U.S.State Department Daily Briefing – May 23
Statements – Europe – South Asia – Sierra Leone – Lebanon – Taiwan – North Korea – Central Asia – Missile Defence – Fiji – Cuba – Department – Libya – Haiti – Peru - Zimbabwe
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Briefer: Philip Reeker , Acting Spokesman
STATEMENTS 1-2 Special Session of UN General Assembly / Background briefing on defense export controls
EUROPE 2 NATO expansion / ABM Treaty
SOUTH ASIA 2-3 Travels by Secretary Pickering
SIERRA LEONE 3 Identities of bodies 4 Hostage situation / Possible Libyan assistance / Secretary's calls to world leaders
LEBANON 5-6 UN Interim Force / Hizballah and Israeli withdrawal / Implementation of UN Security Council resolutions
TAIWAN 7-8 Inauguration of President Chen Shui-bian / Reports PRC easing approach toward Taiwan / One China issue
NORTH KOREA 9-10 Second Kumchang-Ni access visit / U.S.-DPRK bilateral talks in Rome
CENTRAL ASIA 10-11 Trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline
MISSILE DEFENSE 11 Remarks by Presidential Candidate George W. Bush on ABM Treaty
FIJI 11-12 Current situation / Fiji Military / Security situation for U.S. citizens / Meeting of the GCC / Consequences for U.S.-Fiji relations
CUBA 12 Status of visas
DEPARTMENT 12-13 Status of FBI report on hostile intelligence agents
LIBYA 13 Status of travel ban
HAITI 13-14 Suspension of U.S. aid 14 Rice Corporation of Haiti case / Legislative and local elections
PERU 14-15 Postponement of elections
ZIMBABWE 15 National Democratic Institute Assessment of conditions for credible elections
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #48 TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000 1:35 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Welcome to the State Department briefing room, and I apologize for the delay. Many of you were on hand when the Secretary made some remarks. I have a couple of announcements that I'd like to highlight.
First of all, we put out a statement yesterday afternoon noting the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly to mark the five-year anniversary of the UN Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing. That will take place June 5 through 9 in New York. Secretary Albright will be chairing the US delegation to that, with co-chairs Secretary of Health and Human Services Shalala and our US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, as well as our Ambassador to the Economic and Social Council Betty King, US Ambassador to the Commission on the Status of Women, Linda Tarr-Whelan, Theresa Loar, who is the Director of the President's Inter-Agency Council on Women and Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues here in the Department, and our Private Sector Advisors Jane Smith, Ritu Sharma, Caryl Garcia and Kate Washburn.
Also, we --
QUESTION: Will the Secretary be actually there or is she --
MR. REEKER: The Secretary does expect to attend part of that conference.
QUESTION: She can't be there the 5th, of course, because she'll be on the road.
MR. REEKER: We'll get back to you with the details of --
QUESTION: But she will be on scene?
MR. REEKER: She expects to be in New York for part of that conference as chair of our delegation, at this point in time.
MR. REEKER: 5th through 9th. There was a statement last night. I just wasn't sure if many of you caught it. That's why I raised it this morning, or this afternoon.
Second, I think you all caught the fact the Senior Administration Officials will brief the press on background this afternoon, shortly after this briefing, beginning at 3 o'clock here in the briefing room on the issue of defense export controls. They'll have some opening remarks and then respond to your questions.
And, finally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate publicly our press officer, Kelly Ceballos and her husband Jose, on the birth of their daughter, Amelia Olga Ceballos on Sunday. Both mother and daughter are doing well, and we have an itsy bitsy computer terminal set up for Amelia when she can join her mother to do the hard work.
And with that, Mr. Schweid, we will do the best to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, as you go into this NATO Spring meeting, how would you assess the sentiment among the European allies for, number one, further expansion of NATO, perhaps an en bloc expansion, maybe taking in nine countries as a group? And, of course, how do you assess their attitudes on, or their stances, on the ABM modifications you're seeking?
MR. REEKER: Barry, I don't think I'm going to be able to give you any broad characterizations of that. The Secretary will be speaking to those things, obviously, there. She has departed. I believe they are wheels up. Those are subjects for discussion at the NATO ministerial, as well as a number of other issues that we discuss with our allies there.
