State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for March 28
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for March 28 -- Transcript
Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
March 28, 2005
Earthquake near Northern Sumatra
Tsunami Monitoring & Warning Efforts / Security
U.S. & International Community Support for Stability / Democratic Process
OSCE Involvement / U.S. Ambassador Young's Meetings
Political Situation / Prime Minister Bakiyev
U.S. Military Presence and Kyrgyz Partnership in War on Terror
Future Elections / Demonstrations/ U.S. Support / Democratic Development
Human Rights Violations and Respect for the Rights of Individuals
Response to Press Report U.S. Ambassador Powell Compromised Hunt for Terrorists
Configuration of U.S. Weapon Sales to Pakistan and India / Security Needs
Chinese Human Rights Practices /U.S. & World Encouragement for Progress
U.S. Support for Peaceful Dialogue with Taiwan /Resolve Differences
U.S. Support for Reform/ Forum for the Future/Meetings on Reform
U.S. Discussions with NGOS and Others throughout the Region
Syrian Troops and Intelligence Agents Departing Lebanon /
List of State Sponsors of Terrorism & U.S. Democracy Promoting Programs
Volker Report & Oil For Food Program
Secretary General Annan's Role in Reform
Accountability for Crimes Committed in Darfur /UN Resolution
1:10 p.m. EST
MR. ERELI: Let me begin with a word on the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra since I know that's what's on everybody's mind. We have -- our senior officials responsible for the regions concerned have met, or have had a conference call today. Our assistant secretaries for East Asia, South Asia, Africa, Consular Affairs, our Operations Center and the Secretary's staff have all been coordinating on this. We have sent messages to our embassies in the region asking them to go into the host governments in order to be in a position to get information about casualties so that we can be in a position to respond with assistance if necessary.
We have been in touch with our Consul General in Medan, the area closest to the earthquake. He reported that the earthquake was felt but has not seen any significant damage at this time. We have also reached out to NGOs and aid workers in the area, again, in an effort to gather information and to be in a position to act should our assistance be necessary.
I think what we've learned from -- we're applying what we've learned from the previous earthquake so that we can be prepared to be responsive quickly and in a meaningful way. So where we are right now is having alerted all our posts, been in contact with all our posts, putting ourselves in battle mode to be in a position where we can act, we can know what's going on and act appropriately if and when it's necessary.
QUESTION: Where does the tsunami radar system they're supposed to put in the area stand as far as the U.S. help is concerned? They were saying that it will come soon. That's impossible. I thought that it should have been come by now.
MR. ERELI: As you know, in the wake of the last disaster there was an international effort, most recently I think discussed in a conference in Tokyo several weeks ago about putting an international tsunami warning system in place. There have been certain steps taken in that regard but I don't have the technical details for you on where exactly the effort is. Our Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has -- is monitoring the situation and, as I said, we are communicating to our embassies in the affected areas about the event and encouraging them to work closely with host governments and local aid agencies to be responsive.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, I heard you talking about the relevant assistant secretaries having gotten together.
MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Has --
MR. ERELI: In a conference call.
QUESTION: Yes. Has there been any broader interagency meeting that might include, for example, the military?
MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of, not at this time.
QUESTION: So it's just within the State Department for now?
MR. ERELI: Speaking for the State Department, yeah. I don't know, I would imagine as events develop and as we get more information, there will be the kind of intergovernmental coordination that's necessary.
QUESTION: Are any of your embassies cautioning Americans, asking them to take any precautions, any steps, evacuation yet?
MR. ERELI: The issue of Warden messages was discussed in the State Department conference call. Posts will be looking at local developments on the ground and making determinations there. It is an option. Again, it just depends on what the circumstances are, what measures the embassies, given local conditions, feel is appropriate. But it's definitely something that we're looking at.
QUESTION: Nothing's gone out yet?
MR. ERELI: Nothing -- no, not yet.
