Joint Statement Issued on Afghanistan & South Asia
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, May 30, 2000
Briefer: Philip Reeker, Acting Spokesman
RUSSIA / AFGHANISTAN / SOUTH ASIA 1 Joint Statement Issued on Conclusion of Consultations on Afghanistan and South Asia
NORTH KOREA 1-2 US-DPRK Talks Completed in Rome 2 Status of High Level Visit 2 Agreed Framework Implementation 2-3 Next Round of Missile Talks 3 Discussion of North-South Summit 3 Issue of MIAs 3-5 Second Visit to Kumchang-ni Site Completed
PERU 5-12 US Reaction to Peru Elections / Next Steps 21 Government's Anti-Narcotics Efforts
FIJI 12-14 Situation in Fiji / Travel Warning Issued
SOUTH ASIA 15 Under Secretary Pickering's Travel in Region
AFGHANISTAN 16-17 Under Secretary Pickering's Meeting with Taliban Officials 16-17 Reports Taliban Would Exchange Bin Laden for UN Recognition
GERMANY 17-18 International Child Abduction
RUSSIA / FRY 18-19 Report Senator Helms Proposes Cut in US Assistance for Ojdanic Visit
COLOMBIA 19-21 Anti-Drug Efforts / US Support / Funding
BELARUS 21-22 Threats by Authorities that Belarusian Opposition Delegation will be treated as "Possible Security Threat"
TURKEY 22 Reports US Opening New Office in Southeast Turkey
ETHIOPIA / E RITERA 22-23 Situation Update / Eritrea's Withdrawal
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #50 TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2000, 1:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. My usual apologies for the delay. I'm still on West Coast time, having attended to some family business in Arizona over the weekend. Let me start with a few statements and announcements. First of all, right after the briefing we will be posting a statement which is, in fact, an issuance from here of the joint statement after the conclusion of consultations on Afghanistan and South Asia that took place last week in Moscow. Assistant Secretary Karl Inderfurth was there, as many of you know, and we have the full joint statement released at the end of their talks.
He reiterated at that time the views that Secretary Albright made clear to Foreign Minister Ivanov in Florence last week, that we see no military solution to the Chechen situation and that a wider conflict benefits no one, supporting the earliest possible peaceful settlement. We also note that we've always been concerned about the potential destabilizing implications, should the Chechen conflict expand into areas outside of Russia.
And in the statement, as you'll see, both sides call for a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict with the United Nations playing a very key role. Also note that the statement called on the Taliban to comply with UN Resolution 1267 without delay and to turn over Usama bin Laden to a jurisdiction where he can face justice. So that full statement available right after the briefing.
QUESTION: Can I ask a question about that?
MR. REEKER: Yes, Matt.
QUESTION: You're releasing it today? It was released in Moscow on the 26th.
MR. REEKER: That's right. That was Friday, and we've just come off a very long holiday weekend, so we're releasing it today so you can have the full text - those of you that didn't get it.
Okay, moving on to North Korea. Another statement will come out - it's partially why I'm delayed, in fact - regarding the talks in Rome. The US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have just completed six days of talks in Rome, from May 24th to May 30th. The talks were held in a serious and constructive manner, and we made progress.
We discussed our respective concerns regarding the implementation of the Agreed Framework and a range of other bilateral issues. In this regard, the United States used this round of talks to launch a new negotiations called for by Dr. Perry in his report to the President on Agreed Framework implementation.
The two sides also agreed to hold a preparatory session on May 31st for the next round of missile talks. One purpose of this preparatory session will be to set the stage for the next formal round of US-North Korea missile talks in the near future.
Let me use this opportunity to express the United States Government's thanks to the Italian Government for its support for these talks. The Government of Italy was a most gracious and generous host. The atmosphere it helped create facilitated the positive direction and tenor of our discussions.
QUESTION: Question on that?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you tell us whether the question of the high-level visit came up during these talks and, if so, what progress was achieved?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a specific readout on that yet. They did expect to discuss that. As you know, the North Koreans have accepted our invitation to have a high-level visit, which would reciprocate the high-level visit that took place about a year ago when Dr. Perry and Ambassador Wendy Sherman went to Pyongyang. And I don't have anything further on that but I expect that that was discussed.
QUESTION: Could you talk about the new negotiation and the Agreed Framework implementation?
MR. REEKER: Let me give you what I have on that. As you could tell, this is quite new, just hot off the old fax machine.
Let's see what they gave me on this. I think other than what I said, in terms of the statement, we discussed respective concerns regarding the implementation of the Agreed Framework and a range of other issues. As I noted, we used this round of talks to launch the new negotiation which Dr. Perry had called for in his report. And there will be the preparatory session on May 31, tomorrow, for the next round of missile talks.
QUESTION: Where are they?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any details, further details, on that. I will try to get you more on that after the briefing.
QUESTION: Was there a time set for the missile talks?
MR. REEKER: That's one of the things they will discuss tomorrow. They will set the stage for that for the next formal round of those talks in the near future, but they don't have a specific date yet.
QUESTION: Basically beyond what's in the statement, you don't have much more to add?
