State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 21, 2001
Daily Press Briefing Index Thursday, June 21, 2001
BRIEFER: Phillip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
MISC 1 Introduction of Guests 6,14 Security at G-8 Summit / Threats Against US
PERU 1-3 Lori Berenson Guilty Verdict
PAKISTAN 3-6 Update on Musharraf 4 US Sanctions
ISRAEL/PA 6-7 Amb. William Burns / Secretary's Visit to Middle East 8-10 RSO Controversy Re: Maccabiah Games 14 PM Sharon Visit / Secretary Powell's Schedule
EGYPT 7-8,10-11 FM Talks with Powell
AFRICA 11-12 Conflict Diamonds
IRAN 12 ILSA Renewal
LIBYA 12-13 General US Policy 13-14 Libyan Support of Abu Sayaff
CHINA 13 Visit by Chinese Asst. FM
N KOREA 13 US Talks / Force Depoloyment
YUGOSLAVIA 14 Donor's Conference
AFGHANISTAN 15 Taliban Videotape 16 Pakistani Support for the Taliban
CUBA 15 Immigration Talks
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPB # 88
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2001 1:35 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the State Department. I hope the delay gave you a chance to file based on the Secretary's remarks after his meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
Obviously Ambassador Boucher is not here today, nor are his shadows that were with him yesterday. We did have a really terrific experience with the Powell-Straw shadow program with our two British visitors, and I understand that our young Americans who are spending the week in London are also having a fantastic experience. So we are very pleased to have been a part of that program sponsored by America's Promise.
I would just also like to welcome to the briefing today some individuals from Yugoslavia on a Government Communications Study Tour sponsored by Freedom House. We are very pleased to have you with us today. And we would also like to recognize one of our own colleagues, In-mi Gosmell, the Assistant Information Officer for Television from our Embassy in Tokyo. So again, very pleased to have visitors here. It always lightens the atmosphere.
And on that note, let me go ahead and take your questions, beginning with Mr. Gedda.
Q: Since the Secretary did such a good job in giving us a readout, perhaps we could do Peru. Do you have any reaction to the Lori Berenson verdict?
MR. REEKER: First of all, let me note at the top that we sympathize greatly with Ms. Berenson's parents, who are understandably quite upset by the sentence of 20 years, less time served, given to their daughter.
The superior terrorism court rendered its verdict after a public trial in which Ms. Berenson was able to confront the accusations and present evidence in her own defense. We understand that her attorney will file, if he has not done so already, an appeal to Peru's supreme court. So obviously it is not appropriate to comment on details of the case while that appeal is pending. We certainly hope that the Peruvian supreme court will look carefully at all the issues raised by Ms. Berenson's defense attorney in the appeal that he has filed or will file on her behalf.
Q: That response is interesting because it doesn't mention her, actually. Do you have any sympathy for Ms. Berenson herself, or is the Department incapable of showing feeling towards her?
MR. REEKER: That's an interesting formulation of a question, Matt. Obviously people have sympathy with a person who is in a situation where she is proclaiming her innocence and the court has found her guilty.
Again, we haven't taken a position on her guilt or innocence in the process. What we have looked for is a procedure under rule of law in terms of this trial. And obviously, as I indicated, we certainly do sympathize with her parents as well. Any parents would understand the stress and the situation and how upset they would be, given what their family has gone through in this year.
Q: You haven't expressed a position on her guilt or innocence, but can you say whether or not you think she had a fair trial?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think what we can say is that the court rendered its verdict after a public trial, free of the most egregious flaws in the military trial, and obviously this public trial addressed some of the concerns we had about the military trial. And all of you that have watched this case unfold and followed it over the last several years are aware of how much we pushed and made clear our views on that military trial.
For example, Ms. Berenson was able to confront the accusations against her and present evidence in her own defense, rights that were denied her during the military trial. She was represented by counsel. And we also do not believe that Ms. Berenson was discriminated against in this trial for being a US citizen, which is something very important to us.
On the other hand, as we already noted, Ms. Berenson's attorney has filed or will file an appeal on her behalf to the Peruvian supreme court alleging violations of due process, protections guaranteed under Peruvian law and the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.
The appeals process obviously is designed to raise disputed points of procedure or fact. So as I said, it would be inappropriate at this point for us to prejudice that process by commenting further. But we do express our hope that the Peruvian supreme court gives Ms. Berenson's appeal high priority, as she has already spent five and a half years in prison in Peru.
