MR. RUBIN: Welcome to the State Department briefing on this Friday. I have one announcement to make and then I want to turn to some information related to the war crimes issue.
On the announcement, pursuant to the indictment of the five individuals yesterday, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated five Serbian nationals as so-called "Specially Designated Nationals." Indictment of these five persons were announced yesterday. Because of their positions and the fact that the indicted officials clearly act on behalf of the Serbian and FRY Governments, their property had been blocked under Executive Order 13088 since June 10, and no US person therefore can act with them in that regard.
Designation as a Specially Designated National further tightens these restrictions because it puts the public on specific notice that these are indicted war criminals. We do not believe there are specific funds associated with them in freezing the assets as requested by the Tribunal, but we're trying to create a model for what we would want all countries in the world to do to follow the Tribunal's call on countries to freeze the assets of these five individuals.
I will have a fact sheet [statement] on this after the briefing, but the point here is that the five individuals have now been put through our system to ensure that their assets are frozen, and we see this as a model for other countries where they may have such assets.
Turning to the war crimes information we have available today, it's two kinds. First I'm going to describe for you a little bit of the linkage between the imagery that we've been showing some of you and providing to the Tribunal, and the indictments that were announced yesterday.
The easel on the far right begins that process. When we saw the indictment released yesterday, we noted that of the eight massacres listed in the indictment, we have shown over the past two months imagery corroborating three of these incidents. We also showed imagery of one of the towns listed in the indictment charging forced displacement of Kosovar Albanians.
This first image is an image of destruction of a Kosovar Albanian neighborhood in the town of Bela Crkva. The before picture on the left was taken on March 1; the after was taken on April 2. The incident described in the indictment occurred on March 25 and has been well reported in the press. What you can see from this image is the destruction of buildings consistent with Serbian attacks on civilians. Go to the next one.
This is a lifeless encampment of refugees near Velika Krusa. The indictment details how Serb forces found the refugees in the woods and killed them on or about March 25, before this image was taken on April 8. The point of this image is the center area is an area that is a set of trees - kind of a mini forest - in which is the remains of a refugee camp. What this image demonstrates is that at the very time that the reports indicate that the Serb authorities removed the refugees from that refugee camp, we were able to take imagery of that refugee camp and it never changed. So we believe this is a lifeless refugee camp, consistent with the remains of what refugees might have been living in when they were taken away by the Serbs; and the timing is precisely the same. None of these vehicles or any of the other parts of the encampment ever move after the point when the refugees indicated that they were taken - that the reports indicate that refugees were taken away and killed.
Go to the next piece of imagery. This is the mass grave at Izbica, the location of which we confirmed with the aid of a videotape taken on the ground. This one will be familiar to you; it's part of the briefing we did last week, where we showed how graves developed in a particular location at a particular time at the very time and consistent with the videotape that was provided by the Kosovar Albanian authorities to the United States and to others. You can go to the next picture.
This is the town of Kosovska Mitrovica. The indictment says Kosovar Albanians were driven out of this town in late March. The before picture on your left is a picture of buildings intact on March 22; the picture on the right - the after picture - is on April 5. Again, this is consistent with what our experts believe -- not military activity -- but the kind of behavior against civilians that the War Crimes Tribunal deemed worthy of indictment. So the destruction of these buildings are not of the kind that would occur in a military engagement, but rather when civilians are rounded up and their houses are burned or destroyed as part of a terror campaign.
We also provided the prosecutors with a number of specific other information that we're not able to go into at this time.
Let me now turn to the new imagery that we're going to be able to provide today, and this tells us a broader part of the story of Serbian authorities' crimes against humanity - war crimes-- in Kosovo.
Yesterday's announcement of the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic is not the end of the Tribunal's work in Kosovo, nor in Bosnia and Croatia. The United States will continue to support the efforts of the Tribunal. As you are about to hear today, we are increasing our efforts to support the work of the Tribunal and provide it with more information to bring out the truth about war crimes being committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo.
What we are showing today is visual corroboration of one pattern of Serb behavior we have heard about for some time. Just as the Tribunal and the refugees and the international community is exposing the truth of war crimes being committed by Serb forces, it's especially important to note that Serb forces are trying to hide the evidence of their war crimes. This falls into two patterns. There are a number of refugee reports that claim that Serb forces have exhumed Kosovar Albanian bodies from mass grave sites then re-interred them in individual graves. This is apparently an attempt to minimize evidence of atrocities against Kosovar Albanians.
The second kind of behavior is that the Serbs appear to be burning the bodies of their victims. We have seen numerous stories and refugee reports throughout Kosovo that Serb forces have killed civilians and then burned the bodies. There are individual reports we cannot corroborate, but we do have our own credible reporting that this type of activity has been ordered and conducted. But this is following a pattern of other activity that we have been able to confirm.
In both cases, it is a calculated effort to impede the location of execution sites and to hamper the ability of forensic investigators to tell the difference between regular graves and graves containing massacre victims. Up to now, we have had to rely on refugee reports to give you examples of these Serb efforts of concealment. Today we can show how imagery corroborates Kosovar Albanian press reporting of a massacre that occurred between April 17 and April 19 of approximately 70 civilians in the small town of Poblek near the city of Glogovac in enter Kosovo.
