USIS Washington 

28 January 1999


(SecState discusses Mideast peace process, Iraq, Kosovo) (2220)

Cairo -- The United States and Egypt share the same fundamental goals
regarding Iraq, Secretary of State Albright said during a January 27
press briefing with Egyptian Foreign Minister Moussa.

Both countries, she told reporters, agree that Iraq must be prevented
from threatening its neighbors and from reconstituting its weapons of
mass destructions. In addition, the suffering of the Iraqi people must
be eased, she said.

Albright made her remarks following her meeting with President Hosni
Mubarak at the Itihadiya Palace.

"We agree that the current situation in Iraq has been brought about by
Saddam Hussein himself," the Secretary said.

On Kosovo, Albright said the United States has been working "to try to
quicken some political solution here and also keep in mind what can be
done through military pressure and the threat of the use of force."

Following is the State Department transcript:


Itihadiya Palace
Cairo, Egypt,
January 27, 1999

As released by the Office of the Spokesman
US Department of State

FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA: First of all I would like to welcome
Secretary Albright to express my personal pleasure and for receiving
her here. The Secretary had a very good meeting with the President.
The discussion centered around several problems we have here in the
region, and also the bilateral relations. Iraq was discussed, the
peace process, the general situation in Egypt. The Secretary is coming
from Moscow, so we talked about her trip and visit to Russia.

We will entertain some questions in a matter of minutes. But you have
the Secretary here. Please.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister. It is
always a great pleasure to be in Cairo and to be with you and
President Mubarak. I have, as you said, just had a very productive
meeting with the President and I am looking forward to my luncheon
with you.

Today's meetings continue regular consultations between our two
countries on a broad range of issues, because of Egypt's key strategic
role in the region, because of the long and durable friendship between
us, and because we are allies in the pursuit of peace and stability in
the Middle East.

The primary purpose of our meetings is to review the challenges posed
by Iraq's continuous refusal to meet its obligations to the
international community. The United States and Egypt share three
fundamental goals: Preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors,
blocking Saddam Hussein's efforts to reconstitute or use his weapons
of mass destruction, and easing the suffering of the Iraqi people. We
agree that the current situation in Iraq has been brought about by
Saddam Hussein himself. By his contempt for international law, his
unspeakable treatment of the Iraqi people, and his unwillingness to
live in peace with his neighbors.

Our policy toward Iraq is based on hard experience and sound
principle. We seek compliance not confrontation. But Iraq's
questioning of Kuwait's sovereignty and call for the overthrow of Arab
governments are just the most recent indications that Saddam Hussein
seeks only to make trouble.

The United States, the Arab nations and the international community
have no choice but to continue to contain his potential aggression. At
the same time, we will do more to help the Iraqi people get the food
and medicine they need through the oil-for-food program.

Foreign Minister Moussa and I will discuss ideas that the United
States has put forward on the subject. We will also continue our
discussions on the Middle East peace process for which 1999 promises
to be a challenging year. Both our nations are committed to the
implementation of the Wye Accords, the negotiation of final status
agreement and pursuit of a comprehensive peace. As we look forward, we
will also look back because this is the year that marks the 20th
anniversary of Camp David. The leadership that Egypt demonstrated then
is needed every bit as much now, and the standard of courage and
patriotism and wisdom set by Egypt's leader then is one that should
inspire all of us as we look to overcome obstacles today.

QUESTION: For Madam Secretary Albright (Nile TV International). The US
boasts of its democracy. Now the administration has declared its
support of several opposition groups and the Congress endorsed $97
million to that end -- which means the overthrowing of the regime of
President Saddam Hussein. Madam Secretary, don't you think that this
or such a position is an intervention into the internal affairs of
Iraq and it is inconsistent of the idea of democracy?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we have for some time talked about
the importance of having a regime in Iraq which abides by the Security
Council resolutions that were determined by the international
community as a result of Iraq's invasion of a sovereign nation. We
have tried in every conceivable way to get Saddam Hussein to live up
to his international obligations, to disarm his weapons of mass
destruction, and to stop being a threat to the region, to his people,
to our troops, our national interest.

We look forward to the day that Iraq can be reintegrated into the
international community and we have said that we support the
territorial integrity of Iraq. We want Iraq to be able to have a
regime that is chosen by its people, that does not impose the kinds of
hardships on his people that Saddam Hussein's regime does and that
makes it difficult for the Iraqi people to have their ability to run
the lives that they want.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, the Secretary says that Egypt agrees with the
United States that Saddam Hussein has got to be prevented. Does that
mean that Egypt supports the use of force or threat of force? And an
instance she didn't mention, so far as Saddam Hussein's concealment of
weapons of mass destruction, how does Egypt feel about force in those

FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA: Well, the Egyptian position, as has been
explained, rests on and remains within the framework of the communique
issued by the Arab League a couple of days ago. I understood from the
Secretary that they welcomed the communique, that the statement and
the principles built therein constitute our policy vis-a-vis Iraq. We
look -- we are on the same side; US and Egypt as to the territorial
respect or the territorial integrity of Iraq, the unity of Iraq, the
non-partition of Iraq that should not be partitioned, should not be
divided, and our care for the people of Iraq. If you go back to the
communique issued by the Arab League, you will read the general lines
of the foreign policy of Egypt.

