World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 29, 2001

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Friday, June 29, 2001

BRIEFER: Philip Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

STATEMENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 Return of Secretary's Party / Annual Report on International Bribery

FRY 1-10 Donors Conference / Consultations with Congress / Dispersal of Funds / Other Indicted Individuals / NATO/SFOR Responsibility / Resignation of Zoran / ICTY and Apprehension of Other Indictees / Current Political Situation

MACEDONIA 10-13 Pardew Named as Special Advisor / Current Situation / US Participation in NATO Forces

AFGHANISTAN 14-15 Message to Taliban Regarding Usama Bin Laden/ Monitoring of Sanctions

IRAN 15 New Agreements with Italian Oil Companies

PHILIPPINES 16 Hostage Situation

CHINA 16 Powell Call to Foreign Minister Tang

IRAQ 17,18 Sanctions Resolution Discussions at UNSC

EGYPT 17 Mubarak - Powell Phone Call

JAPAN 18-19 Okinawa Rape Case / Visit of Prime Minister

RUSSIA 19 Ivashov Statements Regarding ABM Treaty

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB # 91

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2001 1:15 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department. I apologize for the delay. I was just on the phone with Ambassador Boucher. The Secretary and his party arrived in Paris a short time ago, where the Secretary is having a meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdallah. They are expected to depart Paris about three o'clock our time and be back in Washington tonight, sometime before midnight. So we look forward to having them back of course.

I would just note at the top that the State Department, along with the Commerce Department, issued today our Annual Report on Battling International Bribery. This is the third annual report to Congress on reviewing implementation and enforcement of the convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. This was adopted back in December of 1997 and has been signed by the US and 29 other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as four additional countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria and Chile.

So we can certainly help you find copies of that report, should you be interested. And I believe there was a briefing a little while ago in our Foreign Press Center, which we notified you about yesterday on that subject.

So with that, I am ready to take your questions, and I will start with our friend from Reuters.

Q: And can you just clarify for us whether the aid that is being promised at the conference for Yugoslavia is going to have conditions attached to it and how much it is going to be?

MR. REEKER: Well, let's talk a little bit about that. I know you have seen the reports coming out of Brussels, where our representative at the donors conference for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ambassador Napper, made his statement and announced that we will give a total of $181.6 million in new pledges of grant assistance for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That pledge, as Ambassador Napper noted, includes $8 million for refugee assistance and returns.

As I think we indicated earlier this week, when we announced that we would attend the conference, the US contribution comes from our support for Eastern European democracy funds as well as humanitarian assistance funds. The Administration's pledge includes $75 million in seed money. That, again, is the support for Eastern European democracy assistance funds for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from the President's Fiscal Year 2002 budget. And, obviously, those funds still have to be appropriated. But, as you know, we've been working very closely with Congress, and Congress took the initial steps yesterday to fulfill that request, so we have every reason to believe those will be available.

Now, we are making this pledge confident that Yugoslav authorities will continue to fulfill their international obligations, including the Dayton agreement, in full cooperation with the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This includes, of course, the transfer to the Tribunal of other Tribunal indictees on the territory of the FRY and any other necessary measures including, for instance, furnishing of requested documentation.

So again, as I said, we consulted very closely with Capitol Hill, with Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, working very closely with Congress, who has an integral role in development of US foreign policy in this area, and we are very pleased with the announcement that Ambassador Napper was able to make.

Q: Sorry, can I just clarify? You said that you are confident that they will fulfill their promises. Does that mean the conditionality has been removed?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think this is a donors conference, where we are talking about pledges for grants. And so we are confident, based on the assurances that we had that allowed us to go to this conference to begin with, as we announced on Wednesday -- and then, as we saw the tremendous development yesterday with the delivery of Slobodan Milosevic to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague -- that the Yugoslav authorities are very serious. This is a sign of their commitment to this, and so we remain very confident in that, and that is why we were able to make the pledge that we have made.

Obviously, this is a culmination of an ongoing process in terms of how the funding comes about. The cooperation on Milosevic, I think, stimulated the additional $75 million pledge that I just mentioned, contingent on obviously expected congressional approval, and the confidence that the FRY will continue its cooperation with the ICTY.

Q: I'm sorry, but I really have to ask again.

MR. REEKER: Try again.

Q: Is there a condition to this aid -- this pledge or not? And before you were saying you would go to the conference on the understanding that Yugoslavia would continue, and if Yugoslavia continued to cooperate. Now you are saying that you have made the pledge and you are confident that they will.

MR. REEKER: That's right.

