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James Rubin Press Briefing On Russian Visit

James P. Rubin U.S. State Department Spokesman Press Briefing Davos, Switzerland, January 29, 2000

MR. RUBIN: We'll be in Russia on Wednesday morning. We'll meet with Putin.

QUESTION: Wednesday morning?

MR. RUBIN: Everything's going to be moved up. So we go to Croatia in the evening, stay for several hours and then move on.

QUESTION: Does that mean the address to the Russian people has been canceled?

MR. RUBIN: No

QUESTION: Then what does that mean?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I think it will be, I can't preview the whole thing, but it is an address on American foreign policy towards the region. She will be seeking to explain our policy towards the Caucasus and some of the concerns often heard in Russia that somehow the United States is seeking to surround Russia and try to alleviate some of those unjustified concerns. that is an aspect that she hasn't talked about before publicly that will be new.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

MR. RUBIN: The Secretary has been following developments and events in Croatia for sometime. It has been a matter of great concern to us. The non-democratic nature of some of their policies. We are very encouraged by the fact that all the potential outcomes will yield a government that is much more likely to be taking the steps necessary for Croatia to reenter the community of nations in a more fulsome way including on the war crimes tribunal which opens up a lot of possibilities for Croatia and obviously the fact that there has been a free and democratic election and the a fact that those parties that espouse the most nationalistic position have lost the election, sends a positive signal to their neighbor to the east.

QUESTION: As it stands now, how many Arab delegations will be in Moscow for the multilaterals?

MR. RUBIN: As I understand it, she met with King Abdullah, just a few minutes ago. They met for about 45 minutes. One of the things they talked about was the Jordanian desire to get the regional economic piece of the multilateral talks on track. The Jordanians offered to host such a meeting following the steering committee meeting in Moscow. My understanding, I don't have all the numbers, is that the only non-participants of significance are Syria and Lebanon which have never participated before. The reason why the meeting is important is that it is the first time the Ministers have met at this level since the Madrid period in 1992. And that is a very important step. Obviously the Russians and the United States on a number of foreign policy issues have had big differences including in particular on Chechnya and this is certainly an example of where we think we and Russia can cooperate to the benefit of both Russia and the United States and the Middle East.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, this address to the Russian people, when, where and what format?

MR. RUBIN: The format is going to be more a speech to the Russian think-tankers, the diplomatic corps, economic types, Russian government officials, and American expats who work in economics. That is on Wednesday morning, I believe. I think it is probably after Putin. It will be a speech to a Russian audience.

On Arafat, she'll be meeting him tomorrow. The President obviously met with Chairman Arafat for roughly a half an hour or so. Secretary Albright will be discussing the upcoming meeting between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak scheduled for next Thursday, getting a status report on where the talks stand. She'll be discussing with Chairman Arafat, Ambassador Ross' visit. He will leave from Moscow and go straight to the region.

QUESTION: (about when the meeting will take place)

MR. RUBIN: This is what Arafat told us. It seemed to us like he was talking about a meeting he was invited to and said he was going to accept late next week. It could be Friday. Late next week.

QUESTION: Any chance that these folks would be coming to Washington at some point.

MR. RUBIN: On that, what the plan has been is that Secretary Albright had held out the possibility of returning to the Middle East sometime in February to see where things stood, to make a judgment as to whether sufficient basis had been laid for a three-way process with President Clinton, Chairman Arafat, and Prime Minister Barak, so that we could try to make some real breakthroughs on the permanent status talks. I would expect that the upcoming session that Barak and Arafat will have on Thursday or even Friday, to be focused both on interim issues which are still remaining and permanent status.

QUESTION: Any indication as to whether they might come to Washington?

MR. RUBIN: There hasn't been another possibility raised of a three-way prior to the kind of intense summit type process that has always been a possibility in February, but I just don't know whether that will happen. The normal process is Ambassador Ross goes. He spends some time, and then he decides how things are going. He reports to her. She makes a decision whether to travel. And then at that point she would decide whether to recommend that the President get involved. That is the kind of standard diplomacy.

QUESTION: The head of the Russian security council I heard might be coming to Washington. Do you know anything about that?

MR. RUBIN: Russian National Security Advisor?

QUESTION: (inaudible)

MR. RUBIN: You mean, not their ambassador in New York, you mean their version of the National Security Council? His name is Ivanov as well, Sergei Ivanov, I think it is. I think there has been some talk about that might be another step later on.

QUESTION: On Multilaterals?

MR. RUBIN: No, we have contacts at a variety of levels with the Russians, and obviously he is an important player in addition to Putin and Ivanov, the other Ivanov.

[end of document]


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