THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Auckland, New Zealand)
|For Immediate Release
||September 10, 1999
REMARKS TO POOL BY
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER
Stamford Plaza Hotel
Auckland, New Zealand
10:05 A.M. EDT
MR. BERGER: The President just issued a statement, which I
believe you have, expressing his grave concern over the way in which the
evacuation of some of the UNAMET people was handled today in East Timor.
And notwithstanding the assurances that we received and that Secretary
General Annan received that there will be full protection. There was
quite an ugly situation, particularly after the UNAMET people left, there
was -- the Indonesian military permitted the militias to enter the UN
compound and a good deal of damage was done.
I think a further reflection of pattern on the part of the
Indonesian military failing to live up to their obligations and
commitments to the international community, not only to protect the
international UN people there, but to restore order and protect the people
of East Timor and allow the results of their historic vote to come into
While we were in Hawaii the President met with Admiral Denny
Blair, who is our Commander of the Pacific, the CINCPAC. He had met
within the last 48 hours with General Wiranto in Jakarta. And General
Wiranto had given him assurances that there would be a serious effort by
the Indonesian military to reassert control. However, as I said, we have
not seen any evidence of that yet.
The President also called Prime Minister Howard of Australia, who
is already in New Zealand, and discussed with him some thoughts about how
to intensify the pressure on the Government of Indonesia to invite in an
international security presence. The President made clear to Prime
Minister Howard that the United States supported such an international
peacekeeping force and that we would provide support to such a force if
one becomes feasible.
I guess the final thing I would say is that on the heels yesterday of the
President suspending all military programs with Indonesia, we are engaged
in Washington in a thorough review of all of our cooperative and
commercial and economic engagement with Indonesia. Obviously, all of
those will be on the table. And I think the tragic thing here is that in
a desperate attempt to reverse the will of the people of East Timor, the
authorities and the military of Indonesia are imperiling the economic
future of Indonesia itself, that stability.
Q Sandy, when you say commercial as well as economic
engagement, does that mean that you are exploring a trade cut-off with
them, in addition to the IMF issues?
MR. BERGER: We're looking at all of our engagement -- the
military sales, for example, spare parts sales, is I think some bilateral
assistance, although I don't think much. The President had indicated
yesterday -- whatever day it was when we left -- that with respect to the
international financial institutions that it would be -- if this situation
continues it would be difficult to see those programs resume. As you
know, they're now suspended for other reasons relating to alleged
corruption in Indonesia.
So I think there's an enormous amount at stake here for the
Indonesians, not only in honoring their commitments to abide by the
results of the Timor vote, but also in terms of their standing in the
international community and willingness of the international community to
be of material support.
Q Are they entertaining any discussions about sending in
forces without Indonesian permission?
MR. BERGER: I think it is the view of most members of the
international community, including most of the Asians, that our focus at
this stage should be on putting the maximum amount of pressure on the
Government of Indonesia to have created such a force.
Q -- going to need to be invited in, that there's no -- and
does Prime Minister Howard, as well, feel that there's no way to go in
MR. BERGER: The focus of the international community at this
point, the focus particularly of the Australians and others who would be
in the lead, is putting a maximum degree of pressure on the Government of
Indonesia to agree to such a force coming in.
Q Thoughts for the President to call President Habibie?
MR. BERGER: The President has had exchanges with President
Habibie over the past several months. I think our -- Kofi Annan has
talked to President Habibie on behalf of the international community
virtually daily. I think we have focused on where we believe the
decisions are being made, which is the Indonesian military.
Q Is there a sense that Habibie is condoning this, or do you
think he's lost control of his military?
MR. BERGER: Well, I can't answer that question, except to say
that he has not been able to realize the commitments that he's made to
various members of the international community, including the Secretary
General, to gain control of the situation.
Q There's a sense in Jakarta, I hear from our folks there,
that the troops that are in East Timor now are pretty well aligned with
one of Wiranto's rivals, General Probowo, who was ousted last year when
Suharto left office. Is that your sense, as well, that we are caught here
perhaps in two different factions of the Indonesian military, which
Wiranto may be openly challenged?
MR. BERGER: There may be divisions within the military, but I
think that we believe that General Wiranto is, as the Chief of Staff of
the Indonesian military, has ultimate responsibility for asserting control
Q Would it be a fair reading of your earlier comment where
you said, we have focused where the decision is being made, you know, in
the Indonesian military, that you believe at this point that President
Habibie is less in control than General Wiranto is, or has less of a
reasonable chance of being in control?
MR. BERGER: I believe President Habibie has not been able to
effectuate the commitments that he's made with respect to East Timor.
MR. BERGER: Get done. Carry out. (Laughter.) I just was
Q Has the President called Senator Lugar, has he made any
other calls to members of Congress?
MR. BERGER: Today, this afternoon, I believe he spoke to Senator
Warner. I believe he spoke to Senator Harkin. I can't give you a full
list. I know he was making calls to the Hill.
Q Is there any discussion of the United States providing
anything other than support to an international force?
BERGER: Well, I don't think anything is ruled out here. I think what the
Australians I think are most interested in those things that we have a
special capability in, in terms of logistics and communications and
intelligence, air lift and such things. But, you know, we've not made any
decisions beyond that and ruled anything out.
Let me just say one thing before I go, since I'm the editor of the
day in the Washington Post. A number of you were at the briefing
yesterday in which I was asked, in a sense does Kosovo mean that you have
to intervene everywhere. My response was a rather stupid one, my metaphor
was rather stupid -- I was saying, well, my daughter has a -- I think,
number one, it was a dumb answer. Number two, the question was not so
much East Timor related as, if you recall, related to whether or not after
Kosovo we now have an obligation to go everywhere. But it was an
unfortunate metaphor. And I will never use metaphors again.
Q Did they crucify you in the paper? Did they take you to
task in the newspaper?
MR. BERGER: There's an editorial in there today. Not that this
is the most important issue, but I wanted to --
Q -- about your daughter's apartment? (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: I have no comment.
MR. LOCKHART: Sandy, don't go down that road. (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: Let me just say one last thing. I think, again, if
you were at that briefing, it was a very forward leaning briefing with
respect to Timor. It was not by any means meant to minimize the
importance of Timor. It was a clumsy way of saying we can't obviously go
everywhere, do everything. But it was not referring to Timor. It was not
intending to refer to Timor.
Q Thank you.
Remarks/Statements | Photo
Sheets/Briefings | Related
Sites | Home
To comment on this
send feedback to the Web