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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for August 8

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for August 8 -- Transcript

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 8, 2002

INDEX:

IRAQ
1 Reaction to Saddam Hussein's Comments
2,6 Iraqi Opposition Leaders Attending Meeting Tomorrow

CHINA/HONG KONG
2 Trial of Falun Gong Members in Hong Kong

GREECE
3 Arrests of November 17th Members

DEPARTMENT
3-4 Diplomatic Parking Issue in New York City

MEXICO
5 Request for Clemency in Execution Case in Texas
5-6 Reported Efforts to Ban Music Promoting Actions of Drug
Dealers

ISRAEL/PALESTINANS
6-7,8 Humanitarian Situation in West Bank and Gaza
7 UN Secretary General's Appointment as Humanitarian Envoy
For West Bank and Gaza
8-9 Relocation of Some Operations of Consulate General in East
Jerusalem
10-11 Palestinian Leadership / Elections

ISRAEL/JORDAN
11 Congressional Staffers and American Muslim Group at
Allenby Bridge

UK/LIBYA
10 UK Minister's Trip/Libyan Pledge to Pay Pan Am 103
Compensation

ROMANIA/EUROPEAN UNION
12 Reported EU Concerns Regarding Romania Signing Article 98
Agreement MISCELLANEOUS
12-13 Reported Concerns by Some European Nations on US Securing
Article 98 Agreements with NATO Aspirant Countries


TRANSCRIPT:

MR. REEKER: Welcome back to the State Department, everyone, on this Thursday, our last briefing for this week.

QUESTION: For this month?

MR. REEKER: For this week. Don't I wish. (Laughter.) Thank you, Terri.

Anyway, I am thrilled to be here and I have no formal statements or announcements, so we can defer directly to the questions. And why don't we start with our friend from the Agence France-Presse, or you can toss it up for grabs.

QUESTION: So, do you have any reaction to Saddam Hussein's speech today warning the US against any military attack against his country?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think some comments have come from other corners of our government, but it's obvious once again that Saddam's comments are a bluster from an internationally isolated dictator, demonstrative yet again that this regime shows no intention to live up to its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. Those obligations are about disarmament.

The President and the Secretary have been quite clear. We continue to leave all our options available regarding Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime remains a serious threat to the Iraqi people, to the people of the region, to the neighbors of Iraq, and to international peace and stability. And as the President underscored in his State of the Union Address earlier this year, the regime not only pursues weapons of mass destruction and missiles, but it has shown no reluctance to use weapons even against its own people, as we have seen so vividly in the past.

So we are going to continue working closely with our allies, with the international community, to secure Iraq's full compliance with all UN Security Council resolutions, the obligations that Iraq undertook, including the unconditional acceptance and full cooperation with the UN weapons inspectors to verify the disarmament that Iraq is required to undertake.

Terri.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that you've gotten positive replies from everybody who was invited to the meeting tomorrow, everyone whose names you gave us are expected to be there?

MR. REEKER: Which meeting are we talking about?

QUESTION: The Iraqi oppositions meeting. Sorry.

MR. REEKER: Yes, as I discussed yesterday, I believe we expect -- let me find here what I have on that. Well, we talked about it yesterday -- expect representatives of the six groups-- that have been invited to Washington for this meeting co-hosted by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Grossman and Under Secretary of Defense Feith. It will take place at the Department, that is tomorrow, August 9th.

So there were six groups representing Iraqi oppositionists, and we expect to have representatives from all six of those groups.

QUESTION: I'm asking about the names of the people that you gave us. Are those all the people who will be here, not just the groups?

MR. REEKER: I'm not sure of the exact things. You might want to check with the groups particularly to see exactly who is going to make it in terms of who may or may not represent the individual leaders of those groups that we invited. I can check back on that and we'll see as we approach the meeting tomorrow, since the meeting is tomorrow.

This obviously is a meeting that is designed to discuss next steps in coordinating our work with the Iraqi opposition. We think it's important to have this coordination and cooperation among those groups, and that is what our meeting will encourage.

QUESTION: The Hong Kong Government is currently putting on a trial for 16 Falun Gong members and from the footage and pictures we have got, those Falun Gong members were meditating peacefully in front of the Beijing Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Some media outlets consider this trial a political trial, and it is actually Beijing's two systems in one country policy is on trial.

So what is the US Government's attitude on this issue?

