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US Responds To UNICEF Report on Sanctions on Iraq

UNICEF Report on Sanctions on Iraq

U.S. Department of State
Elizabeth Jones, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
The Foreign Press Center briefing
UNICEF Report on Sanctions on Iraq
Moderator: Marjorie Ransom
Washington, DC, August 13, 1999

MS. JONES: Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about the UNICEF report that's just come out, the preliminary report that's just come out, that talks about the child mortality and difficulties with pregnant women and lactating mothers in Iraq. We, first of all, welcome very much the fact that UNICEF has done this survey. It was very much needed. UNICEF did a terrific job as nearly as we can understand, with the support of WHO.

That said, we find the results of the study very disturbing. The results demonstrate that there is a very serious problem with child mortality in Iraq. The problem is focused in the center and south of Iraq. Very fortunately, the situation for child mortality in the north is not only considerably better, but it's much improved since before the war.

I'd like to, before we get into questions, go into some of the facts and figures that I think are relevant to the issue of child mortality, to the issue of the humanitarian situation of the people of Iraq, particularly as it pertains to the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq in 1991.

The issue of food and medicine for the people of Iraq has been a central concern of the United States since sanctions were first imposed in 1991, following the Gulf War. When the United States made its first proposal for a humanitarian program, which is now called the Oil for Food Program, in 1991, it was rejected by Iraq.

The United States made another proposal in 1995, and it took a full year for Iraq to accept that program, which as I say--now known as the oil-for-food program.

The initial exports of oil were made by Iraq in late 1996, which means that the first revenues flowed into the oil-for-food program in early 1997. So the first shipments of humanitarian goods, food and medicine to Iraq, did not begin until early 1997. So we can judge the oil-for-food program from 1997 to the present.

As I said, the UNICEF study shows a severe increase in the mortality of children, defined as "5 years and under," in the Center and South of Iraq. It also shows a decrease in child mortality in the North. This is very significant for the following very obvious reason: The oil-for-food program, the distribution of food and medicine, is controlled by the government of Iraq in the Center and South, which means that it is in their control to determine how much food is ordered, how much medicine is ordered, and how that food and medicine is distributed to people in the South and Center of Iraq. However, in the North, the program is implemented quite differently. There is a 13 percent set-aside for the people of northern Iraq from the oil-for-food program. The food and medicine is delivered by the Iraqi government to the North, this 13 percent. And it is distributed by the U.N. in cooperation with the peoples of northern Iraq in the North, which means that the distribution works extremely well, according to many of those that I have spoken with in the North, with the evidence that is demonstrated very clearly in this UNICEF report, that the child mortality rate is, not only much lower in the North than in the South, but it is lower even than the child mortality rate that obtained before 1991.

One of the difficulties that--there are quite a number of difficulties in facts and figures that I'd like to point out in this context before we get into questions. The primary fact that emerges from the report, but primarily also from reports and reporting that has been done by the Office of Iraq Program at the U.N., which is run by Benon Sevan, is that there is a--the Iraqi regime has ordered only a fraction of the nutritional supplies that are needed for vulnerable children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

For instance--let me just set up some facts here for you, and figures--there is, up till now, $25 million that have been set aside through the whole course of the oil-for-food program for supplementary nutrition for vulnerable children, lactating mothers, and pregnant women. Of the $25 million that have been set aside, so far the Iraqi government has ordered supplies and nutritional supplements that total only $1.7 million. In other words, way below even 10% of the program, of the money that's available to provide nutritional supplements for this very vulnerable group of people, have been ordered and provided by the Iraqi government.

In the current six-month phase of the oil-for-food program, the six-month phase -- the current six-month phase goes from June to November--the government of Iraq budgeted even less for supplementary nutritional input for children, lactating mothers, and pregnant women. This is something that's a great puzzle to all of us.