QUESTION: You said that the Consul -- you had spoken to the Consular General in Medan --
MR. ERELI: Medan, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- who was not aware of any casualties so far. Are you aware of any casualties? Have any of your embassies or consulates reported any casualties so far?
MR. ERELI: I have not received reports of casualties.
QUESTION: I came in late, but you haven't touched on Kyrgyzstan, have you?
MR. ERELI: Pardon? No, we have not reached Kyrgyzstan yet.
QUESTION: It still looks a little uncertain, what's going on there. What do you think of the political developments? And can the former president, if that's what he is, make a return? Is the process you've been looking for, you know, rule of law, being followed?
MR. ERELI: Right. Our interest is to work with the international community to help the people of Kyrgyzstan build a stable democracy. That's the goal to which our efforts are dedicated.
Over the weekend, the Secretary General of the OSCE and the Special Representative of the OSCE met with the members of the interim government, including Prime Minister Bakiyev. They offered OSCE's advice and assistance as the interim authorities prepare for elections. Today, our Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Steve Young, also met with Bakiyev, almost met separately with Kubis, the Secretary General of the OSCE, and Peterle, the Special Representative of the OSCE, to discuss how we could all work together to help the interim government organize elections in the near future.
This is the path that the Kyrgyz Government is moving forward on as a result of discussions that they've had within their parliament and among the interim authorities that have been constituted and that's the process that we're going to support, all the while urging the opposition to remain inclusive, commit themselves to a peaceful process and work with Kyrgyzstan's neighbors so that this is done -- this process works out in a way that has the support and backing and positive contribution of the international community, which to this point it does.
QUESTION: So I think that I know the answer to the question but I'm going to ask you. Apart from how this came about, you talk about your interest in the welfare of the people. So far, so good, would you say?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: Are their interests being -- what's the word -- upheld?
MR. ERELI: The interest of --
QUESTION: The people.
MR. ERELI: The Kyrgyz people? I would say this. The process has been characterized by a reliance on Kyrgyz law, Kyrgyz institutions and Kyrgyz solutions to a Kyrgyz situation, and that as this process unfolds Kyrgyzstan's neighbors and the international community, including the United States, Russia and particularly importantly the OSCE, have been, I think, integral to supporting Kyrgyzstan's efforts and will be a partner with Kyrgyzstan as they take the next steps in the process.
QUESTION: Do you regard Mr. Bakiyev then as a sort of legitimate interim leader? I mean, you're dealing with him. You have -- you're entirely comfortable with the process by which he's been brought to power and --
MR. ERELI: I would say this. President -- Prime Minister Bakiyev has been confirmed in office by the parliament. We're dealing with the reality on the ground. As I said, we're dealing with reality on the ground with the understanding that what happens should happen consistent with the rule of law, consistent with the will of the Kyrgyz people and supported by the international community. So far, that's what's happened. And I think our involvement and the OSCE's involvement and the others' involvement is important to keeping things or helping keep things moving in the right direction.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up?
QUESTION: Sure, go ahead.
QUESTION: Are we sure that it is this parliament there that is empowered to take actions like naming an interim government, setting an election? There is some discussion there that it's the parliament that was elected on March 13th that's going to be taking this over and they will have power to actually carry these things through or even cancel them.
MR. ERELI: I'm just not -- I can't pronounce to you on the legal interpretations of what's going on between the Kyrgyz institutions. What I can tell you is that it's my understanding, our understanding, that both the old parliament and the new parliament have endorsed the interim government. And whatever the outcome, it should be based on, again, Kyrgyz institutions applying Kyrgyz law.
QUESTION: Has the interim government given the U.S. Government any understandings about the U.S. military retaining use of the part of the airport, the air base that it has outside Bishkek?
MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that that's been a discussion, an issue under discussion.
QUESTION: So you don't know whether it has come up at all?
MR. ERELI: I don't -- yeah, I don't -- I'm not aware that it has. I'll put it that way.