QUESTION: I would like to ask you about -- in light of the Israeli
decline and procrastination in implementing the Wye Plantation
agreement, what would you expect of the forthcoming meeting between
Arafat and Clinton next week?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we are very pleased that
Chairman Arafat is to be coming to the United States again. We have
said any number of times that we think it is very important for both
parties to fulfill their obligations under the Wye memorandum.

The first phase of that implementation process, I think we have
agreed, went well because there was communication between the two
parties. In the second stage, we also would like to see implementation
and that is important. The Palestinians have been fulfilling some
aspects of what they are supposed to do in terms of their security
obligations under Wye. And I think that the Israelis also need to
fulfill their obligations, the agreement signed by two parties.

I would expect that during the course of Chairman Arafat's visit to
the United States there will be encouragement and follow-through on
Wye, and also general encouragement to Chairman Arafat for pursuing a
comprehensive follow-through in getting a process going and also to
make sure that he fulfills his part; that is, in terms of the security
arrangements, in the continuing discussion that the President has had
with Chairman Arafat, about the legitimate needs of the Palestinian

QUESTION: A question to both Foreign Ministers: Are you concerned
about security in Jordan given the current situation?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that obviously what is going on in
Jordan is an internal affair. We will -- Jordan is a very important
country to us, a very important leader in the region, and we will
stand by Jordan and hope that the transition is one that does not
create problems. Jordan is a great country. King Hussein has done a
magnificent job and is now arranging for a succession.

FOREIGN MINISTER MOUSSA: I have nothing to add to that. We wish them
well. The King, the Crown Prince, and Jordan as a sister country and
an important country, in the situation of the peace in the Middle
East, is as the Secretary just said.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, this is from Egyptian TV. I would like to
ask you: You hit the Iraqi people several times before and we didn't
notice any positive reaction from the Iraqi regime, so why are you
insisting on using the policy of force against Iraq, and why don't you
give the chance to other parties to find a peaceful solution?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Using force is not our preferred mechanism. We
have tried very hard through a variety of methods to have Saddam
Hussein live up to his obligations under the Security Council
resolution. We were concerned about his continuing acquisition and
development of weapons of mass destruction that we consider a threat
to his people, to the region, and to our troops and therefore, we took
the action that we did with Desert Fox.

Recently, the military action that we have been taking is in
furtherance of the no-fly zone. The no-fly zones were set up basically
in order to protect the Iraqi people and also to give warning about
possible aggression again against other countries. There have been 70
violations of the no-fly zone by the Iraqi regime, and 20 hits or
attempts to hit our pilots. So, the action that has been taken now by
our pilots is in self-defense. We regret the stray missile in Basra
that killed some civilians, but we believe that it is essential for
the no-fly zones to be protected and for our pilots to be able to
defend themselves when they are attacked.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I know we're here talking about Iraq but if
I can just switch the subject for a moment to Kosovo, and ask you
about a proposed American plan to try to bring about a negotiated
settlement in Kosovo. What can you tell us about any momentum that
might be developing now on the political and military front, perhaps
even within NATO, to issue, reissue the threat of force if Slobodon
Milosevic does not comply with the October agreement?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we obviously have been concerned
about the deteriorating situation in Kosovo and a need to act quickly.
We have been working to try to quicken some political solution here
and also keep in mind what can be done through military pressure and
the threat of the use of force.

I have spent some time while I was in Moscow talking to my fellow
foreign ministers, to try to have some combined action here in terms
of a political settlement which would, in fact, be something that
would come about rather quickly because I think we are concerned with
how long this has been going on and the necessity for coming up with
an early solution. We are looking at a variety of ways to make that
happen: To try to get the various places into place and to see how
actions at NATO with the Contact Group can be combined, but I have not
yet made any final decision about attendance to the Contact meeting.

QUESTION: Last question, please. Why is the U.S. destroying the Iraqi
defense system while the U.S. declines to interfere in Kosovo? Which
means that the U.S. has two criteria over estimating things.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, there are a number of
different situations in the world that require a different approach.
We have believed, for now seven years, that Saddam Hussein poses a
threat to his neighbors and to us, ultimately our forces, and he has
acquired and has used weapons of mass destruction against this own
people. That is an entirely different situation than an inter-ethnic
struggle in the former Yugoslavia and we need to deal with situations
in different ways.

I've just described how we intend to be more involved in trying to get
a political settlement in Kosovo, again, as we've said before, the
potential threat of the use of force. But these are two entirely
different situations. The United States is involved in some form or
gathering in many situations. If we would (approach) them all exactly
the same, we would be considered naive and not useful at all in the
way that we operate.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)