State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 13, 2001
Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
STATEMENT 1 Issuance of Passports to Children Under Age 14.
MIDDLE EAST 1-5 Comments on Work Plan Agreement Between Israeli and Palestinian Parties. DCI Tenent / Assistant Secretary Burns Travel.
CHINA 5-8, 11-12 Transfer of Lethal Military Equipment from China to Cuba Comments on China-Russia Relations
PHILIPPINES 8-10 Update on American Citizen Hostage / U.S. Calls for Safe and Immediate Release of All Persons Held by Abu Sayyaf
NORTH KOREA 10-11 Bilateral Trade Meetings in New York
EAST TIMOR 12 Militia Activity and Harassment of East Timorese
MEXICO 12-13 Arrest of Narcotics Cartel / Stopping US Trucks at Border
IRAN-LIBYA 13 House International Relations Committee Mark-Up of Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA)
NATO 13 Senator Lugar Recommendations
MACEDONIA 13-14 Comments on Travel Warning
IRAN 14-15 Government of Iran Cooperation in Khobar Towers Investigation
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 83
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2001 1:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department on this fine, hazy, hot, humid Wednesday. We are in Washington and it is June. We all know that.
Q: How do you define "fine"?
MR. REEKER: Every day is fine here at the State Department, Matt.
We will put out a statement which should be available after the briefing noting the new law on passport applications for minors -- that is, for children under 14 -- who must demonstrate that both parents consent to the issuance of passports for the child. This reflects a Federal Register notice that was published on June 4th and a determination there. So that statement will be available for you.
And other than that, I don't have anything else so I am happy to go straight to your questions. George.
Q: Can you add anything to what has been said about the agreement reached by George Tenet in the Middle East?
MR. REEKER: Sure. I am sure you have heard the President's remarks from his press conference at NATO in Brussels earlier today, afternoon in Brussels. Just to reiterate, the United States is very pleased that a work plan has been accepted by both sides. The purpose of course is to resume security cooperation, end the violence, and restore the situation on the ground that existed before September 28th, 2000; that is, before the beginning of the current crisis. And steps are being taken to implement the work plan and a timeline is being worked out by the parties.
The first joint US-Israel-Palestinian security committee meeting was chaired today by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. DCI Tenet met with Israeli and Palestinian security officials together in Tel Aviv -- as I said, that was today -- to discuss the terms and implementation of the work plan. It was a productive, constructive discussion, and following that meeting Mr. Tenet departed the region to return to Washington, so he is now on his way back to Washington. And we are now looking for mutual steps on the ground to fulfill immediate requirements of the work plan that the two sides have agreed to.
Q: While Director Tenet is winging his way back here, is Ambassador -- or Assistant Secretary now Burns continuing his discussions in the region on the timeline?
MR. REEKER: Actually, Assistant Secretary Burns is in Brussels now. He headed up there to participate in the Secretary's meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Peres. I think I mentioned to a couple of you yesterday that Foreign Minister Peres is in Europe for pre-arranged meetings with European officials. The Secretary obviously is also in Brussels accompanying the President, so they are taking this opportunity to meet in Brussels. And I believe that meeting is probably going on as we speak here.
So following that meeting, I suspect tomorrow, Assistant Secretary Burns is scheduled to return to the region tomorrow. In the meantime, of course Ambassador Indyk and our Consul General in Jerusalem Ron Schlicher and their staffs remain in the region to work with the parties.
Q: Do you know if Richard is planning on doing some kind of a readout to him, to the White House?
MR. REEKER: Because he is in the meeting, I haven't spoken with Ambassador Boucher in the last little bit. I believe he will try to be available with some sort of a readout or get some points to me following the Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister Peres. So feel free to check back this afternoon with the Press Office, but also check with your colleagues who are traveling with the party out there.
Q: Now that this cease-fire has been signed, is the mediation going to be handled by the US in the way it has been done before, or are you expecting additional European mediation efforts?
