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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 6, 1999
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                             JOE LOCKHART

The Briefing Room

1:19 P.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: Let me start with a brief update and announcement. As you all know, the air campaign continues. The good weather has made this a productive and aggressive night of strikes for the Alliance, including a wide range of militarily significant targets that are key components to sustain Milosevic's repressive forces. That includes troops in the field, air defense sites, airfields, police headquarters, and petroleum production and storage facilities. In addition, the Theodore Roosevelt has arrived in the Mediterranean and will participate in future operations.

On the humanitarian front, the U.S. military will begin to prepare Guantanamo Bay Naval Base as a safe haven to receive up to 20,000 Kosovar refugees. This action is intended to, in combination with our NATO allies, to assist frontline states, such as Macedonia, in dealing with tremendous burdens they have incurred in recent days with the flow of refugees out of Kosovo. This facility will be temporary, as we fully intend the Kosovars will ultimately return to their homes, and the operation will only transport people voluntarily. It will take several days before Guantanamo will be able to begin accepting Kosovar refugees.

In add, as to Kosovars who may already be in the United States but lack valid immigration status, the Attorney General has decided to extend the current eligibility requirements for temporary protected status for this group. It is currently the case that Kosovars who were in the U.S. prior to June 1998 are eligible for TPS. A new eligibility date will be the date in April in which the Attorney General publishes her determination in the Federal Register. We expect that to be sometime this week. TPS will also be extended for at least a year for those Kosovars who already have such status.

The bombing -- the President has made clear what we expect from Milosevic to end the bombing -- withdraw from Kosovo of his military police and paramilitary forces; a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo; accepting the deployment of an international security force; and making it possible for refugees to return. A near cease-fire is clearly not sufficient to meet these conditions. NATO operations will continue until either Milosevic accepts these conditions, or we will seriously diminish his capacity to maintain his grip and impose his control on Kosovo.


Q Is it clear that Milosevic was offering a permanent cease-fire, or simply for the Orthodox Easter holiday?

MR. LOCKHART: I can't tell you with any great clarity, because our information is coming -- we are getting the information the same way you are getting the information, from Serb television and from officials in the Yugoslav government. So it's not completely clear whether this is just for the Orthodox Easter, or it's permanent. Either way, it's not sufficient.

Q Joe, as you say, the Serb ministers are telling our reporters and others in Belgrade that they're willing to engage in a cease-fire, talk a political deal with the United States or NATO, see the return of refugees. What more do we want Milosevic to do?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, let me tell you one other thing, and I'll tell you something that these ministers are telling your people. They're telling your people that they have had nothing to do with the refugees, with the hundreds of thousands of people who have been forced to leave their homes, seen their villages burned, their houses destroyed, seen their relatives brutally murdered. So let's start from the position that we don't necessarily take them at face value for what they say.

We have made very clear what the conditions are. I'll repeat them again: withdrawal from Kosovo of his military, police and paramilitary forces; accepting the deployment of an international security force and making it possible for the refugees to return, all as we move forward on a political framework for Kosovo on the basis of and on the essence of the accords that were signed last month.

Q Have you seen any sign on the ground that they are pulling back forces?

MR. LOCKHART: I have seen no such sign.

Q How is the President going to do this --

Q Do you think he's trying to split NATO with this offer?

MR. LOCKHART: I think if that is his intention, he will be sorely disappointed. It is my understanding -- I will let the Secretary General speak and make his own statement -- but we believe that -- the NATO allies believe this is not sufficient to end the campaign, and there was unity and support for moving forward until we've met our military objectives.

Q You don't think that any of the other NATO countries, European countries, especially, would want to try to talk with him at this point about --

MR. LOCKHART: I think if you look at the statement that the foreign ministers put out over the weekend, they clearly spelled out what Milosevic needs to do. Any statements they've made today, which, again, are only statements, are clearly not sufficient to meet those requirements.

Q How is NATO going to secure the objectives that you've just laid out, including a return of the Kosovars that have been expelled, without using a ground force at some point, you could do something, even if it's just to guard against a reentry of Milosevic's troops?

MR. LOCKHART: We've always said that in the aftermath of a political settlement and in a permissive environment, NATO ground troops would be there to implement this political settlement.

Q My question is, I gave you an out at the last phrase -- let me take out that last phrase -- (laughter) -- how is the President going to do it if the bombing campaign --

MR. LOCKHART: Can we roll yesterday's tape for a minute?

