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08 June 1999

TRANSCRIPT: RIEDEL URGES PAKISTAN, INDIA TO SHOW RESTRAINT IN KASHMIR

(FPC briefing June 8 on South Asia, Middle East issues) (6530)

Washington -- Bruce Riedel, special assistant to President Clinton on
Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, addressed journalists at the
Foreign Press Center June 8.

Riedel began by urging Pakistan and India to show restraint in Kashmir
and stressing that the U.S. believes "the best way to resolve this
problem is through bilateral discussions."

Riedel expressed encouragement that Pakistan's foreign minister will
soon visit New Delhi and urged both parties to respect the line of
control established during previous conflicts.

"Respect for the line of control, and reaffirmation for the line of
control is very, very important," Riedel said. "The forces which have
crossed the Line should withdraw to where they came from."

The U.S. was encouraged by the meeting of the Indian and Pakistani
prime ministers at Lahore and said: "the urgency now is to get back to
that process of direct conversation."

President Clinton still hopes to be able to visit South Asia, Riedel
said. "We have an abiding interest in improving, broadening, and
deepening our relationship with the one-fifth of mankind that lives in
South Asia, and we are determined to do what we can to facilitate that
process."

Riedel suggested, further, that the two countries "get on with the
process of increasing people-to-people contacts, increasing trade,
increasing openings between the two."

Turning to the Middle East, Riedel said that the U.S. is "encouraged
by the decision of the Israeli people to give a strong mandate to a
new government to move forward in the peace process. After Prime
Minister-elect Barak forms his government, the U.S. hopes "to be able
to be in a position, later this summer and fall, to advance the
process on all fronts as quickly as possible."

"We would like to see an accelerated process of moving Final Status
negotiations forward in order to reach at least agreements in
principle as soon as possible."

At the same time, he conceded that the issues involved in the
Arab-Israeli negotiations "are very, very hard issues.... What is
called for now is flexibility and creativity."

Following is the transcript of Riedel's remarks:

(begin transcript)

USIA FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING 
TOPIC:  U.S POLICY TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST AND SOUTH ASIA 
BRIEFER: BRUCE RIEDEL, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND SENIOR
ADVISER FOR NEAR EASTERN AND SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS
MODERATOR:  MARJORIE RANSOM 
11:38 A.M. EDT 
TUESDAY, JUNE 8, 1999 
                
MR. RIEDEL:  Thank you, Marjorie. 

It is a pleasure to be back again; if I could just set the stage
briefly by talking about a few developments in the region and then
take your questions.
 
As usual, the area from Morocco to Bangladesh is filled with activity,
and there is much that we can talk about today. There are two areas,
which I would like to just open with. The first is the Middle East
peace process.

We are encouraged by the decision of the Israeli people to give a
strong mandate to a new government to move forward in the peace
process. The president, as you all know, has made advancing the
Arab-Israeli peace process one of his highest priorities, not just in
this administration but also in his first administration. He has
devoted a lot of time and attention, not just in the White House, but
at the Wye River, on various trips and in innumerable phone calls and
letters, to advancing that process.

We are now in the process of waiting for Prime Minister-Elect Barak to
form his new government. We look forward to -- when he completes that
process -- to engaging in serious and substantive discussions. We hope
to be able to be in a position, later this summer and fall, to advance
the process on all fronts as quickly as possible.

The president has already been engaged, since the election, in
discussions with various interlocutors on setting the stage. He hosted
the meeting by King Abdullah of Jordan to Washington just a few weeks
ago. He will soon be receiving President Mubarak of Egypt. And as I
say, we look forward to discussions with the new prime minister once
he has his government in order.

The second area I would highlight is the situation in South Asia,
where we are concerned by the fighting that is going on in Kashmir.
 
We have and will continue to exercise and urge restraint on both
sides. We think the best way to resolve this problem is through
bilateral discussions between India and Pakistan. And here I am
encouraged to note that the Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz
will be going to New Delhi in the very near future -- I think maybe
this weekend -- in order to try to advance the process in bringing
this conflict under control as quickly as possible.

Here again, the president has been actively involved in sending
letters to both prime ministers, urging restraint, urging a return to
the spirit of Lahore, to direct negotiations between the two parties
on trying to find ways to improve relations between India and
Pakistan.
 
And with those two preliminary remarks, I look forward to your
questions, as usual.
 