I think on NMD we've covered that fairly completely in recent availabilities where the Secretary has spoken to that with some of her foreign minister colleagues who have been visiting here. So I really would like to leave it for the process over there, and we'll see what comes out of those talks.
QUESTION: The NATO expansion, that's on the agenda - consider expanding NATO, possibly taking in as many as nine members?
MR. REEKER: I'm sure they'd be looking at that. You know, the position has always been that the door remains open. There is also the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council will be meeting in conjunction with the North Atlantic Council there in Florence. So I think all of those subjects will be topics for discussion when they meet tomorrow and Thursday.
QUESTION: You don't have any announcements about travel by Pickering?
MR. REEKER: I don't have an announcement about travel by Pickering. I will try to get more details. But I do understand that Pickering is in the South Asia area -
QUESTION: Both the Indians and the Pakistanis are saying that he's --
MR. REEKER: Yes, noting those press reports, wire stories, I did check. And I don't have the exact details of his schedule, but he will be visiting Islamabad, New Delhi and Colombo.
QUESTION: He is going to Colombo?
MR. REEKER: He will be going to Colombo, yes. Anything further on that?
QUESTION: Well, not if - you don't have anything right now?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on his exact schedule. Did you want to ask me something about the region?
QUESTION: Well, just what's he - I guess it's pretty self-evident what he's going for. But if you could just go - and this is a pretty senior official to be going to - when was the last time such a high-ranking official was in Sri Lanka?
MR. REEKER: I would have to check that for you on the details.
QUESTION: It's been a while, though, yeah?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you just give us a brief rundown of what he's supposed to be doing?
MR. REEKER: I'll get a better follow-up for you. I know in India and Pakistan, obviously, he will be following up the President's trip and meeting with officials in both those countries. And he also, as I said, is going to Colombo where he will talk with Sri Lankan officials. I believe he will be in Sri Lanka on Monday before returning to Washington.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - Phil and see if Colombo was added? Or maybe all three were added?
MR. REEKER: All three were originally on his itinerary, and I apologize I didn't have an exact itinerary for him. But a couple days in Pakistan, a couple days in India and Colombo, I know, on Monday and then he'll be returning here. But I will try to get you that later this afternoon so you have as much detail as we have of his itinerary.
QUESTION: Sierra Leone. Have you heard anything more about the identities of the people who were wearing peacekeeper uniforms? They also had Zambian passports near the bodies.
MR. REEKER: We have seen all those reports. The UN reported the discovery of 11 bodies in Zambia in UN uniforms. However, up to the last time I was able to check just a little while ago, the UN had not yet been able to confirm whether the dead are UN troops or their identity. So that remains ongoing and we're obviously in touch with the UN on that.
QUESTION: Phil, Charles Taylor is saying that the Sierra Leone government, by continuing to launch offensive attacks against the rebels, is making it more difficult to secure the release of the remaining hostages. Does the State Department concur with that assessment?
MR. REEKER: I haven't seen his remarks specifically on that. The hostage situation, the detainees are obviously at the top of our agenda. We are seeking the release of the remaining detainees, of course a ceasefire, and a resumption of the peace process. I think that's really all I'd want to say on that. We're continuing our active dialogue with the UN, with countries in the region, with the UK and other allies on the next steps in Sierra Leone.
QUESTION: Just fine-tuning what she said this morning, she made reference to Secretary --
QUESTION: Can we go back?
QUESTION: Yeah, I was.
MR. REEKER: Sierra Leone.
QUESTION: Charles Taylor also said this morning that, in its munificence, the Libyans have offered to give - provide two helicopters to assist. I'm wondering if the US would welcome moves by Libya to help out in this.
MR. REEKER: I haven't seen the details of that report. I know, again, we're working with the United Nations; Libya is a member of the United Nations.
QUESTION: Are they welcome to contribute?
MR. REEKER: And I'll have to check and see what the details of that might be in terms of what they're offering and what we may be looking at there with the Libyans. We're obviously talking with all the countries in the region. Those talks continue. Ambassador Jeter returned from his trip to the region where he accompanied the Reverend Jackson. And I'll be happy to check into that. I hadn't seen that specific report.
