State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 2
Daily Press Briefing Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman Washington, DC October 2, 2002
ANNOUNCEMENTS 1 International Visitors Program Guests at Briefing 1 Secretary Powell's Statement on the Death of Walter Annenberg 1-2 Mexican Water Debt / Obligations Under the 1944 Waters Treaty 2 Seven Point Plan for Resolving Ethnic Divisions in Mitrovica, Kosovo
COTE D'IVOIRE 2-3 Government Actions in Abidjan / Displacement of People
PHILIPPINES 3 Bomb Explosion in Zamboanga / US Serviceman Killed
IRAQ 3-5 Office of the Inspector General Follow Up Audit on the Iraqi National Congress Support Foundation 4,5 Support for the Iraqi Opposition 5-6 Update and Discussions on UN Resolution 6,8-11,16-17 UNMOVIC Inspections and Access to Sites and Facilities 6-8 Timing of UN Resolution and Timing of Inspections 11 White House Spokesman's Comments Regarding Saddam Hussein 17 Humanitarian Groups' Concerns About Conflict and Refugees
CONSULAR AFFAIRS 12-14 International Parental Child Abduction Cases / Congressional Hearings
UKRAINE 14-16,17,18 US Policy Review on Relations and Assistance to Ukraine
MIDDLE EAST 19 US Policy on Jerusalem
ENVIRONMENT 19 Conference on Kyoto Protocol / US Attendance
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department. It is Wednesday, October the 2nd, and I am pleased to be here. And I do want to start out by welcoming to our briefing today a few visitors from our International Visitor Program. First of all, we have Ms. Ananya Chatterjee from the News and Current Affairs Division of Tara Bangla Television in Calcutta, who has joined us today; as well as Mr. Chandramohan Puppala from Bombay in India, participating in one of our International Visitor Programs; also Ms. Elisabetta Belloni from Rome, she is the chief of staff in the Director General of European Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. So we are very pleased to welcome those colleagues of ours in the journalism and diplomatic profession to our briefing. We hope we entertain you to some degree today.
I do want to point out a couple of statements. First, you should have all received the Secretary's personal statement released this morning on the death yesterday of Ambassador Walter Annenberg. The Secretary noted that our country has lost one of its greatest civic leaders; in all that Ambassador Annenberg did, the good of our nation always came first to him. He was a brilliant envoy to Great Britain, representing our country there for almost five years. And as the Secretary noted, our hearts and prayers go out to Mrs. Annenberg and the entire Annenberg family.
A couple of other statements that were released on paper following the briefing, first of all noting that today, October the 2nd, marks the conclusion of the most recent five-year water accounting cycle under the 1944 United States-Mexico Treaty on the Utilization of the Rio Grande, Colorado and Tijuana River Waters. During the past two consecutive accounting cycles -- that would be over the past ten years -- the Government of Mexico has not delivered sufficient volumes of water from the six Mexican tributaries to the Rio Grande to ensure compliance with its obligations under this treaty and related agreements.
And so we're taking this opportunity again to urge Mexico to address the outstanding water deficit which now totals almost 1.5 million acre-feet of water, and to adopt a regulatory framework to ensure that the treaty obligations are afforded the highest priority. And we think that meaningful and rapid steps by Mexico toward these ends are essential to maintain a viable framework for managing our transboundary waters.
QUESTION: Phil, can I?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: I don't know about you, but I haven't a clue what 1.5 million acre-feet is. Can you, can you quantify that in some other way like, you know, number of swimming pools or something that it can be filled with?
MR. REEKER: Unlike Richard, I didn't bring my Palm-Pilot so I don't have a calculator, but I believe an acre-foot is an acre with water a foot deep, that much water. And so 1.5 million --
QUESTION: That's a lot of water.
MR. REEKER: -- of those acres would be a lot of water -- quite a lot. No, this is a serious issue that we are working with the Mexicans on. I'm sure your esteemed editors, fact-checkers can do a quick mathematical calculation if it's easier for you to calculate it in pints or steins.
QUESTION: Steins? Yes.
MR. REEKER: Speaking of steins, let me also note that yesterday, that is October 1st, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative in Kosovo, Mr. Michael Steiner, took an important step toward healing one of the most serious wounds remaining from the Kosovo conflict. Ambassador Steiner proposed a seven-point plan to end the ethnic divisions of Mitrovica, a northern Kosovo city that has symbolized the lingering antagonism between ethnic Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities throughout Kosovo. So the United States strongly supports Ambassador Steiner's plan and we call upon Kosovo's Serbs to participate fully in Kosovo's democratic institutions by voting in the municipal elections scheduled for October 26th.
