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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 12, 2001

Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, June 12, 2001

BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

PHILIPPINES 1-6 Reported Beheading of American Citizen Hostage / U.S. Calls for Safe and Immediate Release of All Persons Held by Abu Sayyaf

CHINA 7-8 U.S. Has Made No Determination of Transfer of Lethal Military Equipment from China to Cuba

MACEDONIA 8-11 Escalation of Violence by National Liberation Army

NATO 10 North Atlantic Council Meeting

MIDDLE EAST 11-14 DCI Tenet Continues Meeting with Israeli and Palestinian Officials / Assistant Secretary Burns Continues Discussions Regarding Timeline for Implementation of the Mitchell Committee Recommendations 16 Possible Meeting with Foreign Minister Peres and Secretary Powell in Brussels

CROATIA / FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA 14-15 U.S. Welcomes Meeting of Croatian President Mesic and Yugoslav President Kostunica on the Margins of the Summit of Central and East European Presidents in Italy

JAPAN 16 Possible Visit of Foreign Minister Tanaka to Washington, D.C.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB # 82

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2001 1:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. REEKER: Welcome back, everyone, to the State Department. Good afternoon. Sorry for the delay. I've just been conversing with the party, as it were, in Spain. Obviously, as you know, Ambassador Boucher is accompanying Secretary Powell, who is accompanying the President on his European visit. So I am sure all of you saw the President's news conference from Spain.

I don't have any announcements or statements to make, so I would be happy to go directly to the questions, starting with the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Could you tell us about the American hostages in the Philippines? Have any of them been killed? What is the situation?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think you have all seen the press reports that a torso was found by Philippine authorities. We have seen a number of conflicting reports, but at this point I cannot confirm the identity of that body. We are of course consulting and cooperating closely with the Government of the Philippines.

Let me just say that the murder of an innocent person is a cowardly act, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms this reported action. We hold the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group responsible for the safety and welfare of all the people it is holding, and we call for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of all the innocent persons being held.

So while I can't provide you any more details on that at this point, we are working actively with the Government of the Philippines and will continue to keep you posted as we have developments.

QUESTION: Can you tell us any kind of background on the Abu Sayyaf group? Do we know about their international connections?

MR. REEKER: Well, I would refer you to the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report that you are very familiar with. As that report states, the Abu Sayyaf group is the smallest and most radical of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines. They have engaged in bombings, assassinations, and as we've seen, kidnappings and extortions to promote an independent Islamic state in Western Mindanao. They have kidnapped more than 30 foreigners, beginning in 1995, and that has continued, including the current situation that also involves American citizens.

So again, we condemn this action. Our terrorism report has made that quite clear what we think about that group, and the sort of gruesome reports that are coming out of the Philippines at this point only underscore our observations and feelings about that group.

QUESTION: It's obviously the middle of the night there, but do you happen to know when the last contact the Embassy had with Philippine officials was?

MR. REEKER: I don't have a specific time. It's an ongoing contact. We keep in close contact with Philippine officials on this while they have the lead in pursuing the situation.

I would also note that we have remained in regular contact with the families of the American citizens involved, Mr. Sobero and Mr. and Mrs. Burnham, throughout the ordeal, and we continue to be in touch with them on a regular basis.

QUESTION: Do you know, then, when you were told by the Philippine authorities that they had found this --

MR. REEKER: I don't have an exact time for you, Matt. It was sometime today.

QUESTION: You mentioned one body, and some reports say two. Are you sure you there is only one that you have been informed of?

MR. REEKER: I have seen various conflicting reports. What I understand is that there has been a torso discovered. We are not able to provide an identification, a positive identification, of that body. And as far as some of the other reports, I just don't have anything further.

QUESTION: Okay, a couple of points. Without wishing to be too gruesome, when you say "torso," does that imply that it has lost more than just its head?

MR. REEKER: I think we will just let you do the definitions. We are talking about a body here, and we are not going to get into gruesome or graphic details at this point.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, when it comes to identification, do the Philippine authorities have enough identification details to enable them to quickly identify the bodies of any of the kidnapped Americans?