MS. RANSOM: Yes? Please. Right here. Give him the microphone, please.

Q: Raghubir Goyal with Asia Today and India Globe. You said that the
U.S. is very much concerned about this conflict or fighting going on.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that chances are maybe both countries
will go to war. And a spokesman in Islamabad said last week that if
there is a war between the two countries, Pakistan will use any -- it
means he meant "any weapons available" --
that means it could even "nuclear." 

So how serious is the problem, really? And where U.S. stands today?
And any positive change because the president said that they should
negotiate on the similar agreement that -- in 1972, signed between
then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Mr. Bhutto?
 
MR. RIEDEL: Well, as I said in my opening remarks, we are concerned.
This is, as both prime ministers have indicated, a dangerous
situation, one in which restraint is urgently required and one in
which respect for the line of control and reaffirmation for the line
of control is very, very important.

I think it is clear that this administration has spent quite a lot of
time in the last year in trying to urge both India and Pakistan to
take steps to restrain the development of strategic weapons and
weapons of mass destruction.

As you know, Deputy Secretary Talbott has led a team, which I have
been privileged to be a member of, to a region and to other areas in
order to try to encourage mutual restraint, increased dialogue between
the two.

We were very encouraged by what we saw at Lahore. The spirit of bus
diplomacy was a brave spirit, and we need to get back to the spirit of
bus diplomacy and finding ways to ease tensions, not increase them.

Q: If I can just follow quickly on this bus diplomacy -- 

MS. RANSOM: Okay.  Wait for the microphone, please. 

Q: This bus diplomacy -- when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee went
to Lahore to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at that time because
the troops or militants, 600 to 1,000, doesn't come in one hour or
overnight.

That means they have been planning for weeks, months, or maybe years.
So he knew that militants are already there over the hill. And he
never told Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee that we are talking about peace
and but we are going to attack you.

MR. RIEDEL: I think that it is more useful to focus on what needs to
be done to control this situation than to get into a blame game at
this point.

There is no question that there are those on both sides who would like
to increase tensions. The important thing, though, is to focus on how
do we decrease these tensions. And as I said earlier, I think both
prime ministers showed a great deal of political courage when they met
together in Lahore and tried to break down the barriers that have for
too long divided India and Pakistan.

We need to get on with the process of increasing people to people
contacts, increasing trade, increasing openings between the two.
Cricket games ought to be the symbol of moving forward, not an
opportunity for engaging in blame games and increasing tensions
between the two. We have supported that process. The president wrote
both prime ministers after Lahore and, in fact, even before Lahore,
and urged them to move forward.

So as I said, I don't want to engage in castigation or blame. I think
the principles upon which we want to move forward are mutual
restraint, reaffirmation of the line of control, and intensifying the
bilateral dialogue between the two parties.

MS. RANSOM: George? 

Q: George Hishmeh, Gulf News, Dubai. I'm a little perplexed by the
Clinton administration's attitude towards the U.N. Here the
administration engages in war activities in Yugoslavia without U.N.
sanction, but when a settlement is near, it wants -- it agrees to the
Security Council playing a role.
 
Again, on the Middle East peace process, it insists that the Middle
East peace process is pegged to the two resolutions, and this was a
very important one in the opinion of many Palestinians and Arabs,
Resolution 181.

How do you explain that? Isn't that -- aren't you concerned that this
is a factor, one factor why the attitude towards the U.N. and the U.S.
is very low? And if I may be allowed a follow-up.

MR. RIEDEL: I'm happy to say that Yugoslavia lies outside the
boundaries of my area of responsibility. (Laughter.) So I will beg not
to answer questions about Yugoslavia. (Laughter.) And the U.N. is also
outside my area. (Laughter.) So I will be more specific. We encourage
a process of bilateral negotiations between Israel and her Arab
neighbors because history has demonstrated that that is the most
effective way to reach agreements: the Israeli-Egyptian agreement, the
Israeli-Jordanian agreement, the Oslo agreement, the various
follow-ups to the Oslo agreement, including the Wye River agreement.

That process requires bilateral agreement on what the basis is. The
basis that the two parties, Israel and her neighbors, have reached
agreement on is Resolutions 242 and 338. At this stage in the process,
that remains the basis upon which they are entering into negotiations.
We stand, I hope, on the eve of an auspicious era in which we will get
back to the negotiating table and move forward.

