State Dept. Daily Press Briefing August 20, 2001
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Monday, August 20, 2001
BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
AFGHANISTAN 1-4 Detained Americans / Taliban / Consular Access
ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 4-10 Wounded American Citizens/ OIC Draft / Security Council / Peres-Arafat Meetings/ Egyptian Envoy's Comments / Other International Involvement
MACEDONIA 10-12 Peace Agreement/ Ralston Visit / NATO Deployment
COLOMBIA 13 Arrest of Alleged Irish Republican Army Members
IRELAND 13 Peace Agreement
CHINA 14-15 Falun Gong / Human Rights
RACISM CONFERENCE 15-16 US Participation
GLOBAL WARMING 16 Direction of U.S. Policy
RUSSIA 16 Under Secretary Bolton's Visit
PAKISTAN 16 Missile Technology Supplied by China / Kashmir / Musharraf's Visit to U.S.
CHINA 17-18 Fiber Optics Sales to Ira
qBALKANS 18 Birthday of Slobodan Milosevic
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 119
MONDAY, AUGUST 20, 2001 1:15 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department. What a full house today. I think that is partially because we want to welcome to our humble briefing room 19 foreign journalists who are here as part of an International Visitor Program sponsored by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. We think that is a very important opportunity and we are glad to have them all here. You will learn a lot from your colleagues assembled in the front rows here to see the fine tradition of American journalism in action practiced by those of many nationalities.
That really is the only announcement I have, so to get this Monday going, we'll defer to Mr. Schweid of the Associated Press.
QUESTION: Will Mr. Donahue stay in Afghanistan to try to get the Americans out of detention? The visa has expired.
MR. REEKER: That's right. Our Consul, Mr. Donahue, from our Embassy in Islamabad, as you know, has been in Kabul with the sole goal of trying to gain access to visit American citizens who have been held, to visit our nationals, to verify their well-being. He is there along with consular officers from Germany and Australia.
They were unable again today to gain access to the eight detained foreign aid workers who are being held by the Taliban in Kabul. Since the Taliban have not renewed their visas for any of the three consular officers, and those visas expire tomorrow, Tuesday, the 21st, they plan on returning to Islamabad tomorrow. The Taliban have advised the consular officers to contact Taliban representatives in Islamabad to "learn when the investigations of the detained aid workers have been concluded."
And once again, the Taliban have assured the consular officers that the detainees are safe and well. As I think we discussed last week, they accepted letters, personal items and food for the detainees, but that of course is insufficient. We have requested continued assurances from the Taliban that the health of the detainees is good, but what we want is access so that we can make those determinations ourselves, so that we can see our nationals -- these are American citizens being held.
And so obviously in Islamabad we are continuing our contact, consulting with the Germans, the Australians, as we contact the Taliban there, and we are remaining in very close touch with the families of the American citizens involved. And we will continue to press for that because we want the Taliban to live up to international norms and obligations and grant our consular officers access.
QUESTION: Is it true that the families are on their way to Islamabad?
MR. REEKER: I am not sure of the details of family travel. We have been in close contact with them. I will let you speak with them for themselves. I think we will facilitate whatever we can. If the families want to come to Islamabad, we will obviously help them there.
QUESTION: Well, we can't really speak to them ourselves because there is no Privacy Act waiver, right?
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Did you say you will let us speak with them ourselves?
MR. REEKER: I suggested you may want to speak with them yourselves.
QUESTION: Well, we can't really speak with them because there is no Privacy Act waiver, right?
MR. REEKER: You can't speak with them? Privacy Act waivers affect us, the United States Government. I don't know that that necessarily affects you, members of the press.
QUESTION: The Taliban said that they will be tried under the Islamic law for their crimes that they have been spying or converting Muslims. What is the truth there, and where do we stand on this statement?
MR. REEKER: I don't know the situation. We haven't been able to even access our citizens to hear from them, first of all what they have to say, but to assess their well-being to make sure that they are being well treated, and treated appropriately. And first and foremost is we want to accomplish that. We want access to our citizens. That is why our consular officer went to Kabul, and that remains our overriding goal.
QUESTION: So, so far there is no assurance that they will be released without any harm or any -- and also the UN, also I understand had no role in Taliban, or who has the access or role, besides Pakistan?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I understand your question.
