State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for July 29
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for July 29 -- Transcript
Daily Press Briefing
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
July 29, 2002
1 Secretary Powell s Travel
5-6,11 Inspector General s report on Venezuela
7 Phone calls made by Secretary Powell
7 The Department of State s Public Diplomacy efforts
8 Funding for Department of State programs
1 Conviction of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim
1-5 Palestinian Delegation to visit Washington Future
direction of peace talks / Timetable
3-4 Third Party Monitoring
3 Visit of Foreign Minister
6 Loan to Libya
6 Status of relations
6 Possible meeting with N. Korean Foreign Minister
8-9 Possible military attack
9 Washington visit by members of Iraqi opposition groups
PAKISTAN / INDIA
10 Secretary Powell s efforts to resolve Kashmir conflict
11 Possible visit by Foreign Minister
11 Substitute facility for Marine Air Station in Okinawa
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department. And for those of you viewing from places outside of Washington, D.C., welcome to summer. I think we can all agree it's living up to its hazy, hot and humid reputation.
Secretary Powell, along with his delegation, are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia tonight, or I guess it's more like wee hours of tomorrow morning there, part of his trip to South Asia and East Asia, having been in India and Pakistan over the weekend, in Thailand earlier today, and Malaysia. Tomorrow, he'll be heading to Singapore, on to Brunei.
Many of your colleagues are traveling with the Secretary and his party, but for those of you here, I'm pleased to be here and take your questions, but I did want to start with one statement off the top -- and we will be putting out a formal paper statement in this context -- regarding the conviction of Saad Eddin Ibrahim in Egypt.
We are deeply disappointed today in the decision by Egypt's State Security Court to convict Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian and American citizen, of the charges of illegally receiving funds from foreign entities and defaming Egypt. As you know, this is a case we have been following for some time. Today, Dr. Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years in prison.
We have persistently made known our concerns to the Government of Egypt regarding the process that led to this verdict. We have done so both here and in Cairo at the most senior levels, including through our Ambassador in Egypt and the Egyptian Ambassador here in Washington.
We're going to continue to follow Dr. Ibrahim's case closely and press our concerns with the Egyptian authorities. Our Ambassador and consular officials from the Embassy have visited Dr. Ibrahim on a regular basis, and we are going to continue to maintain consular access.
I will post that statement following the briefing. If there are any questions on that or other matters, we can defer to Mr. Schweid.
QUESTION: Phil, I wonder if you can fill in some of the details. The Secretary is saying in New Delhi that he'll meet with a Palestinian delegation, I think shortly after his return. Do you have a date? Do you know if this is a delegation of Palestinians who got their jobs from Yasser Arafat, and could you tell us their names or titles if you have them?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can fill in too many more details at this point, Barry. You did, in fact, hear what the Secretary said in New Delhi; that is, that he does expect to meet with a Palestinian delegation after he has returned. That would be sometime next week. You'll recall that last week he met with an Israeli delegation.
This is part of our continuing series of meetings. We have a series of meetings this week in Washington; in fact, Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher of Jordan was here this morning meeting with the Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Armitage. Of course later this week the King of Jordan, King Abdullah, will be here with meetings in this building -- actually, meetings with officials from this building and also meeting with the President. Israeli Foreign Minister Peres will also have separate meetings here and at the White House. As Secretary Powell indicated and you reiterated, he has confirmed his intent to meet with a Palestinian delegation next week upon his return.
I don't have any more details of who those individuals may be, but this is part of the close consultations we are having with the parties, with regional leaders regarding our support for Palestinian civil reform, a renewal of security cooperation and the resumption of a political dialogue. All of that, of course, keeping with the strategy outlined by President Bush in his June 24 speech and the statements of the Quartet more recently.
QUESTION: Well, is the United States or the State Department, which seems to be the lead on this, did they make known to the Palestinian Authority -- they know quite a bit about the various officials -- did they make known who their preferences are to talk to on the theory that you don't want Arafat? Or maybe it doesn't matter. But, you know, you've accused the Authority of being entwined with corruption and terrorism, and you're not meeting with Arafat, but does that mean you'll meet with just about anybody else or do you have some sort of a litmus test?
MR. REEKER: Barry, again, I don't know at this point who will come to Washington to meet with the Secretary from the Palestinians. But as we've said, and as the President said in his speech, we look for new leadership, we look for reform, civil reform within the Palestinian groups, and look to meet with representatives of the Palestinians, as the Secretary said, who can speak on behalf of the Palestinian people. This is consistent with the plan that the President laid out in terms of transformation of the Palestinian community. It's consistent with the work that the Quartet has been doing. But at this point I just can't give you any specific names of who may be coming to Washington. We'll try to get you more details as that evolves during the coming week.