We first hears reports of these killings at Poblek from Albanian state-supported television and from Kosovar Liberation Army press sources. They reported on April 20 and 21 that there had been a Serb massacre between 64 and 76 civilians in Poblek. The report said the massacre occurred when Serb forces went into the town sometime between April 17 and April 19. These sources describe the victims as mainly elderly and children. The easel on the far right is the village of Poblek. On the top is what it looked like on April 15. While there is some already existing damage to houses at the right of the picture, and that is - see if we can make this thing work - over here -- the houses are already damaged. All the way over here, there is no damage to the houses. If you look, then, at the after picture, you can see what the village looked like on April 24. A number of buildings on the left-hand side, over here - a number of these buildings -- our experts have determined, have been destroyed, and this type of damage - again down here - is consistent with burning of houses, not combat operations. So that is what we believe happened, consistent with refugee reporting in that town.
Now, the important point with respect to today's presentation, is that we have press reports that Serb forces went into Poblek on April 17. One family said that Serb police came to their house and terrorized the family. First they shot the family dog; they threw a hand grenade in the lap of a 55-year-old woman. Serb police, using an automatic pistol, then killed a number of the other family members, but some escaped. On April 23, Kosovo press listed the family names of 64 of the victims of what it described as Serbian military and police forces. On April 28, it reported the bodies had been buried in a mass grave.
Nearly two and a half weeks later, Kosovo press reported that on May 14, a specific day, Serb forces from Glogovac had exhumed about 50 people from a mass grave, near the city, transported their bodies by truck towards the town of Cikatova, and according to a witness, the bodies were re-buried in individual graves. This we can now pin down precisely. This image on my right, over here, shows the cemetery near the town of Glogovac. In the picture on the left, which was taken on May 13, you can see the earth is undisturbed in the cemetery -- on the right, in this area over here where there is no earth moved. On the right is a picture of the same cemetery taken on May 15. These dark areas over here appear to be the individual graves of what we believe to be 70 people.
There are light lines, when you look at it very closely, within those graves, that in our view are tire tracks where someone drove a truck over every single grave. These images taken May 13 and 15 are important because they corroborate the press reports that the bodies were re-interred by Serb forces on the very day that the refugee said that this happened.
Obviously, there is much we cannot confirm, but it is an example where we have corroborated, through imagery acquired by national technical means, refugee reports that civilians were killed, their bodies buried in a mass grave, then the bodies dug up by Serb forces and re-buried in a regular cemetery. We believe the motive for Serb forces undertaking this activity is to try to cover up evidence of their war crimes, confuse the picture and obstruct the work of war crimes investigators.
This is consistent with other reporting that we have that the Yugoslav National Army recognizes that a day of reckoning will come and they are - as I understand it, and the reporting that I've seen suggests -- they are trying to be sure that evidence is collected that points to other than the Yugoslav National Army for the responsibility -- to para-militaries and other organizations within their areas of control. So what we're seeing here today is a pattern of Serb behavior that recognizes their own war crimes, their own crimes against humanity and a massive cover-up of these massive war crimes.
With those opening comments, I'd be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: Jamie, yesterday Secretary Albright was asked whether she had any ideas for bringing Milosevic and these other four individuals to justice, and she almost used the word responsibility, I believe. She cut her sentence off. Does anyone have a responsibility for arresting these individuals?
MR. RUBIN: Well, she did cut her sentence off, but I don't see the significance of it at all. It is the Serb authorities who have a responsibility to provide to the War Crimes Tribunal those indicted. It is others who may have war crimes indictees on their territory that have a responsibility of bringing them to justice. Every country in the world has a responsibility to comply with the Tribunal's indictment, because it was set forth by the Security Council of the United Nations.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, you showed us first - you showed us three different pictures. Those are the ones that you're saying were provided that helped in the indictment of Milosevic and the others.
MR. RUBIN: Correct.
QUESTION: And then these --
MR. RUBIN: This is new information, unrelated to the indictments. This particular incident at this town is not listed in the indictment. But the Tribunal has made clear they're going to continue their work; and what we're trying to show here is we're going to continue our work to help them. What this is about is evidence that the Serbs recognize that war crimes are being committed, and that there is a cover-up taking place by Serb forces to try to hide the evidence, mix it in with other graves at regular cemeteries, so that when there is a reckoning, after NATO forces do arrive in Kosovo, that they can limit the evidence that might be available to the War Crimes Tribunal.
QUESTION: Does the first - as it three or four pictures - I'm not sure exactly - how does that implicate Milosevic, Milutinovic, and these other --
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I did not suggest that this evidence we were providing was part of the command chain that Mrs. Arbour, the prosecutor, will use to make her indictment. Mrs. Arbour's indictment talks about events that occurred in seven towns that involved atrocities or involved the mass deportation of civilians that are crimes against humanity. What these particular images are are evidence that can be shown publicly of what went on in those towns that were the basis of the fact that crimes against humanity were committed. The responsibility --
MR. RUBIN: Please let me finish. The responsibility for those crimes against humanity and the way in which Mrs. Arbour, the chief prosecutor, will argue her case about President Milosevic's responsibility criminally, legally, under the Tribunal's statutes, is for Mrs. Arbour to describe. I was merely giving you examples of the help that we've been providing; concrete examples of the places that were named in the indictment and what we think happened there.
