State Dept. Daily Briefing May 15, 2002
Briefer: Lynn Cassel, Acting Spokeswoman
DEPARTMENT 1 International Visitors Group from Serbia in the Briefing Room Media Note on the Success of the IT Job Fair
INDIA 1-3 Inspector General's Office and Ambassador Blackwill / Morale at Embassy
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 3 Chairman Arafat's Speech
TERRORISM/PAKISTAN 3-4 Reaction to the Daniel Pearl Video on the CBS Night News / Deputy Secretary Armitage's Involvement
SPAIN/GREECE/EU 4 Foreign Minister Pique / the Ankara Document and the Nice Implementation Text
BURMA 4-5 Colonel Kyaw Thein's Visit to the United States/Congressman Lantos 5 Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with the UN Special Representative to Burma, Mr. Razali 8 Reports of the Thai Army Planning a Strike in Burma
INDONESIA 5-6 Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with the Indonesian Defense Minister Matori/Military Cooperation/Embargo on Lifting Commercial Sales of Non-lethal Defense Articles
UN/CYPRUS 7 UN Secretary General's Meeting In Cyprus
SUDAN 7-8 Sen. Danforth's Report
CUBA 8 President Carter's Trip to Cuba and Speech to the Citizens
CHINA/NORTH KOREA 8 Update on North Koreans in Consulate General Shenyang/ Special Envoy Pritchard's Trip to Pyongyang
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 2002 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
1:00 p.m. EDT
MS. CASSEL: Good afternoon. Sorry I'm a little late. I wanted to start by welcoming our visitors. We have an International Visitor Group from Serbia with us today. Welcome.
I also wanted to draw your attention to a Media Note that we're putting out this afternoon. Earlier this month, I think it was -- perhaps last month -- we put out a Media Note about a virtual IT job fair that we were participating in, and it was a smashing success. We had over 2.4 million hits, and it resulted in over 20,000 job applicants. So just draw your attention to it; we're very excited about it.
That is about all I have for announcements and statements.
QUESTION: Can you tell me whether the Inspector General is looking into the Ambassador of India?
MS. CASSEL: I have nothing for you on that.
QUESTION: Is the -- wait a minute, wait a minute. You're not saying yes or no; you have nothing?
MS. CASSEL: Yes. I have nothing relating to that report.
QUESTION: You mean you cannot speak to the report for some reason?
MS. CASSEL: I cannot speak to the report.
QUESTION: Why? Is it classified?
MS. CASSEL: The --
QUESTION: By the way, I didn't ask about a report; I asked if he is looking into it.
MS. CASSEL: I'm talking about the report in the newspaper. I can't speak to any allegation or anything regarding -- Ambassador Blackwill is our Ambassador, and --
QUESTION: Yes, I know that. There have been more than one -- there have been several reports that the Inspector General is conducting some sort of an inquiry into the way Mr. Blackwill has been running the Embassy.
MS. CASSEL: I have seen those reports, and I have nothing to give you on it.
QUESTION: So you won't say they're untrue, right?
MS. CASSEL: No.
QUESTION: Sticking kind of on the same subject. There seems to be -- can you speak to morale at the Embassy in Delhi?
MS. CASSEL: Ambassador Blackwill is our Ambassador. I don't know anything about the morale at the Embassy in Delhi. I haven't been there. So it's just beyond my expertise at all.
QUESTION: Well, the report suggests that morale is bad, and this doesn't seem to be the only place where morale might be quivering a little bit in South Asia. You have your Ambassador in Pakistan, who is returning home because she wants to spend more time with her family.
MS. CASSEL: I think we have made it really clear that she is returning home for family reasons.
QUESTION: Yes, exactly. But I mean, obviously there's -- it's created some hardships on people who are working there and their families. And I noted, or I saw, that the brother of the chargé d'affaires in Pakistan wrote a letter that appeared yesterday in the New York Times, suggesting that his brother, who is staying there without his family, was somehow more dedicated to the profession, to US diplomacy, than the ambassador. Do you have anything to say about that?
MS. CASSEL: The only thing I can say, and this is from my personal experience, is that I've been a Foreign Service Officer and worked with people in the State Department and for the State Department, now, I've been a Foreign Service Officer for almost 20 years, and I've worked here for three years. And I have never seen morale better, at any time.
I think we have a crew of dedicated, hardworking Foreign Service Officers who are willing to go where they can, given family considerations, and are willing to suffer hardships to serve their administration. I mean, I can only point to you the example of the people who are serving in Kabul right now. It's an awful place. It's -- it's not an awful place; it's an awful place to live, because they don't have an infrastructure built up yet. The embassy is evidently in very bad condition. And yet they're there, and they're working. And this is not the first time that this sort of thing happens.
So, you know, rumors and unsubstantiated allegations that morale is bad here or there just --- I guess I just don't want to comment on any sort of unspecified or directed rumors.
