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Washington Journal: U.S. Faces Complex Foreign Policy Challenge

  • Julie Moffett

Washington, 22 January 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the United States this year is facing three major foreign policy challenges: the global economy; international security and promoting democracy around the world.

Albright made the comment Thursday during a speech at the Center for National Policy in Washington.

Albright said in order to help further globalization of the world's economy, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency For International Development will launch a "social safety net initiative" to help people survive and recover from economic disasters.

Albright said the U.S. will work on getting out the message that democratic institutions and practices, including the rule of law, are the "best insurance against financial storms."

Albright also said the U.S. intends to press ahead with plans for reform in international financial institutions. She added the U.S. will emphasize the need for free trade and liberal investment at the upcoming World Trade Organization summit scheduled for this fall.

In terms of preserving international security, Albright said the U.S. must work hard to resolve several regional crises

First, Albright said the U.S. must focus on Kosovo and help bring peace to the region.

Albright explained: "The massacre in Racak this past weekend has brought tensions to a razor's edge. Serbian President [Slobodan] Milosevic has invited world condemnation by trying to expel the director of the Kosovo Verification Mission, Ambassador Bill Walker, for doing his job with frankness and courage. And he is blocking efforts by the International War Crimes Tribunal to investigate the latest atrocity."

Albright insisted that Milosevic must live up to his agreements with the West and stressed that the option of NATO airstrikes is still open if he does not comply. She said it is essential that the U.S. must be prepared, if necessary, "to use force, because force is the only language (Milosevic) appears to understand."

Albright also said the U.S. will continue to "work on several levels" to contain Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and developing steps to "hasten his departure from power." She said the U.S. will maintain its insistence on economic sanctions against Iraq, but will support lifting restrictions on the amount of oil that may be sold to meet humanitarian needs.

She added that Washington is consulting with U.N. Security Council members concerning future weapons inspection and monitoring arrangements, and added that the U.S. will continue to strictly enforce the no-fly zones in Iraq.

Albright said: "We stand ready to respond again if Saddam Hussein threatens his neighbors, reconstitutes his weapons of mass destruction or moves north against the Iraqi Kurds."

Albright also announced that the U.S. has picked veteran diplomat Frank Ricciardone to help coordinate Iraqi opposition to the Baghdad regime. She said Ricciardone, who has been deputy chief of mission in Ankara, Turkey -- an important listening post for events in the Kurdish-controlled north of Iraq -- will have the new position of Special Representative for Transition in Iraq. His appointment follows an announcement earlier this week by the White House which sent Congress the names of seven Iraqi opposition groups deemed eligible for U.S. assistance under the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act.

Albright said Ricciardone is to be assisted by a team that will include both a military and a political adviser. She added that with the aid of Ricciardone and his team, the U.S. will try to help the Iraqi people re-integrate themselves into the world community by getting rid of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Albright said: "Our policy toward Iraq is based on hard experience and sound principle. We seek compliance not confrontation. But we cannot accept a consensus reflecting weakness or impatience that would give Saddam the opportunity to rebuild his military and reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction, a chance he would surely seize. We must and will persist in thwarting Iraq's potential for aggression."

Other important security challenges for the U.S. this year, said Albright, are non-proliferation, arms control and the prevention of destabilizing transfer of arms and nuclear technology.

On the third challenge, Albright said that the U.S. will focus on helping to build democratic institutions around the world and encouraging free and fair elections.

For example, she said the U.S. will be paying special attention to see if scheduled elections in Ukraine are free and whether Ukraine's leaders will "deal seriously" with the need for economic reform and a commitment to the rule of law.

Albright said she is encouraged by the fact that for the first time ever, electoral democracy is the world's predominant form of government. She added that despite some people's claim that the global democratic momentum has stalled, democratic governments and institutions are still being formed and nurtured in every corner of the globe.

Albright explained: "Certainly many democracies are fragile and their people only partly free. And in too many countries, there are leaders who talk the talk of democracy but then turn around and rig elections, repress dissents and shackle the press.

"As our own history reflects, building democracy is hard. Far more than elections are required. Free and responsive institutions must be established, a culture of law must be created. Habits of croynism and privilege must be challenged, and public expectations and improvements in the quality of life must be addressed."

Albright said that by sharing U.S. knowledge and experience in building democratic systems, Americans can help other nations in transition develop durable and strong democratic traditions.