MR. REEKER: No.
QUESTION: So when you say "we made progress," I'm going to ask anyway, even though you just said you don't have anything else - when you say "we made progress," in all areas, in one area, in --
MR. REEKER: Like I said, I don't have a full readout on those talks which just concluded. But I think the feeling was that progress was made in launching this new negotiation on the Agreed Framework implementation and then establishing the meeting that will take place tomorrow to then prepare for the next round of missile talks.
QUESTION: Can you say whether there was any discussion of the upcoming North-South summit?
MR. REEKER: Yes, they did note that we offered our strong support for this historic summit which takes place in June; expressed the hope that the outcome will contribute to greater peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Well, can you say on the issue of the MIAs that President Clinton mentioned the other day was in any way connected to these Rome talks?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe that was part of the Rome talks. Those talks, as you know, have been something that's been ongoing since 1996, I believe. For details on those talks, I'd refer you over to the Pentagon. But as the President noted yesterday, we do expect more of those talks to continue and work on that spirit to go on.
QUESTION: Do you know who is participating in the talks tomorrow?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any further details on that, and I will try to get you something more afterwards, some details. Whether it's Ambassador Kartman or others, I'm not sure at this point.
QUESTION: Phil, on the same subject or slightly - on North Korea, can you bring us up to date on the visit to the underground site?
MR. REEKER: Yes. I actually have a statement on that, too.
QUESTION: How about that?
MR. REEKER: Are we done with the Rome talks? Okay.
Yes, the second Kumchang-ni site visit has been completed. The US team visiting the underground facilitate at Kumchang-ni in North Korea has completed its visit and departed May 27th. The team reports that the DPRK cooperated fully in the visit, providing unhampered access which allowed for the rapid completion of the team's work.
The team found conditions unchanged since the first visit a year ago in May 1999. It remains an unfinished site, the underground portion of which is an extensive empty tunnel complex. A careful technical analysis of the team's work will now take place before further judgments can be made and reported.
Under the terms of the agreement reached with Pyongyang in March of 1999, the US may visit the site in the future.
QUESTION: Was there any time frame set for that subsequent visit; do you know?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't believe they've set anything.
QUESTION: The original agreement was just the two visits, was it?
MR. REEKER: It's a determination that we have to make at a later point whether they visit again. In the negotiations, as you'll recall, for access to the site, we wanted to ensure future visits so that we could follow up and reconfirm our assessments and conclusions about the site. And per the agreement with Pyongyang we may actually visit the site multiple times.
MR. REEKER: I didn't get anything detailing that type of thing. All I can tell you is what I gave you in the statement in terms of the visit and its outcome. Obviously, we'll be studying the report of they team when they come back.
QUESTION: They found - they said they found - the team found conditions unchanged from the first visit in January '99?
MR. REEKER: May, 1999.
QUESTION: And then you said there was another sentence after that?
MR. REEKER: It remains an unfinished site.
MR. REEKER: The underground portion of which is an extensive, empty tunnel complex. And we will have that written statement available for you directly after the briefing.
QUESTION: Just for the record, is there any description of the size of the tunnels? Are these tunnels are the size for people to walk through or are they size for equipment that could be put in?
MR. REEKER: I don't have that, Charlie. I just don't have any details from that. We can look into that after the team if back reporting.
My trusty sidekick here has given me some additional guidance that's coming out saying that, in response to, I believe, George's question. North Korea has stated that the site was intended to be an unspecified national security related facility, and they were willing to consider other uses for the site and examine the feasibility of potential commercial uses.
QUESTION: New subject.
MR. REEKER: New subject. Anything else on Korea before --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - announcement?
MR. REEKER: That's the end of my - wait. Is that the end of my announcement? I put out a statement on Ethiopia-Eritrea which we can get to, but since the paper copy's already gone out I wasn't planning to read it from here.
QUESTION: I was hoping to move on to Peru.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: And hear if the State Department has come to any kind of conclusion as to what, if any, unilateral actions the US is considering with regards to this non-election that took place on Sunday.
MR. REEKER: Let me first refer you to President Clinton's statement of Friday, which I think most of you would have seen, and also the statement released by Ambassador Boucher from Lisbon where he's traveling with the Secretary's party this morning, in terms of next steps. As President Clinton said in his statement on Friday, we are consulting with our partners in the hemisphere and the international community to determine the appropriate next steps that we'll take.
In response to your question specifically, no decision has been made about any steps to be taken, nor are we presently considering taking any unilateral actions. So the next step here is that the - we will meet with the Organization of American States, which will hold a meeting in special session of the Permanent Council on Wednesday, tomorrow, to receive the report from Eduardo Stein who is the director of the observer mission that was there.
We deeply regret that the Government of Peru decided to proceed with the presidential contest on May 28, despite well documented findings by the election observer mission of the Organization of American States that conditions did not exist for a fully free, fair and democratic contest. As the statements noted, we have deep concerns about the transparency and fairness of the elections, as do many other countries and, as I said already, we plan to take the matter up with our hemispheric partners, which we have been discussing already, and then tomorrow at the OAS.
QUESTION: What are possible steps that could be taken?