MR. REEKER: I will have to check into that trial. I am not aware of any details about that, but we can look into it. And you might check with the Press Office to see if we have any facts based on that. I wasn't aware of the exact circumstances or exactly what the situation is there.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. REEKER: Yes, sir, in the back.

QUESTION: Do you have any answer to my pending question about 17th, Dimitris Koufodinas of November 17th terrorist organization once upon a time was working with the US Embassy in Athens?

MR. REEKER: Yes, I did check into that, and as I suspected, that turns out to be a rather fanciful allegation. We have confirmed that this individual that you named has never been employed by our Embassy. And so for any additional information regarding the arrests of alleged members of the November 17 terrorist group, as I did yesterday, I would refer you to Greek authorities, who have been leading the investigation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Betsy.

QUESTION: Mr. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, is threatening to begin towing diplomatic vehicles, starting tomorrow, that have not paid their -- well, not the cars haven't paid the taxes, but the embassies have not paid the taxes, the tickets that these cars have accumulated. Do you all have a response to this?

MR. REEKER: Certainly we have been talking to the City of New York for some time, since May of this year we have worked very closely with the Bloomberg administration. We want to make sure that diplomats, just like anyone else, pay legitimate parking fines. In our talks with the City we have proposed a parking program that would help the city relieve traffic congestion and ensure that members of the diplomatic and consular communities in New York park legally and pay all the legitimate parking fines and traffic violations.

We firmly believe that all diplomatic and consular officials in the United States must abide by our laws and pay all legitimate traffic and parking fines. We strongly support the establishment of a diplomatic and consular parking program for the City of New York. I think some of you are familiar that since 1994 we have had a very successful program here in Washington, which ensured the diplomatic parking fines were paid, and we have offered to implement that program with even more stringent modifications specifically designed for New York City. So we remain ready to talk to the City at any time, working on that. This proposal includes tough, tough rules and measures to ensure that diplomatic and consular communities pay their valid parking fines.

And when it comes to safety issues, let me point out that there are no negotiable aspects of safety issues. If anyone is parking in emergency zones, then our message is also very clear: Tow them away.

QUESTION: So you all have offered a program, which the City of New York has not taken you up on?

MR. REEKER: We have been in discussions with the City, as I said, for some time, I believe since May. The City has not at this point accepted that offer. We remain prepared to continue those discussions. Our mission in New York at the United Nations has been leading those discussions since they are located there, and most of these diplomats are connected to the United Nations, as well as consular representatives based in New York. And so we will continue to try to work with the City on that to have a successful program like we've had here in Washington that will not only relieve some of the traffic congestion, but see that legitimate fines are paid as well.

QUESTION: Are you all also going to maybe send notices to missions in New York that this program is going into effect, urging them to pay tickets? I mean, are you all getting involved?

MR. REEKER: What we have been trying to do, as I said, is establish a parking program for the City of New York, similar to the one we established in Washington, with even more stringent modifications to the program that can be specifically designed for the needs of New York City. We want to make sure that diplomats and consular personnel pay their legitimate parking fines, just like everyone else, and we have been working with the Bloomberg administration since May, as I indicated, to try to bring that about, and we stand ready to continue those discussions.

QUESTION: I understand that. My question is: Are you going to send a notice of any kind to diplomats, to foreign missions?

MR. REEKER: Oh, you would want to check with USUN on that and see. I am not aware of any specific notices or contacts with foreign missions at this point, but you could check with the UN mission that has been handling these discussions.

QUESTION: So you all will not do it; they would do it?

MR. REEKER: I don't know, Betsy. I'm just not aware of any particular notifications or anything else. Our work on this is continuing, as I said.

Yes, Terri.

QUESTION: Can you tell us more about what the Washington program is that has been working?

MR. REEKER: I would have to get you details of the program. I didn't bring down the details. But it's designed to provide parking areas necessary for diplomats so that they have legitimate parking, that then makes illegitimate parking something that they need to be held accountable for.

QUESTION: So how does that help if the problem is they're not paying the fines?

MR. REEKER: We have been working on ways to help them make sure they do pay the fines. That is exactly the program that's based in Washington, is having clear understandings of what is required of them. And we do feel that legitimate fines need to be paid, whether it's in Washington or in New York. Diplomats, consular officials, just like everyone else, need to pay their legitimate fines.

So it's important that we try to develop a parking program in the City of New York similar to the one that's been successful here for the past eight years.

