Department Of State Daily Briefing - Dec 13th
James Foley on Russia, Panama, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, Terrorism, EU, Russia(again), China, Sudan, Bosnia, Israel and Iraq.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Monday, December 13, l999
Briefer: James B. Foley
ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 Secretary Albright Will Not Travel to Brussels for the NATO Ministerials / Secretary Albright's Participation in the G-8 in Berlin
RUSSIA/CHECHYNA 1-3 Readout of Recent Albright-Ivanov Conversation / Extension of Deadline to Chechen Civilians / Recent Positive Developments in Region / Prime Minister Putin Comments on Talks with Chechen Representatives
PANAMA 3-4 Perceived US Snub by Panamians / Absence of Secretary Albright on US Delegation
CHILE 4 Readout of Presidential Elections
CUBA 4-7 Update on Elian Gonzalez Case / INS Meeting with Boy's Father in Cuba / Migration Talks
MEPP 7-9 Israeli-Syria Talks / Goals of the Washington DC Talks 9-10 Next Steps After DC / Israel-Lebanon Track / Logistics of the Talks 11-12 Another Secretarial Trip to the Region / US Role in Bringing Parties Back to the Table
CYPRUS 12 Proximity Talks
TERRORISM 12-14 Worldwide Caution / Nature of the Threats / Reference to Ramaddan 15-16,17 As Pertains to the Middle East & MEPP
EUROPEAN UNION 16-17 Greek-Turkish Differences Over the Agean
RUSSIA 17-18 Russian Parliament's Decision to Delay Start II / Food Aid 18-20 Russian Spy Case Update 21-22 Departmental Changes in Security
CHINA 20-21 State Department Role in Apology Letters from US City & State Governments to the PRC Regarding Falun Gong
SUDAN 22 US View of President Bashir's Recent Actions Declaring a State of an Emergency & Dissolution of Parliament 22-23 Status of US Food Aid
BOSNIA 22 Is Bosnia A Sanctuary for War Criminals / France's Role
ISRAEL 23-24 Israel's Treatment at the UN / Annan's Comments
IRAQ 24-26 Status of UNSC Omnibus Resolution
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #152 MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1999, 1:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. FOLEY: Welcome to the State Department. I think we've already released a statement concerning who is going to represent the United States at the meetings in Brussels in Wednesday of the North Atlantic Council. Because of her involvement in the Middle East peace process and the meetings here that will be taking place on Wednesday and Thursday between the Israelis and Syrians, Secretary Albright regrets it will not be possible for her to attend the NATO meetings in Brussels and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will be representing her at those meetings.
I have no other announcements and so I'd be happy to go to your questions.
QUESTION: Let's pick up on logistics for a moment. There is still a meeting in Berlin, and she hasn't decided whether to go to that yet, or she is going to it?
MR. FOLEY: Well, it's her intention to go to that meeting on Friday, the G-8 meeting in Berlin. Indeed, she looks forward to that opportunity. Obviously, Foreign Minister Ivanov will be there. She considers it important to have an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting along with her other G-8 colleagues with Foreign Minister Ivanov.
Clearly, Chechnya is an issue of pressing importance to the international community and she believes that will be a useful opportunity to explain our concerns and to hear directly from the Foreign Minister about Russian plans and intentions although, as I think you know, she has been speaking very regularly with Foreign Minister Ivanov. I believe they did speak once over the weekend and, therefore, it is her intention to go to Berlin in time for the G-8 meetings on Friday. Obviously, given the fact that we're going to be having Middle East negotiations here on Wednesday and Thursday, it's impossible to speak with philosophical certitude, but that's the intent.
QUESTION: While we're on the subject, the Russians have delayed for two or three weeks the deadline that they gave civilians in Chechnya to clear out. First off, of course, did Albright talk to Ivanov about that or before it or after it? And does the US take some - draw some hope from this pushing of the deadline, or is it the same old squeeze play on the civilians?
MR. FOLEY: I haven't spoken with the Secretary this morning. I don't have the specific readout of her phone call and certainly that last contact would have covered two subjects with the situation involving the Iraqi resolution, the Omnibus Resolution in the Security Council being discussed. Additionally, I presume they would have discussed Chechnya, but I don't have that readout. I'll probably be able to give that to you tomorrow, certainly.
But to answer your second question, which is the important one, we believe it is a hopeful sign that Russian leaders are at least downplaying the ultimatum and that the Saturday deadline passed without a massive attack on Grozny. We believe that Russian leaders at least appear to have been listening to the international community's concern about the potential for further civilian casualties that would result from a massive bombardment of Grozny. As you know, the reports indicate that there may be anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 civilians who are still in the city; many are old, many are infirm, many are injured and many are too afraid to leave. So our concern remains unabated that there is a potential for massive civilian loss in Grozny, in particular, if the Russian military were to move on the city while there were so many tens of thousands of civilians inside the city.
But we are at least encouraged, though, that the Russian Government understands the deep concerns of the international community about such a prospect. I would note several other developments that could be seen as positive if they are reinforced with positive events on the ground; namely the fact that Foreign Minister Vollebaek will be going to Chechnya this week and that is significant for two reasons: first of all, because this is what was agreed in Istanbul at the OSCE summit, as you know; and secondly, because we believe that this visit is an opportunity for the OSCE to begin to play a constructive role in bringing about a political dialogue.
In that light, I would also point to Prime Minister Putin's comments that the Russian Government has been in a dialogue already with Chechen representatives. We hope that this is an indication of a willingness to move towards a political solution, the kind which we - and really almost all members of the international community - have been urging in this case.
QUESTION: I understand you would be hopeful based on the fact that they're simply talking, but the accounts of those meetings are that they weren't productive at all.
MR. FOLEY: Which meetings?
QUESTION: The talks with the Chechens.
MR. FOLEY: I think I was careful not to try to oversell some of these potentially positive indications. As I said, we would want to see what happens next. In other words, it is - let's be honest, though. The fact that the Russians have acknowledged that they've been in contact with political leaders or representatives is a step in the right direction. We've not heard that previously.
Secondly, with Foreign Minister Vollebaek's visit, this provides an opportunity for the OSCE to play the kind of role that everyone in Istanbul, including Russia, agreed the OSCE ought to be able to play, which is to try to promote dialogue and a political solution.
Whether these acts are followed up with positive movement in two senses - namely, the non-implementation, continued non-implementation of the threat to level or attack Grozny and, secondly, followed up with real movement towards political dialogue and a political solution - remains to be seen.