It's not clear at all why it is that the Iraqi government is working so hard to ensure that there are not these nutritional supplements for vulnerable groups. But even when they--the history is, even when they budget for these items, we find that the actual orders are far below even what has been budgeted by the Iraqi government for vulnerable groups. There is a second category of difficulties that we see with the way the Iraqi government is handling the oil- for-food program, which further demonstrates their severe lack of commitment to ensuring that the health and nutrition of the people of the center and south. Almost $287 million dollars worth of medicine and medical supplies are still in warehouses of all of the--this is medical supplies and equipment that has been ordered by the Iraqi government.

This is about half of all of the medical supplies and medicines that have been ordered under the oil-for-food program by Iraq since the beginning of the program. So in other words, even though they say they've ordered all of these medical supplies, only half has been distributed. Now, one of the claims they make is that they don't have the transportation to deliver and distribute these medicines, but our response to that is they have plenty of trucks to move around security troops to ensure that Iraqis in the south, in particular, are kept in control and that the troops are moved around and medical--excuse me, military equipment is moved around, but they don't have the same transportation available to move food and medicine.

We know from considerable detailed talks with Benon Sevan, who runs the Office of Iraq Program, and from Hans von Sponeck, who is the UN representative in Iraq, that they're working very hard with the Iraqi government to try to solve some of these transportation problems. But the bottom line here is that the Iraqi government itself has to decide that it is a priority for them to order and distribute food and medicine to the Iraqi people in order for this problem to be turned around.

One of the other facts that I'd like to bring out in this discussion is that the oil-for-food program has in fact doubled the caloric value of the food that it is providing, the food baskets that it is providing to the Iraqi people in the daily rations that the oil-for-food program pays for.

The other aspect of the oil-for-food program that I want to make sure is clear to people is that we're not in fact talking only about food and medicine, but we're also talking about authorization, through the oil-for-food program, for the Iraqis to order infrastructure-repair supplies and equipment. For example, it is perfectly possible for the Iraqi government to order infrastructure-repair equipment for the agriculture sector, the electricity sector, for water and sanitation. Some of these things are under way, but there is a lot more that the Iraqi government could do for itself and for its people, if it chose to do so.

This is particularly of interest at the moment because, of course, the Iraqi government complains that it does not have enough--that sanctions are preventing them from providing food and medicine, preventing them from improving the infrastructure in Iraq. But the fact of the matter is that oil exports by the Iraqi government are near pre-war levels under the oil-for-food program. Of course rising oil prices have assisted this so that the revenues that are flowing into the oil-for-food program right now are right up at the authorized level. But as I said earlier, orders for infrastructure repair, food and medicine are nowhere near what could be possible under the oil-for-food program.

The Security Council, as you all know, is working very hard on a new Security Council resolution that would provide even greater flexibility in the oil-for- food program for increased revenues, should it seem necessary, to assure the humanitarian welfare of the people of Iraq, both in terms of food and medicine, and also in terms of infrastructure repair. And we look forward very much to concluding the negotiations on the Security Council resolution, hopefully in September, to increase the revenues flowing into the oil-for-food program and to implement and get on the ground a new disarmament inspection regime; that is something that the international community would like to see there. In conclusion, I note--we note that UNICEF, as part of its report, has made a series of proposals for how to increase and turn around this very tragic situation of infant mortality, very unacceptably high infant mortality, in central and southern Iraq.

Like UNICEF, the U.S. wants very much for the government of Iraq to expedite targeted nutrition programs on an urgent basis. As I've said, they are woefully lacking in placing the orders for nutritional supplements that are authorized. We also, like UNICEF, believe that the government in Baghdad and the UN should give priority to supplies that have direct impact on the well-being of children. And like UNICEF, we encourage additional international funding for humanitarian efforts. And as I said, this is one of the elements of the new Security Council resolution that we've been working very hard on.

