State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for August 22
Daily Press Briefing
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
August 22, 2002
1 Welcome to Visiting Journalists from Japan
1,2 Donation of Hospital Equipment and Medical Supplies in
1-2 Kosovo Government Statements about Recent Arrests and
2-7,10 President Musharraf's Decisions on Constitutional
5 Infiltration in Kashmir Across the Line of Control
2-4,6 Deputy Secretary Armitage's Travel to Region
7-8 Reports Saudi Arabia Pulling Billions of Dollars from U.S.
8 Update on November 17 Arrests
9 Prospects for Meeting with Secretary Powell and Greek
9 Abu Sayyaf Group and Reports of Beheading Hostages
9-10,11 US Consultations with Countries in the Region Regarding
11-12 North Korea and Russia Relations
12-13 Under Secretary Bolton's Travel / Discussions
13 Reports of Possible Groups Linked to Al-Qaida Operating in
14 Assistant Secretary Reich To Travel To Region
14-15 Reports of Israeli Government's Move to Strip Suspects of
15-16 Diplomatic and Consular Parking Program for New York City
16-17 Retaining Diversity Visa Lottery Applications
17 Khmer Rouge Tribunals
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department on this Thursday, our final briefing of the week. I would like to take a moment to welcome to our briefing Mr. Takeshi Kozawa from Tokyo, Japan, who is a journalist with Nikkei, who is participating in one of our International Visitor Programs. So we are very pleased to welcome you to our briefing room today and hope you enjoy not only the briefing but the rest of your time on the program here in the United States.
I have a couple of statements that I'll start with, and then we can go to your questions on those or other topics. First of all, I'd like to note the donation of hospital equipment and medial supplies in Uzbekistan. A delegation from the United States and representatives of private voluntary organizations, headed by Ambassador William Taylor, who is our Coordinator of US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, is in Tashkent, Uzbekistan today for a ceremony turning over a substantial quantity of medical equipment and supplies for installation and use in the Fergana Valley region of Uzbekistan.
This major humanitarian assistance project, which is a unique public-private partnership, is expected to make a substantial improvement in the quality of medical care for residents of the Fergana Valley. The equipment donated by the Department of Defense is valued at $16 million, and another $35 million worth of medicines and other supplies donated by American pharmaceutical manufacturers and US-based private voluntary organizations have all been transported to Uzbekistan with this shipment. This is the second hospital project undertaken by the United States in Uzbekistan. The first was a hospital established in Tashkent in 1997, which was upgraded in 2000.
And I will also release in written format a statement regarding some statements that have recently come out of Kosovo regarding the recent arrests and activities by the UN mission there. The United States rejects the statements by the Kosovo Government and other parties that attribute political motivations to recent efforts by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, to uphold the rule of law throughout Kosovo.
The United States fully supports UNMIK's efforts to promote the rule of law under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, and we have no doubt that the arrests have taken place strictly in accordance with the established judicial process and without regard to ethnic, national or political affiliation of the suspects.
We call upon all Kosovo political leaders and others to respect the fundamental principle of a judicial process without political interference. We further urge that any protests remain peaceful and adhere to the rules and procedures for public safety established by United Nations authorities.
If there are any questions on that or other topics -- Jonathan.
QUESTION: Yes, on the Fergana Valley one, that's quite a substantial contribution there. Could you perhaps explain the rationale behind the choice of this particular area for the donation?
MR. REEKER: It's a humanitarian assistance project, Jonathan, as I mentioned, part of a public-private partnership. We hope to make improvement in the quality of medical care in the Fergana Valley. And I don't think I could try to parse it any more than that. It's something -- part of our overall assistance program in Europe and Eurasia, which, as I indicated, is coordinated by Ambassador Taylor, who is helping to deliver this.
QUESTION: Well, I think, I think it's well known that the Fergana Valley is an area of interest because of the presence of Islamic militants there. I mean, is this -- what's the connection between this donation and the militant presence there?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I could draw any particular connection there. Our humanitarian efforts and our development efforts try to look at a lot of areas. Uzbekistan is one the countries in Central Asia where we've been working for some time now, frankly, since its independence more than a decade ago, to help them develop, pursue economic development as well as democratic development. And certainly, we work with Uzbekistan is the war against terrorism. So there are a variety of factors there, but this is a humanitarian donation, part of our overall project, and I think it's a positive thing.