And I think that ends my series of statements. I would be happy to turn to Mr. Schweid.
QUESTION: Philip, do you have anything on the -- supporters of the government now in the Ivory Coast seem to be making much of a noise and doing much of the -- I don't know if it's demonstrating, but they seem to be moving against the rebels, and this may hamper, I suppose, any peace efforts. Is there anything the US Government wants to say to them now?
MR. REEKER: We are aware, Barry, of reported Ivorian Government actions in Abidjan have resulted in displacement of a number of people in that city. The United States is concerned about the humanitarian consequences of those actions. We are working with international institutions in Cote D'Ivoire to determine, first of all, what exactly is happening there and to determine what can be done to assist those who have been displaced.
You will recall from the statement that we put out a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing the threat to stability in Cote D'Ivoire that we urged the Government of Cote D'Ivoire to do all in its power to avoid further bloodshed and continue to respect the human rights of all citizens and residents of Cote D'Ivoire.
So we are monitoring that very closely. We are in close touch, obviously, with our embassy, which in turn is in close touch with other contacts there in Cote D'Ivoire. We stand ready to assist US citizens in affected areas who wish to depart those areas. As you know, we have facilitated a number of departures from areas of Cote D'Ivoire since the situation began. So far, there are no reports of attacks against US citizens or their property.
QUESTION: Another subject? In the Philippines today, a soldier was killed in a blast. Are there any increasing concerns about safety for Americans there? Do we know whether it was an American target?
MR. REEKER: Just to fill in others on the details of that as far as we know, at approximately 8:30 p.m. local time -- that would have been 8: 30 a.m., I believe, Washington, D.C. time -- a bomb exploded in an open-air café outside a joint US-Philippine training facility near the city of Zamboanga in the Philippines, and our Embassy has been advised that one US serviceman was killed, another US serviceman and at least 21 other persons were injured.
We condemn absolutely this senseless act of violence. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the US serviceman and the other killed and those injured. At this time there have been no claims of responsibility. Our officials from our Embassy are in close contact with appropriate Philippine authorities, and as you would expect, the Embassy is reviewing its security posture and it's going to take any additional steps necessary, but it does remain open for normal business at this point.
QUESTION: New topic. I understand on Thursday, last Thursday, the State Department concluded its audit of the Iraqi National Congress. Perhaps you might be able to update us on where things stand.
MR. REEKER: Sure. I think all of you will recall -- certainly Eli will -- that in 2001 the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department conducted an audit of the Iraqi National Congress Support Fund, and that was to look into how they managed funds and how their activities were conducted.
The Office of the Inspector General has since conducted a follow-up audit of the Iraqi National Congress Support Fund to determine now whether they have implemented the recommendations contained in the report from last year, from September 2001. In the 2001 report, the Inspector General recommended that the Department of State withhold, or at least restrict, future funding until the group implemented adequate and transparent financial controls. And the recently concluded follow-up audit found that based on the extent of their compliance with this recommendation, those restrictions no longer are necessary.
So if you want to look into that more closely, we hope to have a redacted version of the follow-up audit posted on the Office of the Inspector General website as soon as it's available. The 2001 report is already on that website.
QUESTION: If I could follow-up, Phil. You know, the INC guys still say that they don't -- they're not -- they don't have enough money, they haven't gotten money for their television station, their newspaper and so forth and so on. Is that money now going to be kind of pending? Is that coming forward? Now that these things are cleared up, are they going to get enough funds that they say they need to operate some of these --
MR. REEKER: I don't know what I can offer you, Eli, on specifics of funding for any particular program. As you know, we continue to work very closely with six major Iraqi opposition groups. Those are the groups with whom we met here in Washington last August and we found that the oppositionists, the people in those groups who attended those meetings, participated actively and in a spirit of cooperation. So we think we had at that time a significant turning point. And we've been urging them to all work together. As you know, we've discussed an expanded opposition conference, and we believe that such a conference should be as representative as possible.
So these groups have been working together on a variety of activities to, first of all, organize a conference later this month that should include the entire opposition community, and we've organized the Future of Iraq Project, which we've discussed here in some detail. You're aware of the various working groups that are part of that project focusing on the strengths that each of the organizations brings to their goals in terms of looking toward a future Iraq without Saddam Hussein. The Democratic Principles Working Group is one that we talked about. The Transitional Justice Working Group met first, I think, back in July. They met for a second meeting in Siracusa, Italy, which just finished yesterday. So they met there for four days. And we also look forward to convening the first meeting of the Working Group on Water, Agriculture and Environment on October 4-6 here in Washington, D.C.