QUESTION: Beyond just meeting with them and consulting with them, I mean, are there any specific goals of this meeting, such as, are you looking for any kind of report on some of the reforms that are taking place, or are you going to speak with them about implementing some of the security ideas that the Secretary had spoken about? I mean, what's the -- without getting into specifics on the agenda, what's the goal?
MR. REEKER: I think, as I said, I outlined that, that the goal is in line with what the President suggested and what he laid out in terms of transformation of the Palestinian community, in terms of civil reform and steps being taken in that direction, in terms of renewal of security cooperation, which you mentioned, resumption of a political dialogue. There was a resumption of direct dialogue between the parties last week, for instance. This should help improve the situation on the ground. There are reports of a meeting tomorrow between the Israeli Defense Minister and Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razzak al-Yahya. We think that is a very positive step that can help restore trust and confidence in the resumption of a political process.
As we move forward with this strategy, with the strategy that the President has outlined, that the Secretary has talked about at length, that the international community has embraced and supported, it is clear that both sides have to do all that they can to end the violence and terror and work to create an environment in which progress is possible. In terms of Palestinian civil and security reform progressing, reciprocal Israeli steps like easing closures, handing over tax revenues to responsible parties, facilitating movement of humanitarian goods and services, those will all be critical steps. Reports of progress on these issues are encouraging, as I noted, and we are going to urge the parties to continue their direct discussions in this regard. As you know, there's the International Task Force that includes members of the Quartet, as well as other donor countries interested in helping create appropriate accountable structures in the Palestinian community. So ultimately we want to see the resumption of a political dialogue that has as its objective achievement of the President's vision of the two states living side by side in peace and security.
QUESTION: Foreign Minister Muasher said that he was getting receptive comments, positive comments, from the American side about possible third-party monitoring. Can you say whether the position has changed? The US has generally said both sides have to agree to it. Have you moved forward on that at all?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can suggest any change in position. I saw the Foreign Minister's comments. We are always pleased to welcome our good friends from Jordan, certainly the Foreign Minister, here to Washington. As I mentioned I think, and you indicated, he met with Deputy Secretary Armitage this morning, and some of that's in preparation for the meetings King Abdullah will have later this week.
As a close friend and partner in this process, we appreciate talking to Jordan, hearing their views, discussing all of our bilateral issues and regional issues. I just don't think I have anything particularly new to announce in that regard. I think we'll look to the meetings with the King and the President later this week. We consult regularly with the Jordanians regarding our regional efforts and certainly look to today's meetings as part of that process.
QUESTION: Well, is this under active discussion in the State Department, whether the US would be receptive to taking part in third-party monitoring?
MR. REEKER: I think it's been discussed in -- during the Quartet meetings, some of the statements we've put out. I don't have anything new to add beyond those things, and I think that's what the Foreign Minister indicated as well.
QUESTION: He talked about a three-year plan, actually, a work plan, timelines, specifying obligations of the parties, and this would be monitored. Is the idea of a specific three-year work plan something the Administration has --
MR. REEKER: If you look back at President Bush's speech of June 24th, he talked very much about three years and the goals, the vision that he has for two states living side by side in peace and security, and that we can do that in three years if the parties are both serious, if everyone takes their responsibilities. And so that's part of these discussions, part of the meetings we're having this week with the Jordanians, what we discussed last week with an Israeli delegation. We've met in the Quartet format with others in the international community on this subject.
And so that is what we are pursuing, and we will let the meetings continue to take place, including the President's meetings later this week and the Secretary's meetings next week, and see how we can move ahead with exactly what we've outlined.
QUESTION: But is a timetable something that --
MR. REEKER: Something we'll need to discuss. The President has been quite clear that we can do this if everybody accepts their responsibilities, and we'll be looking at ways to move forward. As I indicated, we have had some encouraging signs in terms of discussions between the two parties. We need to see security progress. We need to make sure that terror incidents are dealt with, that we get the violence down so that we can proceed with the dialogue that we think is so important.
QUESTION: One more question on the Palestinian delegation. Is the makeup of the delegation going to be something that the US would want to approve before they come, or is it an offer to talk and whoever the Palestinians themselves believe should be coming is okay with you?
MR. REEKER: I think we will have to discuss it with them. That discussion is still taking place. I just can't offer you any particular specifics on who would be coming. We're looking for people as the Secretary has said --
QUESTION: Right, I don't mean that.