QUESTION: Maybe it's a little early to ask this, but, you know, you were hoping that the example set in Ukraine and Georgia would be duplicated in Kyrgyzstan. Does it look like it's that kind of move toward democracy?
MR. ERELI: Again, I don't want to be predictive and I also think it's important to evaluate every case on its own merits and not on the basis of what happened in separate instances.
With regard to Kyrgyzstan, from the very beginning what we've said we want to see is a process whereby the will of the people is heard and respected and followed, and that that process take place without violence, according to the rule of law and through Kyrgyz institutions. That you could say the same about political process, frankly, in almost any country. In this case there have been, I guess, bumps in the road but generally it has been -- it has moved forward on those terms.
QUESTION: If I could ask one more on the base. If I'm not mistaken, the United States first gained access to sort of the military base there, or at least a portion of the airport to be used as a U.S. military base, for the -- for Afghanistan in late 2001. Why does the U.S. Government believe it is still necessary to have such a base, given that the Taliban has been toppled? You now have an Afghan government that is very friendly to you. You're able to fly things in and out of there directly. Why do you need a base in Kyrgyzstan?
MR. ERELI: Well, I don't know if I would call our presence there, first of all, a base. Second of all, I'm not in a position to speak to you on the operational details of our military activity in Kyrgyzstan. Third, I think that as a general matter, Kyrgyzstan has been, and we have every expectation it will continue to be, a firm and committed partner in the global war on terror. And that has a variety of aspects to it: a political commitment, a diplomatic commitment, a commitment to work on the economic law enforcement and intelligence areas, and also, in some cases, a military component.
But I can't tell you exactly what the details of our presence there or the details of our operation. All I can tell you is that they're an important -- they're a valued partner in the global war on terror and I don't have any indication for you that that support or that commitment is waning in any way.
QUESTION: Well, do you have any indication that that support is continuing? Have you had discussions with the interim government and have they told you, yes, we will continue this?
MR. ERELI: As I said, I'm not aware that that subject has come up.
QUESTION: Then why do you have the expectation that they will continue to be a stalwart --
MR. ERELI: Because there's no reason to doubt it. You have no reason to -- we have no reason to doubt it. It is not a concern.
QUESTION: Will you take as a follow -- can I ask a follow-up and would you take the question of whether or not this has come up in discussions? Because I would be kind of shocked if it hadn't.
MR. ERELI: I'll see if we have anything to say about it.
QUESTION: Can we move on to Pakistan?
QUESTION: That's two different things.
MR. ERELI: I know. And I'll see if we have anything to say about it.
QUESTION: Can we move on to Pakistan?
MR. ERELI: Yep.
QUESTION: The demonstrations in Peshawar. Islamic fundamentalists, it looks like. Their point is that Musharraf is -- has too much power. The report that we looked at today said his decision to remain head of the army has stirred political debate, not a highly -- not a strong statement of any kind. It doesn't come down on any side. Do they have a point, these demonstrators, whatever their persuasion is? Is the president -- wouldn't you want the president to not have all this power, including the military and the civilian power he does?
MR. ERELI: This is a subject that we've spoken to extensively. I think the Secretary was very clear about it in her comments when she was in Pakistan and subsequent comments that she's given to the press. President Musharraf -- or we have made -- we have stressed to President Musharraf the importance of having democratic elections in 2007. President Musharraf has made important -- and Pakistan -- have made important strides in democratic reforms since 2001. This is a process. It is moving in the right direction. 2007 is an important date and one that we think everybody is looking forward to.
As to people in Pakistan demonstrating, the free and peaceful expression of political dissent is something -- is a basic civil right, something that we support. It is clearly a debate that is going on in Pakistan. It is a debate that in the spirit of democracy, I think, people in Pakistan welcome, as do we.
QUESTION: In that report, you speak of the 2005 and the 2007 elections, speak as though it's a commitment that ought to be kept. And you say of 2007, we will support it. Is this -- is there any elaboration you can give us as to how the U.S. -- besides spiritually -- does the U.S. have anything concrete in mind for supporting? Or is it just a matter of, you know, we're in favor of it?