Q No, because the question is still there. There is rising support, according to the polls, from the American public for the use of ground forces.

MR. LOCKHART: Correct.

Q In other countries, it's already there. How are you going to do it if the air campaign doesn't succeed?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me just say this: We are in the second week of an air campaign that we are confident will succeed. We are going to continue to hit him methodically and relentlessly and diminish his grip over Kosovo, and we believe in the end we will succeed.

Q So if you won't take them at their word with what they say now, why would you take them at their word if, say, a week or two weeks from now they say they will agree to NATO's demands? Can you trust them, period?

MR. LOCKHART: Again, this is not an issue of trust, it's an issue of seeing what happens on the ground. And this will get serious when we see troops being withdrawn and meeting the conditions that have been laid out.

Q So still no ground troops in a non-permissive --

MR. LOCKHART: That is correct.

Q What exactly do you have to see to say, okay, we accept that and we'll stop or pause?

MR. LOCKHART: We think he knows what he needs to do and he knows what we need to see, which is --

Q Can you reiterate it from this microphone?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me reiterate it again. We need to see withdrawal of his military police and paramilitary forces from Kosovo. We need to see an acceptance of for the deployment of an international security force, which we believe will make it possible for refugees to return. And then all of which -- and we need an agreement for a multiethnic democratic Kosovo.

Q Part of the Rambouillet agreement allowed them to keep 5,000 troops on the ground --

MR. LOCKHART: Part of the agreement was providing for some border troops. I'm not going to get into negotiating here any provisions --

Q Well, he's saying withdraw 100 percent --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm talking about withdrawing -- without getting into any kind of negotiation from here, I'm talking about withdrawing the troops that have been wreaking the havoc and brutal atrocities on Kosovo over the last several weeks.

Q So he could keep some there?

MR. LOCKHART: Again, we say we want him to withdraw his forces. I'm not going to get into what he can or can't do around the border.

Q The President today, and the Secretary of State, and now you have said an international security force. Is this new language? Do we still mean NATO-led peacekeepers?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, we still mean a NATO-led force.

Q Joe, can you take this at least as a sign of progress that he's maybe willing somewhere along the line to negotiate? And why do you think he did this -- is he starting to hurt?

MR. LOCKHART: I have no idea. It would be impossible for me to get inside his thinking. It is certainly a possibility that the effect of the two-week-old air campaign has some impact on his thinking, but it is not sufficient -- you don't have a deal until you have a deal. So I'm not going to try to look at this as some sort of progress.

Q Joe, this just in. The Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister has told one of our people that the cease-fire is permanent. Now, what does that mean in terms of what you --

MR. LOCKHART: I think I answered, I'll try again, which is whether it's permanent or temporary, it's not sufficient. It does not meat the demands that the President, the Secretary of State, and NATO have laid down for bringing an end to these hostilities.

Q Would a cease-fire change NATO-U.S. strategy in any way, affect any element of the current --

MR. LOCKHART: I think the military campaign will continue.

Q Joe, a question on refugees. You said yesterday, I certainly don't think people will be moved against their will. We saw a video last night of refugees being pulled at gunpoint onto airplanes.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I can only speak for our operation, and it is our intention to not move anyone unless it is a voluntary act.

Q So have you then spoken with refugees and told them they're going to Guantanamo Bay?

MR. LOCKHART: That process will start very soon, but it has not started.

Q Joe, why is there no talk about punishment of Milosevic and the troops that have committed the atrocities? Why is that not a part of the --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think there has been talk. I think the Secretary of State spoke today. We have said all along that there are clearly crimes against humanity going on now, and we will do what we can to provide evidence, using all of our national technical means, to the appropriate authorities and the War Crimes Tribunal.

Q But if the five points are met, Milosevic and his top advisors and generals and so forth still stay in power.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that if you look at what I've just said -- and if there is evidence of war crimes, that they will be forwarded to the War Crimes Tribunal. I mean, we certainly hold him politically responsible for this, and evidence of war crimes, no matter who has committed them, will go forward.

Q Joe, wait. Is the expulsion of these hundreds of thousands of people not a war crime? You're saying war crimes meaning only evidence of actual massacres that you can --

MR. LOCKHART: No. We hold him -- again, specifically on war crimes, that is something at the War Crimes Tribunal. I am not qualified to tell you and to pass judgment. We certainly believe the ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity, and the evidence that we have of that and other potential war crimes will be forwarded to the War Crimes Tribunal.