MR. REEKER: We are looking for people, as the Secretary has said, who can make a difference, speak for the Palestinian community, who can offer constructive leadership. That's what we'll be looking for -- people who can advance the process.
QUESTION: But do you -- will you have to agree in advance with whom you'll meet?
MR. REEKER: Well, obviously we will know who we are meeting with. I just don't -- I can't tell you who it is at this point. Anybody that's coming to the United States we'll know in due course, but I just can't suggest at this point who that might be.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. REEKER: New subject? Anything else?
QUESTION: I understand that the Inspector General's report on Venezuela was delivered to the Senate Friday. I haven't heard anything about it. Are you going to give us some information?
MR. REEKER: Sure. I think the Office of the Inspector General, which, as you know, operates independently but offers information through us to give to you, did give us some information earlier today.
There was a report that was requested by Senator Dodd, Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to conduct a review on US activities in Venezuela around the time of and the six months preceding the events in April. And our Inspector General, Clark Kent Irvin, undertook this, personally leading a multi-disciplinary team of inspectors, auditors and information technology specialists that conducted a review from May 3rd until the submission of the report on Friday. They interviewed more than 80 officials from the Department, from Embassy Caracas and other federal agencies that are represented at Embassy Caracas, as well as the National Endowment for Democracy and some of the core grantees who receive funds from the National Endowment, and reviewed over 2,000 documents.
And so based on the review of the information, the Inspector General found that the policy of the United States toward Venezuela during this period was to support democracy and constitutionality. The Inspector General concluded that actions by US Embassy officials and Department officials in Washington were consistent with US policy; the Department and the Embassy urged the Chavez government to conduct itself in a democratic and constitutional fashion; the Department and the Embassy discouraged undemocratic and unconstitutional moves against the Chavez government; and the Department and the Embassy urged the provisional Carmon government to conduct itself in a democratic and constitutional fashion.
As such, the policy of the United States was fully consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the Organization of American States agreement designed to promote democracy and constitutionality in the Americas. And so that, in a rather lengthy form, is a summary of the findings of the Inspector General in that report.
QUESTION: -- the full report (inaudible)?
MR. REEKER: I think you'd have to call the Inspector General's office to find out, but the Press Office can probably check for you. I don't know if the full report will be made available or not, but that is the summary that they provided us to release publicly.
QUESTION: While we're on the subject of Venezuela, there's a report that's been published in Caracas and in private letters up here to the effect that Chavez has asked Libya for a $5 billion loan.
MR. REEKER: Has asked who?
QUESTION: Has asked Qadhafi for a $5 billion loan, and at the same time they have resumed oil shipments to Cuba. And I wonder if the Department has any comment.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything. I hadn't seen either of those reports, to the best of my recollection, but we can certainly look into that and see if we have any information beyond the reports you're citing.
QUESTION: Cuba. Many Midwestern congressmen and senators would like to see trade restored with Cuba. Is there any chance the Administration will bend on this issue as the fast track trade bill now comes before the Senate?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything new to offer you. The President was quite clear in his own speech about Cuba and what we would like to see happen there and what we offer in response to appropriate actions by the Castro regime in terms of looking toward democracy, giving the Cuban people what they deserve -- the freedom to choose their leaders, the freedom to enjoy the human rights that are guaranteed to all on the planet, or should be. And that's the focus of our effort. So I don't think I can add anything more to that, but we'd be happy to get you all of the President's statements on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. REEKER: Sir.
QUESTION: If you have anything on it, would you be willing to give us an update on the possibility of a meeting between the Secretary and the North Korean Foreign Minister? And the statement out this morning or yesterday by Ivanov that North Korea is willing to meet without any pre-conditions, is that the type of signal that the US is looking for that might help facilitate a meeting with the Secretary and the Foreign Minister?
MR. REEKER: Well, as the Secretary said prior to his departure, and I think over the weekend in some of his press availabilities, we've found recent North Korean statements to be positive. We're not ruling anything in or out. I think that was the Secretary's latest comment on this in terms of possibilities of meetings. At this point we've made no decision regarding further meetings with the North Koreans in Brunei or elsewhere, but you'd obviously want to keep in touch with the traveling party for any news on that front.
In terms of Foreign Minister Ivanov, we understand that he held a meeting with North Korea's Foreign Minister, but I don't have any information in terms of details of their discussions. So we've seen those reports. I think that Foreign Minister Ivanov and Secretary Powell have ample opportunities to exchange views and discuss a broad variety of issues, but I just can't offer you anything more at this point.
