THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART
The Briefing Room
1:05 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: Good afternoon, everyone. Let me give you just an update on the President's schedules -- I talked to you this morning. He's now had his briefing. He spent about an hour with his national security team -- Secretary Cohen, General Shelton, Secretary of State Albright, National Security Advisor Berger, Director of Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet.
The President was given a full briefing of the second day of operations from yesterday, as well as a look at the operations that are planned for today. The President again, as he's expressed each day, is pleased that our servicemen, who are doing remarkable work, have been able to come through this safely. He will continue to monitor the operation through his National Security Advisor for the rest of the day.
Q Joe, there are reports that we're getting from human rights activists and others in Kosovo that suggest that the Yugoslav police forces and military forces are summarily executing Kosovars. Have you seen those reports? Are they credible?
MR. LOCKHART: We have seen some of the reports. It's difficult to confirm each and every one of them, but we know that there is intensified fighting. It remains localized in some areas. But there is fighting. This is not surprising to us. This is something that started before the allied operation began and it's the reason that the allies and NATO are conducting the military operations they are now, to degrade his ability to move in offensively and repress the Kosovar people.
Q Can you comment on a specific report, Joe? According to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees in a village near the Albanian border, 20 men were shot to death yesterday morning. Supposedly the people who shot them, the Serb forces, were seen dancing around their bodies. And then 174 women and children were forced to cross over the border.
MR. LOCKHART: I can't from here independently confirm that report. We have seen reports -- that report and reports like that. We have in the past, unfortunately seen that this is the kind of barbaric activity that President Milosevic and those who fight for him have engaged in. I will say that by whatever means we have available to us, we will follow these reports. And those who commit them, those who are responsible for ordering them and those who are responsible at the political level will be held accountable in the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Q Joe, why are the air strikes not directed toward this kind of activity?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm not going to get into the details of the air strikes. I'll leave that to the Pentagon, they have a briefing later today. But I will say that it would wrong to say that they're not directed at this kind of activity.
Q This morning I asked about the statement from the Greek government opposing the bombing. You said that you believed that NATO was still receiving strong cooperation from all the members.
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.
Q On reflection, would you like to amend that? I mean, the Greek government has certainly not --
MR. LOCKHART: I absolutely would not like to amend that. Let me strengthen what I said this morning. As many of you saw, the Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana, was out this morning. He held a meeting of the NAC in Brussels, and indicated that he had the strong support from all nations for moving forward with this military operation.
On the Greek government, in particular, the Deputy Foreign Minister met with some NSC people today, and expressed their government's support for moving forward.
Q Was that statement not from the Greek government? Was that a bogus, counterfeit statement?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I can only tell you what I know about what's going on within NATO, and the indications that we get in speaking to the government.
Q Could I just pursue this? I mean, you seem to be suggesting that the statement from Athens, from the Greek government, does not reflect the Greek government's views.
MR. LOCKHART: I'm going to let the Greek government speak for themselves. I can tell you --
Q Well, you're speaking for them. You're saying that they are supporting --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm not. I can tell you what they've told us. I can tell you what the Secretary General of NATO has been told within the North Atlantic Council about NATO's unity and the consensus within NATO to move forward with this operation.
Q Joe, could you tell us why there are NATO air strikes going on in Montenegro?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into any of the operational details.
Q Joe, the President had indicated initially that there were sort of two phases, that first we would strike and try to stop the offensive in Kosovo, and then, in his words, if necessary, go after his military -- with the suggestion, as others have added to it, to either degrade, diminish or even destroy his military forces. Are we now at the period where that is now necessary?
MR. LOCKHART: No. I think that's an artificial distinction between the two. We believe that he has two choices, which is to embrace a peaceful solution to this, this crisis, or pursue -- and in doing that, pull back his forces, stop the offensive operations in Kosovo, or base further military operations, which will in a systematic way degrade his ability to conduct military operations against Kosovo.
Q But what I'm asking you is are you now at the point where you have to move into the effort to degrade his military capability?
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I'm not going to get into the operational part of this, I'll leave that to the Pentagon. But let me try to answer that, which is I don't see -- I don't think that there's an accurate distinction there. I don't see it as an either/or or a one/two.
