U.S. Dept. Of State Daily Press Briefing
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Daily Press Briefing Index Monday, October 2, 2000
Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Unexpected Death of Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
1-4 Interventions by Secretary of State / No Travel Plans to Middle East / Escalation of Violence / Israelis Using Anti-Tank Missiles Against the Crowds / U.S. Chairing Meeting of Israeli & Palestinian Security Officials / Effect of Outbreaks of Violence on Peace Process / Reference to Mr. Sharon / Picture of Dying Man & Son
RUSSIA 4-8 Level of Russian Pressure on Milosevic / President Clinton's Call to President Putin / Secretary Albright's Conversations with Foreign Minister Ivanov / Why Russians Are Not Coming Out and Acknowledging That Opposition & Kostunica Won in the First Round / President Putin Agrees That Will of the Serbian People Needs to be Respected
SERBIA 4-10 The People of Yugoslavia Having Spoken / Welcoming Democratic Serbia Into Community of Nations / Kostunica's Comments About U.S. Focusing Too Much Time On Getting Milosevic Into The Hague / Encouraging Russians to do More / Milosevic's Comments About Opposition / U.S. Recognition of Kostunica Government/ Chances of Milosevic Giving Up Power Before Sunday / Defections From Milosevic's Circle & Party / Reaching Out of Opposition
TURKEY 10-11 Previously Fighting Together with U.S. to Stop PKK Terrorist Organization Broadcasting
15 Ambassador Pearson's Meetings in Town
NKOREA 11-14 Upcoming Meeting Between Secretary Albright & North Korea Special Envoy / Bilateral Talks in New York/ Ambassador Sheehan's Segment on Terrorism / Meetings Over Weekend / Ambassador Einhorn Led Discussions on Missiles Last Week / President Clinton Meeting General Cho / Plans For Meetings in Washington With North Korean Delegation / Outline of General Agendas Between the two Countries
COLOMBIA 14 Threats to Members of U.S. Army Training Colombian Soldiers / Movement of Rodriguez Brothers to Another Jail / Two Members of Colombian Army Arrested in New York for Possession of Heroin
PERU 14-15 President Fujimori Back in Town / Meetings at State Department with U.S. Officials
CHINA 15-16 Latest Crackdown on Falun Gong / PRC & the Vatican Re-fighting Boxer Rebellion
TAIWAN 15-16 Transit of Vice President of Taiwan/ Whether Chinese Government Protested Transit Stop
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB #95 MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2000, 1:05 P.M. (CORRECTED) (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, and welcome back to the State Department for this first briefing of the month of October in the year 2000. I would just like to begin the briefing by expressing, on behalf of Secretary Albright and the State Department, our deepest sympathies to the government and people of Dominica at the loss of their Prime Minister. We very much regret the unexpected death of Prime Minister Roosevelt Douglas and extend our deepest condolences to his family and to the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica during this time of mourning.
Despite Prime Minister Douglas' relatively short time in office, he moved quickly to demonstrate his government's commitment to combating narcotics trafficking and transnational crime when he came to Washington last may to exchange instruments of ratification for a bilateral extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty. So, once again, we express our sympathies to the government and people of Dominica.
And with that, I'll be happy to start with Mr. Schweid.
QUESTION: On the Middle East situation, please, is anybody coming or going? You know what I mean by that, of course. And have there been any interventions by the Secretary of State, specifically on the telephone or whatever?
MR. REEKER: Obviously, Barry, I'll do my standard referral to the traveling party. The Secretary was just on, in fact, one of our outstanding international television networks as I was coming out here, and her remarks from Paris where she has addressed the situation. But I can say she reiterated she has no travel plans to the Middle East. The Secretary is in Paris overnight, having completed talks there as part of the US-EU ministerial, and tomorrow is expected in Dresden for the tenth anniversary of German reunification, and returning to Washington tomorrow evening.
There are also no plans for Dennis Ross - anticipating your next question - for Dennis Ross to go the Middle East right now.
QUESTION: Well, someone has got to go eventually, and the White is talking about chairing - the US chairing the security - that wouldn't be a State Department person?