Q: Does that mean you are not attaching a condition to the aid or not?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think it is clear in the way this works. We are making pledges that we are confident they are going to continue with this. Obviously, their assurances to us, as I said, are what allowed us to go to the conference, and it allowed us to make these pledges. They need to continue to do that. I think I said that, that they must fulfill their international obligations under the Dayton Agreement, and under international law, for full cooperation with the ICTY. And that includes detention and transfer to the Tribunal of other indictees on their territory, and other necessary measures to cooperate with that.

So we are confident that we will still see that, and we are going to move forward with this, including with the pledges for grants that we have made today.

Q: Phil, can I follow up? The Administration said earlier in the week that it was going to the conference, but it wasn't "signing any checks" until the Yugoslavs have demonstrated their cooperation with The Hague.

Would you say that you are prepared to sign the check now? I mean, you are going to the conference --

MR. REEKER: The way this works, these aren't checks that get put out. These are pledges that we have made, along with others in the international community, for a total of this money. We are very much in favor of helping Yugoslavia. And so the question of signing checks is sort of not the question at this point. We have pledged this money in grant aid, and we fully expect to go ahead with these things. We also fully expect them to continue with their cooperation with the ICTY in meeting their obligations.

Q: Are you going to hold off on disbursing the pledges that you made, and is there anything that the Yugoslavs have to do until you disburse this money? Or have they done enough --

MR. REEKER: Well, disbursal doesn't happen all at once, Elise, so we will continue to disburse, to establish new grants as that goes forward. I just can't predict now exactly what that will be.

You know, in this case, technical experts from the World Bank and experts from the FRY work together to come up with the $1.25 billion figure that they felt was needed to help the FRY continue on its path of economic reform and continue with their democratic development. What we have seen today is in fact $1.28 billion has been pledged by donor countries. We are providing 14 percent of that overall pledge. And it is the process of a culmination of an ongoing process. And so we will obviously be continuing aid.

We have had money, that you will recall -- last December in Brussels there was an earlier donors conference that focused on, at that time, food and emergency needs. And we pledged at that time $158 million. And so those things have been continuing. You will recall that after the initial period, that the Secretary then certified, with certain qualifications, that we would also continue these grants.

And so it is not a lump sum that is just written as a check based on something. It's grants that continue and we will continue those with those programs and those grants, and they will continue their cooperation with the ICTY.

Q: I understand. One more time. If the -- we were getting the indication that the money was going to be held, there were no funds that were going to be disbursed. Are you saying now that these funds are not being held up anymore? That if -- once it goes through the process of appropriations and all, that you plan on disbursing, or you are still not sure?

MR. REEKER: As grants and projects come up and we fund them and notify them, yes. That is the way the process works.

Q: Well, I think what we are getting at, though, is -- is there anything that Belgrade -- I mean, other than Congress -- for some reason, saying no, we are not going to give you these funds -- is there anything that Belgrade might do that would prompt you to say, okay, no, you're not getting these funds?

MR. REEKER: Going on the reverse of it -- well, I suppose that's sort of a hypothetical, in a sense.

Q: Well, obviously if Belgrade had not turned over Milosevic, then the US had conditioned aid. For instance, what if all this turmoil that's going on and debate that's going on in Belgrade now leads them to say, okay, we're not going to turn over anybody else?

MR. REEKER: That's the pure definition of a hypothetical, speculative question. What we have seen is assurances from officials in the Serbian government and in Yugoslavia. They have gone forward with the acts they said they were going to do, including turning over Slobodan Milosevic yesterday, in quite a remarkable act, an historic act, which has allowed the process of democratization, the process of putting behind them a decade or more of the type of evil regime that Milosevic propagated.

So that is a major step that shows, I think, as Ambassador Napper said and as the President said, that they have a commitment to do this and they will continue doing that and we will continue working with them.

Q: Could you tell us what your view now is of Radovan Karadzic and General Mladic, what you might have to say in the wake of what happened yesterday to the Republika Srpska government about their being turned over?

And also, while we are on the subject of indicted war criminals, as I understand it -- somebody can correct me if I'm wrong because I'm not entirely sure I'm right about this -- but as I understand it, the President of Serbia, Mr. Milutinovic or something like that?

MR. REEKER: Milan Milutinovic.

Q: Is an indicted war criminal.

MR. REEKER: He is indeed the President of Serbia, and he was indicted at the same time as former President Slobodan Milosevic.

Q: What's your view? What is your view of the President of Serbia as well and --

MR. REEKER: He is an indicted war criminal. He belongs in the same place where his old pal, Slobo, is as we speak. So we will be watching for developments in that department too.

Just to bring others that may not be as familiar with the situation up to it, obviously Milosevic is charged in the indictment from the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. That was May 22, 1999, when that indictment was announced. He was charged with four counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war based on actions in Kosovo in 1999. And, obviously, the War Crimes Tribunal can give you more details on that.

Also named at that time in that indictment are Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, and Vlajko Stojiljkovic. They were indicted at that same time. Obviously, there are other indictees, including some that you mentioned, David.

