|Subject: USGOV: No U.S. Troops to Timor - State
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:26:31 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
[Pentagon comments follow]
*EPF202 08/10/99 State Dept. (Pt.1/2)
TRANSCRIPT: STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, TUESDAY, AUGUST 10 (India/Pakistan, NKorea, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Colombia, China, Rep. Ben Gilman, Russia) (7260)
State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin briefed.
NO U.S. TROOPS HEADED FOR EAST TIMOR
Rubin denied press reports that say 15,000 U.S. Marines will be sent to East Timor in Indonesia following the referendum for independence set for August 30.
But the spokesman did point out that the United States is working closely with the United Nations Mission in East Timor as well as the Indonesian Government "to support a free and fair consultation in East Timor on August 30."
The United Nations Security Council, in consultation with the Indonesian Government and other "interested parties," will make any decision to send additional U.N. personnel to Indonesia, either before or after August 30th, the spokesman said.
The United States, however, "would be willing to consider participation in further U.N. activities in East Timor ... but we are not considering U.S. action outside of the U.N. context," Rubin said.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING INDEX Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Briefer: James P. Rubin
Following is the State Department transcript:
Q: In view of the State Department denials this morning concerning the discussions to deploy 15,000 troops in East Timor following the independence vote there, does the State Department believe that the current UN police and military liaison force, which is due to be put in place after the August 31 independence vote, will be large enough and sufficiently armed to prevent widespread violence after that vote? And number two, does the US have any options if widespread violence does break out after that vote and the UN force is overwhelmed?
RUBIN: Right. First of all, let me say that the report that the United States plans to send a force of 15,000 Marines to East Timor is false; it is simply wrong. Somebody got their facts mixed up.
The United States is working closely with the UN mission in East Timor and with other interested parties, including the Government of Indonesia, to support a free and fair consultation in East Timor on August 30. Any decision to send additional UN personnel to Indonesia either before or after August 30 will be made by the Security Council in consultation with the interested parties, including the Government of Indonesia. We would be willing to consider participation in further UN activities in East Timor in support of this process, but we are not considering US action outside of the UN context. So any suggestion that we have some massive plan along these lines is a crossing of wires by well-intentioned people who made a mistake.
Q: The Australian Foreign Minister has, however, confirmed in the parliament that there were discussions between senior US military personnel in Hawaii and Australian military officials about this force. Was the State Department never informed?
RUBIN: No, that's not what he said. I was just told this morning that he specifically denied that he had ever heard anything like that.
Q: No, he went in the parliament late last night and reversed that position and stated that he was aware of these discussions between US forces and Australian forces.
RUBIN: Right, I don't know how many different ways I can say it. We, the United States, did not and do not have a plan to send 15,000 Marines to East Timor. That's wrong.
Q: Was this discussed, however; was this discussed?
RUBIN: Wrong - and we don't have a plan and we didn't discuss a plan to send 15,000 troops to East Timor as part of the UN operation to provide security for East Timor or any other part. You can keep parsing it and keep thinking you've found the pot of gold, but you will end up empty-handed.
Q: Concerning Secretary Albright's op-ed on Colombia? Two questions - one --
RUBIN: You want to - you're enjoying this too much to let it go, right?
Q: Exactly - no, no. You seem to be very specific on the no plan to send 15,000 troops. Are you planning to send any number of troops?
RUBIN: I don't know how to answer that.
Q: That's not an answer.
RUBIN: The military of our country has plans to do everything; that's what their job is -- to have plans. I am not going to be in a position to comment on anybody's hypothetical plan that the US military has.
The reports coming out in the Australian press are false. The United States is not considering to deploy 15,000 troops to bring peace to East Timor. I don't know how many different ways we can say it.
Q: The reports didn't say they were going to deploy the forces. What they said was that there was discussions between senior US military personnel in Hawaii and --
RUBIN: About deploying 15,000 troops to make peace.