QUESTION: On Pakistan. President Musharraf announced yesterday major changes in the Pakistani constitution. How do you see these reforms?
MR. REEKER: I think as we've said before, we believe it is of vital importance that full, democratic civilian rule be restored in Pakistan. We believe that President Musharraf wants to develop strong, democratic institutions in his country.
However, we are concerned that his recent decisions could make it more difficult to build strong democratic institutions in Pakistan. So we intend to remain fully engaged with Pakistan as it continues its efforts to restore democratic rule. I think you are aware that Deputy Secretary Armitage is in South Asia and will be arriving in Islamabad for discussions on Saturday.
We continue to believe that it is extremely important than Pakistan hold free and fair national and provincial elections in October, as already announced, and we hope that following such elections, President Musharraf will take advantage of a new opportunity to develop a dialogue with elected civilian officials and consider the best way forward, consistent with existing constitutional requirements.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that. You say you're concerned that these decisions will make it more difficult. Do you think it would be a good idea if President Musharraf reconsidered these measures?
MR. REEKER: As I said, we believe -- and judging from many of his statements -- that President Musharraf wants to develop strong democratic institutions in his country. I think ultimately the people of Pakistan are going to have to decide how Pakistan moves forward on these issues.
As I indicated, we're concerned that some of these recent announcements could make it more difficult to build strong democratic institutions in Pakistan. So that would be, obviously, something to be taken into consideration. And we're going to remain engaged with them and Deputy Secretary will discuss these and other topics with President Musharraf when he visits in just a couple days' time.
QUESTION: Phil, can you walk us through these steps, or these signs that you say that you -- that makes you believe that President Musharraf wants to develop democratic institutions?
MR. REEKER: No, I'm not going to walk you through various steps. We've done it all before, Eli. We've talked about his speeches. We've talked when the Secretary was in the region and the Deputy Secretary was in the region. We've listened to what he has said. We've heard his calls for movement toward democracy, for the majority of Pakistanis to stand up against the extremist minority and reject that type of extremism which threatens to take Pakistan down the wrong road.
And so we'll continue to be engaged with President Musharraf, with Pakistan, as they continue their efforts to restore democratic rule. And to that extent, as I indicated, we think that the elections that were announced are going to be an extremely important part of this process -- free, fair national and provincial elections which are scheduled for October.
QUESTION: What specifically about the constitutional changes would make it more difficult to build strong democratic institutions?
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to delve into all the specifics of the things he announced. You've done your own reading and your own analysis. We've looked at this and we're concerned that some of these decisions could make it more difficult to build strong democratic institutions in Pakistan.
Ultimately, the Pakistani people need to determine how to move forward with this. That's why elections are very important and it's why we've called on President Musharraf to take advantage after those elections of a new opportunity for dialogue then with elected civilian officials and consider then the next steps in moving forward on that.
And obviously this will be a subject of discussion that Deputy Secretary Armitage can have as part of his broader discussion when he's in Islamabad.
QUESTION: And to follow up, is the whole thing bad or are there pieces of it that --
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to do an analysis of the whole thing for you. I've stated what our position is. You know what our belief is about Pakistan and what is important there, and that's what we'll continue to engage with them diplomatically on to encourage. And I think I've stated what we think is important for Pakistan.
QUESTION: And when you mention the dialogue, opportunity for dialogue after the election, would that be an occasion for Musharraf to withdraw the plans for the national security --
MR. REEKER: I couldn't predict a hypothetical like that. What we think is important is these elections going ahead as scheduled, that they be free and fair, that they elect officials democratically, both on a provincial level and a national level; and then there would be the opportunity -- and we think President Musharraf should take advantage of the opportunity -- to pursue a dialogue with this elected group of officials on the next steps forward in Pakistan's continuing efforts to restore democratic rule.
QUESTION: New subject.
MR. REEKER: Was there anything else on this? I thought we were a little lucky there. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: If President Musharraf does not change his mind about these measures and Pakistan becomes just another dictatorship, what effect would that have on its relations with the US and your cooperation in the so-called war on terrorism?
MR. REEKER: I think, again, the hypotheticals there, Jonathan, are something I'm just not going to pursue. We've made clear what our goals are, what we think is important, what we believe President Musharraf wants in terms of developing strong democratic institutions. And Deputy Secretary Armitage will be there to discuss these as part of our continuing engagement with Pakistan on this subject. And again, we want to see the elections take place, as announced. We think that's very important.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? You keep saying that it's the Pakistani people who have to decide, but the effect of these changes is to deny them the opportunity to decide very much. How are they going to decide under these circumstances?