Q: You said she already spent five years and could spend 15 more. So 20 years is a long time. Do you think that there are humanitarian reasons that perhaps the government should reduce her sentence, or perhaps offer clemency?
MR. REEKER: Well, until the government -- or until the supreme court has resolved the pending appeal, again it would be premature to speculate about any future US Government reaction to that decision, or Peruvian actions. If the government of Peru were to consider a pardon, I think we would urge that humanitarian concerns be taken under consideration in that review, but we need to obviously see how the appeals process goes.
Q: When the appeal is actually filed and you guys have had a chance to look at it, as I assume you will, is there a point at which you could -- the Department could -- become a party or file a brief in support of the appeal?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. I would have to check back on that, but not that I am aware of.
Q: And just to check on his visits to Washington, the President-Elect of Peru I think discussed with the State Department --
MR. REEKER: We are not talking about Lori Berenson anymore?
Q: Yes, the case, Mr. Toledo, the President-Elect of Peru. I told him during his visit to Washington last year, or the beginning of this year. He discussed the issue with the State Department, just to verify if he did?
MR. REEKER: I would have to go back and check on those visits. I don't recall. I think our view on the process and the need to have a new trial that would provide some of the legal process that we have seen in this trial, versus the military trial that she had undergone, has been something we have discussed for a long time.
New subjects then?
Q: What you said yesterday about Pakistan, the new -- I mean, General Musharraf's position of calling himself president of Pakistan. That means Pakistan led or misled the US, number one?
Number two, Benazir Bhutto said that this is another coup by the General Musharraf, and also another dark chapter in the Pakistan history. Now, yesterday, the Foreign Minister was speaking at the National Press Club. He was also surprised or he didn't know in advance. And he met yesterday after the briefing press conference with Deputy Secretary Armitage.
Now, what is the position of Pakistan how they misled the US, so that US is no more ally or friend of the United States? But the Secretary wrote a letter to him before he invited him, and he also recognized that we are the friend of the United States. So where do we stand?
MR. REEKER: Let me just refer you to what Ambassador Boucher said yesterday -- it was quite clear -- that we are very concerned that Pakistan has taken a turn away from, rather than toward, democracy. And I think General Musharraf's actions to dissolve the elected assemblies and appoint himself president severely undermine Pakistan's constitutional order and clearly cast Pakistan as a country ruled by decree rather than by a democratic process.
As you noted, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Sattar, met with Deputy Secretary Armitage yesterday afternoon. The Deputy Secretary described the surprise announcement as very disappointing. We reiterated the points that we have made quite publicly on how we view that step taken by Mr. Musharraf. I think we have said quite clearly that holding free and fair elections is going to be essential; it will be essential to ensure that a truly democratic political process and structure are developed and respected in Pakistan.
Q: Just to follow, India and China recognized his presidency, but if US is going to do or has taken any steps?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any particular steps we have taken in that direction, other than to note our concern that this does make Pakistan appear to be a country ruled by decree and not by a democratic process. We talked quite plainly with the Foreign Minister about the fact that we would like to rebuild cooperative relations with Pakistan. I think the Foreign Minister noted their desire to help in the realm of issues like Afghanistan. But obviously these developments in terms of Mr. Musharraf's actions are disappointing and, as I said, they certainly point Pakistan down the wrong direction, away from, rather than toward, democracy.
Q: Did he offer any explanation to Mr. Armitage about why you hadn't been told about this?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of.
Q: And is the United States considering imposing any sanctions as a result of this move?
MR. REEKER: We already have sanctions as a result of the move from before in terms of the undemocratic actions, so I am not aware of additional sanctions that would be appropriate.
Q: I understood there is another layer of sanctions that were in place before because of nuclear problems. Is that --
MR. REEKER: No, there was a layer of sanctions in place because of undemocratic action of 18 months ago. This simply exacerbates that direction, and in fact, obviously, as I said, looks like they are headed on the opposite direction, away from, rather than toward, democracy, which is clearly the most important thing for them.
Q: What do you make of the explanation coming from Islamabad that this change was necessary in order for Musharraf to make his historic visit to India to talk about Kashmir? Are you buying that?