MR. REEKER: I will let you ask that question of them. We are working closely with them, and should they need assistance in that regard, we would certainly be ready to help in terms of help there. But that is a question best directed to them. Up to this point, we are not able to make a positive identification on the body that was found.

QUESTION: Do you know if -- have they asked for that, in relation to this body that they --

MR. REEKER: I don't have any further details on that. More questions on the Philippines?

QUESTION: So what is the US Government doing to help free the remaining --

MR. REEKER: We are working actively with the Government of the Philippines and, as I said, I am not going to get into specifics on that for a variety of reasons, some of them I think quite obvious. As I said, this torso has been found, and we are working with the Government of the Philippines to identify the person, determine the circumstances surrounding that death. And at this point, I just don't have any further details.

QUESTION: Are there any plans to send any officials from Washington at this point?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details of anybody from Washington going out there. Our Embassy is the locus obviously for our coordination with the Government of the Philippines, and I just don't have any further details.

QUESTION: If it was confirmed to be an American, what would -- what are the options, what possible --

MR. REEKER: That is a hypothetical question, and I am just not prepared to address that at this point.

QUESTION: You said you were letting the Philippine Government take the lead. Would you support them in a military action or in a ransom payment?

MR. REEKER: Again, that is a hypothetical question. You know our position on ransom. That has been quite clear. We do not pay ransom, and I just don't have anything to add at this point.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

QUESTION: No.

MR. REEKER: We have more on this.

QUESTION: I know originally they were going on what the Abu Sayyaf spokesman said in the radio interview. Have you gotten any -- have they made any communications about the rest of the Americans that they are holding?

MR. REEKER: There are no other communications that I am aware of, but I don't have any further details.

QUESTION: And then I know that you said to look up the definition of torso, but there are several definitions of the word, because actually we did look it up.

MR. REEKER: I will leave it to your imagination, then.

QUESTION: Well, yes, but I mean --

MR. REEKER: I am not going to provide you details from here on the condition of the body. That is something we want to examine. It is part of obviously the forensics that has to take place.

QUESTION: Is there a bin Laden connection?

MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Is there a bin Laden connection to this group?

MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report.

QUESTION: One more. This rebel group has been known to bluff about these things. Was this expected or a big surprise to the United States?

MR. REEKER: I think any sort of report that includes the sort of gruesome descriptions that the rebel group provided in their own words, and now the things that have been discovered on the ground, come as a shock. It is absolutely appalling that human beings can be involved in such a thing when you're talking about innocent people, Americans or otherwise, who were kidnapped, their freedom taken from them from a vacation spot. It simply shows the inhumane aspect of this group, the Abu Sayyaf group.

QUESTION: If can follow up on Phu's question, although this group has been known to fake such claims in the past about killing hostages, do you think these reports are credible that they beheaded an American?

MR. REEKER: I think we're working with the Philippines to follow up and determine the identification of the body that has been found. And our statement is that the murder of an innocent person is an absolutely cowardly act and we would condemn in the strongest possible terms the reported action, and we hold the Abu Sayyaf group responsible, not only for the action but for the safety and well-being of the other hostages, including the Americans.

So at this point, as I said, there are conflicting reports. We need to allow time for the appropriate forensic examinations and determinations to be made, hopefully to identify the body that has been found, and then we will make further conclusions after that.

QUESTION: One of the newspapers in town reported today that China is sending arms to Cuba. Do you have any reaction or comments about that?

MR. REEKER: Well, as you know from so many other questions of a similar matter, we don't comment on intelligence matters like that. I can say we have not made a determination that China has transferred lethal military equipment to Cuba.

QUESTION: Say that again?

MR. REEKER: We have not made a determination that China has transferred lethal military equipment to Cuba. And now you'll see it twice in the transcript.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? You just said that you wouldn't comment on intelligence reports, and you just did.

MR. REEKER: Matt, there is a US law that prohibits providing assistance to foreign --

QUESTION: Well, what was it that you just said?