To sort of give the big picture, since we are focusing on this, the UN Security Council resolution that created the ICTY, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, charges governments of states in the region with the primary responsibility for apprehending persons indicted for war crimes and transferring them to the International Tribunal in The Hague. And obviously that would include Messrs Karadzic and Mladic, who also belong in The Hague with their old friend, Mr. Milosevic.

Q: Do you have any view that it might be more possible now to get them there? Either by a more robust approach from NATO, or by perhaps the fact that the people in Republika Srpska who may have relied in the past on some assistance or succor from Belgrade will no longer be getting it?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think we certainly have seen a very important move and a very symbolic move, because taking this step, I think again, will allow Yugoslavia to sweep aside some of the ghosts of the past and work towards their future. And I think others in the region are going to realize that there is an opportunity also to move forward by seeing that other indictees go to The Hague where they can face justice.

You know, we have pressed governments, both publicly and in diplomatic channels, to locate, to apprehend, and to transfer individuals like Mladic and Karadzic to the Tribunal, and we are going to continue our efforts along these lines to bring these individuals to justice. We have been very clear in our support for the ICTY, and the fact that the hunt for justice does not end, and that we want to see that carried through. We are not going to cease our efforts until we succeed in seeing justice carried out in those cases as well.

In terms of NATO, and you mentioned SFOR-- obviously the mission of SFOR is to provide regional stability, and one of their key supporting tasks is to support the ICTY in efforts against persons indicted for war crimes. And they work with the ICTY to continue to bring persons indicted for war crimes to justice. They have assisted in at least 18 successful arrests, and so I believe they will continue to do that.

Q: Do you know where Karadzic and Mladic are?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on that to give you at this point. They know where they are, and they know where they should be.

Q: Another one on this general subject. You expressed confidence that the government of Yugoslavia will continue cooperating with the Tribunal. It is my understanding this has been the government of Serbia mostly that performed the extradition, and the government of Yugoslavia seems to be almost opposed to it. President Kostunica called the extradition illegal, and today the Prime Minister, the other Zoran, has resigned in protest.

Do you have any reaction to that and the situation there, the political situation there now?

MR. REEKER: Again, I think those are largely internal legal issues, and you would want to ask authorities in Belgrade to comment on what are internal issues.

We have always maintained -- the United States has always maintained that Yugoslavia has to meet its international obligations and cooperate with the ICTY. And that is the message that we have pressed very firmly. We have talked about our desire to work with the new democratic Yugoslavia, to support them. That is evidenced by our strong pledge today at the donors conference.

But we have made very clear that that cooperation was absolutely necessary. It is their obligation under international law. And political leaders in Yugoslavia, including President Kostunica, have publicly acknowledged that obligation. He has acknowledged that on many occasions, and the transfer of Milosevic is indeed part of fulfilling their international obligations, and we applaud very much -- as the President said yesterday -- the action taken by the Serbian Government.

Other issues on Yugoslavia?

Q: The request from the Yugoslavs -- and the Europeans are talking about this being a reasonable number in their view -- is for more than $4 billion in the little bit longer term. What is the US view of how much the US can come up with in the longer term? Obviously, this first offer was towards the target of just over a billion.

MR. REEKER: Right. I think it is a little early to start speculating on the next step. What we have had today is a very robust response from the international community -- in fact, $30 million more in pledges than the $1.25 billion figure which technical experts from the World Bank working with economic experts in Yugoslavia had come up with in their assessment of the needs.

And so I think we have seen a very strong response from the international community, including a very important and robust response from the United States. We have taken this action because it is important to the United States, it is important to our interests to promote democracy in Yugoslavia, in the heart of Europe. And we want to encourage a continuation of democracy-building in Yugoslavia and, of course, that includes economic reform. And there are major steps they have to take. This isn't an easy road.

Milosevic's regime saw a tremendous decline in gross national product and a tremendous increase in corruption. And that is something that they are going to have to struggle with. It won't be easy, it won't be quick, but I think they are on the right direction and I think the Yugoslav people can already feel the fact that, with hard work and sticking with that path that they are on, they will begin to feel the positive results.

Q: The German Development Minister has called on the Paris Club to give Yugoslavia debt relief. What is the US administration's view of that?

MR. REEKER: I haven't seen that specific one. I would have to look into that in terms of consulting with the Department of Treasury and seeing where we are. That may be an element of packages as we continue to work with the Yugoslavs on helping them along the way and continuing to encourage them to make their own economic reforms.

Q: Can we move to Macedonia?

MR. REEKER: Do we have anything else?