MR. REEKER: Well, first of all, let me remind people that our efforts -- working with the parties on developing this work plan -- are consistent with our strong commitment to the implementation of the Mitchell Committee Report recommendations in all its aspects. That Report of course is a package of sequential steps to end the violence, to rebuild confidence, and resume negotiations ultimately.
In close coordination with others in the international community, the US will continue to work actively with the parties to complete a timeline for the full implementation of the Mitchell Committee Report's recommendations, as I said, in all their aspects. So Ambassador -- Assistant Secretary Burns will return to the region tomorrow. That is a track he was working on to establish that timeline. That is very important. And obviously the work plan calls for some immediate steps for the two sides to fulfill, to get that work plan in place and fulfill its important goals in terms of getting the situation on the ground back to the way it was before September 28th last year.
Q: Just to sort of get back to George's question, can you confirm specifically some of the aspects of this plan? For example, I mean, does the plan require Arafat to collect weapons and search cars for mortars? Does it require the Israelis to not use lethal force when trying to disperse crowds?
MR. REEKER: I am not going to get into specifics; as we haven't before, we are not going to start now. Our statements have been very clear in what we want to see, and both sides now have committed to begin to show visible signs on the ground in terms of implementing their commitments to the work plan.
Implementation will require good faith efforts by both sides, and I think the next 24 hours -- 48 hours, at least -- are critical for each side to demonstrate to the other its commitment to fulfilling the obligations they have undertaken. So we are going to be watching this very closely. It is a good plan. We are very pleased that both sides have signed on. And that is where we will continue.
Q: And if I could follow up on that, there has been some question as to whether Arafat can control all of the elements within the -- I guess within the Palestinian area. What is the US view on this? I mean, can Arafat now implement -- I mean, I don't -- I know you can't talk about the specifics of this plan, but is Arafat in control? Is he responsible now for --
MR. REEKER: Well, Eli, we have seen in the recent past lower levels of violence, and obviously we hope that the situation will continue in that direction. That is clearly the goal of the work plan and what we have been calling for, for many months now. And it illustrates that the parties are capable of cooperating to end violence.
Both sides have stated their support for and commitment to the work plan that we helped propose, and I think that is what we need to see now is, as I said, in the next 48 hours sustained actions by the Palestinians such as the arrest of those involved in terrorist activity -- we talked about that in the past -- and those planning terrorist acts. And we encourage Prime Minister Sharon to continue his restraint and give the Palestinians time to act on what they have committed to do and to begin to show visible signs on the ground of implementing their commitments.
Q: Is this supposed to be a secret agreement? I mean, I can understand why you won't want to give out the details while it is being negotiated, but I'm not sure I understand, now that it has been signed, why it can't be revealed to the public at large exactly what each side is supposed to do. I mean, secret agreements of this kind, you know, don't always work out so well. I believe they may have caused World War I.
MR. REEKER: We agreed with the parties that we weren't going to get into details of the work plan --
Q: How is anyone going to judge --
MR. REEKER: We will let the parties obviously judge that, to begin with. And we are going to look, as I said, over the next 48 hours in particular to see them taking steps to implement that. At this point, though, I am just not prepared to get into details on the plan.
Q: Well, then how is anyone supposed to know whether they have done the things that they are supposed to do if no one knows what they are supposed to do?
MR. REEKER: We and the parties will know. Just because you don't know --
Q: So the US -- no, no, hold on. So the United States, by itself, is going to be the judge of whether each side --
MR. REEKER: No, Matt, that is not what I suggested at all.
Q: Well, that is exactly what you are suggesting.
MR. REEKER: No, Matt, it's not. We are working with the international community very closely.
Q: So you've told --
MR. REEKER: We've talked about that. We are working with both sides. They both agreed to this. They need to take steps now to implement this work plan, and that is what we are focusing on.
Q: So you --
MR. REEKER: But we are not going to share publicly with you, or anybody else publicly, the details of the work plan at this point. We want to let the two sides begin to implement this. The first meeting, as I said, was today, a three-way meeting. And that is what we are going to do.