MR. ERELI: It is an event that we think should happen, should take place, and we will help Pakistan as they move forward in their democratic development with that event as one of the big milestones in it. But specifically, what we would be prepared to do, not be prepared to do, I mean, it depends on what kind of assistance Pakistan might be looking for, if any.
QUESTION: Just to follow up. Demonstrators are not only demonstrating against General Musharraf, but also they are demonstrating against human rights situation, including the Sindhis and also recently council, village council, ordered a woman to go naked around the village and to be raped by the gang of 15 people. And it is on the record and she was on ABC's Nightline. So what the U.S. Government doing all this horrible human rights -- you know, not only in Pakistan but in many part of the South Asia?
MR. ERELI: These are crimes that are horrific and that every civilized party should speak out against. What's important for the United States, I think, as made clear in our Human Rights Report, is that laws respecting the rights of individuals, both without regard to gender or religious belief, be respected and upheld. And that certainly would be the case in this instance.
QUESTION: And one on China, maybe on human rights, please. China really doesn't give or doesn't care what U.S. says about human rights violation in China and continue against religious, especially Tibetans and also others in the area, as well human rights on religious freedom is concerned, freedom of press. And they are not doing any -- and U.S. is not doing anything to --
MR. ERELI: That's not true. First of all, China does care what the world thinks about its human rights policy, of its human rights practices. Second of all, the United States is doing a lot. Third of all, as you know, we -- China has recently taken a number of steps that we noted, that we welcomed, that we indicated were positive, while at the same time making the point that there were -- remain serious and systemic shortcomings in respect for human rights in China.
But I just cannot accept your -- the characterizations put forward in your question. Chinese human rights practices are of concern to the entire world. China pays attention to what the world thinks. And the United States uses that concern to help bring about improvements in human rights practices in China and we've met with some limited success, but a lot more needs to be done.
QUESTION: The cross-strait issues again. You make a comment about the Taiwan's rally last Saturdays for the anti-secession law? And (inaudible) on the KMT's deputy chairman is preparing to visited China.
MR. ERELI: Right.
QUESTION: Yeah, and the --
MR. ERELI: Right. I don't have much to add to the -- in the way of comments on the demonstrations to what I said on Friday, which is that the United States supports peaceful dialogue between the two countries* to resolve cross-straits tensions and opposes unilateral acts by either side that contribute to tension or that -- that contribute to tension. But I don't have any comments on the demonstrations, per se.
With regard to the visit of Mr. Chiang to the People's Republic of China, as I've said before, we believe that dialogue is the best way to achieve long-term resolution of cross-strait differences and that what we're looking for are solutions that are acceptable to both sides. And to the extent that visits between the two place -- visits across the straits can contribute to that, then they're welcome.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about this meeting that reportedly was here at the State Department with the Syrian opposition? And in a broader framework there, what is the United States strategy for dealing with the Syrian opposition and the possibility that the Assad government might not be eternal?
MR. ERELI: We at the State Department -- well, let me take a step back. As you know, the U.S. Government, starting with the President of the United States, is committed to supporting reform in -- throughout the world, supporting freedom, supporting people's efforts to develop representative political systems, to modernize education, to create economic and political opportunity for their citizens. One of the areas that we focus on is the broader Middle East, hence the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, which we unveiled at Sea Island, which was the subject of the Forum for the Future, which will be the subject of another Forum for the Future, I believe, next November, which will be the subject of another meeting coming up in Jordan, which is, frankly, a focus of the governments and citizens groups in the region.
In the context of that overall initiative, we have regular and ongoing discussions with civil society activists, reformers, prominent citizens from throughout the region about what's going on in their country, what are the conditions there, how we can work with them to support reform. Because remember, a key -- a fundamental premise of this whole approach is that we're not imposing something from the outside; we are working with indigenous movements and indigenous desires for change, and helping those people, those movements, to realize their potential. So we have regular meetings with civil society activists from throughout the region, with political leaders, with academics, et cetera, et cetera.