QUESTION: Are you talking to Saudi Arabia? MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I don't understand your question. We have been very clear in what we are doing. We have gone to Kabul. We were granted a visa for our consular officer. You weren't here last week, so we can recap. We applied for, were ultimately granted a visa for our consular officer, our Consul General in Islamabad, to travel to Kabul. His goal from the beginning was to seek access to see the American citizens being held, to see that they are being treated appropriately.
QUESTION: What I am saying, really, only two countries have access in Afghanistan with the Taliban -- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
MR. REEKER: Well, three countries just had access because an American, a German and an Australian are, as we speak, in Kabul. They have not been able to see their citizens. That is the goal. That is what the Taliban needs to allow to happen, and we are going to continue pressing that point.
QUESTION: Now that this phase of the mission has not ended successfully, do you have any words on the way the Taliban have handled this? Is it a violation of international norms?
MR. REEKER: Well, it certainly is a violation of international norms. I think the Secretary General of the UN even commented on this. International norms are that consular officials be granted access to nationals who are detained. So in our case, as in the case of the Germans and the Australians, who have worked very closely with us on this, consular access is what we were after.
That was the sole purpose of the missions of our officials in going to Kabul, and it is a normal procedure in all consular matters. But that consular access has continued to be denied, and as our officials go back to Islamabad, as they said there, they are going to return and continue our efforts. We are going to continue talking to the Taliban officials who are there in Islamabad so that we can gain consular access and to work for the speedy release of our citizens.
QUESTION: From what Mr. Donahue or anyone else who has been involved in this has been told by the Taliban, is it simply that -- is there a reasoning still that they can't be seen until their investigation is complete? And if that is the case, what has the Taliban response been when Mr. Donahue and others have said, "Well, this is a violation of international norms"? Have they just said, "Well, tough luck"?
MR. REEKER: I don't think we have gotten satisfactory responses to that. The Taliban have advised the consular officers that they should contact Taliban officials back in Islamabad and learn when the investigations into the detained aid workers have been concluded. That is something they have indicated for some time, and so we are already in contact with Taliban officials in Islamabad and will continue them.
QUESTION: But as far as you know, that hasn't changed; they are still saying that any access will only happen after their investigations?
MR. REEKER: As far as I know, that's the most recent message, indication, we have had from the Taliban. We find that unacceptable. We find that insufficient. And so we will continue to press that point.
QUESTION: Are we going to apply for another visa nevertheless?
MR. REEKER: We have been continuously applying for visas all along. They have refused to grant them.
QUESTION: Phil, one official in Taliban was quoted as saying let's make a deal. Have you heard anything directly or indirectly their demand from the United States for their release?
MR. REEKER: I have heard the demand from the United States for their release. We have been demanding access for them. We want that access.
QUESTION: No, from Taliban. Any demand from the Taliban to the United States for their release?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. This isn't a game of Let's Make a Deal. This is about granting consular access to American citizens who are being detained by the Taliban in Kabul.
QUESTION: Mr. Donahue has been there for about a week now. Except that one meeting with the Taliban he had last week, has there been any other activity that we know of or --
MR. REEKER: I think I outlined the contacts that we had had. I don't have a complete breakdown of every meeting with Taliban officials. They had various holiday arrangements and on some days there weren't meetings, but the Taliban have regularly assured our officials that the detainees are safe and well. And as I said, we have requested to have continued assurances of that nature, but we still find that insufficient. They have also allowed or accepted -- the Taliban have accepted letters from our Consul, including personal items as well, and some food, which was to be passed on to the detainees.
QUESTION: Have you been able to substantiate reports that one of the detainees had a bruise on her face -- one of the American detainees?
MR. REEKER: We haven't been able to see the detainees. We have had no access to them, so I couldn't possibly substantiate that.
QUESTION: I would assume you would have mentioned this had it happened, but I just want to make sure in case you might not have, which is, they didn't get anything back? Mr. Donahue and the others haven't gotten anything back?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of.
QUESTION: New subject? Can you give us some information on two American citizens who have been wounded in the Middle East over the weekend?
MR. REEKER: I can't give you really much information, but let me start by saying how deeply troubled we are by the violence over the past few days, and that includes the wounding of two American citizens in separate shooting incidents in the Middle East. As I said, there are two American citizens who have been wounded. They are both being treated. I understand their injuries are not life-threatening, but at this point I am not in a position to give any more details on those.
This reminds us yet again that the violence has got to stop, that the Palestinians need to do everything possible to bring that about, to preempt attacks by suicide bombers, to arrest those responsible for the violence. These are essential actions, and without such efforts, of course, as we have said before, it will be impossible to move through with the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations.