Q: So you have informed your European partners and the Russians about the details of this plan?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a readout of all the briefings we have done, but we are in regular touch with the Europeans and other on this, as I indicated already.
Q: My second is, now that Ambassador Burns is no longer Ambassador Burns and is Assistant Secretary, I presume that when he relinquishes ambassadorship he also relinquished what I am sure is his fine residence in Amman. Is he planning on -- is he going to stay in the region or is he ever going to come back to Washington?
MR. REEKER: He is going to return to the region tomorrow. That is the plan as of now. And his onward movements I just don't have any information on. Obviously that will depend on --
Q: Presumably, at some point, his job is in Washington, right?
MR. REEKER: That's right.
Q: So he'll come back --
MR. REEKER: I am sure he will be back in Washington, Matt, and I'll let you know as soon as I do when he gets here. I am not going to try to plan out Assistant Secretary Burns' travel schedule at this point.
Q: Following up on that question before, there are a lot of international organizations that monitor the actions of the Israelis and the Palestinians for whether they are following these agreements they make. Are you saying that these organizations that aren't government organizations are not going to be able to do their job because they won't know what is involved in this?
MR. REEKER: At this point, we are letting the two sides take the steps necessary to implement the work plan which was agreed to late last night, early this morning, depending on whose time zone you are in. Secretary Powell is having a meeting today with Foreign Minister Peres. DCI Tenet is on his way back to Washington. The President obviously has spoken to him, as he made clear, as the White House told you. Both sides are working on taking actions that they need to take, and that is where we are going to leave it at this point. I am sure organizations that monitor developments in the Middle East will continue to monitor those developments in the Middle East. We will continue to be involved. But at this point, at this time today, that is as far as I want to go.
Q: Phil, this is on Asia. I don't know whether we can go --
MR. REEKER: Do we want to switch, shift? Anything else on the Middle East? Okay, sure.
Q: Okay. You mentioned yesterday that State hasn't made a determination yet on this apparent transfer of military supplied by China to Cuba. Part of the determination appears to hinge on the definition of what is lethal military supplies, and I wonder whether you could distinguish for us what that would --
MR. REEKER: Let me start by taking a little -- not to be picky, but your suggestion of an apparent transfer. No one has talked about an apparent transfer other than a newspaper report. And Assistant Secretary -- yes, George, you can shake your head -- Kelly talked about our concern about such reports and that we monitor these things very closely. We don't comment on intelligence matters. We carefully examine allegations and evidence to verify existence -- in this particular case, in this question, based on that report -- existence of any Chinese arms shipments to Cuba.
So we take allegations seriously. These are matters of great interest to us. They involve security issues, they involve intelligence matters, and they involve legal matters. And so they are things that we follow and we'll look at closely. But further to what I said yesterday, I don't have anything to say based on intelligence reports, which you know we don't discuss.
Q: I don't think I heard Kelly use the word "reports." He said he was very much concerned about transfers of Chinese military equipments to Cuba, or words to that effect.
MR. REEKER: As Assistant Secretary James Kelly, our Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, testified yesterday, Chinese military assistance to Cuba is a matter we would take seriously and are looking into. And as you know, as I just said again, we don't comment on intelligence matters. We will follow these things, we will follow allegations, but we are not going to make additional news based on reports in newspapers that we haven't confirmed. If there are reports to this nature, they are things that we follow.
As I said, allegations of this nature are serious matters, and we take them very seriously. And we will obviously work to examine all the evidence, to verify existence of any such shipments. And so that's where we are. We can't go further than that at this point.
Q: (Inaudible) would constitute lethal military equipment?
MR. REEKER: I would have to go back to the legal definitions in the Foreign Assistance Act in terms of what we discussed yesterday. I don't have that with me.
Q: Are you making the point that whatever it was that Assistant Secretary Kelly said, he was not intending to confirm the report that was in the newspaper yesterday?