MR. REEKER: Right. In terms of that, the news that came out over the weekend, as you'll recall, the President, President Clinton, spoke over the weekend with Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat and with other Israeli and Palestinian officials. The Secretary also has spoken with people. We have expressed - the President and the Secretary - our deep concern over the escalation of the violence, obviously, and call on both sides to exert maximum efforts to restore calm as quickly as possible.
Both leaders pledged to the President that they would do all that they can, and agree that as soon as conditions permit the United States will chair a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security officials for the purpose of fact finding and to prevent a reoccurrence of the events of the past few days. And prior to that meeting, both sides are going to conduct their separate reviews and continue to meet with each other.
The meeting, obviously, is designed to understand what went wrong, and see how both parties can ensure that Palestinians and Israelis will not relive the terrible events of the last few days. As you know, since Wye we have worked with both sides to help them improve cooperation in terms of security efforts and, in the past, appropriate US officials have traveled. I don't have anything specific to say other than an appropriate US official will chair that meeting once it is determined when it will take place.
QUESTION: In the past, have these meetings been chaired by someone from State, or is it someone from the Pentagon, or the CIA, or who?
MR. REEKER: My understanding is that it has been officials at the appropriate level from the appropriate agency, and I just don't have a lot of details on those meetings. But when the conditions are appropriate and we are able to schedule a meeting to take place in the region, that will occur.
QUESTION: Can I follow up Matt's question briefly? Your statement about the appeals - is it the feeling in the Administration, or at least at the State Department, number one, that both leaders want the violence to stop; and, secondly, that they have the capability of stopping the violence?
MR. REEKER: Let me just echo what the Secretary said, Barry, that we are very concerned about the violence that is taking place. The Secretary said it is counter-productive to the peace process. She has spoken to Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami of Israel and with Chairman Arafat and have discussed the importance of restraint and the danger of a cycle of violence developing. The Secretary also noted that we are at a very delicate stage of the peace talks, and it is absolutely essential for the violence to stop. As I said a moment ago, both leaders - both Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat - have pledged to the President that they will do all they can to do that and to help encourage calm and restraint. And we will continue to urge both sides to do that, to avoid any actions that provoke tension in this arena.
I think the events of the last days only underscore what we have said from here many times, that Israelis and Palestinians need to focus their efforts intensively on reaching an agreement, and cooperate with one another in a practical fashion until a permanent status accord can be reached. I will take this opportunity, of course, to extend our condolences to the families of all those killed and wounded in this recent violence, and again to call on both sides to take the steps necessary to restore calm and avoid any actions or words that could inflame the situation.
QUESTION: Several members of the international community have said that perhaps the response taken by Israel in terms of the level of kind of military response has been a little bit harsh, given that these - that the Palestinians were protesting. There was, you know, some kind of disruption, but that the Israeli response was a little harsh militarily. Does the US feel that Israel took an inappropriate stance on the crackdown?
MR. REEKER: I am not keeping score or trying to apportion blame. Both sides need to do everything they can to restore calm, to avoid actions and words that can further inflame the situation. And that's what we're focusing on.
QUESTION: On that, though, there were reports that the Israelis are using anti-tank missiles against the crowds. Can you tell us how many tanks the Palestinians have?
MR. REEKER: I don't have details on the situation there and, as I said, I'm not in a position to get into some sort of scorekeeping on the security situation. There is violence. There is always tension in that region. We know that. It underscores the reason that we need to focus on the talks and working towards a comprehensive final status agreement.
QUESTION: They are also using helicopter gunships on crowds of civilians in apartment buildings, according to some of the reports.
MR. REEKER: Once again --
QUESTION: Yeah, but the Palestinians are just throwing stones, Phil, and they're using tanks. I guess - you know --
MR. REEKER: I have been watching your network's coverage, just as you have, Elise. Once again, on the United States part, we're calling for both sides to do what they can to restore calm, to take maximum effort at showing restraint, avoiding actions and words that can inflame a situation that, as we know, is always very tense.
QUESTION: There is a little gap here. They pledged to do that, and you're calling on them to make maximum efforts. Can you tell us if both have made maximum efforts, in the US view?
MR. REEKER: I think again, Barry, we're not trying to do some sort of scorekeeping here. We're not apportioning blame. We have a terrible situation in which people are being killed and wounded, and both sides need to do everything they can to calm and control events on the ground. Clearly, they must do more. We must avoid this kind of violence and avoid inflaming the tensions that exist there so that we can work on the peace process with the goal of coming up with a comprehensive peace agreement.