MR. REEKER: Let's go through it, then. There is a US law that prohibits providing various types of assistance to foreign governments that have provided "lethal military equipment to a country whose government is a state sponsor of terrorism." And you are very familiar with the seven that are on that list at this point.

We fully and faithfully implement the requirements of US law and would take any actions required by those laws were we to determine that sanctionable activity had occurred. And what I'm telling you in reference to that law is we have not made a determination that China has transferred lethal military equipment to Cuba.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the Philippines for a moment?

MR. REEKER: Okay.

QUESTION: I work in a (inaudible) station in Kansas City, and Burnham is from Wichita. Speaking to that audience, can you tell us what the status of the Burnhams is, or do you know if they are still alive and if the United States -- if there have been any more demands or deadlines?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any further details to tell you than what I have already described. We have remained in regular contact with the families of the Burnhams throughout this ordeal. People from our Consular Affairs Bureau have been in regular contact with them, as well as with the family of Mr. Sobero, the third American who is involved in this matter.

We have spoken with his family today following the initial media reports, and out of respect for the families, both for the Soberos and the Burnhams, I am not going to go into the substance of our conversations with them. But we will keep in very close touch with them.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) tell me about negotiations with the Philippines?

MR. REEKER: No, I can't. I can't provide any further information about that.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the China -- the arms --

MR. REEKER: Was there another Philippines question? Yes, sir, and then we'll come back.

QUESTION: From the American point of view, could it be a way to free the hostages by paying money, like the Germans did it one year ago?

MR. REEKER: I think I have been very clear in our position and our policy has always remained the same: not to pay ransom.

QUESTION: Was it the fault of the Germans, then?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any other comment other than to present to you what our position is on that, and that is very well known.

QUESTION: When you say you haven't made a determination, have you done some kind of inquiry into this and come to a conclusion, or are you just implying that some kind of inquiry is under way and it hasn't come to a conclusion?

MR. REEKER: I'm not implying that at all. What I am telling you is in response to a question based on a newspaper report, I am not going to comment on intelligence matters. Those, by definition, would be intelligence matters. But what I did tell you was that under the law we have not made the conclusion or determination that would be made under the law that China has transferred lethal military equipment to Cuba. So we follow this law very closely and we keep track of these things.

QUESTION: Mr. Kelly is speaking on the Hill today. He did say that this issue was of concern. Would you say that this is of concern?

MR. REEKER: Potential arms transfers or potential transfers of lethal military equipment, particularly to states that are sponsors of terrorism, is obviously of concern. I haven't seen Mr. Kelly's testimony since he went up to the Hill after I saw him this morning, but I think that is an obvious statement.

QUESTION: I just want to follow up. Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. Could you just go over exactly, are they actively sponsoring --

MR. REEKER: No, I will refer you to the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. We are not going to do that briefing all over again here.

QUESTION: You said we haven't -- the State Department hasn't made a determination. What agency does head up an investigation into whether these laws are broken? Would it even be the State Department who makes that determination?

MR. REEKER: I believe under the law -- and I have to go back and get you the text of the law -- it is the State Department that makes the determination. In terms of others that help monitor these things and would help or provide information that would lead us to make such a determination, I just don't have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: But you can't tell us whether that process has begun to make that determination?

MR. REEKER: I think under the law we monitor these situations continuously and constantly. And so it is not a question of some sort of particular investigation into a matter.

QUESTION: But you are looking to find out? If you have not made a determination, but you have the information all in front of you, as you say, then what is the problem with making --

MR. REEKER: Well, I think that answers the question in itself. One would have to make a determination under the law that China had transferred lethal military equipment to Cuba, and we have not made a determination as such.

QUESTION: So the State Department believes China has not done this?

MR. REEKER: We have not made a determination as such.

QUESTION: Can I just make this blatantly obvious? This review of whether some country --

MR. REEKER: I don't know who came up with the question, "the review." I mean, if you're talking about a review with a capital "R" --

QUESTION: No, yes, but it is a continuous review. I mean, that is something you are looking at all the time between --

MR. REEKER: Precisely.

QUESTION: -- transfers or alleged transfers of weapons between Country A and Country B, which happens to be on the list.

