State Dept. Daily Press Briefing August 16, 2001
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Thursday, August 16, 2001
BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
ANNOUNCEMENTS 1-2 Foreign Service Exam / Thanks to Interns / Voluntary Surrender of Dragan Jokic / Secretary Travel to Peru
MACEDONIA 3-5 US Assessment of Cease-fire / Disarmament and Various Groups
ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 5-13 Russian Statement and Cooperation / Monitoring and US Views / Osama el-Baz Comments / Secretary's Communications / Other International Involvement
AFGHANISTAN 13-14 Situation Update with Detained Americans
CHINA 14-15 Possible Speeches by Leaders / Transit Visa for Taiwanese Official / Update on EP-3 Recovery Compensation 20 Call for Sanctions
COLUMBIA 15-16 Arrest of Alleged Irish Republican Army Members
RACISM CONFERENCE 16-17 US Participation / Preparatory Work / Timing of Announcement
ZIMBABWE 17-18 US Reaction to Recent Events / Arrest of Journalists
IRAQ 18-20 Iraqi National Congress Broadcasting / Funds / Sanctions 24 Iraq-Syria Pact
NORTH KOREA 20-21 Dialogue with South Korea
UN 21-23 Arrears Payment and Attachments
EGYPT 23-24 Proliferation Issues and Dialogue with Osama el-Baz
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 118
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2001, 1:25 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Sorry for the delay, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department. And I do have a few announcements and things to go through off the top, so we will start with that, and then get to your questions.
First off, I would like to note a media note that we are going to put out today, reminding people that it is not too late to register for the Foreign Service Exam. The opportunity of a lifetime is out there. We would like to encourage people to register for the Foreign Service Exam. We have launched a worldwide initiative to recruit Foreign Service Officers this year. The Secretary has talked about the importance of recruitment and maintaining the highest quality diplomacy, and all the work that goes on here at the State Department. We invite individuals interested in experiencing a global lifestyle and making a difference to the world to register and take the Foreign Service Exam in the United States. They need to register by August 29th to take that exam, which is scheduled for September 29th this year. And obviously you can get more information about that by visiting our website at www.state.gov, or more specifically, www.foreignservicecareers.gov.
In that vein, in trying to recruit people, I would like to take an opportunity to highlight the excellent work of two interns who have spent the summer with us in the Bureau of Public Affairs, specifically in the Office of Press Relations, which does the work to put together this briefing every day. Ann DeFabio will be returning to Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies here in Washington, after making a tremendous contribution to our work this summer, and R.J. Hagerman is here with us, returning in just a couple of weeks to his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. So our sincere thanks to them, and we would like to hope that they, indeed, are candidates for the Foreign Service Exam, which will be offered next month, and can join us on a more permanent basis. Your work has been noted.
I would like to make note of a statement that we will put out following the briefing on the voluntary surrender of Dragan Jokic. The United States welcomes the voluntary surrender and transfer of Lieutenant Colonel Dragan Jokic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to face prosecution. Voluntary transfers of indicted persons help speed the day when the region will achieve a balance between peace and justice. This voluntary arrest is an encouraging sign that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are moving toward a stable and peaceful future by addressing the crimes of the past.
We call on all remaining fugitives to surrender themselves to the Tribunal, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, and immediately follow Lieutenant Colonel Jokic's example and surrender to the appropriate authorities. Are there any questions on that subject?
Do you need help with the spelling or something like that?
QUESTION: Yes, can you tell us that?
MR. REEKER: Jokic is spelled J-o-k-i-c, and we will have a written version of that statement to put out from here.
QUESTION: Do you know when exactly he was indicted?
MR. REEKER: I don't know if I have a detail of his indictment. He surrendered in Bosnia yesterday, following the delivery of a sealed indictment from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. We understand that the indictment accuses him of war crimes connected with his role as the commander of the Engineer Brigade involved in the Srebrenica massacre.
Any other questions on that?
Then I would just like to take this opportunity to announce that Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel September 10th and 11th to Lima, Peru to attend a special General Assembly of the Organization of American States. The meeting of foreign ministers is expected to adopt the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a major Summit of the Americas initiative that incorporates the Summit's democracy clause into the OAS and the Inter-American system. So we will have a notice to the press along with sign-up information for that trip.
QUESTION: Are any other places likely to be on that -- on the itinerary?
MR. REEKER: No, this is a trip just to Lima, Peru, September 10-11.
QUESTION: Can I ask, does he expect to be there for the entire OAS assembly, or does he just part -- part of it? And if you don't know right now --
MR. REEKER: The details of the trip have yet to be worked out. But he will attend the Plenary Session of the Special General Assembly of the OAS. The only agenda item for the special assembly is this democratic charter, as I just noted. We also expect he will be meeting with Peruvian President Toledo. And so we will continue to work out the details of that. But we will post a sign-up sheet for those interested in traveling in the Press Office beginning this afternoon.
I think that is it for my formal announcements, so we can cut to questions, and we will defer to Mr. Schweid.
QUESTION: Could you tell us what the US assessment is of the cease- fire in Macedonia, when the US might think disarming will begin? A policeman was killed today. What's the take on it here?
MR. REEKER: I think the situation on the ground in Macedonia has been relatively quiet again today, from the information I have read, from the reports we have. Obviously, all sides must continue to observe the cease-fire. In terms of NATO's condition that there be an enduring cease-fire in place before Task Force Harvest can be deployed, all the NATO allies must make this decision in the North Atlantic Council, the NAC, meeting in Brussels, that this and the other conditions we discussed for deployment have been met.