MR. REEKER: Well, at this point, the next step is to see the report, review the report of Eduardo Stein when we meet with the OAS tomorrow. And then we're going to review with others, with our partners in the hemisphere, with the OAS, with others in the international community what steps might be taken. But at this point, it would be premature, I think, to outline what those steps would be.
QUESTION: Yes, but yesterday a State Department official says that the United States doesn't recognize Fujimori as the winner of the elections. My question is, the United States Government trying to give the validation to Fujimori, decides the constitution of Peru that says that when an election occurs and 30 percent of the voters participates, constitutionally the winner is the recognized leader or President of Peru.
MR. REEKER: I think I've reiterated here what was presented in statements by the President on Friday and this morning by Mr. Boucher from Florence with the Secretary about the deep regret we have that the Government of Peru decided to go ahead with the presidential contest, despite the statements, the documented findings of the OAS commission that conditions didn't exist to have a fully free and fair election.
So we have those deep concerns and we're reiterating those concerns again today. As I said, the President spoke on Friday. There were comments over the weekend. And again this morning we released a statement.
As the President made clear, free, fair and open elections are the foundation of a democratic society and that's what we want for Peru.
QUESTION: But this is a constitutional matter of Peru. It seems other countries are saying that - it seems like the United States is trying to intervene in something that --
MR. REEKER: In fact, I think we're working very closely with other countries in the region, in the hemisphere, through the OAS. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to consult with them. We have been. And tomorrow we'll have a meeting. We'll see the report of the OAS observer mission there, and then we will consider what next steps we would take.
QUESTION: There is also critics saying there is a double standard in the US policy. You are acting before the elections took place talking about April 9th during the first round of elections you were saying we want to have transparent and fair elections. And it is the same situation in Mexico right now. The federal electoral institution in Mexico doesn't have the real framework to have a free and open elections on July the 2nd. And the United States hasn't said anything about it.
MR. REEKER: I haven't looked at Mexico today. What I'm talking about is Peru. That was what the question --
QUESTION: Yeah, but --
MR. REEKER: I'd be happy to check for you on the Mexican elections. I know those are further down. What we're looking at right now is Peru, and we're looking at consultations with our partners in the hemisphere in terms of next steps that we may take on the situation there.
Anything more on Peru?
QUESTION: I'm a little bit confused because yesterday some agencies quoted a spokeswoman from the State Department saying that United States consider non valid this election. What you said today seems to show concern, not to qualify what has happened.
Are you saying that what yesterday was said is not any more the US position?
MR. REEKER: Let me reiterate once more that the President outlined his concerns on Friday.
QUESTION: Yes. That we know.
MR. REEKER: I think everyone has a copy of that.
QUESTION: Afterwards, there was the election.
MR. REEKER: That's right. Expressing deep regret. And we had comments to the press over the weekend, and we consistently are saying what the President said on Friday; and that is that free, fair and open elections are the foundations of a democratic society. We're very concerned about the transparency and fairness of the elections in Peru and deeply regret that the Government of Peru took the steps that they took. And now we're going to be consulting, continuing consultations, with others in the hemisphere using the OAS rubric to consider what next steps may be taken.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, I just want to follow up on this. The exact quote was, "We do not see the election as being valid." And, also, "No president emerging from such a flawed process can claim legitimacy."
So, I mean, a judgment has already been made. You've examined it and you've considered it.
MR. REEKER: No, I will just say one more time what I've said already.
QUESTION: No, I know that the President is concerned, but the spokeswoman from the State Department was - spoke on behalf on the State Department and on behalf of the President said, "We do not see the election as being valid." So if it's not valid - my question would be, it's not just a concern; it's already saying it's not valid.
MR. REEKER: What I told you is that we haven't made any decisions on any steps that will be taken.
QUESTION: So are you saying that you consider it valid or --
MR. REEKER: One at a time, please.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. Do you consider - does the US Government consider the elections valid or not valid?
MR. REEKER: What I'm saying is we have not made a final determination on steps that will be taken.
QUESTION: No, not the steps. Just whether --
MR. REEKER: We have not made a final determination on steps that will be taken. We're consulting with our hemispheric partners and others in the international community. We're using very much the OAS rubric to do this. There's a meeting tomorrow. So it's premature to make any further statements than what the President has already said, observations made over the weekend and what we released this morning.
QUESTION: One last thing. I'm sorry.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: You said that you have already been consulting other countries in the region, right?
MR. REEKER: Yes. You'll recall from this podium we talked about that last week and previously in terms of our concerns about that.
QUESTION: Did any other countries in the region, and if you could specify any, support the statements made over the weekend by the spokeswoman from the State Department?
MR. REEKER: I would have to refer you to those countries.
QUESTION: Which ones?
MR. REEKER: I would have to refer you to ask them. I don't speak on behalf of other countries.