Q: Do you foresee SFOR becoming more aggressive? It has been criticized before for seemingly allowing some of these indictees to go through checkpoints. Given the fact that there is this sentiment in Yugoslavia toward cooperating, do you think it is appropriate for SFOR to become more aggressive in its tactics, vis-à-vis the --

MR. REEKER: As I mentioned before, SFOR has supported the ICTY in many cases. They have been involved in and assisting with over 18 arrests and transfer of those persons to The Hague Tribunal.

Q: Haven't these cases been small fry?

MR. REEKER: Well, it is always easy to criticize. But one needs to remember the SFOR policy is to apprehend persons indicted for war crimes when we know where they are and there is reasonable chance of success without undue risk for SFOR personnel or innocent bystanders. And so SFOR will continue to work with the ICTY to continue to bring persons indicted for war crimes to justice.

I think the point I made earlier is that, as the UN Security Council resolution describes it, that resolution charges the governments of the region with the responsibility, the primary responsibility for apprehending persons indicted for war crimes and for transferring them to the International Tribunal in The Hague. Governments know that, those indictees know that, and perhaps the latest action will give them a little more pause to think about what might be the right action for them to take.

Q: If I may follow up on that question, Carla del Ponte herself, when she came to Washington recently, called for international forces to take a more proactive role, particularly with Mladic and Karadzic, as I recall.

What is the advantage to the international community of having a local government do the dirty work, when an international force with many governments standing behind it could do it?

MR. REEKER: I don't know that I am going to get into advantages or disadvantages. I am talking about what is required under the UN Security Council resolution and the statute that -- the resolution that created the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. That calls on all members of the United Nations to support the ICTY in terms also of states in the region, giving them the primary responsibility for apprehending those persons.

And so we are going to continue our efforts to see them all brought to justice, SFOR, including of course the US component in SFOR, which is there to provide regional stability. We will continue to support ICTY and work with them to see that all the indictees are brought to justice.

Q: Given that Mladic and Karadzic are part of -- are assumed to possibly be in Republika Srpska, which is technically part of Bosnia- Herzegovina, who are you holding accountable for handing those people over, the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina?

MR. REEKER: As I said, I don't think I have anything particular to say about locations of any individuals at this point. But states in the region have a responsibility to do their part to see these people brought to justice. And so we will continue to press that point.

Q: Phil, I am just curious if you have any concern that the political royaling that is going on in Yugoslavia right now is a result of this? Do any of your political experts think it could lead to instability in the region?

And secondly, is there going to be any problem with disbursing this money if -- since some of the political entities in there clearly disagree with the extradition of Mr. Milosevic, and in fact did not do it?

MR. REEKER: I guess I am not quite sure what your second question is.

Q: Well, Mr. Kostunica did not extradite Mr. Milosevic. Mr. Djindjic did, but they sort of occupy sort of co-equal political space. Is there any problem with giving money now to Mr. Kostunica's government?

MR. REEKER: I think Mr. Kostunica has made quite clear -- as I said, he said it quite publicly many times -- that they have an obligation, and they are obliged to cooperate with the ICTY. The step yesterday was an example of that obligation being carried out.

So the internal discussion and discourse in Belgrade is up for them to work out. What we want to see is a continued cooperation, what we expect and are quite confident will continue, in terms of additional steps to fully cooperate with the ICTY.

So those internal discussions are discussions they need to have. There is a democracy in Yugoslavia now. There is a democracy in Serbia and the constituent republics of Yugoslavia. And they need to have these debates, and we think that their democracy can deal with these issues.

What was a destabilizing factor for a decade -- the last decade of the last century -- was Milosevic and his pernicious regime, which brought ruin to Yugoslavia, destroyed an economy, saw the destruction of the country, saw countless debts and endless misery for tens, hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans, instability right in the heart of Europe. And yesterday's step, by moving him to The Hague where he can face justice for his crimes, is an important step for everyone in Yugoslavia.

And I think the people in Serbia and Belgrade and in Yugoslavia more broadly are aware of that, and they will realize that now they have an opportunity to look forward instead of backwards, and will continue their cooperation with the ICTY as they look to their futures and focus on democracy-building and economic reform. And that is really what this is all about.

Q: If I could just get back to the $181.6 million and the overall (inaudible). My understanding is a lot of that is going to rebuild Yugoslav infrastructure that was destroyed during the NATO bombing campaign.

MR. REEKER: I just don't have any details on what the needs are.

Q: Well, my question is that now that it looks like the Milosevic matter is behind us, does the State Department feel in some ways that it owes the Yugoslav people because they were -- had the misfortune of having Milosevic as their leader, and that now it is time to sort of rebuild that --

MR. REEKER: What we feel is what I have said many times before, and already today, is that it is in our interest to support the continued democratization and economic reform in Yugoslavia. The President has spoken quite often about our desire to see a Europe whole and free. We've worked very closely with our friends and allies in the European Union, countries in the region, to bring the Balkans into Europe. And getting rid of Milosevic, having him face justice, is a major step in that direction. It allows the people of Yugoslavia to focus again on rebuilding their society, rebuilding their economy and getting back on track to becoming an integral part of a more vibrant Europe.