MR. REEKER: I don't think it is for us to buy or make anything of. I made quite clear our view of the actions that General Musharraf took yesterday. We view those as undemocratic. They undermine Pakistan's constitutional order and clearly are disappointing. And what I want to say now is that if Pakistan is committed to restoring democracy, they need to focus on holding free and fair elections -- that is going to be absolutely essential -- and they must --
Q: Well, how does the one -- I mean, couldn't -- he could be president for now and then -- but then have these elections. I mean, what --
MR. REEKER: Well, I don't think I can make it much clearer. I think the actions he took, Eli, to dissolve the elected assemblies and to appoint himself president severely undermine Pakistan's constitutional order. And as I said -- and I will say it once more for your benefit -- that they make it look like Pakistan is a country ruled by decree rather than by a democratic process.
Q: Do I take it from your answer to the earlier question that a protocol -- that the protocol issue on what to actually call Musharraf now has not yet been decided, in terms of official correspondence and new --
MR. REEKER: I would have to double-check. I am not aware --
Q: I asked yesterday and --
MR. REEKER: I don't have an answer for you, Matt, so I will try and double-check. I don't think that has been the highest priority of our day.
Q: I mean, that's great that it's not the highest priority, but it is something that has got to be done at some point so --
MR. REEKER: I will check for you, Matt, and when I get an answer, I will provide you with one.
Q: If Secretary Powell Pakistan friend and ally of the United States?
MR. REEKER: I think it is very clear in the conversations the Secretary had with the Foreign Minister and the Deputy Secretary again yesterday - - and we have said it quite publicly -- that we have a desire to rebuild cooperative relations with Pakistan. We have had a long history with Pakistan. It is very important that we develop a relationship with Pakistan based on our two countries and our relationships. But clearly, democracy is an aspect of that. And we have expressed for a long time now our concerns about the original actions taken by General Musharraf 18 months ago, and our hopes to see Pakistan return and make progress on the path back to democracy.
Obviously the action yesterday makes us very concerned that in fact they are turning away from, rather than toward, democracy, and we will need to see some steps in the right direction as we try to reevaluate and rebuild cooperative relations with Pakistan.
Q: One more briefly that is related to my other question on what to call him. You just called him "General." I'm wondering, do you know if -- did you ever use the title that he had before, Chief Executive?
MR. REEKER: I don't know, and I will have to check the whole protocol approach to Mr. or General Musharraf. I just don't have that, Matt.
Anything else on Pakistan or South Asia?
Q: So are you going to recognize him as the president?
MR. REEKER: I think that question was just asked, and I said I would have to check and see.
Q: I'm sorry. Can I ask something else then? Can you say anything about credible and specific threats to the G-8 Summit in Genoa next month, including threats against President Bush and other world leaders?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think suffice it to say that security is always a concern at such high-profile gatherings as a G-8 Summit. We take all security threats very seriously, and we are taking all appropriate security precautions.
Q: Well, you just said that you take all security threats very seriously. Have you received threats against President Bush?
MR. REEKER: I am not going to discuss at this point information that would pertain to intelligence, perhaps. As you know, we don't discuss about that in terms of security information available to us. But we are taking all appropriate actions, as we always do, in terms of President Bush's security, and clearly working with the Italian hosts and the other governments participating in the G-8.
Q: Well, apparently, Usama bin Laden made some threats against President Bush and to the G-8, and in fact, you do sometimes say that there -- in Yemen, for instance, the US said that there were credible and specific threats.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything else to share with you today, except that we would take all threats seriously and evaluate them. Security is clearly always of highest concern, particularly at gatherings like the G-8 Summit that will take place in Italy next month.
Q: I realize the Secretary just talked about the Middle East, but I wanted to know if there was anything more tied down about his trip in terms of timings, also about Assistant Secretary Burns' plans.
MR. REEKER: I really don't have anything further on the Secretary's trip at this point. You heard him discuss his plans to go out there next week. I think early next week is a fairly good description, but at this point the itinerary and exact time table just haven't been pinned down. But we will try to keep you posted on that if we have anything later today. But I suspect tomorrow we would be able to focus on that a little bit more.
MR. REEKER: Burns. Yes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Burns is expected to travel. I think the Secretary indicated that. Probably this evening he will depart, in advance of the Secretary clearly, to continue efforts with the parties to end the violence, rebuild confidence, and ultimately, as the Secretary indicated, to resume negotiations in the framework of implementing the Mitchell Plan recommendations. So we do expect him to depart tonight to be in the region obviously tomorrow sometime.
Q: Do you know what his stops are?
MR. REEKER: I don't have an exact itinerary for him, but I would expect him to go first to Israel.
