State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 20
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 20
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
September 20, 2004
- Termination of National Emergency / Removal of Economic
- Restrictions on Aviation Services / Unblocking of Frozen Assets /
- Executive Order / Fact Sheet
- Response to Significant Steps by Libya to Address International
- Concerns Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Status of US-Libya Bilateral Relationship
- US Concerns About Terrorist Activity
- US Appreciation for Libya's Assistance in Providing Humanitarian
- Access to Darfur
- Case of Bulgarian Medics / Human Rights & Legal Matter
- US View of Presidential Elections
- US-Indonesia Bilateral Relationship
- US-China Bilateral Relationship
- Notification to Congress of the Unauthorized Transfer of US-Sold
- or Granted Defense Articles to Cyprus
- Status of Six-Party Talks
- Effect of Release of Sergeant Jenkins on Six-Party Talks
1:15 p.m. EDT
MR. ERELI: Greetings, everyone, I don't have any announcements to start our briefing, so who would like to have the first question.
QUESTION: Let's see. The President is about to lift the sanctions -- or some sanctions -- against Libya. Do you have any material there on precisely what he's going to be lifting and what the impact will be?
MR. ERELI: The White House will be putting out shortly a statement by the Press Secretary, I believe, announcing the termination of the National Emergency and removal of some economic restrictions on Libya.
We'll be putting out a fact sheet following that, which goes into a little bit more detail. For the purposes of this briefing, what I can tell you is that today the President signed an Executive Order that, first of all, terminates the National Emergency declared in 1986 under the International Emergency Powers Act; second, removes remaining economic restrictions on aviation services with Libya, thus permitting direct scheduled air service and regular passenger charter flights subject to standard safety and any other regulatory requirements, and third, unblocks approximately $1.3 billion in assets frozen under the Libya Sanctions Program belonging to both Libyan and non-Libyan entities.
I would remind you that this step is taken in response to actions that Libya has taken over the past nine months to address concerns by the international community about its weapons of mass destruction programs. Specifically, they have worked closely with the United States, Britain and international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to verifiably eliminate its WMD and Missile Technology Control Regime class missile programs.
Looking back over those nine months, I think we've seen some significant actions taken. We have removed all critical elements of Libya's undeclared nuclear program. Libya has signed and implemented the additional protocol -- the IAEA additional protocol. They have acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. They have destroyed their munitions design for use with toxic chemicals; they have submitted a declaration of chemical agents to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; they have eliminated their Scud-C missile force and agreed to eliminate its Scud-B missiles. And they have pledged to halt all military trade with countries of proliferation concerned and increased our understanding of the global black market in the world's most dangerous technologies. And it was a result of these efforts that concerns over Libya's weapons of mass destruction programs were considered to no longer pose a barrier to the normalization of U.S.-Libyan relations, and therefore we took the actions that were assigned today.
QUESTION: There are no more barriers to normalization?
MR. ERELI: Well, what I said is the concern over weapons of mass destruction were no longer a barrier to the normalization. As you point out, today's step does not constitute full normalization. I would remind you that Libya is still on the State Sponsor of Terrorism lists -- or list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and is subject to sanctions pursuant to that.
I would also note that our diplomatic representation in Libya is that of a liaison office. We certainly don't have full diplomatic representation there. Obviously, we have other issues of concern that are the subject of our bilateral dialogue and I would say that as we continue progress toward more normalized relations, that dialogue will deepen on the subject of human rights, political liberalization and economic modernization, as well as regional political developments.
QUESTION: Adam, are you satisfied with the Libyans' explanation regarding the assassination plot against Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that was reported earlier?
What I'm trying to figure out is, how does the -- how does that issue affect this particular part of the normalization?
MR. ERELI: Well, again, the actions that were taken today relate most directly to Libya's implementation and follow-through on actions related to dismantlement of its WMD and missile programs. The issue of terrorism remains a concern. Libya remains on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list. It is a subject of ongoing dialogue.
We still have concerns relating to the issue of the assassination, the reported assassination attempt against Crown Prince Abdullah and we continue to look into the matter.
I would say that until these issues can be resolved, and I think the world is convinced that Libya is fully and finally out of the terrorism game, relations will not be fully normalized.