So that's why it's in our interest and why we have heartily pledged support for economic reform for the types of democracy-building and economic rebuilding projects that we would expect our pledges to go towards in Yugoslavia.

Q: Can I move on to a new subject? Well, actually, Christophe had one.

Q: I understand that the White House announced this morning the appointment of James Pardew as US Special Representative to Skopje. What does it mean for your action in this country?

MR. REEKER: Let's talk a little bit about Macedonia, since we haven't done that for a day or so. Assistant Secretary Beth Jones of the Bureau for European Affairs has asked Ambassador James Pardew, the European Bureau's Special Advisor for Southeast Europe, to go to Skopje this weekend. His title, as I just indicated, is Special Advisor for Southeast Europe within the Bureau of European Affairs. And he will go to Skopje, where he has been before. He is well known and knows well the Balkans.

He will be closely consulting with the European representative, Mr. Leotard, who arrived in Skopje yesterday. He is the EU special envoy, a former French defense minister. He is there to help assist in moving the process forward.

We have been urging the parties in Macedonia to continue the political dialogue, which is so vital to their overcoming the current problems they have had, to addressing legitimate grievances and challenges in their society, and to bring all of that to closure as soon as possible.

So with the Europeans continuing their strong support, we have been deeply engaged, as you know, throughout this process at the highest levels. The President has spoken about his concern and the steps we have taken to try to help this situation resolve itself. And we are committed to supporting the European Union and NATO efforts to achieve a cease-fire, a lasting cease-fire throughout the entire country, because there is no military solution to the problems in Macedonia. The violence there achieves absolutely nothing.

Where they will find solutions is where they found them over the last decade, through a democratic process, through a process of peaceful dialogue, where they can use the institutions they have developed to come up with compromises that allows their society also to move forward. And it is time for all Macedonian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, to think about their futures and the future of their children, and for their leaders, their legitimate political leaders, to work together to come up with a solution.

So we will continue working on that. As you know, at the request of the Macedonian Government, NATO is preparing to deploy a task force to Macedonia to oversee the voluntary disarmament of ethnic Albanian insurgents. And, of course, that operation won't commence until we have a general agreement on the political solution to the problems in Macedonia.

So that is where we can bring you as an update.

Q: Anything new on your stance regarding your participation in that force?

MR. REEKER: I think, as you know, the US is prepared to participate by providing command and control, communications, medical, logistical support. The President said on June 27th that there is -- and I quote -- "no option off the table." We are a participant in NATO, so we will be continuing to work with NATO on that. Our support is likely to be drawn largely from forces we already have deployed in Macedonia and in Kosovo in support of the KFOR operation. Obviously, we haven't determined yet exactly how many US personnel would be involved in that. The number is likely to be a few hundred.

And, at the same time, we will remain actively engaged in KFOR, which has an important role in interdicting insurgent supply lines from Kosovo to halt the flow of arms and weapons to the armed extremists, the ethnic Albanian insurgents in Macedonia. So we will continue on that line too.

Q: The few hundred was of what? Sorry. You said the number is likely to be a few hundred. The number of what?

MR. REEKER: Americans involved.

Q: Are those new Americans or are those the ones already in the region that you referred to?

MR. REEKER: Well, I said they are likely to be drawn from the forces already deployed in Macedonia, because we have had forces there for some time, as well as forces in Kosovo. But if they need to be augmented by other forces, it is obviously something that would have to be determined since we are not there.

The important thing at this point is that we have to see a political solution, a general agreement on a peaceful political solution so that they have something tangible to move forward on. And until that point, NATO is not going to take its action. And so NATO is prepared and ready to assist with the disarmament. But we need to see that political agreement coming into fruition.

Q: Has the US ever said exactly why it is reluctant to commit front line troops to this disarmament effort the way several other countries are?

MR. REEKER: I don't know if we have ever described a particular reluctance. We were unanimous at NATO in supporting the planning process to see where we could help in response to the request of the Macedonian government. I believe when NATO's military planners came up with their plan, there was a request for three battalions. Seven battalions were offered in the normal process that NATO follows in that, and we said that we would be there to support.

We have capabilities that already exist in Macedonia, and I think we need to take advantage of those capabilities. The US, as I indicated, has had a presence in Macedonia for some time now. So we know the country well, we have been a strong supporter of Macedonia since its independence. And our troops there have had an important role and can offer to a NATO force -- a NATO task force -- command and control, as I indicated, logistics support, medical support for whatever task force moves in to implement this once there is a peace agreement to work with.