Last, I'd like to use this opportunity to announce a donation that the United States is making to the International Committee of the Red Cross, of $1 million, for use in Iraq to repair and improve hospitals in Iraq. This is something that will be under the control of the ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross. And we're very pleased to be able to contribute in this way to the well- being of the people of Iraq.

In that connection, I'd like to point out that in contrast, Saddam Hussein, rather than contribute money to hospitals, recently spent many millions of dollars on building a resort complex for regime adherents at Lake Tharthar, in celebration of his birthday.

There's another aspect to the situation in Iraq that is of deep concern to the United States and to other members of the Security Council, and that is the drought situation throughout Iraq. This is a very serious problem in terms of agricultural foodstuffs that are traditionally grown in Iraq for use by the Iraqi people.

Clearly, the drought is going to result in a much lower wheat crop and rice crop than is anticipated. At the same time, in that connection, we hope very much that the Iraqi government is paying attention to this and will increase the amount of food that it orders, in order to take care of the resulting reduction in agricultural foodstuffs that are available in Iraq itself. In that connection, we are very puzzled by the fact that Iraq is exporting food for hard currency. Very recently for instance, they were found to be exporting 2,000 tons of rice through the Gulf, which we presume should have been kept for use by the Iraqi people in order to begin to turn around this very severe problem that UNICEF is pointing out with regard to children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

I'd be very happy to take your questions.

MS. RANSOM: George?

Q: George Hishmeh, Gulf News. I don't want to sound disrespectful, but I am really disappointed that you come here and not mention the sanctions as a cause of some of these problems Iraq is having.

I, this morning, downloaded a piece from the Financial Times in London, about the report, and they have a completely different angle than you present us this morning. For instance, the UNICEF representative in Baghdad, Anupar Marsing (sp), says that the reason that the North situation is much better than the South is--because the North, they had several humanitarian agencies working there for many years, while in the South they don't have that; so the fact that the oil-for-food program was not a factor in the difference.

Another point she makes is that the oil-for-food program in the North allows a cash component, while in the South it does not. So the Iraqis do not have the money to train and implement these programs. And they don't have the resources for contractors to install whatever sanitation equipment they need.

And on the question of holding on medical goods, the UNICEF representative says it's not $275 million; it's down from that figure of last year, $210 (million). I really--you have a tough assignment today, and I realize that. But I would like you to step back from your official position. (Laughter.) And as a mother, what do you tell the Iraqi women who have lost half a million children in the last eight years, nine years? What do you tell them?

MS. JONES: It's a very good question. As an official of the United States government and as a mother, I would say to the Iraqi government, Why is it that you're not ordering the supplements that are perfectly allowed and for which there are many millions of dollars under the oil-for-food program, number one? Number two, it is not sanctions that are causing the problem, it's the Iraqi government who is not providing the food, the medicine, the nutritional supplements, the medical care that could be provided under the oil-for-food program. There is plenty of money there. There is plenty of authority to order all of these--the nutritional supplements that are needed.

In terms of the difference between the north and the south, it is not true that there is a cash component with the oil-for-food program. There is no cash provided in the oil-for-food program. It is true that there are more humanitarian agencies working in the north. That doesn't have to be the case. They could work in the south too if they were permitted to be working in the south.

Q: Can I have a follow-up? On the sanctions, why--I still have to understand why we pursue the sanctions when we know, our relationship with Cuba, for almost 40 years we've had sanctions and we have not changed the regime? How do you think this is going to contribute to a change in the regime in Iraq?

MS. JONES: The sanctions are focused on ensuring that Saddam does not get weapons into his hands, does not have the capacity to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction that would be a danger and a threat to his neighbors and to the international community. The way the sanctions regime has been formulated and developed is to ensure that sanctions do not affect the humanitarian situation of Iraqis. And it is to the great dismay of the Security Council and to the international community that Iraq is so unconcerned about the humanitarian situation of its own people that it does not take advantage of the largest humanitarian program that the United Nations ever put together ever in the world.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question is on the right. Jim Anderson.