QUESTION: Just to sort of follow up on that, when you say that both sides - we call on both sides to do everything they can, do you believe it's in the power, specifically in Yasser Arafat's power, to control the violence that is on the ground there, to control the demonstrations and to stop it? Do you think he has the ability to do that?
MR. REEKER: Look, the leaders of both sides have pledged to the President, to President Clinton, that they will do what they can. And that's what we ask of them. And as I said, as soon as conditions permit, the United States will chair a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian security officials to do some fact finding and try to help prevent reoccurrence of events that we've seen in the past few days. We want to have a meeting so that we can understand better what went wrong and see how both parties can ensure that Palestinians and Israelis will not relive these events over the last couple of days. So that meeting will take place as soon as conditions permit.
QUESTION: When these outbreaks of violence take place, there are often two views. Some people seem to think that actually it's a setback for the peace process, and others seem to think that it actually provides an incentive and a reminder of the need to move ahead. In this particular case, what is the feeling in this building about what kind of effect it is having on the peace process?
MR. REEKER: I think I'll just let the Secretary speak to that. And if you note her quote I think I cited a moment ago, she said, "We're very concerned that the violence is taking place. It is clearly counter-productive as far as moving on the peace process."
QUESTION: My understanding, Phil, was that she said clearly counter-productive in relation to Sharon's visit. Was that not --
MR. REEKER: Well, Matt, I can cite you the transcript that I have here that says, "Secretary Albright: Let me do the Middle East first. We're very concerned about the violence that is taking place. It is clearly counter-productive as far as moving on the peace process."
QUESTION: Does she make reference to Mr. Sharon then, as widely reported?
MR. REEKER: I don't see a reference in that paragraph to Mr. Sharon, but again I'd have to refer you to your colleagues who were traveling with her and are there and in a position to be present at her statement.
QUESTION: There was one thing which seems to have inflamed the violence, and that is the picture of the man and his son, and the man dying because they were caught in the crossfire. Has this picture, or those pictures of the violence, has that - I don't know - moved the US to work even harder on this? Are we thinking of altering our role? Have you heard talk of what --
MR. REEKER: I think all of the violence, whether in pictures or not - and certainly we've all seen tragic images in the last couple of days coming from the region. As I said before, clearly both sides must do more to control the situation. It's a terrible situation. We have people being killed, as we saw, and people being wounded. And both sides need to do everything they can to calm and control events on the ground.
QUESTION: Is the US thinking of altering our involvement in this?
MR. REEKER: I think I have outlined as much as I can where we are involved: the conversations that have taken place between senior US officials and leaders in the region and our plans to try to help chair a conference to review what we can do to help coordinate security between the two sides.
QUESTION: Last week, the Pentagon announced a proposed sale of 35 Blackhawk helicopters to Israel, saying that it would help peace and stability in the region. Given the events and the use of helicopters - I don't know whether they are Blackhawks that they are using against the crowds - would the Administration consider revoking that sale?
MR. REEKER: Again, the supposition of your question is one that I am just not going to get into. I am not aware of the specifics of the Pentagon announcement next week. I would refer you to them. What the Administration has done, what the United States has done - and I can repeat it again for - I don't know what we are up to in terms of counts again - is to call on both sides, the leaders and the people on both sides, to exercise maximum restraint, restore calm, so that we can move ahead with the very important and very delicate peace talks, which obviously will have to deal with the emotional and difficult issues at hand. But we need to try to develop ways to avoid this kind of violence which, as the Secretary said, is only counter-productive to the peace effort.
QUESTION: Yes. Is there the perception by the United States Government that either side here, or any element of either side, might be provoking these conflicts for political gain?
MR. REEKER: Again, I think if you go back, when you can read the transcript or listen to the questions that your colleagues have asked, Bill, the issue is not one of keeping score or trying to apportion blame. That is not what the United States is trying to do. We are calling on all sides to exercise restraint and to push for calm and to do all they can in that manner. And we will do what we can to help the process.
QUESTION: If there were peace talks once again that were making progress, do you think that this situation would exist - the current situation of strife?
