Office of the Press Secretary
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SAMUEL "SANDY" BERGER
NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CHRIS HILL
3:35 P.M. (L)
MR. LEAVY: We're going to have a briefing from National Security Advisor Berger, and Ambassador Chris Hill, the NSC's Senior Director for Southeastern Europe.
MR. BERGER: What I would propose to do is give you a, with Chris, three pieces here and then take your questions.
One is a brief readout from meetings we just head with President Stoyanov and Prime Minister Kostov; and then ask Ambassador Hill to preview the day tomorrow and then come back and review the trip as we come to the end of it, because I don't think there will be a chance to do that tomorrow given the logistics.
I think we had very good meetings with both the President and the Prime Minister and his government. The President expressed his strong admiration for what has been accomplished here in Bulgaria, and particularly since 1997. This is a country which 10 years ago, a week ago, as the Prime Minister pointed out, these same people were marching in the streets in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall against communist government.
After a start with one government, the government changed again, from '91 to '97, really, the country lost ground in the movement towards reform and change. Since the election in 1997, there's been a dramatic change in direction under this leadership, and Bulgaria now has brought its inflation under control. It's expecting to have real growth and has put very firmly in place its democratic institutions, not to mention a long tradition of tolerance in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria was one of the places during World War II that has quite an extraordinary record, for example, with respect to protecting Jews that were being deported from Greece and elsewhere on the way to the camps. Many of them were spirited here in Bulgaria. And that tradition of -- and protected -- and that tradition, as well as the Bulgarian Jews who were here, that's a tradition that they're very proud of, and it goes beyond, obviously, that experience.
The President and the Prime Minister both spoke, I think, first about the importance of NATO membership to them as a very high priority. They have undertaken a rather sweeping program of military reform, which includes substantially downsizing the Soviet-era military and transforming it into a more modern professional -- modern military, more aligned with the West. And they hope very much that they will be part of a second tranche, a second wave of NATO members some time in the next few years, both for strategic and for political and for economic reasons. It's a very powerful magnet, I think, for the countries in this region, and a good, positive force for change.
Talked about the need for regional cooperation, and the importance of the Stability Pact and other efforts that bring these countries, as the President has said so many times, bring this region together so that it can accelerate the process by which it integrates into Europe and the EU. Bulgaria expects to be invited to become a candidate for EU membership at the Helsinki EU meeting in a few weeks -- and, obviously, that will begin the process of negotiations with the EU over a period of time, leading ultimately to accession, they hope.
There was discussion in both meetings about Serbia, about the Serb opposition -- which was here, I think in the last week -- meeting with the government officials. One of them said that the Serb opposition -- some of the Serb opposition leaders described Bulgaria as a model for the Serbia that they would like to see and build.
There obviously is a cost here -- was a cost, obviously, from the war. But an extraordinarily important stand that was taken by this government in support of the conflict in Kosovo -- initially not popular here, given the proximity and the cost to this country, but once the government took a stand strongly for NATO and provided logistical support and access through this country, public opinion shifted, strongly backed the government and, I think, from people I've talked to here, was a very important watershed for the way Bulgaria thinks about its future.
One of the things they're obviously concerned about is clearing the Danube. The Danube is a waterway that is very important to Bulgaria, to Romania, to Macedonia. And as you know, we have said -- the international community -- that we are prepared to clear the Danube. Milosevic, notwithstanding his obligations under international law, the Danube Convention, to keep the river clear, has said that he would only accede to clearance of the Danube if we rebuilt the infrastructure of Serbia, particularly the bridges across the Danube. That's not something we're prepared to do, but we made clear that we were prepared to work with them in clearing the debris. If Milosevic acceded to that, it's another example of how he is impeding the development of this region.
Let me stop there, ask Chris to talk about Kosovo tomorrow, and then beg your indulgence to come back a bit, sum up the trip, acknowledging that we still have one stop after this one, and then take your questions.
AMBASSADOR HILL: Thank you very much. As we're getting ready to go to Kosovo tomorrow, we have to sort of recall what Mark Twain would have said about Balkan weather which is, if you like it, just wait a minute because it may well change. So we're all hoping that we'll have the kind of weather that will enable us to get in there tomorrow.
Our stop in Kosovo will begin in the morning with a meeting with Mr. Kouchner, who is in charge of the U.N. operation there, so-called UNMIK. And he will meet with Kouchner as well as General Reinhardt, who is the German commander of KFOR, the first time the Germans have had a command outside of the area.