MR. REEKER: I think that, without discussing intelligence matters, I think that is a fairly reasonable observation.

QUESTION: Have you called Chinese officials in to discuss this particular matter in the last two days?

MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. We don't do things based on newspaper reports in --

QUESTION: Well, I am not saying based on these newspaper reports. But within the last week, have Chinese officials been summoned to this building to discuss this particular matter?

MR. REEKER: I would have to ask. Not that I am aware of.

QUESTION: And when you say that you haven't made the determination, are you saying that you haven't made a determination yet and you haven't made any conclusions, or are you --

MR. REEKER: The law is very clear that the State Department would need to make a determination. That's something that takes place; it is an action that takes place. We have not done that.

QUESTION: Well, I understand, but are you saying that you haven't done that yet, or have you concluded that China has not done this?

MR. REEKER: Because it is an ongoing and continuous thing, the law is always in place and doesn't require a particular review at a particular review. The premise of the question doesn't apply.

QUESTION: She's not talking about reviewing the law --

MR. REEKER: It is something that we would continuously -- I didn't suggest that, Ms. Schultz. I suggested that it is something that is continuously reviewed and monitored. It is something we are required to do by law, and it is what we do.

QUESTION: So you are continuing to monitor? Okay, thank you.

MR. REEKER: Let's make sure -- this is on this same question?

QUESTION: Yes. The United States respects the right and freedom of other countries to sell arms to other countries, like the United States does to Taiwan or other countries, right?

MR. REEKER: What is your question?

QUESTION: The United States respects the freedom and rights of other countries to sell arms to other countries, like the United States does to Taiwan or Chile, for example, right now?

MR. REEKER: Right. And then we have particular laws that apply to our providing types of assistance to countries that would provide lethal military equipment to a state sponsor of terrorism. So I don't quite see the link.

QUESTION: If the countries that provide weapons to countries on the terrorists list, what kind of sanctions applies to them? They can't get World Bank loans? We have to -- what is the basket of --

MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the Foreign Assistance Act that outlines the prohibition of providing various types of assistance. I don't have the details for you.

QUESTION: You want us (inaudible) on that 600-page document?

MR. REEKER: No, I will let you do the research. I'll let you do it.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a question that's related? Can you give us any update on Russian arms sales, or proposed arms sales to Iran, another state-sponsor of terrorism?

MR. REEKER: No, I don't have anything further on that.

Mr. Lambros.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Reeker.

MR. REEKER: This must be on China.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yes. Anything on the developments in the FYROM under occupation by the Albanian extremists?

MR. REEKER: Oh, I know where you're talking about. Okay.

QUESTION: And did you want to say something about the peace plan other than (inaudible)?

MR. REEKER: I think, as you know, we put out a statement yesterday condemning the National Liberation Army's escalation of violence in Macedonia. And again I would like to strongly condemn last night's ambush by extremists in which nine Macedonian police officers were injured.

With this attack, obviously the extremists violated their own declaration of a cease-fire. They continue to defy calls by the international community to lay down their weapons and withdraw immediately. I think obviously it brings into question their sincerity in pursuing a political process, judging by the actions that they have taken.

We applaud the Government of Macedonia's June 11th decision to declare a cease-fire, to allow the extremists to withdraw, to allow humanitarian agencies to visit the occupied villages and civilians to evacuate those areas.

As we discussed before, in recent weeks the armed ethnic Albanian extremists have prevented civilians from leaving certain areas; at the same time, other civilians have felt forced to flee in advance of these armed extremists moving into their areas and they have also prevented international humanitarian groups like the Red Cross from moving in to help with the situation.

We very much welcome President Trajkovski's plan, as outlined in his speech on Friday, June 8th, in which he outlined to the nation the elements for developing a process to restore peace and for then dealing with grievances and issues in Macedonia in a political dialogue, which is absolutely vital to this. There is no military solution to the problems in Macedonia. There can only be a peaceful solution through dialogue, through the institutions and structures of the civic society that exists there, and that is what we and the rest of the international community embrace.

QUESTION: Who is arming the Albanian extremists? Anything?