QUESTION: When the Secretary referred a while ago on the balcony to having made phone calls to all these leaders, she made phone calls yesterday. Are these the same, or is this a new --
MR. REEKER: She also made phone calls again today. Right after that, I followed her upstairs and we discussed specifically the phone calls she had made. And she has been on the phone, as the Secretary indicated, with Secretary General Kofi Annan, Prime Minister Barak of Israel, President Lahud of Lebanon, President Mubarak of Egypt, Foreign Minister Shara of Syria, Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia. I know she also spoke with Foreign Minister Vedrine of France.
I can't break that down into exactly what was this morning, what was last night. We put out a statement last night. I don't know exactly this morning the additional ones. I know she spoke with Foreign Minister Vedrine today, which was not on yesterday's list, and she definitely spoke with the Secretary General Kofi Annan today as well.
QUESTION: Phil, what does the State Department feel about Kofi Annan's decision to not beef up the UN peacekeeping force, to only bring up the force a little bit to do the verification?
MR. REEKER: You're talking about?
QUESTION: In Lebanon.
MR. REEKER: In Lebanon. Let me get to my Lebanon stuff to see. Let me just update, as much as we can, from the Secretary's remarks earlier where she did indicate that the Security Council was about to come out with a presidential statement. That presidential statement came out. You probably all have it. I'd be happy to get you the copy that was faxed down to me.
It endorsed the report of the Secretary General on the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426. The Secretary General is sending his special envoy, Mr. Larson, back to the region, as the Secretary indicated, immediately to undertake preparations to confirm Israel's withdrawal and ensure that the requirements contained in the report are met and that all parties cooperate fully in complete implementation of the resolutions.
So, really, that's in terms of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. And your question there, there's a sort of three-step process here based on what the resolution calls for; first, for the UN to confirm the withdrawal of the Israeli forces; to restore international peace and security; and, third, to assist the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. So, right now, the UN envoy is going to go back there and look at that in terms of verifying the situation.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - in the process of the withdrawal, and the Hizballah is taking over this territory. Does the State Department or the US not feel that an increased force might help, you know, keep the peace in that area right now? I mean, there's a real eruption of violence.
MR. REEKER: I think right now we're very busy talking to the parties involved. We are working through the UN. As I noted, the Secretary has made many calls yesterday, today to leaders in the region and certainly to the Secretary General to keep abreast of this. We've been calling for calm as much as possible. This is an opportunity for the Lebanese people to take control of their country as called for under the Security Council resolutions, and that's exactly where we want to stand now. I don't think I have anything further to add from what the Secretary said just a little while ago.
QUESTION: Hizballah are Lebanese. When you're asking - when you're suggesting that one of your objectives is to restore Lebanon's effective control of that territory, do you mean as opposed to Hizballah's retention of the territory? Or is it all the same to you? They're all Lebanese as far as you're -
MR. REEKER: I don't have the UN resolution here with me, Barry. But I believe that it calls on assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of effective authority for the government of Lebanon in the area. And that's what we're working hard to do to ensure that UNIFIL, the UN, will be able to carry out those functions as called for in the resolution.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I was looking to see what US policy is and it is, of course, to -
MR. REEKER: Implementation of the Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: Yeah, to echo and repeat the UN resolution or whatever it is. But I'm just asking the US Government, you as the spokesman of the US Government, does the US Government want to see Hizballah stay on Israel's border or do you want to see regular Lebanese troops there, or is it something that you haven't thought through or don't care to express an opinion about?
MR. REEKER: I think the US Government wants to see the Security Council resolution completely fulfilled. And the focus right now is confirming that a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon has taken place in compliance with that resolution. And the resolution, as I just noted, also then calls for the Lebanese Government to be assisted in ensuring their return of effective authority in the area. As the Secretary indicated in her comments, we would be very pleased to see the Lebanese military move in there.
QUESTION: There seems to be a split between the Lebanese Government and the Hizballah a bit, though. Hizballah says it wants to reclaim this land immediately, while the Lebanese Government has said it is not necessary to push ahead at this very moment. Is that something that the Lebanese leaders that the Secretary has spoken with have conveyed to her, their concern about this?
MR. REEKER: I don't have the exact readout of her discussions with these leaders. I've indicated to you that she's had numerous discussions, she's very engaged in the subject, talking with the UN. And so right now, the overriding goal is the implementation of the Security Council resolution to call on everybody to do that with calm and peacefully.