QUESTION: You were talking about free and fair elections and obviously also subjective judgment here. I mean, you can even point to US elections where I could give you some prime examples of how they aren't free and fair and they are biased in the direction of certain contenders. But, be that as it may, it seems as if there was an attempt by the government to come to some kind of compromise and that the OAS had indeed put forward a solution which was rejected by Mr. Toledo. Now, it seems to me that he was working for time. But also if that was the US position that something else would be forthcoming, wouldn't that give a certain bias towards Toledo rather than the Fujimori government and how can you say that -
MR. REEKER: I think what we believe is that in view of the Peruvian Government's refusal to accommodate what were well documented concerns of the OAS that the process could not be free and fair, that Sunday's electoral process in Peru was obviously flawed. We're very concerned that the action that they've taken by the Government of Peru is a break with Peru's commitment to uphold the hemisphere's standards of democratic values and practices. I mean, this really impinges on the democratic architecture that has evolved in Peru and throughout the hemisphere.
We also regret the reports of violence and call on people to avoid any violence as they consider the outcomes of the week's event. But we are going to continue, as I outlined, by meeting and consulting with our partners in the hemisphere, seeing the report of the OAS mission and then considering next steps.
QUESTION: Could you tell me, as a follow-up, if the agreement, if the original OAS proposal had been accepted by Mr. Toledo, would you have considered the elections under those conditions as fair and free?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can speculate because that isn't what happened. All I can comment on is what happened and our concerns as expressed by the President on Friday and again by this building and the Secretary's Spokesman from Florence again today and what I've said right here.
QUESTION: I understand that representatives of Mr. Toledo are coming to Washington in the near future. Will there be any meetings with them in this building as far as you are aware?
MR. REEKER: I would have to check into that. Right now I know that we are meeting in the OAS rubric but I am not aware of any specific meetings.
QUESTION: Two very quick things. Is it possible at all that the US might decide on steps before tomorrow's OAS meeting?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe so. We haven't made any decision on any unilateral steps. I think, again, the President said it and let me say it once more. We believe we will maximize our efforts by the way we can coordinate with others in the region and so we are going to do that.
QUESTION: So unlikely before tomorrow?
MR. REEKER: Tomorrow is the OAS meeting.
QUESTION: Is the OAS meeting. And the other thing is - and I hate to harp on this - but does the Department stand by the statements that were made yesterday?
MR. REEKER: I think again what I had said --
QUESTION: Can you just say "yes" or "no"?
MR. REEKER: What I can tell you is that we had statements over the weekend and we had written statements released by the White House and again today --
QUESTION: Does that mean --
MR. REEKER: -- that indicate a concern with the process. And what we want to do now is take that next step, which I've outlined, and meet with the OAS and read that report before we make any final determinations.
QUESTION: Does the weekend include Monday?
MR. REEKER: Does the weekend include Monday? It was a long weekend.
QUESTION: So, yes. So you're not backing down at all from what was said yesterday?
MR. REEKER: Not at all. I want to reiterate the concerns that the President raised and that I've reiterated numerous times here.
QUESTION: Why is it that you can't specifically reiterate what was said yesterday?
MR. REEKER: I think I've said everything quite clearly about our concerns and our regrets about the situation, and now we need to let the course of events proceed and have our consultations and our meetings at the OAS tomorrow.
QUESTION: I'm sorry if this came up when I was out of the room, but I don't understand why the language isn't the same as it was yesterday?
MR. REEKER: Because that's the way language works, Matt. I think I've gone over it a hundred times now and laid out to you exactly what our position is. So at the risk of moving on -
QUESTION: 101 times. Can we say then that all of the concerns that you've given us today are equivalent to saying that the election was invalid? You're just restating it a different way?
MR. REEKER: My words speak for themselves. And there are obvious concerns and regrets. And our belief is that the electoral process in Peru on Sunday was flawed.
QUESTION: Would it be incorrect to say that the State Department feels that the elections are invalid?
MR. REEKER: The correct thing is to say that we haven't taken any steps or made any final determinations. We're going to meet with people in the region, with our partners in the international community, and then determine what next steps and determinations will be made.
Can we talk with someone who hasn't had a chance already?
QUESTION: Just to clarify, what status does this comment yesterday have? Is that - was that an accurate statement by the State Department that the election was invalid?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can make myself any clearer from here today. The President has spoken, the Secretary has spoken, I have spoken, lots of people have spoken. We are going to consult with our partners and we are going to then consider appropriate next steps.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the United States is discussing with the Latin American countries the Inter-American system the US resolution approved by the Senate and the House threatening Peru with unilateral sanctions like reducing or blocking the loans from the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank. That's where the United States is consulting with Latin America?
MR. REEKER: No, we are consulting with the whole process. We're going to listen to the report from the OAS mission director to review exactly the things that he outlined that were flawed in terms of well-documented concerns by that mission. I think we've been over that last week. And the President's statement of regret was very clear on that.
I think at that point on Friday the President said a relatively brief delay would give the OAS mission time and opportunity to monitor the electoral proceedings with a greater confidence. So it is exactly that, the process, the facts from there and what the OAS mission found that we'll be discussing and then considering other steps.
QUESTION: Is there a concern that economic sanctions could energize Fujimori's political base?
MR. REEKER: I think that's a premature conjecture because no one is talking about it.