Q: Do you expect him to stay there, what, for when the Secretary is --
MR. REEKER: I don't have a particular readout on his plans, whether he would stay up to or through the Secretary's visit. I'm just not sure at this point, so we will just have to see.
Q: On a related subject, can you tell us about the Secretary's meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and whether or not the subject of the Egyptians trying to buy various parts, missile parts, from North Korea came up, and whether the US was satisfied with the response that it got from the Foreign Minister?
MR. REEKER: I think the Secretary gave you a pretty good readout of his meeting with the Egyptian Foreign Minister when they both came out and talked to you and answered your questions. So I don't have much more to add in terms of the discussions, which clearly focused largely on the Middle East situation, a situation where Egypt has had a very important role. And the Secretary praised the positive role that both the Foreign Minister, Mr. Maher, and President Mubarak have played in that.
Our bilateral relationship obviously is a strong and important one for both countries. And as the Secretary noted, we are examining new ways to improve upon that relationship. I think we do that always, particularly with respect to military-to-military cooperation.
In terms of your specific question on non-proliferation and missile talks, that did come up. It comes up in all of our discussions generally at this level with the Egyptians. I think both countries recognize the importance of maintaining missile control regimes in the region, the importance of focusing on non-proliferation. It is important to the interests of both our countries. And so that will continue to be a subject which we will raise.
Q: Okay. But just on the point of whether or not the US was -- did Secretary Powell get a response from the Foreign Minister on the specific point of North Korea, or was it just brought up, mentioned, and they moved on to other --
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have anything to share with you on specific points on that, other than to say that non-proliferation issues, as they always tend to come up, did come up in this meeting. They raised it; they'll continue to raise it. It's an important subject. I think the Foreign Minister recognized that, acknowledged that, as well as the Secretary, that both countries have a strong interest in focusing on nonproliferation and keeping an eye on those issues.
Q: You said that both countries -- I understand you don't want to talk about the North Korea No-Dong stuff, but you said that both countries recognize maintaining missile control regimes. But I don't think that - - I mean, Egypt is even a member of the MTCR. I mean, was there any discussion of trying to get them to --
MR. REEKER: I don't think I mentioned specifically. I just said maintaining missile control regimes generally is something both countries recognize is important, and focusing on these issues of nonproliferation and preventing proliferation into the --
Q: At any point, did Powell say, you know, we'd like you to do a little bit more?
MR. REEKER: I think it is something we will continue to discuss. We discuss all the time the importance of it. I think that is about as far as I characterize it at this point.
Q: Do you have anything on a story which broke today, I think out of New York, (inaudible) a security officer at the US Consulate in Jerusalem, who apparently wrote an email suggesting certain athletic teams not play in the so-called Jewish Olympics -- or Israel's version of the Olympics is what they're calling it?
MR. REEKER: You're talking about the Maccabiah Games?
Q: Yes, that's right. Apparently, there is some question as to whether he will be disciplined. Charles Schumer is calling for --
MR. REEKER: I think I am aware of the press reports. I saw that and it is something that we are looking into, and I just don't have any particular comment on this subject at this time while we look into that.
Obviously this pertains to the issue of the Department's Travel Warnings, and as we discuss quite frequently in this room from this podium, our Travel Advisories, our Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, all tend to speak for themselves. We try to make them as straightforward as possible. They are issued in a written format so that all citizens receive the same guidance. They are issued on the web. And we aim, under that program, to allow all citizens to make their individual choices in terms of making their travel plans as to where and when they will travel abroad.
Q: So you're saying that at this early point you are concluding -- well (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: I guess not.
Q: You're surmising, anyway, that his suggestion that teams not take place are entirely (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: I don't think I was even surmising, just to do that. I think I was indicating that this article referred to travel information put out by the Department of State. We do have a Travel Warning that you are aware of for a number of places around the world, including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. And so the message I was trying to say in response to that article generally is that our consular information program, including Travel Warnings, is designed to provide all citizens with the same information in a written format, or electronic if you want to look at it on the worldwide web, and based on that information, to allow American citizens to make their own individual decisions about travel in terms of where and when and what precautions they might take if they choose to undertake travel abroad.
Q: Can you tell me in general would it have any bearing on the case whether he sent his emails (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: I can't, because I said I don't have any information on that particular case. We are looking into the issues surrounding the press stories, anyway, and I just can't really say anything more at this point.