So we are continuing our efforts with the Iraqi opposition, with this variety of groups to hasten the day when Iraqis will be free of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein and will be able to rejoin the community of nations led by a democratic government representative of the Iraqi people. And that will continue to be our goal in working with them.
Did you have a follow-up, Eli?
QUESTION: You said that the auditors now are not recommending the withholding or restricting of funds for the Iraqi National Congress based on their compliance with prior recommendations. What you haven't told us is whether or not State Department will now release funds unfettered.
MR. REEKER: What I did tell was that I didn't know. I had no details for you on the next steps in that. As you know, we just ended --
QUESTION: Okay. So is there an intention at this point in the State Department to --
MR. REEKER: I don't know that I can offer you any more details of that. I pointed you out to the basic fact that is now clear from the follow-up report by the Inspector General.
QUESTION: Can you remind me or perhaps others how much money was -- how much -- you know, what was put on hold? Was it just everything? What was the pot of money?
MR. REEKER: I will have to go back and get it. It was the original money that Congress set aside for that and I don't have --
QUESTION: -- the 98 million or the 90 million from the Iraqi Liberation --
MR. REEKER: I'll have to get the figures for you, Matt. I didn't bring them out and I don't have them committed to memory.
QUESTION: And does this mean now that -- there were stories of, like, a week or ten days ago about, that Richard and you guys discussed here as well, confirming the reports that you were going to expand your cooperation with the Iraqi opposition. Does that fit in with this?
MR. REEKER: I think those are separate issues. This is about the Inspector General having made a finding that the particular group, the Iraqi National Congress Support Fund had implemented those recommendations to the extent that they were complying and now the restrictions that the Inspector General had recommended were no longer necessary.
In terms of changes or any evolution in the working with Iraqi opposition, as we said some few days ago that we are currently weighing how much to expand training that we provide to Iraqi opposition under the Iraq Liberation Act, which is administered by the Department of Defense, some of it. So you might check with the Pentagon on any details that are evolving over there.
Terri had something else.
QUESTION: I wanted to switch to the UN and see if you can give us any update on how the resolution is moving. The text has been released to most news organizations by now and I wonder if that's an indication that you're pretty confident that this will be similar to the final form of the resolution, if you're making progress on that.
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can add too much to what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to you, or to many of you, last night. We're continuing to discuss elements of a resolution in New York with our Security Council partners and at the ministerial level. No text has been formally tabled as of yet. The Secretary reiterated, and we continue to state quite clearly, that a new resolution must give UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Association the strongest possible authority to conduct inspections. As the Secretary said, we're not going to be satisfied by Iraqi half-truths or Iraqi compromises or Iraqi efforts to get us back in the same position we have been in before, back where they had the United Nations in 1998.
There have to be consequences for continued Iraqi non-compliance. We have been down this road before. We need to provide Dr. Blix and his team with a new, well-paved road, paved by a new resolution that is one that will help them to carry out fully the mandate that they will have from the UN Security Council. That is what we're working on -- a strong, tough resolution -- not what Iraq wants, but what the international community wants, what the UN Security Council wants, and what the international community needs to ensure that Iraq is free of the weapons of mass destruction we know they have pursued.
So I think as the Secretary underscored, we have to reiterate once again that UNMOVIC cannot simply go back under the former terms of reference. You know, Iraq has used sites, so-called presidential sites or presidential palaces, to hide weapons of mass destruction-related equipment and information, and I think it is important to just point out and remind many of you what these so-called presidential palaces or presidential sites are. These are gigantic facilities, extremely well-guarded, unknown, underground networks with unknown equipment and unknown activities. We have shown you in the past pictures of some of these facilities like the Radwaniyyah presidential site that's located just west of downtown Baghdad. It's been continually expanded since 1998. It measures approximately 17 square kilometers, which is 40 times larger than the White House grounds here in Washington, just to give you an idea of the perspective.
It's completely fence-secured, heavily guarded by Saddam Hussein's internal security forces. It houses over a 150 individual structures, including VIP villas and palaces, security housing and checkpoints. What's Saddam hiding? I mean, as long as anything is off limits, then Saddam is hiding things. And an inspection regime that does not include thorough access, full, complete access to these facilities and others could not be considered to be thorough and effective inspections.
QUESTION: The agreement that Hans Blix reached yesterday with the Iraqis that he announced has some kind of advance team or pre-inspection team going in within the next few weeks. Has the Bush Administration given any thought to what it might do to stop inspectors from going in until the Security Council reaches a resolution?
MR. REEKER: I think, first and foremost, as the Secretary said, we look forward to hearing from Dr. Blix, himself, who will be briefing the Security Council tomorrow. As I said, we feel very strongly that he needs to be in receipt of new guidance and instructions in the form of a new, tough resolution so that we don't go down the same old road, but in fact we're on a new, solid road.