QUESTION: No comment on his comment that --
MR. REEKER: No. I'd refer you out to the traveling party if you want anything more on the North Korea front. That's where the Secretary himself has dealt with it.
QUESTION: I was going to ask if you could check on phone calls. Can you do that from here
-- check on phone calls the Secretary may be making from the road?
MR. REEKER: I can. I can't promise anything because it's more difficult, but you might refer to your colleagues.
QUESTION: Yeah, especially if he's talked to Ivanov since these statements came out, it would be interesting.
MR. REEKER: I was not aware of any calls to Ivanov since those statements, but before he left he had a conversation with Foreign Minister Ivanov. I think we talked about that last week. I'll endeavor to see what I can provide you on phone calls.
QUESTION: There's a new report out from the Council on Foreign Relations looking at the US's efforts regarding public diplomacy, and the basic conclusion seems to be that we could be doing a lot better. Is there any reaction to that?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think we've talked about it here and certainly in other fora about the efforts we are making to always improve our public diplomacy efforts. They are vital to our interests, they are vital to creating a better understanding of the United States, our policies, our culture, our society. We've focused very much on informing a broader, deeper and younger global audience about the background of much of our foreign policy, about our goals and objectives, and we've placed particular emphasis on prosecuting the war on terrorism and the information needs there.
I think its been glaring to all of us that there are clear misunderstandings about our culture, about our society and indeed about our foreign policies. So if you look just in that framework and in that period of time since September 11th, Department officials have participated in hundreds if not thousands of media interviews and appearances. We've had exchange programs with Muslim-majority countries, for instance, that have been focusing on increasing the understanding between our two cultures and societies. Websites and publications which have tried to explain and define US positions have been created. New programs have been launched using new technologies and seeking out new audiences.
So it's an ongoing effort. We've put more resources into it. I think we've all acknowledged that some of these areas were ones that we did exceptionally well with in earlier years, and as the world evolved our efforts in this direction didn't necessarily evolve with them, and that's why we've focused so much in recent times. I think a number of the findings that the Council and other studies have had reflect that as well.
We want to make sure that America's message is coherent, is targeted and effective. And again, it's all about promoting American policies, American values, focusing on our security, our prosperity, and indeed our values and beliefs, and making sure that those are understood around the world. So the President and the Secretary and other senior officials have been participating in those efforts, and it will go on. There are all kinds of things being done to engage publics, to engage journalists, so that we can get the information out there and tell the truth.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up. One of the other conclusions of the report is that there are actually a lot of great ideas out there but that there's not enough money out there to implement them and see them through. I assume that's a statement that the State Department would agree with?
MR. REEKER: Well, funding is always an issue and we've worked very closely with Congress. As you know, we recently -- the Hyde Bill passed. We support that. In our supplemental budget authorization there is money for public diplomacy activities, and we intend to use that, make sure it's targeted, make sure it's well thought out. We have been, as I said, thinking of new ideas using new technologies, trying to seek out broader audiences, particularly younger audiences, so that we can counter some of the misunderstandings, the misinformation, the disinformation that occurs in so many parts of the globe. As you are all very aware, in the satellite communications age, it is very important to make use of as many different opportunities as we can find to reach out to these broad audiences and tell them what America is all about, dispel some of the myths, and make clear what our culture, what our society and what our policies are about.
QUESTION: When you see various military options on Iraq and how to invade Iraq in the papers these days, one being today in the New York Times. How does this affect our relationship with people in the region or the countries in the region? Does it help or hurt?
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to speculate on the variety of news reports that emerge. It seems to me that, as you indicated, every day we read something different. Half the time they're opposing each other. Speculating just doesn't get us anywhere. We've been very clear publicly as well as in our private diplomatic meetings in terms of our concerns about Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein, why he presents a threat to his own people, to his neighbors, to the full region, and indeed to the entire world.
His efforts to develop weapons of mass destructions, his flaunting of UN Security Council resolutions that he, himself, agreed to at the end of the Gulf War, his support for terrorism, his barbarous treatment of his own people are all things that are of great concern to us, and we have a responsibility to our security and that of our friends and allies to keep an eye on this, to keep all options on the table, as the President has said.
So speculating on what may or may not happen, or ideas, thoughts, plans is not very useful to anybody because it doesn't move us anywhere. We've been quite clear with what our concerns are and the fact that we're watching these things very, very closely. We're talking to friends and allies, we're speaking publicly about our concerns, but the President has said he's not received any formal recommendations from his National Security staff, nor has he made, then, any decisions. But our policy remains quite clear. We're watching Iraq. We believe that regime change there would benefit all of us, including the Iraqis, including those in the region for whom Saddam Hussein is a direct threat, and the rest of us who need to be very concerned about his efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction and the capabilities with which to use them.