Q: Can I go back to Ambassador Pardew? I didn't see this report, so I apologize if it is all old hat. But is his dispatch this weekend a result of the fact Jim Swigert has now left his job? Or has he actually been appointed as a special envoy?

MR. REEKER: No, Ambassador Pardew has been part of the European Bureau working on Balkans issues for some time. Deputy Assistant Secretary Swigert wrapped up his assignment, his normal Foreign Service rotation assignment yesterday, in fact. So there was a very nice closure to his most recent experience with the Balkans to see Slobodan Milosevic delivered to The Hague as a parting present for Jim Swigert, who has just done a fantastic job and traveled many times and spent much time in the Balkans.

So Ambassador Pardew has now been asked by our new Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Elizabeth Jones, to go out and work in Skopje at this point. He will be consulting, obviously, with the EU Special Envoy, as I said, and his team, providing US support. And he is expected to get to Skopje this weekend.

Q: What I am driving at, and I know you hate it when we get this blunt about things, but I need a definition. Is he a special advisor, or is he as a special envoy?

MR. REEKER: His title for the fourth time --

Q: No, I know, but --

MR. REEKER: -- is Special Advisor for Southeast Europe in the Bureau of European Affairs.

Q: Yes, but have you applied -- I mean, is that a title he already had, or is he being -- have you created a new special envoy?

MR. REEKER: No.

Q: You haven't, thank you. That's all I wanted to know.

Q: Is he just filling the role of Jim Swigert -- like, he is going in the same capacity as Jim Swigert did, right?

MR. REEKER: To assist in wherever we can to move the process forward in Macedonia, working with our allies in the European Union and with Macedonian officials.

Q: Can I ask a follow-up on that?

MR. REEKER: Sure. I don't know what else there is to say.

Q: A little while ago, you were talking about forces to help disarm the guerillas in Macedonia. You mentioned the figure as seven battalions, and I wasn't sure whether you were talking about how much the US was going to offer to that force, or how much the Macedonians had --

MR. REEKER: Before we create one of these great problems, I was asked about participation. And I indicated that my understanding was that when NATO came up with its plan for this force, you will recall that the North Atlantic Council unanimously agreed to have the military planners -- as the process works at NATO -- draw up a plan to meet this need in response to requests from the Macedonian Government. Their plan called for three battalions. Okay? In their then call to NATO member countries for pledges, as it were -- since we have been talking about pledges -- I understand that there were something like seven battalions pledged. And obviously the NATO plan is we work out what they want.

So be very careful with numbers.

Q: (Inaudible) the seven were American battalions?

MR. REEKER: No. As I said, our participation -- well, it is likely to involve command and control, assets that we have, areas where we can offer a major contribution.

Q: Afghanistan? Could you discuss the -- lay out for us the message that apparently has been delivered to the Taliban government, and tell us what prompted the delivery of the message?

MR. REEKER: Well, let's see what we have got on Afghanistan. I think, as some of you saw in wires stories, our Ambassador to Pakistan -- departing Ambassador to Pakistan -- William Milam met today with Taliban representative to that country, in Islamabad, I believe, and conveyed our continuing concern about the Taliban's harboring of the terror network of Usama bin Laden and of other terrorist organizations.

As we have done before, he emphasized the seriousness of our concerns in light of recent threats and the need for the Taliban to deal with this issue. He also told the Taliban representative that the Taliban must comply fully with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, including expelling bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice, as well as shutting down terrorist camps.

As you know, since we have discussed it here so many times, US officials have regular meetings with Afghan representatives. This was one of those meetings. We don't recognize a government of Afghanistan, but we maintain contacts with all the warring factions and other Afghans on a variety of issues. So Ambassador Milam was meeting with him in that regard, and delivering a message that we have made very clear often before.

Q: Did the message include a warning that the Taliban would be held responsible itself for any attacks against the US that are --

MR. REEKER: Our message was that the Taliban needs to get with the act and follow up on UN Security Council resolutions. This is a serious issue, and we have talked about it before. The UN passed a resolution which calls for the Taliban complying fully, and that includes expelling bin Laden and stopping their support for terrorism by allowing those terrorists camps and people like bin Laden to remain in territory they control.

Q: Well, but what I am asking is whether or not part of the message was to warn the Taliban that in the event there were to be an attack, it could be traced to the bin Laden network? That the Taliban might suffer some sort of diplomatic, political or military reaction from the United States?

MR. REEKER: I think the UN has made very clear its position in terms of sanctions against the Taliban for their failure to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, and we have continued to make that clear.

Q: Speaking of those sanctions against the Taliban --

MR. REEKER: Speaking of them, yes?

Q: The UN is now coming up with a monitoring mechanism and a way to try to enforce them in a better way. Did anything like this come up in the meeting yesterday, about the idea that there is a chance that you could have UN monitors on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

MR. REEKER: The meeting between Ambassador Milam in Islamabad?