So, as I think we discussed yesterday, that is a determination they are going to have to make. But I think I noted yesterday as well that largely there has been calm in Macedonia, there are sporadic reports or reports of sporadic incidents of violence, but obviously it is important that all violence stop so that they can move forward on this.
In that vein, we think that President Trajkovski's proposal yesterday, when he officially proposed to the parliament first steps on implementation of constitutional changes as part of the political agreement that was signed on Monday, we think that is important. We welcome this step, and we certainly encourage the timely parliamentary action on implementing the agreement, which addresses the longstanding political aspirations of all of Macedonia's citizens.
We also welcome President Trajkovski's announcement of a demobilization plan, which includes a reintegration component. These are important elements of the peace process, so that the people of Macedonia of all ethnicities, the citizens of Macedonia can put the conflict behind them and move forward in a spirit of reconciliation for the betterment of their economic and social situation, and a better life for all citizens of the country in the future.
So obviously a lot of work remains to be done to implement the agreement, and as I indicated, NATO is monitoring the situation very closely. We discussed yesterday the decision to deploy a headquarters, communications assets and other elements to prepare for the possible deployment of Task Force Harvest. And just to clarify some confusion we had yesterday, Task Force Harvest is the name of the force that would carry out the NATO mission, which as we said is called Operation Essential Harvest, and that mission, as you know, is to assist with the voluntary disarmament of the ethnic Albanian insurgents.
So yesterday's decision will enable NATO to deploy rapidly once the alliance has agreed that all the preconditions have been met. I believe my colleague over at the Department of Defense can address specific types of support in terms of US participation and from where that support will come.
QUESTION: This is not a terribly important question, but could you just -- do you have any insight into how the name "Essential Harvest" came to be for this mission?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I would direct you to SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or NATO itself, where they may be able to tell you how they determine these things.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that new terrorist organizations, such as ANA, Albanian National Army, occur in the meantime, which are not prepared to disarm, and which claim that they are not part of the so-called NLA, of course that already agreed to disarm. And at this point in time, I'm quoting Mr. Buckovski, the Minister of Defense of Macedonia, for his interviews to CNN. So do you have any comment on that?
MR. REEKER: Well, I have seen a variety of reports about a particular group that seems to have come up with a new name for itself. I think what we need to do is focus on what the people of Macedonia have chosen to do. The leaders, the political leaders, legitimately elected, democratic political leaders have worked very diligently on some very difficult issues for them in coming up with this political agreement. And under President Trajkovski's leadership, they are now putting that forward to begin implementing it, taking it, as I indicated, to the parliament, in the steps to go about constitutional changes necessary and other legal aspects of implementing this agreement. We think it is important that they move ahead to do so.
We think all citizens of Macedonia of all ethnicities are going to see that this is the path toward a better future. The stated aims of the ethnic Albanians have been to address some of their grievances in terms of rights and language and other things, and that is what the political agreement tries to do. There is no military solution to this, or a solution through violence, and so laying down their arms is going to be an important aspect so that there can be reintegration and reconciliation in Macedonia which, after all, for a decade, was very much a model of learning to live together in a multi-ethnic region. And if you talk to Macedonians of all ethnicities, ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, they will talk about the fact that they lived together in relative harmony for decades, in fact centuries, without this type of provocation. And there is no place in this for armed extremism of any sort.
QUESTION: But this group is kind of like a splinter group; people are comparing --
MR. REEKER: A splinter group, yes.
QUESTION: They are kind of comparing it to like the real IRA, which is separate from the IRA which -- and Sinn Fein, a political organization. I think that's what people are comparing it to. And I guess my question would be, are these groups that aren't recognizing the negotiations and the signed agreement, is that going to put a wrench in any NATO deployment or --
MR. REEKER: I just don't want to put any particular stock into reports of various groups that have, as you described them, have declared themselves splinter groups. I think the ethnic Albanian population has spoken through their legitimately elected political representatives. I think it is time for everyone to look to implementing this agreement, those with arms laying down their arms and moving ahead.
The steps that you suggest, the violence is certainly not in the interest of any Macedonian citizen. And, for ethnic Albanians, it is not in their interests in how to address legitimate concerns and grievances they may have, and it is certainly not in the interests of Albanians around the region in continuing with this type of unacceptable behavior.
So we are going to focus very much on continuing to support Macedonia and continuing to support President Trajkovski's efforts as they move forward through what will continue to be a difficult time. These are tough issues and there is a lot of work that remains to be done, and that is what we are going to focus on.
QUESTION: Can we go to the Middle East?
MR. REEKER: Anything else on Macedonia or regions near there?
QUESTION: First of all, a question came up yesterday about coordination with the Russians and some kind of joint statement. You didn't know anything about that. Did you --
MR. REEKER: Yes, I wasn't aware of that joint statement yesterday when I came out here. The statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry reflects the common goal of the United States and Russia in assisting the parties to end the violence and restore trust and confidence. I think, as you all know, Russia has been a fellow partner for peace since the Madrid conference of 1991. We deeply value their constructive efforts to bring a lasting peace to the region. It is very important to us. And so their statement indicating continuing to work together to assist the parties to end the violence, restore trust and confidence, create an environment that will permit implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects.
QUESTION: Can you explain how this came about? I mean, were you consulted in advance on this?
MR. REEKER: I don't think we normally consult on every statement that we release from here, as well. I think this reflects our continuing to work together with the Russians and others in the international community. As I indicated, Secretary Powell spoke with Foreign Minister Ivanov earlier this week -- to be specific, on Tuesday -- and I know they discussed these issues in the Middle East. So I think their statement reflects again what I indicated, how much we value Russia's participation. And they, along with us and others in the international community, and the parties themselves, have committed themselves to implementing the Mitchell recommendations as the path forward in this.