This will be an opportunity to talk to Kouchner and Reinhardt about how they see the situation unfolding, how they see the progress and the challenges ahead. He'll then have an opportunity to meet with Serbs and Albanians in the Transitional Council. This is a council that Mr. Kouchner has put together; it consists of Albanian leaders and leaders of the Serb community in Kosovo. Albanian leaders will include the political director of the former KLA, Hashim Thaci, and also Ibrahim Rugova, and Bishop Artimije will be there, the Serb Orthodox Bishop of Kosovo.
After that -- and again, this is very weather-related -- he will fly down to Ferizaj, that's the Albanian name for the town of Urosevac, which may appear on your maps, and there he will address people mainly from Ferizaj, but also from the areas around, in a sports hall down there. And after that, he will go take another trip to the U.S. Army headquarters in a place called Bonsteel, which is about eight kilometers from Ferizaj.
For those of you who haven't been to Kosovo -- I must say, I've been there many, many times, and so for me it'll be an opportunity to see what has changed. For those of you who haven't been there, I think you'll find that a lot needs to be done. I must say, I spent the last year there trying to negotiate the political settlement between Serbs and Albanians. Many occasions, I'd sit there kind of shivering in a room without heat and without electricity, because that was pretty much the standard fare in Kosovo in the last decade or so -- lots of problems there with infrastructure.
Lots of problems, of course, with the security situation. I can remember vividly, many times, going out to see KLA people out in the Prenica Valley, having to go past villages that had been burned out, seeing refugees on the backs of these tractors being hauled around. And so for me, I think I'll see a lot of real changes, a lot of real changes for the better.
Obviously, we've got a lot further to go with Kosovo. I also had the opportunity, if you can call it that, to be in Macedonia in the spring, when these refugees just flooded in, and we had upwards of 265,000 refugees in Macedonia. I can remember very well in May sort of wondering, how were we ever going to take care of these people -- you know, as the temperatures went up over 90 degrees, 100 degrees, we were worried about disease. Then we were worried about the issue of how we're going to winterize these camps.
And of course now, with the very pleasant surprise, people are back in their homes in Kosovo -- largely back in their homes. We've supplied winterization kits for literally tens of thousands of homes. And we think, in terms of the immediate emergency task of getting people through the winter, we're there. I mean, obviously there are going to be some problems. Obviously there is going to be some discomfort this winter. But believe me, as someone who's seen other winters there, this is a better winter than the ones they've faced in the past.
Nonetheless, a lot more needs to be done. At times, there's a sense that you have to work on the urgent rather than the important. And yet now we are facing the very important task of building civil society. And this is where Dr. Kouchner has a huge job, in terms of trying to get Kosovo ready for elections. We are hoping to have elections sometime in mid-year next year. These will probably be elections in the local areas, to start empowering people at the local areas so they can start taking control of their lives and really planting the seeds of democracy -- because if democracy is going to take hold in Kosovo, it's going to have to be done at the grassroots.
So it's a really good opportunity tomorrow not only to just be in the Pristina area, but fortunately to get out of Pristina, out to a place like Ferizaj, and see how some of these grassroots efforts are going.
So with that introduction --
MR. BERGER: We can come back to your questions on any of this when we finish. I think for those of us -- all of us who have been working on this for a number of years -- "this" being the Balkans, Kosovo -- what I think Chris said is true. That is, this will be a difficult winter, but it will be a hell of a lot better than last winter, when the Kosovars were being killed, raped and driven from their homes. And I think we need to keep that in perspective, and recognize that, as Chris suggested, it is a long-term undertaking to try to build a better life and a civil society in Kosovo.
Let me now step back for a second and talk about the trip as a whole and then let you go at us. We have -- one of the priorities of the President from the very beginning of his administration, from the beginning of -- going back to 1994 when the President proposed enlargement of NATO, has been to get beyond the notion of this is the post-Cold War world, and start building what comes after it.
And we've done that through NATO enlargement, we've done that through getting the Russian troops out of the Baltics and disarming the nuclear weapons out of the former Soviet states. And now, we're dealing with some of the -- now, we're traveling last week in two areas of Europe, the Aegean and the Balkans, where further integration into Europe is where the future lies.
