Great Seal

[EXCERPTS] U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1998

1-2Jonathan Pollard's Deportation or Extradition / Clemency Denied
12,14No Decision on Sanctions Against Total and Gazprom / Topic for Economic & EU Summits
14Israeli Lobby Against A Waiver
13Cultural Exchanges with US / Visas
15-16US Denies Visas to Military / Review of Visa Status
18-19FARC Denies Kidnapping AmCit New TribesMissionaries
19President's Visit to US / Use of Plane Owned by Drug Traffickers

DPB #61
FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1998, 12:45 P.M.


QUESTION: Now that Israel has admitted its relationship with Pollard, is the US more likely to have him deported or extradited?

MR. RUBIN: Jonathan Pollard was tried and sentenced according to US law. The President has denied his application for clemency, taking into account the recommendations of the Attorney General and the unanimous views of the law enforcement and national security agencies, including the State Department.

Any decisions about Pollard's release would be made in accordance with US law and be based on the advice of the relevant government agencies. This is a domestic legal issue. Jonathan Pollard was a spy who broke the law, and was convicted for doing so.

QUESTION: This presidential denial of the petition is not recent, though, right?

MR. RUBIN: It's come up from time to time, and I'm just saying that he's denied it.


MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of any recent petition.

QUESTION: Was the Pollard subject discussed between Secretary Albright and --

MR. RUBIN: I can't rule out that it came up, but it certainly wasn't the essence and the bulk of their discussions.

QUESTION: Have there been any requests from the Israelis, perhaps, or from Mr. Pollard short of his actual release -- for example, a change of his status or a change of -

MR. RUBIN: I haven't heard anything about that.


QUESTION: The fact that the Secretary has not received a recommendation on sanctions yet - on what to do about sanctions, does that make it difficult for a decision to be announced in London on Monday?

MR. RUBIN: All I can say is that we're working on this issue very intensively. I would expect a decision very soon. But as far as the newspaper accounts of it -- essentially that a memo is on her desk, and it's just a matter of her checking the box - that's not correct.

QUESTION: On Colombia, there's a news report that the Government of the United States denied or cancelled the visa of some Colombian generals. Can you tell us what exactly is the situation?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, after the briefing.


QUESTION: On Cuba, Senator Helms introduced yesterday a bill trying to give some humanitarian aid to the Cuban people. Do you think that idea of Senator Helms' could be helpful to restoring democracy in Cuba?

MR. RUBIN: To what democracy? Restrained?

QUESTION: Restoring.

MR. RUBIN: Restore, okay. Let me say this - we have just seen the bill announced by Senator Helms.

I just got an urgent fax with regard to the visa revocations, which was not urgently provided. Is it true that a number of Colombian military officers have had their visas revoked? This is not true. Press reports stating that the visas of numerous Colombian officers have been revoked are not correct. But we do try to avoid commenting on specific visa cases because of privacy concerns.

With respect to your question on Cuba --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)


MR. RUBIN: On that?

QUESTION: On Colombia, yes.

MR. RUBIN: Can I finish answering his question and then come back to you?

QUESTION: Sure, sure.


QUESTION: Is the US Department reviewing the visa status of any Colombian military man at this point?

MR. RUBIN: As a general rule, we try to avoid commenting -- especially in a general way on a general point like that -- on specific visa cases because of privacy concerns.

QUESTION: There was a report in The New York Times today that American-made weapons are being shipped to Iran through Canada. Do you have any position on that; and are you consulting with the Canadian officials on it?

MR. RUBIN: The State Department has been working diligently with law enforcement agencies to shut down diversion networks with significant success. One example of this is the recent indictment by a US federal grand jury of two Iranian nationals residing in Canada, who are charged with conspiring to divert parts of the Hawk surface-to-air missile system. The international traffic in arms regulations under which US defense trade is regulated provides an exemption from licensing certain defense exports for Canada. This exemption reflects the largely open borders that exist between the two countries for trade purposes.

US and Canadian authorities are cooperating to prevent the misuse of this exemption to divert items to third countries, and the Department is considering options that would narrow this international traffic in arms regulations exemption so as to better support the law enforcement efforts already undertaken.

With regard to any specific cases, I, of course, would have to refer you to the Department of Justice.



QUESTION: On Colombia, a different question - it's related to the US missionaries from the New Tribes mission that were kidnapped in Colombia in 1993. The FARC put out a report on the Internet saying that they had done all the investigations they could do, and that they certainly think they never had any contact with them; they're not responsible. Do you have a response?

MR. RUBIN: We have heard these denials by the FARC before, and we reject them. We repeat our February 16 appeal to the FARC to return these three Americans to their families out of a sense of compassion, justice and simple humanity.

We have no doubt that the FARC perpetrated this heinous crime of kidnapping these missionaries, as well as many other Americans over the years. This conclusion is based on credible information which, frankly, we're not in a position to share publicly.

QUESTION: If I may do a follow-up, why aren't you in a position to share it?

QUESTION: Because you're the State Department.

MR. RUBIN: Because I'm the State Department.


QUESTION: This is about Nicaragua. There were a lot of reports that the President of Nicaragua was using a plane owned by narco-traffickers, or provided by narco-traffickers. He just spent two days in Washington, and my question is, was there any discussion with State Department officials with his government about it?

MR. RUBIN: About the plane?


MR. RUBIN: I'll have to get you an answer for the record on what was discussed.

QUESTION: Okay, can we suspend?

MR. RUBIN: Thank you.

(The briefing concluded at 1:40 P.M.)

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