QUESTION: Russian officials have said repeatedly that they favor international monitors to go into the situation. They have favored in the past UN mechanisms for inquiring into the conflict. And they have also favored the -- I guess starting political dialogues sooner rather than later. These are three positions that at least officially in the United States and from this podium you guys have not taken. So could you sort of elaborate on how you are going to be coordinating, and how are you going to work out these differences in this newfound spirit of cooperation?
MR. REEKER: In fact, Eli, I think some of your suggestions are a little bit off base. In terms of the monitoring suggestion, I will just refer you to the recent G-8 statement. You will recall that G-8 includes eight countries, including Russia. And we continue to believe, as that statement suggests, that a monitoring function -- again, approved by both parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians -- could be useful to help the parties along during the cooling-off period. But the question of monitoring has to remain secondary to the goal of moving into full implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations as quickly as possible.
On the subject of the UN, and work there, you know, I think we talked about yesterday. Our objective from the beginning is to end the violence and restore trust and confidence so that we can create circumstances for resumption of a political process.
We continue to believe that action in the United Nations Security Council will not contribute to these objectives. And we note that others, including Russia, our partner in the peace process since 1991, as I said, share our view that now is not the time for UN action. So what will assist the parties, as we have said, will be a continuing focus by the international community, including the United States, including Russia, on the goal of moving into implementing the Mitchell recommendations.
QUESTION: There have been stronger statements from Russian officials. And I am sorry I'm not -- I can't quote you chapter and verse here, but I have seen stronger statements on both UN and the G-8 from other officials. I mean, you can sign on to a G-8 statement obviously, and then the capital can say something else. I mean, do you expect any disagreements?
MR. REEKER: I don't know if I quite follow you.
QUESTION: Do you expect any disagreements on this question of international observers? I mean, just on that issue alone the Russians have argued for a more robust role outside of these international summits?
MR. REEKER: Eli, I just referred to you what the G-8 put out. That is our position.
QUESTION: I understand.
MR. REEKER: We understand that to be the position of the eight members of the G-8 who agreed to that, their leaders. I don't think it was a question of a statement and followed by something else from capitals, as you suggest. It was a statement put out, a communiqué, from the G- 8. And in terms of the issue at hand at the UN Security Council, as I said, the Russians agree with us, sharing our view that now is not the time for UN action on this.
QUESTION: I want to go back to the Russian Foreign Ministry statement. You know, this was put out at least 24 hours or a day after the phone call between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Ivanov, and I'm just wondering -- and yet there was no mention of it here, and when I asked, this building didn't seem to be aware of this statement yesterday, which what --
MR. REEKER: Yesterday isn't the fact. When I came out to brief this, I was not aware of it.
QUESTION: Right. But it just seems to me that the Russians, by putting out a statement, not just simply responding to a question, that this has been interpreted in some quarters as being -- as some kind of a new initiative or something, a new-found -- even as Eli just said -- a new-found spirit of cooperation.
Can I interpret, or we interpret, from the fact that you made no special remark about this telephone call, or the substance of the conversation, that it is in fact not anything new, that this is something that has been going on since 1993 basically?
MR. REEKER: Since 1991, when the Russians were our partner at the Madrid Conference, we have been working closely with the Russians and others in the international community, the European Union and others obviously on this process. That has just been a continuing thing. I can't speak for the Russians and when they determine to put out statements, just as we don't coordinate that always there.
What I did indicate yesterday, I was aware that Secretary Powell had spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov, which of course he does often. I double-checked on that; it was Tuesday that he had that call. They did discuss the Middle East, which is something they discuss often, because we are partners in the peace process.
So I don't want to keep you from making your own analyses and interpretations. I think we are working together. I think the Russians have demonstrated again that they continue to take this seriously and plan to work with us, as they have, in trying to help the parties get back on track.
QUESTION: I'm just trying to find out that why, in this current atmosphere, where you seem to be -- the US seems to be taking a lot of criticism for allegedly not being involved, that you wouldn't -- that you guys wouldn't see fit, unless you don't think it is anything particularly new, to make -- to note that this had happened.
MR. REEKER: I don't want to get the issues confused here. I wasn't aware of it when I came out here to brief you. When you asked the question, you raised it, I went back to check on it and found out that in fact this is a statement that the Russians put out, we were aware of it, I wasn't aware of it, I hadn't asked about it. It wasn't our statement.
So I don't know what else to really tell you on that. We continue to work with the Russians. This is something we have been doing, as I said, for a decade now.
QUESTION: So we shouldn't interpret that there is anything -- from the Russian statement -- that there is anything new, or renewed, or some kind of new Russian-US idea?
MR. REEKER: Renewed may be a fine word to use, Matt. It reflects the common goals that the United States and Russia have in assisting the parties to end the violence.
Anything else on this?
QUESTION: Yes, on the monitoring question. Osama el-Baz spoke to a bunch of us this morning, and he said that the -- he called the US policy of trying to facilitate the security meetings and hold off until later on confidence-building measures is a failure, and said he is pushing for monitors now as a deterrent to further violence. Is there any sort of flexibility in the Administration towards this at this point?
MR. REEKER: I have already reflected on our position about monitoring, and of course that is ultimately a decision for the two parties. We have said, as the G-8 said, that some kind of monitoring function could be useful, but it needs to be something that is approved by both parties. In terms of Mr. el-Baz, I am not going to try to address all of his comments in the press at this point. As you know, he is meeting tomorrow with Secretary Powell, so we will wait to let that meeting take place. He met today with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Mark Grossman, and so we look forward then to the meeting with the Secretary tomorrow morning. But I think our position on monitors is what I have said and what you are quite familiar with.