And at the same time, while we recognize that Israel has a responsibility to maintain security in the face of violence and terror, we also note that they have a responsibility to avoid actions that result in the deaths and injuries of innocent people. These kinds of actions are tragic and only exacerbate the already volatile situation.
So both sides need to recognize that down this path of escalation and retaliation lies simply disaster.
QUESTION: Have you seen the draft resolution circulating in the United Nations by the OIC, and what do you think of it?
MR. REEKER: I don't know that I have seen anything specific in terms of draft resolutions; however, our Ambassador Cunningham, our Acting Permanent Rep at the UN, has already commented today on that situation, and that reflects what we have talked about from here certainly a number of times last week.
Our objective from the beginning in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, of course, has been to end the violence, to restore trust and confidence and create the circumstances for resumption of a political process. And we continue to believe that action in the United Nations Security Council at this point will not contribute to these objectives. And we note that others, including Russia, our partner in the peace process since its beginning in 1991, share our view that now is not the time for UN action.
So we will continue to assist the parties in a continuing focus with the rest of the international community on the goal of moving in to implementing the Mitchell Committee recommendations. But at this point, we believe that while we work directly with the parties, attempts to force a solution by a third party will only frustrate efforts to move forward with the implementation of Mitchell. And I think as Ambassador Cunningham pointed out, we question the appropriateness and effectiveness of any action in New York to that end. What we need now is action on the ground, steps taken to reduce violence -- not rhetoric, not debate that polarizes an already volatile situation.
QUESTION: Are you pretty confident, then, that given the Russian position and those of others perhaps on the Council, that this won't come to a vote, and that if it does, that it will be defeated without you having to use your veto?
MR. REEKER: I can at this point only speak for what our position is. I refer you to the UN on the mechanics of the continuing discussion on that. I have made clear what our position is. I don't think, Matt, I am in a position to do that. We don't believe this is the action to take. We don't believe that such a proposed action from New York from the Security Council would contribute in any way to steps that need to be taken. So imposing unworkable ideas won't change any reality on the ground and is not what we think needs to be done now.
Jonathan, did you have a follow-up?
QUESTION: You seem to be saying you're against absolutely any Security Council resolution on this subject, whatever form it takes. Is that how I should read it?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think, again, I could just refer you to Ambassador Cunningham's statements and the same statements we have made all last week. I think I am saying pretty much the same thing: that we believe that action in the United Nations Security Council at this point will not contribute to these objectives.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know. I heard that. I'm just trying to clarify. You mean absolutely any action, regardless of what form it takes?
MR. REEKER: We think the parties have the structures to move forward in reducing the violence. The Tenet work plan, the Mitchell Committee recommendations.
QUESTION: Yes, yes, yes.
QUESTION: Well, can I --
MR. REEKER: You're the one that asked.
QUESTION: Yeah, because I wanted an answer. That's why.
MR. REEKER: I gave you one that's perfectly clear.
QUESTION: Well, how about going at it this way? You say you haven't seen a draft resolution and you're not aware of any --
MR. REEKER: I personally, Matt, have not reviewed the draft resolution.
QUESTION: Right, right. But I'm curious, then, if you can't say what -- if you don't know what the ideas are, how do you know they are unworkable? I mean, you just said "unworkable ideas."
MR. REEKER: I am quoting from Ambassador Cunningham's statement. He has been working on this issue, and so I am referring you to what he said in response to that specific draft and the discussion going on in New York. I am not in a position to try to parse it and go minute by minute with that.
The overriding position is what we talked about last week, and it remains our position, and I think is reflected again in Ambassador Cunningham's statement that we don't believe New York is where action needs to be taken on this. It is action on the ground that is what we're looking for that will actually make a difference in the process.
QUESTION: Phil, leaving aside the question of monitors for a minute --
MR. REEKER: Could Matt finish his question before -- because he was --
QUESTION: So it is, in fact, not any action by the UN Security Council; it's only on what ideas that you think are unworkable, or anything?
QUESTION: It seems to be anything. I don't know.
QUESTION: Because presumably it could come up --
MR. REEKER: Action. Action in the UN Security Council. I don't know how much clearer I can say it. We don't think any action in the UN Security Council is what will contribute to these objectives. And this is in the context of the discussion that is going on today in New York and that we have been reflecting on beforehand last week and again today in preparation for that discussion.