MR. REEKER: Exactly. And as you know, we don't discuss intelligence matters. We don't particularly go, based on newspaper reports, into that. These are things that we -- as I indicated yesterday -- things that we follow all the time. And if there are such allegations, there are things that we will clearly be looking into.
Q: On the other hand, though, he did not deny the newspaper report.
MR. REEKER: As I said, we don't discuss intelligence reports. That newspaper report was based on purported intelligence reports and purported leaks of intelligence information. And we don't discuss those things.
So I think there really isn't a whole lot more to say about it, other than those types of issues. The allegations raised now by your colleagues, but raised originally by a newspaper report, are things that we carefully examine and obviously will continue to carefully examine.
Q: The question was asked yesterday, but has there been -- has this issue at all been -- in an effort to try to firm up the allegations or the issue, has it been raised at all with the Chinese?
MR. REEKER: Well --
Q: Not since the newspaper report, but in the last month or --
MR. REEKER: Chinese arms sale policy is a matter of regular discussion between our governments, so it is the type of thing that is discussed all the time.
Q: And Chinese arms sales to Cuba, has that come up?
MR. REEKER: Again, I am not going to comment on intelligence reports or intelligence information. But I can say that Chinese arms sales, I think as you are probably all aware because we talk about it here, is a matter of regular discussion between our governments. Elaine.
Q: Phil, it just so happens that I actually looked at the quote from James Kelly before I came in this room, and he didn't use the conditional. He didn't say, "We would be concerned." He said, "We are concerned with this transfer." And although he said it in the context of the report --
MR. REEKER: Well, it was in the context -- I think you answered your own question --
Q: All right --
MR. REEKER: I have spoken to Assistant Secretary Kelly. It was in the context of what is in a newspaper report. We don't discuss intelligence matters, even if they show up in newspaper reports based on alleged leaks of intelligence information. But what I can tell you, is any allegations of the sort are the type of thing that we carefully examine. And allegations of that sort will be something we would examine, and we would look at any evidence to verify existence of any Chinese arms shipments to Cuba.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Andrea.
Q: Is it fair to presume, then, from what you just said that State Department or Pentagon, anyone within the Administration, was not aware of any alleged arms transfer until this newspaper article?
MR. REEKER: I am not going to discuss intelligence matters, Andrea.
Q: You don't have to. I'm just saying, is this --
MR. REEKER: I would obviously be doing that by answering your question, so why don't we just move on. If you think about it, that is exactly what your question is asking, and I am not going to deny or verify or confirm intelligence questions. Okay?
Q: Just the reason I'm asking is that that was your explanation to Assistant Secretary Burns' use of the present tense -- excuse me, Kelly --
MR. REEKER: Burns is in Brussels, going back to Jerusalem.
Q: -- looking into The Washington Times report so --
MR. REEKER: I believe in the context of the hearing it was raised in his testimony, not in his direct testimony but in the question period it was raised on the basis of a newspaper report, a newspaper report which was based on alleged leaked intelligence information. And his response in that context is that that would be of great concern to us.
As I said yesterday, arms transfers, arms sales, shipments to any of the countries that are listed on our -- as state sponsors of terrorism are of great concern to us and of great interest, and it is the type of thing we follow very closely. So I think we can make far too much of this by trying to parse words and forgetting what the origin of this entire issue is.
We will continue to do our work in terms of our interest in the security of the United States, in terms of using our intelligence resources to monitor those things, and then we will also obviously follow the laws that require action in response to those things.
Let's do the Philippines and then we'll go back to you.
Q: What can you tell us?
MR. REEKER: There isn't much to update you on. We have no confirmation still that the reported murder of Mr. Sobero took place. I believe there are reports of several corpses -- we'll try that as a new word today instead of torso -- that have been discovered by Philippine authorities. None have been identified as a kidnapped American.
We continue to work intensively with Philippine Government authorities to ascertain the facts on the reported deaths but I just don't have any further facts to report to you.