MR. REEKER: Again, as I indicated, we have some concerns about some of these recent decisions and how that could affect the ability to build strong democratic institutions in Pakistan. And so we're going to remain engaged and discuss this. The Deputy Secretary of State will be there. One of the things he can discuss is this as we look for a process forward. I don't think I can add anything more for you at this point.
Ben, and then the gentleman behind you.
QUESTION: The Indians reportedly are upset because they believe infiltration continues to take place. And they're wondering, and I'm wondering too, is the United States persuaded that General Musharraf has done all that he can to stop infiltration into Kashmir? And -- yes, that's basically it.
MR. REEKER: President Musharraf has assured us, as we have said before, that support for infiltration across the line of control would be ended permanently. As Secretary Powell has said, since he made that commitment, infiltration has decreased. Ensuring that this support is ended permanently needs to be the highest priority for Pakistan. We've said that quite recently, and many times before. We're going to continue to follow this closely. And again, with the Deputy Secretary in Islamabad in a just a couple days' time, he'll be stressing these points during his meetings in Islamabad.
QUESTION: When you continue to emphasize the fact that you expect Musharraf to take advantage of the elected parliament to, I take it, modify some of these proposals, but he has already declared himself president for five years. He has also said that it is not necessary for these amendments to go to the assembly, and that if the assembly tries to modify these amendments or change them or delete them, then either the assembly will go or he will go. So there appears to be --
MR. REEKER: I don't know that I can accept all of your characterizations on it.
QUESTION: But this -- I'm just quoting Musharraf. I'm not --
MR. REEKER: Yes. Well, you're paraphrasing Musharraf. But I --
QUESTION: It's not difficult to paraphrase him, actually. (Laughter.)
MR. REEKER: You're all very good at paraphrasing. I know all about that.
QUESTION: But I mean, generally the feeling in Pakistan is that the US Government has been looking askance, as in sort of looking the other way, supporting him, encouraging him, and has really not exercised any kind of pressure on Musharraf to democratize Pakistan.
Off and on, you know, a cliché is uttered, as some have been uttered this afternoon, so really people are wondering, I mean what exactly is the US position on the revival of genuine democracy in Pakistan.
MR. REEKER: I think I've said it multiple times already again today what our position is. It's the position that Deputy Secretary Armitage will be reiterating when he meets with Pakistani officials, including President Musharraf, in Islamabad in two days' time. We'll continue to stress that. We've made known our concerns. We've made known what we believe is of vital importance for Pakistan, and we make quite clear that that part of the war on terrorism includes looking for democracy. Because where there's democracy, there's less opportunity for extremists and terrorist enterprises to thrive.
And so we believe that President Musharraf wants to develop strong democratic institutions in his country. The road to doing that is something that needs to be discussed within Pakistan. And we'll certain remain engaged to express our views, which I've done again today. And one of the important stops along that road is the election currently scheduled for October. And I will reiterate once again that we think it's extremely important that those elections be held, that they be free and fair, and then take advantage of that to move forward again on steps consistent with existing constitutional requirements to see a strong set of democratic institutions built in Pakistan.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Eli.
QUESTION: Are there any consequences for the -- on Musharraf's government based on the announcement of these constitutional changes right now vis-à-vis the relationship with the United States?
MR. REEKER: The consequences will be for Pakistan. They need to focus on developing democratic institutions, as I described. That's our view. That's what we'll continue to talk about. We've made quite clear that we think that's important, and I really can't add anything further. The Deputy Secretary will be there in two days and will be discussing this and other matters.
Yes, sir. No. This gentleman is next.
QUESTION: One more question, which is really semantic. A phrase used by President Musharraf was "democratic dictatorship." Do you think it's possible to have a democratic dictatorship?
MR. REEKER: What we want to see is a movement toward full democracy, towards a restoration of strong, democratic institutions in Pakistan. That's what we've said for many, many months, years. We've been repeating it here in our daily dialogue. We believe it's of vital importance that full, democratic, civilian rule be restored in Pakistan.
QUESTION: Yeah, you just said that the consequences were for Pakistan. Does mean that there are no consequences for --
MR. REEKER: That's not what I said, Jonathan. Clearly --
QUESTION: No, no. I'm asking you.