Q: Jim Anderson, German Press Agency. From the anecdotal evidence, many of the child deaths occur because of lack of clean water, which would be associated with lack of water supplied, all with the electricity problem.

MS. JONES: Right.

Q: This appears to be an enormously expensive project to rebuild the infrastructure, which was largely a result of the allied bombing. Is there enough money in what you've been talking about to do that, to repair and rebuild the infrastructure, including a supply of clean water to most of the children in Iraq?

MS. JONES: We think there is. In fact, some of the one million dollars that we're providing to ICRC is meant to go toward improving the clean water situation because that is very clearly a serious issue. The puzzle for us is why it is that Iraq has not ordered the kind of pumping equipment and distillation equipment that is needed in order to improve the clean water situation, to allow for repair and improvement of the sewage systems in Iraq. Instead, there seems to be a lot of ordering going on of pumping equipment for Saddam to have waterfalls and fabulous lakes for his palaces; $2 million has been spent on that and not on improving the water flow and sewage systems even in Baghdad.

Q: One possible answer to the puzzling failure to order this equipment is that he's using the children of Iraq as a political tool, a political weapon. Assuming that is the case, is there no way that the United Nations, or any other body, could get around the fact that the government of Iraq is using these kids as political weapons?

MS. JONES: The only--we'd like to find a way to get around it. The way the program is set up is that the Iraqi government is responsible for doing the ordering. Under the oil-for-food program, they don't get hold of the money itself, but the orders are up to them to place. We think that the--at this point, the only way to ensure that they improve the ordering and improve the distribution is international pressure.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question is from Talall (ph).

Q: Good morning, my name is Talall Ayhat (ph) I'm from Al- Jazyria (ph) TV. The point of your message here, the blame is on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein, his government, they're hoarding food, et cetera. Now this is not the message we get from the report. The report is blaming the sanctions, it's not blaming the hoarding -- there's no mention of hoarding of food here. And also, Bellamy, the author of the report, says that this--(word inaudible)--finding cannot be easily dismissed as an effort by Iraq to mobilize opposition to the United Nations sanctions, i.e., not using the children for that purpose of propaganda, et cetera; these are true facts.

I've interviewed a lot of people, experts, in the subjects, like Denis Halliday, who was heading the oil-for-food program in Iraq. He resigned in protest because the sanctions were harming the people, the children. I've interviewed him in depth. He mentioned to me all the effects of the sanctions on the people of Iraq, the society, not only the children, but the children and women of Iraq.

I interviewed Ashaf Bayumi (ph), he was the head of the observers of food distribution in Iraq. He mentioned the sanctions are the reason, not the organization, not the Iraqi government. Oil requirements and requests takes three to six months to be approved by the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations. All the experts are pointing the finger to the sanctions. Why you are insistent that Saddam Hussein is to blame? A child dies, it's not the fault--he doesn't care if it's Saddam's fault, it's Clinton's fault. You have to find an answer to these children's deaths. And I think the sanctions, according to all experts who are in the field, they are over there, they see it for themselves, they're all pointing fingers to the sanctions.

MS. JONES: I think--I think it is on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein. I think the figures that the United Nations provides itself, in terms of the amount of money available versus the amount of money that's been spent in terms of orders by Saddam Hussein, speak volumes about what Iraqi intentions are. I am not dismissing the UNICEF report; by no means am I dismissing the report. I think the report presents a very tragic--gives a very tragic picture of what is going on in the center and south of Iraq, and I think it is a requirement for the international community to pay attention to that. But I think it's also incumbent upon the international community to see what the facts are.

As I say, I'm glad to hear that there may be a reduction in the amount of medicine and medical equipment that's in warehouses. But it's still unconscionable that there should be anything in warehouses for any length of time. There is no excuse whatsoever for children to be dying in Iraq. There is no excuse whatsoever. I have lived in Iraq; I know extremely well how well qualified and professional Iraqi doctors are. I know they know how to use medical equipment and medicines, if they had them. It is perfectly possible for them to get them, if the Iraqi government would distribute them.