Q In rejecting the cease-fire, did the President talk to any other NATO leaders, talk to the Secretary General?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, the President has been in touch with his National Security Advisor. It's my understanding that the Secretary of State is in contact with her counterparts, NATO foreign ministers, and that the Secretary General, for his part, is in touch with the 19 nations in NATO.

Q So there was a quick consultation before everybody agreed to reject it?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, it's clearly -- we have discussed it with our allies, but clearly if you look at the conditions, this isn't sufficient. So this didn't take much deliberation.

Q Joe, a couple of weeks ago, the biggest criticism of the President seemed to be that he didn't have an exit strategy. Now, you're hearing more and more that he doesn't have an entry strategy for ground troops. You've got Congress, you've got the press, even the polls are saying that there's a growing consensus for ground troops. My question is, is it possible that President Clinton is waiting for this consensus to reach critical mass before he then goes for ground troops, saying that this is the way the public has moved him and he's not out there alone?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I think the President has made his, as he told you yesterday, made the choice on the best option available that remains the best option available. He has no intention of introducing ground troops, and he's made his decision with the best advice he has from his military and foreign policy advisors.

Q Just to go back to this business -- the Secretary of Defense yesterday -- I think you were there -- laid out the three objectives that he said the Joint Chiefs had signed onto, to use air power alone, as the best of a bad bunch of options, to accomplish. And they were very similar to the objectives the President listed in the press room here when he announced the bombing campaign.

Those objectives did not include forcing Milosevic to remove all of his forces from Kosovo and to repatriate under secure conditions all of the people who have been expelled. Is it, a, safe to assume now that the objectives have changed to be what you've just read -- I remember what you read, so you don't need to read it again -- (laughter) --


Q And, b, if Secretary Cohen said yesterday that's what the Joint Chiefs signed on to for air power alone, have the Joint Chiefs signed onto these objectives as ones that could be accomplished through air power alone?

MR. LOCKHART: It's my understanding that the Joint Chiefs and the military leadership fully support continuing the campaign toward reaching these military objectives.

Q Can they do it with air power alone? These are changed objectives.

MR. LOCKHART: If you look at what the objectives were at the beginning and what they were now, they were moving forward to allow people to live free of repression, with autonomy, self-government. That is the essence of what was the Rambouillet agreement; that was before, that is now.

Q Has the President and his national security team considered at what point they lose the support of world opinion if a cease-fire is put in place by the other side and stays for a while, but NATO continues the bombing?

MR. LOCKHART: I think those people around the world who have watched this, who have seen the horrors and the atrocities of people being forced from their homes, people with stories that are absolutely devastating about what's happened to their villages, their families, they understand who is responsible for this, they understand how this can be brought to an end, and I think if anything, as time moves on, world opinion will harden.

Q But will they support continued military action, bombing in the face of a cease-fire which runs over a period of time?

MR. LOCKHART: We will continue this military campaign until it's reached its objectives. And we believe the world community, as they continue to learn more about the atrocities that have been committed by this government, will continue to support this --

Q Even if we're still bombing?

MR. LOCKHART: Even if.

Q Joe, the President, has he been talking to congressional leaders? I know Congress has recessed; has he been talking directly with top congressional leaders?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know if he's spoken to any particular members. We have a pretty systematic consultation mechanism here where the national security team has been talking to members and their staff on a pretty regular or almost daily basis. I know that the President is looking forward to members of Congress coming back next week and sitting down and talking to them and bringing them up to date on what the situation on the ground is.

Q Would these presumable diplomatic overtures or whatever you want to call them come from Yugoslavia? Is the President considering talking today to Tony Blair and some of his close --

MR. LOCKHART: If the President has any calls added to his schedule, we'll let you know.

Q Joe, with Milosevic charging NATO with what he termed "criminal activity," former Congresswoman Bentley of Maryland, who is a Serbian American, has written the President offering to go to try to obtain release of our three soldiers. Will the President respond to her letter? And I have one follow-up.

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of that initiative, so I can't give you a response.

Q Will you check into it?


Q Joe, does the White House have any reaction to the London Times and Berliner Zeitung reports that Germany's federal criminal agency, EuroPol, and Swedish police are all investigating numerous reports of major drug money going to the KLA?

MR. LOCKHART: Again, I have not seen that report.

Q Joe, may I please follow up my question, please?