So that's what we'll look forward to in terms of tomorrow and the Security Council hearing from Dr. Blix.
QUESTION: But as you know with previous resolutions on Iraq or any resolution at the Security Council, it does take a lot of debate and lot of to and fro between the Council before these resolutions are passed. So as a Permanent Member of the Security Council, does the United States plan any action to prevent the inspectors from going in until the resolution is passed?
MR. REEKER: As you indicated, Elise, and as the Secretary answered that same question last night --
QUESTION: Well, he actually didn't.
MR. REEKER: -- we are a member of the Security Council, a Permanent Member of the Security Council. Our position is that inspectors simply cannot go back in under the former terms of reference. I've made quite clear already why that's unacceptable and we will not get into negotiating a situation with the Iraqis under these old terms. As I said, we've been down that road.
What is needed now is decisive action by the Security Council on a new resolution. The Security Council has a responsibility to all of us to ensure that Iraq lives up to its obligations. And so that is what we'll be focused on.
QUESTION: If I could try one more time, I know you said that you're a Permanent Member or that you're a member of the Council and that you think that he should have a new resolution, but what are you going to do as a member of the Council to make sure that your position and your insistence is carried through?
MR. REEKER: We are going to continue consulting with our Security Council colleagues. We are going to hear from Dr. Blix when he reports to the Security Council tomorrow. And we're going to continue working on the goal of a new resolution that's tough, that meets the needs, that provides Dr. Blix with the type of direction he needs to carry out his mission thoroughly and not be bamboozled yet again by the to-ing and fro-ing of Saddam Hussein and his various deceptions.
QUESTION: You don't mean Dr. Blix was bamboozled; he was prevented from carrying out --
MR. REEKER: Iraq and Saddam Hussein have continued to try to do that to the entire international community -- bamboozle and, you know, play games with the Security Council, with all of us. If Iraq wanted to be serious about this, they would open up, they would allow complete access of these inspectors. That is what is called for and that is what we need in a new resolution.
QUESTION: May I ask you to follow up? I have the same basic line of questioning in mind. His intention, evidently, was to move inspectors into Bahrain on the 17th and send them into Iraq on the 19th, and of course we all realize symbolism is important in this area, as it is in other parts of the world. But the US did not object to arrangements; the US seemed to object to -- seems to want to defer any re-inspection until the Council gives new instructions.
Is there a US position on whether it's all right to have inspectors go to Bahrain and to be ready to move in?
MR. REEKER: I think, Barry, we will wait and hear what Dr. Blix has to say when he reports to the Security Council. The Secretary has addressed these questions broadly last night. I can't really add anything to that. We need to hear from Dr. Blix, hear what his report is to the Security Council, as we continue working with our Security Council colleagues on a new resolution to provide Dr. Blix with a thorough mandate, a forceful resolution that will give him the full mandate that he needs to carry out this job.
QUESTION: I wanted to just follow up on something you said earlier. I can remember being shown photographs in this room of various huge palaces in Iraq and so on, but I don't remember being shown photographs of weapons of mass destruction there. Can you tell us how you know that they're there and what evidence you have?
MR. REEKER: I think, Elaine, what we have said is any time these places are not available, or put sort of out of bounds or off limits, then Saddam is hiding things. We don't necessarily know what he's hiding in these things. And indeed, we have shown you photographs of these so-called palaces. We're not talking Sleeping Beauty here. We're talking massive structures, gigantic facilities, extremely well-guarded. What's he hiding?
If he's serious. If he means to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, to which he agreed, then he will open these things up. He hasn't in the past. We've played this game and we're not going to play it any more. We need a serious resolution that opens everything -- anytime, anyplace, anywhere. That's what Dr. Blix and his team need and without access to these facilities, I don't think you could consider effective and thorough inspections that would take place.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up, then? So you're not saying that you have evidence that there are weapons of mass destruction --
MR. REEKER: I am not going to share with you intelligence information at this point. I am saying there are facilities such as these so-called palaces -- this is a situation, a subject, that has been brought up in much of the reporting and discussion that these places are out of bounds, somehow Saddam can declare presidential properties, these vast places -- I think there were eight declared sites back in 1998 -- and that is unacceptable.
What is he hiding in them? That is the question. It is up to Saddam to answer that question, not up to me to answer that question, or anybody else.
QUESTION: I just need to check on a point of information so that I make sure I understood your first quote correctly. Are you saying that you have information that he has weapons of mass destruction hidden there, or are you just saying --
MR. REEKER: Did I say that?
QUESTION: I thought you did at the beginning.