Q The President made that distinction, he said, if necessary, degrade his forces.
MR. LOCKHART: Right, if he has not come to the table to embrace a peaceful solution. And we all know, we're in the third day of this and we've seen no indication that he's come to that conclusion.
Q Joe, has the President laid out a sort of two-thing. Well, first, we're going to do this to try to stop what you're doing in Kosovo and then, in a sense, seemed to say, if you don't stop that then we're going to broaden these attacks. Isn't that what you were saying, that you were going to threaten to hold this ax over his head to weaken his military power base if he didn't stop?
MR. LOCKHART: What we're doing is demonstrating NATO's resolve on this issue and making the point in a very tangible way the importance of him choosing a peaceful option. Now, we are in the third day of this. We've seen no indication, so the military operations are going forward.
Q -- that, in effect you have moved, you have essentially moved -- that you can't deter, that you've been unable to deter him from doing what he's doing?
MR. LOCKHART: No, again, I'm not -- you're doing kind of an either/or here. We have from the beginning been attacking military targets and we continue to. But I am going to leave the details of those to the Pentagon.
Q Can I go back to this question of the intensifying Serbian assaults? It would appear that either under the cover of the bombing or despite the bombing, the Serbs are rushing to complete their ethnic cleansing. Is there at least no sense of urgency about trying to stop that now?
MR. LOCKHART: David, of course, there's a sense of urgency here. We're in the third day of a very extensive military operation. But this is something that started before the military operation started. And I think from what you've been told by NATO and by the Pentagon officials, the operation is a systematic effort that goes after military targets. In the first part, or in the first area, there's a concentration on air defenses, but there are certainly objectives that go beyond that. But, again, I think it's more appropriate for the Pentagon to go into that.
Q Joe, at this point can you give an overall assessment? I mean, has the campaign been effective?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think as you heard from NATO this morning that they are pursuing a systematic campaign and are hitting military objectives.
Q Does the White House believe that the Serbian killing of Kosovars is anywhere as massive as the massacre of Tutsis and Hutus by Hutus in Burundi and Rwanda, or the massacre of Tibetans in Tiananmen Square, students and prisoners who sell body parts by his good friends in Beijing?
MR. LOCKHART: The White House doesn't compare things like that. Next question.
Q Does he think --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have time for this today. Peter?
Q Joe, what evidence do you have that the President's message that was broadcast last night got through to its intended audience?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I can't give you an exact -- you know, I can't give you a rating system. But it's gone through a number of venues -- I think on Radio Free Europe, Voice of America. We still have some World Net affiliates in the nearby Republika Srpska. And there's also regional broadcasts that get through, through Albanians and other sources.
So I think -- I don't expect that given what we know about President Milosevic's view of a free press and letting in opposing views that it'll be seen in every television home in Serbia, but we do believe through a variety of sources -- including also the Internet -- that the message will get through.
I'd also call attention to -- and this was translated, I think the Secretary of State will be recording a similar message in Serbo-Croat. She's done that.
Q Is this a one-time thing, or part of a campaign?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think you've seen we've done this before. This is not the first message like this we've done, and if there's a utility in doing it again in the future, we will.
Q What was the purpose?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the purpose is, as most of your news organizations know, there's no such thing as a free press and opposing views in Serbia right now. I think most of your reporters are sitting some place on the border, having been summarily thrown out of the country.
So I think it was our attempt to try to say directly to the Serbians what our views are, which is, our quarrel is not with the people, it is with the authoritarian government that's pursuing this policy.
Q Joe, on the auspices of what Les said earlier, many Americans are feeling that a lot of the strife in some other countries are being overlooked for this. What is the administration's feeling on that? And Lester did have a very good question.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think we are quite involved in settling regional disputes, and using the auspices of the U.S. government around the world to try to facilitate peacemaking. I think it's been a real hallmark of this administration that we have around the world, whatever continent it's on, we've been involved in trying to bring peace.
I think here we have a unique circumstance that has both a humanitarian crisis unfolding, and also a very important issue of regional stability. And we're taking the appropriate steps.