QUESTION: There's a report that the day before the indictment was actually - the warrant and the indictment was - not publicly issued, but signed - that the US had sent over a lot of additional information that did have - that did implicate Milosevic and the others as part of the chain of the command. Can you confirm that story?
MR. RUBIN: No, I cannot. The type of information we provide is very broad-based. When we are able to get it made available for public use, I try to do so; when we can talk about it generally, I would try to do so. I would not assume that information provided the day before an indictment was announced was decisive in the creation of an indictment. Lawyers work quickly, but that's awfully quick even for the work of the Tribunal.
QUESTION: Could you go back to the first image on the far left? Could you go back to that one?
MR. RUBIN: The first picture?
QUESTION: The first picture.
MR. RUBIN: Yes, the first - that was of Bela Crkva imagery?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: I'm having difficulty correlating those two images. They look like two different landscapes to me.
MR. RUBIN: It's a close up from a different location, and we can go through that with you afterwards; but it's the same location.
QUESTION: Okay. Have you had any word on what Chernomyrdin is up to in Belgrade today?
MR. RUBIN: We have not received a briefing. Mr. Chernomyrdin went to Belgrade on Russia's behalf to assess the situation is the description he gave to Secretary Albright yesterday. Deputy Secretary Talbott had met with him for a number of days prior to that on a number of points. We certainly hope that if the question comes up as to what NATO requires for the bombing to be suspended that Mr. Chernomyrdin has a full understanding of our view of what is required. But he was going on Russia' behalf, and I am not aware that we have a formal report yet from him.
QUESTION: Jamie, what is the purpose of rolling these pictures out? Why do you feel the need to bolster the war crimes charge unsealed yesterday?
MR. RUBIN: I don't feel the need to bolster it. We think it's very important for the American people and the world to understand what happened yesterday. We've refused much comment on it prior to its announcement because it was up to the Tribunal to make that announcement. We do think that what has happened to the people of Kosovo is relevant to the world and to the American people. We think it's extremely relevant when people are murdered - in the way in which they were murdered. It's so horrific that the international tribunal - an independent tribunal created by the United Nations - has chosen to indict a head of state. We think that is a clear demonstration of the reason why the United States and our NATO allies decided that the crimes being committed by the Serbs in Kosovo justified the draconian sanction of the use of force.
So following the indictment and the announced indictment, there has been a lot of interest expressed by a number of people - a number of your colleagues -- to explain the link between information they've seen publicly and the indictment. So that is what the first set of pictures were about - responding to a lot of expressed interest by many of your colleagues in understanding the story because there was a limited amount of information available at the Tribunal.
Secondly, we think it is important of a demonstration of a pattern that they are engaged in trying to cover up their crimes and that that shows that this is going on; that it's significant; and that the world needs to understand that the Serbs themselves understand the forces involved - what is going on in Kosovo. That's why they're going to great lengths to cover up the crimes.
QUESTION: Does the Department of State - the United States Government, generally - believe, as Louise Arbour and the court, that Milosevic is responsible for giving orders that these events that are depicted in these satellite photographs - the orders that brought about these massacres - is there a link up the chain of command that Milosevic said do it?
MR. RUBIN: What we've said in the past, and we believe very strongly, is that we believe that President Milosevic, as the president of Yugoslavia, is politically and personally responsible for the activities a wide variety of forces - police, para-militaries and military forces -- are taking in Kosovo, which we have previously labeled as crimes against humanity and war crimes. We believe he is politically responsible, given that he is the president; we believe he is personally responsible because we do not believe he is a figurehead. Therefore, that is our judgment.
As to whether he's criminally responsible, many of you have asked that question of us for a long time now. We've said it's up to the Tribunal to make a judgment as to whether he's criminally responsible. They have now made that judgment and we have no reason to dispute it.
QUESTION: He's indictable whether he actually gave an order or he just acquiesced - either way?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I would leave it to the Tribunal prosecutor to make the legal case for why the indictment is justified. But we certainly have no reason to dispute it.
QUESTION: We were with the Greek Foreign Minister this morning, who was telling us that there was a need for direct talks with Milosevic. Is that something the United States might consider, especially after this indictment?
MR. RUBIN: I think we've been quite clear on this. We think President Milosevic knows what he needs to do; the people around him know what he needs to do. We are not interested in negotiations in any way, shape or form. If at some future point we think contact is necessary to implement our terms - and those terms and conditions are quite clear in terms of getting Serb forces out of Kosovo and NATO forces in - we're not going to rule that out. But whether that would be necessary or not is a speculative question at this time.
QUESTION: Do you believe or does the United States Government believe that the Serb authorities will arrest these people who have been indicted?