QUESTION: At Reykjavik, Secretary Powell had a meeting with the representatives of the ten candidate states for the NATO enlargement. Can you give us more details about the content of the discussions, about --
MS. CASSEL: I'm afraid that I can't give you any details about any of the issues that came up in Reykjavik. The Secretary is going to be briefing the press on the plane on his way home, and he will be speaking to all of those issues. So I have nothing on that.
QUESTION: Can we move to the Middle East?
MS. CASSEL: I can move to the Middle East.
QUESTION: I know the White House has commented on Arafat's speech pledging elections and other political reforms. But could you say whether or not the speech and this -- his speech makes it easier for the United States to move forward with trying to rebuild some of the infrastructure in the Palestinian Authority?
MS. CASSEL: What I can give you on his speech is that his remarks earlier today regarding reform in the Palestinian Authority are consistent with the President's comments last week regarding his interest in working with Chairman Arafat, the international community, and regional leaders to rebuild the Palestinian Authority on the basis of democratic principles, market economics, good governance, accountability, transparency and opposition to terror. We look forward to exploring this idea further with Chairman Arafat and with regional leaders.
QUESTION: I want to change the subject. I want to go back to South Asia if I can, for just a second.
MS. CASSEL: Okay.
QUESTION: Can you give us a rundown of what exactly people in this building did to try to convince CBS not to air the portions of the Daniel Pearl tape?
MS. CASSEL: I don't think I can give you a specific blow-by-blow rundown. I can confirm that at the request of the Pearl family, the Department contacted CBS News to confirm whether CBS intended to broadcast parts of the videotape, and to ask that in consideration for the sensitivities of Mr. Pearl's family, CBS reconsider that decision.
QUESTION: Can you say how -- at what level the calls were made on both sides? Who called -- in other words, who called who?
MS. CASSEL: I don't know exactly at what level they were made.
QUESTION: Okay. There's been a suggestion that Deputy Secretary Armitage might have gotten personally involved.
MS. CASSEL: I can check on that for you, but I don't know exactly.
QUESTION: I have a question regarding ESDP. The Spanish --
MS. CASSEL: Can we -- do you want to go back to South Asia?
QUESTION: Yes. Just this story, can you just say on the record how you feel about the decision? That CBS went ahead and ran it anyway?
MS. CASSEL: We were disappointed. Okay, ESDP?
QUESTION: ESDP. The Spanish presidency, Mr. Pique, the Foreign Minister, who is the current President of the European Council of Foreign Ministers, said yesterday that he is against the reopening of the Ankara document for --
MS. CASSEL: Right.
QUESTION: And Greece has a problem with that for many months now. And I wanted to ask you if you can reiterate the US position on that issue?
MS. CASSEL: This is what I've got on ESDP. We support the efforts of the EU Spanish Presidency and High Representative Solana to find ways to resolve this issue on the basis of the Nice implementation text. The Nice implementation text offers a good formula to address the concerns of non-EU NATO members regarding their participation in the European Security and Defense Policy, while fully respecting the autonomy of EU decision-making. We urge all parties to accept the text as soon as possible.
QUESTION: Do you know -- have you heard or do you know anything about reports in the Philippines that because of illness the Burnhams, or at least one of the Burnhams, may be released?
MS. CASSEL: You know, I had something on that yesterday, but I didn't put it in my book today. So if you --
QUESTION: Okay. Can we get it afterwards?
MS. CASSEL: -- want to call me, I'll give it to you afterwards.
Yes, did you have a question?
QUESTION: Yes. I have a couple questions on Burma. Can we move there for a second? And Colonel Kyaw Thein was in town on Monday, and I know he met with Rand Beers. And there were reports that he was also meeting with the DEA of Justice and the CIA. I was wondering if you could confirm who he met with and comment on what they talked about and whether those talks included only discussions about drugs or whether they ranged to include political considerations?
MS. CASSEL: I'm afraid I'm going to have to take that question and get back to you on that. I know that we confirmed that he was coming to attend a drug conference, but I need to find out more about the specifics.
QUESTION: It sounds like -- he's not a commercial figure, of course, and Congressman Lantos suggested that somehow you were mistakenly paying off the Burmese authorities.
MS. CASSEL: I remember that story.
QUESTION: And it took forever to get the State Department to acknowledge that he had been given permission to come here, and we specifically said for that narcotics conference.
MS. CASSEL: Right.
QUESTION: This question, it sounds like he had a whole --
MS. CASSEL: That's why I want to take the question, Barry, and look into it.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MS. CASSEL: Because I don't have any knowledge of it at all.
QUESTION: Well, all right. But please, if you look into it, could you explain in your response if he moved beyond a limited visa or limited permission, and why the State Department gave such access to this character?
MS. CASSEL: I'd be happy to add that to the question.
QUESTION: He isn't just a narcotics expert, by the way.
MS. CASSEL: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I ask -- continue on Burma, which you may not have a question to? Do you have anything to say about the meeting that Deputy Secretary Armitage is going to have this afternoon with the UN, with Kofi Annan's Special Representative to Burma, Mr. Razali?