QUESTION: Okay, Phil. Leaving aside the question of monitors, where your objections are well known, what is your objection to a resolution that would demand Israel withdrawal from Orient House and the other institutions in East Jerusalem?
MR. REEKER: We understand the concerns about Orient House. We have talked about that many times. It has long symbolized the importance of political dialogue and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, and it is vital that both parties remain committed to these objectives and avoid the actions that threaten the fundamental belief in a negotiated settlement.
And so we are actively engaged with both sides. We stand ready to assist in security talks, the tripartite security talks, to let the two parties try to come up with steps to implement security, to get the violence down, urging the parties to move quickly in that direction, as we have done before.
But we don't believe that the solution is through steps taken in New York, through resolutions. We believe it is through the parties to work together to implement the Tenet work plan, to implement the Mitchell Committee recommendations, and that continues to be our position, just as it was last week.
QUESTION: Is there any sort of rationale for that position, or is it just sort of arbitrary decision?
MR. REEKER: No, and I would suggest that very few of our decisions are arbitrary.
QUESTION: So what is the rationale for it?
MR. REEKER: The rationale is that the two parties need to make the decision. By passing rhetorical statements in New York, by debating and polarizing an already volatile situation, by attempting to impose other ideas on the parties that aren't going to change reality on the ground -- that is not going to accomplish anything.
We need to work with both sides to end the violence and transform the environment in a way that will permit the resumption of the political process. They have the road maps. They have a structure to pursue security talks and dialogue that are vital to creating an environment in which they can then move into the Mitchell Committee recommendations, which is what both sides and the international community have endorsed as the path out of this crisis.
QUESTION: They may have this work plan, but they don't really seem to be following it very well. But one thing they do seem to be trying, and maybe you can brief us on what the State Department may know about Peres' efforts to contact Arafat or some of the Palestinians on this gradual cease-fire, or rolling cease-fire, and your views on that?
MR. REEKER: For any details on what I have seen as reports of a Peres- Arafat meeting, you would really need to talk to the parties themselves on that. We support direct contacts between the parties, as we have said many times before, and we will support both sides in these efforts as much as possible. We just again referred to the Tenet work plan and the structures in place, where we facilitate and do what we can to help them on this track, on this security track, because, as I said, it is developing the security situation that gets the violence down that can then lead the parties back into the path that is outlined by the Mitchell Committee Report.
QUESTION: Is there anything specifically that the US is doing to facilitate this new Peres initiative? I mean, are you --
MR. REEKER: No, as I said, anything on a "Peres initiative" you would need to talk to the parties specifically. We remain ready to facilitate any sort of talks. I don't have anything specific for you on reports -- the ones you are referring to -- of possible talks or meetings between Mr. Peres or Mr. Arafat, or anything else of that specific nature. But you are quite familiar with the Tenet work plan and the process that that tries to foster, and that is what we will continue to --
QUESTION: They are apparently not using those security meetings as the avenue to get these contacts. That's what I am trying to get at.
MR. REEKER: I just don't have details of those reports. What I am saying is we stand ready to help. We are deeply engaged in the process, as the Secretary of State indicated last week. We are trying to find bridges to cross the divides that have existed for so many years, and of course have become especially severe in recent months. We are working with both sides. We are talking to leaders, not just in the region, but leaders in the international community, trying to find ways to help restore the sense of trust and confidence.
You know we had senior officials in the region. Just to close out on that, Ambassador Satterfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary Satterfield, is back in Washington. Assistant Secretary Burns is also back at his desk here in Washington. The Secretary of State spoke with Foreign Minister Peres on Saturday. So we continue to have those contacts and continue to urge, in those private discussions, the same thing that we are urging publicly, and that is taking the steps necessary to reduce the violence.
QUESTION: Philip, on Friday, when Dr. Baz spoke to us, he said both sides wanted a couple of days to consider the ideas they had exchanged, and then they might speak to us about them.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything new to talk about today, other than what we have already talked about in the last ten minutes or so.
QUESTION: In possibly a related story to the Middle East, as well as to Afghanistan, back on August the 7th, 250 Christians were arrested by the Lebanese Army, and also Pope John Paul II has been criticizing Syria because there may be some inter-linkage between what has gone on in Lebanon with the arrest of two journalists over the week.
And what is the United States doing with regard to this, and is it related to Afghanistan?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any connection with Afghanistan at all. I will have to look into the specifics of that situation. I think our broad position on encouraging religious freedom and speaking out against persecution of people on behalf of their beliefs is well known. Certainly the situation in Syria and Lebanon is one that is well documented in our Human Rights Reports, and our Reports on Religious Freedom. I would be happy to check in and see if there was any specific update. As you mentioned, some of these events occurred some weeks ago. So I would be happy to look into that.