MR. RUBIN: What we believe is that the Serb authorities should arrest President Milosevic and the others indicted to fulfill the requirements of the Tribunal. We believe a day of reckoning will come in Serbia, when the people of Serbia and the relevant institutions have concluded that with an indicted war criminal as their president they will never be able to rejoin Europe as a thriving member of the European mainstream; to get the democracy; to get the economic assistance; to get the integration, and the rule of law that the rest of Europe is developing so strongly, and that that day of reckoning will come and that the statute of limitations on war crimes does not run out. Many people thought that none of the indicted war criminals would end up in prison. Many of them have. Some of them have been arrested in Bosnia; some of them have turned themselves in. But we certainly believe the Serb authorities should follow the international law that has been set by the Security Council resolution creating the Tribunal.
QUESTION: Does the State Department's rewards program now apply to Milosevic?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we have a variety of rewards programs, and I'll have to check with the authorities to see what I can say on that subject.
QUESTION: Can you do that, because I believe there's a - isn't it a $5 million level now on the rewards program?
MR. RUBIN: Let me check into that for you.
QUESTION: Jamie, a couple of things, going back to Chernomyrdin. First of all, I think Russia was reporting that Chernomyrdin was going there with a peace plan that would include NATO forces deployed as peacekeepers and then some Serb forces remaining in the province. That's not in line with NATO, is that right?
MR. RUBIN: Right. Our view is very clear -- that all Serb, paramilitary, police, and military forces must leave, because they are the ones that are responsible for much of this horror that we've been showing you for the last half an hour. If the Kosovar Albanians are going to come back, they're not going to come back to be under the control of the very same people who were responsible for these crimes against humanity.
If after they leave, and after a NATO force is deployed, some very small presences may be necessary in a couple of places to allow demonstration that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia, we might consider that. But we do believe they all need to leave.
QUESTION: Just following up. So when the Russians are going there with this, I mean, they're on their own in this way; that's not in any way --
MR. RUBIN: Right. What I indicated in response to Jim's question is that the Russians -- former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is going there on Russia's behalf to try to assess the situation. That's what he told Secretary Albright. We certainly hope that if Milosevic wants to know what it is that is required for NATO to suspend the bombing, that he will identify NATO's conditions as what NATO has told him very authoritatively through Deputy Secretary Talbott and others of what's required.
QUESTION: Can I ask a final follow on this -- a third follow-up. The Russians are viewing this that if Chernomyrdin comes back sort of with no success, empty-handed, then all bets are off for diplomacy, and there's really going to have to be ground troop movement - it will have to be ground troops in there for their solution to the --
MR. RUBIN: There are a number of different ways that President Milosevic can choose to accept NATO's terms and conditions. The Russian initiative was not the only one, has never been the only one, in our minds. This is not a problem of communication; it's a problem of President Milosevic's refusal to do what's necessary to stop the bombing of his country and his forces, for his own selfish reasons. Once President Milosevic realizes that the only future for his people will require the acceptance of these conditions, there are numerous channels by which that can be formulated and accepted by NATO. So this has never been the only channel.
We think it would be helpful and constructive if Russia did play a role in resolving this conflict, and certainly playing a role we would welcome in the peacekeeping effort that would follow. But we've never said this is the only diplomatic channel, and it's not our view that if this doesn't succeed, then there are no other diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: The Secretary was saying yesterday that the indictment could either accelerate or slow down the process of finding a settlement here. Obviously, there's a danger of pushing Milosevic into a - or pushing Yugoslavia into being another pariah state like Iraq. How much weight are you giving this scenario and this possible outcome when you're doing your analysis?
MR. RUBIN: There is understanding of what the possible futures are. I think right now Yugoslavia is certainly a state that is receiving the ultimate sanction of the international community. NATO has just conducted massive bombing raids on Serbia and the forces inside Kosovo. The highest number of sorties today and each day has been higher than the last, and clearly dozens and dozens of pieces of equipment are being destroyed and a whole set of infrastructure and command and control facilities are being destroyed. So they are already subject to the ultimate sanction the international community can impose on a country. So I'm not quite sure how to categorize them beyond that.
As far as what the future might hold, I think it's fair to say that if President Milosevic doesn't submit to the jurisdiction of the court, there will be no democracy in Serbia; and without a democratization of Serbia, we cannot envisage Serbia re-entering the community of nations, receiving reconstruction when this conflict is over or receiving the kind of financial assistance they need to grow and thrive in Europe. Beyond that, I don't know how to be more precise.
QUESTION: You just said if Milosevic does not submit to the court. Are you asking Milosevic to turn himself in?
MR. RUBIN: I think Secretary Albright did just that yesterday. We believe President Milosevic should submit to the jurisdiction of the court as required.
QUESTION: That he should just walk in?
MR. RUBIN: I'm sure arrangements can be made if his intent was there.
QUESTION: Is the arrest and prosecution of Milosevic a higher priority for the US than the same thing for Mladic and Karadzic?
MR. RUBIN: We believe all indicted war criminals should submit to the jurisdiction of the court.
QUESTION: The IRC is expected to start air drops in Kosovo this weekend. Is the US position that it's worth taking the risk? And also, how bad is the food shortage problem in Kosovo?