Changing the rules of the game at that point I think would be a
mistake. I think we ought to be focusing on encouraging that direct
bilateral discussion between the parties. The United States, of
course, will play its role, as we have. And as I said in my opening
remarks, the president looks forward to rolling up his sleeves and
getting progress moving on all tracks.

Q: If I may follow up. You know, one of the key U.N. resolutions -- I
mean, let me rephrase that. Are you saying that all the U.N.
resolutions prior to 242 and 338 are irrelevant? I know one key
resolution is 194, for instance, which allows the Palestinian refugees
the right of return or compensation. And in fact, as I understand, it
has been entered as one of the key discussions in the
multilateral process on refugees.  How do you feel about that? 

MR. RIEDEL: I'm not saying any resolutions are relevant or irrelevant.
I think one does have to recognize the basis upon which the parties
have reached agreement to proceed is 242 and 338, and changing the
basis is always a dangerous thing to do in the middle of a
negotiations process. Two-four-two and 338 is what the parties have
been able to reach significant advancement on over the last two
decades, and we continue to support a process based on those
resolutions. 

Q: (Name and affiliation off mike.) Iran confirmed that a group of at
least 15 Jews were arrested and charged with espionage for Israel and
the United States. What is your comment on that?

MR. RIEDEL: Well, we have consistently deplored violation of human
rights against any religious group or ethnic group in Iran. We are
concerned by this. There is no basis to the charge. We think it is a
serious situation, and we would hope that the government of Iran would
take quick action in order to resolve it.
  
Q: Mr. Riedel, I'm Halad Mansour (sp) with the Middle East News
Agency. I wonder if you can flesh out your remarks a little bit about
what is ahead on the peace process in terms of the world map and the
time sequencing? Are you suggesting that you will wait and see until
Barak finishes his government and then there will be an implementation
of the Wye accord? Are you going to revive the multilateral tracks
afterwards or before that? What role specifically
do you expect from Jordan and Egypt?  If you can flesh out? 

MR. RIEDEL: Sure. By definition, it takes two to tango, and I think we
need to let our Israeli friends have the opportunity to put their
house in order and put together a government and appoint various
ministers. That process is well underway, and I'm confident that Prime
Minister Barak will soon be in a position where he's ready to engage.

And I think the first step, of course, is going to be for us to have
an opportunity at the leader level for the two of them to talk and to
share their visions of where we're moving forward. I don't want to
speak for Prime Minister Barak; he will soon be having every
opportunity to do that himself. What I can say is that our position
has long been clear. We want a comprehensive peace, we want to see
movement on all tracks.

On the Palestinian track, we have an agreed-upon formulation reached
at Wye River. We think it's a good deal; the previous government of
Israel was a signatory to that deal, and we would like to see it
implemented as soon as possible.

We would also, and have said for a long time, that we would like to
see an accelerated process of moving final status negotiations forward
in order to reach at least agreements in principle as soon as
possible. And we continue to support that. We would also like to see
the Syrian-Israeli track and the Lebanese-Israeli track get back into
gear as quickly as possible.
 
And last, but by no means least, we support the multilateral process
and a process of engaging the region as a whole in a process of
discussions on those issues -- arms control, refugees, water -- that,
as you know, the multilateral process was envisioned as dealing with.
So, I don't want to paint too rosy a picture, because the issues in
front of us are very, very hard issues.

We have reached some of the core tough nuts here that we are going to
have to deal with. 

But our goal clearly will be to try to move on as many fronts as
possible. We do not see these fronts as a series of zero-sum games in
which movement on the Palestinian track has to be at the expense of
movement, say, on the Syrian or Lebanese track, or vice versa. Some of
the remarks that I have seen from Prime Minister Barak in the last
several days, suggests he also does not see this as a series of
zero-sum games.

MS. RANSOM: Over here. 

Q: Seema Sirohi, the Telegraph India. I had a three-part question. Is
it -- (cross talk) -- it's very quick small questions.

Do you believe that the line of control is clearly demarcated? And if
so, what do you make of the foreign minister of Pakistan's remarks
that: "What is there to discuss? We don't know where the line is"?