Q: -- about an option, about an option.
RUBIN: We're not considering that. It's wrong; we're not considering it. We don't have a plan, we don't have a option to send 15,000 troops to bring peace to East Timor. A mistake was made; a garbled translation must've occurred. The game of telephone can be very complicated and people should be more careful before they print wrong stories.
Q: Clarification on this lady's point. She says that it was revealed by the Prime Minister of Australia that US military planners met with Australian military planners in Hawaii and discussed East Timor. Is that accurate?
RUBIN: I don't know; you'd have to check at the Pentagon.
Q: Okay, you don't know if that's accurate?
RUBIN: Yes. But everybody should know planners plan; planners meet; options always exist, plans always exist. What happens - our military would be making a mistake, as a global power, if it didn't have numerous contingency plans for a whole panoply of situations all over the world. What happens is somebody finds out that a contingency plan exists and then they think that that is consideration.
Contingency plans are supposed to exist. They do exist. I'm not saying that a contingency plan exists along the lines that you're just describing. I see you're writing what I'm saying so you must be misunderstanding me.
What I'm saying is that there are contingency --
Q: Is completely useless.
RUBIN: Right, it's an intellectual point. Contingency plans always exist. The military in a global power like the United States has to have contingency plans.
Q: You're not saying whether this was a contingency plan.
RUBIN: Correct. Now, can we move on to Colombia - a nice, easy problem to solve. ----- DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING
AUGUST 10, 1999
SPEAKER: KENNETH H. BACON, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN
QUESTION: Mr. Bacon, this morning James Rubin at State described as simply wrong Australian newspaper reports today that the U.S. has had high-level military discussions with Australian officials discussing the possibility of inserting up to 15,000 U.S. troops into East Timor following the autonomy referendum on August the 30th.
QUESTION: However, the Melbourne Age (ph) today reports in detail on a cable from senior Australian officials to the Australian prime minister and foreign minister following discussions on June 21 in Hawaii with CINCPAC Admiral Blair, with Marine Generals Labidy (ph) and Forford (ph), and with Okinawa Commander General Hailstin (ph) in which precisely such plans were actually being discussed and proposals put to Australia to help the insertion of 15,000 troops.
Is the Pentagon denying that such discussions took place at all?
BACON: The Pentagon is denying that report as complete bunkum.
BACON: We do not have plans -- we do not have plans to send 15,000 Marines to East Timor.
QUESTION: So you're denying that CINCPAC and other senior military generals in Hawaii had such discussions with Australian officials on June the 21st.
BACON: I am denying that we have plans to send 15,000 Marines to East Timor.
QUESTION: But this may have been discussed on the 21st of June?
BACON: I -- to the best of my knowledge, and I've checked into this, no such plan was discussed.
QUESTION: So the cable...
QUESTION: Sending any Marines into East Timor or just 15,000.
BACON: There are three Marines in East Timor now as part of a UN...
QUESTION: Do you plan to increase...
BACON: ... as part of a much larger UN mission. And we do not have plans to send Marines to East Timor.
QUESTION: The existence of this cable has been acknowledged by the foreign minister, Mr. Downer.
BACON: I -- the accounts I read had Mr. Downer completely denying this report.
QUESTION: Well, not recently, sir. He's admitted...
BACON: Well, this is what I -- this is what I read in the paper this morning.
QUESTION: So can you -- can you confirm that there have been any discussions about...
BACON: I'm dismissed this report as bunkum. I agree totally with what Jamie Rubin said about this report. There is no truth to a report that we're planning to send large numbers of Marines to East Timor. I don't know how to be clearer about this than I've already been, nor do I believe Mr. Rubin can be clearer about it than he has already been.
QUESTION: No such contingency plans are being discussed?
BACON: We have no contingency plans to send 15,000 Marines to East Timor.
QUESTION: Or any other number of troops?
BACON: We do -- have no contingency plans to send large numbers of Marines to East Timor.