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November 12, 1999

PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MARK GROSSMAN, AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AT NSC CHRIS HILL ON THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO EUROPE The Briefing Room

2:35 P.M. EST

                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
_________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                     November 12, 1999
                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                  NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER,
             ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
                              MARK GROSSMAN,
               AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AT NSC
                                CHRIS HILL
                     ON THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO EUROPE
                             The Briefing Room
2:35 P.M. EST
          MR. HAMMER:  Good afternoon.  We have today the President's
National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger, who will be briefing on our
upcoming trip to Europe.  And we also have with us Assistant Secretary of
State for European Affairs Mark Grossman, as well as Chris Hill, Special
Assistant to the President at the National Security Council responsible for
Southeastern Europe.
          Sandy.
          MR. BERGER:  Good afternoon.  On Sunday morning, bright and
early, President Clinton will leave on a 10-day trip to Europe.  As you
know, we will be going to Turkey, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria.  And I can
confirm today that we are adding an additional stop in Kosovo.
...........
          Of course, one backdrop to the summit will be the conflict in
Chechnya.  We've made it clear that while Russia has the right to protect
its territorial integrity and fight terrorism, the indiscriminate use of
force against insurgents intermingled with civilians is both wrong and
counterproductive, and makes finding a solution more difficult -- something
the President conveyed to Prime Minister Putin when we were in Oslo.  It
also creates what we've seen as substantial humanitarian problems.  And I'm
sure that the gathering of leaders there will reflect again the cost of
Russia's present course to its international standing and credibility.
          President Yeltsin has indicated that he intends to attend, and
the President will meet with him.  In addition to Chechnya, we will discuss
with President Yeltsin arms control, ABM-NMD issues, and the importance of
the Russian elections coming up in December, and again the presidential
elections next year.
....................
          Q    Sandy, on Chechnya, you spoke to Putin about two weeks ago;
the President did last week.  Is there any sign in the interim that they've
been getting the message that there is any reduction of the indiscriminate
attacks on civilians, or is that, in fact, increased?
          MR. BERGER:  I don't think there's clear evidence that there's
been any substantial reduction.  I think that it is our view that while we
-- Russia certainly has a right and obligation to protect its territorial
integrity and to fight terrorists, and there clearly is a terrorist
dimension to this -- that if its means of doing so involve high levels of
civilian casualties, high levels of refugees, that it is unlikely to
succeed.  And it is likely to diminish its standing in the international
community.  And that is a message we'll continue to deliver to Russia.  And
I suspect others will as well in Istanbul.
          Q    What exactly is the terrorist dimension?  I mean, they
haven't provided any evidence to show that the Chechen terrorists, at
least, were behind the apartment bombings in Moscow.
          MR. BERGER:  That issue is one I don't have enough information
on, but there clearly are terrorist elements in Chechnya.  There's no
question about that.
          But the question here is, what is an effective way of dealing
with them?  In our view -- sooner rather than later, we hope -- there needs
to be a political dialogue that leads to some kind of a political
resolution of this, that a purely military solution will come at great cost
and not be durable.
          Q    Sandy, you've been pressing that case to the Russians.  Just
two weeks ago, the President pressed that case with Prime Minister Putin.
What makes you think that the message is going to be different, or that
it's going to have a different response, in Istanbul?
          MR. BERGER:  I don't know whether it will.  But I think it is
something that we will -- Russia will come to Istanbul with 53 other
countries present there.  This is not just of concern to the United States;
it's a concern of the Europeans, of the EU and others.  And I think to the
extent to which we can manifest our views to Russia, not only is the United
States, but the other countries -- the extent to which they see that they
are isolated on this in the international community, we hope that will have
an influence on their decisions.
..........
                          END       3:20 P.M. EST



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