MR. REEKER: I've made quite clear what we think is important. I'm not going to speculate about things in the future. We've said what we think is important and we will continue to be engaged on that and we'll do that through all diplomatic means. This is important for Pakistan. It's important for Pakistan's future. I think President Musharraf has expressed a positive road for Pakistan in his speeches earlier this year, and we've expressed our support for the view that full democratic, civilian rule should be restored in Pakistan.
QUESTION: Should Benazir Bhutto be allowed to be returned to Pakistan?
MR. REEKER: That's a matter for Pakistan to decide.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. REEKER: Okay. Terri was next.
MR. REEKER: Don't be so enthusiastic.
QUESTION: Sorry, I was just reading the last of ten questions I'm supposed to ask. Do you have any comment on whether Saudi Arabia is pulling out hundreds of billion of dollars from the US? Has there been any dialogue with the Saudi Government on this?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm not aware of that. I don't do financial markets and I'm just not aware of it.
QUESTION: But you do dialogue. Has the Saudi Government with the US that it might want to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No. Not at all to my knowledge, no.
MR. REEKER: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: This is a question about Ukraine. It regards the former bodyguard of President Kuchma and Major Nikolai Melnichenko. His lawyer, his American lawyer, says that this week he received calls from senior law enforcement of the US Government saying that they had a credible threat against his life here in the United States. He lives in the United States, now.
As you remember, Melnichenko is the one with lots of --
MR. REEKER: I remember.
QUESTION: Right. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. REEKER: No. I would refer you to law enforcement officials if they have something to say.
QUESTION: But the State Department would be if it's an international --
MR. REEKER: No, if he's here in the United States, it's a domestic law enforcement issue. I don't have anything on it. I wasn't aware of these reports you're suggesting.
Yes, sir. Behind you.
QUESTION: Mr. Reeker, any update on November 17 since a lot is going on in Athens with the arrest of those volunteer assassins pertaining to the US interests, too?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any updates. I would refer you to Greek authorities, who are in charge of that investigation.
QUESTION: It was reported that at the suggestion of the State Department, the Minister of Public Order Mr. Mikhail (Inaudible), must come to Washington, D.C. at the earliest possible time. Do you have anything on that?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't, and it doesn't fit the general tenor of our discussions. We have visits between officials between our countries. That happens on a fairly regular basis, but it's not something that we order or instruct, as you know perfectly well.
QUESTION: But, and the last one --
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: And anything on the upcoming meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any meetings to announce at this point. The Secretary is on vacation.
QUESTION: There appears to be some more religious intolerance with beheadings in the Philippines. Has the Philippine Government asked for more help and assistance from the United States, and have you made any inquiries? These were Jehovah Witnesses. Were they Americans?
MR. REEKER: The press reports that we've seen do suggest that two of these hostages taken by the Abu-Sayyaf terrorist group, that two of them were kidnapped and then beheaded. We understand that four other hostages remain in captivity.
The United States strongly condemns this latest terrorist atrocity by this murderous Abu-Sayyaf group. The remaining hostages should be released immediately, safely and unconditionally. And we fully support the efforts of the Government of the Philippines to stop terrorism.
I don't really have any other details on the circumstances of those cases other than to condemn what we've seen in press reports as being particularly brutal and inhumane.
QUESTION: I think it was a couple of days ago Assistant Secretary Kansteiner told us that the United States was working with South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique on isolating President Mugabe. The South Africans, and I believe the other two countries, have since denied that they are working with the United States and that they share this aim.
I wondered if you could clarify in what ways you think you're working with them with this aim --
MR. REEKER: The United States -- and fully consistent with what Assistant Secretary Kansteiner told you, the United States continues to consult with countries in the region and throughout the world on how we can work together to foster development of democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe and encourage free and fair elections there.
As you know, we are actively engaged with a wide range of organizations and groups involved in civil society in Zimbabwe to help strengthen democratic institutions and respect for human rights and rule of law, and we are going to continue to work with these groups to ensure that the voices of the people of Zimbabwe are heard as they deal with the excesses of the Mugabe regime.
And we continue to call upon Zimbabwe to halt its pursuit of unchallenged power; that is, President Mugabe's regime to restore the rule of law, cease abusing the human rights of the citizens of Zimbabwe, and let Zimbabwe return to the positive democratic track that it was on before these excesses began.