QUESTION: You keep asking the Palestinians to do more, even though they are under occupation. And on the ground lately, all of the victims appear to be Palestinians. Most of them are children. Today, six Palestinians were killed. Two of them are very young children.
Why you don't show the same outrage when Palestinian kids are killed, just like you do when Israeli children are killed?
MR. REEKER: We do. We do show the same outrage. The killing of children, the injuring of children, the injuring of anyone -- any innocent civilian -- is absolutely unacceptable. It is a horrible human tragedy, and we have been quite clear about that in statements from the President, from the Secretary of State, and from their spokesmen.
The United States abhors the violence that is taking place there, and that is why both sides have to take steps. The Palestinians need to do everything possible to stop the violence. They need to take steps to preempt the attacks by suicide bombers, arrest those responsible for the violence.
These are essential actions that have to be taken. And, as I said just a few moments ago, we recognize Israel has a responsibility to maintain security in the face of that violence and terror, but we also note that they have a responsibility to avoid action that results in the deaths and injuries of innocent people. And these are tragedies, as I said, and they only serve to exacerbate an already volatile situation.
So it is up to both sides to take the steps necessary, to take the steps they have said they want to take to move forward in this.
QUESTION: Dr. Osama El-Baz before leaving back to Cairo told Al-Jazira Saturday that he expects the Americans to do more in the near future. Are you aware of any involvement different than we have seen before?
MR. REEKER: I think I have talked to you already again today, as the Secretary did last week after meeting with Dr. El-Baz, that we remain very much involved, in contact with all the parties. They have got to take steps and actions in line with what they have promised to do, in line with what they have outlined they want to do. And we are going to continue to press that point.
Anything else on the Middle East?
QUESTION: Mr. Reeker, any update on FYROM developments?
MR. REEKER: On what?
QUESTION: FYROM. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. MR. REEKER: Yes. I don't know that I have a lot to update you with from here. You know that we are urging the timely passage of the constitutional and legislative steps needed to take place to institute the framework document to implement the political agreement because that is such an essential step to moving forward to reconciliation and ending the conflict that has caused so much strain and heartache in the region for so many months now.
There have been reports of limited exchanges of fire in some areas, and the parties need to make sure that they cease operations and comply fully with the agreements. I think that you are aware that a British commander and 400 troops who are providing headquarters and communications assets and other essential support elements for Task Force Harvest arrived over the weekend in Macedonia.
And I think you have also probably seen reports that General Ralston, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, is in Macedonia today. He is assessing the security situation. And as you know, NATO will not authorize Operation Essential Harvest until all NATO allies decide in the North Atlantic Council structure that all the preconditions for deployment have been met. So we continue to work on that.
QUESTION: But I take it you don't intend to say what the position of the United States is on whether the conditions are right yet?
MR. REEKER: Well, that's really a decision for NATO to make.
QUESTION: As you said, it's a decision they take by consensus of all the members. You are a member, a leading member.
MR. REEKER: Right. And we, just as the other members of NATO, will certainly look for the report from General Ralston, who is in Skopje today.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject and move to a different topic?
MR. REEKER: Anything else on Macedonia before we move on? Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: I would like to know if changing of the constitution is the condition for the troops to arrive and the mission to start.
MR. REEKER: Well, now there were changes, I think, envisioned -- constitutional changes and adjustments, as well as other legislative steps that had to be taken -- that are part of the political agreement that was signed by all the political party leaders and developed under President Trajkovski's leadership, with the support of the United States and the European Union, in coming up with what we think is a very good political solution, because of course there is no military solution to the problems in Macedonia.
So those changes are part of that that has been agreed to by the Macedonian Government and the various political factions. NATO established preconditions for the deployment in terms of the collection of arms, the mission that they are contemplating there to collect arms that are given up by the armed extremists, the so-called National Liberation Army.
And I think we have been through before, but I am happy to outline again, the preconditions that NATO established. It includes the enduring cease-fire respected by all parties, the general political agreement among the main political parties, and that is what we have seen, and an agreement with the Macedonian Government on the status of the NATO force and the conditions of its mission, and then developing a plan that specifies the modalities and the timetable for the handover of weapons, including the explicit consent of the National Liberation Army that they are prepared to surrender those weapons.