Q To follow up real quick. You just had Eritrean-Americans outside by the thousands that feel that their problems are being overlooked, as well --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I can tell you that the President has been personally involved in trying to broker a peace between those two countries. I've sat with him as he's talked to the leaders of those countries. And we have taken steps to try to find a way to minimize the fighting and to broker a peace deal.
Q Joe, on these specific reports that certain high-profile, prominent Kosovar politicians, lawyers, human rights activists, that they've been targeted and executed. Do you have confirmation of specific individuals who have been killed over the past two or three days?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't.
Q Does the White House feel any increased pressure to use ground troops, considering that Milosevic has stepped up his campaign and is increasing the --
MR. LOCKHART: No. I think, as we've said, we are pursuing a systematic military operation in which we believe we'll meet the objectives. We are in the third day of this and this is not something that has a time limit on it, it has an objective limit on it. When we meet our objectives, that's when this will end.
Q Can you lay to rest suspicions, though, about the ground troop business? All of the officials, including the President, have said there are no plans to use ground troops, to introduce them in a combat situation.
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.
Q And people with suspicious minds say, well, tomorrow you could make a plan. Can you rule them out in this situation?
MR. LOCKHART: I can only repeat to you what everyone has said to you, that we have no intention of using ground troops in this circumstance.
Q Joe, just to follow up on that, the President has invoked World War I, World War II, the Cold War, in justifying this action. If this potentially rises to that kind of level, why wouldn't you be considering ground troops?
MR. LOCKHART: Because we have laid out a military plan which we believe we can meet our objectives through the air strikes.
Q Joe, does the White House feel any increased pressure to add to the air power over there?
MR. LOCKHART: That's a question to be put to the Pentagon. I'm not aware that there isn't sufficient deployment.
Q But that's a good point, isn't it, Joe, that ground troop question? I mean, the President has equated Milosevic with Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler had a huge war machine, his goal clearly was conquering all of Europe, if not the world. Does the President believe Milosevic has that kind of war machine and those are his goals?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think he was comparing his goals or his military apparatus. I think he was looking at some of the atrocities and summary executions that marked what we now all know about Nazi Germany.
Q Joe, what kind of aid has the United States offered Macedonia or Albania, and what kind of requests have come into the United States or to NATO to help with the refugee situation?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know specifically on aid. I know we've been in very close contact with the countries, but I don't know specifically if there's been any request for additional aid.
Q There have been reports in the last couple of hours that a NATO plane went down in Bosnia. Do you have anything on that?
MR. LOCKHART: I have no confirmation of that.
Q Joe, could you address the Italian statement that it's time to try diplomacy again? How problematic is that for --
MR. LOCKHART: I think as Secretary General Solana said, President Milosevic knows -- he knows who to call. He knows the numbers. He knows what he needs to do. We have always pursued and preferred a diplomatic and peaceful solution to this. We have a -- we had an agreement on the table that the Kosovar-Albanians had signed on to that President Milosevic couldn't, for whatever reason. So I think he needs to make a decision whether he's going to take the path that can provide a peaceful and autonomous Kosovo, where people live free of repression, or one where he faces further military campaign.
Q Joe, on the President's address to the nation, I was wondering if you could answer a question faxed to us by a Marine Corps Force Recon veteran of Vietnam, where he was concerned about the President saying the bombing of the Serbs is the moral thing to do. And his question was, where was the President's moral butt when innocent victims were being slaughtered by the Viet Cong, and where 591 other young men from Arkansas lost their lives?
MR. LOCKHART: Next question.
Q Next question -- you're ashamed of this, Joe? Is that what you're saying?
MR. LOCKHART: Lester, I don't have time for this today. Next question.
Q You don't have time for it, okay.
MR. LOCKHART: And you can put that in your report. That doesn't bother me.
Q I will. Oh, I'm delighted to.
Q Your responses to questions about conditions on the ground suggest that our information is very sketchy. Is the United States actually that deeply in the dark about what's going on on the ground in Kosovo?
MR. LOCKHART: No. We have some means for monitoring what's going on, but I cannot, on any of these particular reports, confirm specific incidents.
Q Joe, can you give us a general sense of how badly conditions have deteriorated on the ground?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as I said, on a localized basis some fighting has intensified. But it is not, in our judgment, an all-out offensive throughout Kosovo. But there is intensified fighting in localized areas.