Number two: According to your assessment, how far in are these
infiltrators on the Indian side of the line of control? And from your
remarks, I got the feeling that you are equating India and Pakistan in
this current problem, because here clearly, the violation has taken
place from one side, and the other side is
reacting. To say that you don't want to get in the blame game, are you
not encouraging those very elements who have planned this kind of
operation?

MR. RIEDEL: I am not trying to equate the two parties here. I am
trying to establish what we think is a reasonable basis for resolution
of this problem. We think that the line of control has been demarcated
over the years. The two parties have not previously had significant
differences about where the line of control is here.
 
We think that that means, in practice, the forces which have crossed
the line, should withdraw to where they came from.

The urgent step that we need here is to see restraint exercised and a
return to the line of control. The president in his communications
with both prime ministers, stressed that point.

The conflict between India and Pakistan and Kashmir has many origins
and a long and tortured history. It is long past the point where it
needs to be resolved by the two parties, directly.

We saw an encouraging beginning at Lahore. And I think the urgency now
is to get back to that process of direct conversation based upon
reaffirmation of the line of control and the need for direct
communications between the two prime ministers. I hope that is what
the foreign minister's visit to Delhi, in the days ahead, will lead us
forward.

Q: Could you answer the question how far in are these people, and are
the Pakistani troops involved?

MR. RIEDEL: I am not in a position to give you the blow-by-blow
details. I think the better place to get answers to those questions
about mileage and kilometers, is Delhi and Islamabad, rather than
Washington.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question is from the right, in the back there.

Q: I'm Jim Anderson, DPA, the German Press Agency. Going back to the
Arab-Israeli peace process, what would be the U.S. government view to
simply dumping Wye as a lost cause and a time-waster now, and
sharpening the focus on the permanent status talks by going directly
to them and forgetting about the leftover Wye implementation process?

MR. RIEDEL: Well, obviously, we invested, myself included, a great
deal of time in the Wye River process. We think it is a useful
confidence building measure between the two parties. I don't think the
two tracks are incompatible. You could implement Wye, while at the
same time beginning the process of final status negotiations. And I
think that doing it in parallel rather than seeing them as competing
is actually likely to be mutually reinforcing at this stage.

The Wye River agreement is a good agreement. It returns some of the
fundamentals back onto the bargaining table. It encourages the process
of cooperation in the battle against terrorism, which is in both
sides' interest; it sets up mechanisms for doing so, and it also
allows for the turnover of territory in the West Bank to Palestinian
control, which I think encourages a sense of confidence in the
Palestinian community that the process is moving forward.

Q: (Hershel Melhem ), Radio Monte Carlo. Mr. Riedel, we have, it seems
to me, two parallel calendars here. You have Ehud Barak promising the
Israelis a withdrawal from Lebanon within a year, which would
necessitate negotiations with Syria. You have, on the other hand, an
American promise to the Palestinians, and to the rest of the parties,
that there will be also a resolution or some sort of an agreement on
the final status talks. How realistic is it to expect
within one year, given that the president has essentially one year,
although Barak has four years, to see real progress on two tracks?

I know in the past you had simultaneous negotiations on four tracks,
but we've rarely seen real substantive progress on more than one
track. How realistic is it to expect that next year will be different
than the past, given the criticism that was leveled at the Clinton
administration by many people, even including here in Washington, that
it was not as engaged as the Bush administration at
one time or as the Carter administration at one time, that it remained
a facilitator and not really a mediator? I mean, you said it takes two
to tango. Obviously, if the Israelis are going to dance with the
Syrians, the Americans should be the conductor that provides the
background music, and if it's not really a good conductor, then the
music will be lousy and the dance will be horrible. (Scattered
laughter.)

MR. RIEDEL: I think we should be careful how far we take this analogy!
(Laughter.)

I would say that you will find on the American side a team that is
prepared to take on multiple tasks at once; which, as I said, does not
regard this as something that has to be a zero-sum game. We have
conducted multiple negotiations simultaneously. We had -- during the
active phase of the multilateral negotiations, you would frequently
have negotiations going on in capitals around the world. We can staff
it, and I think you will find the political will here to push on all
these fronts.

I would take note that among the interactions the president has had
since the Israeli election was the phone call to President Assad as
well as the phone call to Chairman Arafat.

So we think we can staff all the tracks. The question will be
questions of political will among all the players, a determination to
find flexibility and creativity among all the players. We're prepared
to play all kinds of tunes: fast, slow. But in the end, it is the
parties that will determine how quickly or how slowly they want to
dance.