So General Ralston is in Macedonia today, as I said, and he will obviously be taking a report back to the North Atlantic Council and be able to report on all those preconditions.
QUESTION: Do you know that All-Macedonian Congress is against any change in the constitution before the ethnic Albanians are unarmed?
MR. REEKER: I think I have seen reports of that. The All-Macedonian Congress, which I believe is an émigré group, and so obviously there are a variety of views on this. We think that the Macedonian political leaders, the democratically elected, legitimate leaders who represent all Macedonians of all nationalities and ethnicities, the citizens of Macedonia, have taken courageous steps. They have worked on very difficult issues for them, and under President Trajkovski's leadership and with support from experts with a lot of experience in these issues from the United States and the European Union, I think they have worked out a very solid political agreement that allows them to focus on moving forward to address legitimate concerns, to maintain the integrity of the country and its sovereignty, which of course is what we have supported all along.
And so I think this is definitely the path to go, and I think those that have concerns should actually sit down and read the document and learn about it, and that is a very important thing that the Macedonian Government has indicated that they also want to make sure that all of their people will understand really what this is about. This is not about giving up. This is about moving forward and actually making progress so that they can be a part of Europe, so that they can pursue economic prosperity and more peaceful coexistence for all the people in Macedonia.
QUESTION: And do you know the borders were closed yesterday, and I don't know what happened today.
MR. REEKER: I don't know any details on that. You would probably need to talk to the Macedonian Government.
QUESTION: Did you see the New York Times story yesterday? It was just basically a who's up/who's down story with respect to the conduct of US foreign policy.
MR. REEKER: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Any comment?
MR. REEKER: Not particularly. I think you answered the question yourself. The tradition of the who's up/who's down -- speculating, quoting unnamed officials -- is a tradition in Washington journalism. I don't know what it contributes. All I know is that the Secretary of State continues to work as a key part of the Administration with his colleagues. He himself has told you that such stories come with the territory in Washington.
And I think we have a very solid foreign policy team in place that works very closely together, is in constant touch, obviously reporting to the President and carrying out foreign policy on behalf of the American people.
QUESTION: Last week, Phil, you said you guys were going to be looking and monitoring very closely the situation with the suspected IRA guys who were arrested in Colombia. I'm just wondering if that picture has become any clearer and if you have any specific reaction to the news that apparently one of these guys was the Sein Fein representative in Havana?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any more details on that. I think that news was included in what I knew last week. We are still looking for details. We will be watching that, but I don't believe that there is anything more in terms of details or specific information regarding that situation.
QUESTION: On the same subject, what does the United States think of the policing reform proposals which came out on Friday?
MR. REEKER: I just had a chance to see those come out. We certainly applaud today's commitment by the Nationalist Party to the principles in the new political institution, and we certainly hope the other parties will follow suit and support these actions in implementing the Good Friday Accord, which is the goal. But I don't have a lot of details on that because I just saw that when I came out here.
QUESTION: Okay, but do you have any comment on Sein Fein's rejection of the reform proposals?
MR. REEKER: If that is what happened last week, then I don't.
QUESTION: No, over the weekend.
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have anything.
QUESTION: In general, these various incidents and the Sein Fein's behavior over the last two weeks, are they having any effect on the way the Administration looks at Sein Fein and the IRA?
MR. REEKER: Well, I don't think I have much more to add than to what I said last week, where we talked about the apparent connection of those arrested in Colombia to the Provisional IRA, that we would be concerned if it was established that the Provisional IRA was assisting or sharing information or collaborating with a violent terrorist group like the FARC. I think we need to wait and see how that goes in terms of the situation in Northern Ireland itself. We want all parties to work together to implement the Good Friday Agreement.
QUESTION: Well, perhaps you will be able to answer this one, then. Would Gerry Adams be welcome in Washington at this stage, or has he joined Mr. Arafat in the doghouse?
MR. REEKER: I don't know that either gentleman is contemplating a Washington trip at this time.
QUESTION: There was a report that the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, is visiting north Pyongyang, North Korea, on September 3rd. Do you have any information on this?
MR. REEKER: I, unfortunately, don't. I don't do his press. I have read similar wire service reports, too.
QUESTION: I'll stay on China. Do you have anything to say that is new on the latest sentencing of the Falun Gong?
MR. REEKER: We have seen ever new reports. The Chinese courts have sentenced as many as 45 Falun Gong members for up to 13 years in prison for helping organize protests, manufacturing banners and printing leaflets regarding the Falun Gong. We find those reports disturbing.