QUESTION: Well, you did. You said that we know that Iraq is using these palaces to hide weapons of mass destruction, I think. But then you said it's mystery equipment and mystery personnel, I think.
MR. REEKER: I said -- I think if we go back we can check the transcript -- there's a hyphen in there.
QUESTION: No, I thought you had said that. That's why I'm asking.
MR. REEKER: We believe that Iraq used such sites -- and I think much of this is contained in previous reports -- these so-called presidential palaces to hide weapons of mass destruction-related equipment and information to which the inspectors did not have access.
QUESTION: But you don't know that they did in the past, right? You say, "We believe." You said -- because at first you said, "We know."
MR. REEKER: I'll have to go back and see what I said. The point of the -- let's just cut all the semantics and the fine points on it. The bottom line is, Matt, that this sort of , "Well, these sites are off limits, these are out of bounds, these don't count," that doesn't work. This isn't some game that Saddam Hussein can play with the international community, with the UN Security Council. There needs to be a new resolution that makes quite clear that inspections can be thorough, that there's immediate, unconditional, unrestricted access to any and all sites in Iraq. And that's one of the issues we're discussing.
QUESTION: But you do understand, though, that there is a big difference between saying, we know that there are weapons of mass destruction or there's stuff related to it inside these things because that would be, you know, the smoking gun that everyone's looking for.
MR. REEKER: I don't believe that's what I said, Matt.
QUESTION: Right. Okay, well, I guess that we misheard.
QUESTION: Can I try?
MR. REEKER: Yes, Barry.
QUESTION: The statement you, I'm sure, have seen Foreign Minister Ivanov's statement today. Would you say that the Russians now agree -- in fact, don't all five Permanent Members of the Security Council agree -- that there should be no sites off limits to inspectors?
MR. REEKER: I will let each country speak for itself. That is our belief. The Secretary has made that quite clear. I have reiterated that again here this morning and that's certainly the type of thing that we're discussing at the Security Council, Barry. So I will let each person talk for himself.
QUESTION: Well, he has. The question is: Has this US goal been accomplished?
MR. REEKER: Let me not suggest anything more than what I'm saying, is that we continue to have discussions in New York, at the ministerial level as well. We are looking forward to hearing from Dr. Blix tomorrow. It's an ongoing process. We're discussing elements of a resolution that needs to be strong and tough and needs to provide immediate, unconditional, unrestricted access to any and all sites in Iraq.
QUESTION: Can I change topics?
QUESTION: I just want to stay -- one more. I understand that there are meetings going on up in New York, continuing. But has the Secretary called anyone today about --
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of any calls today. I will keep checking in the afternoon.
The gentleman here had -- same subject?
QUESTION: No, I have a different topic.
MR. REEKER: Elaine, did you?
QUESTION: No. Sorry.
MR. REEKER: Oh. Betsy. I'm sorry. Sorry, Betsy. You're over in a corner there. It's a dark spot with a shadow.
QUESTION: I have two questions, actually. One is the Secretary's phone calls today on this matter.
MR. REEKER: I just said I'm not aware of any phone calls today.
QUESTION: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't hear that.
MR. REEKER: That's okay.
QUESTION: The next question is you had mentioned one site which you said has been expanded over time and has acquired new buildings, questionable buildings. Are there other sites of concern that have shown this same of activity?
MR. REEKER: There are a couple, and I can pull up the pictures for you again. I think they are pictures that we showed you some time back, satellite photos of some of these sites that we've been monitoring. The Tikrit -- or Tikrit, to pronounce it correctly -- presidential site, which is located in Saddam Hussein's hometown, is about 90 kilometers north of Baghdad, I believe. The site has been expanded since 1998. The declared perimeter measures approximately four square kilometers, which, to continue with our perspective here, is about ten times larger than the White House grounds. It has well over 30 villas, other structures, buildings, and security housing. It's furnished with guard towers.
The Al-Salam structure which was -- had the headquarters of Saddam's Revolutionary Guard was destroyed during the Gulf War. The Iraqi regime has been rebuilding it. There have been considerable developments there since 1998, including enhanced security. So once again, it's this type of activity that makes us ask, what's he hiding? and reminds us that Iraq needs to show all. And if anything is off limits, then Saddam is hiding things.
QUESTION: Pictures would be helpful.
MR. REEKER: The Press Office will endeavor to facilitate you guys. I think some of them are the same pictures, too, on the website from last time.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. REEKER: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: I think White House Spokesman's comment yesterday about a bullet hitting Saddam Hussein could be counter-productive in getting Iraqi cooperation on --
MR. REEKER: I think my colleague discussed that in his comments, and I will leave that to him.
