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USIS Washington 
File

13 March 1998

TRANSCRIPT: INDYK MARCH 13 PRESS CONFERENCE IN TUNIS

(US presence in Gulf has strong support from allies) (1900)



Tunis, Tunisia -- "We have very strong political and military
relations with all the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and
they are keen to see us stay in the Gulf to help protect our common
interests in a region that is vital to the world," says Martin Indyk,
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.


"And because these are strong and long-standing relationships, we have
no problems in maintaining our presence in that region," Indyk said
March 13 at a press conference.


Indyk, who is visiting Tunis as a part of an introductory tour in the
whole region, reported that his discussions with the Foreign Minister
and the Defense Minister included the bilateral relationship between
the U.S. and Tunisia, as well as the Middle East peace process and
other issues of mutual concern.


The Assistant Secretary was scheduled to leave later in the day for
Algeria where he said the focus of concern would be the internal
situation in Algeria and the ongoing problems that the international
community has with Libya. He will also visit Morocco.


Regarding the Middle East peace process, Indyk said the U.S. is making
a special effort to get the negotiations going again on the basis of
the proposals and ideas that President Clinton put forward in his
meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat in January.


"We believe it is very important to resume the final status
negotiations in an environment in which both sides, the Israelis and
the Palestinians, are implementing their obligations under the
existing agreements," he said. He added that Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright will be following up President Clinton's proposals
and ideas in the next few weeks.


In response to questions about a "double standard policy" for Iraq,
Indyk explained that the United Nations Security Council unanimously
imposed sanctions on Iraq until it complied with the resolutions
passed by the UNSC regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
its ability to threaten its neighbors.


"This was not the United States imposing its will, this was not the
United States using its veto, this was the unanimous will of the
international community as expressed by the Security Council. As a
result, a special standard was determined for Iraq," he said.


"And in this latest crisis," he added, "there was also unanimous
support for the demand that Iraq comply with its obligations under the
Security Council resolutions. That was the position of the government
of Tunisia, and of all the other leading Arab countries, whether it be
Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Syria. So, in terms of applying that special
standard, I believe there was a strong international consensus."


Following is the transcript of Indyk's press conference, provided by
USIS Tunis:


(Begin transcript)



Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk

Press Conference

March 13, 1998

Tunis, Tunisia



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for waiting. I am sorry to have kept
you waiting. I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to you and take
your questions today. I am traveling to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco
as a part of an introductory tour that I am making in the whole region
as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East.


I'm glad to have had an opportunity to exchange views with the Foreign
Minister and the Defense Minister last night and this morning. We, of
course, focused our discussions on our bilateral relationship in
Tunisia and developments in the region. High on our agenda were
discussions, of course, of the Middle East peace process, where I
briefed your leadership on the efforts by President Clinton and
Secretary of State Albright to put the negotiations between the
Israeli and Palestinians back on track. We're concerned about the fact
that there has been no progress to report in the negotiations for more
than one year. We believe it is very important to resume the final
status negotiations in an environment in which both sides, the
Israelis and the Palestinians, are implementing their obligations
under the existing agreements. We're making a special effort to get
these negotiations going again on the basis of the proposals and ideas
that President Clinton put forward in his meetings with Prime Minister
Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat in January. The Secretary of State will
be following up those ideas in the next few weeks.


We also talked about developments in the Maghreb, where the internal
situation in Algeria and the ongoing problems that the international
community has with Libya, are a focus of our concern. I will go from
here this afternoon to Algeria where I'm looking forward to meeting
with the leadership there to discuss these issues further. I'll be
glad to take your questions.


Q: How do you explain the double standard policy of the United States
toward the Middle East and Iraq?


INDYK: I am aware that this is this impression in the Arab world, but
it is a misunderstanding. It is a misunderstanding of the reality of
the situation. As a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the United
Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolutions that declared,
amongst other things, that Iraq will not again possess weapons of mass
destruction, and that it will not again be allowed to have the ability
to threaten its neighbors. Since then, in 1991, the U.N. Security
Council has repeatedly passed resolutions demanding that Iraq comply
with these requirements. And the United Nations Security Council
unanimously imposed sanctions on Iraq until it complied with these
requirements. This was not the United States imposing its will, this
was not the United States using its veto, this was the unanimous will
of the international community as expressed by the Security Council.
As a result, a special standard was determined for Iraq. And in this
latest crisis, there was also unanimous support for the demand that
Iraq comply with its obligations under the Security Council
resolutions. That was the position of the government of Tunisia, and
of all the other leading Arab countries, whether it be Egypt or Saudi
Arabia or Syria. So, in terms of applying that special standard, I
believe there was a strong international consensus.