MR. REEKER: I guess I am not totally clear on your - the premise of your question. What the Secretary said was that the violence taking place is clearly counter-productive, as far as moving on the peace process. What we want to see is a working through the peace process, a return to the talks necessary to make the difficult decisions, to move ahead with a comprehensive peace agreement, and this violence only underscores the need to do that.
QUESTION: I understand. Okay, thanks.
MR. REEKER: Yes. Anything else on the Middle East?
QUESTION: I'm interested in crowd control. Nabil Shaath said that one of the problems was that the Israelis never adopted clear crowd control mechanisms and efforts, and instead they sent snipers up on the wall, et cetera. Is the United States going to help Israel in creating a kinder and better police in terms of crowd control? Do you have anything on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on crowd control, Gene. It's just not a subject I have been studying up on at this point. What I can point you to is what I have already gone through here, what the White House has said in terms of the United States chairing a meeting with representatives from both sides in terms of their security officials for the purpose of fact finding, and to try to prevent reoccurrence of the type of events we have seen over the past few days.
And as I indicated earlier as well, we have done this since Wye, where we have worked with both sides to help them improve cooperation on security efforts. And that is what we will continue to do to help understand what went wrong and see how both parties can ensure that the Palestinians and Israelis won't have to relive the terrible events that we have seen in the last couple of days.
Anything else on the Middle East?
QUESTION: You have said that the United States is prepared to follow the lead of the opposition on what course of action is best. Mr. Kostunica now is saying that the United States should go easy on the war crimes issue because this is, in fact, helping Milosevic. What do you have to say to his criticism on this?
MR. REEKER: Again, I would refer you to the traveling party and the Secretary's comments, which have addressed this at great length in Europe. Today she has a number of things to say about that. Our position on the war crimes issue has not changed from what we expressed again on Friday. It has not changed from the position that we have had all along.
QUESTION: Would you say he's misguided on this point?
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to take your words; I'm going to use my words and say that our position on the war crimes indictments stays exactly where it has been all along.
QUESTION: On a related point, are you satisfied with the level of Russian pressure on Milosevic, or do you think they could do more if they want?
MR. REEKER: Well, again, let me refer you to what the Secretary said. Milosevic tried to steal the election. We have seen very clearly that the people of Serbia, the people of Yugoslavia, have spoken, and they have decided, and that people - everyone, all of us - should recognize that. Slobodan Milosevic should recognize that, that the people have spoken and made their decision, and that is that Milosevic should go. He is through. His time is up.
The Secretary indicated the discussions that she has had with her European colleagues, that all of us are ready to welcome a democratic Serbia back into the community of nations, back into Europe. We continue to believe that the opposition has won an outright victory on the 24th of September.
In terms of your question about the Russians, President Clinton called President Putin on Saturday to discuss the elections, and President Putin said he agreed that the will of the Serbian people should be respected. And I think the Secretary has had numerous conversations with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Ivanov. Clearly, they won in the first round.
QUESTION: On Kostunica's comments this morning, he said that - he not only said that the US is too focused on - not only is not helpful, but the US is kind of trading off getting Milosevic into The Hague - focusing too much on that and not enough on the immediate stability of Serbia.
And then also he also said something about the Russians, that the Russians are - yes, they're involved but they're not being entirely productive, that they're not coming out strongly enough, using their influence against Milosevic. And do you think that the Russians should come out a little stronger, recognizing the first round - Kostunica winning the first round, as the US did?
MR. REEKER: Again, I think it's a matter of the Serbian people deciding, and the Serbian people have decided. They have spoken. They have made their view - their will - quite clear. And people should recognize that. As I said, Milosevic should recognize that. It's time for him to go, and they've spoken quite plainly.
QUESTION: Phil, the Russians have not recognized that. Basically, they've said the electoral commission has spoken and said that Kostunica did not win the first round outright. So, I mean, are you prepared to call on the Russians to reconsider this --
MR. REEKER: I think we have been having very useful talks with the Russians. I think the Russians, as I indicated, agree that the will of the Serbian people should be respected. The Secretary has addressed that. Again, I would refer you to her remarks on that subject. The facts are very clear. Clearly, the opposition and Mr. Kostunica won in the first round. The polling results are readily available, and it's quite clear what was decided then.