Let me repeat once again our very clear position that we would hold the Abu Sayyaf group responsible for the safety and welfare of all the people it is holding, and we continue to call for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of all the innocent persons being held. So we are in close contact with the Government of the Philippines and we will continue to follow this very closely.
Q: Have you been in contact with the families?
MR. REEKER: Yes, we have had regular contact with --
Q: I mean since we spoke yesterday.
MR. REEKER: I just am not in a position to update you on every phone call. We have been in regular contact with the families since the situation arose.
Q: But you have confirmed to the family that everybody who was found is not their family member?
MR. REEKER: What we have confirmed to the family is information that we have in terms of facts, and that is that while several corpses have been found, we understand that none have been identified as a kidnapped American at this point.
Q: You say the government has been working in close contact with the Philippines, but that they are taking the lead.
MR. REEKER: That's right. This is taking place in the Philippines.
Q: Does that mean that they can act without US consent when American lives are at stake?
MR. REEKER: I don't know if I quite understand your question.
Q: They are taking the lead and we're working with them. How deeply in there are we? How much authority -- do we have no authority over there?
MR. REEKER: Well, this is the Philippines. It's a sovereign country. We are working very closely with them and we have a very good relationship with the Philippines, and in this matter we are in very close contact with them. I am obviously not going to provide you specifics of the work we are doing with them and their work and approach to this, for obvious reasons.
Q: To follow up on what Phu is driving at, is it of concern to this Administration if, for instance, the Philippine Government were to make the decision, as it said that it wants to do, to take further military action against Abu Sayyaf? And presumably that would put the lives of those three American hostages and the other hostages at risk.
MR. REEKER: Well, the lives of American hostages are obviously at risk, if you look at what these terrorists have been saying. We are very concerned about the lives of the American hostages in this situation and the lives of American citizens everywhere. As I said, we are working very closely with the Philippines. We keep in close contact with the Government of the Philippines on this issue, and I am just not going to get into specifics of that action or address hypothetical questions on actions that might be taken. Elaine.
Q: Have we sent any -- who have we sent to the Philippines?
MR. REEKER: We have a very strong and active embassy in the Philippines.
Q: Have we sent anyone from the United States, from CIA or from any other entities --
MR. REEKER: I am not going to get into the details of people from Washington who may have gone there. Our people are in close touch with the Philippines, the people that need to be, to work on that.
Q: So (inaudible) someone from Washington?
MR. REEKER: I said I am not going to get into details. I have no way of knowing exactly who has gone when and where.
Q: Do you have any update on those Korean-USA New York talks?
MR. REEKER: I think that was going to be Elaine's question. Diversity is the name of the game.
I believe you all saw the taken question we posted last night in terms of the latest news on that track. As we indicated yesterday, as a follow-up to the President's statement last week on North Korea policy, Jack Pritchard, the Special Envoy, is meeting today in New York City with North Korean UN Permanent Representative, Ambassador Yi, to make arrangements for bilateral talks.
I don't have any readout on those talks at the moment. It may still be ongoing. I will have to see if anything -- if we can get --
MR. REEKER: To my understanding, yes.
Q: How long does it take at the talks?
MR. REEKER: I don't know. And so we will have to see this afternoon if I can get any readout on those talks.
Q: Did they begin already?
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?
Q: Did those begin?
MR. REEKER: My understanding is yes, but I didn't have an exact time or place of that meeting.
Q: These meetings (inaudible) purely (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: Well, I think, as we indicated last night, obviously there has to be a first step in this process, and this is the first step in terms of sending Mr. Pritchard to New York to meet with the person the North Koreans designated that would be their UN Permanent Representative, and they will make arrangements for bilateral talks then.