MS. CASSEL: You know, I don't have anything on that. I do have something on his meeting with the --
QUESTION: With the Indonesian?
MS. CASSEL: -- Indonesians.
QUESTION: That was my next question. What do you have to say about Deputy Secretary Armitage's meeting this afternoon with the Indonesian Defense Minister?
MS. CASSEL: Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage met this morning with the Indonesian Defense Minister Matori. They discussed the importance of military reform in the context of both sides' hopes to improve the military-to-military relationship.
The Minister enumerated a number of positive changes in the Indonesian military, and the Deputy Secretary noted that concrete steps toward accountability would be useful in this regard.
QUESTION: Do you have anything about the resumption -- or boosting, if they already are resumed, of military ties between the United States and Indonesia?
MS. CASSEL: Yes. We continue to look for ways to improve our military cooperation with Indonesia.
QUESTION: But nothing in terms of --
MS. CASSEL: In their joint statement of September 19, 2001, Presidents Bush and Megawati recognized the role of the Indonesian military as a national institution, and noted the importance of military reforms in Indonesia's democratic transition. In that regard, they agreed to expand modest contacts and to resume regular meetings between the US and Indonesian militaries to support Indonesia's efforts at military reform and professionalization.
They also agreed on the value of increased civilian participation in Indonesian defense and security issues. To promote this objective, they agreed to establish a bilateral security dialogue under the supervision of their respective civilian ministers of defense. And the first such dialogue took place in Jakarta in April.
The administration has also received congressional approval of $400,000 to educate individual Indonesian civilians on defense matters through the expanded International Military Education and Training Program.
QUESTION: Okay. But nothing beyond the "expand modest contacts"?
MS. CASSEL: There was also an executive order last December lifting the embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles.
QUESTION: Right -- no, no, I mean in terms of -- I guess the "modest contact" is what I'm interested in. There's nothing beyond that, in terms of --
MS. CASSEL: No. Resumption of further assistance remains contingent on Indonesian progress on military reform and accountability on human rights.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about Mr. Kofi Annan's meetings in Cyprus? What is your US position?
MS. CASSEL: Ambassador Boucher put out a statement on May 3rd, stating that we welcome and strongly support the Secretary General's intentions in Cyprus. I think I can refer you, to get the whole text of it, from our website.
QUESTION: And nothing's happened in the last 12 days to --
MS. CASSEL: Well, he just got there.
QUESTION: Just yesterday.
QUESTION: Oh, I see.
MS. CASSEL: He just got there yesterday.
QUESTION: So you support him getting there, huh?
MS. CASSEL: We actually actively support the UN in its efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue. Our Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Ambassador Tom Weston, provides ongoing diplomatic support for the direct talks, and we stand ready to continue assisting the UN Secretary General and his Special Advisor in this important endeavor.
QUESTION: A little optimistic this time? It's been going on for, what --
MS. CASSEL: We're always optimistic.
QUESTION: -- years? Resolving the Cyprus thing?
MS. CASSEL: Yes.
MS. CASSEL: Yes.
QUESTION: Lynn, yesterday the White House released Senator Danforth's report on Sudan. I realize it's mainly a White House matter, but are you aware of anything coming -- and I know it's early -- but aware of anything coming out of that, in terms of definite moves in the --
MS. CASSEL: No. We're still in the studying process. I don't think any decisions have been made.
QUESTION: You're not sending a new chargé over there?
MS. CASSEL: That decision hasn't been made yet.
QUESTION: Hasn't been made?
MS. CASSEL: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments on former President Carter's trip to Havana? And was there any understanding between the State Department and the White House on any things that ex-President Carter could be talking about with the Cuban Government? And do you think this is an obstruction, working with a former President? Is he going off on his own, or is it with the understanding of the State Department?
MS. CASSEL: As we've said before, Mr. Carter, former President Carter, is a private citizen. As far as your questions regarding the White House and any agreement they might have had or contacts they might have had, I'd refer you to the White House.
But I would like to say, take this opportunity to comment, that President Carter's speech, broadcast live on Cuban TV and radio, eloquently and correctly focused on the lack of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and democracy on the island, and the steps that need to be made to bring Cuba into a democratic world.
QUESTION: Internally? Steps, or are you planning any external action?
MS. CASSEL: Internally.
QUESTION: I just had one more question about Burma?
MS. CASSEL: Okay. One more question I can't answer about Burma. Yes?
QUESTION: Well, maybe you can get back to me. Reuters reported that the Thai army is planning a strike as early as next week to help to fight against the United Wa State Army. I was wondering if the State Department had any comment on that.
MS. CASSEL: At this point no, but I'd be glad to check and get back to you on it. Anything else?
QUESTION: Is there any update on the North Korean being able to run into the consulate in China? Is there an update on that?
MS. CASSEL: Yes. They arrived in South Korea, I believe it was yesterday.
QUESTION: Any update on Pritchard going to Pyongyang?
MS. CASSEL: No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. CASSEL: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m. EDT.)
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