USIS Washington 

02 March 1998


White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry briefed.

Following is the White House transcript:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Press Secretary

March 2, 1998


The Briefing Room


Q: What about the apparent dispute between Hamdoon and Butler over who
is in charge of these special inspections? Is the U.S. confident that
Butler will be in charge as opposed -

MCCURRY: That was a dispute I think only on CNN that had the good
fortune of having them both together on the same program. But it was
certainly no dispute in the eyes of the United States government. And
Mr. Butler spoke quite authoritatively on the interpretation of the
memorandum of understanding. He's made it quite clear what the lines
of authority are as the U.N. Special Commission conducts the work that
it needs to do in Iraq, that the government of Iraq has pledged to
cooperate with. And of course, the question will be whether or not the
government of Iraq lives up to the obligations it has under the
agreement it has signed.

Q: Are you concerned that the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations
is in fact raising questions about Butler's being in charge?

MCCURRY: You know of our concern about the intentions of the
government of Iraq with respect to this agreement because the
President has made it quite clear that we will remain skeptical until
we see full implementation of the agreement as it's been reached. And
we will keep a significant force deployed in that region in the

Q: Have you heard any statements since then from the Iraqis that have
made you feel reassured?

MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any statements. I'm going to have to check
and see if there's been any further contact at the United Nations or
elsewhere. The United Nations is very actively pursuing this and there
may have been further contact up there. I haven't heard of any, but
you might want to check there.

Q: Mike, there seems to be a difference in the language the United
States and Great Britain want compared to what China, France and
Russia want in the Security Council. Will the U.S. buy their version?

MCCURRY: I'm not aware that they have a version. I know that the
Security Council is debating a tabled British resolution and that
discussion is underway now and we're fully engaged with other members
of the Security Council on that text.

Q: Had you heard that Kofi Annan wanted to postpone his visit to
Washington because Trent Lott didn't want to see him?

MCCURRY: No. We had heard that Kofi Annan, the Secretary General,
wanted to postpone his trip down here to Washington to, among other
things, see the President because he was concerned about this
deliberation in the Security Council on this draft resolution that the
British have put forward, and he thought it was very important for him
to be there in New York as the Security Council deliberated. We
certainly concur.

Q:  Has it been rescheduled?

MCCURRY:  Hasn't been rescheduled that I know of.

Q: But the fact that Trent Lott wouldn't schedule a meeting with him
is not an issue?

MCCURRY: The Security General has many purposes in coming here, not
only seeing members of Congress, but pursuing things with the
administration as well. But, quite correctly, he wants to be in the
Security Council as they deliberate this very important resolution
that comes in the aftermath of the agreement between the United
Nations and Iraq.

Q: Senator Lott today is again bringing up this idea of trying Saddam
Hussein as a war criminal. What's the view of that here?

MCCURRY: We have an interest at this moment in pursuing the steps
necessary to see that Saddam Hussein fully complies with Security
Council resolutions. That is our focus, the administration's focus, on
the work that the United Nations will do to see that he does not have
available to him weapons of mass destruction. I'll look at the other
question -- to my knowledge, we've not put forward any formal view on
that question.

Q:  Would it be counterproductive at this stage of the situation?

MCCURRY: What would be most productive is for all to encourage the
government of Iraq to abide by its commitments under the agreement
that's recently reached with the United Nations. We would encourage
members of Congress to so state.



MCCURRY: Okay,we've run out of interesting questions, that's for sure.

Q:  About an hour ago.

THE PRESS:  Thank you.

(end transcript)