Q: But is this -- is it policy of the State Department to applaud or, after the fact, to say I think you made the right decision or -- if someone makes a political decision, is it up to the State Department -- usually you say, you know, you're not going to make comment on individual --
MR. REEKER: I guess I am not aware of political decisions or exactly what you are referring to, so I wouldn't try to venture there.
Q: Well, I mean, apparently this email came out after the fact. So is it up to the State Department --
MR. REEKER: After the fact of what?
Q: After the -- that he made the decision not to. Apparently this email said I think you made the right decision.
MR. REEKER: I am not going to comment on people's personal correspondence either, so I just really have nothing to add on that case.
Q: All right. Well, if I could just try it this way, is it fair to say, then, that the State Department discourages its consular officers from offering their personal opinion, and should in fact be --
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware that this press article had to do with a consular officer, first of all.
Q: It was a US diplomat. It was a US diplomat in Jerusalem.
MR. REEKER: And I just have nothing further to add for you on that case. It is something we are looking into. I think we have covered it as far as we can go because I am not going to say anything more until we have had a chance to actually look into it. We don't base all of our commentary just on single press reports that are out there.
Q: Well, can I ask one more question on that? Did you only become aware of the situation due to the press reports?
MR. REEKER: I guess I am not fully certain of what the situation is. If you are talking about the situation of our Travel Warning and the fact that we make these there, or if you are talking about the situation as described in the press report, I became aware of it because there was a press report on it. I just am not really sure what the situation is. If you are talking about the situation in which our Travel Advisory, our Travel Warning describes, then that I am very aware of.
Q: Well, wait -- I have no idea what you are talking about, but -- I don't know what report this is, but is the -- it seems to me that what they are saying is that this guy, whoever he is, said something about -- said it was good that people weren't going to these games -- I think that's what they are saying -- but so, in the Warning, does it mention the games at all? Is there something about the --
MR. REEKER: I don't believe that it does. I would have to go back and look at the specific Warning. I think it talks about -- our Travel Warning is for a specific region, a specific area. It is quite --
Q: Right. Yes, but sometimes they also mention specific events, like - -
MR. REEKER: I am not aware. I would have to go check. Chuck, do you know if this specific event is mentioned in that? I don't know if it has been yet, and it is something obviously that would be reviewed in terms of the consular information and any updates to our Travel Warnings.
Q: Well, so -- if you did -- never mind.
MR. REEKER: I think we are talking about an issue of a personal correspondence between people that were known to each other, and that is what has generated controversy. And so it is something we would look into.
Q: Back on the Egyptian Foreign Minister. Did the Secretary mention the issue of their ambassador to Israel at all?
MR. REEKER: Their ambassador to Israel?
Q: Egypt's ambassador to Israel.
MR. REEKER: No, I don't believe that issue came up.
Q: Just getting him back in there.
MR. REEKER: That issue did not come up in the part of the meeting I was in.
Q: The Secretary mentioned something about how you wanted to enhance the military-to-military cooperation. Can you be more specific about what he was talking about?
MR. REEKER: Not particularly. I think it is something we always look at doing, enhancing our relationships. Our military-to-military program, as you know, is quite robust, and I would have to get you details on all of the programs. As you know, we have a lot of programs that include military-to-military programs and sales. But in terms of specific enhancements, I think it is something we are always looking to do.
Q: I guess what I would like to get at is whether there was some specific new program, or is it just general maybe we could do some cooperation and not anything specific?
MR. REEKER: I would go with the latter. I don't know that there are specific things. I think there are a number of programs in terms of specific sales and programs in the pipeline within the framework of our regular military-to-military relationship with Egypt.
Q: And along those lines, did the question of US troops in the Sinai force come up?
MR. REEKER: No. Again, not in the meeting that I was in. The Secretary met privately with the Foreign Minister for a few minutes at the end of the meeting, so I can't comment on that.
Did you have something more, Paul?
Q: Unrelated. There was an announcement today on the Hill about some industry groups, diamond industry groups supporting legislation on conflict diamonds, and I'm wondering if there is an Administration position on that?
MR. REEKER: Yes. As you know we have talked about conflict diamonds numerous times from here, and our interest in working on this issue. We certainly welcome the objectives of the recently announced draft law. I think you are referring to the bill sponsored by Senators Durbin, Feingold and DeWine, and their objectives are consistent with our efforts to sever the link between diamonds and conflict in Africa without harming legitimate trade.