QUESTION: Adam, in Berlin, Berlin has banned an Arab --
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. Did we --
QUESTION: Well, it's the same topic, yes.
MR. ERELI: Okay.
QUESTION: They have banned an Arab Islamic conference, which apparently rallies Palestinian support and resistance and the Intifadah. Are you going to -- because of this, do you monitor Libya to make certain that they're not a party to that particular conference that's been banned?
MR. ERELI: I don't know the specific story or report you're referring to, but as I suggested in my answer to the previous question, Libya's past involvement and current position with regard to terrorist activity is something that we continually discuss with Libya, and that we continue to monitor and to observe.
QUESTION: You said, "current position." Could you be more specific? What are they doing that's your objective?
MR. ERELI: I would say that when one analyzes a country's involvement with terrorism, you want to make sure that past associations have been fully severed; there are no current activities underway; and finally, that that kind of behavior is sustained over a period of time. And those are the areas that we keep in mind.
QUESTION: Adam, are the Libyans giving any assistance or help to settle the matter of Darfur?
MR. ERELI: We spoke to this, I think, last week. The Libyans have provided a corridor for humanitarian access through their territory and into northern Darfur. We have recognized this and expressed our appreciation for Libya's assistance in helping the situation in Darfur.
QUESTION: But are they trying to work to settle that issue with the Khartoum Government?
MR. ERELI: I think the focus of that effort is through the African Union, and is not something that, you know, I would point to one country or another as having the lead in.
QUESTION: Speaking of these sanctions, Adam, do they have any effect on the case of the Bulgarian medics in Libya?
MR. ERELI: Not directly. The case of the Bulgarian medics is a, I think, a human rights and a legal matter that we have raised our concern about with the Government of Libya. We have expressed our concern that the action is unjustified and unwarranted; and we have asked for the case to be reviewed and be disposed of favorably.
But as I said before, the sanctions that we're talking about today, or the actions we're talking about today relate to Libya's performance in the WMD area, not in the area of human rights. And as I said, the subject of human rights will be part of our, a very important part of our bilateral dialogue and a subject of intensive interest as we move forward in the potential normalization of relations.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. ERELI: Sure.
QUESTION: Any comment on the Indonesian election? And do you expect your bilateral cooperation, particularly on terrorism, to intensify with the new government?
MR. ERELI: I wouldn't start speculating about a new government because the results of the election are not final nor have they been announced. We congratulate Indonesia on the conclusion of these historic elections and would note that they're the country's first ever direct- election of its president. The official results will be announced on October 5th.
What we have seen is that these elections have set a strong example for the region and emerging democracies everywhere. We are a close friend and partner of Indonesia and we; therefore, strongly support their democratic process.
QUESTION: China's former president, Jiang Zemin, yesterday resigned as the head of China's military and turned the job to the current president, Hu Jintao. I'm wondering if you have anything to say about the significant and smooth power transfer in Chinese leadership.
MR. ERELI: We look forward to continuing our work with President Hu and his leadership team to further develop U.S.-China relations. The specific developments within China's internal institutions, I don't have a specific comment on.
QUESTION: But would the U.S. consider sending a congratulatory message to the president?
MR. ERELI: We'll do whatever is customary.
QUESTION: On Cyprus. Mr. Ereli, any answer to my pending question regarding the disarmament with American weapons of the 950 Greek soldiers in Cyprus at your request who are illegal in the island under the Treaty of 1960? In the meantime, could you please clarify your position vis-à-vis the disarmament of the 35,000 Turkish troops who are invaded and occupied Cyprus 1974 using and possessing illegally American weapons up to the present for 30 years?
MR. ERELI: Let me clarify some of the things that were raised in your questions last Friday, I believe.
First of all, you asked whether the Ambassador, Thomas Miller, was involved in talks with the Government of Greece on issue of arms transfers. The answer is no, Ambassador Miller is not involved in talks. This is something that is pursued through normal Ministry of Foreign Affairs channels, not at the ambassadorial level.
MR. ERELI: Right, it's okay.
As far as the disarmament of 950 Greek soldiers, that is not something that we are seeking, nor is it something that we have asked for, and I'm not aware of what the source of such speculation might be.