QUESTION: Then why aren't the Russians coming out and acknowledging that?
MR. REEKER: Well, then I think you'd have to ask the Russian Government for their exact position. I'm not up here to speak on their behalf.
QUESTION: But that must be a source of contention among the US and Russia in the relationship right now that
MR. REEKER: I don't think - you know, you guys love to have contention. There is nothing more exciting to you. But I don't see --
QUESTION: No, I - (inaudible.)
MR. REEKER: I think I have outlined the conversations we've had, the regular dialogue that we've been having with the Russians, with European allies, on this. And all I can point you to is what President Putin said in his conversation with President Clinton over the weekend that he agreed that the will of the Serbian people needs to be respected.
QUESTION: I mean, at the end of the Kosovo War the Russians were very instrumental in getting the thing ended, and even up to it relied on the Russians to sort of be an influencing factor on Milosevic. Why do you seem to be not pressing that option now or encouraging the Russians to do more as the Serbs' ally, or not come out and ask them to do it?
MR. REEKER: I think - again, let me refer you to all of the things that Secretary Albright said on that subject and the conversations she has had and what was discussed amongst the Europeans in the meetings that have taken place in Paris on that. As I said last week, Russia has traditionally been a strong supporter of the Serbian people, and the Serbian people have spoken. And we all need to recognize that they have made their decision, and they have said what they want to happen. They have expressed their will. And President Putin has said he agreed that the will of the Serbian people should be respected, and they have called for Milosevic to go. His time is up, and it's time for him to move.
QUESTION: Post-Paris press conference, Milosevic went on television for the first time since the Kosovo War, going to war, and basically said that the opposition was a stooge of - that Kostunica was a stooge of Zoran Djindjic, who himself was a stooge of the US and NATO, talking about how the West is not against Milosevic - the West is not against Serbia - the West is only against Serbia because of Milosevic --
MR. REEKER: Are you having a hard time parsing Milosevic there, Matt?
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. Look, you can't refer me to the party because it hasn't been addressed by the party. So I'm wondering if you have any comment on Milosevic's speech.
MR. REEKER: Look, I have never made it a practice to have a lot of comment on the speeches of someone like Milosevic on his state-controlled television - the aspects of a sort of desperate man who realizes that the people have spoken. You know, it's time for him to go. The people of Serbia, whom he has pretended to represent and speak for over more than a decade, have seen their country brought to economic ruin and international pariah status, have spoken. And they have said it's time for him to go. They want to see change. They want to be a normal European country. And that's what we welcome. We look forward to welcoming them back into the international community and having them participate and be able to rebuild from the ruin that he has brought upon them.
QUESTION: So no amount of his public oratory is going to change --
MR. REEKER: I think the people have spoken, and that is what is important. This is a matter for the people of Yugoslavia.
QUESTION: You think he's wasting his time, basically, going in front of the - going on national television talking to the people and telling them that he is, in fact, the best thing for them?
MR. REEKER: Again, it's great to have you state those things for me. I think I've said enough. The people of Yugoslavia have spoken, and that is what matters in this situation. They have decided that it is time for a change, and they have said that Milosevic must go.
QUESTION: So it doesn't seem like Slobodan Milosevic is about to recognize the will of the people. Is the US about to recognize the will of the people, and recognize a Kostunica government, let's say in exile, or recognize that as the legitimately elected government?
MR. REEKER: That is just beyond the sort of hypothetical, so I am not even going to get into that.
QUESTION: No, it's not. I mean, it doesn't -
MR. REEKER: Our position has been very clear from the beginning, that we have seen the people speak, we have seen the evidence, we have seen the ballots, the polling results that have been made publicly available. We have seen nothing to indicate that there is any factual basis for a second round, and clearly the opposition won in the first round. They had a victory there; it is a victory for the people of Yugoslavia, and that is what important. They have spoken, and they want to see their country return to Europe, return to the international community, and that is what they are focusing on.
QUESTION: Now, let's see, the assessment - of the latest assessment of the analysts in this building of the chances of Milosevic giving up power before Sunday, which is obviously a critical --
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular assessments or --
QUESTION: Is it still a real possibility, or is it --
MR. REEKER: We watch events there closely. We don't have people, as you know, there. We obviously look at the media reports. And, to us, it is very clear that the will of the people was expressed. It was expressed in results that are clearly transparent and available, and that --
QUESTION: Yes, I know what happened, but I am talking about what is the real - what is the assessment of the real --
MR. REEKER: Again, I am going to leave the analysis for you to do, because you are going to do your analyses anyway. We will watch the facts and the results. I don't have anything else to share with you at this point.