QUESTION: Okay, can I just follow up on that? You haven't quite answered the question. Do you still maintain that your working with these countries to isolate Mugabe?
MR. REEKER: I think we have active diplomatic consultations and we make quite clear our points about that. You have known about the travel bans, the travel sanctions we have against Mugabe and his group. Obviously, the future of Zimbabwe is up to the people of Zimbabwe to decide, and we'll continue to work with these groups. And we certainly, through our diplomacy, always make quite clear the same points we make publicly here to you: what we think about the regime, what we think it's done to the region and the impact it's had, the appalling actions that the Mugabe regime has been taking in terms of shutting down commercial farms at a time when 6 to 8 million Zimbabweans are facing real possibility of famine and 13 million people throughout the region are facing this possibility. You were briefed fairly extensively on that earlier this week.
And the regime is decimating not only Zimbabwe's internal standing, its traditions of democracy, but its ability to produce food. And that has an effect on the region as well. I've seen various press reports about concerns about citizens from neighboring countries in Zimbabwe who are facing food shortages as well as the other effects of having democracy and guarantees of human rights systematically taken away by the Mugabe regime.
And so we'll continue to make quite clear in our diplomacy, as I said, the same statements we make publicly from here.
QUESTION: Well, not to be too cute, but are we --
MR. REEKER: Never.
QUESTION: Never to be too cute. But are we also consulting with Pakistan's neighbors and are we working with civil society groups in Pakistan vis-à-vis the democracy issue as well?
MR. REEKER: I think we do have programs in Pakistan. I'd have to check for you. It wasn't something I checked today.
QUESTION: Making clear our diplomatic perspective?
MR. REEKER: I did it right here, I think.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay.
MR. REEKER: Andrea, welcome back.
QUESTION: Thank you. Phil, considering that there were just presidential elections in Zimbabwe and, as you know, Mugabe was overwhelmingly reelected, how do you envision the people of --
MR. REEKER: I think, again, we made quite clear -- you missed some of the briefings we've had this week, but we made quite clear at the time that we consider that election to have been entirely fraudulent and we do not consider his presidency or his government to be legitimate.
Zimbabwe has democratic institutions that have been put upon, have been stretched by the excesses of the Mugabe regime. It's those democratic institutions that we're trying to work with and support to try to get the country back on track. And the independent judiciary is an important part of that, and we'll continue to encourage that so that Zimbabwean people have every opportunity to speak out.
QUESTION: So could you elaborate a little bit as to how you see the Zimbabwean people using the institutions that exist right now to --
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can elaborate for them how they may use their democratic institutions to have their voices heard and to get their country back on a track not only where it can feed its own people, but where they can live with the human rights and the democratic institutions that they once enjoyed as a model for the region. That's going to be up to the people of Zimbabwe.
But the United States will continue to work with groups that support civil society, including human rights organizations, labor unions, trying to help create an open and democratic political environment in Zimbabwe, and that's the way that the people of Zimbabwe will bring themselves back to democracy.
QUESTION: Just running the risk that you've already answered this at some previous time in recent days, has the US decided to step up aid to any of these groups within the civil society?
MR. REEKER: I know we've been working with them. I don't have any particular figures to discuss. We have talked about this. We had briefings where we discussed this. We are actively engaged with a range of organizations, some that I just mentioned, like trade union groups, human rights organizations, that help to strengthen democratic institutions and respect for rule of law.
QUESTION: Thank you. Russia is trying to keep close relationship with the efforts of an evil country. The Russian President Putin have invited the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to have summit talks there (inaudible). What is your comment on this?
MR. REEKER: I think we discussed that at an earlier briefing. There was a similar trip by the North Korean leader to Russia, I believe last year. We've made quite clear our position and our concerns about North Korea. The President's policy is well known. And we certainly have worked with friends and allies around the world to discuss the concerns we have about the North Korean regime. We would imagine that our Russian friends have similar concerns and will make clear some of these issues as well in any discussions they have with the North Korean Government.
We have a related subject, so I'll come back to you. We always do this to you. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Could you tell us what the status is of the speech, which Mr. Bolton is preparing to make in South Korea?
MR. REEKER: That's a nice presumption, but I'm not sure that that's one I can fully make. I think where some of the confusion may be is that Under Secretary Bolton does plan to visit Tokyo from August 24th through 28th, and Seoul, August 28th through the 30th. Obviously, when there, he'll meet with officials in both capitals to discuss regional and arms control and security matters.