The meeting that you refer to was one of those and was a meeting with a number of, as I said, civil society activists, academics, other kinds of leaders and reformers connected to Syria to talk about: What is the situation in Syria. What is the state of reform effort? What are civil society activists doing, calling for? How can we, perhaps, design programs that can be of assistance to them?
And, you know, it was interesting. It was helpful. It was informative. And let's remember, I mean, again, the Broader Middle East and North African Initiative is not focused on one country or one issue, but rather is designed to be responsive to movements that are happening throughout the region, each one at their own speed. But we want to be able to help and that's what the discussion was about.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There has been a lot of speculation that if the Syrians have to withdrawal from Lebanon, that that would be the Assad government in danger. And according to, I think it was The Washington Post, they said that that was a topic at this meeting there. Was that discussed at this meeting and is it U.S. policy to try to plan for that contingency by making contact with Syria?
MR. ERELI: This is not -- this is not where we're going in those discussions, frankly. As I said, the discussion was: How can we support the Syrian people's desire for reform, for greater freedoms, for greater opportunity within the system that exists there now?
QUESTION: You said you have these discussions all the time. When was the last time that the U.S. State Department hosted such a discussion with such Syrian figures here in Washington?
MR. ERELI: I'll check.
QUESTION: Could you?
MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And secondly --
MR. ERELI: But when I said that, I meant not with specific reference to Syria but with reference -- within the context of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, and with others like Egyptians, Jordanians --
QUESTION: Right. No, I understand. But if you're going to set it in the broader context and leave the -- leave dangling the inference that this happens all the time, it would be interesting to know when the last time it was. I mean, if you had one last year, that would be interesting. If you had one -- the last one was ten years ago, that would also be interesting.
MR. ERELI: And the other point is we might have had one with Syrian representatives present along with other -- may not have been solely Syria-focused, but I'll check.
QUESTION: It would be interesting.
MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And then, there were reports out of Beirut today that were quoting, I think, a Lebanese security official as saying that over the last week an additional 2,000 Syrian troops have left the country in its entirety. Have you seen those reports? Do you have any reason to believe they're accurate? Do you have any estimate of how many Syrian forces, broadly defined, troops and intelligence agents, may still be in Lebanon?
MR. ERELI: I've seen the report, I don't have any numbers to share with you, any assessment of how many have left, how many are there. I would simply note that it's our view that 1559 remains unimplemented and that it is important that that situation be reversed.
I would also note that Secretary General Special Representative for Lebanon, Mr. Larsen, is going out to the region shortly in order to follow up on 1559 implementation. And that we will be looking forward to, I think, a clear and unequivocal way forward on that score, bearing in mind that elections are scheduled in May in Lebanon, that those elections need to be free of foreign interference, free of foreign pressure, and that that means free of any presence of Syrian forces.
QUESTION: Can I follow up, one more thing on Syria? Doesn't Syria's presence on the state sponsors list bar it from receiving U.S. aid?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: Then what is the point of discussing programs that the U.S. Government could create to try to promote democracy --
MR. ERELI: They can go to non-Syrian groups. They can go to NGOs that are active in --
QUESTION: So you might -- so nongovernment groups?
MR. ERELI: Yeah. Exactly.
QUESTION: Right, okay. Thanks.
MR. ERELI: Tammy.
QUESTION: Oil-for-Food. This week, a new Volcker report is expected and I'm wondering, in light of the fact that this scandal has clearly been a blight on the UN during Mr. Annan's time as Secretary General, if you believe that he has been sufficiently damaged by this that he can't carry through the reforms that the U.S. is looking for.
MR. ERELI: Let's wait until the next Volcker report comes out. The fact of the matter is that we've said that it's important that all the facts be known, and when all the facts be known that appropriate accountability be taken. Secretary General Annan has been a firm believer in that and so let's just -- let's see what happens and see what we find out and make our assessments on that basis.