As we have said and noted many times before, China is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which includes provisions on the freedom of expression. We have raised with China on many occasions our concerns about the crackdown on the Falun Gong and reports of torture and mistreatment of detained and imprisoned practitioners, and we are going to continue to raise those issues.
China's failure to respect freedom of thought and conscience and, in broader terms, religion was documented, of course, in our Human Rights Report in February. And of course their persecution of religious and spiritual practitioners has led to their designation as a country of particular concern under our legislation, the International Religious Freedom Act, for some particularly severe violations of religious freedom. And we will continue to call upon China to end its crackdown on the Falun Gong and to respect the fundamental rights of citizens.
QUESTION: Phil, following up on George's question, the article that he mentioned talked about how the Secretary of State has not yet made what you might call a major address, laying out his foreign policy philosophy. Do you accept that contention? And if so, is there anything of that kind planned, any sort of blueprint --
MR. REEKER: I would just suggest that anybody, and those watching, whether they read The New York Times or not, try our website, which contains transcripts of comments the Secretary has made, speeches the Secretary has made, in the six, seven months that he has been in office under the Bush Administration. And I think you will find a wealth of commentary about our foreign policy, things outlining the goals for this Administration, our foreign policy priorities as we continue to work towards defending America's security and prosperity and promoting America's values around the world.
I think it is quite clear and obvious to most Americans that Colin Powell represents what is best about America and that he takes quite seriously his mandate to be our Secretary of State under President Bush. He has spoken quite publicly. He has met with journalists regularly. You travel with him, so you know his views. I think a number of you have had discussions with him about our goals and priorities. And so I think the Secretary will continue to do that. We have the UN General Assembly in September, where there will be lots of opportunities to speak. There will be continuing opportunities all the time.
So I do reject the notion that somehow the Secretary of State hasn't made clear his goals on so many subjects. He has done it from this podium numerous times. He has done it around the world as he travels, carrying out our foreign policy, and that is what he will continue to do.
QUESTION: Any decision yet on the racism conference in Durbin, whether there will be participation?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have anything on that yet. We are still looking at the options on that.
QUESTION: That was my question.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask that, but also global warming. Is it still the intention to present a new policy paper on the table to the new conference?
MR. REEKER: At this point, I believe we are moving forward with measures and initiatives, as the President announced earlier this year, on our strategy for global climate change. Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice and other senior members of the Administration have stated that we are considering a number of new ideas and initiatives on climate change, taking the issue very seriously. We have a lot of options still under consideration, and at this point I don't believe any new decisions have been finalized. There is no timetable set out for further decisions or announcements on this, but it is something that we continue to work on continuously.
QUESTION: But is it your plan to present something for a multilateral forum, or to proceed unilaterally with the conservation measures and that sort of thing?
MR. REEKER: I think leaders from across the Administration have made quite clear our intention to remain engaged multilaterally on this subject, and we are going to continue looking at these options, looking at the science, trying to come up with steps that can be taken, plans that can be taken to address global climate change and global warming issues without harming the economy, and doing it in a sort of science- based fashion. And at this point, I just don't have anything to announce for you. There are no final decisions on any plans or particularly how we would roll them out or implement them.
QUESTION: Can I take it back? On the UN conference, are there preparations being made on a contingency basis so that if the decision comes late -- it's only two weeks away now -- that we would be ready to go, that a delegation would be prepared to go to Durbin?
MR. REEKER: We are always ready for every contingency.
QUESTION: So, yes?
MR. REEKER: So you can expect that we are planning, and whatever the decision is in terms of our participation at Durbin, we will be ready to make it happen.
QUESTION: The reports from Moscow are that John Bolton is not making too much headway with the Russians. Any comment?
MR. REEKER: I guess at this point my only comment would be that my understanding was that he was going to be meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Moscow, so I don't know what headway would have been met, since those meetings haven't taken place yet.
As we discussed last week, Under Secretary Bolton departed Washington Friday, headed to Moscow. He will be meeting, as I just said, Tuesday and Wednesday, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mamedov, continuing our consultations on a new strategic framework. And they are going to try to lay the groundwork for a September meeting between the Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Ivanov.
And we do expect, of course, that Under Secretary Bolton will see other senior Russian officials in Moscow, including members at the Security Council, at the Russian Space Agency and the Ministry of Atomic Energy, and of course in the Russian Duma as well. But at this point I don't have any readouts of his meetings there.