MR. RUBIN: We think there is a very serious food shortage problem in Kosovo, and we have been looking at a variety of ways to try to assist that. The air drop option is in its final stages of completion and the International Rescue Committee is expected to announce the details of that shortly. I would not want to preempt that announcement, other than to say that we've been very supportive of their consideration of this idea. We think that there are risks, but we also think there are gains if the planes can be flown in and tens of thousands of meals ready to eat or humanitarian daily rations can be brought to the people of Kosovo.
I gather it was announced in the last 45 minutes, but we're definitely supportive of that effort and the details they would be providing.
QUESTION: This detail might need to come from them, but do you know - does this Administration know if the IRC worked something out with Yugoslav Government so that when they're doing the food drops, the Yugoslav government will allow those drops to take place?
MR. RUBIN: My understanding is that arrangements have been made to inform the Yugoslav authorities of the flight patterns and the timing of flights so that they know what is - that these are particularly types of aircraft doing this humanitarian work. I don't believe they're asking for an agreement, but they would have to describe the specific arrangements that they've made.
QUESTION: Will they be provided some sort of escort by the --
MR. RUBIN: No, that is not envisaged by this.
QUESTION: Can we go to a different subject?
MR. RUBIN: Let's see whether we've exhausted our demand.
QUESTION: You mentioned a number of other channels of possible contact, communication with Milosevic. What are those?
MR. RUBIN: Numerous. I'm not in a position to detail every potential diplomatic channel. Sometimes there's a desire to have diplomatic channels that aren't discussed publicly. But I can simply say that a number of different visitors have gone to Belgrade and met with President Milosevic from a number of different countries. A number of countries in the world are in touch with Yugoslav authorities. So there's no shortage of ways in which to communicate with President Milosevic. This is not a communications problem; this is a stubbornness problem. This is the stubbornness of President Milosevic refusing to accept that what he is doing is bringing ruin to his people and ruin to his country.
QUESTION: Are these other channels authorized by the United States, or are some of them freelancers?
MR. RUBIN: Some - both kinds. I mean, authorized by - we don't authorize every discussion with President Milosevic. When I say there are other channels, Jim, I wouldn't draw too many conclusions. What I'm saying is there are many different individuals, governments and others who have met with President Milosevic and could meet with President Milosevic. So there's not a communication problem -- any number of which could explain to him NATO's requirements.
QUESTION: There was a report from the Defense Department yesterday that the KLA has had some success in beefing up its forces. As this conflict draws out, does the United States see any danger that the KLA may wind up moving into the power vacuum and taking over large parts of Kosovo?
MR. RUBIN: That would certainly be a problem that would avoid the kind of massive crimes against humanity that we've seen and therefore would be relatively better. We don't see the capabilities of the KLA as being, right now, in a position to fight battles against armored units and take and hold large swaths of territory at this time. We believe that the air campaign is seriously hampering the activities of the Serbian forces, and that therefore they are not able to operate and conduct the kind of operations they were conducting in the early weeks of their operations that began well before NATO's air campaign. So they are clearly hampered.
But I don't think we see a massive change in the balance of forces right now, other than to say that Milosevic and his generals miscalculated grandly and badly. They thought they could wipe the KLA out in a few short weeks; and they were wrong. They made a grand miscalculation because they thought once they did that, they could negotiate an arrangement for peace. That grand miscalculation has caused grave damage not only to the people who've been the victims of these war crimes, but to the people of Serbia who have now had to suffer through the results of NATO's decision to use air power.
QUESTION: I wonder if the KLA does move into large areas, do you expect it to be more difficult to convince them to lay down their weapons as a result of that?
MR. RUBIN: We believe that the discussions we've had with the Kosovar Albanian leaders, including the KLA - this is the very organization that chose peace in France in February. They chose to demilitarize, to postpone their desire for independence. They chose peace over war because they understood that the people of Kosovo want peace and the miracles of peace that go with that and the benefits of peace that go with that. We have every reason to believe that at the end of the day, when President Milosevic finally accepts the terms and conditions NATO has laid out and NATO forces deploy, that we will be able to work cooperatively with all the Kosovar Albanian authorities, including the KLA.
Any more on Kosovo? Just Kosovo.
QUESTION: Two things. Could you comment on yesterday's reports by the British newspaper - The Times - suggesting that President Clinton could send 90,000 troops to Kosovo --
MR. RUBIN: I believe my colleague at the Pentagon dismissed that report out of hand. I don't have all the details of it, but I think we regarded that as incorrect.
Any more on Kosovo?
QUESTION: And secondly, do you have an overall figure about the number of Albanian men missing in Kosovo who might have been killed by Serbs?
MR. RUBIN: We have various estimates. At one point the estimates are in the hundred-thousand-plus range. I would have to get you our best estimate for the record. But clearly, there are massive numbers of men that are missing.
QUESTION: It just popped back into my head. Has the protective powers thing been solved yet?
MR. RUBIN: No, it has not.
QUESTION: Is there an estimate - what's the current estimate in terms of the number of internally displaced Kosovars?
MR. RUBIN: I believe it's in the 500,000 to 700,000 range. Still Kosovo?