Q: Yes.

MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of. Not in the readout of the meeting that I got.

Q: I was wondering if you might like to tell the Italians to get with the act, given that they are now apparently on the point of investing in an Iranian oil contract.

MR. REEKER: I saw that report. You're referring to reports about new oil agreements between an Italian company, I believe, in Iran?

Q: Yes, or any --

MR. REEKER: We are concerned about reports of this kind. As you know, we continue to oppose investment in Iran's petroleum sector, and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act remains US law.

We have raised our concerns about such investments with particular companies and governments. And obviously, any agreements signed in the entirety of the circumstances would have to be scrutinized in light of US law.

Q: Have you had contact with the Italian Government on this particular case, which is a company in --

MR. REEKER: We have raised our concerns about such investments with companies and governments, and I just don't have specifics on exactly who we have spoken with.

Q: Is this Italian company on the list of companies that are right now being considered in terms of enforcement of the ILSA sanctions? I know that there is a backlog.

MR. REEKER: I would have to check, Eli. I don't know.

Q: Can you have that as a taken question?

MR. REEKER: If you can clarify it first, as to what the question is, because I don't understand it. But that doesn't mean we can't look into it.

Q: There is a list of pending companies right now the State Department has --

MR. REEKER: Pending companies?

Q: Companies that are pending a judgment from the State Department regarding potential violations of the ILSA law. And there's a lot of them. Is this one of those companies?

MR. REEKER: I would have to look into that. I didn't bring that list with me.

Q: I have a question about the Philippines.

MR. REEKER: The Philippines, sure. Switching regions once again.

Q: -- Gloria Arroyo called on the US government to help to end the hostage crisis by providing surveillance expertise and modern equipment --

MR. REEKER: We have been working very closely with the Philippines Government in terms of keeping in touch with them. They have the lead, obviously, in the matter of the kidnapped -- the hostages that are being held, including American citizens. So we will continue to do that. I don't have anything specific on that, but we have been in very close touch with the Philippines on that.

Q: New subject? On China? There was a report saying that Secretary Powell made a phone call to the Chinese Foreign Minister. Do you have any information on that?

MR. REEKER: Yes. In fact, I double checked that with Ambassador Boucher, who is obviously with Secretary Powell. The Secretary phoned Chinese Foreign Minister Tang on June 28th -- that would be yesterday - - to discuss the US-UK draft resolution on Iraq. That is the UN Security Council resolution. Obviously we have frequent conversations with the other permanent Security Council members on subjects like that.

They also discussed, I understand, other issues in the US-China relationship in that phone call.

Q: Any details on what you have mentioned, the US-China relations?

MR. REEKER: No, I think I don't have anything particular to add on that. It was a telephone conversation that the Secretary made while he was traveling.

Q: Okay. The report also said that Secretary Powell made this phone call on the US -- I mean, the Chinese Foreign Minister answered this phone call because of the US request. Is that true?

MR. REEKER: Well, that is usually the way it works. When we make a phone call, somebody answers on the other end. So Secretary Powell did initiate the phone call.

Q: But he may refuse to answer that call.

MR. REEKER: Usually, I think we have a good, strong phone relationship with China. So Secretary Powell made that call and they had a conversation, as foreign ministers tend to do, and talked about the resolution in New York as well as other issues.

Q: Was it a collect call?

MR. REEKER: Sorry?

Q: Was it a collect call? (Laughter.)

Q: Did this good telephone relationship extend to China promising to stop hiding behind Russia, as you put it, on Iraq sanctions?

MR. REEKER: I think they had a good talk about the resolution that we are pursuing, and why don't we -- since you have raised it -- talk a little bit about that.

As we go into the weekend, let's just remind everybody that, in a unanimous vote on June the 4th, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1352. The Security Council set out a very clear new approach on Iraq that clearly states the guidelines for the basis of the new approach and a new resolution in terms of dealing with Iraq.

As we have talked about earlier, Russia has decided at this time instead to propose a status quo alternative which, with a certain irony, is an alternative that has already been rejected by Iraq. So it is ironic or, indeed, paradoxical that now that we have proposed a radical shift in how the UN will deal with Iraq, this change has been opposed by a prominent member of the Security Council who has long pressed for such a change.

So Security Council experts have been working very diligently on this and have made a lot of progress on the resolution and the goods review list, including progress during Thursday's negotiations, yesterday. So we believe that an agreement is clearly possible on the list of restricted items that the UN would review and approve before Iraq would be allowed to import them. Agreement is also possible on the resolution text itself. We think there is support for the concept of a presumption of approval for most civilian items, which are not on the goods review list, for export to Iraq. And so the talks on both the list and the resolution itself are continuing at an intense level as we approach the July 3rd deadline. And we are urging other members of the Council to work energetically to meet the Council's own deadline and keep working on this.