QUESTION: But what is the position that he is hearing from Grossman and likely to hear from the Secretary?
MR. REEKER: I don't want to pre-judge what the Secretary will discuss with him, since the meeting hasn't taken place, and won't for about 20- odd hours.
QUESTION: He is very mindful of Israel's sensitivities to international monitoring. He proposed today -- he said he is proposing American monitors. The Americans don't go for it, Europeans and Canadians.
The US has a position on American monitors. And of course what you just said has long been a position on monitoring generally. So specifically, is the US disposed to the idea of having an American, solely American, monitoring group go there?
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the Secretary's comments that he made with the Seeds of Peace group just two days ago, where he addressed some of that. Rather than quote to you from that transcript, we can just provide that for you.
Our position on monitoring and our desire to do what we can to help the two parties to end the violence, to move into the Mitchell Committee is well known and continues to be where we stand. And obviously, the Secretary does look forward to his meeting tomorrow with Mr. el-Baz, and we will let that meeting take place before we try to analyze it any further.
QUESTION: I can understand -- let me just follow up -- I can understand this is not the place for you to take on item by item his various criticisms and the Foreign Minister's criticisms in Cairo, which were a little sharper and more pointed. But the monitoring idea or the monitoring proposal, as he presents it, is in a context of his saying that the US hasn't done enough, that it's time for action, that diplomacy hasn't accomplished its goal, a failure -- in fact, he uses the word "failed" at one point.
So he sees monitors as a remedy to US inaction. How do you feel about that type of proposition? You have commented on monitoring as a concept. But it is borne, he thinks, of failure.
MR. REEKER: We will look forward to hearing his views. We will look forward to letting him express his views directly to the Secretary, rather than what he has expressed publicly, before I want to get into that.
In terms of your broader discussion here, Barry, about US action, I think, as the Secretary said earlier this week -- again, I refer you to his remarks when he met with those young people from the Seeds of Peace organization -- we are deeply engaged in the process, trying to find bridges to cross the divides that have existed for so many years and have become especially severe in recent months. We are working with both sides, talking to leaders of the international community in close contact with both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, trying to find ways that we can restore a sense of trust and confidence between the two sides in the hope of finding a lasting, permanent solution.
The Mitchell Committee has provided the parties a roadmap, which they have embraced. And they need to find the will to set out upon that path using that roadmap. Senior officials here and in the region are continuing to have contact with the parties. Just to update you on Deputy Assistant Secretary Satterfield, whom you know met earlier with both Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat earlier this week, he has traveled to Jordan on Wednesday, where I believe he met with the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister, and to Egypt, where he met with Foreign Minister Maher, whom you referred to earlier, in Alexandria. So he has had meetings with senior officials in the region.
We are continuing to work directly with the parties and with regional leaders to encourage both sides to reduce the violence and facilitate implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations.
QUESTION: What he said this morning is that these officials that you are sending and these contacts they are making aren't high enough and they aren't sustained enough. And if the United States, specifically Secretary of State Powell or even the President, is not involved in some daily active diplomacy, that it is going to unleash a lot more extreme fundamentalism throughout the region and damage US interests. The opinion of the United States right now in the Arab world is that the US doesn't want to take risks for peace, is hiding behind the Mitchell Report. And can you respond to that?
MR. REEKER: No. Because, as I said, we are not going to be responding to Mr. el-Baz's statements in the press until after he has had an opportunity to meet with Secretary Powell, which he does tomorrow.
QUESTION: Have you been given some indication that he is going to say something different to Secretary Powell than he has said to everyone else in the world now?
MR. REEKER: I don't know if I follow you, Matt.
QUESTION: Do you think that it's possible that you will be off the hook and you won't have to respond to these criticisms because Dr. el- Baz will not make these same points to the Secretary as he is making --
MR. REEKER: I think I will let Dr. el-Baz make that position clear. I think we will let the Secretary of State of the United States have his meeting tomorrow before I try to prejudge the discussions that they are going to have.
QUESTION: So you are hoping that he doesn't bring this stuff up?
MR. REEKER: No, Matt, that is not at all what I said.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken to any Middle East leaders or any people like Solana or anybody else who is interested in the Middle East in the last 48 hours?
MR. REEKER: I know I indicated to some of you on Tuesday -- I don't know if we brought it up at the briefing -- the Secretary did speak with Mr. Solana on Tuesday. He spoke with Foreign Minister Ivanov. As I indicated, he spoke with Kofi Annan, and there were no other calls related to the --
QUESTION: When was that, sorry?
MR. REEKER: On Tuesday.
QUESTION: Was this also on Macedonia?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a full readout on everything they discussed, but your interest in their phone calls on Tuesday -- he spoke with Foreign Minister Fischer, he spoke with Mr. Solana, he spoke with Mexican Foreign Secretary Castaneda, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Yesterday, Wednesday, he spoke again with the Mexican Foreign Secretary Castaneda.
QUESTION: Yesterday? Sorry?
MR. REEKER: Yesterday.
MR. REEKER: Tuesday.
QUESTION: And Foreign Minister Fischer is about to go to the Middle East?
MR. REEKER: I don't know that.
QUESTION: No, Foreign Minister Fischer. And yesterday, when you were talking about the UN possible resolutions, you said that the US didn't think that it was a place for third parties to get involved. Does that not apply to the Germans or -- does this only apply to the UN, the third party?
MR. REEKER: No, I think what I said is that while we and others in the international community -- that would, indeed, include the Germans -- continue to work this directly with the parties, attempts to force a solution on the parties by a third party will only frustrate efforts to move forward with implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations.