Q: But you obviously have seen the testimony of all these experts, like Denis Halliday and Ashaf Bayumi (ph), this is the report. It's one thing dismissing the report, but you can't dismiss the findings as an effort by the Iraqi government at propaganda.

MS. JONES: The findings of the report, as I said in my preliminary remarks, we completely agree with.

Q: But you can't dismiss this as propaganda--

MS. JONES: I'm not dismissing it as propaganda.

Q: --or the effort--

MS. JONES: I'm not dismissing the UNICEF report as propaganda, by no means. I think everyone should take the UNICEF report extremely seriously.

Q: I know, but--(off mike)--

MS. JONES: And we should--

Q: --an effort by the Iraqi government--

MS. JONES: The Iraqi government has made no comment on the UNICEF report, so far as I know, so far. So, you know, I can't speak to that. I don't think--I don't know that they're using it as a propaganda tool.

What I'm trying to do is point out that there are facts that can be worked with if the international community sees that the Office of Iraq Program has the facts in terms of how much has been ordered in terms of nutritional supplements for children, for pregnant women, for lactating mothers; for your organization, for example, to say, "Why is it that only $1.7 million of orders have been placed?" You say that there are delays in the Sanctions Committee. That may be, but it doesn't mean that orders should not flow. There is a flow under way already. There is no reason for there to be any delay in that flow.

Orders can be submitted even now. The amount of money flowing to the oil-for- food program is at the highest level ever.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question's from the right.

Q: I'm Matthew Lee (sp) from AFP. Let me try and get at this from a slightly different way. You seem to be suggesting that if the sanctions weren't in place, since--if there hadn't been sanctions in 1991, the situation might very well be the same, in terms of the results of this--of the study. If that's not the case, if you're saying that it might necessarily--it might be different, had there not been the sanctions, what else has changed in between '91 and now, or since '91 and now, other than the sanctions being in place and the damage from the war? Has there been a fundamental change in Saddam's attitude?

Has he become like what we hear out of the State Department every day, the tyrannical, evil beast bent on destroying his own population? What's going on?

MS. JONES: What I can't say is--I mean, I don't know if the situation would be different now from 1991 if there were--if he had not attacked Kuwait, and there were not the consensus in the international community that he needs to contained.

What is clear, though, is that what Saddam is--Saddam Hussein is aiming to do is to remove the sanctions on arms--to remove the arms control sanctions. That's what he's aiming for. And he thinks he can do it through manipulation and denigration of the oil-for-food program, which I maintain is completely false.

Q: So then you're agreeing with what Jim suggested earlier is that he is using these children--Iraqi children as a political--

MS. JONES: I fear he is. And I think it's a very cynical thing to do.

MS. RANSOM: The next question is from Khalid (sp) in the back.

Q: Khalid Manseur (sp) with the Middle East News Agency. I think we are still stuck in the same point. So let us accept your premise that he is using Iraqi children as a pawn. Why--or is the United States in any way considering depriving Saddam Hussein of this weapon? Especially that you have tried demand- side sanctions for 10 years, depriving him of his like income, why isn't--why are you trying in any way to try to supply-side sanctions and maintain arms sanctions and remove the economic sanctions, knowing that you yourself issued reports before to the effect that Saddam Hussein has assets and his regime has money overseas that it can use in an illegal way to get arms?

MS. JONES: Let's put it this way: I mean, you say, "Remove economic sanctions." Here's what Saddam Hussein can order now: He can order virtually any food and medicine he wants. He can order infrastructure repair equipment for anything to do with the humanitarian well-being of the Iraqi people. He primarily cannot import weapons. What's the difference?

Q: There will be no sanctions. There will be no weapon that he is using all the time.