Q Joe, what was the President's response to Senator Lieberman's and Senator McConnell's proposal to start arming the KLA?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that proposal runs counter to what we're trying to do right now, which is actually demilitarize. I think if you look at the Rambouillet peace agreement, which we thought was a good agreement for both sides, it would actually reduce the amount of arms in Kosovo, and in Serbia.
So I think our objective now is to try to bring a peaceful -- try to bring about a solution that provides autonomy, and we're pursuing it now through the NATO military operation, but it's one that lessens the prevalence of arms in the country.
Q Joe, if it's not an all-out offensive, what are the bulk of those 40,000 troops doing? Are they simply standing down and --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm not going to give you a report on what we think they're doing. I'm telling you that --
Q Why not?
MR. LOCKHART: I've given you what I can tell you about what we believe is some intensive localized fighting.
Q All right. Let me -- if I can follow up. What percentage of those 40,000 troops are actively engaged right now?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not prepared to go into percentages.
Q Joe, do you consider it troubling, a troubling sign from the Hill that the indications you're getting in terms of legislation that's being introduced is that there is a desire to arm Kosovars?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I don't think --
Q It's not troubling for the President's policy?
MR. LOCKHART: The indications we've been getting, there have been a few ideas that look at other policy -- other ways to approach this. But I think overall there's been general support for the NATO operation.
Q To follow up on my question, you're not concerned that down the road that could become a pivotal condition for support on the Hill?
MR. LOCKHART: I have not heard that concern addressed.
Q Has he talked with any world leaders today?
MR. LOCKHART: Not today. He may this afternoon. If he does, we'll report on that to you.
Q Joe, what is he doing this afternoon in relation to this crisis?
MR. LOCKHART: He may be on the phone for some of this afternoon. He will also be in touch with the national security team.
Q Joe, those who are supporting arming the KLA are basically saying that if you have a viable ground force, you'll be giving Milosevic a choice: he can either have Kosovo as an autonomous province of Serbia, or of Yugoslavia, or he will have an independent Kosovo. What is wrong with giving that kind of choice to Milosevic?
MR. LOCKHART: We are pursuing a different track right now, which is trying to find a way to bring about a peace agreement that lessens the military clashes in Kosovo, rather than increases them.
Q Joe, in terms to which Milosevic would be held now, the deal that was worked out at Rambouillet, is everything in that still operative, or would he perhaps have to go yet further?
MR. LOCKHART: What we have said is he faces a clear choice and he knows what that choice is. I mean, you have to remember that he spent hour after hour with Ambassador Holbrooke. So he cannot claim to be in the dark on what he needs to do. And what he needs to do is embrace a peaceful solution in the context of bringing -- having autonomy and self-government in Kosovo with a credible post-implementation force to allow the people there to live free of repression or face further military strikes.
Q Joe, the Yugoslav -- the NATO spokesman in Brussels, Jamie Shea, just told reporters that two Yugoslav MiG-29s have been shot down over Bosnia in an apparent attempt to attack NATO ground forces in Bosnia. I wonder if you would care to explain if this would be an escalation? If Yugoslav planes are going after NATO --
MR. LOCKHART: This report, as you know, has come to you since I've been out here, so I can't -- I obviously can't address that.
Q -- coming out here before you had not been briefed that there were attacks against NATO ground troops?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Joe, to what extent is the KLA using the air strikes to further their own military goals?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have any updated information on that, so I can't really address that question.
COLONEL CROWLEY: Some fighting is continuing, but they have not in any major way tried to take advantage of the situation. We've told them that.
Q You told who what?
Q The intensified fighting that you're talking about, is --
MR. LOCKHART: Hold on, let's have one conversation here, please.
Q All right. The intensified fighting that you're talking about in some areas, is some of it initiated by the KLA?
MR. LOCKHART: My understanding is, and I can go back for any additional follow-up questions, is that the bulk of this is initiated by the Serb forces.
Q Is there any indication at this point that the Russians are going to break the arms embargo and help arm the Serbs?
MR. LOCKHART: No, and I think the indications that they've stated is to the contrary.
Q Have we warned the KLA not to mount an offensive?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me take the question.