I would expect him certainly to make public remarks in Seoul, and so exactly what his public remarks and precise activities, I couldn't give you any details on those at this point. But that's the general tenor of the trip he expects to take.
QUESTION: Public remarks? Does that mean a speech, or is that --
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I would expect on any trip like that he may be making a speech or a press availability or someplace where he makes comments following his talks and discussions in --
QUESTION: Is there any controversy about what he should say in his public remarks in Seoul?
MR. REEKER: No, I think any statements by US Government officials, senior officials like Under Secretary Bolton, reflect the President's policies, and so that's what I would expect from any comments there.
QUESTION: Let's say I'm and Under Secretary of State and I'm going to make a speech.
MR. REEKER: Hardly likely, I protest.
QUESTION: I would submit my remarks to somebody, right? I mean, there is a process. You vet these things, right?
MR. REEKER: Perhaps. It just depends what type of remarks. I don't know. I mean, you know, how these things are developed, I think anybody knows people draft things, usually at the working level for people to look at and decide. But again, I couldn't speculate on any particular remarks, any press reports to the contrary.
QUESTION: I'm not sure the State Department has any relation to this, but I will try anyway. Do you have any comments on the Professor Al-Arian whose university is trying to toss him out of the country? Does the State Department have any role in that?
MR. REEKER: I don't think there's any State Department connection there.
QUESTION: I don't think so either. Thank you.
MR. REEKER: Sure. Let's do this gentleman and then we can come back. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: There's been a lot of talk the last few days about possible groups linked to al-Qaida operating in Iraq. And there's been, of course, denial from the Iraqis, but there's been a lot of speculation on it. There was, however, an indication that one group, one Kurdish-Islamist group called Ansar al-Islama has been operating in the Northern Zone, which is the No-Fly Zone.
Is there any indication that you have that this group is, in fact, operating? Is there any way in this area, which is the Northern -- under the control of the Northern No-Fly Zone of actually moving in to investigate and to closing down operations?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on those things. It sounds like intelligence-related information, which I wouldn't have or wouldn't be able to discuss. I can check and see if I would have anything for you on that, but I don't.
QUESTION: Do you have any indication at all of any groups connected with al-Qaida?
MR. REEKER: Let me check with the terrorist people and see if there's anything I can give you on that. You might ask the Press Office if there's anything.
QUESTION: If the Secretary of Defense says there are al-Qaida people in Iraq, I mean, I'm assuming the State Department would agree with the Secretary of --
MR. REEKER: Sure. I just don't have anything, Eli, for you on that. If you'd like, I can try to check into it and get the stuff that the Secretary of Defense has as well --
QUESTION: I'm capable (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: I'm sure you are, Eli.
Yes, sir. Behind you.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering -- oh, I'm sorry. Someone else?
MR. REEKER: Actually, the lady there has been very patient. If you're going to change the subject, if you don't mind. And you've been patient too, but she was first. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. Mr. Otto Reich is planning a trip to Latin America which will include Venezuela. Do you have any details on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I don't know that I was aware of --
MR. REEKER: Otto Reich, the Assistant Secretary for Latin -- Western Hemisphere Affairs. I will be happy to check for you. You might check with his office. But I don't have anything on the trip. He regularly travels to the region, but I don't have anything on that.
Now, the gentleman there and then we can go back to Jonathan.
QUESTION: Yeah, I was just wondering if you had anything on Mr. Saud al-Rashid, who I guess, the FBI is looking to interview as part of a cache of passports they found somewhere overseas. The FBI put out an advisory.
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the FBI, I guess, if they put out --
QUESTION: They are not working in coordination with the State Department on this?
MR. REEKER: Quite possibly, but I will let them speak for that, if they have their advisory. I saw the news reports of that. I think that's a fairly standard procedure when you put out international law enforcement information and suggesting that anybody with information could obviously go to the nearest American embassy or consulate to provide us with any information that they have.
QUESTION: -- come forward with anything?
MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of, but the FBI will be the ones to speak to that.
QUESTION: What do you think of the Israeli decision to revoke the residency status of four residents of East Jerusalem who are presumably natives of the city?