I think the importance of the President's trip to Turkey is quite profound, and I think it goes beyond simply what he said and what was specifically accomplished. It's been captured, I think, in the few of the things I've read. But if you talk to the people of Turkey and wandered around and talked to people outside of the governing circle, this was an important validation of the direction that Turkey has been on over the last year, more than a year, and a statement that Turkey's future lies with the West.
And I think for those who are engaged in trying to move Turkey in that direction, whether it was the NGOs that the President met with or the leadership or the people, I think what he said in his message was very important, that Turkey's future needs to be anchored in the West, needs to be deepening its democracy, and dealing with and resolving the problems of the past, particularly with Greece.
I think the signature of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline agreement, as the President said, I honestly believe 25 years from now, people will look back and say that -- and not even remember who signed it, or under whose administration it moved forward. But it will create a physical and strategic infrastructure for Central Asia and the Caucasus to the West, and I think that has profound impact, including bolstering their own independence as nations.
Finally, in Turkey, I think the importance of the President stressing the value of Turkish membership in the EU and his support for that candidacy as we move up to the Helsinki meeting with the EU in which that issue will be decided, obviously not only resonated in Turkey, but obviously was a message, hopefully, that was also heard by others in Europe, most of whom I think share that view today, but we would like to see that happen.
The OSCE meeting, I think was important in a couple respects. First of all, the OSCE itself becoming a relevant institution -- that one institution has legitimacy around Europe, from Russia to the United States, through Northern Europe and Southern Europe, gives it a particular value.
It's been an institution between 1975, the Helsinki Final Act, until recently that has been mostly an institution that stood for certain things. And as it evolves into an institution that can do certain things, that's a very important development. And as we increase its capacity to go into conflicts, pre-conflict situations for example, and deal with the challenges within societies, which we recognized for the first time in the document that we signed, I think that's extremely important -- as was the adaptation of the CFE agreement for the first time since the end of the Warsaw Pact.
For me, I think, in terms of Greece -- putting the demonstrations aside -- I think two things were striking. One is the dynamism within Greece. Greece, as you all know, 10 years ago was one of the weakest economies in the EU; it's now one of the strongest economies. That creates a self-confidence in Greece which enables it both to see itself now as a leader of recovery of the Balkans, and able to engage Turkey in a way that it had not in the past. And we're obviously pleased that in connection with this trip we've been able to get talks going in Cyprus for the first time in two years. We'll see whether they produce anything. Hopefully they will.
And Bulgaria I've spoken about. I think that although this country lost time, and is behind many of its Central European neighbors, it is clearly on the right track. It clearly sees its future with reform, with an open economy, with dealing with issues of corruption, with dealing with -- strengthening its democracy. And I think that's something we want to support, as well as the model it provides of inter-ethnic tolerance, which I think in this region is quite important.
Kosovo and Serbia we can talk about more, in answer to your questions.
Q Mr. Berger, you said in September that it was very important that Kosovo not become a sort of mirror image of Serbia to the north. Can you tell us how many Serbs you think are left in Kosovo? And as the KLA has reconstituted itself as this KPC, how different of an entity is it now?
MR. BERGER: Well, I think the numbers vary. I've seen numbers from 50,000 to 100,000 Serbs that remain in Kosovo -- perhaps an equal number have left. I think that it is extremely important that we protect the rights of minorities in Kosovo, and that that be a priority for KFOR, it be a priority for the U.N., and that it be something that is embraced by the Kosovar people. And I think the President will speak to this tomorrow when he is there.
The level of violence against Serbs -- any violence in Kosovo is unacceptable. I think the level of violence has decreased in the last two months; perhaps Chris can speak more to that.
In terms of the transition of the KLA to a this Kosovo Protective Group, I think is a positive development. In every post-conflict, post-civil conflict situation, whether you're talking about in Central America or elsewhere, you have the issue: how do you integrate those who were organized to fight the enemy -- i.e., Milosevic -- and who therefore are engaged in a military or quasi-military enterprise -- how do you both disarm them, and how do you integrate them into civil society, and civilian society?
I think this is an appropriate way to do that. There has been a substantial disarmament of the KLA. They're now organizing around missions which are more like -- you know, issues such as more like a national guard, non-military missions -- that is, dealing with natural disasters, dealing with rebuilding. And I think it's a very useful and appropriate way of transitioning from conflict to peace.
Chris, do you want to add anything to that?