Q Joe, the President -- you know, rally around the flag and the polls that normally happens after this kind of action. What does the President make of how the American public is reacting to this?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the numbers I've seen have shown solid support for the actions that the men and women in service are taking. I think there's a process here. The President has spoken about this many times, but he needs to continue to talk about what are our interests there. And I think the support will grow as we continue to make the case for what our interests are.
Q Is this support of our troops or our support of the Commander-in-Chief, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: It's the support of our policy and it's the support of what our --
Q Of our policy? You really believe that?
MR. LOCKHART: It's the support of what our national interests are around the world. It's the support of --
Q What's the national interest there, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: The national interest is preventing a humanitarian crisis and preventing an unstable -- a regional instability, which could spill over into other areas.
Q Joe, earlier in the briefing you talked about holding those who are committing atrocities in Kosovo responsible. Is that a new goal? Is that a standing policy? Do you think that will make it more difficult for the Serbs to come to the table if some of their leadership --
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's a message to those who may be considering ordering these atrocities, or may be considering committing them.
Q Joe, the President was somewhat vague, perhaps deliberately, yesterday when he was asked about an exit strategy. Could you elaborate at all on that?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think he was vague. I think if you listened to what the President said and what the various people on his national security team -- we are pursuing a military operation that will have one of two outcomes. One is President Milosevic will understand his need to embrace peace, or the second will be we will degrade his ability to make war.
Q Joe, is unity within NATO a condition for continuing with this action?
MR. LOCKHART: NATO works on the basis of a consensus, and there is one.
Q But what if there isn't one? Is unity --
MR. LOCKHART: You're asking -- I'm not going to get into every hypothetical question you could possibly ask.
Q What specific type of signal are you looking for from Milosevic -- beyond just this general embrace of a peaceful solution? Are you expecting some sort of sign where he says maybe I'll return to the table or --
MR. LOCKHART: I am not going to get into trying to negotiate from here and answer every possible hypothetical permutation of what he might say. He knows what he needs to do and he needs to do it.
Q What do you think about efforts from third parties -- what do you think about efforts from third parties, like Ukraine, for example, to try to intervene, to find some sort of diplomatic way out?
MR. LOCKHART: As far as I know, that is an effort undertaken by the Ukrainians. If it somehow helps him to tell some third party that he's willing to make peace, then so be it.
Q Joe, what are the President's plans for the weekend? Will he be here this weekend?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, he will be.
Q At the White House?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q Joe, what incentive does Milosevic have not to go out and kill every Kosovar in sight? What greater punishment faces him if, in fact, he carries through with exactly what you're trying to stop him from doing?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, he faces the punishment that he's facing every day now. From the NATO -- the allied and NATO air strikes. And on the particular level -- and the reason I made the point is that he will be subject, himself and those who are part of any effort to commit atrocities, to the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Q In your estimation, you don't see -- you have no plan for any escalation of the military operation?
MR. LOCKHART: This is a systematic campaign to reach the military objectives. I'm not going to get into the strategy or the targeting here.
Q I'm not asking about strategy or targeting. I'm just saying, you set out to do this and you just -- you have a military plan that starts out from the beginning and it does not change, regardless of what he does in Kosovo?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think our -- the military plan is to make sure that we degrade his ability to do what he's doing in Kosovo.
Q What improvements in Saddam Hussein's conduct have been noted by repeated bombing runs on him?
MR. LOCKHART: We haven't seen him threaten his neighbors in quite a bit of time.
Q Joe, would you acknowledge that it would be possible to achieve some of your military objectives and still have the killing of the Albanians continue?
MR. LOCKHART: What the military objectives are, and the military campaign is designed to do in a systematic way, is to degrade his ability to repress the Kosovar people. If you're asking me if there isn't a situation where -- there is an isolated -- I can't, and I couldn't rule out that. But I can tell you that that's what this, the military campaign is designed for.
Q You would characterize what's happened so far as isolated?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm not.
Q You have just repeated today what the President said -- to diminish his ability to kill people, and if necessary, to damage his military so that he could not make war as effectively. I suppose if the President had wanted to say, to stop, he could have found the word "stop," but he didn't. So, clearly, we've not, I take it, committed ourselves to preventing all the killing in Kosovo?