QUESTION: So when you say that, do you mean that any third country that is attempting to force a solution? Or do you mean an international body?
MR. REEKER: Our belief that attempting to force a solution by a third party on the two parties, we believe that will only frustrate efforts to move forward implementation of Mitchell. That includes the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: Speaking of implementing and forcing and third parties and what not --
MR. REEKER: Yes, Eli.
QUESTION: You've said that you think that observers could be useful, and you have also said, but both sides need to accept them.
So in your diplomacy, considering the rate of success of our current diplomatic efforts in the region, have you recommended that the Israelis -- have you urged them, have you pushed them in any way, have you said, we think it would really be useful to have observers here? Because --
MR. REEKER: I think you have heard the Secretary of State give his views very clearly on observers or monitors, whatever phrase you want to use.
QUESTION: No, I'm asking in these meetings with Satterfield. I'm saying, you've got a guy there that you've said before counts as serious engagement. So I'm saying, are you proposing this in those meetings at all?
MR. REEKER: As I have said before many times, the messages that we are delivering publicly are the same messages we are delivering privately. The Secretary has made that clear to you, Ambassador Boucher has made that clear to you, I have told you that. And we will continue to do that.
So our position on monitoring is well known. We think it could be an important contribution. We think it needs to be something that the two parties agree to, obviously. And right now, our focus remains on continuing to encourage them to exercise restraint, focus on ending the violence so that they can then move into implementing the Mitchell Committee recommendations.
QUESTION: I just have a point of clarification. There is not a separate policy from this building on a completely American monitoring force or an international force at this point; is that correct?
MR. REEKER: I guess I would have to check into that. Our position has been on monitoring forces generally.
QUESTION: But we have never taken up the question of specifically if we would feel differently if they asked just Americans to go?
MR. REEKER: No, our position is that any monitoring force must be something that is accepted by both sides.
QUESTION: The history is a little more refined --
MR. REEKER: We can do a whole thing.
QUESTION: No, I am not doing a whole thing. It's rather direct here. The Egyptians say, send in Americans. The Israelis have said, we will not accept outsiders; we will accept Americans.
Mindful of that -- you don't have to be a mind reader -- the Secretary of State said, it is something that we might consider if both parties want it.
MR. REEKER: Exactly. He said it again on Tuesday.
QUESTION: All right, now it's getting -- in the weeks since that -- well, he said it again Tuesday -- but things have not turned out very well in the area. The people like the Egyptians and others are seeing a wedge to apply pressure, talking about an international -- but even they are sensitive to Israel's preferences, and are talking about an American force. So I guess what Teri and I and others have been asking, does the US have a specific position on an American force, or is it simply outside observers, if acceptable to the two parties, could be useful?
MR. REEKER: I have nothing further to add to you, Barry, on what the Secretary of State himself has said, and what I have repeated several times to you here today on the subject of monitors.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) peacekeepers should be American --
MR. REEKER: And we will allow the Secretary to have his own meeting tomorrow morning with Mr. el-Baz.
QUESTION: Seeing that both sides don't trust human beings, is there any -- (laughter) -- real choice of using modern technologies, such as drone planes, satellites, and others to monitor this?
MR. REEKER: I just think you are getting way beyond the scope of anything I have to discuss here.
QUESTION: Can we move on to Afghanistan and find out if you're at the -- are you at the protest and nasty-word stage with the Taliban yet, or are you still hoping that --
MR. REEKER: I'm not quite sure I know what that stage is particularly, Matt, but I will be happy to talk about Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Well, the demarche stage.
MR. REEKER: The US Consul General from Islamabad, David Donahue, was again unable to gain access to the two detained Americans today in Kabul. Neither, I will point out, were the German and Australian consular officers able to gain access to their detainees. The Taliban allowed the three diplomats to hand over letters, some personal items and food for the detainees, and we did so. And so our consular officer, Mr. Donahue, is staying in Kabul, and will continue to press for access to the detainees, which is something we expect, which we have said before, the Taliban needs to allow. Our number one interest here, of course, is access to our citizens to see that they are being treated fairly and that they are in good shape.
QUESTION: So he will stay, and presumably the other two will as well, but they will stay even though the Taliban are suggesting or saying, or hinting strongly that they should leave? I mean, would he stay, even in violation of the length -- I don't know how long his visa was good for, but would he --
MR. REEKER: I have seen a number of reports where Taliban officials have said that they should -- that the consular officers should return to Pakistan and wait for Taliban investigators to finish their investigation of the detained aid workers. But our consular officer is staying. His visa is valid, I believe, through August 21st, and so he is staying, and our point is very clear. They need to allow access to our American citizens, and they need to allow that now.
QUESTION: A couple of questions on China. What is the update on President -- Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian's possible speech at the National Press Club?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any developments in that.
QUESTION: Are you aware that the Director of the American Institute in Taipei, Mr. Berhardt, made some remarks yesterday? He said Chen Shui- bian's reply is only a reply; it is not an official acceptance of the invitation, and he will have another -- some other opportunity in the future to talk to American --
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of anything surrounding that situation. I would be happy to check and see if there are any further developments. Our Bureau told me today there were none that they were aware of. We are aware of the National Press Club making an invitation, but as I said, we are not aware of any request for anything involving us.
QUESTION: Another thing is, can you confirm some transit visa for a Taiwanese official coming here in September?
MR. REEKER: Yes. I believe that is true, and I am going to have to go back and get that. We have had that sitting for the last couple of days, and nobody mentioned anything about it. There is a transit that has been approved, I believe, for the premier to transit on his way to Latin America. And I would be happy to have the Press Office get you the details on that. Again, this transit has been approved in accordance with our longstanding process for approving transits for the comfort and safety of the transitor. And that is what we have done here.