MR. REEKER: Well, I looked into that question. I think as many of you know, particularly those of you familiar with the region, arms are widely available in that region. In terms of identifying specific transactions involving arms, that would involve intelligence information and, as is our policy on so many questions today, that is not something I am going to get into.

QUESTION: It was reported today by the Reuters News Agency that prospects of Turkey dropping its veto on the pact linking NATO with the European Union's proposal of a rapid reaction force has suffered a fresh setback with the objection of Greece unless Turkey drops its objections and joins NATO's other 18 members in agreeing that the EU force should have automatic access to NATO military planning and to resume access to military assets, the EU proposal will remain in limbo.

What is the US position on this dispute?

MR. REEKER: Well, you know, Mr. Lambros, the President will be addressing the North Atlantic Council and meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels in just a couple of day's time, so I will leave those questions for his party in Europe, and your colleagues there can feel free to address those questions at that point. Thanks.

QUESTION: Did you want to say anything about the adoption of the peace plan by the parliament?

MR. REEKER: I hadn't followed the sequencing on that. Certainly that is what we embrace. We think that the Trajkovski plan, as I said and indicated, holds the key to moving forward with this. And the key obviously is a laying down of weapons, disarming by these people, the opportunity for Macedonian citizens to reintegrate into the society, to use the structures that exist in that democratic country to pursue then an intensive political dialogue on solving the problems that plague it and addressing the grievances of the ethnic Albanian community, while keeping in mind obviously the concerns of the ethnic Macedonian community.

QUESTION: Well, has it gone so far as for you to support -- to be able to come out and support his concept of amnesty, particularly when things -- you go around condemning the NLA for these attacks, which in some circumstance might be considered war crimes. Do you think that the Macedonian Government should have the right to offer amnesty to people who are alleged to have committed war crimes?

MR. REEKER: I think we want to see a disarming and we want to support President Trajkovski in his plan and in seeing a reintegration of those that give up violence as a method. I just don't have anything. I'm not aware --

QUESTION: But should the ICTY --

MR. REEKER: There have been no calls for that that I am aware of.

QUESTION: You said in your opening remarks on that it brings into question their sincerity about pursuing a political process, but I wondered if you could explain why on earth you think they should be sincere about pursuing a political process when they're not --

MR. REEKER: Because if you look at the statements they have made, that is what they have continuously said.

QUESTION: When they're not part of any political --

MR. REEKER: They have continuously said that they think there has to be a political process, Jonathan. And the sincerity of those types of statements do come into question when you look at the actions they have taken, like moving into the Aracinovo suburb of Skopje over the last couple of days. They need to withdraw from there and they need to put down their weapons, disarm, and allow a legitimate political process to move forward.

QUESTION: Do you know if the members of the NLA or their surrogates have made this point directly to US officials?

MR. REEKER: Which point is that?

QUESTION: That they are interested in a political dialogue?

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any direct contacts between US officials and the armed Albanian extremists.

QUESTION: Or their representatives?

MR. REEKER: I think I have read it mostly in press reports.

Everybody ready for a new subject?

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us if George Tenet is leaving the Middle East without a cease-fire agreement?

MR. REEKER: Do we really want to switch to the Middle East? I'm not going back to the Balkans. That's a message for everybody. (Laughter.)

Sure, let's talk about Mr. Tenet and the situation in the Middle East. When I last left my office to come out here, Mr. Tenet's meetings were continuing with Palestinians. He has been, as we discussed yesterday and then again today, continuing meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Israel and the West Bank as part of the ongoing effort to foster an environment to end the violence. As Ambassador Boucher said yesterday, his goal is to create an environment to end violence in which security cooperation allows the implementation of the Mitchell Report recommendations. So that is what Mr. Tenet is doing as of just a few moments ago.

Assistant Secretary Burns is continuing his discussions with Israelis and Palestinians regarding a timeline for implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects. He is in Jerusalem tonight. And I think that probably brings us up to date on where we stand with them.

QUESTION: Without getting into the specifics of the American plan, did Director Tenet give the parties an ultimatum that said that if he didn't -- if they didn't agree to implement some security, some better security cooperation, that he would leave?