Q Joe, will the United States view a political deal negotiated between Milosevic and Ibrahim Rugova as a valid deal between the Kosovars and the Serbs?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we certainly -- we're not going to consider anything valid when it comes to that matter until we've -- as we've said, now, for several days -- until we've had a chance to speak independently to Mr. Rugova, to understand the circumstances by which, that he is in -- he and his family are in, and what the situation on the ground is. We have not been able to do that, and I don't think we'll take a view on the validity of anything that comes out of Belgrade until we've had the ability to do that.

Q Joe, one of the reasons that you didn't want this conflict to spread is because, if there were mass amounts of refugees, it would destabilize the region. And now that there are, given the efforts that you're making to airlift some of them out and deal with the rest of them on the ground, do you feel that you can handle the refugee problem indefinitely, and prevent it from becoming a destabilizing force?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we are going -- the U.S. government and the NATO allies are doing everything we can to deal with these refugees. These are massive amounts; it is a refugee crisis that may be unprecedented in scale in Europe. But you have the full weight of the United States government, the full weight of the NATO countries' governments in dealing with this.

The announcement on Guantanamo Bay is one step. There are a host of other countries who will be willing to take refugees. In Albania, there are 8,000 NATO troops on the way to deal with this crisis.

Q What I'm asking is, is there any sense of urgency to getting them back into Kosovo, or do you feel that they won't provide a threat of destabilizing the region if they stay there indefinitely?

MR. LOCKHART: I think there's a sense of urgency in dealing with the humanitarian issues having to do with the basic care and feeding of the group. There is an urgency with the air campaign to change the situation on the ground.

Q On the question of a permissive environment, if we could just revisit that. Is it still your view that there must be some agreement by Milosevic to allow the refugees to come back with NATO's peacekeeping force in order for American or NATO troops to go back into Kosovo?

MR. LOCKHART: There has to be some agreement from the two sides to allow a NATO force ground troops to go in.

Q The two sides meaning NATO and Serbia?


Q Now, some other officials have suggested that a permissive environment might be defined in a different way, might be defined as Serb forces too weak to put up any resistance.

MR. LOCKHART: I have not defined it that way and I think we went around and around on this yesterday.

Q You're saying clearly that weakened Serb forces unable to resist would not be a permissive environment for the purposes of the administration?

MR. LOCKHART: I have said that and I continue to say that.

Q Given the scale of the atrocities, it seems unrealistic to expect the Kosovars to go back to a country that is still ruled in any way, shape or form by Mr. Milosevic. Isn't it an implied precondition of their return, if not a stated one, implied precondition, that Milosevic be removed from power before they can reasonably expect to come back?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I think we've laid out our conditions clearly and they are what they are, and they mean what they mean. And I wouldn't take them to mean anything beyond, more or less.

Q You would ask those people to go back to a place in which Milosevic was still in charge and still had some forces, however weakened, on the ground?

MR. LOCKHART: We would ask -- we think that the best way to reach our military objective to provide for a stable and secure environment, and one that provides self-government in a multiethnic setting, is to continue on with the air campaign we're doing.

Q Joe, may I follow up, please, because that was my question. You said you would hold him politically responsible; what does that mean in real life? Hitler -- if this were the situation with Nazi Germany and they were defeated and Hitler were still alive, would you allow Hitler to go back to power?

MR. LOCKHART: There is a limit to the hypotheticals I'm going to address here, and we've just reached it. So we've got other business.

Q Joe, on China --

MR. LOCKHART: Sure. An easy one, China. (Laughter.)

Q --said that there was sufficient movement -- he said there was sufficient movement to reach a deal with the --

MR. LOCKHART: What paper did he talk to?

Q -- and that it was held up largely -- he said it was held up entirely, actually, by political pressure which he ascribed to Congress. Can you --

MR. LOCKHART: I'd agree with some of what he said and I'd disagree with some of what he said.

Q Which part?

MR. LOCKHART: We have made some progress as far as reaching market-opening agreements on a commercially-viable basis with China. But as in all trade negotiations and in all negotiations, you don't have an agreement until everything is agreed on. There remain substantial gaps on issues like agriculture services, some distribution issues, and we're going to continue to work very hard to make sure we have a deal that's in America's best interest.

Q Is it true that what's holding the administration up is pressure from Congress?

MR. LOCKHART: No. What's holding us up is pressure to get a good deal. And we're not going to allow the calendar or anything else dictate the final position we'll take. We want a good deal on commercially viable terms, and we're going to continue to negotiate until we get one.