QUESTION: Senior State Department officials have told us in the past that one of the scenarios that they would see is defections from Milosevic's circle and party. We started to see that over the weekend. Are you optimistic that these are positive signs that Milosevic will in fact step down and let the will of the people speak?
MR. REEKER: Look, I think we have talked about that last week, that there were a number of indications that some of the cronies of Milosevic and his party and his regime had been trying to reach out to the opposition. They have clearly seen the facts, as we have seen the facts, that the opposition had a clear victory on September 24th. And so I think more and more people will begin to see that that is what has been expressed by the people of Serbia and Yugoslavia, that this is their desire to see their country get back on the right path, and that it is time for Milosevic to go.
Anything else on this? Then let's change subjects.
QUESTION: I just want to follow up on what you said, that some of these cronies are reaching out to Kostunica. Originally there was like a list of people on a travel ban for the --
MR. REEKER: I don't have details on that. I am basing it on press reports and statements by the opposition that they had received calls from people in the regime discussing trying to make some change.
QUESTION: So this is just based on press reports?
MR. REEKER: Right. I am not giving you any particular news there, Elise.
QUESTION: Are there still plans - no plans yet for any one to go from here?
MR. REEKER: To go where?
QUESTION: To go - I don't know - to Montenegro, or to someplace close?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any plans, but continue to check that. Again, this is - the Serbian people and the opposition are working on this issue, not us.
QUESTION: Phil, the PKK terror organization voice as the MET-TV start broadcasting in the United States, and the stations also changed his names as Media TV? In the past, the United States and Turkey, they fight together to stop this terrorist's voice. Now this voice reach in the United States 2,350 US universities, CIA, even State Department, and the World Bank - several other official government offices. And I wonder, what is changed in the US policy to give the permission of one of the federally-funded organizations bring this voice into all US Government offices?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. So maybe if you can provide us with some --
QUESTION: I already put the question in this morning.
MR. REEKER: It's not something I have been watching. I don't have much time to watch TV anyway. But I would be happy to try to look into it for you, but I just really don't know anything at all about it.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about an upcoming meeting between Secretary Albright and the North Korea special envoy. Do you think that the military issue - for example, the issue related to changing the armistice - (inaudible) -- peace agreement between the United States and North Korea - it will be discussed in the meeting?
MR. REEKER: Well, I don't have any specifics to give you yet on that meeting, which we announced Friday afternoon, other than just to reiterate that the First Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, Chairman Cho Myong-nok, will visit Washington October 9 through 12, as a special envoy of Chairman Kim Jong-il. Secretary Albright is going to host the visit and the meetings there. The President will meet with Vice Chairman Cho in the course of the visit, and of course Ambassador Wendy Sherman, our Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary on North Korea Policy, will be very involved in that. We see this very much as an important step forward in improving bilateral relations, and it is going to contribute definitely to our goal of ending the longstanding state of hostility on the Korean Peninsula.
So in terms of specifics of that, I can't obviously prejudge that, but we are very pleased. The Secretary has expressed how pleased she is that this visit is going to take place. We will try to have more details for you as scheduling and other details emerge, probably over this week. I will try to get you some background briefings.
QUESTION: Two questions on the same subject. One is, I assume from that answer that the North Koreans have not yet canceled this meeting - (laughter) - or otherwise postponed it because of some small thing. I'm just assuming --
MR. REEKER: No, we are continuing to work with the North Koreans on the upcoming visit. As you know, we have talks still going on in New York this week.
QUESTION: Have the terrorism talks begun yet?
MR. REEKER: The bilateral talks with North Korea are continuing today in New York, and the tone, I am told, remains very positive. Ambassador Sheehan is there today leading a segment on terrorism, and we are very much working with them in New York to coordinate the upcoming visit that we discussed.
