|8-9||UN Oil For Food Program/UN Secretary General's Remarks|
|13,14||Background Briefing at the State Department Tomorrow on Iraqi Opposition Meeting|
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - in recent weeks that Iraq is not using the money in the UN Oil-for-Food Program to buy food. I am wondering now if you could comment on remarks that the Secretary General made earlier this week about the US standing in the way of additional requests.
MR. RUBIN: Yes. We don't agree with those remarks. We think that Secretary General Annan has been badly advised as to the situation in the sanctions committee. The Chairman of the sanctions committee has put forward a very careful report about the holds that have been placed, for legitimate reasons, on entities or contracts that we believe have questionable potential to be misused.
But there is a tendency to miss the forest through the trees: Ninety-five percent of the contracts go through. We're talking about less than 5 percent or so. And when we have had questions about companies or details, we have thought it appropriate to ask those questions. I do not think the Secretary General's views were the same as the Chairman of the sanctions committee, and I think we think he was badly advised.
The problem here is that Iraq has not used the program as it existed, and has had to be pressured into buying the food and medicine that it could buy. The number of contracts we've put on hold is a tiny percentage of the contracts submitted to the committee. So I think that those who are advising the Secretary General would do better to focus their attention on the cause of the problem, which is Iraq's unwillingness to buy the food and medicine that would make a difference to their people, rather than engaging in misplaced blame on the United States.
QUESTION: So you're blaming Annan's staff rather than him, right?
MR. RUBIN: Well decoded.
QUESTION: Do you expect any readout later in the day on the meeting between the Secretary and Mr. Prodi of the --
MR. RUBIN: I think the White House will read that out. She is having lunch with him. I think we have to first get the White House readout, and I will see what I can get for you after her lunch.
QUESTION: The Iraqi oppositions leader is coming to town. Do you have any information who will meet with them?
MR. RUBIN: Let me just make one more point on your colleague's question. There clearly were some who had different views, and read the same analysis differently. To what extent that is after the fact, and to what extent it was real-time, it's hard to get into. So, to that extent, the story was quite accurate.
QUESTION: The targeting in those strikes was very, very, very closely held. Is it fair for us to assume that INR did not know that Al Shifa was even a potential target before - in other words, they only knew after the fact?
MR. RUBIN: I will have to find out what I can tell you about that. But that's a good question.
QUESTION: Iraqi leaders, oppositions leader, is coming to town. Do you have any information who will meet with them?
MR. RUBIN: We're having a briefing tomorrow on that, a full briefing, and we will get as much information as possible, with a senior official who is very knowledgeable and well versed in this issue.
By the way, I want to thank everyone for all the assistance they have been giving me today on the timing of the briefing and the official --
QUESTION: What time is the briefing?
MR. RUBIN: What time's the briefing? 1:30.
QUESTION: We're always helping you, Jamie.
MR. RUBIN: Thank you. To my able deputy as well.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - retire to the deputy chief of staff is that he was in the town and he said that the way of the Iraqi opposition's train(ing) and aids doesn't affect Saddam Hussein's leadership.
MR. RUBIN: I think that sounds like a very good question for you to pose to that senior official who's extremely well versed in this subject tomorrow.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 P.M.)
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