QUESTION: That September meeting, is this the UN General Assembly --
MR. REEKER: I don't have any details. I don't think the logistics of that have been worked out at this point.
QUESTION: Just if you can update last week, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary, Mr. Haq, was here in the building, and also he was the speaker at the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he said that China has not supplied any missile technology to Pakistan in recent years, but the CIA and members of Congress -- a number of members of Congress, lawmakers, are saying that China is still supplying.
So who is right and wrong: your CIA or the Pakistani Foreign Secretary?
And also, at the same time, third time in two months, Pakistan's Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi is blaming the United States that the US is (inaudible) against Pakistan for the forging of -- the lifting of sanctions against India only, but not Pakistan.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything to add to what we have been through on all those topics, last week and the week before, so I would refer you back to the transcripts of what we have talked about. On Friday, I think I did talk to a number of your colleagues about the visit of the Pakistani official, the Foreign Secretary, in Washington. He had a number of meetings, including with his counterpart, our Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman. He also met with Under Secretary Bolton, our Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, with the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Christina Rocca. And, as you said, he carried out a private agenda and schedule here in Washington with public speeches.
This is part of our dialogue with Pakistan. You will recall that the Foreign Minister of Pakistan was here in Washington not too long ago, and we are continuing those contacts. In terms of sanctions, there are a variety of nuclear-related sanctions that involve both India and Pakistan, but they are two separate countries and two separate situations, and in the case of Pakistan, there are also sanctions that involve the coup that took place in 1999 and legal requirements in terms of their return to democracy before those sanctions can be raised.
So I don't have anything new to announce for you on that, but I would suggest you go back and see what we talked about last week.
QUESTION: Did they discuss at all anywhere in those meetings ongoing problems in Kashmir? Because they are killings are continuing almost every day, after the failure of the summit between India and Pakistan in Agra in India, and now they are preparing for another meeting to take place in Pakistan.
If the US is playing any role at this time for the next meeting?
MR. REEKER: No. As I think you know, and we have said so many times, we encourage and welcome meetings and dialogue between India and Pakistan on the subject of Kashmir. It is important for them to pursue a dialogue so that there can be peaceful resolution of those issues. And so we of course continue to monitor that situation and encourage both sides to continue talking and finding ways out of that. It is only through a peaceful dialogue that they are going to find a successful solution. There is not a military solution to that problem.
QUESTION: And finally, General Musharraf is coming to New York to address the United Nations, this time not as a general but as the self- appointed president of Pakistan. If this Administration is going to welcome him, are there any meetings, you think?
MR. REEKER: I don't know at this point. You are providing news, I guess on his behalf, that I am not even aware of, and I don't have schedules or plans to announce in terms of the UN General Assembly next month.
QUESTION: Can I just pick up on the Chinese after that question? Did they talk about the Chinese supplying fiber optic equipment to the Iraqis? Is that an on-the-record allegation?
MR. REEKER: I think I have missed the context here, sorry.
QUESTION: It has been alleged that the Chinese have provided help to the rebuilding of the Iraqi air defenses. Is there something that has been said from your position on the record?
MR. REEKER: I don't think so. I think it is something we talked about many, many months ago and we raised with the Chinese and had assurances about that. Is there something new?
QUESTION: Is this going to be discussed with these new talks, these coming few days?
MR. REEKER: The broad issue of the talks being led by Van Vann Diepen in China -- that's what you are referring to -- in terms of non- proliferation? I would suspect the issue broadly, yes, is what we talk about and our concerns about proliferation and such subjects.
QUESTION: In our series of happy birthdays to dictators, anything you would like to say to Slobodan Milosevic today as we celebrate -- as he parties in prison?
MR. REEKER: Jonathan is ready to sing a little song to him. I don't think I have --
QUESTION: I think he is only 60, so we've got a while until he retires.
MR. REEKER: Well, his retirement came early, and we are certainly glad to see that. And I hope as he blows out the candles on his cake --
QUESTION: He doesn't get a cake.
MR. REEKER: The metaphorical, or perhaps metaphysical cake, that he thinks back a little bit on all the suffering he caused to the hundreds of thousands, millions of people in the Balkans, as he implemented policies that were rather outdated and belong more in a sort of medieval state than in contemporary Europe. So we are now working with the democratic forces in Serbia and Yugoslavia and throughout the region that have been able to build themselves back up after all of the harm and heartache he caused. And that is where our focus is, and not on birthday wishes.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)