QUESTION: Given Secretary Albright's schedule, we've already been told she's not going to Panama and I know the White House has put out a list of those US officials and former officials who are.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: Is the State Department aware of the editorials and the comment in the Panamanian press talking about the fact that State Department is not sending a high official as a perceived snub, the talk about a lack of respect for Panama? And is there any other State Department official going besides Acting Assistant Secretary Romero?
MR. FOLEY: I would have to check to see if there are other State Department officials in addition to Ambassador Romero who are going to the hand-over ceremonies. Certainly you've seen the statement that the White House put out a couple days ago in which the President announced his delegation that would be representing him at the hand-over to be headed by former President Carter and to include two Cabinet Secretaries, Secretary Daley and Secretary Slater; also members of Congress and other noteworthy members of the delegation will be attending the hand-over ceremony.
What I can tell you about Secretary Albright is the following: She very much regrets that she wasn't able to go to the ceremony. She had intended to go; she wanted to go. She, of course, was a member of the White House in 1979 when the treaty was negotiated. She remembers that, and it had been her intention to go.
And yet, as all of you know, we are, because of the latest breakthrough in the Middle East, about to have here in Washington the highest level negotiations ever between Israel and Syria. This is really very much in the paramount interest of the United States to help assist this process and, as you know, Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to be representing the Secretary at the NATO meetings at the same time, so there has been sort of a constellation of events that have prevented her from going to Panama.
But we are aware of some of the articles that you're talking about, but certainly it is regretted by the Secretary that she won't be able to attend the hand-over.
QUESTION: Any comment on the election in Chile yesterday?
QUESTION: Wait, can we finish up on Panama?
MR. FOLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: You didn't really address the main, I think, point of what Charlie's question was, which is that the Panamanians feel snubbed and that they see this as an indication that the US finds them somewhat less important than they might otherwise be. Why isn't the State Department sending Pickering, for instance, or someone with a little - you know, the White House delegation, while it does contain senior officials, they're not exactly the most high-profile officials. Why is there not a more high-profile presence?
MR. FOLEY: I think I gave a somewhat long-winded answer to the question from Charlie. If you want me to state explicitly, though, our view as to our feelings towards Panama as manifested in the delegation going, I think the President made clear in his statement that he regards this as an important delegation. Two Cabinet Secretaries are attending; former President Carter is heading the delegation. As I explained to Charlie, in terms of Secretary Albright, she was supposed to be part of that delegation; she fully intended to represent the State Department at that hand-over and exceptional events have intervened that have made it impossible for her to go and she regrets that.
In terms of other high-level participants, you weren't here on Friday but we announced that Under Secretary Pickering was traveling to Africa this week and, as I said, Deputy Secretary Talbott has to replace the Secretary at the NATO meetings in Brussels.
QUESTION: Very quickly - why shouldn't the Panamanians feel snubbed?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to repeat now two long-winded answers I've given to the question. We think that we're sending a high-level delegation to attend the hand-over.
QUESTION: A comment on the election in Chile yesterday?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
MR. FOLEY: No - we'll come back to that because we're now in this hemisphere and we're capable from one part of the world to the other, I think.
According to the reports we have seen, Ricardo Lagos of the center-left "Concertacion" Alliance won a plurality by a very narrow margin but failed to obtain 50 percent of the vote. He and Joaquin Lavin of the Alliance for Chile must now meet in a runoff on January 16. The presidential election, by all accounts, was conducted in exemplary fashion and is testament to Chile's commitment to democratic principles. The United States looks forward to continued close ties with Chile and to close cooperation with the new Chilean Government, no matter which candidate wins in January.
QUESTION: The Cuban boy?
MR. FOLEY: Sure. Do you have a question?
QUESTION: There was a meeting this morning with the father and possibly other family members. Could you tell us what you know, please?
MR. FOLEY: Yes. This morning around 7:00 a.m., the INS - the Immigration and Naturalization Service - officer-in-charge in Havana and a US Interests Section political and economic officer - in other words, two people - interviewed Mr. Juan Miguel Gonzalez Quintana, Elian's father, in Cardenas where he resides. The purpose of the interview was to receive from Mr. Gonzalez Quintana the documentation certifying that he is the boy's father; that he can legally exercise parental authority, and also to find out directly from him his wishes for the child.
The contents of the interview are now part of an INS case file and are confidential so I'm not authorized to talk about the interview that took place. What I can tell you is that the INS officer's report will be sent to INS headquarters in Washington, and I would refer you to the INS for any more information on the subject.
QUESTION: Jim, can you tell me whether the documentation that the INS officer collected needs to be sent here with the report, the originals? Do you know if this can all be faxed or are you dependent on somebody getting on a plane and flying back here?
MR. FOLEY: I'd have to check that for you. I think that's not really of capital significance. The fact is, the interview took place. Whatever record of the interview and documentation were produced during the interview need to be sent to INS headquarters in Washington. Whether that's by fax or by courier, I don't know. I'd refer you to the INS, though, for the answer.
QUESTION: Jim, were Cuban Government officials present in the room during the interview?
MR. FOLEY: No.
QUESTION: You can't talk about the interview, but can you say whether the case is any closer to resolution now that the interview has taken place?
MR. FOLEY: No, the Immigration and Naturalization Service will have to address any questions you may have in the what-next category because, as we've made clear, this is a matter for the INS to decide. This is a matter in which legal procedures apply and will be followed, and the INS is going to approach this by the book. They have had the interview that they needed. Whether further work needs to be done, what the next steps are, any of these questions that you legitimately have, I would have to refer you to the INS for answers.
QUESTION: Where did it take place?
MR. FOLEY: It took place at the - where the father resides in Cardenas.
QUESTION: At his house?
MR. FOLEY: I believe so. I'll have to check that for you.
Other questions on the child?
QUESTION: Can you tell whether the father intends to come to Miami or ask to come to Miami?
MR. FOLEY: As I made very clear, I'm not in a position to talk about what transpired in the interview. That's being made part of a case file that's being sent to INS headquarters, and INS will determine what the next steps are. I am told, though, that this is a confidential process and that it's not possible to speak publicly about it.
More on Cuba?
QUESTION: Did the US officials need to request permission from the Cuban authorities to travel to Cardenas?
MR. FOLEY: As a matter of standing, existing regulations, yes, both Cuban diplomats in the Washington area and American diplomats in the Havana area are allowed to - are required, rather, when going beyond a certain distance beyond the respective cities, to have governmental permission.