MR. REEKER: I don't believe that that is the case. I have seen a number of press reports suggesting ultimatums, suggesting rejections, suggesting all kinds of things. Director Tenet remains there. He has described the progress as being good. He has indicated that the parties have made a responsible and serious effort in their work. It is very much a work in progress, and literally in progress since the talks continued, his meetings continued, like I said, at least up until a few moments ago.

So I would reject all of these descriptions of these things because it is an ongoing process. And DCI Tenet remains there at this point, and we are going to continue to see this process forward.

QUESTION: Was he not still planning on leaving tonight?

MR. REEKER: I think he needs to finish his meetings -- as I said, that were ongoing as of a few minutes ago -- and then determine his travel plans after that.

QUESTION: So in other words, what was being said before by people that he was going to leave tonight is now no longer necessarily accurate?

MR. REEKER: It turns out he is still in meetings, and he is, as he has indicated, looking for a positive response from the Palestinians with whom he is meeting now on these constructive suggestions that he has made to the parties. And so we will just have to allow his meetings to finish, and then he will determine his own travel plan.

QUESTION: Do you know what happened between the time that people here and in the region were saying that he was going to leave tonight and now to change?

MR. REEKER: Well, for one thing, he went into meetings, and those meetings are ongoing, so I don't think I could give you any other specifics. Not that I would anyway.

QUESTION: How would these meetings change his travel plans? I mean, if he was planning to leave tonight, he could still have meetings, right?

MR. REEKER: Well, yes. It is now 9 o'clock in --

QUESTION: Right. But he could still leave at 10 o'clock. I mean, he could --

MR. REEKER: That's purely hypothetical. All I said, Eli, was that he has to finish his meetings, and then he will determine his travel plans. I don't think there is anything particularly tendentious in that.

QUESTION: But nothing is scheduled for tomorrow, or more security talks?

MR. REEKER: I don't have a readout on what is being -- he needs to finish these meetings, and then he will make his travel plans or his next step plans. And we will try to keep updating you as possible.

QUESTION: What are the main obstacles to agreement?

MR. REEKER: That is just something I am not going to go into. I am sure you have read lots of press reports from both sides of the issue. Director Tenet is focusing on bringing constructive suggestions to the parties so that they can together create an environment to end the violence. That is the most important thing, as we have discussed.

QUESTION: This is not a hypothetical, but say Director Tenet --

MR. REEKER: It's a "say" question. Okay.

QUESTION: -- left. Would Ambassador Burns and --

MR. REEKER: Assistant Secretary / Ambassador Burns.

QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Burns still be work -- and there was no agreement at that point. Would Ambassador Burns still be working with the parties to reach a similar kind of security arrangement so that --

MR. REEKER: I don't have any indication of travel plans by Assistant Secretary Burns, either. At this point, as I said, he is in Jerusalem. He is continuing the discussions he is having, again focusing on a timeline for implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations.

QUESTION: Well, just, Tenet doesn't do what he wanted to do, or they don't get what they wanted to get, are you still going to be pushing at any other channels?

MR. REEKER: You are verging again into the hypothetical.

QUESTION: I am trying not to verge into the hypothetical.

MR. REEKER: Let's let the news happen to the news. Ambassador Burns is where he is. That is Jerusalem. He is continuing his discussions, focused on a timeline. Mr. Tenet, I believe -- although as the time goes on I will have to check for an update -- was still in meetings with Palestinian interlocutors, and after those meetings are over then he will determine his next step.

QUESTION: Let me put it this way. Is the United States committed to pursue efforts to secure a firm cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians?

MR. REEKER: Yes.

QUESTION: Indefinitely?

MR. REEKER: I just am not going to go beyond where we are. We will look at this as it becomes news, and we will --

QUESTION: And Tenet's presence is not necessarily needed to broker such an agreement?

MR. REEKER: I think, Eli -- I mean, you are verging on the silly here, I know.

QUESTION: I'm not trying to -- I don't think it's silly. I think, you know, there was a -- there are reports out of the region that say that Tenet is leaving and they didn't get a deal. But are you going to still be pushing for a deal, even if he does leave?