QUESTION: Do all complaints about this go through the State Department? In Washington, for example, do complaints from the city go through the State Department to the embassies here?

MR. REEKER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Or directly -- do they ever contact the embassies directly?

MR. REEKER: I just don't know.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: This is on Mexico. I have two questions, Phil. The first one is I understand that Secretary Castaneda had spoken with Secretary Powell to request clemency for a Mexican national scheduled to die August 14th in Texas, and his name is Javier Suarez.

Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on that case for you.

QUESTION: No?

MR. REEKER: I'll have to check into it. I do believe that Secretary Powell spoke to Foreign Secretary Castaneda yesterday.

QUESTION: And my second question is totally different. It's in regards to this particular topic that is going on in Mexico. There is a particular music that is called narcocorridos, which pretty much enhances and promotes the criminal actions --

MR. REEKER: Particular music?

QUESTION: Yeah, it's very popular in the border cities of -- between Mexico and the United States. And it promotes the criminal actions of drug dealers. And what President Fox is trying to do is to ban all -- any kind of -- this type of music in the whole country, and there is a lot of discussion right now in Mexico because, according to the President, this music promotes, you know, drug dealing.

And I wanted to know if you have any comments on that.

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of the particular music. It's certainly nothing that I listen to.

QUESTION: It's very popular in the border cities between Mexico and the United States.

MR. REEKER: I understand. I'm just not aware of that music or the programs designed to counter some of those negative messages, perhaps. Our message has been quite clear in terms of a strong public message about the evils of narcotics and the efforts that we've undertaken as a government, as a nation, to counter narcotics, particularly with our young people, so that they don't get pulled into this scourge.

The law enforcement efforts we've taken, much of it in cooperation with countries like Mexico, our closest neighbor to the south, as well as other countries in the hemisphere and indeed around the world, narcotics trafficking has become one of the great problems, one of the great issues we deal with in terms of global issues that threaten our security, our prosperity and the fundamental values certainly of our country and those that we share with the rest of the civilized world.

So we have been quite clear in our message on drugs. We work closely with Mexico on it. An when it comes to specifics of programs involving music, I'm just not aware of the details of those.

Toby.

QUESTION: Back to the Iraqi opposition. How much confidence does the United States have at this point that these six groups can actually work together in a cohesive manner? And also, how do you view them in terms of viability as a serious opposition to Saddam?

MR. REEKER: I think our goal has been to work with as broad an array of Iraqi opposition as possible. As you know, that has been something we've done for some time. We are trying to establish a process to give a voice to Iraqi experts. We have been doing that not only with the contacts that we've had, with the meeting that we'll have tomorrow hosted by Under Secretary Grossman, but also with the working group meetings that we've had with a variety of experts who can look at the future of Iraq, because obviously there will be a post-Saddam era and there are many that want to look at how to shape Iraq for that era when they are pulled out of the darkness that they have lived under with Saddam Hussein and his cronies.

So we want to work with these groups. We have extensive contacts with them. We want them to work together for common goals which will benefit the people of Iraq and the region and the peace and security of the whole world. And that is what our meetings are about. That is what we're going to talk to these representatives about when we meet with them tomorrow. And we will continue to discuss next steps and how we can coordinate with them and how they can cooperate among themselves.

Terri.

QUESTION: On the Middle East, yesterday Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat gave a press conference in which one of his major points was the humanitarian crisis, and he gave some statistics that they'd been given by USAID. Also this morning, Jesse Jackson talked about the humanitarian situation and said that they had arranged truckloads of supplies and things like that.

Can you tell us where any of that is going? Is there any -- what's the current situation in terms of US humanitarian aid going into the territories?

MR. REEKER: As you indicated, the humanitarian situation has been of great concern to us. The President has talked about it. It was one of the focal points of his June 24th speech in terms of the strategy that we're pursuing towards the President's vision, and that includes dealing with issues like reform, economic reform, security cooperation, political reforms necessary, but certainly the humanitarian crisis.

Just a few points -- and AID may have provided these for you already. I think they had a fairly major press briefing following the release of the study recently on malnutrition among the Palestinian community.