QUESTION: And are those expected to go - the New York talks - beyond today, or do we not know?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a full readout of whether today would be the last day or it will continue into tomorrow. I think obviously they are working very hard to make all these arrangements and coordinate for the following week when we have this high-level visit. So we will get back to you as the details emerge.
QUESTION: And there was a question on Friday of what - did they have any meetings over the - or were there any types of meetings over the weekend, or did they just break for the Saturday and Sunday?
MR. REEKER: I'm not sure on that, Matt. I would be happy to check back specifically. I think there was certainly a break of some sort. Whether some meetings continued --
QUESTION: But the terrorism part started today?
MR. REEKER: That is my understanding --
QUESTION: Did they do the segment on missiles last week, or --
MR. REEKER: Did they do?
QUESTION: The segment on missiles.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Ambassador Einhorn was in New York leading the discussions on missiles last week. He is back in Washington. Mike Sheehan is in New York, along, of course, with Ambassador Kartman, who has been working on this all along.
QUESTION: You announced that President Clinton is going to meet General Cho. And at what occasion - at what function?
MR. REEKER: I just don't have details to add at this point. During the course of the meetings, of the visit from October 9th through 12th, the President will receive Vice Chairman Cho, but I just don't have any schedule to give you at this point. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will have a better picture of how we expect this visit to be conducted.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- General Cho is going to be here using a private plane? Or do you have any information about that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have their travel details. Again, I think those are the things that are being discussed in New York even today, and hopefully toward the end of the week we will have some more details, or perhaps North Koreans will give you details of the --
QUESTION: The delegation in New York will be flown to Washington to negotiate about the itineraries and protocols?
MR. REEKER: I believe they are taking care of that in New York. That is where they are meeting on this. And in terms of more details, I don't have any at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea when they are going to be in town - the delegation - the North Korean delegation now in New York?
MR. REEKER: No, as I just said, I don't have any details that they are going to be in town. I know they are discussing the visit in New York. I am not aware of any plans for meetings in Washington prior to the visit, but that doesn't preclude that that may occur as we continue to work out the details for this. I just don't have those details yet while they are working on them.
QUESTION: Can you outline the general agendas between the two countries when General Cho is in town?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think in our statement that we released on Friday, we did go through that to a degree. I think we noted that General Cho Myong-nok is the first Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission, which is the most important ruling body in North Korea. He is second to Chairman Kim Jong-il in the National Defense Commission, and is considered to be very influential. So he will be accompanied, we should note, by First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kang Sok Ju.
And, as I said, we have been discussing a high-level visit for some time. I think a lot of you will remember that in January of this year the North Koreans formally accepted our invitation to send a high-level delegation to the United States as a reciprocal visit to the May 1999 visit to Pyongyang by Presidential Envoy former Defense Secretary Dr. William Perry, who was accompanied at that time by Ambassador Wendy Sherman.
Obviously, given the historic events that have been taking place on the Korean Peninsula in the last few months, the US and North Korea are in full agreement that this is a very good time to have a high-level visit that provides a very good opportunity for serious talks on - and indeed some progress on - the issues central to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific region at large, and that includes the improvement of US-North Korean bilateral ties.
We have been pursuing a dialogue with North Korea, as you know, in which the range of our concerns can be discussed and resolved. Obviously among those issues, as outlined in Dr. Perry's report, includes nuclear missile issues, and we hope to see progress in bilateral relations, and in enhanced stability in the Korean Peninsula which will allow such normalization as was envisioned in the Agreed Framework from 1994. So we will be reviewing all of those things. Obviously Ambassador Sheehan is in New York today talking about terrorism, so we will continue to look at all of those issues as we move through these to the visit next week.
Is this any more on Korea?
QUESTION: On Colombia?
MR. REEKER: On Colombia, yes.
QUESTION: The FARC in Colombia threatened all of the members of the US Army that are now in Colombia training the Colombian soldiers. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. REEKER: Well, I don't think there was anything particularly new in that. We have seen those types of statements before. Obviously I can refer you to the Pentagon, but I know that force protection for our people that are in Colombia working on Plan Colombia, as we try to implement that with the Colombians, take force protection extremely seriously. It is a top priority for us. But, again, I haven't seen anything particularly new in these statements that have come out of there.