MR. REEKER: Yes, because our goal is to see that the violence ends, that we create an environment on the ground that allows security cooperation to create this atmosphere so that the Mitchell Report recommendations can be implemented in all their aspects.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: No, no, wait.

MR. REEKER: Let's go to the gentlemen in the back. Matt, could I just go to the gentleman in the back, and then I will happy to come to you.

QUESTION: Well, I thought --

MR. REEKER: No. Just because one of your colleagues says "thank you" it doesn't mean we wrap it up.

QUESTION: You don't want to go to the Balkans, but how about Central Europe?

MR. REEKER: Okay.

QUESTION: There was a meeting last weekend, I understand in Italy, of 14 heads of states. And the highlight of that was a joint statement by Mesic and Kostunica. Would you care to comment on that? What is your opinion on that?

MR. REEKER: Yes. For those of you that missed that statement, I believe on Friday, the United States very much welcomes the meeting of Croatian President Mesic and Yugoslav President Kostunica on the margins of the summit of Central and East European presidents, which was held last week in Italy.

The two presidents issued a very constructive joint statement on basic principles that should guide the normalization of relations between their two nations, highlighting the need for sustained cooperation on some of the fundamental and important issues, like refugee returns, war crimes prosecutions, and support for Dayton implementation in Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Such cooperation not only serves the interests of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but it also contributes to the strengthening of peace and stability in the wider region. And as you know, US engagement has very much helped to create the environment to pursue stability. So we welcome very much the joint statement that the two presidents issued, and we think it is an important step and encourage them to continue that type of cooperative work.

QUESTION: Okay, I've just got to -- I'll run through three very quick things. And I'll need yes or no answers.

Any response from the North Koreans yet?

MR. REEKER: I don't believe so. I don't have any update, but I will continue to check.

QUESTION: Any meeting yet scheduled between Secretary Powell and the Japanese Foreign Minister?

MR. REEKER: No, we don't have anything to announce on that front.

QUESTION: Any change in the situation of the Embassy in Yemen?

MR. REEKER: I don't believe there is anything to add. Let me look at what they gave me to update this morning.

No. In fact, I don't have anything since yesterday. As you know, we updated the Travel Warning on Saturday, and there is nothing --

QUESTION: And then the very last thing. Do you have anything to say about the joint missile test conducted this morning by the Indians and the Russians? And also, I wasn't around so I don't know if you answered this, but did you have a response or anything to say about the Russian offer to provide a missile defense shield for India?

MR. REEKER: I'm trying to think back on that issue. I would have to check back and see if that ever came up. I remember there was a visit obviously between Russian and Indian officials. I would have to look back into that.

And what was the first question? I'm sorry.

QUESTION: The missile tests?

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on that so we can also look into that.

QUESTION: Is Secretary Powell still seeing Mr. Peres? Is that still on for tomorrow at 6 o'clock?

MR. REEKER: I would have to, unfortunately, Barry, refer you to the party for the specifics.

QUESTION: The party. (Inaudible) spoke to them.

MR. REEKER: However -- and I did speak with the party -- we understand Foreign Minister Peres is in Europe. He was expecting some long-planned meetings in Luxembourg and in Brussels. He will be in Brussels. So will Secretary Powell.

As you know, they had hoped to meet a week ago in San Jose, Costa Rica, on the margins of the OAS General Assembly. That meeting obviously did not take place since the Secretary remained in Washington and was not able to do that, and Foreign Minister Peres also was not able to go there.

So I will just let the party announce if they have been able to pin anything down, but they were looking forward to an opportunity to get together in person.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Tanaka today said that she is going to meet with Mr. Powell on the 18th of June. Are you saying that you don't have any information on that?

MR. REEKER: I think, as we said yesterday, we have plenty of information about it. We are continuing to try to coordinate schedules for a visit early next week. That would possibly include the 18th. That is early next week. But I just don't have anything firm or further at this point. So we will make a formal announcement as soon as such a meeting is set.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:00 p.m..)


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