Since October of 2000, USAID has launched a $120 million emergency response program to address the emergency health needs, also to create jobs and provide resources for micro-credit loans. This nutritional assessment that I just mentioned found very high rates of malnutrition and anemia among women and children in the West Bank and Gaza. And so with that information available to them, AID is supplementing the humanitarian response, contributing more than $12 million to the World Food Program and to the International Committee of the Red Cross to deliver basic foodstuffs and food vouchers to 500,000 vulnerable persons in the West Bank and Gaza.

They are adding very targeted assistance to help avert long-term health consequences that are found with acute malnutrition and iron deficiencies, including support for UNICEF's work to ensure a steady supply of vaccines, to keep the rate of infectious disease down, providing vitamin supplements such as folic acid and iron for pregnant women and Vitamin A for children, plus some health education programs that they are funding, and promoting iron fortification policies for flour and cereals sold or distributed in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as training health providers to identify those most at risk and counsel parents on how to maximize nutritional value.

I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome the UN Secretary General's decision yesterday to appoint Catherine Bertini as his personal humanitarian envoy for the West Bank and Gaza. We look forward to her report through the Secretary General to the Quartet on Palestinian humanitarian needs. And you will all remember that Catherine Bertini did an outstanding job as Director of the World Food Program, and we expect she will make a similarly valuable contribution in this new role.

Elise.

QUESTION: Following up on that, one of the problems is that despite all the aid that countries such as the US and others are giving for the humanitarian situation, the problem is access and delivery and that even though there's no shortage of people that want to give food or aid or medicine, that there's no access to -- by the Israelis.

So in addition to giving this aid and doing all these programs, are you urging the Israelis to allow access, and do you see that happening?

MR. REEKER: I think you have heard the President and you've heard the Secretary speak about that before. Our overall focus on this -- and it will certainly be part of the discussions that the Secretary has with the Palestinian group that's coming here shortly -- we are continuing contacts with Arabs and with Israeli leaders, with Palestinian representatives to continue to try to find a way forward.

And as we move forward with our strategy, where it remains essential to end violence and terror and work to create an environment in which progress is possible, as the reform progresses in the Palestinian community, reciprocal Israeli steps like easing closures, handing over tax revenues to responsible parties and facilitating movement of humanitarian goods and services, will be critical. And the President has made quite clear our concern for the plight of the Palestinian people and all they have had to suffer, and we will continue to urge the parties to have their direct discussions focus on that as well.

QUESTION: Right, but some of those reciprocal steps, such as easing the checkpoint and the tax revenues, you know, possibly understandably may be tied to some reform. But in the realm of humanitarian aid to help the situation that not only the Palestinians are describing but obviously this AID report is describing an immediate need, an immediate need for access for healthcare workers, for sanitation workers to come and get some of the garbage out that allegedly is causing some illnesses among people. Medicines -- you know, there's not any food getting on the roads to these people.

So do you think that that should be tied to some reform on -- to some benchmarks on reform, or do you think that that needs to be an immediate --

MR. REEKER: As I said, and as the President said, access and facilitating movement for humanitarian goods and services is critical and we certainly are going to look forward, the Secretary looks forward to talking to the Palestinian delegation in about 20 minutes' time about some of those aspects: the humanitarian aspects as well as the important security cooperation issues, the reform issues, in terms of institutions in the Palestinian Authority and also the economic reforms that are going to be vital for the Palestinian community as they move forward toward the vision that the President has described and discussed and the entire international community has embraced.

Terri.

QUESTION: I wasn't here yesterday, so I couldn't really tell from the transcript. Was it that there aren't any more details to be known about the move of consular functions from East Jerusalem? Is it that those decisions haven't been made or just that you didn't have the information? Yesterday you said, "I don't have anything more for you, but if there is something, I will get it to you."

MR. REEKER: It was actually two days ago when I talked about the --

QUESTION: I'm sorry. That's right. Tuesday.

MR. REEKER: -- Jerusalem Consulate, but as long as we are keeping track, in many ways it is old news. It is something we have been looking at for some time. I would just reiterate that the purpose, the undertaking of moving some of the consular functions in Jerusalem, is for the security of our personnel, American as well as local, as well as for members of the public who visit our offices. There is no political dimension to this.

And I will remind you that the Consul General's Office and the main offices of the Consulate will remain at their current location on Agron Road. The move of other functions, which has been contemplated for some time and is still being looked at, is solely intended to address significant security concerns. The Consulate General and the offices and residence of the Consul General will remain where they have been since about 1914, I believe. They are not moving. And then we plan to move certain operations from three sites -- two of them in West Jerusalem, one in East Jerusalem -- to a more secure location, which allows us to meet security needs.