But the Press Office will be able to pull up for you the specifics on that. It's the Premier of Taiwan.
QUESTION: On China. Just very quickly, if there is any update on the compensation -- the EP-3 -- have the Chinese cashed the check, or is it still sitting there? Or are there any meetings -- more meetings been scheduled?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any additional meetings. As we went through yesterday, we had our meeting on August 14th to discuss payment of reasonable costs associated with the recovery of our aircraft. We calculated those costs and made an offer to the Chinese. They did not accept that offer, and you need to ask them why. Our offer remains on the table, and it is obviously up to the Chinese whether they choose to accept it.
QUESTION: Can I pick up another subject? Concerning the arrest of three guys with provisional IRA links in Colombia, obviously this casts some doubt on the IRA's good faith in the cease-fire. Is this going to have any impact on US links with (inaudible) giving visas?
MR. REEKER: Just to recap, I think we talked a bit about it yesterday. It appears, from reports we have seen, that at least two of those three arrested in Colombia have been connected to the provisional Irish Republican Army. And as I said yesterday, we are watching for additional facts involving that situation. We will be closely monitoring any information with regard to the activities and affiliations of these men who have been arrested in Colombia.
We would be concerned if it were established that the provisional Irish Republican Army were assisting, sharing information or in any way collaborating with a violent terrorist organization such as the FARC. The FARC, as you know, is designated as a foreign terrorist organization under our law. They are attempting to undermine the legitimate government of Colombia. They are a major contributor to the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States, and it is an organization which has kidnapped and murdered US citizens.
The provisional Irish Republican Army has maintained a cease-fire for four years and has consistently stressed its commitment to the search for peaceful democratic resolution to Northern Ireland's problems. And we, as you know, have welcomed and accepted that commitment. Any relationship, however, with the FARC or with any other terrorist organizations would certainly raise troubling questions.
QUESTION: What about the implications for any links with -- contacts within the United States and Sinn Fein, which is often described as the IRA's political wing?
MR. REEKER: Obviously, we will be watching that closely. We will be looking for facts in the situation, and any relationship with the FARC and other terrorist organizations would raise troubling questions, and we just need to look into that, continue to look for the facts and the details.
QUESTION: The provisional IRA is not an FTO?
MR. REEKER: No, that would be the Real IRA.
MR. REEKER: Which is --
QUESTION: Exactly. Aren't they listed in the Report, but not just in a section that is other --
MR. REEKER: They are not designated as a foreign terrorist organization, and I welcome you reviewing your copy of the most recent Patterns in Global Terrorism Report on that.
Could we pop back here? Is this also on Colombia or Northern Ireland?
QUESTION: No, UN Conference on Racism.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Are the preparations for the UN Conference on Racism or for the US to attend still going forward? And do you have any comment on the protest outside the US Embassy in Johannesburg today?
MR. REEKER: In terms of those preparations, we have not yet made our determination on participation at the Durbin conference. I expect, as I have indicated before, that that will be forthcoming in the next few days. I guess tomorrow is already Friday, so certainly by early next week. And so, until that time, I don't think I have anything to add.
I do understand there was a protest there. I am not sure of the exact nature or what they were protesting.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - calling on the United States to attend, to face the questions of racism, reparations, Zionism as racism, and the other attendant items.
MR. REEKER: I think our position on that is quite clear. We talked about our concern and disappointment with the outcome of the preparatory conference in Geneva, and how troubled we are by some of the language, the inability of some of the delegations to work constructively, to have a conference that is forward looking. As Secretary Powell has described our desire, that's about reconciliation and not a conference that is bogged down in looking only at the past and filled with rhetoric of hate.
So we will continue to make our determination and announce for you what our participation would be at that conference.
QUESTION: Can I follow up and ask you, is there work still going on on the document? Or there was the preparatory talks. It's over.
MR. REEKER: As far as I understand, working groups were still continuing on that, Barry. I probably would want to refer you actually to the people involved in that.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) situation, is it?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe so. I know when we first -- when Assistant Secretary Craner first returned from the preparatory conference and we discussed our disappointment and our concern with that and the unacceptable language that has remained in the draft document, there were still working groups meeting. And, as we said, there are issues that we believe have no place in a world conference that's goal is supposed to be uniting the people of the world in a fight against racism.
QUESTION: New subject?
QUESTION: I just had one more Durbin question.
MR. REEKER: Sure.
QUESTION: Are you right now -- the forthcoming decision is on the level of participation or participation at all?
MR. REEKER: Our decision on participation, and if there is participation, its level is what will be forthcoming.
QUESTION: Oh, so it's both?
MR. REEKER: Right.
QUESTION: So you may not -- okay.
QUESTION: A question on Zimbabwe. For about the past two years, the white farmers have been having troubles with an incursion of blacks. And there have been detainees now in Zimbabwe. Can you give the State Department's reaction to all of this?
MR. REEKER: I think you are referring specifically to the longer-term problem, but also to the more recent problems in the region of Chinhoyi. We understand through our embassy that the situation in and around Chinhoyi remains tense but relatively quiet. The 21 farmers arrested last week and charged with inciting violence are still in custody. We understand their application for bail may be heard Friday, tomorrow. Dozens of commercial farmers in the Chinhoyi area are reported to have been looted by militants and scores of white families have fled the area, as you indicated.
We have often stated that we remain deeply concerned about the level of political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe and that country's rapid economic decline. The situation has taken a toll on the people of Zimbabwe, as well as the people in southern Africa as a region, discouraging foreign investment, creating the potential for a refugee crisis, and food shortages, and reducing trade within the region.