QUESTION: But putting aside the question of accountability, do you believe that, given how the Oil-for-Food scandal has damaged his office, frankly, that he can -- he is somebody who can carry through the reforms that the U.S. has called for?
MR. ERELI: I don't have any judgment to share with you on that.
QUESTION: Does he retain Secretary's full confidence?
MR. ERELI: No change.
QUESTION: Well, it's interesting because we went through this several months ago, as you recall, and the State Department for days and days and days refused to give any indication that it had confidence in Secretary General Annan. And now it's interesting that you're not -- you're again not doing that. People read into that you guys were sort of waiting for the winds to blow and for him to fall. I mean, do you want to leave that inference in people's minds?
MR. ERELI: Let me put it this way. The United States and Secretary General Annan share a common desire to get to the bottom of the Oil-for-Food scandal and to take steps necessary to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and that the UN reform itself in a way that would prevent something like this from happening again. Secretary General Annan has been, I think, a forceful and decisive leader in this process. We're working closely with him and we all want to get to the bottom of it. And, you know, as far as our views on Secretary General Annan's stewardship of the UN, they remain what they were when we most recently stated them. There's no change to report.
QUESTION: But why can't you simply say yes to the question of whether he's capable of carrying out the reforms --
MR. ERELI: Because I don't like -- I'm not going to pronounce whether he's capable -- it's not for me to say whether Secretary General Annan is capable or not.
I'm here to tell you that we are working with him, we are supporting him in his efforts to get to the bottom of this, to have accountability and that he is the Secretary General of the United Nations. He has our confidence. We are working with him. Period.
QUESTION: But this --
MR. ERELI: End of story.
QUESTION: But when the Ambassador -- was it Ambassador Danforth, I believe -- came out -- when the last report came out, they said that he was capable of continuing the reforms. And so you believe that he's still capable?
MR. ERELI: I have -- yes. He just released his report. We welcomed his report. We said we're going to work with him on reform. We have an active agenda with the UN and with Secretary General Annan and we look forward to moving forward on that agenda.
QUESTION: Where do those --
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry, let's go to someone who has a new question.
QUESTION: There's a report out that between 2002 and 2004 --
MR. ERELI: No. All right, go ahead.
QUESTION: Okay, go ahead.
MR. ERELI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Just to follow that. Where do (inaudible) stand, all those countries who got billions of dollars from this Oil-for-Food program, and where they stand now as far as this investigation is concerned?
MR. ERELI: I'd refer you to the Volcker report. They're the ones doing the investigation. They're the ones to answer the question.
QUESTION: There's a report out that between 2002 and 2004, the then-Ambassador to Pakistan refused to allow the distribution of wanted posters, matchbooks and other items advertising the $25 million reward for the capture of Usama bin Laden. Can you confirm if this occurred and, if it did, what effect that had on the hunt for Mr. Bin Laden and the Rewards for Justice program?
MR. ERELI: Yeah. That report is untrue and unfair. It's untrue because the decision with regard to the materials in question was made before the Ambassador ever got to post. It was made by the -- it was made, again, previous to her arrival at post. That's number one.
It's unfair because the article somehow suggests that this Ambassador and the Embassy in Pakistan was lackadaisical and unenthusiastic about their pursuit of Usama bin Laden and their commitment to the war on terror. And that's unfair because those people are in the line of fire every day, they have suffered casualties in the war on terror, and to suggest that they lack commitment and courage and sacrifice strikes a raw nerve over here.
Now, to get to the facts of the story, the fact is that the decision on whether to make use of a particular tool in the war on terror, such as matchbooks or printed material, is based on a number of factors, including whether it's useful, whether it's accomplishing its purpose, or what other methods are there available. The decision is made by a number of entities, including the Ambassador, but also our counter-terrorism professionals from different agencies and other parts of the State Department. The decision to suspend this particular program was made in June 2002 and it was felt that at the time there were other programs, there were other activities, where our efforts, I think, were better devoted.