Q Sandy, there is still a substantial amount of violence in Kosovo. And it appears as though KFOR is not tremendously effective in keeping a lid on it. So what do you say today to the ethnic Albanians who are engaging in these reprisals, and how do you plan to try to lower the cycle of violence, or turn back the cycle of violence, in Kosovo?
MR. BERGER: Well, let me take a small crack at it, and then I'll let Chris answer. Number one, it obviously has become one of the highest priorities of KFOR. KFOR has deployed itself now in a way that tries to maximize its protection of Serbs. Number two -- and the security of the Serb people is a very high priority for KFOR.
Number two, I think that -- I don't think that these are activities, these reprisals are the vengeance that are being carried out by the vast majority of Kosovars. But there clearly are pockets of this. And I think we have to speak very clearly, as we have, that the Albanians should not -- Kosovar Albanians should not lose their future because they are trapped by their past. And if they want to rebuild a future for their children with the participation of the international community, then they have to get beyond the grievances of the past.
AMBASSADOR HILL: Yes, let me just say that anyone who saw the way the refugees, some 800,000 were unceremoniously dumped out of railroad cars into the mud on the borders of Macedonia and Albania, understood there was going to be a real problem trying to reconcile Serbs and Albanians after that.
Nonetheless, there has been substantial progress in the last few months in terms of KFOR not only deploying throughout Kosovo, but also figuring out where the hot spots are, where they need to deploy with extra patrols, as they're doing in some key areas, to bring down this level of violence.
Clearly, I think every person in Kosovo -- Albanians and other nationalities, need to understand that we expect to see them turn away from this and toward building the institutions that they have an opportunity to build -- an opportunity given them by KFOR.
So KFOR, I think, is -- we consider it a very successful deployment, and we're looking forward to moving on to some of the next stages of addressing what is going to be a very difficult, long-term process.
Q I hear both of you talk about progress and doubtless there has been some in terms of rebuilding. Yet, what we read -- and we're not there -- is that you really have only a fraction of the money you need to do the rebuilding, and that you have really a fraction of the personnel and manpower you need, not only to do that job, but also to administer the laws and make this a more livable -- or at least, a livable -- society. What is the problem, and how severe is it?
AMBASSADOR HILL: Well, first of all, I think the military was ready to be mobilized. They went in there and they deployed throughout Kosovo. The second issue was to get the civilian structure up and running and to create, really, from whole cloth, this U.N. operations, so-called UNMIK.
Now, a key aspect of that was getting the funding together. And, indeed, last Thursday at a funding conference in Brussels, a Kosovo pledging conference, it was agreed between the U.S. and European states to provide over $1 billion in funding, of which $158 million is from the U.S. This will fully fund UNMIK operations through calendar year '99 and through most of calendar year 2000. You know, we are on a fiscal budget, a fiscal year, which ends in October, and the U.N. is on a calendar year. So we believe now, as of last Thursday, we have the funding that's required.
Funding has been a problem in the intervening months, but we think we're there now.
Q In other words, this gets us by the problem that I understand to be pledges made but not kept? Why is this --
AMBASSADOR HILL: Yes, there have been specific pledges requiring specific amounts of funding for specific purposes. We've got that in hand now as of last Thursday. And when I talk about this, of course, this is all in addition to the humanitarian assistance, which has been considerable. This has to do with the actual funding of the U.N. institutions -- for example, the police force, getting the international police force in there, getting the training programs for the creation of local police; indeed, the first two classes now of local police have graduated, and they're out on the beat now.
So we've had funding for humanitarian purposes all along, and now we've got the civil affairs funding.
MR. BERGER: I really want to emphasize the point that Chris just made. That is, obviously the first task here was getting people back, getting them back to their homes, food, and we've had the funding for that from our Congress, from the international community. The next stage is rebuilding, reconstruction. We now, I think, have those commitments. Our Congress, in this bill the President fought so hard for in part because it has our share of the prospective Kosovo money.
Q There was a problem with the EU and a discussion of membership for Bulgaria, having to do with nuclear reactors. Did you discuss that this morning and is that cleared away?
MR. BERGER: This was raised this morning by the Bulgarians. There is an issue with the EU, with respect to certain nuclear reactors, which I believe the EU does not feel are up to normal, adequate safety requirements, that they seek to have shut down. That will have a certain economic impact on Bulgaria. Obviously we're not directly engaged in the discussions between the EU and Bulgaria. But the President said that he would find out more about this as he talked to his European colleagues, and see if there are ways in which we could be helpful.