So we condemn the serious human rights abuses and growing climate of fear and intimidation for which the Government of Zimbabwe bears primary responsibility. And we continue to press the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the free media, its independent judiciary and legitimate opposition political parties, and we are going to continue working with international organizations and donor states and concerned countries to continue pressing that point for basic human rights in Zimbabwe.
QUESTION: One follow-up question?
MR. REEKER: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have anything specific as to the arrests of the newspaper editor and his colleagues yesterday? I understand they were released but then again re-arrested today.
MR. REEKER: The last word I had was that the four journalists of The Daily News were released unharmed from police custody late Wednesday, August 15th. I didn't have a more recent update than that.
QUESTION: Re-arrested and released again. So you don't have --
MR. REEKER: There's a little cycle in there perhaps I missed. Reportedly, they had been charged with defaming the police force for publishing a story alleging police involvement in the looting last week in the area near Chinhoyi, what we just discussed, which is about 75 miles from Harare. And although there were indications they might be charged, I believe under provisions of the Law and Order Maintenance Act, it appears that those charges have been dropped. But we don't have any other first-hand information on the charges at this time, so we will keep watching that situation too.
QUESTION: New subject. The Iraqi National Congress, some reports that they are going to start broadcasting their TV Liberty, I think it's called.
MR. REEKER: That sounds like the right name. In Fiscal Year 2001, that would be the year we are in right now, Congress provided funding for the Iraqi National Congress to carry out production and broadcasting of radio and satellite television programming inside Iraq. So INC officials, working with the Department of State, have submitted a proposal to begin satellite television programming and initial funding to carry out such work has been provided to the INC.
It is our understanding that effective yesterday, a satellite signal for TV Liberty is now being beamed into Iraq, and we commend the Iraqi National Congress for its success in starting this important endeavor. Editorial control of that program lies entirely with the Iraqi National Congress, and so you may want to contact them for any other particulars.
QUESTION: Does that mean you have unfrozen their funds? Does that mean (inaudible)?
MR. REEKER: As I understand it, at least a portion of the broadcast funding comes out of the last $4 million grant that was extended in June. If you want to go back, I think we talked about that at that time.
QUESTION: They are still auditing their funds?
MR. REEKER: Oh, you are referring to the OIG inspection. That inspection is still ongoing, I believe, the OIG audit.
QUESTION: If I could -- broadcasting Television Liberty into Iraq, can you talk about what -- and the region -- what effect is that going to have on State Department's efforts to, I guess, trying to get these sanctions reformed in the UN? I mean, the two are connected --
MR. REEKER: I am not quite sure what your reference to the region was. This is programming inside Iraq.
QUESTION: This is a satellite signal, it's going out to the region. Saddam has threatened his neighbors during the UN last time around, saying if you go along with the US proposal, you know, you won't get your smuggled oil and everything. And now, you know, is this in some ways maybe inciting the situation from the State Department? Are you still trying to do this --
MR. REEKER: No, we don't believe so, Eli. We think that the people of Iraq deserve the opportunity to have programming that reflects truth, that reflects news about events in the world, things they are unable to get under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. And so we have applauded the Iraqi National Congress for working on this, the success they have had in starting this as what we think is an important endeavor.
And, as I suggested, you may want to talk to them on specifics of particulars about the editorial contact, which is something they control.
QUESTION: So there is no connection between this policy and then what you are trying to do in the UN to try to soften some of the sanctions and reform the sanctions?
MR. REEKER: We continue to work on our goal, which remains in terms of reforming the sanctions regime, while maintaining the controls on Saddam Hussein in the reflection of the concerns we have about him.
QUESTION: Can you say or do you know, was it just -- in the initial answer, did you say it was a satellite television signal or radio or both?
MR. REEKER: I believe it is radio and satellite television.
QUESTION: It is both that started yesterday?
MR. REEKER: It is a satellite signal that we believe began yesterday for TV Liberty. I would have to check into the details, but actually the INC may be able to give you the best information on that.
What Congress provided funding for was for the INC to carry out production and broadcasting of radio and satellite television. What my information indicates is that, effective yesterday, we have a satellite signal for TV Liberty. Now, whether that can also carry a radio band, I am not technically capable of addressing that.
QUESTION: Is it just for into Iraq, or is it also into other areas where there might be --
MR. REEKER: This is for programming inside Iraq.
QUESTION: Two more on Asia?
MR. REEKER: Sure. Always happy -- Asia is a big place and deserves a lot of questions.
QUESTION: Good. Thank you.
MR. REEKER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: First is, will the Administration consider Senator Biden's call for sanction on China for arms export, technology export? I understand he had an appearance on PBS yesterday and saying there should be more resolute --
MR. REEKER: I guess I am not aware of that specific discussion that Senator Biden had. I would be happy to look into that. But I think you are aware of our team that Under Secretary Bolton will be -- excuse me, Vann Van Diepen will be leading -- Under Secretary Bolton is going to Russia. Vann Van Diepen will be leaving next week to China to discuss those issues. I think we have made our views quite clear. The Secretary addressed those issues when he was in China and in the region very recently.
QUESTION: Another thing is North Korea is celebrating some sort of anniversary and --
MR. REEKER: Some sort of?
QUESTION: Like a national anniversary --
MR. REEKER: Anniversary. Okay.
QUESTION: But there is a South Korean delegation that went there to attend the event. Is that, do you view, a good sign for the two sides to talk? And will the US consider the call from the South to keep talking with the North?
MR. REEKER: As you know, South Korea is a very important ally of the United States and Secretary Powell underscored that in his recent trip there, in his visit to Seoul. We value South Korea's views and we coordinate very closely with our South Korean and Japanese allies, particularly on North Korean policy matters.