QUESTION: I have another one from Colombia. The Government of Colombia decided to move hermanos - Rodriguez Orejula brothers from jail in Bogota to a jail near Cali. Is there any comment on that? I mean --
MR. REEKER: No, I just --
QUESTION: And another one. There were two members of the Colombian Army arrested in New York for possession of heroin and --
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to law enforcement officials, either with the New York authorities or the Justice Department. The District Attorney's office, I think, would be the appropriate place in New York on that.
Still on Colombia?
QUESTION: No, a neighboring country. President Fujimori was back in town today. Do you have any fresh guidance on Peru, either on President Fujimori or on Montesinos?
MR. REEKER: My guidance isn't very fresh.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, you did the Perry report just now. Maybe you have - that was a year old.
MR. REEKER: Right. I'm just not sure what you are looking for. I did see that President Fujimori is back in Washington on his way back to Peru. I believe we discussed Friday the meeting that was held with the Secretary, and I don't really have any more details to go into on that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Were there any meetings here at the State Department with any US officials?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of, no. My understanding is he is transiting and meeting, according to the press reports, with officials at the IDB - Inter-American Development Bank, but I just don't have a readout. I would have to refer you to the Peruvian Embassy to get details of what he is doing.
QUESTION: Is Ambassador Pearson still in town, and do you have anything about his meetings?
MR. REEKER: I don't, I'm afraid. I'm not sure. I know Ambassador Pearson was back for a couple of days, and I don't know whether -
MR. REEKER: He is our United States Ambassador to Turkey - it will be a surprise for you to know - and so I would be happy to check. But you might just want to check directly with the European Bureau, who can tell you if he has returned to Ankara, which I believe he did over the weekend, but I am not up on his exact whereabouts.
QUESTION: Two questions on China. One, do you have anything to say about the latest crackdown on the Falun Gong? And secondly - this is not China but Taiwan - the Vice President of Taiwan is in San Francisco right now. Is there anything being - do you have anything more to say about her transit?
MR. REEKER: Let's talk first about the Falun Gong. We have seen the reports of forcible detention of Falun Gong practitioners in Tiananmen Square during China's National Day celebration. We haven't been able to confirm the numbers detained, but of course we find very disturbing reports of China's use of increasingly harsh tactics to repress the Falun Gong spiritual movement. To the best of our knowledge, those detained were engaging in internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. So we will continue to call upon the Chinese Government to uphold its obligations under international human rights instruments to respect those rights.
As we have said before, I think China's failure to respect freedom of thought and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion of Chinese citizens is the basis for the Secretary's decision to designate China a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. And we discussed that when the report was released just some weeks ago.
On the subject of Vice President Liu, as we discussed before, Vice President Liu will make a transit of the United States for the purpose of traveling to and now from Central America. She is transiting San Francisco, I believe today, October 1 - 2. As we have discussed at great length before, permission for transits by Taiwan senior leaders for the safety, comfort and convenience of the traveler is granted on a case-by-case basis, and we understand that her activities are private and consistent with the purposes of transit as she makes her way back to Taiwan.
QUESTION: And there haven't been any attempts, to your knowledge, to kind of violate - as there were in Los Angeles with the President, and a Member of Congress kind of barged his way into - had been no incident - no untoward incidents like that that you are aware of?
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of that. We understand there will be no public or media events.
QUESTION: Have you received any protest from the Chinese Government to this transit stop?
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of that today. You may recall that the transit on the way to Central America took place, I guess, September 23-24, when she transited Los Angeles and Miami on her way to Central America. So I am not aware of specifics, but the PRC has expressed its concerns about such transits on many occasions, certainly.
QUESTION: Yes, Phil, on another subject. It seems that the Vatican and the PRC are fighting the - re-fighting the Boxer Rebellion, in that the Chinese have slandered many of the 110 persons that were canonized because of their actions back in that period and before that. Does the United States Department of State have any words on this particular matter?
MR. REEKER: I don't, Bill, in regards to the specifics of that particular matter. In general, in terms of our views on human rights and the expression of freedom of thought and freedom of conscience and religion in China, I will just refer you back to what I said a moment ago in response to Matt's question.
QUESTION: Does not the Vatican exert a very careful, thorough researching before they bring anybody up --
MR. REEKER: That's a question I would leave for the Vatican, Bill. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. All right.
MR. REEKER: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 P.M.)