MS. JONES: So we maintain sanctions on weapons. In the meantime, he can order all of these things that I think could be called items in the economic sector.

Q: (Off mike.)

MS. JONES: He can order all of those things, and he doesn't do it. It's the same difference.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question's from Hoda.

Q: Thank you. Hoda Tawfik, Al Ahram, Egypt. Ma'am, the Security Council draft resolution you are working on, you mentioned today, it just makes sure that sanctions will remain; otherwise, then the-- morerelaxation on importation and all that. So after nine years, do you envisage how many years more to keep the sanctions? Do you envisage at all that at one time, sanctions will be removed?

MS. JONES: I don't know. It's basically up to Saddam Hussein. The focus of the Security Council resolution is to bring together all of the elements of the-- (Ahmarim ?)--reports that were provided on the disarmanent issue, on the humanitarian situation, and on the Kuwait issues; just to pull all those together.

What we'd like to see is a vigorous disarmament inspection regime on the ground in Iraq; a relaxation, a restructuring of the humanitarian program that permits all of the things that I have been talking about, just enhances what's already permitted--there is a lot permitted already, which people don't realize; and that resolves the Kuwait issues. That's the goal. The goal is to have all of those things in place.

The focus of the sanctions is to prevent Saddam Hussein from reconstituting weapons of mass destruction. And you know, should that day ever happen, then presumably sanctions could be lifted. Absolutely. That's the whole idea.

Keep in mind that when the sanctions regime was first implemented in 1991, the assumption was it would only be a couple months before the disarmament inspections would reveal that Saddam had complied. That was the goal. It's entirely up to Saddam Hussein.

Q: Yeah, but you never want to touch the Article 22 in the resolution, which means every time they reach--the UNSCOM reaches through verification that, okay, he has no missiles, there is no--then something else they mention. The last one was bombing (in December ?).

MS. JONES: Like I say, the focus is, the goal is to get a good vigorous disarmament regime back on the ground in Iraq and, at the same time, to do no harm, and to reduce the harm that Saddam can do to his own people.

MS. RANSOM: There is a question from the back row--(inaudible).

Q: My name is Hafez Al-Mirazi of the BBC Arabic Service. Actually, I wonder if you care to comment on something relevant to Iraq also. But there are press reports that some members of the administration are calling for stepping the attacks or the military campaign against the Iraqis in the North and the South. And there is also some criticism in the Congress, as in the letter of the eight members, that the U.S. administration is not doing enough to help the Iraqi position. I wonder if you can comment on that.

Thank you.

MS. JONES: Yes. The focus of the administration is to contain Saddam Hussein, as we have been talking about, and to look forward to the day when Saddam Hussein is no longer in place and Iraq can rejoin the community of nations as a responsible member, as we know the Iraqi people are capable of.

The elements of our policy are, as I had mentioned, the Security Council resolution, getting a disarmament regime on the ground, improve the humanitarian situation as much as absolutely possible, and support the Iraqi opposition and elements inside Iraq who are looking--who are also looking forward to the day that Iraq can rejoin the community of nations without Saddam Hussein in the lead.

We think that the very important thing about the Iraqi opposition is that they pull together politically to a cohesive group that can decide and create a vision of what it is that Iraq should look like after Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge and Iraq is a peaceful member of the region. They have a very large job to do. There are all kinds of questions that need to be addressed that we think are very possible to address, which is what kind of government should Iraq have--that's, again, for the Iraqi people to decide; what should happen in terms of the military situation in Iraq. In other words, it is appropriate-- certainly appropriate for Iraq to have a conventional military force; the only point is not to have weapons of mass destruction. There are issues that need to be addressed in terms of lifting of sanctions, in terms of debt forgiveness or debt rescheduling. And, of course, there is the whole reconstruction that needs to be focused on to permit the Iraqi people to live the kind of comfortable lives that they should live.