You were the next person.
QUESTION: Well, to follow up on the Ari -- has any foreign governments contacted the US about this suggestion --
MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of, no.
QUESTION: -- which would seem to violate international law?
MR. REEKER: I think, first of all, it was explained in full context. So rather than give credence to your suggestions, I'm not aware of any contacts on the basis of any remarks like that.
QUESTION: I want to talk a bit the hearings this morning of the Committee on Government Reform on Americans --
MR. REEKER: We're switching subjects. Is that okay with the rest of you? Okay.
QUESTION: The hearings of Americans kidnapped to Saudi Arabia. The Chairman of the Committee Dan Burton said, "One of my biggest concerns has been that over the years the State Department has not done enough to help these families." And he went on to add that, "I met with Secretary Powell, and he promised to raise the profile of this issue with the Saudis." If you could just update us on what Secretary Powell has done on that front so far?
MR. REEKER: I think it's a subject of continual discussion in our bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia. I think Ambassador Boucher made quite clear yesterday when he was asked basically the same type of question that there is no higher priority for the Department of State and for all of us who work here than the welfare of US citizens overseas.
And on the subject of international parental child abduction, as we've seen once again with the hearings that Chairman Burton is holding today and tomorrow, it's impossible to hear the testimony of mothers, and indeed there are fathers as well, who should not be forgotten, whose children have been abducted or withheld without feeling sympathy for their pain, for their tragic plight, and so we all keep that very much in mind.
As you know, assisting the victims of international parental child abduction has long been an important activity of the Bureau of Consular affairs. There's an Office of Children's Issues that was created in 1994, as this problem began to expand. And so our cases don't end even on the 18th birthday of the child when children become adults; we continue to carry out efforts to ensure that the well-being of these now adult US citizens is undertaken by our Office of American Citizen Services, and we continue to seek out, to assist these people, until such time as that citizen informs us that he does not desire our assistance any more.
So we raise this issue here in Washington, we raise these issues in Saudi Arabia, at our Embassy, through our Consulate, and it's something we'll continue to work on.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what sort of reaction you got actually from the Saudis, themselves?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have any particular reactions to share. I think they've publicly made a variety of statements. We'll continue to press our points as Ambassador Boucher suggested for you yesterday.
QUESTION: Okay, just one more on this same topic, please.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: The hearings were titled Americans Kidnapped to Saudi Arabia: Is the Saudi Government Responsible. Now, for you as the State Department, do you see is as something that the Saudi Government is responsible for, or is it something between individual -- private individuals, Americans and Saudis?
MR. REEKER: I think you have to look at each case, and each case has a unique history to it, a unique thing, so I don't think I could categorically comment. Ambassador Boucher discussed yesterday, the differences that we face in terms of laws. You know, abduction -- international parental child abduction to Saudi Arabia -- those cases are among the most difficult to resolve. You know, arrest warrants have been issued in the United States against several Saudi abductors. But there's a lack of an extradition treaty between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which has limited the effectiveness of criminal sanctions. There are no bilateral treaties to enforce between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Okay, just one more, if you don't mind.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Dan Burton, actually what he's proposing, he's saying that the State Department should hold up visas for 600 Saudi students wanting to come to the United States to study until the Saudi authorities have delivered good on their promises to help with this case. Would you contemplate going down that road?
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I haven't seen his actual remarks or any proposals or communications we've had from Congressman Burton or others in that regard.
QUESTION: But is it an action you would contemplate?
MR. REEKER: I don't know the details of what you're suggesting and I would suggest that you listed to part two of the hearings. There's a second set of hearings tomorrow at which some State Department officials will be testifying later, so we'll let them address any of those questions there, first, before I would try to look into them here.
QUESTION: Ukraine is asking the United States to hand --
QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait --
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry. Matt has something further.
QUESTION: Well, Phil, some of the testimony from the mothers and the kids said -- they allege that they were treated rudely or flippantly by embassy employees. Is that something that you can address right now, or is that something that you would prefer to let them address tomorrow when State Department people get there?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I didn't see the specific references and so I haven't been able to check into it. I'm sure they could be asked as part of their testimony tomorrow when State Department officials are speaking.
I would just reiterate what I said before. As an institution, and speaking for myself, certainly, and my colleagues that I know, there's no higher priority than to try to look after the welfare of our fellow American citizens overseas. These are difficult and emotional issues, but I certainly know anecdotally and from many of the stories I have read about, American State Department officials overseas have tried desperately to help and do what they can in these situations which, indeed, are very difficult.
Anything else on this before we finally let Terri ask her question?