Q You said earlier -- sorry, just to follow up -- that the EU membership talks were going to go ahead.
MR. BERGER: No, I said that the Bulgarians expect, are hoping for them to go ahead. It's for the European Union to make that declaration.
Q Two brief questions. Number one, does the U.S. now support NATO membership for Bulgaria? Secondly, a quick question on Egyptair. There are reports out of Egypt that President Mubarak made a personal appeal to President Clinton not to hand the case over to the FBI, the Egyptair case. I wondered whether that was true, and if so, what his response had been?
MR. BERGER: As to the second question, that's not true, or at least I'm certainly not aware of any contact that President Mubarak has had with President Clinton on this. There's obviously a lot of discussion going on between our two governments.
On Bulgaria's NATO membership, I think what -- let's go back to the summit in April, in which NATO reaffirmed a position that we feel very strongly about, which is that NATO enlargement should be an ongoing process. And not only should there be an open door, but people should get through the door.
In fact, at the NATO summit in Washington, there was a specific expression -- somebody's tape recorder went off -- there was a specific expression of the need to look to Southeast Europe in terms of future expansions of NATO. I think that case is only stronger after the conflict in Kosovo, with the problems in this region. The value to NATO, as well as to this region, of having participation from the nations here, I think, is very strong, I think a good case could be made for it.
But that will be a decision that will be made, presumably, in 2001, depending upon circumstances and conditions at that point. It's not a decision that we or others have made, except to say that we are generally supportive of a continuing process of enlargement in NATO.
Q On Kosovo, do you have any sense that you've been successful with the Kosovars in convincing them that independence is just not going to happen, at least not in the short-term -- is it something they have to think about for 10 years -- in the future, whenever?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't know what their aspirations are. I mean, we've been very clear that independence is not something we support, it's not our policy; that what we ought to be focused on now is rebuilding and putting into place, and helping the Kosovars put into place, the institutions of self-government -- schools, police forces, et cetera -- that build a civil society and enable them to have a greater degree of control -- in fact, substantial control -- over their future.
And I don't think it's terribly useful to spend a lot of time on this issue at this point. Our position is clear. But our focus is also very clear, which is on what has to be done over the next few years here to build a working democratic society.
Q Sandy, I just want to be clear on one thing -- the delay in getting things, in restoring order in Kosovo and stopping the ethnic cleansing of Serbs and so forth. Was the primary obstacle there is getting money from the people --
MR. BERGER: First of all, Jim, I think -- ethnic cleansing of Serbs, that's a pretty big leap.
Q Well, it's what the U.N. Human Rights Commission --
MR. BERGER: Somewhere -- probably about 100,000 Serbs have left; clearly, they felt intimidated, and we would like to create an environment in which not only those who are there can stay, but those who have left can come back. I don't want to get caught up in semantics. There certainly has been ethnic revenge; let's put it that way.
But I also think you can't compare -- and I'm not trying to condone anything -- the systematic expulsion by a government of a million people and the vengeful retaliation thoroughly unjustified by those people when they return.
I also think it's important -- again, Chris has the best perspective, Chris has spent more time in the Kosovar mountains than in the NSC office, I think, still. (Laughter.) Pretty good line. He didn't have to watch his back in the Kosovo mountains. (Laughter.)
The level of violence, I think most people will agree -- obviously, this is a question we'll ask General Reinhardt and Mr. Kouchner tomorrow -- has come down; it's not going up, it's going down; but it has not disappeared. It's not acceptable at any level and, therefore, we have to keep working this problem. But I think it is decreased; it is still unacceptable.
Q -- delay, has it moved more slowly than you anticipated?
MR. BERGER: Well, I don't know. I think the point Chris made -- and, again, it's very difficult here to say this in a way, in a proper way. Having gone through what these people went through -- and we saw it only on television in the comfort of our warm living rooms, or offices, was horrifying.
You've talked to these people, some of you who have gone to the refugee camps with us. They've seen their parents killed, their husbands killed, their daughters raped in front of them, and dumped out into rather difficult refugee camps. They've now gone back. I think the vast majority of them are serious about getting on with their lives. There is still clearly animosity, hatred in the minds of some, and it's going to take a while. It's going to take a while.