MR. LOCKHART: The objectives are clear, which is to, through this action, demonstrate to President Milosevic the need to find a peaceful solution, or degrade his ability to launch these offensive operations.
Q The President has not committed NATO, or this operation, to stop all the killings.
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, my words are my words, as are the President's.
Q Somebody -- an official, I can't remember who -- in the Bulgarian government said the U.S. has granted Bulgaria a security guarantee in case the unrest spreads out from Serbia.
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of that. I saw the report and couldn't confirm anything like that. There's no such security guarantee.
Q Have we given any of the countries in the region a security -- unilateral security guarantee?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Joe, will Sandy Berger be coming out this afternoon, since there are some things that you cannot talk about and some things that you don't know, from this --
MR. LOCKHART: No, Sandy won't be coming out today.
Q Joe, on the budget, the plan that the Democrats actually embraced -- not what you described as, you know, a false Clinton proposal -- but the one that they embraced included more money for Social Security than the President has actually proposed. Does the White House support that type of plan?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm sorry, which plan are you referring to?
Q Apparently the plan that the Democrats actually embraced, the budget plan that they wanted would have included more money for Social Security than the President even proposed.
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think you're looking at two budget proposals that are on two different time frames. Ours is on the time frame of 15 years, and we think provides enough, locks away enough money to extend Social Security to 2055. The proposal put up as an alternative, or amendment, to the Republican proposal, was over the Republicans' 10-year time frame. And it's a little bit of apples and oranges.
Q But not really, because what the Democrats are saying is that they would provide more money in the early years than the White House would. Doesn't that -- and it's similar to what the Republicans are proposing. Doesn't that show that maybe the Republicans are scoring some points on this?
MR. LOCKHART: No. And I think -- part of the problem here is that this was less about budgets and fiscal responsibility and more about politics. You have a budget that the Republicans passed that even some of the their own Appropriations Committee Chairman don't take seriously -- say, you know, there's no way we can implement this. So this was about -- I think more about politics.
Now, granted, that might be an improvement over last year where we didn't get a budget resolution passed, but the President's -- I think the President's proposal takes the appropriate amount of the surplus to extend Social Security, extend Medicare. The Republican proposal does neither, does not guarantee or lock in money for Social Security, does nothing for Medicare as far as locking in.
MR. TOIV: The democratic alternative has those things, as well.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, and the Democratic alternative has those, but it was done on the basis of 10 years, rather than 15.
Q On the budget, Senator Dodd said in spite of what happened yesterday, he thinks there's room for compromise. The Republicans and Democrats are essentially talking about some of the same things.
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, we've come a long way. At this time last year we were debating a trillion dollar tax cut that wasn't paid for and leaving Social security to fend for itself. We're now discussing, as the President laid out, how we're going to -- what's the best way to save Social Security. We still have some ways to go, but we have made progress. That is right.
Q Joe, you said twice today that President Milosevic could -- would be held accountable for his actions and might face war crimes charges if he continued to commit atrocities. What is the United States prepared to do to back up that threat, to make it something more than simply an empty threat?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not singling out any one person, I'm just sending -- the message is simple, that this is something that we take seriously and the international community takes seriously. And those who are contemplating these type of activities should know that they will be held accountable.
Q But war crimes tribunals can only try people that they have in front of them in custody. What is the United States prepared to do --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not prepared to go into anything beyond the general statement that I've made.
Q When you keep calling on Milosevic to embrace a peaceful solution, does that mean he doesn't necessarily have to accept what was reached in France?
MR. LOCKHART: What he needs to do is accept certainly the framework that was talked about in France, which is self-government, autonomy in Kosovo and a credible implementation force that allows the Kosovo people to live free of repression.
Q But you are open to changing some of the conditions?
MR. LOCKHART: As Sandy Berger said here yesterday and others have said -- I mean, we can go through it again -- but as they said, if there is a change, a particular change that's acceptable to both sides, then that could move forward. But there is -- the overall conditions of self-government, autonomy, the main parts of that agreement is the framework that we're working with.
Q When you say, credible implementation force, you still mean NATO force.
MR. LOCKHART: Well that's -- the NATO force is the force that we've proposed, yes.