QUESTION: Okay. Ukraine want the US to hand over these recordings that are purportedly of President Kuchma that the US believes are of President Kuchma approving this deal with Iraq. Do you have a response to that?
MR. REEKER: Haven't seen that specific request from Ukraine, at least as you describe it. Let me talk a little bit further about Ukraine and Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Beth Jones' visit and meeting there. As you know, yesterday we spoke a bit about it, but Ambassador Boucher had not gotten yet readouts of that.
In her meetings October 1st with Ukrainian officials in Kiev, Assistant Secretary Jones made clear the serious concerns raised by the authenticated audio recording in which President Kuchma is heard to approve a transfer of Kolchuga system, the Kolchuga radar system, to Iraq, as well as our concern over the issue of whether an actual transfer has occurred.
Assistant Secretary Jones underscored to Ukrainian officials the importance of transparency and full disclosure to determine if there had been a transfer or has been a transfer. She has also conveyed a number of specific questions to which we seek responses. We do welcome Ukraine's offer to make available all information on sales or transfers of the Kolchuga system and grant experts access to all Kolchuga sites and the manufacturing plant as a sign of transparency. The Ukrainian Government has already turned over some documents on this matter.
Ukraine's openness will certainly affect the outcome of the US policy review on relations with Ukraine and in terms of assistance programs for Ukraine. So we are making preparations to send a team of experts to Ukraine in the near future. We are still working out details of such a visit.
QUESTION: Any timeline on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a timeline on that, but we're working out the details of that. Try to keep you posted.
QUESTION: Can you say what these documents are? Are they --
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any details to share with you on that.
QUESTION: Phil, so does that mean you have decided that it would be worthwhile, that you are convinced that the Ukrainians will adopt the message about transparency and openness, because there was some question about whether you guys would take them up on their invitation?
MR. REEKER: As I just indicated, they have already turned some documents over to us on this matter. Certainly the overall openness and transparency of Ukraine as we continue to pursue this will affect the outcome of the policy review that we're undertaking. So that's important.
QUESTION: No, I know that. I'm not asking about that. You have decided that sending investigators -- there is a point to sending experts there to look?
MR. REEKER: Obviously.
MR. REEKER: If there was no point, we wouldn't be doing it.
QUESTION: Okay. I'm just trying to figure out if they assuaged your concerns. You haven't said that.
MR. REEKER: What I said was so far they have -- you know, we welcomed their offer to make available information.
QUESTION: Are you still concerned that there may be problems with the transparency and openness?
MR. REEKER: We want to see. We want to see.
QUESTION: All right. One more thing. You said that the turning over of documents and the assurances of transparency will affect your overall review as it reflects, as it relates to Ukraine. But that review doesn't only include Ukraine; it includes President Kuchma himself, personally.
MR. REEKER: Correct.
QUESTION: Will that be affected? Is that affected as well?
MR. REEKER: The review we are undertaking of our relations with Ukraine, and with President Kuchma particularly, will all be affected the openness that we have, the transparency that we have as we continue to pursue this, and so we'll take all of that into consideration.
QUESTION: But as far as you're concerned, he still did approve this sale, which is a serious problem, yes?
MR. REEKER: As we have said, we've authenticated the audio recordings in which President Kuchma is heard to approve a transfer of these systems to Iraq.
QUESTION: Phil, but the aid remains suspended; is that correct?
MR. REEKER: We haven't finished our review. Right, correct.
QUESTION: Question: in your discussions right now here in this press briefing concerning the radar systems as well as perhaps Iraq for many questions on possible weapons of mass destruction, anything that you're putting specifically in that paperwork to specifically state that if anything is transferred to a third country or to a third entity -- it doesn't have to necessarily be a country, it could be a terrorist group or whatever -- then we would have the right to go in with those similar inspectors elsewhere?
MR. REEKER: You've totally lost me, Joel. What country are we talking about?
QUESTION: Okay. The administration has been assuming that any type of weapon development would still be landlocked within Iraq --
MR. REEKER: Where are we talking about?
MR. REEKER: Iraq. Yes, our concerns about Saddam Hussein's attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: So let's say, perhaps, because there's this interim period, he's shipped something to maybe nearby Yemen, not with the government's approval, but to a al-Qaida site, let's say, a terrorist-type camp to be worked on there --
MR. REEKER: I don't have any intelligence information to share with you, Joel, on that.
QUESTION: It's not necessarily intelligence; it's wording in the Hans Blix weapons inspection decree concerning Iraq to get the cooperation of other governments and other --
MR. REEKER: The Hans Blix-led weapons inspection regime reports to the United Nations Security Council. What we are seeking is a United Nations Security Council resolution. This is about Iraq. I don't believe --
QUESTION: But should it be -- should that be expanded to other locales if need be, the wording?