What is called for now is flexibility and creativity, because as I
said at the beginning, we are down to some of the really hard issues.
There's a commonly -- statement that on the Israeli-Syrian track in
the first administration before the talks were suspended we got
three-quarters of the way there. Whether or not we actually got
three-quarters of the way, I would hasten to add that the last quarter
is usually the toughest yards to gain. We should be realistic in our
expectations, even as we are determined in our efforts. 

Q: And do you see the withdrawal from the Jizzin area in south Lebanon
by the so-called SLA army, which is supported by Israel, as a prelude,
or as lending a great urgency to the Israeli government to move on the
northern front, so to speak?

MR. RIEDEL: The prime minister-elect has said himself that he attaches
a very high priority to this. I think if you recall election night in
Israel when he addressed his supporters right after Prime Minister
Netanyahu had conceded the race, the first issue he put forward was
the question of finding a way to bring the Israeli soldiers home from
Lebanon.

So I think that underscores the importance he attaches to it.   

This has gone on far too long. We would hope that there would be a way
through negotiations to find an agreement which is to the satisfaction
of all the parties involved.

MR. RIEDEL:  Now, your next questioner is here on the right.  

Q: Ugo Timbale (sp), Solo 24 Ore (sp), Italy. I assume because of Bibi
Netanyahu in these past three years you were overexposed in diplomacy
in the Middle East. Are you going to prefer now for the future the
bilateral talks, bilateral tracks, rather than other direct
involvement of the American administration? And when you will -- when
the peace process will be resumed, you will start back from the point
you left behind one and a half years ago, more or less, or are you
going to change your priorities on the tracks and any other kind of
problem in the region? Thank you.

MR. RIEDEL: Just like I don't want to engage in the blame game in
South Asia, I'd rather not get into a blame game in the Middle East
process, either. Let's focus on where we go from here.

The first step is for the prime minister to form a government, reach
agreement within that government on the principles which will guide it
in negotiations. That process is well under way. We then will want to
sit down with the prime minister, not just because of the peace
process, but because the United States and Israel enjoy a true
strategic partnership and we have common interests that we seek to
advance throughout the region, and I would think that the president
and the prime minister will need to take some time to chart out their
respective road maps of where they want to go ahead and what they see
as the pitfalls.

We are prepared to do all that it is necessary in order to advance
this process forward. History has shown that the breakthroughs usually
occur when the parties deal directly with each other. The greatest
breakthroughs in this process -- Camp David, Oslo -- came in that
manner. But we have also been prepared -- President Carter -- since,
to roll up our sleeves, to spend an all-nighter or two and try and
find the basis upon which an agreement -- we're not
bashful about putting forward ideas when the time is right. 

So, at this stage, I realize I'm not giving you a precise road map,
but I think that's because we're at the dawn of a new moment here, and
we need to let the players get their houses in order before we begin
manicuring the lawns.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question is from back against the wall. 

Q: Amayin Maj (sp), Radio Free Europe. What is U.S. policy vis-a-vis
Iran given the fact that there have been a lot of changes since Mr.
Khatami came to power?

MR. RIEDEL: The United States has been encouraged by much of what we
have seen in Iran, over the course of the last two years, since the
election of President Khatami. We have seen a great deal of movement
towards increasing dialogue at the civilization-to-civilization level.
We welcomed President Khatami's announcement that he wanted to move in
that process.

We have seen some very positive movements by the government of Iran,
for example, in the area of narcotics trafficking. And as a
consequence, Iran has been removed from the Drug Certification List.

There are still areas where the behavior and the policies of the
government of Iran are very troubling to us. I think those are
familiar to you; support for terrorism, efforts to acquire weapons of
mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles, support for the
most violent opponents of the Middle East peace process -- and as we
had an earlier question -- in some human rights cases.

We would like to see a furthering in the encouragement of the
relationship between the United States and Iran. We have been
prepared, as the Bush administration was prepared before us, to sit
down and have a direct dialogue with the government of Iran. We
continue to be prepared to do that. We believe that many of these
issues can really only seriously be addressed in a
government-to-government dialogue.

But I think on the whole, what we have seen is an era of movement
towards de-escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. We
have encouraged that. I think as you gentlemen in the press know well,
the rhetoric on both sides has changed towards -- for the better. The
level of tension has been reduced.