QUESTION: And if I could follow up, on Friday the relatives of Elian filed for political asylum. How does that political asylum claim affect this whole process? I mean, they believe it can delay any efforts to return the child.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I'm not a lawyer. I'd have to refer to the INS about that question.
QUESTION: In advance of your getting permission or the US getting permission to travel outside the 25-mile radius, US officials had some discussions with the Cubans in an attempt to get that permission. Can you tell us if any sort of assurances were made to the Cubans about the outcome of the INS administrative procedure or process?
MR. FOLEY: That wouldn't have been possible. To give assurances about the outcome would have been to prejudge the outcome, and this is not a matter certainly that State Department officers can speak to in any event. This is an INS process. INS is following its standing procedures to determine parental rights in this case. That's a fairly narrow question and that's what the INS has been looking at. They needed an interview in order to accomplish that purpose, and now INS is going to assess the results of that meeting.
QUESTION: But US officials didn't indicate to Cuban officials that if the father's - if it can be determined that this person is indeed Elian's father that the boy - that the outcome would be for the boy to be returned to his father in Cuba?
MR. FOLEY: I think the only kind of assurances - and I'm only speaking in general terms because I'm not in a position to talk about the specific conversation. But the only kind of assurance that could be given is that procedures will be followed; that we are not allowing this case to be subjected to political influence or consideration from any quarter and that the INS will go by the book as it determines parental rights in this case.
QUESTION: A question about the Middle East peace talks?
MR. FOLEY: Just a second. I'm sorry - are we on Russia or still on Cuba?
QUESTION: Still on Cuba. Coincidentally, migration talks with Cuba are opening today. Are those talks separate from whatever transpired today regarding this?
MR. FOLEY: Yes.
QUESTION: If so, could you tell us what you know about the migration talks?
MR. FOLEY: They began at 10 o'clock this morning. They're expected to continue until late this afternoon. The case involving the young boy, Elian Gonzalez, is not on the agenda. We certainly would not be surprised if the Cubans raised the matter, but it's not really a subject for the migration talks as such. These are general discussions to review implementation of the existing accords, and we have these sorts of meetings with the Cubans periodically to assess how the migration accords are being implemented and to discuss any problems or views that either side may have about the strict implementation of the accords as they exist.
QUESTION: I don't suppose you know what's on the mind of the US delegation going into the meeting?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have their talking points, no.
QUESTION: On the Middle East, could you brief us on the procedures for the Syrian-Israeli talks first? And secondly, we sense a big wave of optimism as to the resumption of these talks here in Washington. Does Washington expect the parties to conclude or to reach a peace deal in the next month to come?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to try to predict on a timeline how these talks are going to play out and when they'll reach their end point - hopefully a successful end point. I thought you were going to ask me whether we thought that these talks this week in Washington would produce an agreement, then you said you were referring to one month. Let me make clear that we do not expect agreement on the Israeli-Syrian track to emerge from the two days of meetings that are envisaged and scheduled for this week. These are, after all, the first meetings that will take place in a number of years; they will take place at the highest level.
But their main purpose is to discuss how the two sides will conduct the negotiations. They have to agree on a process that they think will prove fruitful for conducting their negotiations. And it is a short series of meetings here that are planned so I don't want to lead anyone to believe that we expect there to be breakthroughs or agreements this week. Nevertheless, this meeting obviously is of great importance; it's of symbolic importance, of historical importance; and the President and Secretary of State look very much forward to these meetings.
QUESTION: On the Middle East?
MR. FOLEY: Sure. On this subject?
MR. FOLEY: On these meetings?
MR. FOLEY: Sure.
QUESTION: In Israel, I believe the finance minister has suggested it would cost $18 billion in order to remove the settlements and to move the military installations. Now, is the United States considering paying such a large amount of money?
MR. FOLEY: No, I think Secretary Albright addressed that question yesterday on television. She indicated, first and foremost, that this was a premature question. We're not dealing with an agreement now; we're dealing with the resumption of negotiations.
She also pointed out that the United States at the time of previous agreements, be they Camp David or the Wye Accords, has been willing, Congress has been willing to help the parties implement those agreements. But it is certainly very much premature, though, to even begin to envisage how the United States might be asked or might want to assist in the implementation of any agreement except to say that the prospect of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, one in which the circle of peace is finally closed, which is what we're facing, this kind of prospect, this kind of opportunity now, however difficult it will be to achieve, is a prospect that we've never really had before.
And if we were actually to succeed in closing the circle of peace, in other words, if we were to see peace agreements between Israel and Syria, between Israel and Lebanon and a final status agreement, as we hope, be Israel and the Palestinians, this would be obviously a momentous and historical development and we have every reason to believe that the Congress would want, together with the Administration, to see that the United States would do what it could to make sure that those accords were a success.
But we're a long way from that. We're certainly a long way from the particulars and so it would be very premature to address any such questions.
QUESTION: You said that they are going to be talking about the process, but that's not what the Secretary appeared to be saying yesterday. She said that there was the desire on the part of both sides to stop talking about talking and that they were going to deal with four specific areas: withdrawal, mutual security, the content and character of the peace, and the timetable.
She seems to be saying that they are going to be getting down to brass tacks here in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.
MR. FOLEY: What I'm saying is that you shouldn't expect agreements on those areas. What they're going to do is talk about those four components of what would be eventually an agreement, a resolution between the Israelis and the Syrians. The Secretary talked about the four areas: withdrawal, security arrangements, character of peace, and the timing, the timetable for implementation. Those are the areas that are to be discussed and negotiated, and certainly they will be talking about those issues.
But what I'm saying to you is that in a day and a half or two days of meetings here in Washington, their first purpose is to decide how they are going to negotiate, where they're going to meet, at what level, at what pace, in terms of working groups, in terms of plenary session - all of this having to do with agreeing on what I think is expected to be an intensive approach to negotiations. I'm just telling you that that they're not going to, we think, produce breakthroughs in those areas in their initial meeting.
QUESTION: A couple things. Ambassador Ross mentioned this briefly and the Syrians have since gone a bit further. Maybe it's slightly premature, but is there - what's the thinking now about the follow-up to this meeting, about the next meeting? Will it be in the United States, and how long are we talking about?
MR. FOLEY: I think Ambassador Ross indicated that you couldn't exclude that the next round, the follow-on round, would be in the United States. We're certainly open to that possibility. That, as I've been saying in response to other questions, is one of the things they're going to have to decide here. And I think at the end of their meetings here, presumably on Thursday, will be one of the things you learn as to where they're going to meet next and when.
