes, do you know if there's been any expansion in security measures for the NATO summit?

MR. RUBIN: I don't have any details on that. I can check those for you, yes. But we normally, as you know, don't comment much about security matters, other than occasionally declaring baseless gossip columnists on the subject.

QUESTION: Xanana Gusmao, whom the Secretary met in Jakarta -- very upset about the killing of civilians in East Timor and is suggesting a return to arms.

MR. RUBIN: We are unable to confirm at this point these reported statement. We will be seeking clarification of his views, which if reported correctly, we would urge him to reconsider. If true, this would be a dangerous and troubling development. The United States remains concerned about violence in East Timor, including the latest reported deaths. We reject violence as a means of resolving the situation in East Timor and call for all parties to work for a peaceful solution.

QUESTION: Thank you.

[end of document]

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