Q Joe, can you tell us a little bit about Guantanamo -- can you tell us a little bit about the selection of Guantanamo, why it was selected over other places, and whether the selection of Guantanamo was in part due to the fact that the refugees could not apply for political asylum from Guantanamo?

MR. LOCKHART: It's certainly correct, and we have said that this is a temporary arrangement, because the ultimate policy goal is for these people to return to their homes. But Guantanamo largely was chosen because of its ability to quickly house a large number of those seeking safe haven. I'll leave it to the Pentagon to discuss how they're going to wrap up this operation. But it's my understanding that they can take up to 20,000, and that will be done, they will start that process in a number of days.

Q What about that issue of applying for political asylum? If they were on U.S. mainland or on Guam, they could have the rights to do that. They wouldn't have the rights to do that in Guantanamo.

MR. LOCKHART: Again, we are looking at this as a temporary refuge or safe haven for people who have been displaced from their homes, and it's being done for humanitarian reasons. Guantanamo offers the facilities to do this quickly.

Q The Cuban government has just said that the U.S. needs the permission of Cuba to use the Guantanamo base. Have you asked them or have you spoke to them?

MR. LOCKHART: We have not asked permission. We did advise the Cuban government that a decision had been made on Guantanamo. We will be providing them with more details as we move forward. But --

Q Can you clarify, also, though, Joe -- again, you said yesterday that people will not be moved against their will. What if refugees say they don't want to go to Guantanamo?

MR. LOCKHART: Then they won't go.

Q Where will they go?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know.

Q Is there a fallback position -- is Guam the fallback if these refugees say they won't go to Cuba?

MR. LOCKHART: No. If they have views of resettling someplace else, that will have to be worked out by those who are managing this operation on the ground. But I can tell you that our commitment is not to temporarily resettle anyone against their will.

Q What was the President's reaction when he heard the reports of the civilian casualties in Yugoslavia?

MR. LOCKHART: I didn't talk to him until after he had his briefing, so I did not get a personal reaction from him. I can tell you, as I think the NATO spokespeople in Brussels did this morning, we have taken great care to minimize the risk to civilians and collateral damage. That risk can never be completely eliminated. And if there has been, which I can't confirm, civilian casualties, that is, as they said this morning, something that we regret.

But let me reiterate why this campaign is ongoing. This campaign is ongoing because of the brutal and authoritarian regime that President Milosevic heads and, as you watch the pictures every night, you'll understand what it's like for hundreds of thousands of people who have been driven from their home and the unseen that we don't see who have been brutally murdered.

Q Joe, the improving weather has allowed the Pentagon to get a much better sense of the imagery from above. What is the President being told about how far along the NATO strikes are for meeting their goals --

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into any kind of assessment of what the Pentagon said, only to say that I believe once I'm done here, they will have a briefing today at the Pentagon to give you all a sense of where we are.

Q There are reports out of Macedonia that the Macedonian government is not fully cooperating with the relief agencies in terms of getting aid to these refugees. Do we believe that they're fully cooperating right now?

MR. LOCKHART: I have seen some of those reports. I have not been given any information that backs that up. The President has spoken to the Macedonian leaders, and through our efforts, we know that they are completely overloaded at this point. That is one of the reasons why we are taking the steps we are, to try to relocate refugees. And we will continue to work with them to make sure that we can help as many people as quickly as we can.

Q Joe, on East Timor, does the U.S. have anything on the massacres, slaughter, killings overnight there?

MR. LOCKHART: The U.S. remains concerned about the violence in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia, including reports of civilian deaths in East Timor. However, we strongly reject as a means of resolving the situation -- we reject violence as a means of resolving the situation in East Timor, and urge all the parties there to continue working towards a peaceful solution.

Q Does the U.S. support independence for East Timor?


Q Does the U.S. support independence for East Timor?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.

Q Joe, the Media Research Center reports that Mrs. Clinton's African trip is her 58th trip for her abroad. One of our listeners wonders, what is the estimated cost of this latest trip approved by the President, and how precisely is this cost-effective? And is the President still receiving the pastoral counseling that was announced last fall?

MR. LOCKHART: Whew, connect those two in an answer. (Laughter.) I have no way of estimating the cost, only to say that it is a cost that's well worth it. The First Lady is an outstanding ambassador for the United States, an outstanding ambassador for our values -- the values of democracy, free speech, and the values that we all share here.

Q Who's paying for this?

MR. LOCKHART: Who's paying for the trips?

Q The State Department.