Q: (Off mike)--the north and the south.

MS. JONES: What you're talking about is the no-fly zones in the north and the south. Those no-fly zones were established in order to prevent Saddam Hussein from using helicopter gunships and weapons such as that against his own people. The U.S. and the U.K. are maintaining the no-fly zones, as we have for quite some years now.

The only reason that there is any attack going on from American planes is in defense of themselves against the air defense systems that Iraq is targeting on American pilots and American planes. All Iraq has to do is not target American pilots and American planes and there would be no more military activity in the north or the south.

MS. RANSOM: We have time for two more questions. One here, and one here.

Q: (Name inaudible)--from Bridge News. I'd just like to ask you again about the U.S. assistance to the Iraqi opposition. It was launched officially a few months ago, and at the time, even some U.S. officials claimed that the money--both the money and the arrangements were too little for the opposition more than to give them desks or computers. So I understand what you are saying about the cohesiveness and the lack of it among the opposition. Where is this assistance at now?

And also, how do you see the impact of the PKK problem with the KDP? Is that liable to disrupt anything?

MS. JONES: In terms of the support for the Iraqi opposition, Congress passed and the president signed the Iraq Liberation Act, not quite a year ago, which authorizes what's called draw-down authority to provide material in-kind and training to the Iraqi opposition. It has been our determination so far that the most appropriate kind of assistance for the Iraqi opposition, as it exists now, is non-lethal equipment. The process is under way to identify that equipment. We do not yet have from the Iraqi National Congress a firm set of information about where they would like to have this equipment delivered, but we're hoping to have that shortly. Tell me the second question again. I'm sorry.

Q: So is that where it's at now? Is that where the assistance is at now?

MS. JONES: That's right.

Q: And the second part of my question was, what could the impact of the PKK on the KDP and disruption of any possible unity among the--

MS. JONES: One of the things that we work on very hard is reconciliation between the two rival Kurdish parties in northern Iraq, the KDP and the PUK, which is something that I work on very hard.

There was an agreement reached in Washington last September that addressed this issue, and it's something that I talk with both Mr. Talibani and Mr. Barzani about, not every day, but almost every day, to encourage them to thicken the implementation of the various aspects of the Washington accord.

The PKK operates in--not in northern Iraq. And there was agreement between the KDP and the PUK that the PKK not be allowed to operate in northern Iraq. They are committed to each other and to us that they would do everything possible in terms of cooperation to prevent PKK military activity from taking place in northern Iraq.

Q: Is this still the situation?

MS. JONES: It is still the situation.

Q: A follow-up to this?

MS. RANSOM: No, I'm sorry. She has the next question. Just wait for the microphone, just a minute. Sorry.

Q: Holly Rosencrantz (sp), Bloomberg News. Just getting back to what you were discussing before, is the U.S. considering increased military action to enforce those no-fly zones?

MS. JONES: The focus is entirely on maintaining the no-fly zones. And as I say, every time the Iraqis fail to target an American plane or American pilot, that is one less responsive military action that the U.S. will take. So that, again, is entirely in Saddam Hussein's hands whether or not bombs drop on his own people.

MS. RANSOM: Okay, he's got the very last question. Wait for the mike, please.

Q: (Name inaudible)--from Turkey's Anatolia News Agency. A follow-up to the previous question. The PKK leader has urged his rebels to leave Turkey, and the PKK has agreed to do so. If they do so, northern Iraq will be among the places they should go. Would that deteriorate the situation there? MS. JONES: I think the only appropriate thing to occur is for the PKK and the Turkish government to make some kind of agreement about under what circumstances the PKK might leave. It is not appropriate for the PKK as a military organization or as individuals with a military goal to move into northern Iraq. That would absolutely be a very bad thing for that area.

MS. RANSOM: Thank you very much, Beth, for coming today.

MS. JONES: You're very welcome. Thank you all for your good questions.

MS. RANSOM: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.


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