We have also seen Iran's relations with some of its neighbors, in
particular Saudi Arabia and some of the other countries of the Arabian
peninsula, improve as well, and we welcome that. A de-escalation of
tension in the Gulf is in our national interest and is something that
we support.
 
MS. RANSOM: Your next questioner is right here. 

Q: Parasuram, Press Trust of India. There was a report recently that
President Clinton has specifically asked the prime minister of
Pakistan to withdraw the
troops which have been sent, the militants and others who have been
sent, to the Indian side of the line of control. You indicated that
indirectly. I was wondering whether you could make that a little more
direct?

MR. RIEDEL: I am going to protect the privilege of maintaining the
confidentiality of the president's correspondence. But I think I have
made clear our view that restraint and a reaffirmation of the line of
control is the basis upon which we can move forward.
 
Q: Mr. Riedel -- 

MS. RANSOM: Please identify yourself.  Thank you. 

Q: -- N.C. Menon from Hindustan Times. I have a more general question.
There has been a complaint for a long time that the U.S.
administration has not really focused on South Asia. Now the State
Department has reformed inside of their own South Asian Bureau, but
there is still a continuing complaint among various places, including
some of the think tanks, that South Asian expertise in the White House
is still lacking. Will you comment on that?

MR. RIEDEL: I like to think that we have a strong base in the White
House working on South Asia. Since I become senior director, two -- a
little over two years ago, I appointed a director for South Asia for
the first time in the NSC system, and we have a full-time person now
working on South Asia who works for me.

This president made a very conscious decision, at the beginning of
this term, that is in 1997, to upgrade and put more focus on South
Asia, to try to broaden and diversify our relations with all the
countries of South Asia. One symbol of that decision was his
announcement that he hoped to visit South Asia in his second term. He
still hopes to be able to visit South Asia in his second term. We have
an abiding interest in improving, broadening and deepening our
relationship with the one-fifth of mankind that lives in South Asia,
and we are determined to do what we can to facilitate that process.

No question -- and you all know this -- that the nuclear tests a
little over a year ago in the subcontinent were a setback for that
process. Since then, we have engaged in intense discussions with both
New Delhi and Islamabad about trying to find ways to move forward, and
we will continue to do that in the time remaining to us in the second
Clinton administration.

MS. RANSOM: Your next question is from Mustafa here on the right. 

Q: Mustafa Chtaiwi (ph), Maghreb Arabe Presse, Morocco news agency.
Could you tell us something about the projected meeting between the
Libyans and the U.S., and what does Washington expect from this
meeting? And why now? Thank you.

MR. RIEDEL: Let me set the stage a little bit by saying that the
decision of the Libyan government to turn over the two Pan Am
103suspects for a Scottish trial in the Netherlands was an important
and positive step forward, and we have welcomed it and we have
supported the United Nations Security Council in suspending the
sanctions that were imposed a decade ago.

As a footnote, I would say this episode illustrates that the resolve
of the international community sometimes takes its time to succeed,
but can succeed, and sanctions can be an effective instrument in
bringing about a change of behavior.

Our strategic objective vis-a-vis Libya has been, for 10 years, to get
it out of the terrorism business. This is a major step forward. We
will want to continue to encourage that process. The meeting that you
referred to in New York will be an opportunity for the United States
and the United Kingdom to sit down with the
Secretary-general and the Libyan perm rep and talk about what
additional steps are necessary to ensure full compliance with the
Security Council resolutions. As you know, those resolutions require
more than simply the turnover of the two suspects; they require
cooperation with the court process as it moves forward.

This week, the court in The Hague announced that it was postponing the
beginning of the trial until early in the new year, at the request of
the defendants, in order to give them more time to prepare their case.
That means that it will be very difficult to judge cooperation with a
trial that hasn't begun until well into next year. We think that the
process is moving in the right direction. As
I said earlier, this is a positive and important step forward, and we
hope it will lead, in time, to the accomplishment of what I
characterized as our strategic objective -- getting Libya out of the
terrorism business for good and for all time. We have no hidden agenda
here, and we have no secret deals here.

MS. RANSOM: The next question is from Thomas, if he's ready. You gave
it up. He asked your question? Rafic?

Q: May I ask a follow up? 

MS. RANSOM: Wait for the microphone, please. 

