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News from the USIA Washington File 10 September 1999

Text: Sept. 10 Remarks by National Security Advisor Berger

(Clinton consults allies on how to "intensify pressure")  (1530)
The United States supports an international peacekeeping force for
East Timor, and President Clinton has told allies the United States
"would provide support to such a force," according to National
Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
Clinton, Berger told reporters covering the President's trip to APEC,
"called Prime Minister Howard of Australia ... 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, Berger said, "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
Following is the White House transcript:
(begin transcript)
Office of the Press Secretary
(Air Force One)
September 10, 1999
10:05 A.M. EDT
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.
QUESTION: 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?
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?
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
except --
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?
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?
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?
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
over it.
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?
BERGER: I believe President Habibie has not been able to effectuate
the commitments that he's made with respect to East Timor.
Q:  Effectuate?
BERGER:  Get done.  Carry out.  (Laughter.)  I just was amended.
Q: Has the President called Senator Lugar, has he made any other calls
to members of Congress?
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
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?
BERGER: I have no comment.
LOCKHART:  Sandy, don't go down that road.
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.
(end transcript)

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