Q: If I could just follow up, would it be fair to say, then, that Mr. Pritchard is not intending to outline what this Administration's approach is going to be on North Korea at these talks?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think the President outlined our approach in his statement last week, June 6th, in terms of what he directed his national security team to do. This is obviously a first step in that in terms of undertaking serious discussions with North Korea on a broad agenda. And you can go back to his statement on that, taking a comprehensive approach to North Korea to seek and encourage progress toward North-South reconciliation and peace on the Peninsula, a more constructive relationship with us and greater stability in the region.
So those are the goals that we outlined. I think today the focus of the talks is to meet and discuss the next step, and that is setting up bilateral talks, in terms of however that may progress.
Q: Did you say that -- I missed it if you did -- if you expected this to go beyond one day?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any expectation of that, but I just -- they went into a meeting, and I didn't have any expectation, other than that they were going to make arrangements for bilateral talks.
Q: Can I move south of North Korea?
Q: Actually (inaudible) these talks, did the North give the US any indication that it was open to the possibility of resuming missile talks?
MR. REEKER: Well, they agreed to have these talks. Obviously we had, as we discussed last week, notified them of the President's statement, the end of our review and the decisions that had been made. And so this is the important first step, for Mr. Pritchard to go and have this meeting. And obviously we will have more information after he has had this meeting, and we can see what the follow-on steps will be.
Q: The Chinese President is going to meet with President Putin tomorrow. Is that going to affect the Bush-Putin meeting at all for the weekend meeting?
MR. REEKER: Well, I can't speak for Mr. Putin. He may be tired, in terms of flying from Beijing to Ljubljana, but I don't see how that would affect that meeting. We expect that meeting to go off, and I know President Bush is looking forward to it.
Q: Okay, what's the US -- yes, I guess he's busy. But what is the US view for a maybe cooperative China-Russia relation?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular statements on that. We encourage countries to have strong diplomatic relations. So if you want to talk about President Bush's meeting with President Putin, which is upcoming Saturday, I would refer you to his party that is traveling currently in Brussels.
Q: Okay, then is the US trying to have a closer relationship with Russia than with China?
MR. REEKER: I really don't think it is a question of closer with one or with another. That is a very simplistic approach. We are having a meeting between our two presidents, the Russian President and the American President. It takes place on Saturday. President Bush, in his press conference today, discussed looking forward to that. There have been a number of discussions about our relationship with Russia. Both of our relationship with Russia and with China are very important. We are all three very large countries. We have interests that run the gamut from economic and social issues, political relations. So we will continue to pursue both of those complicated relationships on a variety of levels. Matt.
Q: For months now, there have been a lot of reports about militias in West Timor harassing and intimidating the East Timorese, trying to get them to basically stay in West Timor so as not to go back -- to keep them from going back to East Timor to present the situation in East Timor as an independent place from Indonesia as bad.
And I am wondering, in light of that, if you have any comment on the results of the vote among the East Timorese in West Timor, 98 percent of whom apparently voted not to remain in West Timor?
MR. REEKER: Not to remain?
Q: No, to remain in West Timor, and not to return to East Timor, which some at least have said is an indication that this intimidation is actually working.
MR. REEKER: I haven't seen that --
Q: You don't have that --
MR. REEKER: -- those results. I really haven't seen any reports on it. So I would be happy to look into it for you, but I don't think we have any particular comment on that reflection of individual views.
Q: Perhaps (inaudible) Cuba, you can go back to --
MR. REEKER: I won't even try to figure that one out.
Q: The Mexican authorities arrested this morning one of the leaders of a big cartel, a narco-traffic cartel. Does the United States have any comments about it?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on it. I know we talked earlier. I will have to look into it. But I didn't have any reports from law enforcement authorities.
Q: And another thing in Mexico. The President, Vicente Fox, has just a trip to close the border with the United States to the American trucks because the United States doesn't follow the laws of the NAFTA regarding the Mexican trucks. Is there any --
MR. REEKER: I hadn't even seen those reports. I would have to check into what that is about. I am not aware of the issue. We can look into that.
Q: Can I switch the topic? Today, the House International Relations Committee began and then postponed marking up the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. I asked this question on Monday, but is there any kind of clear position from the podium now regarding two-year versus a five-year extension of this bill?