As the Secretary's statement last night indicated, we're urging all sides, everybody, to work with the Secretary General to ensure that the Security Council resolution can be implemented and carried out in a way that enhances stability for the region, minimizes civilian causalities and supports our broader efforts to encourage a comprehensive peace.
QUESTION: We don't know yet exactly what the government of Lebanon is seeking in terms of assistance? They obviously will be giving some feedback about how they want - would like the international community to support them.
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the Government of Lebanon on this point. And we'll see what comes from them.
Anything more on Lebanon?
MR. REEKER: Okay, sir.
QUESTION: On another subject, Taiwan's President, Mr. Chen Shui-bian, has been installed. He made a speech in which he talked about the cross-strait relationship. Can you tell us what your comments are?
MR. REEKER: You're a day late. I thought we were going to do this yesterday, but I'd be happy to do it again.
We congratulate Mr. Chen on his inauguration in Taiwan. His election and the smooth transition demonstrated clearly the strength and vitality of Taiwan's democracy. His election and inauguration provided a fresh opportunity for Taiwan and the People's Republic of China to reach out and resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue. The United States strongly supports such dialogue, as you know, and we're committed to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
QUESTION: Do you agree with the construction the new President of Taiwan gave to a One China policy?
MR. REEKER: Well, I'm not going to comment on the specifics of his speech. It's not for me to stand here and parse his speech. But we were encouraged that the new leadership in Taiwan has generally taken a pragmatic and constructive approach. We found his speech constructive toward resuming cross-strait dialogue. As you know, we've urged the two sides to develop direct communication and determine a basis for resumed dialogue and, on our part, we're hopeful that Mr. Chen's inauguration will serve as a basis for the direct communication between the two sides.
QUESTION: Well, let's come at it this way. What is your impression or view of China's reaction to that? China said - big China said that he didn't deal with the One China issue adequately when he said further down the road we ought to talk about one China. They don't like it. They're hostile to what he said. They're critical of what he said.
Do you agree with their criticism?
MR. REEKER: Actually, Barry, I think in its reaction to Chen's inaugural speech, the PRC both offered criticism but also cited statements it regarded as positive.
MR. REEKER: And, in addition, it expressed an interest in resuming dialogue. So that's very important. I think putting the rhetoric aside, from whatever corner, it's the actions that will matter, and we're going to continue to encourage both sides to engage in dialogue and not take any actions that would make such dialogue more difficult. So we hope that both sides will continue to listen to each other, take a creative approach in moving the cross-strait relationship forward through the peaceful dialogue.
QUESTION: If there is any people on earth, even more than the Middle Easterners, who put an emphasis on language or rhetoric, of course is - means several things. It usually means harsh and aggressive use of language. But if you mean rhetoric just in the sense of speaking or semantics --
MR. REEKER: What we do here.
QUESTION: What Taiwan or China say about One China is not a trivial matter of rhetoric; it goes to the very heart of China's claim on Taiwan and Taiwan's attempt to live a somewhat independent democratic life. They blasted them for not agreeing to read the script, that the US reads dutifully, about One China.
And I'm asking you if you find what China is saying to Taiwan on that subject provocative.
MR. REEKER: I think I've provided for you our readout on both the speech that was given at his inauguration by Chen Shui-bian, and I've also provided you what we noted in terms of reaction from the People's Republic of China to the inaugural speech. You know, it's up to Beijing and Taipei to determine what is sufficient.
QUESTION: The US policy, of course, is One China, right?
MR. REEKER: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And China also says that President Chen should accept the One China principle. Does the US take a position on this issue? Will the US tell Taiwan that you should also embrace One China, because it's our policy --
MR. REEKER: At the risk of boring many people here, I'm up here to state what our policy is. And our policy is that there is One China, and our policy is to see peaceful resolution of differences and to encourage a cross-strait dialogue. And that's what I've repeated here, and I don't think there's anything further to add to it.
QUESTION: Well, in the statement you made, you said something to the effect that US is hopeful that the inauguration of Mr. Chen will serve as a basis for cross-strait dialogue, or determine the basis. Can you elaborate a little bit as to what basis it's all about?