QUESTION: On that same vein, can you tell us any more about this meeting next week with the Iraqi opposition groups here in Washington and what you expect to come out of that?
MR. REEKER: I think I was able to talk with a number of you Friday about that. We have invited several Iraqi opposition leaders to Washington for a meeting in August that will be co-hosted by Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman and Under Secretary of Defense Feith. There are six leaders who have been invited. We don't have a fixed date yet for the meeting, but we're going to look at that based on the responses and the availability of those invited.
And again, the purpose of the meeting would be to discuss next steps in our coordinating work with Iraqi opposition figures. As you know, that's been something we've wanted to do for a long time. We've had a variety of programs with a variety of representatives of Iraqi opposition groups.
The six that are invited are representatives of some of the most prominent Iraqi opposition groups, and we thought it was important at this time to increase the level of coordination and cooperation among these groups, and that's the purpose of the meeting -- largely to encourage that. We'll also continue to look for a larger, broader-based political conference of Iraqi opposition to be held in coming months sometime in the future.
QUESTION: Is the focus of the meeting primarily on regime change or after regime change?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think we simply felt it was really an opportune time for a number of these leaders who represent a variety of different factions, perhaps different views, to get together to discuss closer coordination with each other and among the rest of the opposition -- how we can help with that, exchange views and ideas, so I think that will be what they'll focus on. And that idea of coordination and consultation, I think, is very important. The cooperation of all these groups is going to be important for Iraq's future.
QUESTION: Could you name who the opposition groups were that were coming?
MR. REEKER: I can if you'd like. I'd be happen to mention -- the six are: Sharif Ali Bin Hussein of the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. And I can get you spellings of any of those after the briefing.
QUESTION: Do you happen to know when they were coming from?
MR. REEKER: I don't, Barry. I don't know individually where they are currently located.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell says the US is involved in the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir for the long haul. What does he mean and does he believe the dispute can be resolved peacefully?
MR. REEKER: I think you should have gone on the trip. (Laughter.)
As Secretary Powell indicated on his recent stops in New Delhi and in Islamabad, the Kashmir dispute must be resolved through a healthy political process and a vibrant dialogue between India and Pakistan that takes into account the wishes the people of Kashmir.
As the Secretary said, Kashmir is on the international agenda, and the United States and other countries are going to take an active interest in encouraging a resolution. Our role is that of a friend, a friend to India, a friend to Pakistan, trying to help both countries address their differences, including the differences about Kashmir through a productive dialogue, and we've said for a long, long time that dialogue is the way to make progress on these issues.
We don't seek a mediator's role, but we are prepared to provide facilitative assistance if the parties agree, and the Secretary outlined that in his talks with leaders in both capitals. He also indicated, announced in New Delhi that Deputy Secretary Armitage will return to the region in August, and other senior US officials will also continue engagement in coming months. And Deputy Secretary Armitage will not only continue our discussions on regional tensions in Kashmir, but also strengthen our bilateral relations with both nations, as the Secretary has focused on in his travel.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask if that Inspector General's report is going to be released to the public, and if so, when?
MR. REEKER: I think you did ask me that.
QUESTION: It hasn't been released to us.
MR. REEKER: I believe you asked me that and I said I didn't know, you'd need to contact the Inspector General's office.
QUESTION: Well, you're talking about the small summary of it. I thought --
MR. REEKER: No, I was talking about the entire report. I gave you the small summary, so that has been released and it is now in the official transcript. If you want to know if the full report is going to be released, you have to contact the Office of the Inspector General, and the Press Office would be happy to help you with that -- to see if they plan to release that.
Wait a minute. I'm afraid you have some other colleagues who have questions.
QUESTION: Yes, on Venezuela. There is some information that the Foreign Minister of Venezuela is planning to come to Washington in the middle of September. Do you have something on that? Maybe they--
MR. REEKER: I don't have any -- hadn't heard that. I'm happy to check.
QUESTION: My question is about Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, Japan. Today, Government of Japan offers a concrete plan of the substitute facility for Futenma. Have you heard of that?
MR. REEKER: I haven't, personally. But I haven't had an opportunity to do that, so we could look into that for you if we have anything on it or if you want to check with the Defense Department.
QUESTION: Thank you, Phil.
MR. REEKER: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m. EDT)
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