MR. REEKER: I don't think there is anything further to say at this point. As you know, we have been reviewing the relevant issues regarding renewal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. And I think Ambassador Boucher noted last week, of course we have been consulting with Congress, and as you said, the House International Relations Committee is considering relevant legislation, a markup session today. So for that reason, I just don't have anything for you here. You might want to run up to the Hill.
Q: Senator Lugar this morning has recommended to the President that he might like to take the lead in encouraging new countries to join NATO in Prague in 2002. Do you have --
MR. REEKER: The President addressed quite extensively in his remarks at NATO our views on NATO expansion.
Q: But specifically on countries? I don't think it's --
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I haven't looked at every one of the President's comments, but that is obviously a question that is more appropriately directed to the President and most of the national security apparatus that is traveling and currently in Brussels.
Q: As I recall, on Monday when I asked Richard if the events in Macedonia over the weekend or that Monday were going to result in you guys altering or strengthening your Travel Warning for Macedonia, there was general scoffing from the direction of your chair over there.
MR. REEKER: No, Matt, the scoffing, in fact, from my chair was that the --
Q: And lo and behold --
MR. REEKER: -- if you'll excuse me -- that before you impugn me even further -- the Travel Warning that was issued over the weekend was based on the events that had occurred, probably when you weren't watching, Friday and Saturday.
Q: Lo and behold, Phil, yesterday you slyly released a new Travel Warning which has the very interesting sentence that says, "Some US Government affiliated personnel who are unable to conduct their business in areas affected by the hostilities have been redeployed."
And I'm just wondering if you can explain what that means.
MR. REEKER: That means that people like perhaps Peace Corps people or AID project people who may have had business that took them into the areas that are now experiencing problems or are affected by the hostilities or transportation to and from are affected by that, may indeed have been redeployed, perhaps to Skopje. I wouldn't have specifics on everybody's location.
Q: No, I don't expect that. But do you know if anybody has been redeployed outside of Macedonia?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. I would have to ask.
Q: And is there a way to find out how many of these types there are?
MR. REEKER: No.
MR. REEKER: To move on to North Korea, will there be any announcement or readout later today about the meeting?
MR. REEKER: As I said, I would try to see if we have any readout of the meeting this afternoon. You will have to check back with the Press Office because I don't know when the meeting is expected to be completed or whether we will have a direct readout from Mr. Pritchard or whether he will care to make any comments at this point.
Q: And do you rule out the possibility of continuing tomorrow?
MR. REEKER: I think I was asked that question, too, and I don't rule anything out, just like I don't rule anything in. Mr. Pritchard is having a meeting today. I believe it is going on now. I don't know when it started, I don't know when it will end, and I don't know what his plans will be. Usually these things are dependent on what happens in the meeting.
So I had no suggestion that the meeting would turn into a two-day meeting, but obviously if you keep in touch with the Press Office, we will be able to get you whatever update we can on that.
Q: Yes, on the Khobar Towers investigation, there has been some concern that Iran may have been involved in the bombing. Can you tell me, was their government cooperative with the United States during the investigation?
MR. REEKER: Iran's Government?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe we have worked particularly with Iran on this. Overall, this is a law enforcement matter so I would refer you to the Department of Justice. But the State Department and law enforcement agencies have worked in close cooperation and consultation since the beginning of this investigation, obviously working with Saudi Arabian authorities, which is where that bombing took place.
Q: How (inaudible) at all made it difficult for our -- for the United States to improve our relationship with Iran?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think we have talked about the concerns we have about Iran in terms of their state sponsorship of terrorism, their support for terrorist groups around the world, their moves against the Middle East peace process, their attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction. I mean, those remain all of the same concerns we have had about Iran that have affected our view on relations with Iran for a long time now.