Q: Has the Secretary worked the phones with anyone else during his trip on this issue?

MR. REEKER: That is the call I am aware of, having spoken with Ambassador Boucher. He also spoke with President Mubarak this morning, but I believe that was on Middle East issues and not on the UN Security Council resolution issue.

Q: You mentioned on the list of what was possible over the weekend, and maybe I didn't hear it right, but is any kind of mechanism to fend off against smuggling on the border possible? In terms of a resolution, that was a big part of the US push, was to --

MR. REEKER: Calm down. Calm down.

Q: I'm calm. (Laughter.) I'm just saying -- anything on smuggling? There's a pipeline between Syria and Iraq.

MR. REEKER: I would refer you to New York in terms of the details on the resolution. I was making broad points about our goal of working hard to meet the UN Security Council's self-imposed deadline of passing that resolution. We think there is still a good chance of doing that. But obviously, until we get that resolution, we get the text of it as well as the goods control list, we don't have it. So we are going to keep working on it.

Q: If I could follow up? Did the absence of a UN ambassador in New York -- and nothing against Mr. Cunningham; he's very able -- but the fact that Negroponte hasn't been improved yet, has that had a deleterious effect on our diplomacy up there in some way?

MR. REEKER: I think we have worked this extremely hard. The Secretary has been involved, as I just mentioned, in terms of talking to his counterparts in the Perm 5 group and others about this. So our team is working diligently and will continue to do so, because we believe it is possible to meet that deadline. I suspect those people will be working hard over the weekend, and we call upon all the others to work hard with us as well so that we can meet those deadlines and move ahead on a new way forward which will benefit the Iraqi people.

Q: Can you give us a readout on that phone call the Secretary made to Mr. Mubarak?

MR. REEKER: I can't. I would have to leave that for the traveling party and your colleague who is a very much a part of that. But he spoke with President Mubarak today from his aircraft, I believe.

Q: Can we move to Japan? Has the US Government had contacts with the Japanese Government about this case of an alleged rape of a woman?

MR. REEKER: We are aware of an alleged incident in Okinawa. And, as you know, we take such incidents very seriously. US military and consular officials are cooperating fully with Okinawa prefectoral police in their investigation. If a crime has occurred, US military officials will work with local authorities to ensure the person responsible is held accountable for his actions. And I believe Lieutenant General Hailston, the Okinawa Area Coordinator for the US military, said that this kind of behavior as alleged is entirely unacceptable.

Q: Are you able to give us any details at all of what you know about what --

MR. REEKER: I am not. I would refer you to the Pentagon, if you want to get more details, or to local authorities who are carrying out the investigation.

Q: Are you concerned this will upset the visit by the Prime Minister?

MR. REEKER: I think we are going to deal with that as I just described. Those are allegations that are of great concern to us, if a crime has occurred. In terms of the President's meeting this weekend with Prime Minister Koizumi, this is a good opportunity for the President and the Prime Minister to establish a good personal relationship. Obviously Japan is a key ally, and this will be the first opportunity for the two leaders to meet, and they will be able to talk about a variety of bilateral and probably multilateral issues.

I know the White House has indicated the President's interest in hearing from the Prime Minister about his agenda for economic reform and restructuring, which would have a positive impact on the United States, obviously, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. And we will reaffirm the importance of the alliance to the United States and also exchange ideas on how to deepen our dialogue on security issues. So we look forward to that this weekend.

Q: Russian news agencies are quoting very senior generals, saying that they are open to changes to the ABM Treaty. Do you have anything to say in response?

MR. REEKER: We have seen those reports, I believe, from your fine wire service. Let me just remind you of what we said before, in terms of being very clear, that Russia is not our enemy and the President and his entire national security team, including Secretary Powell, have emphasized that we will move forward with a program to counter new threats that is not against Russia.

General Ivashov's comments underscore President Putin's offer of cooperation and the evolving Russian recognition that US missile defenses will not undermine Russia's national security. So in terms of those comments, I just remind you that with regard to the ABM Treaty, Secretary Powell was clear when he said that, although we are not looking for a way to break the treaty, we are looking for a way to develop missile defenses that are effective and that will work, and to remind you that the treaty as it stands will not allow us to do what we need to do to provide even a limited missile defense. It is designed to keep us from moving in this direction and of course that was the original purpose of it. But that was in 1972, and the world is a very different place than it was almost 30 years ago.

So we are going to keep consulting, as we have said, and also make clear, as the President did, that we are going to move forward with missile defense, a defense that deals with the kinds of new threats that weren't even anticipated back in 1972 with the ABM.

Q: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Is that all? Great, have a good weekend.

(The briefing concluded at 2:15 p.m.)


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news