QUESTION: Well, I'm just saying, as you consider possible steps --
MR. REEKER: I'm sure everyone that's considering possible steps will consider all the ramifications of all possible steps. But right now, we're taking one step, and that is to consult with our hemispheric partners and then we'll see what the next steps may be.
I think we're just about exhausted this, but please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, I just would like to understand. Does this mean, by what you're saying about the consultations that the US would only take steps if there was some sort of an agreement with other countries? Or is it possible that, depending on what is said on the Wednesday meeting, the US could take steps just on its own, or does it need some sort of a consensus?
MR. REEKER: I think what I said was fairly clear. We're going to consult and then consider next steps. So no decision has been made about any steps at this point, except the step of consulting. And, presently, we aren't considering taking any unilateral actions, but we haven't made any determinations and we'll be looking at lots of options.
QUESTION: Can I know who is going to represent the United States at the OAS Assembly in Canada?
MR. REEKER: The OAS Assembly in Canada. I'll have to check into that for you. I believe that's taking place in Windsor.
QUESTION: In Windsor.
MR. REEKER: I'll have to check. I'm sorry, I don't have that.
QUESTION: It's a foreign minister.
MR. REEKER: Yes, we can check directly after the briefing.
QUESTION: Can I ask a non-Peru question? Fiji.
MR. REEKER: Are we ready to change to Fiji? Yes, okay. How many people here have actually been to Fiji? I have, several times.
MR. REEKER: I'd rather be in Fiji right now. (Laughter.)
Actually, we have put out a travel warning advising US citizens against travel to Suva, the capital of Fiji. That was put out yesterday and you may have seen that. Over the weekend, as you may have seen, President Mara resigned and the head of the armed forces suspended the constitution, declared martial law, and said that he had taken control of the country. I'll note that as of when I came out here that the ethnic Fijian businessman George Speight continues to hold a number of hostages, including Prime Minister Chaudhry in the parliament building.
I think, as we said last week, the United States is strongly opposed to the overthrow of democratically elected governments by force. We remain very concerned about the situation in Fiji, including the latest developments involving the declaration of martial law by the military. And we call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, all persons being held hostage, and for the return to democratic constitutional government in Fiji.
As I noted, we have continued to urge that Americans defer travel to Fiji. We've upgraded our previous public announcement to a travel warning, which warns US citizens against travel to Suva, the capital, and advises that we have authorized the departure of embassy personnel in non-emergency positions and the dependents of those personnel. Most of the dependents have now left Fiji.
QUESTION: Do you have a number of people who are taking advantage of this?
MR. REEKER: I don't have an exact number, Matt. Sorry. But I understand that most of the dependents have left Fiji and are on their way Los Angeles, if not already there.
QUESTION: The military commander this morning has appointed a new prime minister.
MR. REEKER: I saw those wire reports.
QUESTION: Well, is that democratic?
MR. REEKER: I think the best I can say at this point, seeing the wire reports come out and keeping in close touch with our Embassy, the situation remains in flux. And we just want to reiterate our call at this point for a return to constitutional government.
QUESTION: Yeah, but not necessarily under the prime ministership of Prime Minister Chaudhry?
MR. REEKER: I think at this point, because the situation is in such flux, what I can say is that we want to see a return to constitutional government as well as a release of the hostages which are still being held after a considerable period in the parliament building.
QUESTION: Yeah, but, you know, the way you present this makes it sound as though the United States is willing to consider another government, a government formed in Fiji at the point of a gun.
MR. REEKER: I think at this point the situation is in such a state of flux that we're unable to determine --
QUESTION: The President has resigned. The prime minister is being held hostage.
MR. REEKER: As I outlined, yes.
QUESTION: There has been a new prime minister appointed, and now the military commander says that Speight is going to be allowed to go free once this is over.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: And I fail to see how you can't take a clear position one way or another on whether you're going to accept a government that results - and on top of that --
MR. REEKER: What I said was - now several times - is that we want to see a return to constitutional government. And because there's a sort of state of flux right now, it's impossible to say precisely what is going on and where things stand. What we want to see is a return to constitutional government and a release of all the hostages, including the prime minister.
QUESTION: But you still recognize that as - his prime ministership?
MR. REEKER: There is such a state of flux right now, I can't tell you what's recognized and what isn't.
QUESTION: Because -- (inaudible) - say that last week.
MR. REEKER: But that man should be released - exactly, and things have changed since last week.
QUESTION: When you say your return to constitutional government, you'd be aware that the head of the military has effectively announced the repeal of current constitutional provisions allowing for multiethnic democracy. Would a Fiji without multiethnic democracy still be a constitutional government? How serious a change would that be?
MR. REEKER: Fiji has a constitution that is what we believe should be recognized.
QUESTION: But if you go back to an earlier constitution in which --
MR. REEKER: Again, this gets into the whole situation of the sort of state of flux, and we're in constant contact with our Embassy. Our Ambassador remains in Suva, as well as with allies in Canberra and other places, to determine where things stand. So it's very difficult to make a broad judgment. What we want to see is a return to the constitutional situation that existed in Fiji and is now currently a little up in the air.