Now again, my understanding is that both sides are taking an intensive approach or intend to take an intensive approach to their negotiations. In terms of the exact timing, I am not in a position to foreshadow what they're going to agree and what they're going to announce about the timing for the next round, but this is something that will emerge. We do have, obviously, the holiday season upon us here in the United States and elsewhere in the world. That may or may not be a factor. I think this is not decided when they'll be meeting next.
QUESTION: What's the US thinking on the phasing of resuming talks with Lebanon which slightly got left behind? Do you prefer to leave that aside until you see where the Israeli-Syrian talks are going or are you working now to get those going, too?
MR. FOLEY: We look forward to the track between Israel and Lebanon taking place. I don't have any news to report to you about what kind of timetable the different parties are looking at.
QUESTION: Can you say anything more than Ambassador Ross did on Friday about the logistics and technical stuff in terms of what time and where these talks on Wednesday and Thursday are going to be?
MR. FOLEY: My understanding is that all of these details are still being worked right now, including with the parties. I think there was a press report out of the White House that gave some general information a few hours ago. That is basically the parameters as I understand them to be but, again, the details have not been nailed down, have not been sort of officially blessed yet. So it would be premature for me to talk about these arrangements that are going to have to be announced by the White House in any case.
QUESTION: Does that mean that this is basically going to be a White House show in terms of what --
MR. FOLEY: It depends on what you mean by that. I think it's known - I probably will not get into trouble by saying that we expect that President Clinton will kick off the meetings, so that will be at the White House. I don't want to say more about the arrangements for the follow-up.
What I can say, though, is that Secretary Albright will be available throughout the time probably - the two days that the parties are meeting here. We would expect that she'll be present and certainly available throughout the meetings. That does not mean that she will be in the room or that she will be always involved when the two parties are meeting with each other, but that she will be doing everything the parties would like her to do to assist them is a given.
QUESTION: In light of that and the answer you gave to Barry's earlier question, does that mean that she will not leave Washington until the meeting is officially broken up?
MR. FOLEY: I think that's a fair assumption. But again, in terms of her going to Berlin, that's her intention to go to Berlin and to leave sometime Thursday. But you put your finger on possible logistical challenges there and we'll just have to see as the week goes on what we can tell you.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about the Worldwide Announcement that you put out --
MR. FOLEY: Are we done on this subject? Okay, sure.
QUESTION: -- over the weekend? I was wondering --
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry - you in the back. I'll come to you.
QUESTION: Did you confirm (inaudible) with the Lebanese that the Secretary take another trip in February to the region?
MR. FOLEY: I'd refer to the dean of the press corps, Barry Schweid, as to what was said during the trip, which I wasn't on, in terms of her travel plans.
QUESTION: I'd have to watch television to know. But nothing was said about another trip.
MR. FOLEY: Are you endorsing any particular network worth watching?
QUESTION: No, no, no.
MR. FOLEY: You watch them all?
QUESTION: You can turn any channel. No, I don't actually watch this stuff. I figure you cover the State Department, you get the news. No, there was no reference to another trip.
MR. FOLEY: I have nothing to announce about that. Certainly the Secretary is available to assist the peace process.
QUESTION: But I do have a question.
MR. FOLEY: If you'd let me finish, please - to assist the peace process in every way she can.
QUESTION: You won't get into trouble for saying that either, by the way, that she's ready to assist the peace process. I wonder if - I'm just trying to check my memory, which is maybe not as great as it should be. But wasn't it said that the US wasn't engaged in any behind-the-scenes diplomacy with the Syrians that - period? Wasn't that being said?
MR. FOLEY: I don't know what you're talking about. You'd have to make the specific reference. I'm not even familiar with the phrase.
QUESTION: All right. In the weeks leading to this, what you've called the breakthrough, the resumption of talks, I think it was said that while Europeans and I think that the Crown Prince of Jordan and others were going to and from Damascus, the US was not actively engaged in diplomacy with the Syrians. Is that correct?
MR. FOLEY: I could not possibly - I will answer your question.
QUESTION: It wasn't you who said it.
MR. FOLEY: I couldn't possibly address a statement I'm not familiar with and don't know what it's about. What I can tell you, though, is that we did indicate - and I think the Secretary did and Ambassador Ross did it at various points - that we were seeking to help the parties get back to the table and that we were, therefore, in contact with the parties and that we had ideas, and we tried different ways of seeing whether the differences could be bridged so that they could resume the track.
QUESTION: About the Cyprus - Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash, which he was in - he is in New York right now. He criticized the EU decision on Cyprus and he said that latest announcement from Helsinki makes impossible direct or indirect meeting between the two Cypriot leader in the near future.
Do you have any comment on that?
MR. FOLEY: I think you know my answer, which is that there is a news blackout that the UN has requested in regard to the proximity talks which are continuing, and so I'm going to respect that. On the other hand, I would be happy to point you to the statement that the White House put out by the President on Saturday strongly welcoming the decision by the EU and Turkey's acceptance of the EU's offer of candidate status into the European Union.
QUESTION: According to a letter drafted by the advisor to the German Chancellor and the help of the General Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs and delivered to Ankara personally by Mr. Solana, Athens and Brussels in the recent EU summit agreed that the Turkish claims against Greece in the Aegean should be resolved first via political dialogue between the two countries, and only the unresolved issues by the International Court of Justice.
I am wondering, do you agree with this new process set up by Germany and the EU?
MR. FOLEY: I couldn't comment on what you're reporting because I certainly don't know whether it's true or not.
QUESTION: Can I ask you something about --
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, we were going to go to the worldwide caution, so we'll come back to you after that. Was it you who was introducing the subject?
QUESTION: I wanted to see if we could talk about that, the Worldwide Announcement that you put out over the weekend. You cite a - you use the adjective "credible" and you also say that there are threats that are specifically targeting Americans and, but yet what you sort of suggest for Americans to do is the same sort of language, you know, vary your routes, keep a low profile -- you know, that sort of thing which appears in a lot of travel warnings and a lot of sort of similar announcements.
And I wonder if you can sort of elaborate on what is it, given that there is a credible threat that's specifically against Americans, which you all refuse to say where specifically it is, what is it that you want Americans to do given this sort of millennial threat?