It is still a process that is ongoing. We are firming up details and that is why I didn t have any further details to provide you two days ago, nor do I now.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you taking into consideration, as I presume you are, the fact that some people, for some Palestinians whose movements are limited, this may be the only way they can get to a facility.

MR. REEKER: I am sure all appropriate factors will be taken into consideration as they examine the need to move functions based on the security concerns about the current locations of some of those functions.

Gene.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that. This means that you have made no change in the independence of the Consulate General in reporting back to Washington?

MR. REEKER: I don't know if I quite understand your question.

QUESTION: It's an independent Consulate General, always has been, and doesn't report through the Embassy.

MR. REEKER: There is no change in our structures and how we operate in any way. These are simply physical changes being planned that have been discussed for years, and they have been looked at because of security concerns for our personnel, both Americans and local hired personnel, as well as for those that visit our facilities.

The gentleman over here.

QUESTION: Your reaction on the meeting the Brits had yesterday in Libya with Qadhafi?

MR. REEKER: Sure. First of all, as you know, we work very closely with the British on issues surrounding Libya. In terms of some of the reports that we've seen regarding payment of compensation, we would say that some of those statements appear to be the step in the right direction, but the proof is going to be in Libya translating words into concrete actions. As you know, our policy toward Libya remains very much focused on resolution of the issues surrounding the Pan Am 103 bombing, and there are no shortcuts for Libya in resolving those issues.

We've been working very closely with the United Kingdom to urge Libyans to fulfill their obligations under the Security Council resolutions related to the bombing and we understand that the Junior Minister, Mr. O'Brien, from the UK reinforced this message to his Libyan interlocutors during his meetings there.

Elise.

QUESTION: Back to the Middle East. Saeb Erekat also said that the alternative -- yesterday in his press conference -- the alternative to Yasser Arafat is chaos and that he was still here as a representative of Yasser Arafat's government and that the United States should not seek to alienate him any further and should, you know, let the Palestinian people decide who their leader should be. Any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: I think the President has been very clear. I would refer you back to his June 24th speech and statements that he has made and that Secretary Powell has made since that time. The Palestinian people should choose new leadership through democratic, open, free and fair elections. And we believe there is movement within the Palestinian community for such new leadership -- free from association with terror, free from the taint of corruption, capable of taking the necessary decisions to prepare the Palestinian people and the institutions in the Palestinian community for statehood. That includes preparation of a constitution.

We respect and indeed, have called for an electoral process. It is simply a matter of fact that one of the consequences of elections of leaders not committed to fight terror will be that we will lose the present chance for peace and progress in the lives of the Palestinian people. And so we have here today, meeting with the Secretary in just a few moments, a group of Palestinian leaders, three of them here to discuss reform and ways forward, to look at a wide range of issues including civil reforms and economic reforms. I mentioned before renewal of security cooperation that is so vital, progress on political dialogue, and the humanitarian situation we discussed earlier.

QUESTION: Right. But one of those reform-minded individuals that you're meeting with is still a representative of Yasser Arafat. So is it to say that you just won't deal with him, but you'll deal with his interlocutors?

MR. REEKER: I think I gave you the best answer I possibly could in what I just said, and I would invite you to go back and look at it. It reflects what the President has said before in his statements and what the Secretary has said, and I am sure the message that we will convey in the meetings later this afternoon.

Yes, Joel.

QUESTION: Between now and January, when the PA is scheduling their elections -- that's about four and a half months -- is there any concrete priorities that you're giving to this group as they meet here at the State Department? And also, do you expect any specific actions to be taken? In other words, you give a list to them --

MR. REEKER: We are going to meet, Joel, with this group. We are going to discuss what I said -- a wide range of issues -- looking at reform of Palestinian civil institutions, reform of the economy, renewal of security cooperation, progress on political dialogue and the humanitarian situation. And we'll have these discussions and I'll let you know if I have anything more to say after that.

Yes, Gene.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Adam Shapiro being deported from Israel today, along with Jesse Jackson's staff member and five other people who are not allowed to come in?