Now people say that the United States does not apply the same standard
when it comes to Israel. But the Security Council resolutions that
apply to the Arab-Israeli conflict, resolutions 242 and 338, call for
direct negotiations on the basis of the principle of land for peace.
And the United States has played, and is continuing to play, the
leadership role in implementing those resolutions. No country has made
a greater effort than the United States to implement those
resolutions. That is what we are trying to do now.


In the case of the peace treaty that we helped negotiate between
Israel and Egypt, and the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, and
the Oslo agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, the principle
of land for peace has been implemented. And what we are trying to do
at the moment is get agreement on Israeli further redeployment from
the West Bank which will also serve to implement the principle of land
for peace.


So it's very convenient for people to wave the banner of double
standards, but the facts are very different. Thank you.


Q: The initial analysis whereby the United States is applying a policy
of double standards is still pretty much valid. The U.N. resolutions
have existed since 1948, so these resolutions that existed since 1948
have not been implemented, but the resolutions pertaining to Iraq,
which were passed only in 1991, have been implemented at the speed of
sound. Do you not agree with me that there is a huge gap?


INDYK: No, I don't agree with you. The Security Council resolutions
against Iraq have not been implemented at the speed of sound. It's
been seven years, and the Iraqis are still not fully complying with
the requirements. And as for the Security Council resolutions that
apply in the case of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, as I have
already pointed out, that requires negotiations, and those
negotiations, although they take a long time to reach conclusions,
have been productive. And over the years, significant progress has
been made. But we will not be satisfied until we have achieved a
comprehensive peace based on these resolutions. And so we will
continue, but we often wish that those who make the arguments about
double standards would also do their part to help implement these
resolutions.


Q: There is an American official who said in Washington, "We want the
violence to stop in Algeria." So what will the United States do to
stop the violence? Do you have any contacts with the rebel armed
groups to convince them of the necessity of stopping violence? And on
your relations with Libya, is there any new message from Washington to
Tripoli after the decision of the Hague International Tribunal that
it's fully competent to look into the Pan Am bombing? Is there any
role for Tunisia in this dialogue with the West and Libya?


INDYK: Thank you. The violence in Algeria is shocking not just to the
United States, but I think to people around the world, because
innocent people are being slaughtered in large numbers. We condemn the
extremists who are responsible for these killings. It is clearly the
responsibility of the government of Algeria to protect its citizens,
and we want to see the government doing this within the rule of law. I
will be discussing these issues with the government of Algeria, and we
will be looking for ways to work with the government of Algeria in
order to find a way both to try to put an end to this violence, and to
encourage the government to proceed with the economic and political
reforms which President Zeroual has announced.


In the case of Libya, the problem we have results from the terrorist
act which blew up Pan Am 103, and which killed, I think, 270 people,
including 187 Americans. What Libya needs to do is laid in the
Security Council resolutions. It is harboring the two people believed
to be responsible for this terrible act. It should give them up for
trial. These people must be brought to justice. We do not have a
dialogue with the government of Libya. What is needed is very simple,
that is to give up these two suspects.


Q: Will you change your policy in the Gulf after the Gulf Arabs have
refused to underwrite operation "Desert Thunder"? Will you remain in
the Gulf area for a long time, and how long?


INDYK: The United States policy towards Iraq is to demand that Iraq
comply with all the Security Council resolutions. As I said before, we
enjoy strong support for that position, especially from our allies in
the Gulf. We have very strong political and military relations with
all the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and they are keen to
see us stay in the Gulf to help protect our common interests in a
region that is vital to the world. And because these are strong and
long-standing relationships, we have no problems in maintaining our
presence in that region. Thank you very much.


(End transcript)