MR. FOLEY: Well, our recommendation to Americans is explicitly contained in the public announcement that we issued on Saturday afternoon, so I will quote from that for you. It is, as you know, our obligation when we become aware of information that may impact on the travel and the safety of Americans, to share that with the public. It's an obligation. It's not even a question of discretion.
Mr. Berger yesterday indicated though, when asked specifically whether we were urging Americans not to travel overseas, he replied that that was not the case, that this was not a red light but this was a caution sign. That's precisely what this announcement seeks to do: to let Americans travelers know that the United States Government has information - specific and credible information - that terrorist groups have been planning terrorist actions against American citizens and that this is a worldwide threat and, therefore, we've issued this on a worldwide basis and that it is connected to the New Year celebrations and the Ramaddan period and that therefore Americans need to exercise caution -- here is where I'm going to quote - "to review their security practices, to remain alert to the changing situation and to avoid large crowds and gatherings, keep a low profile and vary routes and times of all required travel."
I think, as you acknowledge, we're not being specific about the exact nature of the threat because this is something which is under investigation; there are law enforcement efforts currently to work in response to the threat. So it's not possible to be more specific than we have been publicly. This does not mean to alarm Americans into not traveling; it does, though, because we've identified the threat, is related to the end-of-year period, to the New Year's celebrations, to the Ramaddan period, that it would be prudent to avoid large crowds and gatherings on the part of Americans and to consult, also, with our Embassy or our Consulate in any area they may be traveling because the Embassy and Consulate have up-to-date, real-time information on security conditions in given places and it's possible for American citizens to access this information on the Web and via telephone. And I have that information if you're interested. I know that this has been broadcast elsewhere, but our Internet address is www.state.gov. And it's possible to access the consular information on conditions in countries around the world.
QUESTION: On that - the reference to Ramaddan in the statement; the reference again today - when we put this out Saturday, we were questioned and it was hard to provide an answer. Why the reference to Ramaddan? We can make all sorts of inferences, but what does the State Department mean when it makes reference here to Ramaddan? And if I can throw in the other question quickly, you tell Americans to avoid crowds. I wonder how realistic that is in the holiday season? For instance, will the US Embassy not have its usual Christmas parties, gathering lots of people together to celebrate Christmas or the New Year? What is the US going to do about --
MR. FOLEY: Christmas parties are not the same as the July 4 national day celebrations where every American Embassy invites large numbers of people.
QUESTION: I know. But American overseas in a strange environment tend to gather on the holidays - have a party or some celebration. There are religious services; there are all sorts of things. This caused a considerable amount of alarm when this went out Saturday and much as we said, similar statements have been put out in October and November, last year, early this year.
MR. FOLEY: The announcement says that Americans should avoid large crowds and gatherings. It doesn't say that they shouldn't get together and celebrate Christmas. And I want to be clear about that.
MR. FOLEY: Well, you've come down on the --
QUESTION: I'm saying you can't -
MR. FOLEY: He asked the question.
QUESTION: Well, you do the Ramaddan thing first? Why is it significant? You know, why --
MR. FOLEY: I know it's a good question and I know you want to know more. Unfortunately, because this is a real matter that is being investigated and pursued, we can can't be specific except to say that we do have specific information and we're working to counter it and the threat. And the information that we have does indicate that the potential attacks are related to end-of-year celebrations --
QUESTION: To the season?
MR. FOLEY: --during the New Year and the Ramaddan period. I can't be more specific than that.
QUESTION: I'm saying sincerely --
MR. FOLEY: I understand.
QUESTION: -- that Arab-Americans have raised questions why is the State Department making reference to Ramaddan?
MR. FOLEY: Because of the information that we have.
QUESTION: Jim, surely you realize that without providing any specific - even a little detail on sort of the nature of the threats - that you're being seen as being Grinch-like just for Grinch-like's sake. And so, I mean, perhaps you can suggest to the people upstairs that, you know, they might want to - in order, if they don't want people to take offense or get upset or be alarmed, which you say you don't want them to, then you might put out more information.
But my real question is, these same three things that are mentioned in this worldwide caution were also mentioned Thursday by the Secretary in Sharm el-Sheik when she said that because of the convergence of these four things - Hanukah, Christmas, Ramaddan and the millennium - all coming around the same time, that this was a great hope for peace. This is what she said.
Now two days later --
MR. FOLEY: What's your question?
QUESTION: -- you put out a caution saying that, you know, that there are terrorist threats. And I'm just wondering --
MR. FOLEY: What's your question?
QUESTION: Well, the question is what made - what was it that made her say that this was a great time of peace and then the Department comes out two days later and says, well, maybe it isn't a great time of peace; it's a time of threat.
MR. FOLEY: I think it's a given - you're talking completely about apples and oranges, I might add. It's a given that in a year - and this doesn't happen every year, as you know, because the lunar calendar governs the convergence of these celebrations - that this year, indeed, Christmas, Hanukah and Ramaddan are falling in the same period.
And at a time when the Secretary was in the Middle East, which is the cradle of the great Western religions that are celebrating these three celebrations at the very moment when we had the very welcome news after several years of stalemate of a breakthrough and a resumption in Israeli-Syrian negotiations. The prospect that we can glimpse, as hard is it going to be to achieve, of a real and comprehensive peace to englobe the entire Middle East, I think it is completely appropriate for the Secretary to have talked about the season of peace and the hopes for peace.
On the other hand, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect Americans, and if we have specific information about specific terrorist threats on the part of groups or organizations that don't care about religious observances of any of the three major Western religions and are planning attacks against American citizens, we have a responsibility no matter what the time of year is to bring that information to the attention of American citizens.
QUESTION: Well, one should not exempt, based on her comments, and think that the Middle East might necessarily be free of these threats because of her comments.
MR. FOLEY: If you read the public announcement, it's clear that our warning is to Americans around the world.
Anything more on this subject?
QUESTION: If the target is Americans, why does the warning not extend to large gatherings here in the United States?
MR. FOLEY: Again, what we said is based on the information we have and certainly I think law enforcement authorities in the United States, given past events here in recent years, have to and will be vigilant in regard to any terrorist threat or potential that there might be on US territory. But this information that we are sharing with the American public has to do with threats against Americans overseas.
Are we finished with this?
QUESTION: A few weeks ago or maybe just a week ago, either you or your colleague had said that there was a - that you had all observed an uptick in Iranian support for the enemies of the Middle East peace.
MR. FOLEY: Right.