MR. REEKER: Probably not. Because it is up to Beijing and Taipei to determine that. But what we hope is that both sides will continue to listen to each other - that's part of dialogue is also listening - and take a creative approach in moving the cross-strait relationship forward through a peaceful dialogue. Fairly straightforward.
QUESTION: Can we shift to a different part of the - area of that region of the world?
MR. REEKER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on the Kumchang-ni visit or the meeting in Rome?
MR. REEKER: Yes. The things you guys asked about yesterday and Mr. Boucher promised to get to you.
First of all, on the second Kumchang-ni visit, the US team arrived in Pyongyang May 23rd - that would be today. The team scheduled calls for the site visit to begin May 25th. The US team consists of 12 individuals and includes technical experts. There is no time limit set for the team to do its work, which is to review and update the previous information they got, and this is all according to the March 16th, '99 agreement that we have.
MR. REEKER: Twelve people, yes. Twelve individuals.
QUESTION: Isn't that about the size of the first visit, the first team that visited, when they found nothing?
MR. REEKER: I believe it was the same. I don't have that for sure; I would have to go back and check or refer you to the transcripts of those briefings.
QUESTION: How about Rome?
QUESTION: When do they actually start the inspections, again?
MR. REEKER: The 25th. The schedule at this point calls for the site visit to begin May 25th.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - is leading the delegation and what different government agencies are represented?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I don't have any further details about the team's composition.
QUESTION: Could you attempt to get that?
MR. REEKER: I could certainly ask. But what I've got is "12 individuals." We're all individuals.
You wanted Rome. Was there anything further on that? We've got Rome to do. That would be the US-North Korea Bilateral Talks, which we announced on May 15, which begin on the 24th. That would be tomorrow.
The North Korean delegation is led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan and a US delegation that's led, of course, by Ambassador Charles Kartman. They are going to resume talks that adjourned March 15th in New York, and the US will use this meeting to begin talks on Agreed Framework implementation. We will also continue to discuss the full range of issues of common concern, including missiles, as we seek to improve relations with the DPRK. And our delegation has arrived already today in Rome.
QUESTION: How about the high-level visit that was supposed to take place last month?
MR. REEKER: I believe that we expect to continue discussions in Rome on the visit of the high-level DPRK official to Washington. You will recall they accepted our invitation for such a visit. And just to remind everyone, that's a reciprocal visit for that made by Dr. Perry and the counselor of the Department, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, in May of '99.
QUESTION: How long ago did they accept that visit again? I mean, that invitation?
MR. REEKER: I would have to go back and check the dates on that. It seems like that's been -
QUESTION: It seems like they're being a little rude not to have - they've RSVP'd but they haven't shown up. What's the deal?
MR. REEKER: We're going to discuss that, I'm sure, in Rome and continue discussions on that.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. REEKER: New subject? Sorry.
QUESTION: Do you know where they will be meeting?
MR. REEKER: They are meeting in facilities provided by the Italians. And we wanted to express our appreciation to the Government of Italy for the hospitable support of these important talks. Let's see - all I have is a facility provided by the Italian Government. You might want to check with your colleagues there in Rome and they would be able to tell you where.
Okay, new subjects.
QUESTION: What's the US view on the latest situation concerning the Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline and possible availability of US Government financing?
MR. REEKER: The Trans-Caspian Natural Gas Pipeline. I know I have something on that. Yes. Let me just go through what - we sort of covered this a lot last week when we were discussing the Kazakhstan oil find, the large well. We're expecting Kazakhstan to examine commercial benefits of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline inviting regional oil shippers to examine the attractiveness of the pipeline. I don't have any of the details that you're looking for so if there is something specific, I can try to get it for you afterwards.
QUESTION: Turkemens canceled gas agreement with Turkey last weekend. They clearly don't want any progress on Blue Stream project, which would provide Russian natural gas to Turkey.
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I don't have anything on that. If you want to see me afterwards, I will try to get the details that you're looking for, refer it to the right people.
QUESTION: George Bush today in his national security speech asked the Administration not to tie the hands of the next president by negotiating changes in the ABM Treaty that would prevent other types of missile defense. Is there any response to that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a response, or would I comment. I did notice that Governor Bush was on television today. I was busy trying to prepare for this so I didn't even see it myself. I think our views on NMD and ABM are extremely clear. They haven't changed since the last time they were enunciated up here. I can go through them for you again if you'd like, but I don't really have anything new for you.