As we have said repeatedly, the United States is prepared to undertake serious discussions with the North Koreans at any place, at any time, and without any preconditions. And the North Koreans have yet to respond positively to our proposal.
I think we talked yesterday again about what President Bush outlined in his June 6 statement in terms of encouraging progress towards North/South reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula, and how essential inter-Korean dialogue is to establishing that lasting peace. So we welcome an early resumption of high-level North/South talks and continue to strongly support President Kim's initiatives and his policy of engagement with the North.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any efforts by members of the House to tie the payment of UN arrearages to the -- to protection for US servicemen in the ICC?
MR. REEKER: Yes, in terms of The Washington Post article I think you are referring to, as you know, we have urged Congress to find a way to move ahead and allow us to pay $582 million in arrears to the United Nations, as well as lift the 25 percent cap on peacekeeping payments, and we continue working productively with the Congress on the American Service Members Protection Act in order to gain release of the $582 million in arrears.
We think we are making good progress on achieving budgetary and management controls required under the Helms-Biden agreement and the third tranche of UN arrears payments that comes under that. Work is continuing and the Administration does not support the attachment of any additional conditions to the payment of these arrears, for example, linking the UN Human Rights Commission issue to the arrears payment.
QUESTION: So you don't want the Human Rights Commission or the ICC thing to be attached to the arrearages?
MR. REEKER: Right. So we don't want anything to be attached to that. We want to move forward on that and we are continuing to work with Congress on that.
As far as the ICC, as you know, the Administration has fundamental concerns regarding that treaty, and among our concerns is that it seeks to exercise jurisdiction over nonparty states. We have no intention to submit the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification. And our high-level policy review of the treaty is under way and ongoing.
QUESTION: You mentioned that you were making good --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- treaty?
MR. REEKER: The review of the treaty and the approach we are going to take to it. It's nothing we haven't said before, Eli.
QUESTION: You said you were making good progress in achieving the goals, meeting the goals of the Helms-Biden. But you did not use the same characterization when you were talking about continuing to work with Congress on the American Service Members Protection Act, or whatever it's called. Was that deliberate? I mean, is it slow going in working with Congress on that?
MR. REEKER: I am just not going to characterize it anymore, Matt. We continue to work productively with the Congress.
QUESTION: You haven't characterized it at all.
MR. REEKER: The Congress is on vacation. I said we continue to work productively with the Congress on the American Service Members Protection Act in order to gain release of the $582 million in arrears. That is our goal and we will continue to work with Congress on that.
QUESTION: But when you say that, you mean that you are trying to get them to de-link it from the --
MR. REEKER: Our view is that we don't support attaching any other conditions to that payment under the Helms-Biden agreement.
QUESTION: So your work with Congress, whenever they get back in session, that your productive work with Congress is to de-link their attachment of this Act to the --
MR. REEKER: That is going to be for Congress to ultimately determine. Our work with them is to --
QUESTION: But you said -- I am just trying to figure out when you say -- in order to gain release -- what does that -- in order to gain release of the money, does that mean you have to have it de-linked?
MR. REEKER: We want the money released. How Congress does that is going to be up to Congress. And so we will continue working with them on the American Service Members Protection Act so that we can get the release of the money. There are different legislative ways of doing this, Matt, and I am --
QUESTION: The American Service Members Protection Act, as I understand it -- I am asking you -- does that condition the release of the actual arrears to assurances from the UN regarding the ICC?
MR. REEKER: Let's see here -- so we don't keep your congressional correspondents too busy during this vacation time -- there is a separate bill which ties payment of the $582 million to passage of the American Service Members Protection Act. And so there are a variety of competing legislative proposals on the Hill regarding a number of these issues. What we want to see is the ability to move ahead and pay our $582 million in arrears to the UN, lift the 25 percent cap on peacekeeping payments. And that is a priority for us, so we are going to continue working with Congress on that. And, as I said, and I will say it once more, we don't support attachment of any additional conditions on those payments.
QUESTION: What is the Administration's position on the Act itself, the American Service Members Protection Act? Aside from the question of paying --
MR. REEKER: That, I don't think, is a State Department issue, and I would direct you to other places.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- invading The Hague, wouldn't it, supposedly?
MR. REEKER: That was a very cute quote. No, I am just not here to address that particular act. I think I will send you to other places, if you are looking for an Administration --
QUESTION: If the Administration supported it, then that would sort of make the question of linking it to the funds moot, wouldn't it?
MR. REEKER: I will have to leave that to Congress to determine. I am not a congressional spokesman. I just can't do the legislative history of these things from here. I gave you what our position is and what our goal is in response to what was reported in The Washington Post article today. We are continuing to work on this. You know what our position is on the ICC, and what our position is on Helms-Biden and being able to make our arrears payments.
QUESTION: Are you bringing up any proliferation issues -- since it didn't come up -- with Osama el-Baz? Yes or no, any proliferation issues with the Egyptian National Security Advisor Osama el-Baz? We didn't ask --
MR. REEKER: I don't know. The meeting has not taken place yet with the --
QUESTION: Is that on the agenda at all for any of the State Department --
MR. REEKER: I don't know, Eli.
QUESTION: Okay. That's okay.
MR. REEKER: In answer to your question of yesterday, I believe, or maybe the day before, there is no meeting -- no plan for a meeting between Under Secretary Bolton and Osama el-Baz.
QUESTION: And just one more. Do you have anything on that Iraq-Syria military security relationship from earlier this week? Do you have anything on that?
MR. REEKER: No. I have tried repeatedly to get that and somebody continues to drop the ball.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 p.m.)