So I think the Khobar Towers matter is one that has been investigated. It is a law enforcement matter so I would refer you to the Justice Department or others involved in that. And you may just want to refer back to -- certainly in response to some of the recent press reports on the issue -- refer back to what the FBI said last month. I think it was May 4th when they put out a press release that talked about the Khobar Towers bombing remaining an investigative priority of the FBI and that both the FBI and the Justice Department are still completely committed to a thorough and complete investigation of the tragic attack and are continuing all necessary efforts to apprehend and prosecute all those responsible for the crime.
Q: May I ask three extremely quick questions on Asia? Well, sorry. Two on Asia, one on Yemen. Is the Yemen Embassy still closed to the public?
Two, do you have a date or confirmation that Powell -- that the Secretary will be meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister on Monday?
MR. REEKER: Before we go on to three, let's do one at a time because my brain can't quite handle that.
I don't have anything new on the Yemen Embassy. I believe public operations are still closed. The Embassy is still functioning, but public services have been suspended.
Two, I don't have anything further to announce on Secretary Powell and a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Tanaka. We will expect to make a formal announcement when details are set on that.
Q: Three was, are you following -- how closely are you following the trial now under way in Cambodia of an American citizen who is charged with trying to overthrow the government there?
MR. REEKER: We have had consular officers who have regularly visited Mr. Kim since his arrest. This is Mr. Richard Kiri Kim, who is charged with terrorism and belonging to an illegal armed force, the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, and also charged with suspected involvement in the November 24th, 2000, attacks on government buildings in Phnom Penh.
The trial began Monday, June 11th. The consular officers were present at the proceedings, so we have been following it quite closely. And as I said, we regularly visited Mr. Kim as an American citizen since his arrest. The most recent visit was on May 18th. And since it is an ongoing case, a trial that is ongoing, it is really inappropriate to comment any further.
Q: You don't have any -- there has been a lot of concern expressed by the United States in the past about the independence of Cambodia's judiciary. You are not worried at all? Have you been urging the Cambodian authorities to make this trial --
MR. REEKER: I would just refer you to our Human Rights Report. I am not aware of any other particular things. We are monitoring the trial, as I said, by having consular officers attend.
Q: You are not concerned at all that it is politically motivated or anything?
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to our Human Rights Report in terms of the --
Q: That would refer specifically to this arrest and trial?
MR. REEKER: I don't know -- it wouldn't, because this is more recent but --
MR. REEKER: This is an ongoing trial, Matt, and I am not going to comment on it any more.
Q: Well, in many other criminal cases where there are Americans involved, while the trial is going on, you have said something like, we call on X to, you know -- we want to see due process, and --
MR. REEKER: We want to see a free and fair trial and due process, Matt.
Q: That's all I wanted.
MR. REEKER: That goes without saying.
Q: Well, it doesn't always.
MR. REEKER: And we have consular officers monitoring that. So if we have anything further to add, I would be happy to check into it for you.
Q: On Colombia, two questions. Do you have any comment on the meeting between the Sub-Secretary of State and the Foreign Relations Minister of Colombia?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I know that Deputy Secretary Armitage was meeting with the minister yesterday, and I just don't have a readout on that. But I will be happy to check into it and get you some points on that.
Q: And the second thing is there are some reports in Colombia saying that some American pilots with Colombia -- in a Colombian plane helped to response a guerilla attack to Santo Domingo, a little town in Colombia, a few years ago. And just circling, they (inaudible) to declare or they said that what happened there because there was a huge mistake, and a lot of civilians died in that action.
Do you have something on this?
MR. REEKER: I am not even aware of the report. It sounds like something I would be happy to look into, if you can give the Press Office the details of what it is, and somebody can try to check on it.
Q: The trial of American citizens in Peru? Has the State Department been in contact lately with her family or with Lori Berenson? Has the State Department been in contact lately with her family?
MR. REEKER: I would have to check. I know we have been in contact with them throughout her ordeal, but I would have to look into what our last contact with them. I know the Embassy has been monitoring the trial that is ongoing there in Peru.
Q: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)