Q: Rafic Maalouf, Al Hayat newspaper. A follow-up on the Libya thing.
You are saying that, you know, the delay of the trial could delay the
process of -- am I to understand that it will delay the process of
normalization with Libya?

MR. RIEDEL: I think that the process of moving forward is under way.
The sanctions have been suspended, international air traffic to Libya
has been resumed. But the resolutions require more than simply a
turnover, and these discussions in New York will provide a venue for
trying to reach common understanding on next steps forward. Again, as
I said, I am encouraged by the direction we're moving in and I hope we
will continue to move in that direction.

Q: Can I ask a question on Afghanistan? Yesterday, Director Freeh said
that the -- Taliban movement is not at all cooperating with the U.S.
government or other governments, concerning extradition of Bin Laden.
What can you tell us, more?

And is there any line of communication now between the U.S. and the
Taliban movement concerning Bin Laden and the other larger subjects in
the area?

Thank you. 

Q: Well, with regards to the second half of your question, yes, we
have various means of talking with the Taliban both in New York,
through representatives they have there, and in the region. We have
gone to Kabul and spoken directly with the Taliban, face to face. I
went with Secretary Richardson a little over a year ago, when he went
to Kabul, and we sat down with the Taliban.

We have a number of differences with the Taliban, but I think you put
your finger on the most important of them. Harboring an international
terrorist who is engaged in acts of terror against the United States,
who has murdered American citizens and diplomats, who has murdered
hundreds of innocent Africans, is a very serious issue.
 
And we have asked the Taliban to take steps to bring Mr. Bin Laden to
justice, and we are frankly disappointed that they have not cooperated
with those requests. Those requests come, not only from the United
States, but from others who have been a target of Ussamah bin Laden's
acts of terror in the past. And we would hope the Taliban soon will do
the right thing and bring Mr. Bin Laden to a process which can bring
him to justice.

MS. RANSOM: We have time for one more question. 

Q: Khaled Massurian (sp) with the Middle East News Agency. The Iraqi
opposition leaders were in town a few days ago. And some of them said
that the U.S. administration made the determination that it is not the
Iraqi opposition, especially in exile, that will bring down the Saddam
Hussein regime, but a general not close to Saddam Hussein, and that
you are waiting for a coup d'etat.
 
I wonder if you care to comment on that and if you would like to bring
us up to date with your efforts, at the U.N., on the oil-for-food?

MR. RIEDEL: Sure. Iraq remains very much high on our agenda. We seek
to contain this very dangerous regime. We think we've been successful
in doing that over the last decade.

We seek to bring increased relief to the Iraqi people, who are the
greatest victim of the Saddam Hussein government, and we have
sponsored the oil-for-food process and we are engaged now in
conversations with the other members of the council about ways to do
more to help the Iraqi people and to restore a consensus within the
council on how to proceed next on Iraq.

With regards to our third goal -- regime change -- we have a policy of
pushing on all fronts and from every point of the compass. Bringing
about change in Iraq will not be easy. This is a dictator who has
demonstrated again and again a willingness to use the most ruthless
exercise of force in order to stay into power. In order to bring about
that change, we will need to move on multiple tracks. Our discussions
with those Iraqi patriots who seek to bring about change and who have
had the courage to speak out against Saddam's tyranny
over the last decade, is part of that process. We think that their
voice ought to be heard, that the only voice of Iraqis shouldn't be
the voice of Tariq Aziz and Saddam Hussein, that other Iraqis ought to
be heard as well; that the Iraqi people, through the various elements
of the Iraqi opposition and diaspora, should be given a chance to be
heard on the world stage.

The actual instrument, the actual events that will lead to Saddam's
departure, I think are very hard for anyone to predict. We will not
oppose whatever process brings that about. What I can say to you is
that we are prepared to work with a new leadership in Iraq that is
prepared to live at peace with the region, to see a fundamental change
in the nature of U.S.-Iraqi relations. If there is a
leadership in Baghdad prepared to live at peace with its neighbors and
its own people, it will find a partner in the United States to ease
sanctions, to bring about economic recovery, to find ways to reduce
Saddam's enormous war debts, and to reintegrate Iraq into the family
of nations as a healthy and prosperous member.

MS. RANSOM: Bruce, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to
us today.

MR. RIEDEL:  My pleasure.  Thank you, Marjorie. 

(end transcript)