MR. REEKER: I just don't believe that's been an issue, Joel. I don't.
QUESTION: I have several questions --
MR. REEKER: Can we just try somebody else first. Thank you.
QUESTION: I have one quick follow-up question on the Ukraine story. The bodyguard who made the tape gave an interview with some Russian news agency last week and said that there are senior ranking Russian officials' voices also heard on that tape, and I wondered if you've heard anything on that.
MR. REEKER: I don't have any other details on the tapes for you.
QUESTION: Allegedly that there's some recordings that they also sold equipment to Iran. Do you have anything --
MR. REEKER: I don't have any other details on the tapes for you.
Yes, sir. Oh, sorry. No, she gets to actually --
QUESTION: I have one other question -- my real question. Humanitarian groups worried about conflict in Iraq and refugee issues, refugee flows from Iraq, have asked for a waiver of the OFAC limitations to be able to go into Iran or Iraq to do some contingency plannings, and I understand there's a policy review under way in this building and wondered if you have anything.
MR. REEKER: I don't have any details on that. On an OFAC review, you would obviously talk to Treasury. We had the Federal Register notice that requested proposals for projects, humanitarian projects within Iraq. I don't know if that ties in with what you were talking about. I would have to check and see if there was anything specific on that.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
MR. REEKER: George.
QUESTION: A follow-up on Ukraine. Since you came clean on authenticating Kuchma's voice, could you take the question on whether or not there are other voices on the tape that you also have authenticated, and if not the voices, perhaps the language in which they are speaking?
MR. REEKER: I can't take that question for you George, because I would feel obligated to get you an answer and I don't have anything further for you on the tapes.
QUESTION: Hold on, Phil. As a general point, you're releasing, last week, intelligence information that you want us to write about, and then when we follow up where there's a guy who had the tape and says that there were other people on the tape, and then you -- I mean it just -- it seems that there should be a -- you should give us the whole story. I mean, I think we deserve that. I mean, you can't just parcel out classified info --
MR. REEKER: Eli, before you -- just settle down.
QUESTION: Down, boy.
MR. REEKER: Did I say a word about classified info?
MR. REEKER: Did I ever say anything about classified info? I said I have nothing for you on those tapes in addition to what we've talked about.
QUESTION: Well, can you --
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything to share with you. I didn't want to promise George I would get him an answer because, at this point, I'm not aware that I would be able to. If at some point I am, I will certainly endeavor to share that with you, but I will give it to George first.
QUESTION: Maybe you could take the question that you'll look into seeing whether you can answer the question.
MR. REEKER: I already did. Since I already did look into that question, I can tell you that the answer is no.
QUESTION: Why not?
MR. REEKER: That question I didn't ask.
QUESTION: I think it's a good one.
MR. REEKER: Why not is because, at this point, we're not prepared to do that. That's the best answer I can give you.
QUESTION: Phil, despite what you guys said yesterday and what the White House said the day before --
MR. REEKER: I hate these questions that start with, "Despite."
QUESTION: -- the entire Arab world is up in arms about the appropriations act and the language about Jerusalem that got put into it. You know, everyone out there seems to be piling it on right now. I'm just wondering what you are doing to assure --
MR. REEKER: I'm obviously not reading the right stuff.
QUESTION: -- to assure these people who have expressed concern from the OIC, the Arab League, the Palestinians themselves, the Russians even, the Saudis, the GCC, Egypt, that in fact -- are you taking steps to tell these governments that, you know, we are going to ignore what Congress had to say and don't worry about it, or are you --
MR. REEKER: I'm just going to stick with the words that the President used and that Richard used yesterday because I can't give you anything more than to be quite clear -- with the President of the United States stating that our policy on Jerusalem has not changed, with the Secretary of State saying the same thing and his spokesman presenting that to you and to the entire world yesterday from here -- and I can't make it any plainer than that. That's the same message that our embassies are able to deliver if they are asked about it. We're saying that publicly. I don't know how more publicly we can do it. So I think that's the answer that I have to give you.
QUESTION: So you don't tell people -- you don't refer people to the Hill?
MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: I've got one more question, two more, actually. One, you can probably take this one because I'm sure you don't have it. Do you know who you're sending to the conference on the Kyoto Protocol that's coming up near the end of the month in Delhi?
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I will have to check.
QUESTION: And any news yet on a meeting for Joschka Fischer?
MR. REEKER: Who?
QUESTION: Joschka Fisher, the German Foreign Minister?
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of any scheduled meetings. I continue to check. I should have remembered to ask because I should have known you would ask that.
Released on October 2, 2002