At this point, I checked into it, and thank you for giving us advance notice of your question, because I tried to check into it. I'm just unable to comment on the particulars of the bill, because we haven't had a chance to study the bill further. But it did appear that the objectives of the legislation were clearly consistent with our efforts. And I think the fact that the diamond industry and some of the non- governmental organizations have joined together to support this bill demonstrates their firm commitment to combat the conflict diamonds trade. And industry and civil society groups are making important contributions to the Kimberley Process as its known, through which the US and other governments around the world are developing standards for a global rough diamond certification system that would aim to keep the diamond trade conflict-free.
So we are looking forward to making progress on establishing the minimum acceptable standards for the system at the July meeting of the Kimberley Process, which will take place in Moscow. And we will obviously continue to look at that legislation and see how we can work with Congress on this, because I think everybody is quite united in the goals and objectives for this.
Q: Do you have any response to the Khobar Towers indictments that just came out?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I believe that the Justice Department or the FBI was doing some announcements. At this point, I don't think that is even finished. It hadn't begun when I came out here. So I will have to leave it to them.
Q: Have you noticed the House committee vote yesterday on extending ILSA for five years, and it was pretty overwhelming, and do you have any response?
MR. REEKER: I would just note -- I think we have covered it before, but sometimes I'm never quite sure what actually came up from here -- that the Administration supports renewal of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in its original form for two years, and our support for this two-year term, this two-year renewal, reflects our view that sanctions should be reviewed frequently. And as you know, we have had a broad review of sanctions under way since the Administration came in.
I think there are questions about effectiveness, impact, cost and relevance, which inevitably arise in connection with any sanctions regime, and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act is no exception. So our decision to support the two-year renewal reflects obviously no diminution in our concern for Iran's and Libya's objectionable behavior, which we often talk about from here.
Our concerns for both countries continue to be reflected in a wide variety of ways, including their designations as state sponsors of terrorism, as you know, and our strict enforcement of sanctions related to that particular designation. We also have unilateral non- proliferation sanctions in place and our active participation and enforcement of multilateral export control and arms control regimes.
So those are other things we are looking at. We still support a two- year renewal of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, and we will obviously need to work with Congress on that.
Q: Do you have anything on Libya's behavior?
MR. REEKER: On Libya's behavior?
Q: Well, you mentioned Iran's. What about Libya?
MR. REEKER: Generally? I think we have talked about it before. I can go back and see if we had anything to update, although we have been very clear in the need for Libya to fully comply with Security Counsel resolutions, particularly in line with the Pan Am 103 case.
Q: Can you tell us what the Chinese Ambassador, who he was visiting here, why he was here today?
MR. REEKER: The Chinese Ambassador. I suspect that he was accompanying the Chinese Assistant Minister, who is here today. The Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Zhou Wenzhong, is visiting Washington June 21, 22 as part of our ongoing discussion of US-China relations. He is being hosted by his counterpart, the Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly.
In addition to meetings with Assistant Secretary Kelly, the Assistant Foreign Minister will meet with Deputy Secretary Armitage, Under Secretary Grossman here at the State Department. And I don't know what other meetings he might be having around town. You could check with the Chinese Embassy, but I suspect the Chinese Ambassador was accompanying his Assistant Foreign Minister, and that may be why you saw him in the building today.
Q: North Korea has issued another statement seemingly rejecting any kind of talks with the US on these conventional force deployments. Does that, for instance, shake the confidence of the Secretary?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I haven't seen additional statements, so I wouldn't want to comment on that. I don't have anything new in that regard, except that we do expect to have additional talks, move forward under the framework that President Bush announced about 10 days ago now, two weeks ago.
Q: Have they gotten back to you? I mean, the statement that came out was very harsh. It said that you were unilaterally determining what the agenda --
MR. REEKER: Yes, I don't have anything new on it, Eli. I am not aware of any additional direct communications, but we will keep following that.
Q: Could you take the question?
MR. REEKER: Sure, I would be happy to look into seeing if we had any response from the North Koreans, in addition to anything we have talked about previously.
Q: Has the State Department been asked about, or to comment on the fact that the Libyan Government is now playing host to mediation efforts between the Philippine Government and Abu Sayyaf?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that particular report, so I would have to go back and double-check if we had something on that.
Q: I think it came out yesterday.
MR. REEKER: Okay, it wasn't something brought to my attention, or that I had looked at. I don't have anything new for you on the situation in the Philippines regarding --
Q: Is Yemen still the same?