QUESTION: And I wonder if we can draw a connection between this increased support for terrorist groups and your latest --
MR. FOLEY: I'm not going to be able to help you about the specifics of the information we have. I think we've indicated that there are a number of groups, terrorist groups, that we watch very closely in the world that are capable and have a disposition to undertake terrorist actions against the United States, against Americans, and we're vigilant in regard to all of them.
QUESTION: Mr. Foley, any comment on the EU declaration for the Greek-Turkish differences over the Aegean?
MR. FOLEY: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm sorry, I couldn't answer.
QUESTION: In the past, whenever the peace process has moved forward in the Middle East, it has led to --
MR. FOLEY: Excuse me a second. If you have a specific question --
QUESTION: The EU - the summit in Helsinki the other day released a declaration for various issues. (Inaudible) they deal also for the Greek-Turkish difference over the Aegean. I would like to know the US positions in --
MR. FOLEY: What I'm saying is I don't have the declaration before me. If you can --
QUESTION: This was happened December 9th. Today is December 13. I was wondering, you don't yet have a copy? You try to buck my questions?
MR. FOLEY: I'm trying to be helpful, actually. If you can come up after the briefing and point the part of the declaration, I'd be glad to look into it for you after the briefing.
QUESTION: But the declaration was issued December 10. Today is December 13 and I would like to know what is your position vis-a-vis to this specific issue?
MR. FOLEY: I'd be happy to give you some help after the briefing, sure.
QUESTION: Are you expecting any upsurge of terrorism as a result of peace talks between Syria and Israel?
MR. FOLEY: This is not - your question is not related to the announcement we made on Sunday.
QUESTION: It's kind of connected. I understand that this is from some independent intelligence that you've got, but now the peace talks are going to happen, as well, so is there --
MR. FOLEY: The announcement that we made was not specifically connected to the resumption of the peace talks. I can say that. I don't want to be drawn into the specifics about the information that we have. Certainly those of you who are veterans in this room covering the State Department in international affairs know that there are deep-seeded enemies of the peace process; groups that don't want to see a resolution of the problems of the Middle East; don't want to see reconciliation; don't want to see a solution to the political problems in the Middle East. And so when at times when there has been a prospect of real progress and breakthrough in the Middle East, terrorist groups and the enemies of peace have tried to thwart that process. But I don't have any specific information in that regard to share with you.
QUESTION: Another topic?
MR. FOLEY: Back to Russia.
QUESTION: Two on Russia. First of all, do you have any comment on the Russian parliament's decision to reject debate on START II? And secondly, what decision has been taken on the next tranche of food aid for Russia?
MR. FOLEY: To be honest, on the question of food aid, I had some information about that on Friday and I could share that with you after the briefing. I don't have it with me right now. In terms of the Duma's decision today, the Duma did not take up ratification of START II. It had been on the agenda prior to the Duma's adjournment. We still consider it a high priority and we hope that the new Duma next year will ratify the START II Treaty.
QUESTION: Another question, different issue about Russia and I'm sorry if you've already comprehensively covered this, Jim. But does the United States - this is about the bugging here at main State - does the United States --
MR. FOLEY: Can I interrupt you a second? Because I have the answer for Jonathan. The United States Government is carefully considering a request from the government of the Russian Federation for an additional five million tons of food, feed and planting seeds. Among the factors being considered are the experience gained from our ongoing food assistance program, Russia's projected needs for food and feed imports for the current crop year and Russia's ability to pay for such imports on a commercial basis.
In evaluating Russia's request, we are consulting with the European Union and other major food-producing nations. We will also be careful to avoid disrupting agricultural markets or reducing incentives for Russian farmers. While we have not formulated our final response to the Russian request, we have given priority consideration to the food needs of vulnerable groups in Russia. We are prepared to continue our effort to assist the Russian people in this area.
QUESTION: Any idea when you might formulate a final response?
MR. FOLEY: We're looking at it now. What I can say is over the past year, our $1.2 billion food aid program has included 100,000 tons of non-perishable food for direct distribution to needy Russian civilians through private voluntary organizations and 400,000 tons of wheat for distribution by the Russian Government to institutions serving vulnerable groups.
We have informed the Russian Government of our willingness to authorize up to 500,000 tons of additional food for free distribution to vulnerable groups in Russia. To the maximum extent possible, we will seek to channel these commodities through private voluntary organizations. All the food will be provided directly to needy individuals or to institutions serving vulnerable populations such as orphanages and hospitals.
QUESTION: About the bugging - about the spying - is the Administration, especially the State Department, completely sure that the Russians were responsible, number one? Number two, was this bug in a place where the highest level of US foreign policy could be overheard, and was it overheard? And number three, are various employees of the State Department undergoing lie detector screenings on this particular matter?
MR. FOLEY: Number one, the person apprehended last week, Mr. Gusev, was a member of the Russian Embassy.
Number two, in terms of where the eavesdropping device was detected, I think it's a matter of public record - because it's been stated by numerous officials including Secretary Albright - that this device, though on the seventh floor of the State Department, was at a great distance in relative terms from the Secretary's own office; from her suite of offices; from the most sensitive offices in the State Department. It's a matter that's being investigated in terms of who may have had access to that room and the assessment of what might have been obtained through the listening device is ongoing.
It has been pointed out, however, that this was a device that needed to be activated by Mr. Gusev, who did not appear to have a foreknowledge of the kinds of meetings that would take place there or even whether there were going to be meetings and that therefore he was only able to activate any recording equipment when he came by and positioned himself to activate it. So that would tend to narrow the scope of the amount of information that could have been obtained.
Again, this is precisely what's being looked at right now to determine obviously how the event or the penetration occurred and the damage assessment is ongoing. But I think this gives you an idea though that, as Secretary Albright has indicated, this was not in a sensitive part of the State Department. That is a relative term. Obviously any kind of penetration is unacceptable and it is a matter that is very serious; it needs to be investigated also to put us in a position to be better able to prevent such events from occurring.
But, nevertheless, this was an incident that was detected; that was watched and that was neutralized, and we don't want to lose sight of the fact that this was a successful counter-intelligence operation in the end.
QUESTION: How about ferreting out the mole?
MR. FOLEY: I'm sorry, the premise of your question is one that I just can't share. This is a matter that is being investigated as to how the device was introduced and you're prejudging the outcome of an investigation.
QUESTION: Have you established yet whether any Russian officials at any time over the previous few years had access to or entered that room?
MR. FOLEY: That's what's being looked at, among other things. It's not something --
QUESTION: Should it be possible -- (inaudible) - to establish?