MR. RUBIN: Okay. Can we move these now, and let's continue the briefing.
QUESTION: Can you say something about what the US assessment is about the situation in Kashmir and around the line of control? Is it expecting further escalation? And secondly, is the US thinking of sending any special observers there, other than the diplomatic efforts that are already going on?
MR. RUBIN: Indian air strikes and ground attacks continue against positions occupied by infiltrators from Pakistan that are in India's side of, but very close to, the line of control in Kashmir. An Indian helicopter was reportedly shot down today on the Indian side of the line of control. This fighting is the most serious in some time in Kashmir, and its proximity to the line of control makes it of grave concern and great concern to the United States. India has said it will limit its attacks to its side of the line of control, but has every intention of dislodging the militants there, who are threatening a key road to northern Kashmir.
Senior American diplomats in India and Pakistan are in touch with host government officials in India and Pakistan to express our strong concern about this matter, to urge them to show restraint and prevent the fighting from spreading, and to urge both countries to work together to reduce tensions. Assistant Secretary of State Inderfurth gave the same message to the Pakistani and Indian ambassadors yesterday.
The continued fighting underscores the need for India and Pakistan to resolve their differences. We hope they will be able to do this quickly in the context of the recent Lahore summit. We understand that there have been a number of conversations between Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Sharif. We believe that Indian and Pakistani military and political leaders need to be in touch so there are no misunderstandings and miscalculations. We think they should support bilateral diplomatic efforts to pull their countries back from the danger of a heightened and far more dangerous conflict.
Our position on Kashmir is well known. At this time, there are no plans to send a US envoy to the region. And with respect to where exactly the plane was, we are unable to establish whether Indian aircraft have or have not crossed the line of control.
QUESTION: Do you have an independent assessment about the genesis of this problem -- how the infiltrators came to be on the Indian of the line of control? They are well-armed. Today they used a Stinger missile against the helicopter. Pakistan says that we don't know how these guys came to be; they must have traveled through Pakistani territory. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. RUBIN: We have concern about not only the source of the conflict, but the results of the conflict. We have expressed those concerns directly to the governments involved, and I'm not sure I want to escalate the situation further by publicly describing everything we've said. But we do have our own view as to how this situation developed. But that doesn't excuse heightened action by the other side, either.
QUESTION: Do you approve of a country defending the territory under its control?
MR. RUBIN: We think both sides, India and Pakistan, should show restraint, understanding the grave risks they are posing to their people and the world by the potential for an escalation, and that both sides should show great restraint in a situation like this.
QUESTION: This is an obvious question by now. Are you concerned that this might lead to nuclear strikes between these two countries? What's the likelihood of that? Is that what you mean when you say grave concerns about escalation?
MR. RUBIN: I think any time that India and Pakistan, who have fought wars in the past, have conflict between them, we are gravely concerned. That concern is only heightened by recent activities in the last year or so, but I was not specifically referring to that.
QUESTION: Have you received any source of assurances from either side that they would not resort to the nuclear option in this conflict?
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to comment on diplomatic discussions of that kind.
QUESTION: Could you comment on the use of a Stinger since the Stinger missiles are in the region because they were supplied to the Afghan rebels once upon a time by the US?
MR. RUBIN: Well, original sin is a very interesting thing, and I'm not interested in speculating on it.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the decision of the President of Cuba to dismiss his Foreign Minister?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not sure it will have much of an impact on any change in Cuba policy. We do not expect it to have any impact on the nature of our relationship - tends to be in the form of rearranging the deck chairs, in our view.
QUESTION: Do you have any updated information on Dr. Perry's visit to North Korea? How about the meeting with Kim Jung-Il?
MR. RUBIN: Dr. Perry, Ambassador Sherman and rest of the delegation did meet with a wide variety of senior North Korean officials, including those from high-ranking political, foreign affairs and defense circles. We do not have a full read-out. He's expected to phone Secretary Albright shortly.
We do believe the delegation was well received and was afforded the opportunity to hear authoritative North Korean views. The delegation met with a range of senior officials from political, foreign affairs and defense circles, and thereby heard authoritative views. There was no meeting with Kim Jung-Il. A meeting with Kim Jung-Il was not a prerequisite for the visit. The evaluation of Dr. Perry's trip will therefore not hinge on that one question.
After briefing the Secretary and others, Dr. Perry will meet with South Korean and Japanese officials in Seoul tomorrow, on May 29.
QUESTION: Did the North Koreans give any explanation why Kim Jung-Il was not available for a meeting?
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be able to get into that kind of detail until we've had a full report.
QUESTION: Is the US disappointed that such a meeting did not happen?
MR. RUBIN: No. What we've said is that we thought the trip should go forward based on what we expected. We said that such a meeting would be desirable. But we do believe that the meetings that were held were sufficient for Dr. Perry to get authoritative views.
QUESTION: I'm not suggesting that you think the trip went badly, because - but are you - is the US disappointed in light of the fact that you said and made a specific point to say that it would be desirable for such a meeting to happen?
MR. RUBIN: Right. And that desire was not fulfilled.
QUESTION: Does the team have any speculation or any guess on what this vast tunnel complex is about?
