|13||Iraq Liberation Act/Support for Opposition Groups|
|14||Enforcement of the No-Fly Zones|
|14||Secretary's Meeting with Senior Senators on Iraq and Kosovo|
QUESTION: Yes, the Iraq Liberation Act, we hear that you may have taken a decision on identifying the groups which would be eligible for US support under the act. Can you tell us who they are?
MR. RUBIN: I cannot identify the groups. Our preliminary notification to the Congress has been by this hour been transmitted to the Congress with respect to those several groups that we have identified as eligible for assistance. Secretary Albright is also intending in a short number of days to be able to select a team of officials including a coordinator for the Iraqi opposition. We will continue to consult with Congress about the eligibility and, more broadly, about our policy in this area. But until it's been discussed with the Hill, we are not prepared to announce the names.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Having identified them, is that all you are required to do under the Iraq Liberation Act?
MR. RUBIN: At this time frame, January 15th notification; January 30th, final report of the groups.
QUESTION: January 30th?
MR. RUBIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Having identified, do you envisage any further steps in the immediate future?
MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm not going to preview any decisions that we will be making in this area. We've said we're not going to rule out taking steps pursuant to that act on the military assistance side. First things first. First, we're going to identify the groups. Then we're going to make our decisions on a step-by-step basis so that we make clear to all concerned that the responsibility for mounting an effective movement for change in Iraq lies with the opposition leaders themselves. We will continue to intensify our contacts with the opposition to look at ways in which we can help them more effectively oppose Saddam's rule. We will proceed prudently on a step-by-step matter that avoids needlessly putting lives at risk.
QUESTION: Can I just have one quick follow-up?
MR. RUBIN: Sure.
QUESTION: Judging by preliminary accounts, the choice seems to be - seems to under-represent the Shiite southerners. Any particular reason for this?
MR. RUBIN: I think to answer that question effectively and responsively, I would have to be using the information that I am told I am unable to announce at this time.
QUESTION: Jamie, has the Administration made any decision on the requests from the two main Kurdish groups to expand the northern no-fly zone?
MR. RUBIN: I have not heard of any such decision.
QUESTION: I've got a follow-up on the previous question. Secretary Albright, has she been on the Hill, or is she on the Hill now with Secretary Cohen telling Congress - giving them the decision you're talking about?
MR. RUBIN: Secretary Albright was meeting with a very senior group of senators earlier today. She's back. The subject of Iraq and this aspect of our Iraq policy was extensively discussed, as was the current situation in Kosovo.
QUESTION: Do you know who the senators were? Was Majority Leader Lott --
MR. RUBIN: I said it was a very senior group of senators. I'm sure your Capitol Hill correspondent can nail that down in about 15 minutes.
QUESTION: -- is that still a few days in coming, or has that been made?
MR. RUBIN: I think I just indicated about four paragraphs ago when you read the transcript that Secretary Albright will be selecting a team of officials, including a coordinator, in a short number of days.
QUESTION: As far as you know, Jamie, are the fly zones - north and south - in Iraq continuing to be patrolled in the standard way? The second question is, there hasn't been an attack against US aircraft for five or six days now, and is there any particular reason that you know for that?
MR. RUBIN: We will continue to enforce the no-fly zones. It's up to the Pentagon to describe daily military activity over those zones by the United States and coalition aircraft. I don't want to speculate on the reasons why Iraq has chosen not to take provocative steps. Although, I would point out that each time they have done so, they have paid a price.
QUESTION: So that has been the case, they haven't taken any provocative steps since last week?
MR. RUBIN: I didn't say that. I said, it's up to the Pentagon to describe the status of military activity in those areas. I was telling you a fact about previous actions.
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