Q Wait a minute, I know it's the force that you proposed, I'm saying can you --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of any other force that could credibly implement this kind of -- implement this implementation.
Q When you say it would be a NATO force, you mean a NATO-led force. But is it possible that others could be added to that force, like Russians, for example?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into hypothetical -- I'm not going to get into a negotiating session here.
Q What is likely to happen if we do see something amounting to a full-scale offensive in the coming days?
MR. LOCKHART: That is a hypothetical that I can't fully answer here. But what you're going to see, unless Milosevic somehow finds a way to reach out for peace, is an ongoing air campaign.
Q Joe, the United States has Warthog planes that could go in today and start taking out some of its armor and start taking out some of the troops that are committing some of the atrocities that we're seeing in Kosovo, but we're not using them. Is the United States simply not willing to accept casualties to save Kosovars?
MR. LOCKHART: You very confidently sit there and tell us what we're doing and we're not doing. I'm telling you that the place to discuss operational detail, to the extent that it can be done, is at the Pentagon and not here.
Q In the President's broadcast, he squarely blamed the situation on President Milosevic. Is he seeking, or would he like to see an uprising or a coup d'etat?
MR. LOCKHART: We have long supported democratic change in Serbia, and we would support any change that led to a more open, democratic government.
Q Is that an explicit message that's being sent in that case?
MR. LOCKHART: It's been our policy for a long time.
Q Joe, before you leave, is there any White House reaction to this statement from the jury forewoman of the Ken Starr grand jury saying that if she could have voted, she would have voted to indict the President?
MR. LOCKHART: No, there's no White House reaction.
Q The week ahead?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Are we ready for that?
Q No, not yet.
Q There appears to be a stepped-up Chinese drive to join the WTO. I was wondering what the administration thinking is on China and the WTO?
MR. LOCKHART: This is an issue that Democratic and Republican administrations have been working on for 13 years. We've said for a long time that we would look for China entering the WTO on commercially viable terms that are in our national interest. As I've said from here before, China already enjoys much of the openness of the U.S. market without reciprocity. But we need a good deal. And that's what so many past administrations have worked on and we are continuing to work on. We want a good deal; we won't take anything short of a good deal.
Q Joe, anything from the White House in reference to the latest that's happening out of the New York with the police department there and the protests, the latest protests with mainstream protestors?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, not in particular. I know that there's some news of some judicial action that may be pending. Only to say that the Justice Department continues to work on this case and cases like this, and to repeat what the President has said about the steps we need to take to avoid these situations.
Q Joe, you said the U.S. would support any kind of change -- democratic government. You're saying the people there in that nation would be better off without Milosevic in charge?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's our view that people are always better off when they live in a nonauthoritarian democratic state that have things like a free press.
Q But you're talking about Milosevic, in particular?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, he is the authoritarian head of that particular government.
Q What's ahead in the week to come?
MR. LOCKHART: Thank you, Sam. The President will deliver his weekly radio address tomorrow.
Q Will that be on Kosovo?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Actually, I'm not sure whether he's going to record it or not; I'll try to get to you later today on that.
Q What's the topic?
MR. LOCKHART: I expect it to be on the situation in Kosovo.
Q If it's live, can we get television cameras in there?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll look into that. No public schedule for Monday. Tuesday, the President will hold an event at 2:00 p.m. on his plans to help extend the Social Security system. He will meet with the President-elect of Nigeria at 3:15 p.m. And he will address the Electronics Industry Alliance Dinner at 8:00 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott. Wednesday I have no schedule and the rest of the week is up in the air, so that's all I've got.
Q Do you still believe he'll stay in Washington? You suggested that that's what he would do, didn't you?
MR. LOCKHART: No. Someone asked me about next Tuesday, and I suggested that he wouldn't be participating outside of Washington, in the Social Security budget events, he'll be doing something here. I don't know about the rest of the week.
Q Will he stay in Washington as long as the bombing goes on?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know anything about a schedule beyond Tuesday -- not necessarily.
Q You spoke of the hope that there would be continued free press, that there could be a free press. Are you happy that we have a free press in the United States?
MR. LOCKHART: Very happy. Don't I look happy? (Laughter.)
Q Thank you.
END 1:43 P.M. EST