QUESTION: But would it be a legitimate government, a legitimate constitution, if it were to revert back to earlier provisions in which only indigenous Fijians were allowed to be prime minister, et cetera?
MR. REEKER: What I can say is we look for a return to the constitution that is in place now, a return to that constitutional government. And as far as other decisions that the Fijian population would make internally on changes to their constitution, that would be up for them to decide.
QUESTION: But this is a question of racial preferences and ethnic - multiethnic democracy. It's an issue that the US feels strongly about.
MR. REEKER: That's exactly right. And right now, we want to see hostages released and we want to see a return to constitutional government in Fiji.
QUESTION: What has happened? Does it constitute a coup under the definition of the State Department?
MR. REEKER: Again, I tried to indicate that right now what we see there is a real state of flux, and it's impossible to make a broad determination there. So at this point, we're simply calling for a release of the hostages - there's no excuse to be maintaining hostages held in the parliament for a number of days - as well as a return to constitutional government. That's in Fiji's best interest, and damage to Fiji and their relations with other countries in the region, and certainly the international community, will be grave if they're not able to resolve this.
QUESTION: Is there any reaction to the Russian statement that the Chechen rebels are being trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban and by --
MR. REEKER: I think we addressed that extensively last week. The Secretary discussed that after her meetings with Foreign Minister Ivanov in Florence. And as I mentioned at the beginning of the briefing, we just released a statement following the talks that were held in Moscow last week with Assistant Secretary Inderfurth and his Russian counterparts.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Under Secretary Pickering's meeting with Taliban leaders and urging them to hand over Usama bin Laden during talks in Islamabad?
MR. REEKER: Just review Under Secretary Pickering's travels. As you know, I think we discussed last week before the holiday that Under Secretary Pickering has been in the South Asia region to follow up on President Clinton's March visit there. It included Sri Lanka in his visit, visiting Colombo yesterday, as well as time in New Delhi May 23rd to 25th for a structured dialogue on bilateral matters on Asian security, including Sri Lanka, Kashmir, non-proliferation. Then he was in Pakistan, as you noted, May 26th through 28. He had a thorough and comprehensive discussion with General Musharraf and other officials on non-proliferation, Afghanistan, Kashmir, cooperation on counter-narcotics and terrorism, Pakistan's economic policies and recent developments in returning the country to democratic governance.
Then yesterday, as I noted, he was in Sri Lanka, had good discussions with the president there, as well as with government and opposition figures on a wide range of bilateral and regional topics, urging the government and the opposition to continue their efforts to find a bipartisan political solution to the ethnic conflict there.
Now to answer your specific question.
QUESTION: Is there any confirmation of what Afghan news agencies are reporting that he met Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Jalil?
MR. REEKER: Under Secretary Pickering did meet with Taliban officials with the assistance and at the suggestion of the Government of Pakistan. The meeting was designed to discuss implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1267 requiring the Taliban to hand over Usama bin Laden to a country where he will be arrested and brought to justice.
The Under Secretary reviewed the US case and provided further evidence. He urged the Taliban to comply with the UN resolution and he noted a recent Security Council presidential statement with a provision for further measures should the Taliban not comply.
He also noted - raised the issue of the Afghan peace process, on human rights and some of our concerns about the expanding production of narcotics in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: What was the response?
QUESTION: The Pakistan media is reporting that the Taliban said that they might consider turning bin Laden over if they were recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Can you confirm that they made that suggestion with Pickering and what the answer was?
MR. REEKER: I can't confirm that. I haven't gotten a full readout of Under Secretary Pickering's meetings. Obviously, what we have been calling for a long time, and the international community has been calling for, is fulfilling, implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1267, and that would be turning over Usama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice.
QUESTION: Would the recognition come after or could it come before they turn him over?
MR. REEKER: I would have to refer you to the UN Security Council resolution and I don't have it in front of me in terms of its precise requirements and what that resolution says. But that's what we're focusing on.
QUESTION: Did you say that Pickering turned over to the Taliban information about Usama bin Laden?
MR. REEKER: I said that he met with the Taliban, as I've just described, reviewing our case against Usama bin Laden and provided further evidence to them as part of his urging that they comply with the UN resolution.
QUESTION: Do you have any information about what that evidence is about?
MR. REEKER: I don't, no.
QUESTION: How about a more general response from Jalil? Do you have anything on what he said, what his response was?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I don't have a readout on that. I just was able to get these facts of his visit.
QUESTION: In light of there not being any big announcement, we should probably just assume that they didn't respond positively?
MR. REEKER: I have to let you make your own assumptions. What I can outline for you is what Under Secretary Pickering went into this meeting to discuss, what he set forth and our strong conviction that the Taliban should comply with the UN resolution and see that Usama bin Laden is brought to justice.
QUESTION: The Post had a story today suggesting German flexibility and the question of international parental child abduction. Do you have anything on that?
MR. REEKER: I did read that story, saw the story in The Post today. We haven't received anything from the Government of Germany. We, of course, will welcome any efforts to improve the ability of Americans to visit their children in Germany. I couldn't comment on any specifics of German proposals until we've seen what it entails.