MR. RUBIN: I think there's been some reporting that is less than accurate on this subject. The US team reported that the underground site at Kumchang-ni is an extensive, empty tunnel complex. A fuller technical analysis is underway to determine as best we can what the site might have been intended for.
Based on what we know thus far, there is no basis to conclude that North Korea is in violation of the agreed framework. Obviously, we need to await further results.
With respect to the suggestion that there are a whole bunch of sites around, let me say we demonstrated in our successful negotiation with North Korea on multiple access - meaning more than one time -- to Kumchang-ni that we are prepared to pursue our concerns until we achieve results. We would do so again if we had similar suspicions.
The underground portion of the site is a large, empty tunnel complex. Construction was unfinished and no equipment was present. It was at a stage of construction prior to the time when any relevant equipment, other than construction equipment, would be expected to be present.
QUESTION: I've forgotten what the deal was. The US inspectors can come, what, every six months or so?
MR. RUBIN: We expect to go back on a number of occasions; we have the right to return. I believe there's another scheduled visit. But in anticipation of an outcome such as this preliminary one, we wanted to insure future visits so that we could fully remove our suspicions about the intended use of the site. So we will return next May for another visit, per our agreement with North Korea, and for subsequent visits to fully remove our suspicions.
MR. RUBIN: North Korea, yes.
QUESTION: So the delegation has finished their work in Kumchang-ni and Dr. Perry went to North Korea. So what's the next timetable?
MR. RUBIN: I think we need to assess fully the results of the technical work that was done by the mission to Kumchang-ni; and then after Dr. Perry has consulted with Secretary Albright and the President, we may have more to say about North Korea. But those are the next steps right now.
QUESTION: You say you have to wait for the result. Are you saying that you're holding any material from the site?
MR. RUBIN: I'd rather not get into any details. I've given you a general conclusion that we've been prepared to make, based on the work. A more detailed description of what we have found and what judgments we make about what we have found has to wait for a full evaluation.
QUESTION: Jamie, this is the obvious question: presumably the people who went to the site asked the North Koreans why they were digging large tunnels underground. Perhaps you don't have an answer, but did they report what the North Koreans --
MR. RUBIN: Our view has not been to focus on what North Korea says things are for. Our view is to focus on what the facts on the ground and the deeds are in countries like North Korea. So I am sure they had views as to what they said it was for; but the focus of our attention and the reason why we want on-site inspection is because we're not so interested in what they say these things are for, we're a lot more interested in what we think its capabilities might be.
QUESTION: Jamie, in light of this grand non-discovery, is the US at all embarrassed or worried that the North Koreans, after having stalled and stalled and stalled and protracted the negotiations over visiting this site, may have pulled the wool over your eyes?
MR. RUBIN: Well, no, I think what I'm trying to explain to you is that this site was in such an advanced state of construction that it was our judgment that they were not going to be in a position to have had a massive technological facility there that they were going to be able to take apart before we got there. We have other ways of monitoring the site. We discovered the site by our national technical means, and the inspectors were able to confirm the state and the status and the timetable that would have been required for the site to become something. So I don't see how any wool could be pulled over our eyes when there wasn't any wool.
QUESTION: But that's exactly the point. You said this was an advanced state, and they got there and basically it's just a hole in the ground - a big one.
MR. RUBIN: So I don't understand your point. The fact of the matter is we were concerned about the site, okay? We were concerned about what the future might hold for that site. We think being on the ground gives us a lot of advantages in determining the state of the site. And letting the North Koreans know that we're going to go back there every year has a powerful impact on what some intentions might be for the future of the site.
So obtaining access through visits has both informational value in the visit that takes place, and deterrent value in the visits that are going to take place.
QUESTION: I guess I'm trying to ask, this was always referred to as the suspect nuclear site. Were these suspicions founded?
MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I'm not going to make judgments about the final findings of this group. But what we are talking about here is sites that could be used for purposes that we're concerned about. Having access to those sites on a regular basis can affect what - change what could to would; meaning that what they could be used for might not be what they would be used for.
QUESTION: Jamie, are you saying that they determined that it could not have, in the past, contained any significant --
MR. RUBIN: Again, it's a hole in the ground. It's a construction site for something. They wanted to see the size of the construction, the types of equipment that might be associated with the construction site. But it's a construction site. The advance - when you go down M Street and you go left on 23rd, you see this big hole in the ground -
--and what they will put on top of the hole is what we're all waiting for so we can go to the restaurant.
QUESTION: The North Koreans, however, are not worried about the US building a nuclear site at the corner of 23rd and M.
MR. RUBIN: That's why we want to be able to go there every year. Yes, I think we've exhausted this.