MR. LOCKHART: The State Department pays for foreign trips, whether it be the President or the First Lady.

Q What about the second question?

Q Joe, there's a difference between the State Department and --

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, I'm sorry. Oh, on the -- I will refer you to my previous 73 answers to questions on pastoral counseling, which is it's not something I'm going to be discussing from here.

Q Joe, is there a difference between the State Department and the taxpayers?

MR. LOCKHART: No. (Laughter.) It just sounded a lot better if I said State Department. (Laughter.)

Q What the State Department does with the taxpayers' money is your concern, isn't it, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: Still hasn't come out of my mouth. (Laughter.)

Q The issue of pastoral counseling may be appropriate, particularly since the President, in his interview with CBS the other night, suggested that he thinks what happened to him was something that others did, his political opponents did, and he's not -- what was the word he used, Bill? Not ashamed of it or -- not a badge of shame.

MR. LOCKHART: That's a crude shorthanding of what he said, and I'm not either willing to review that subject or the subject that Lester raised.

Q Joe, but The Washington Times and The Washington Post rarely, if ever, agree editorially, but they both agree strongly that his statement, "I'm not ashamed of impeachment," was itself shameless.

Q What is your reaction to that?

MR. LOCKHART: I'll cancel the subscription to the one of them I already subscribe to. (Laughter.)

Let's go.

Q Which one?

MR. LOCKHART: I'll let the Einsteins in this room figure that out. (Laughter.)

Q On another unrelated subject. What do you guys think the chances are of the hate crimes legislation passing this time around, since it died in committee last year? Do you think it's a lot better? Or still not that good?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think, unfortunately, when you have incidents like we've had in our country over the last year, it sometimes tends to galvanize public interest and support for something like this. So I think we believe as we go through this session there is support for extending and expanding hate crimes legislation, and we hope the Congress can get this done before they go home this year.

Q So it's an uphill fight still, or not?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think, again, as you can focus attention on issues like this, on the importance and just how many of these crimes have happened that mostly go unreported, I think it's hard to build a case why this just isn't common sense legislation.

Q Joe, can you tell us in advance of the Chinese Premier's visit, will the President or his national security staff get an update from the Justice Department on the status of the campaign finance investigation?

MR. LOCKHART: I can't tell you what the Justice Department will brief them on. I know that the national security team has had briefings in the past; I don't know how and when those are updated.

Q Will you find out if he'll get one in connection with the Chinese Premier? The President complained last year he wasn't getting enough information.

MR. LOCKHART: I'll look into it. I can't commit to being able to provide details of any such briefings.

Q What's Philadelphia?

MR. LOCKHART: It's health care, right -- patients' bill of rights, making the case for why, even though we fell somewhat short last year on the fundamental elements of patients' bill of rights, that this year we have a new Congress that is hopefully in a new frame of mind.

Q Joe, is the cost of the crisis in Kosovo in any way going to interfere with the President's domestic priorities?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't think so. I think we -- there is unanticipated spending each year that will be dealt with. I'm not precisely sure -- when Congress comes back, I'm sure there will discussions about that. But I don't see this as something that interferes with any domestic or military or foreign priority.

Q Do you intend to fund that as an emergency?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't intend to speak to that, at least up until Congress comes back and there's a chance for that to be discussed.

Q Joe, The New York Times reports -- Williams was given four to 12 years after he had sex with at least 48 young women, girls in the area, infecting 13 of them with HIV. Does he regard this as a hate crime, Joe, or not?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the details of the case.

Q You don't know the details of this case?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the details of the case, so I don't know what he regards as --

Q Do you have any response to criticism from the French and Finnish governments about the airlift out of Macedonia, that it's going to take too much pressure off of efforts to resettle the refugees?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that's one of the reasons that we have strongly made the case that this is a temporary measure. There is nothing we want to do that moves us in the wrong direction, away from resettling. But there is a humanitarian crisis that is right in front of our eyes right now that we have to deal with, particularly in Macedonia. This we believe is the proper way to deal with the immediate problem.

Q Can you confirm reports that -- approached by Kosovo wanting to participate in an event -- international ground troop operation?

MR. LOCKHART: I cannot confirm those reports. I have not heard those reports.

Q Can you --

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to answer a hypothetical.

Q What kind of information are you going to provide to the Cuban government about Guantanamo Base and who is going to provide it, the State Department or the Pentagon?

MR. LOCKHART: My guess is that is something that would be better put at the Pentagon.

Thank you.

END 1:56 P.M. EDT