QUESTION: The Grand Council of Chiefs, I think that's what they're called - have met in Fiji and said that they think that the prime minister should be released. Is there anything new in terms of US response to --
MR. REEKER: Well, let's just run back through Fiji in terms of - for those that have not followed this. Currently, a small armed group led by an ethnic Fijian businessman, George Speight, is still holding a number of captives after releasing several additional hostages yesterday. They are still holding the Prime Minister, Chaudhry, who remain captive inside the parliament.
To the best of our knowledge, all American citizens in Fiji are safe. We continue to recommend, however, that travel to Fiji be deferred. The Secretary has been following events in Fiji closely, and Friday you'll recall she publicly expressed her concern over the hostage-taking in Fiji. Department officials, including Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Stanley Roth and our US Ambassador in Suva, have directly communicated the Secretary's concerns.
We note that Fiji's top military leaders have expressed their support for the current government there. A nighttime curfew, I understand, is now in effect in all of Fiji, and we urge any Americans there to, of course, abide by this restriction. There were isolated incidents of arson and looting reported both in the press and by our Embassy. Some sporadic gunfire has been reported yesterday in the vicinity of the parliament building.
So in terms of the meeting yesterday of the Great Council of Chiefs, they confirmed their support for President Mara, Ratu Mara, who has called for the immediate release of the hostages and a return to constitutional government. And as I understand it, the Chiefs were going to continue meeting today.
QUESTION: Has the US taken a position yet on whether Chaudhry must remain in government once this is over in order for the constitution to be upheld?
MR. REEKER: We continue to recognize the legitimate democratically elected government, and any change in government should be done through constitutional means. That's our firm policy on that. So, right now, we're looking for release of the hostages, including of course the current prime minister whose government we recognize. And as you know, US law and policy would mandate sanctions when democratically elected governments are toppled by force.
QUESTION: Do you have figures on aid, what would be at risk?
MR. REEKER: I don't have figures on aid. I can check into that. I don't believe there' a lot there, but we can ask the agency.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on what you said about the toppling of the government and sanctions? So, but you haven't officially determined whether this is a toppling of government yet?
MR. REEKER: This is a hostage situation. The President is calling for release of the hostages, one of whom includes the Prime Minister Chaudhry in the parliament grounds. And as I said, we continue to recognize the legitimate democratically elected government of Fiji. That would be the government of Prime Minister Chaudhry. Any decisions to make changes need to be done constitutionally and done obviously by the Fijians.
QUESTION: One of my favorite old questions, status check. Cuban visas. Any movement?
MR. REEKER: None. Under review.
QUESTION: And you'll like this one even less. Any word from the FBI for explanation of the hostile intelligence agents? We haven't brought that up for a while.
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of anything further.
QUESTION: Is our request - I mean, the State Department's request still stands?
MR. REEKER: I'll have to check into that. I mean, we have regular dialogue with the FBI, and so whether there's something for me to convey to you, I would have to check. Nothing has come to my attention.
QUESTION: How about the Libyan travel ban?
MR. REEKER: The Libya travel ban --
QUESTION: Is that report done yet?
MR. REEKER: I do not believe that the Secretary has received that report.
QUESTION: It's got to be the longest ever report.
MR. REEKER: Oh, Matt, you're showing your impatience.
QUESTION: No, it's taken like two months now. These guys were there for 26 hours.
MR. REEKER: I worked on reports in college that took months.
QUESTION: What are they doing, a second-by-second - I want to - staying on aid --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the answer?
QUESTION: No, but, you know, I realize I'm not going to get one.
MR. REEKER: I don't believe the Secretary has seen that report.
QUESTION: Can I ask about if you've straightened - if you've managed to straighten out the Haiti aid situation in terms of what has been blocked by Senator Helms?
MR. REEKER: The Haiti aid. Let's try to straighten that out because I think I got the appropriate understanding. These things are a little confusing.
As you know, the unblocking of US and multilateral assistance that comes in the way of multilateral assistance, and that's up to $250 million, is dependent on the new parliament approving loans. So a seating of parliament is not expected to happen until after the second round of elections in Haiti, which are currently scheduled for the 25th of June.