MR. REEKER: Yemen, I have no information on either.
Q: Two questions. Back on the Middle East and the G-8. On Middle East, there will be any coordination between the visit in Washington of Mr. Sharon and the trip in the Middle East of Secretary Powell?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have anything more on Mr. Sharon's visit. As far as we are aware, there is no change in Prime Minister Sharon's planned travel to the US. As you know, he had long scheduled a series of meetings in New York, and I think the White House mentioned a brief meeting has been scheduled with the President in Washington on the 26th, which would be Tuesday. You might want to check with the White House for more details on that, and his schedule here.
As I said, I don't have any more details on the Secretary's schedule and how planning for that is going, or how that might tie into Prime Minister Sharon's plans.
Q: And on the G-8, are you still confident that the meetings at the Foreign Ministry and then the G-8 Summit can be had in Italy in a safe condition, mainly in Genoa?
MR. REEKER: As far as I know, that is where we are expecting to attend meetings, and as I mentioned and answered to Elise's question, I think security is always a concern of ours. We will be working very closely with Italian authorities, as well as with others involved in the G-8 as we pay attention to potential threats or other issues in terms of our President as well as other world leaders traveling there.
Q: Phil, do you have anything on the Administration's position regarding the donors conference for Yugoslavia?
MR. REEKER: I don't. No decision has been made at this point. I have nothing new to say.
Q: Despite the fact that the law that you were wanting to be passed appears to be failing now in Belgrade?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think we have brought up before -- if you go back to April 2nd, when the Secretary made his determination of the need to see progress in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's cooperation with the ICTY, the Tribunal in The Hague. So we made clear that that cooperation has to take place.
At this point, we haven't made a decision in terms of our attending the conference, which I believe is scheduled for June 29th. So we are still over a week away.
Q: On a different subject. Have you or the folks in counter-terrorism or the Afghanistan Bureau had a chance to look at the bin Laden videotape?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of.
Q: It's been out for a few days now.
MR. REEKER: In fact, I think we talked about that. Richard talked about that, and I don't have anything further on it.
Q: He didn't say much about it, though.
MR. REEKER: I, at the time, was not aware that -- wait a second, videotape. It is probably the same thing I had before. No, I am not aware that anybody has seen, or if they have seen, made any further great analysis from the videotape. As Richard indicated, we strongly condemn the exhortations to violence that are reportedly contained in the videotape.
As you know, we call upon the Taliban to ensure that they comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1333 in that matter. But I just don't have anything further to add on that at this point.
Q: Is it something that you are looking into? Sometimes you say that when you hear various reports.
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. I wasn't -- nobody suggested that I should say that today. So I think we, as you know, have a very strong and vigorous counter-terrorism program run out of the Office of Counter- Terrorism here in the State Department, working together with our regional bureaus, obviously our colleagues in the US Government as well as our colleagues internationally.
So when it comes to Yemen or Saudi Arabia or other countries we have been cooperating with, we count on that. And we are going to continue that because terrorism is clearly something of great concern to all of us.
Q: Do you have something about the immigration talks with Cuba that's going to take place --
Q: Hold on. On Afghanistan, please?
MR. REEKER: Well, why don't I just do this Cuba question quickly. Cuba and immigration talks. As you know, these are talks that take place generally twice yearly, usually in June and December, in order to discuss the migration accords. We are going to announce an exact date for the next round to take place in New York, probably in the next couple of days. I just don't have a specific announcement for you today.
Q: And do you know who is going to head the US delegation?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't.
Q: Going back to Afghanistan. Pakistan's Foreign Minister yesterday, in a question, in his answer, he said that Pakistan is not supporting in any way the Taliban in Afghanistan. But at the same time, he said the world should study why the Taliban are acting or reacting radically. And my question is that, where are they getting all the arms and ammunition and their people are dying at home of hunger, and they are fighting against their own people? Where are they getting all the arms?
MR. REEKER: Pretty good point, and maybe you should ask them about their priorities in life.
Q: Can I follow up on that? Does the United States have any information to suggest that Pakistan arms, funds or trains the Taliban?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything for you on that, Eli. I would have to check into that.
Q: Okay, thank you.
Q: On global warming, do you have anything on what you expect from the delegation going to The Hague next week, and who might be going?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm sorry. I would be happy to check into that for you, though.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:15 p.m.)