MR. FOLEY: It's not in any way, shape or form something that I can talk about now while the investigation is just under way. As Secretary Albright said last week, this had to be approached in a sequential manner during a period of several months when we were watching the activities of Mr. Gusev and putting ourselves in the best position to catch him in the act, as it were, and to neutralize the operation. That placed inherent limits on the nature of the investigation. Now that he's been apprehended and the operation was shut down, we're in a much better position to conduct a thorough investigation. But that has just begun.
QUESTION: Jim, does the US share - this is a different subject --
QUESTION: The same subject.
QUESTION: I think you've got a bug --
QUESTION: The bug --
QUESTION: What bug?
MR. FOLEY: You're bugging me.
QUESTION: That's my job. In August, the Washington Times reported that security guards working at the State Department received very scanty training in counter-terrorism and in other areas.
MR. FOLEY: Untrue.
QUESTION: Could that lack of training have contributed to the ability to bug this building?
(Hall Alarm sounds.)
MR. FOLEY: I think you've just - your question was alarming, I would say.
MR. FOLEY: First of all, Ben, the article was wrong in you paper, so for you then to ask did their lack of training contribute to what happened, obviously, no.
QUESTION: Here's an easier one. Another Washington paper had a report on Saturday that the State Department or a State Department official helped the Governor of Maryland prepare an apology to China for his effort and the effort of several American mayors to honor a founder of Falun Gong - forgive the pronunciation. Did the State Department review or help prepare that apology?
MR. FOLEY: No, absolutely not. I think all of you who have been in this room for many months know that we have been very clear in our condemnation of the crackdown in China on the Falun Gong; that we believe in freedom of assembly; we believe in freedom of worship. And these are fundamental freedoms which are being abridged in China today.
And we've not made any secret of our views on this and for us to try to think of trying to persuade state or local governments to withdraw their condemnations of such practices is frankly absurd. That runs completely counter to what we believe and what we've stated. There, I think, were a series of letters that are hard to understand or explain that were sent. In one particular case, in the Maryland case, I just - because I pursued this -- found out that there was a contact between the State of Maryland and someone in the State Department trying to sound out our views, I think, on the letter and how to formulate it. And the official who spoke with them made clear this was not something that conformed with our approach to the issue, and there was no vetting of the letter or certainly no --
QUESTION: Or no help?
MR. FOLEY: No blessing of the letter or help or anything like that.
QUESTION: If I could just go back quickly to the Russian spy, have you guys figured out how long the spying had been going on and when the bug was planted?
MR. FOLEY: Again, before the investigation is completed, I'm not - at least from this podium - going to dribble out what the investigators are finding. I'm not aware that they've reached conclusions in those areas, in any event.
QUESTION: Is this an in-house investigation?
MR. FOLEY: It's an FBI investigation that Diplomatic Security is a partner of.
QUESTION: One final question on this. What security changes have you undertaken since discovering the bug in place?
MR. FOLEY: The Department has been in the process of tightening security on an ongoing basis for about the past year, year and a half. I think Secretary Albright indicated the other day that when she hired David Carpenter, who just retired from the Secret Service, to be her Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, she had in mind taking a very vigorous look at our security procedures and standards in all of our posts overseas and here at home.
And it was around the time that he came on board that our embassies were blown up in Africa, and so I know there has been a lot of focus, understandably so, on the last week about the counter-intelligence aspects of our security at the State Department, but we really face a two-pronged challenge because there are terrorist threats to our security as well.
And so in that light, under Mr. Carpenter's leadership, we've been doing quite a number of things - as the Secretary has indicated, there had been a problem with adequate funding of security in the earlier part of the '90s and she has tried to reverse that trend. We've hired quite a number of Diplomatic Security agents in the last year to two years. You've seen some of the physical security upgrades around the building. We have made improvements in construction security and in access and other areas that I can't get into.
In terms of the specific question about what we have specifically done in the last four or five days since his --
QUESTION: Since the bug was discovered.
MR. FOLEY: Oh, since it was discovered? Well, there are a number of things that have been done. Again, I can't go into all of them. One thing that you're all aware of that I would stress was not related to the discovery of the Russian incident but rather pre-dated it was the imposition of the escort policy for all visitors into the State Department. That was implemented in August but it had been in the works for quite some time.
QUESTION: How does the United States feel about the apparent preemptive strike by President Bashir against Hassan Turabi who is, of course, the man the United States and other Western countries have closely associated with Usama bin Laden and --
MR. FOLEY: Well, it's difficult - it's really difficult to assess, at least from this distance. We are aware of reports that President Bashir has declared a state of emergency and dissolved parliament, although his objective appears to be to wrest power from parliamentary speaker and National Islamic Front leader Turabi, as you say.
It's important to note that Bashir and Turabi have engaged in regular power struggles since the regime seized power in 1989; therefore, it's very premature to draw conclusions and it's certainly unclear what the implications of Bashir's latest announcement will be, if any, for Sudan's own policies and its relationship with the United States. It's probably going to take several more days for that to sort itself out.
QUESTION: In general, would you welcome a diminution in the powers of Hassan Turabi and the strengthening of the role of --
MR. FOLEY: What we're looking for is a change of policies in Sudan, policies that would promote reconciliation in Sudan, an end to the civil war, respect for human rights for women, an end to persecuting people for their religious beliefs, an end to the practice of slavery, a policy of reconciliation with neighbors, an end to support for terrorist groups. All of these things have to do with policies and not personalities.
We would certainly welcome any development, though, which moved Sudan into the family of nations that respect those kinds of norms, yes.
QUESTION: Jim, does the US share the opinion or the concerns of some human rights workers that French peacekeeping forces in Bosnia are not only not arresting indicted war criminals on their watch or in their territory but have also been out, you know, carousing with them and painting the town red, as it were, with these guys?
MR. FOLEY: No, I don't share the assessment that is indicated in various parts of that article. I don't believe that is an assessment shared by the United States Government.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about - one on Sudan?
QUESTION: Yeah, just a quick question on Sudan. Is the United States any closer to a decision on whether to provide food aid to the insurgents?
MR. FOLEY: That, as you know, is a very complicated issue. The Congress acted a few weeks ago to give the President authority to make that decision if he judged that it was in our interest or the interest, national interest of the United States, in the interest of promoting peace and reconciliation in Sudan.
There are quite a number of important criteria that would have to be followed in making such a decision. I'm not aware that that is imminent, in any case.