MR. REEKER: I've seen a number of remarks regarding the issue. At present, I haven't seen any concrete Israeli action or decision in this regard. In terms of the suspects and the attack on the Hebrew University, it's an ongoing investigation. Trials of the suspects have yet to occur. So I don't know that there's any definitive announcements that have been made in that regard, but as we've said before, we would expect that any steps like those you suggest would be undertaken fairly, following due process, and without discrimination.
QUESTION: As a matter of principle, is there any due process that could deprive people of the right to live where they were born and brought up?
MR. REEKER: Jonathan, I would have to let you do the analysis of that.
QUESTION: No, because this has arisen before. Do you not have a position on the residency rights of these Arabs?
MR. REEKER: I just gave it to you. So I'm not going to --
QUESTION: -- the bomb at the university --
MR. REEKER: Well, you two can have your debate outside the briefing room. But what I said was that we would expect that any such steps be undertaken fairly, following due process and without discrimination. I don't know of any specific decisions that have been announced or taken, or steps that have been taken, Jonathan, and so I can't comment on them at this point. That's our general position --
QUESTION: Okay. But my second question was, as a matter of principle, in similar cases in the past, has the United States taken a position?
MR. REEKER: I will go back and check for you, Jonathan.
QUESTION: Well, I've got lots of -- a few more questions.
MR. REEKER: Jonathan has more.
QUESTION: Well, first of all, have you reached an agreement on the New York diplomatic parking?
MR. REEKER: Yes, we have. And I suspect that, in fact, that there's been an announcement in New York, probably right about now. Maybe it's even over.
QUESTION: Do you have --
MR. REEKER: I can give you a few points on it and then can refer you to the details. I believe that Mayor Bloomberg and Ambassador Kennedy from our US-UN Mission were going to provide details at a press conference that was scheduled for 1:30.
We are very pleased to announce that the State Department and the City of New York signed a Memorandum of Understanding last night on diplomatic and consular parking. Secretary Powell is very pleased with the parking program he was able to work out with Mayor Bloomberg.
The Department of State believes that all diplomats should pay for all legitimate parking violations. And as this parking program illustrates, we recognize the importance of following the international laws that govern diplomats in our country. And so we believe very much that this program will help the city of New York relieve traffic congestion by ensuring that members of the diplomatic and consular communities park legally and pay all legitimate traffic and parking fines.
QUESTION: Well, can you give us any idea as to how you're going to --
MR. REEKER: The details you can get from what was announced in New York.
QUESTION: Will this be retroactive?
MR. REEKER: The details you can check with what was announced in New York.
QUESTION: I do have a couple more short ones.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Has any government agency asked the State Department to preserve the diversity visa applications which you receive? Or is this just a vague idea that's floating around?
MR. REEKER: As far as I know now -- and you'd be interested because we've just announced this year's Diversity Visa Lottery Program -- there is information from applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas that is currently shared with the INS and intelligence and law enforcement agencies through the consolidated consular database. That's something that you know. That does include the applications that are selected at random by computer through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, and the federal regulations in place now require us to destroy the unselected applications. And if other government agencies express an interest in retaining those applications, which so far, they have not, then we would be happy to look into changing those regulations, but I'm not aware that anybody has asked for that at this point.
So, is that clear? Because I fumbled the words.
QUESTION: No, that's great.
MR. REEKER: But when all these applications come in, some are selected. Those are opened and the information retained. Those that were not selected in the lottery are destroyed under the current federal regulations.
QUESTION: Right, okay. Do you know whether that you can change those regulations unilaterally at State Department, or is it -- who does that?
MR. REEKER: I believe they are regulations that are promulgated and enforced by the State Department so there's a standard process, the regulatory process, including Federal Register notice and comment. I could get you a civics lesson on that if you want, but I think we can do that --
QUESTION: Okay. The other one is, do you have any comment on Hun Sen's reaction to the UN --
MR. REEKER: Whose reaction?
QUESTION: Hun Sen. The Cambodian Government reaction to the UN offer to resume talks on the Khmer Rouge trials.
MR. REEKER: We looked at those reactions and we are encouraged by the recent statements, both those statements coming from the United Nations and by Prime Minister Hun Sen on efforts to establish a Khmer Rouge tribunal. We certainly welcome the exchanges between the United Nations and Cambodia on a joint UN-Cambodian cooperation in a Khmer Rouge tribunal, and we hope that these exchanges lead promptly to renewed negotiations and an early agreement on a credible tribunal mechanism.
Released on August 22, 2002