QUESTION: Okay, China. You know the Chinese Ambassador held a news conference today here in Washington. Two questions for you - one, he continues to tell reporters that the Chinese do not accept NATO's explanation that the bombing in Belgrade of the Chinese Embassy was accidental. So the question for you is, what kind of problems does this pose for the Clinton Administration if the Chinese continue to refuse to buy the explanation?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I think more broadly it is China that has to come to grips with the fact that we had a tragic accident. I think there's been a lot of public information that's already available on the reasons for that accident. We intend to develop a report to provide to the Chinese that explains the accident. But in the long run, until the United States and China can work closely together, Chinese interests will suffer and American interests will suffer. This is a two-way relationship. We believe engagement serves our national interest in a number of ways. We believe that China is not doing us any favor over the years in working with the United States. They believe it serves their national interest. So, ultimately, we believe that greater interest will win out over the mistaken view of the Chinese ambassador or any other Chinese officials about the reason for the tragic mistake at the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
QUESTION: And just one other thing. Dr. Henry Kissinger yesterday in an interview was basically saying that the Cox Report and then the anti-Chinese sentiment that is sort of building in the Congress basically can start making out the Chinese into the role played by the old Soviet Union in the Cold War, and he expressed grave concerns about that. What do you - how do you respond to that?
MR. RUBIN: We believe that China is not the Soviet Union. China has a billion people with a thriving market-based economy in many respects. That is very different from the Soviet Union. We believe the information flowing in and out of China is massively different than the Soviet Union. We believe that China has not had expansionist tendencies to the extent the Soviet Union did in supporting secessionist, guerrilla and terrorist organizations around the world. So I think the comparison is misleading. I think there are those who may want to make the comparison for their own political purposes. We disagree with it, and we certainly want every American and every member of Congress and everybody to focus on what is in our national interest; and that is that stopping non-proliferation, stopping the Chinese support for activities that might promote non-proliferation is in our national interest. We believe getting cooperation from China in fighting terrorism is in our national interest; in fighting drugs - it's in our national interest; in fighting international crime - that's in our national interest.
Those who would have us break with China need to answer how we're going to combat the crime; combat the drug smuggling; combat the terrorism and combat the non-proliferation that we are able to combat with Chinese cooperation in the absence of that cooperation. Otherwise, they are doing harm to American national interest.
QUESTION: How much did the Cox Report hurt the US-Chinese relationship?
MR. RUBIN: I think the Cox Report - many of the recommendations we agree with. We'll have to see. The Cox Report came at the time the previous question referred to, which is the tragic accident at the embassy. So I don't know how one can assert one or the other.
What we know is that the Cox Report doesn't change our determination to be vigilant in controlling our technology and to be vigilant in advancing our national interests where we can and where we think it's appropriate by working with China.
QUESTION: One follow up. Just in general, how concerned is the United States about this rift with China, and how deep do you think it goes?
MR. RUBIN: We do believe that we've been through a rough patch, and that patch has not been passed through yet. But we do believe that cooler heads will prevail in China when they realize what's in their national interest; and we certainly will do what we can in the Administration to ensure that the United States does what's in our national interest.
QUESTION: What's the status of the report on the embassy bombing?
MR. RUBIN: I don't have any new timing or data on that.
QUESTION: On Colombia, a spokeswoman for the FARC guerrilla group announced yesterday that the punishment for the guerrillas who killed three Americans in March next to the Venezuelan border will be to teach them how to write and read and to build roads in Colombia. Does that satisfy your government?
MR. RUBIN: This would be outrageous if the report is true. The suggestion of working on road construction for murder is completely and utterly inadequate for a crime as serious as murder. We would reject this and note that this does not come even close to meeting what we have previously called for. Our position remains the same. We continue to insist, as we have since these murders came to the light, that the FARC must cooperate with the Colombian and Venezuelan investigations of this act of international terrorism and turn over those responsible to the appropriate authorities. Nothing short of this will satisfy our demand for justice. We believe that it is in the interest of the FARC to do this, so this falls - is barely worth of saying woefully inadequate, it's so inadequate.
QUESTION: Just to follow up - does this announcement by the FARC make it now more difficult for the United Sates to help Colombia get going with the peace process?
MR. RUBIN: Well, we want to work closely with the Colombian Government, and we will continue to do so. I'm not going to speculate on what this may or may not mean.
QUESTION: Back on Venezuela. Do you have any official response to the decision of President Chavez to deny the permission for the DEA to fly over --
MR. RUBIN: No, I have no comment; I'll try to get something for you.
QUESTION: Egypt. The Egyptian Parliament has passed a rather draconian piece of legislation which would severely limit the activities of non-governmental organizations, including human rights organizations. It's now on the desk of President Mubarak. Have you seen this; do you have any opinions; are you in contact with anybody about this?
MR. RUBIN: We strongly support the legitimate and constructive roles of NGOs in social, economic, political and cultural affairs. We are deeply disappointed with the apparent thrust if the bill approved by the People's Assembly. We are still reviewing the text, but it appears the law increases the amount of government control of non-governmental organizations. This is the wrong direction to go if Egypt wants to energize civil society and promote development. Freedom of association is a fundamental human right. Non-governmental organizations play a critical role in providing citizens a channel through which they can make their concerns known to the government. Efforts to restrict non-governmental organizations are almost inevitably efforts to limit free speech and free association. We are raising our concerns with senior levels of the Egyptian Government.
QUESTION: Senior levels -- would that include President Mubarak?
MR. RUBIN: I wouldn't be in a position to specify any further than senior levels.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 2:05 P.M.)
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