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US State Dept: Foley New Zealand briefing re:APEC

US State Dept: Foley New Zealand briefing re:APEC Ministerial

U.S. Department of State
James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman
Briefing, Auckland, New Zealand
September 8, 1999

MR FOLEY: Let me just say a few words. I know the focus a lot of you have is on the possibility of a meeting at some level - or ministerial meeting--tomorrow on Indonesia, which has been widely reported in the press. This is being explored by Foreign Minister McKinnon of New Zealand, and so I'd refer you to the New Zealand authorities for a progress report on how that is going, putting together that meeting. Our understanding is that discussions continue and that such a meeting is possible tomorrow, but I don't have anything definitive on that. But I will get back to you later when I do get word because, obviously, we'll be in some position to comment on it if indeed this meeting is to take place tomorrow.

QUESTION: Jim, what's the U.S. position on the meeting.

MR FOLEY: We think it could be useful. I think certainly the fact that you have a major gathering here of regional leaders makes such a discussion entirely normal. In fact, it would be probably inconceivable for leaders to gather here and not discuss a deteriorating situation on the doorstep of the region. So, we think it would be useful. But, again, Foreign Minister McKinnon is working to put together the participation in the meeting, and it would be premature to say anything more on that until the New Zealand authorities are in a position to announce something.

QUESTION: I don't want to parse words, but the second time you said this you just said it "would" be useful. The first time you said we think it "could" be useful. Which--?

MR FOLEY: You want me to say "should?" (Laughter)

QUESTION: No, I want you to say whether you think such a meeting "could" be useful, because a lot of things "could" be useful but not everything "would" be useful.

MR FOLEY: We think it could be useful.

QUESTION: So it's not "would," it's "could?"

MR. FOLEY: Well, "would," I think, to me sounds more like it's announced.

QUESTION: Will the U.S. agree?

MR. FOLEY: If there's a meeting, we'll be there.

QUESTION: You also said that even though McKinnon is dealing with the meeting, that discussions are taking place, does that -

MR FOLEY: Yes, I believe he is in consultation with other governments.

QUESTION: You mean discussions to set up the meeting?


QUESTION: Does the Secretary have any bilateral meetings today?

MR FOLEY: Yes, she's seeing the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Shipley. That's a private meeting. And she's also going to have a meeting with Foreign Minister McKinnon this evening, and obviously that'll be an opportunity to review the bidding on a number of issues, bilateral, in advance of the APEC meeting. But, additionally, no doubt they'll be talking about East Timor. And if there's going to be some sort of ministerial meeting, obviously it's not an APEC meeting as such, but on East Timor. They'll be discussing that this evening. Let me add, as I said, if we have information later this afternoon, I'll get back to you. And, moreover, tomorrow most of the day is devoted to the APEC meetings as such. But she will have bilateral meetings or encounters or pull-asides, I don't know if you've seen the schedule yet, but obviously the day kicks off with her breakfast with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang. We'll be in a position--don't hold me to a particular moment, because they then go right into the APEC Ministerial--but we'll be in a position to brief you on that at some point tomorrow morning.

QUESTION: We'll certainly need, because of the time difference, for it to be effective it will have to be almost immediately after the meeting for a meeting.

MR FOLEY: They finish at around 9:00 AM and that's what, around 5:00 PM back home? Yes, you're right. OK. I'll do my best.

QUESTION: The Brits are talking about a Cook/Albright bilat today.

MR FOLEY: I'll have the check on that.

QUESTION: Has she had any phone calls? Has she called Ali Alatas or anyone else?

MR FOLEY: She spoke to him yesterday. As you know, she told you that on the airplane. Let me check on phone calls.

QUESTION: When are they going to see each other?

MR FOLEY: Who, Cook?

QUESTION: No, Alatas and Albright.

MR FOLEY: I don't think he's coming. She spoke to him yesterday, I don't know if she's spoken to him today.

QUESTION: Is that unexpected? Has he canceled?

MR FOLEY: I think we've known for several days he wasn't coming. I'd have to check when we knew.

QUESTION: Is Habibie still coming?

MR FOLEY: I don't know. You'd have to ask the Indonesians.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion about possibly taking within APEC, which is why this was a relevant question earlier, in APEC taking --

MR FOLEY: It wasn't a relevant question to a top economic official.

QUESTION: Yes, it was actually, because he's in a position where he would be (inaudible) or looking into this idea. Apparently, it has been raised in some circles that APEC as a group should take some kind of action, might want to take some kind of punitive action against Indonesia should the situation deteriorate- -

MR FOLEY: I have not heard that.


MR. FOLEY: I've not heard that.

QUESTION: Not heard that from within the U.S.?

MR FOLEY: Or anywhere else.

QUESTION: How far are we away from what U.S. officials, including the Secretary of State, has said is the eventuality that if Indonesia doesn't handle the spiraling situation on East Timor themselves then the international community will have to step in. How far away are we from the international stepping in?

MR FOLEY: I'm not going to give you a timeline, but the Secretary made clear that time is awasting, that the situation is critical, and that the Indonesian authorities have to reverse the situation there rapidly. They have indicated that they recognize that this is their responsibility. President Habibie has declared a military emergency. Therefore, General Wiranto has martial law powers. We believe it is within the power, therefore, for the Indonesian authorities to rapidly restore order, law and order, and security and protection for all the people of East Timor. But you're absolutely right that Secretary Albright noted that if the Indonesian authorities are incapable or are unwilling to restore order, then they ought to let the international community address the situation. But, they declared this military emergency yesterday, I believe, and so we're watching developments very closely. But the other point I think that's relevant, though, is that the Security Council has sent a mission to Jakarta. I believe they're arriving this evening. I don't know if they're having meetings tonight or tomorrow, but obviously their report back to the Security Council's going to be another important element in the international community's determination.

QUESTION: The Australians are making all kinds of real-life contingency plans. Are the Americans doing likewise? Or have the Australians asked you to join them in any way?

MR FOLEY: That's premature. That's premature. We've been in contact with the U.N., including at the level of Secretary-General Annan. We're in close consultation with members of the Security Council, with regional countries, including Australia, and we've been discussing the situation in East Timor. We have stated that, as I said, that this is the responsibility of the Indonesians, and they must exercise their responsibilities but that the international community may need to act in East Timor if the Indonesians do not fulfill their responsibilities. But, it's premature to speculate at this point what that might mean, because we believe it's, as I said, within the power of the Indonesians to restore order quickly.

QUESTION: Is Indonesian consent absolutely vital to that?

MR FOLEY: I think that's a premature question..

So, as I said, I'll let you know if we have news on the meeting tomorrow.

QUESTION: Earlier the Secretary was saying that the Indonesians had to let them in. It isn't quite the same - The way you formulate it now is that the international community may have act. It's not quite the same as the Indonesian authorities may have to let the international community act.

MR FOLEY: I don't think it pre-judges that question. We want the Indonesians to fulfill their responsibilities. They've declared a military emergency. They've declared to the world that they're going to restore order in short order, and that's what we expect to see happen.


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