Don't forget that what happened to the Albanians, the Kosovars last year, was not simply a kind of a tornado that came out of nowhere. I mean, since 1989 when Milosevic basically cut off their autonomy, these people have been systematically attacked, repressed, discriminated against, arbitrarily shot. So there is an accumulated sense of bitterness.
I think the point we have to make with them is the point we've tried to make, and I think the point the President will make again tomorrow is, you've got to put that aside. You can be consumed by it, or you can go on and build a future for yourself and your children that is different than the past.
Q Another issue, aside from the ethnic strike is crime. The U.N. says that more Albanians have been killed over the past four months than Serbs, and a lot of people interpret that to be an infiltration of Kosovo of organized Albanian crime, gangs. What information do you have? How extensive is the infiltration of Albanian organized crime into Kosovo and what can you do to stop it?
AMBASSADOR HILL: Well, first of all, when you look at overall murder rates, you're looking at just that. I mean, there are political aspects to murder and then there is also just flat out criminal aspects to it.
And one of the challenges for the U.N. administration there has been to create a legal system from whole cloth. I mean, you could not take the legal system that prevailed there before under the Serbs and say this is a good legal system, so you've had to work that through. Obviously, people are being apprehended when they can; they're being held and, you know, as the legal system is phased in -- it's being phased in as we speak -- they'll be charged with crimes under new statutes. So that's an issue.
As for the Albanian criminal syndicates, there are a lot of them. They have always operated cross-border. This is not a new phenomenon that they're coming from Albania into Kosovo. This has been an ongoing issue even when the Serbs were running Kosovo. I mean, there are infiltration routes that people know very well, smuggling routes that are known very well.
So this is an issue. UMMIK is beefing up the number of people they can put on the border. KFOR is assisting, and this is going to be an ongoing process.
We also have to take on the issue of criminality in Albania. You know, if you just try to deal with it in Kosovo you're not going to stop it in Albania. So we're working very hard on that problem. And in many ways, some of the issues facing Albania are even more difficult to deal with. So, you know, when you deal with these problems in the Balkans, I mean, it's like you're pounding some warped floorboards: you get one down and another one pops up somewhere, so you've got to work on that one.
MR. BERGER: Enough with the analogies. (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR HILL: So we have a number of issues to take on, working very closely with the Albanian authorities on their criminal problems. We never have a meeting with Albanian government people without talking about criminality, so we're engaged on all of these.
Q Back on Greece, a real quick question, Sandy. Can you give us any more details -- the President apparently brought up with Tony Blair yesterday the Parthenon treasures. Can you tell us anything about Blair's reaction and how quickly those marbles are on their way back to Greece? (Laughter.)
MR. BERGER: I don't know the answer, because I haven't asked the question whether he spoke to Blair. I haven't addressed this with the President, and I will. It was addressed at other levels as an issue that had arisen in Greece and something that we would like them to look at. And I'll try to have that answer for you next time I get a chance to talk to him.
MR. LEAVY: This is our last question.
MR. BERGER: Since John has pre-screened the subject of his question, I want to reinforce his behavior -- (laughter.)
Q Grozny is surrounded now. What are your levels of concerns that Russia does not appear have any intentions of backing off the violence? And is it not true that there have been discussions about whether it would be prudent, given the current circumstances, for the IMF to release this second tranche of $640 million in aid to Russia?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, you're right about the situation, which is that the military offensive continues, including around Grozny. We are seriously concerned about it, as we have been generally. I think that this can only lead to a greater level of refugees, a greater level of civilian casualties, a cycle of violence that as the President said in Istanbul, we think is not only wrong, but also counterproductive, it won't work.
On the OSCE mission, I don't -- I know that there are discussions about Vollebaek going to the Foreign Minister -- Vollebaek going to the region and about what the purpose of that trip would be, whether it would be -- we certainly envision it being more than simply humanitarian, but also examining the situation on the political side as well. We hope that will go forward. The Russians did agree to that in Istanbul.
In terms of the IMF, I guess I would say this: first of all, Russia has not yet met the economic conditions for further distribution of IMF money. So the question is really premature. We will look at this as we always do, based upon our overall national interest -- we don't want to be counterproductive. And our national interest includes democracy and peace and stability in Russia.
I think we'll obviously look at it at the time. But certainly one of the things that we need to be concerned about is the general question of stability in Russia, and the impact this will have.
MR. LEAVY: All right, thank you. We've got to go.
END 4:19 P.M. (L)
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