I will note, as I think you all know, the President will be going from Lisbon to Germany later this week. Secretary Albright will be accompanying him. It is an issue that they will discuss in terms of our bilateral relations. So I would probably refer more specific questions on that to the traveling party, who will be in a position to discuss that in greater detail.
We would welcome greater compliance, in fact, from all countries that belong to The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, including Germany. We are going to continue working with the German Government and all other governments to strengthen enforcement of Hague Convention principles and to ensure that parental rights are protected across borders.
QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary and Foreign Minister Fischer have discussed this since he was here or since they talked about it a bit when he was here? And do you know whether any such discussions are taking place with other countries now that may be more willing to look at a redirection of these -
MR. REEKER: I don't have specifics on meetings. As you know, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Fischer did discuss it when he was here and they spoke about it at their press availability afterwards. I think the Foreign Minister took it very seriously. Certainly, we take it very seriously.
The United States has no greater responsibility than the protection and well-being of US citizens abroad, including US citizen children who are at the center of international child custody disputes. We take this very, very seriously and in the past we've raised the issue, not only with the Germans but also with numerous other governments and we are going to continue to push on this issue as long as some countries fail to abide by their treaty obligations and parents are denied their rights of custody or visitation with their children.
QUESTION: Senator Helms announced that he is going to propose a cut to the US assistance to Russia because of the Ojdanic case and contacts and assistance that Russia is giving to Belgrade regime. Would you care to comment? What's the State Department's view on that?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I am not aware of the specifics of that. I think we discussed the Ojdanic case and our view that the Secretary raised and was raised earlier in Moscow when National Security Adviser Berger was there with Foreign Minister Ivanov. We feel that Russia has an obligation under the UN Security Council resolutions which they voted for to see that war criminals are turned over to The Hague. In terms of specifics on congressional steps or measures, I'm afraid I don't have anything but would be happy to try to check into that.
QUESTION: Can I just follow on that?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: The NATO Secretary General today said it would be a mistake to shun Russia over that visit. So --
MR. REEKER: I did see his comments. I think we raised it with the Russians. We've spoken, too; the Secretary spoke to it last week in Florence. The Russians have addressed that. Our stand is very clear. Indicted war criminals should be turned over to The Hague for trial.
QUESTION: If the Russians don't do that, it's okay?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I quite follow you.
QUESTION: The Secretary indicated, I think in a press conference in Florence or in London, someplace, that she was satisfied with Foreign Minister Ivanov's explanation of this. So I'm assuming then that that means the US is satisfied with the explanation that the Russians provided to the ICTY. Is that not a correct assumption?
MR. REEKER: I'll let stand what the Secretary said. I've been away over the weekend; I haven't reviewed all of the comments on that. But I think the Secretary did speak to that quite plainly and raised it certainly in her meetings with Foreign Minister Ivanov.
QUESTION: I just -- I'm just not sure. You came out with a very strong comment against this visit and how it was a violation. But they're not prepared to see any consequences for the Russians?
MR. REEKER: I think we've discussed it. We've made our point, our position, extremely clear on it. And I think the Russians have noted that and they are bound by the UN Security Council resolution just as everyone else is.
QUESTION: Apparently not.
QUESTION: On Colombia, has the United States perceived any increase of drugs coming from Colombia because of the delay of the package in the Senate?
MR. REEKER: Well, Secretary Albright has stated on a number of occasions, as has Under Secretary Pickering, who spoke from this podium not long ago, that the delay in the Congress has hurt our efforts to help Colombia deal with its problems. The US Government-supported anti-drug efforts in Colombia, while not halted, are proceeding at a reduced rate so that they may continue through the end of the fiscal year if the Congress fails to appropriate additional funds. To achieve this, programs have been scaled back, more or less as was outlined in some of the press reports that I think you are referring to this morning.
The current Senate bill would fund the Department's portion of our assistance package for fiscal year 2000, which we're in right now, at $934 million, which then ignores the fiscal year 2001 part of the supplemental request. This amount is simply insufficient for the emergency needs that gave rise to our proposal and which have been spoken about at considerable length and detail from here.
So we continue to call upon the Congress to fund fully the President's $1.3 billion supplemental request, which we believe is a thoughtful and comprehensive package of assistance to meet the challenges we and Colombia face combating the narcotics threat. I would point out though, as reported in some of the articles, that the suspension of eradication missions against poppies is not the result of the budget cutbacks. They are suspended - the poppy eradication is suspended right now to allow the next crop of poppies to mature slightly before being eradicated. This causes the heroin industry to lose more in terms of time and effort than the eradication of the newly planted seedlings.
MR. REEKER: The missions are on hiatus and the resources have been shifted north where they are working on the anti-coca missions.
QUESTION: But have you perceived an increase in the flow of drugs generally to this point?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any figures or information for you on that. We can look into that for you but I don't have it at this time.
QUESTION: You said that the delays have hurt but you don't want to be specific?