US aid for Haiti - that would be our assistance in a number of programs for micro-enterprises and agricultural assistance and environmental programs and strengthening of democracy and civil institutions, judicial reform, those types of programs. The estimate I was given for fiscal year 2000 aid was $86 million.
And in terms of the specific aid that is on hold, the congressional hold that remains is approximately 30 million of that, somewhere under 30 million. And that has to do with the Rice Corporation of Haiti case. The US Government has insisted that all Americans involved in that case be accorded due process of law, and we are actively encouraging the parties to reach a settlement that's fair and consistent with Haitian law and US law in that case so that, obviously, that hold could be lifted. The hold in place on US assistance to Haiti is seriously impinging our ability to conduct some of these projects in sectors, as I mentioned, like environment, agriculture, education, micro-enterprise.
QUESTION: There are more complaints and allegations of fraud and irregularities in the election. Is the US still -
MR. REEKER: In Haiti?
QUESTION: Yes. Is the US still standing by the statement from yesterday?
MR. REEKER: Yes. In fact, I would like to reiterate our satisfaction with Sunday's high turnout and the generally peaceful voting that took place in Haiti. We are concerned over reports of confusion in the tabulation of results, and I will note that Haitian authorities and the Organization of American States are investigating all reports of irregularities in that process. As we noted before, the process is likely to take several days.
And we were deeply disturbed over the death of the mayoral candidate in a disturbance yesterday, and we are calling upon Haitian authorities to identify and bring to justice the responsible party in that death.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - somewhat less enthusiastic response to the elections than we got yesterday. Is there a dampening somewhat of the enthusiasm?
MR. REEKER: I'm not at all aware of that, and I apologize if I am less enthusiastic. I am just trying to reiterate the statement that we had from yesterday - our satisfaction with Sunday's high voter turnout and the generally peaceful atmosphere that pervaded that vote. So we are just waiting now for the results.
QUESTION: So despite reports of irregularities, there is an expectation of -
MR. REEKER: I did notice our concern over those reports and obviously keeping in very close touch on this. We have monitors down there working with the OAS, with Haitian authorities to look into that. But I would like to reiterate that we're satisfied with the way things went Sunday and now we'll watch for results.
QUESTION: Sorry. I've got two more elections to go through. Peru, do you have anything new to say now that Toledo has said once again that he's not going to participate in the second round? If you don't have anything new, I don't want to bother with it.
MR. REEKER: As you said, opposition candidate Toledo has stated that while he will not participate in a May 28th election, he would participate at a later date when he believes the requirements for a fair election have been fulfilled. We understand that the electoral authorities in Peru and the political parties and the observer mission of the OAS continue the discussions that we talked about yesterday on the current political impasse. And as we stated yesterday, we will support any arrangement that the Organization of American States mission views as satisfactory in guaranteeing free and transparent elections in this round.
QUESTION: And the last one, Zimbabwe. Have you seen that report from NDI yet saying that the election shouldn't be held as scheduled?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you agree with it?
MR. REEKER: In fact, we saw that report and read it with interest and shared the report's concerns that are raised about violence, political intimidation and restrictions on political freedom in Zimbabwe. It does make some very important recommendations on ways to improve the prospects for free and fair elections on June 24 and 25, as called for by the Zimbabwean Government.
We're urging the Government of Zimbabwe and all the parties there to implement those measures as outlined by the National Democratic Institute report. And we've been in touch with the highest levels of the government there to urge an end to the violence and respect for the rule of law, which we've discussed for a number of weeks now from here, and to urge them to implement the measures so that the elections can go forward in a free and fair manner.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you support the call for a delay?
MR. REEKER: We are calling on the parties to respect the rule of law and to constitutionally guarantee the right -
QUESTION: Do you agree with the recommendation in the report from NDI, which is a US-based -
MR. REEKER: What I indicated to you, Matt, was that they raised a lot of serious things and what we're doing is calling upon the government and the parties to improve the prospects by implementing a number of those recommendations so that they can have free and fair elections June 24 and 25.
QUESTION: If they don't, then the elections are necessarily not free and fair?
MR. REEKER: I think it's a little premature to determine that.
Anything else? Okay, thanks.
(The briefing concluded at 2:20 p.m.)