MR. REEKER: I don't know if I had specific names. I think you're referring to a group of congressional staff members who, I believe, identified themselves as participants in something known as an American Muslims for Jerusalem/Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel congressional staff delegation that arrived at the Allenby Bridge from Jordan this morning to apply for entry into Israel. It's our understanding that two of the three coordinators with the group, who were not congressional staff members, had been denied entry into Israel. And then the congressional staff members themselves decided not to present their passports to the Israeli authorities for inspection and permission to enter.

Our Consulate General in Jerusalem and the Embassy in Tel Aviv were deeply involved in attempting to facilitate entry for the group. My understanding is that they have all returned. I believe they are expected to be returning back to Amman, Jordan at this time.

QUESTION: The Shapiro case is separate from that. He was arrested by settlers a few days ago.

MR. REEKER: Then I'm afraid I don't have anything on that. If you could leave the details with the Press Office, we can try to look into that for you.

Yes, Terri.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the brouhaha between the EU and Romania over Romania signing a deal with the US on ICC to make sure that they would prevent Americans from having to go to the ICC?

MR. REEKER: I'm not sure I'm aware of any particular brouhaha. We talked about the agreement that we signed with Romania. It was an important first agreement. These Article 98 agreements that I think we put out a statement, in fact, on time of signing that agreement with Romania. We have since signed one with Israel as well on Sunday.

As we have said before, and as Under Secretary Bolton said when he was in Jerusalem signing the most recent one, we respect the states that have acceded to their own statute, that statute that created the International Criminal Court. We respect their decisions. We hope they respect our decision not to accede to that, and we hope they respect our decision to avail ourselves of the procedure that is contained in Article 98 of the Rome Statute that is made available by their own statute to prevent our respective nationals from falling into the potentially highly politicized jurisdiction of the ICC. We have talked about position on that. We worked in the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that provided us time to negotiate these agreements under Article 98 of the Rome Statute. That is what we did with Romania, and that is what we will be looking to do with many other countries.

QUESTION: And you're not aware of the ire of the EU telling -- talking to Romania about its decision and noting that it's not exactly the way an aspiring EU member should act?

MR. REEKER: I can certainly tell you what our position is and what we have been involved with with Romania and what we're doing, and I think I just repeated once again our view of these Article 98 agreements.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. REEKER: Yes, Elise.

QUESTION: Well, the implication that some European nations are making is that perhaps the US is going first to -- in this first batch of trying to secure these agreements to NATO aspirants, and some nations are implying that perhaps you're trying to -- these nations are trying to curry favor with you for your support on NATO membership.

MR. REEKER: I don't think that stands up to the facts, first of all, and I don't know where anybody would be drawing that. The fact that we signed this first agreement with Romania is a positive thing. We welcomed that. We were appreciative of Romania's willingness to do this. We believe that Romania respects our decisions, just as we respect Romania's decisions and respect others. And we expect to conclude these Article 98 agreements with many countries. We have asked our embassies around the world to approach host governments about negotiating such agreements with us. I'm not going to try to provide some sort of scorecard or tick-off of any particular order in which we're able to engage with governments on this. But it's an important thing for us. It's what diplomacy is about. It's what the Rome Treaty provides for. That's why there is an Article 98, to allow us to negotiate these types of bilateral agreements with individual countries. And that's the way we're going to pursue it.

Yes, Gene.

QUESTION: Last time. In 1990, the first Bush sent Larry Eagleburger over to talk with the Israelis on the ramp-up to the Iraqi Gulf War. Is there any planning being done on -- and the reason was to say don't react to whatever Saddam Hussein may throw at you, we will protect you, et cetera, and 39 missiles came as a result without any Israeli response.

MR. REEKER: Thank you for the history lesson, Gene. Is there a question in there?

QUESTION: Yeah, there is. There really is. The ramp-up to this war --

MR. REEKER: I don't know what war you're talking about, Gene, so if you're going to start with some presumption based on all the wild speculation out there, I'm not going to be able to help you out. I would just refer you to what we've said before, what we've even said today, about what our concerns are. But very clearly, what the President has said in terms of our policy, in terms of our approach, in terms of leaving all of our options open, but why we have a responsibility to look at these things when there are threats to our security as well as those of our friends and allies, and indeed to the safety, peace and security of the whole world.

QUESTION: Do you think they will try to sideline Israel again?

MR. REEKER: You're talking in hypotheticals once more on something that has not been established, and I invite you once again to go back and look at what people are actually saying and not try to extrapolate, because you can really get a little carried away with it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 p.m.)

[End]


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