MR. REEKER: Right. I think what I tried to point out, in light of the press reports that a lot of people read this morning, was that our anti-drug efforts in Colombia, which are very important for our own domestic purposes, are proceeding at a reduced rate so that they can try to continue through the end of the fiscal year if the Congress fails to appropriate the funds. And, as it stands right now, the amount in the Senate bill is simply inadequate, insufficient for the emergency needs which gave rise to our proposal, which had significant congressional support and backing.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - I didn't see the story today yet. I'll read it, obviously. But was there anything new in it that wasn't contained in what we heard from - I can't remember if it was on background or not - but from senior officials who went to Colombia and very recently gave a briefing in here.
MR. REEKER: I believe Under Secretary Pickering gave a briefing here -
QUESTION: He said what appears to be the exact same thing. Is there any new update on this or is this just a --
MR. REEKER: I would hesitate to review the article in great length for you. I think that it was a major article today which prompted a lot of additional questions and I've tried to sort of answer it best. But whether there's anything particularly new in there, I leave that to you and your colleagues to determine.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary of State presented her decision or recommendation to President Clinton about the narco-traffickers? Narco-traffickers are going to be subject to suspension - I don't mean suspension - the laws of the United States. The President is going to give the list on June 1st.
MR. REEKER: I think I would have to defer to June 1st when that list comes out.
QUESTION: No, but according to the law, the Secretary has to present the recommendations before the date.
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of where that process stands. But, obviously -
QUESTION: Can you take that question, because it's two days from now.
MR. REEKER: Sure.
QUESTION: And if you could - are we going to get a briefing or we would just like to know how it is going to be handled.
MR. REEKER: I'll look into it.
QUESTION: Due to the importance of the fight against drugs, I assume that any measures that might be proposed by the US against the Fujimori government would not affect their ability to fight drugs. Fujimori, whatever you may say about him, has led a successful fight against -
MR. REEKER: I think as I tried to cover in the Peru situation, we are very concerned about the situation there, the fact that there was not a - there was a seriously flawed election on Sunday, and we're looking at all possibilities, consulting with others in the region and the international community. And then we will take our next steps after that.
QUESTION: This might be another one you have to take, but the Belarusan President Lukashenko today said the government would treat political opponents who have just returned from meetings in the US specifically with Jesse Helms -
MR. REEKER: I have that wire story.
QUESTION: Thank you - as a possible security threat. He said it's a matter that can't be taken lightly and he's called a meeting of the Security Council, apparently. Do you have anything?
MR. REEKER: I did see that and I do have something which I got from the Bureau directly before coming out here. As the article noted, Senior State Department and National Security Council officials met last week with the Belarusan opposition delegation led by Anatoli Lebedko, deputy chairman of the 13th Supreme Soviet, the legitimate parliament of Belarus, to discuss the ongoing crisis in that country. Other members of his delegation included Vinsuk Viachorka, head of the Belarusan Popular Front; Dimitri Bondarenko, coordinator of the human rights NGO Charter 97; and, Pavel Zhjuk, editor of the independent newspaper Nasha Svaboda. The delegation also met with senior congressional leadership including Senator Jesse Helms, Congressman Sam Gejdenson and Congressman Ben Gilman. They also met with a number of human rights and democracy NGOs in Washington.
Any retribution against these individuals because of their meetings in Washington would be a serious mistake and in the lead-up to elections later this year would further set back efforts to restore legitimate democratic process in Belarus. We urge the Lukashenko regime to end the political crisis in Belarus through a true dialogue with the opposition resulting in free and fair elections.
QUESTION: Can we have spellings on those names?
MR. REEKER: I can get you spellings after the briefing.
QUESTION: I trust that these names were - the Belarusans knew who these people were and you didn't just announce their names perhaps -
QUESTION: Can I just ask a question? Will you be or will the current Administration be asking President Putin to help exert pressure on Lukashenko in this regard?
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the traveling party who, as you know, will go on from Lisbon and Germany to Moscow for that. It may be one of the issues. I know regional issues will certainly be on the agenda for the summit meeting in Moscow on the weekend.
QUESTION: The United States is establishing their new bureau in the southeastern part of Turkey, other than the counsel general of Adana. What's the purpose of establishing this kind of office?
MR. REEKER: I am afraid I will have to check into that. I am not aware of that. A new -
QUESTION: A new bureau. They said that it is - they said it is a new bureau because of the PKK terrorism and fighting in this area is very heavy.
MR. REEKER: Let me check into that and try to find something for you.
Anything else? Oh, one last thing.
QUESTION: I may have missed it. Did you discuss Ethiopia and Eritrea?
MR. REEKER: No.
QUESTION: Oh, you didn't? Okay, fine. I do have a question for you.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Your statement says the United States has confirmed Eritrea's withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1998. Now, I wondered if you could explain how you managed to confirm this, because the Ethiopians themselves are not confirming this.
MR. REEKER: I will have to check on the way we've done that.
QUESTION: It's an important point because they are tying this to their own withdrawal.
MR. REEKER: As you know, we have Tony Lake and a team in Algiers working on supporting that process, the proximity talks that are under way there. And the purpose, of course, is to try to reach agreement on the detailed plans for implementing the OAU peace package there. But I will try to get you further details than what we put into our statement.
(The briefing concluded at 2:45 p.m.)