Finally, as far as the presence of -- or the actions of Turkish forces in northern Cyprus, I don't have anything new to add to that subject that we haven't already said in the past.
QUESTION: So as far as for the 950 Greek soldiers, there is no issue from the Department of State to the -- vis-à-vis to the disarmament, correct?
MR. ERELI: I'm not aware of any issue with regard to the disarmament of Greek soldiers in Cyprus. What we did do last week, and this might -- you might be referring to is that we notified Congress that -- of the Government of Greece's unauthorized transfer of U.S.-sold defense articles to Cyprus. This notification is required by U.S. law.
I don't have specifics for you about what the types or numbers of the military equipment specified in the notification to Congress were, but that action was taken last week, and perhaps that is what's behind your question.
QUESTION: You sent the same notification to the Congress as far as for the Turkish occupation forces?
MR. ERELI: No, there are two distinct issues.
QUESTION: But why? Why is that?
MR. ERELI: Because arms -- the issue -- the notification to Congress was that arms provided to Greece under a certain license were transferred to third parties. And according to the license by which you provide those products to one country, they cannot transfer them to a third party. So if they do, we're required to notify Congress.
That situation does not obtain [pertain] in the Turkish case because we're not aware if Turkey had transferred arms to a third party, then obviously we'd be required to do something but that was not the case.
QUESTION: But I do remember, since I was here in 1975, and Mr. Ereli, the U.S. Government imposed an embargo, an embargo, on the American weapons for the Turkish armed forces which was lifted in 1978 by then President Jimmy Carter, who assured a right in Congress that Turkey in good faith is going to remove the occupation forces from Cyprus but nothing happened for 13 years, despite the fact that the U.S. Public Law 95-38 for three times asked Ankara to remove its occupational force from Cyprus and to obey the American law. And I'm wondering and why, then, the Department of State ignore this law totally, and then that you said (inaudible) expectation to Athens but not to Ankara.
MR. ERELI: Yeah, I can't go -- I'm not in a position to go back that far. I'll deal with the specific actions that happened last week. If you want to go to a review of the historical record, we'll do it at another time.
QUESTION: This in conclusion, in conclusion, the last question. So for the time being, you are asking Athens somehow with this notification via Congress not to transfer weapons in Cyprus, but in the meantime, whatever Ankara is doing to this effect is legal, correct?
MR. ERELI: Well, first of all, we're not asking Greece to do anything. We are saying that a license -- the terms of a license were not respected. And that's just a -- those were the terms of the sale, that's what they called for; they weren't respected, so we're notifying Congress.
As far as the assertion I'm not -- that Ankara has done the same thing, I'm not aware of any recent case that would meet the criteria of a violation of the license; therefore, no action was taken.
QUESTION: Sir, a quick follow up on China. Considering now that President Hu has the full authority and power to lead the country, what does the U.S. expect from this so-called "Hu's era," in terms of his handling with Taiwan?
MR. ERELI: Our relationship with China, I think, has been developed on a strong foundation as a result of common appreciation of regional, international and bilateral issues. That relationship has evolved over a number of leaders, and will continue with the current leader. So I wouldn't want to suggest that somehow there is going to be a special change, or a special departure from, I think, the strong relations that we've been able to develop over the last several years, and, rather, we would look forward to continuing the kind of cooperation and serious engagement that we've been able to develop.
QUESTION: Anything new on the prospects for six-party talks by the end of the month?
MR. ERELI: Not really. We continue to look for all parties to follow through on their commitments that they made in the last round to have a round before the end of September. I think if there were, you know, if there were ideas about not doing that at another date, then those would have to be discussed with all six parties. But for the moment, we're still operating on the basis of what was agreed to at the last round of six-party talks.
QUESTION: Could you let us know when it's logistically possible to have this one?
MR. ERELI: (Laughter.) I sure will.
QUESTION: Does the trial of Sergeant Jenkins released -- or hospitalized recently in Japan enter into any play with these talks of possibly an embarrassment to North Korea?
MR. ERELI: No, no, none.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERELI: Thank you. DPB #
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Released on September 20, 2004