QUESTION: I apologize because I understand Ambassador Holbrooke addressed this. I can't find a trace in the press as to what he said.
MR. FOLEY: What's that?
QUESTION: I'm asking about Kofi Annan's statement last night that Israel should be treated better by the United Nations. Do you remember - it happened more than once, but before the General Assembly we had a briefer here who said an effort would be made to get Israel into the European groups and even though you're closing the circle of peace the Arab governments apparently haven't heard about it so Israel isn't in that part of the UN rotation for the Security Council seat.
MR. FOLEY: Let's say, though, that if we're able to close the circle of peace, which is going to be a very challenging endeavor though, we want to see a number of prejudicial practices against Israel be consigned to the history books.
But we agree fully with Secretary General Annan that Israel's treatment in the UN must be improved. The United States has been advocating fairer treatment of Israel in the UN for decades and continues to do so now. As you know, we were deeply involved in efforts in the early 1990s to remove the "Zionism as Racism" resolution that cropped up every year and were successful in doing so.
Despite the progress made in the peace process, the United Nations continues to adopt annually a series of resolutions in the General Assembly regarding the Middle East that do nothing to advance the cause of peace and serve only to deflect scarce UN resources in unproductive directions.
The US has been particularly active in seeking temporary membership for Israel in the UN's Western European and Others regional group, the so-called WEOG - a very unfelicitous term. Ensuring Israel's full and active participation in the UN's regional group structure would represent an immediate, meaningful and concrete improvement in the UN's treatment of Israel.
I think that this is still a work that we're pushing. I don't believe that in terms of successfully having Israel temporarily included in that group has proved successful to that date.
QUESTION: All right. When you spoke of resolutions or General Assembly actions, you're referring to the December 2 resolutions that only the United States and I think Micronesia in one instance opposed in Kofi Annan's General Assembly?
MR. FOLEY: Well, you know, there continue to be resolutions in the General Assembly and some of the UN constituent organizations that involve - I don't have a list of particulars for you. I'd have to get that if you're really insisting on it.
QUESTION: Well, I'm not insisting on it.
MR. FOLEY: I believe that was the most recent, but the UN has had a history of making declarations or pronouncements that involve rhetoric that only detract from the real work of achieving peace in the Middle East.
QUESTION: The US voted against it.
MR. FOLEY: We've objected. We've voted against -- yes.
QUESTION: Anything about the resolution?
MR. FOLEY: The what? The Iraqi resolution?
QUESTION: The omnibus resolution?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, I can give you a slight update. Not a lot new to say in terms of how we've been describing our approach to that resolution. As you know, we have a fundamental bottom line, if you will, as far as the United States is concerned in regard to this resolution. For us, the main element has to do with inspections of Iraq's programs of weapons of mass destruction and you've seen a lot of reporting in the press about this question of inspections and its relation to the suspension, possible suspension, of sanctions. And it is our very strong view that has not wavered and will not waver, that only if Iraq allows the weapons inspectors to go back, if the inspectors are able to fulfill key disarmament tasks - excuse me, if Iraq fills it key disarmament tasks and cooperates for a specified period of time, would the Security Council be able to decide on suspension of sanctions. There are other provisions, but that really is the critical one as far as we're concerned.
The text of the omnibus draft resolution has been placed before the Council and a vote is imminent. I would expect the United Kingdom to make its decision as to whether that will take place today or tomorrow. We would like to see it adopted with the broadest possible support among Council members, but I can't predict for you just exactly what the timetable for the vote will be.
QUESTION: Well, one of Blair's top people told at least two of us and a few others at breakfast this morning that there is a consensus at hand and that he expects a vote this week. A consensus would seem to suggest the Russians are aboard. Can you speak to that?
MR. FOLEY: I'm not aware of that quote or that report. My understanding is that in terms of full consensus, in other words, 15 nations voting for a resolution that we can support along the lines I've just described, is not yet in place. I've not heard that. My understanding is that there is still gaps; there's still work to do. But in our view, it's time to vote.
QUESTION: It's apparently a different - somewhat different - you didn't explain - inspection system.
MR. FOLEY: Different from the UNSCOM system?
MR. FOLEY: I don't have the details before me, but it's a different organization.
QUESTION: Well, is the US insisting on - the US isn't relaxing, is it?
MR. FOLEY: No, not in any way. Not in any way. Let me make clear, because you asked the question, our bottom line is the same; is that you would have real inspectors who will have the freedom to do their job and to judge whether - and to elicit Iraqi cooperation, and that you would have to have Iraqi fulfillment of disarmament tasks and cooperation over a specified period of time. It has to be real, yes.
QUESTION: The full consensus you mentioned, is that still your objective and is that a realistic aspiration - or are you --
MR. FOLEY: No, what I said - I was responding to what Barry said. What I said, we're seeking the broadest possible support.
QUESTION: Not necessarily full consensus?
MR. FOLEY: Full consensus is an ideal and we would like to achieve it, but that remains to be seen.
MR. FOLEY: Well, we think it's --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - something less?
MR. FOLEY: We're not willing to settle for something less than the ideal when it comes to the resolution itself; in other words, we're not going to support a resolution that waters down the integrity of an inspections regime. Clearly, we would like to achieve full consensus on that text.
What we don't want to do is see this drag out any longer and, therefore, we think it's time to vote.
QUESTION: You've used the word "specified period of time." Is that the words that you used?
MR. FOLEY: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: It seems to me, two weeks ago, probably it was Jamie used the phrase "substantial period of time." Does that suggest a US willingness to accommodate others on the Council?
MR. FOLEY: I can't really provide a parsing of the words that I used. What I can do is explain to you what we're interested in. There had been ideas and proposals that suspension of sanctions would be somehow automatic or that Iraq merely needed to cooperate in - just by showing up, as it were, or allowing the inspectors to show up; that this was something that would not require significant testing.
And however you parse it, however you describe it, what the United States and others in the Security Council - certainly a majority - are insisting on is a real inspection regime; is a testing period that allows the international community to determine whether or not the Iraqis are really cooperating.
QUESTION: That's fine.
MR. FOLEY: And whether disarmament is really going forward.
QUESTION: It usually means something when you change the guidance from specified - from substantial to specified.
MR. FOLEY: I don't want to say you've been here too long.
QUESTION: Do you have that recollection as well, that you were using "substantial" two weeks ago?
MR. FOLEY: I don't. I don't, but I'm not challenging you on that. We'll have to check. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:40 P.M.)