Second of all, the article also suggests that somehow counterterrorism was just one of six priorities. Counter-terrorism was the number one priority. The mission was dedicated to it, the U.S. Government was dedicated to it, and whether or not you have a matchbook program is not the measure by which one should judge the commitment to counterterrorism. The measure by which one should judge commitment to counterterrorism is the resources that you're deploying across the board, the diplomatic efforts you're making internationally, the actions you're taking with the government in the host country. And by all those measures Ambassador Powell and her team, from the day she arrived to the day she left -- and the day she left was on normal rotation cycle, not because of some pressure or decision elsewhere -- all her actions, from the day she got there to the day she left, were taken with that number one goal in mind.
QUESTION: Were these tools reinstated later? Is that part accurate?
MR. ERELI: Yeah. Well, as we announced very publicly a new campaign to get the word out among previously -- get the word out was initiated a few months ago. But what we did in 2005 is very different from what we were doing in 2002. We're doing it in local languages, in areas that hadn't been reached before, in ways we hadn't reached them before, and it was based on what we learned between the previous efforts and these efforts. So it was very much refined, I think very much more focused, and based on the kinds of wide-ranging consultations and discussions and thinking throughout the administration, not just one ambassador but throughout the administration, you come up with a plan that you think is going to work.
QUESTION: A new subject. Adam, this morning, Secretary Rice praised India and Pakistan, their efforts to resolve or solve the Kashmir problem and also moving towards peace in the region. But at the same time, the U.S. is selling F-16 to Pakistan and offered the better and more to India. How can these countries have peace in the region or among themselves if you keep selling them weapons? And I see a war in the near future. And also -- how can they have economic developments if they keep spending billions on arms?
MR. ERELI: First of all, there's been no details reached on the specific configuration of weapons sold, so that's point number one. Point number two, meeting legitimate security needs is not inconsistent and does not come at the expense of --
QUESTION: It comes --
MR. ERELI: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Does not come at the expense of economic development. To the contrary, security provides the kind of environment in which you can take -- in which you can focus on economic reform, you can focus on economic projects. And if you have real security, you don't have to engage in a destabilizing and expensive arms race.
So what we're looking toward and where the arms sale figures -- and how the arms sale figures into that is that we want to create -- we want to help create a situation on the South Asian peninsula in which neither India nor Pakistan nor others feel so vulnerable that they have to resort to the kind of arms race and the kind of brinksmanship that we've seen in the past.
And in the last three years, in trying to create those conditions, we've made a huge amount of progress; first and foremost, because the leaders of India and Pakistan and Afghanistan have come to the understanding that that state of affairs is in their interest, a state of affairs where they have relations with each other, they can both have arms that meet their legitimate security interests but don't threaten the other, and that they can focus their attention on economic and political and scientific developments that meet the long-term needs of both stability and prosperity. And so that's how it all fits together and that's the way to look at this particular arms sale.
QUESTION: Adam, just to follow quickly, security for who? They use these arms against each other and they kill their own people with your arms.
MR. ERELI: That's not the way we see it.
QUESTION: I see a war in the future.
QUESTION: Sudan's Justice Minister today says that the Sudanese Government has, for the first time, arrested military and security officials accused of raping and killing people in Darfur. It might be seen as rather late, but do you have any comment on that? Do you see these as real efforts to try and hold people accountable for this or is this some kind of a sham arrest?
MR. ERELI: We've seen these reports that the Government of Sudan has arrested officials that they had reportedly accused of committing crimes in Darfur. I would note that the Government of Sudan has previously been asked to rein in the Jingaweit, stop the violence in Darfur and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities and violence, and that in the past nothing has been done to hold anyone accountable.
Our view is that if you want to have real accountability for the crimes that have been committed in Darfur, there has to be an international mechanism for that, and that based on their past performance one cannot expect the Government of Sudan to fulfill that responsibility.
Therefore, we have presented a resolution at the United Nations that calls for accountability, that mentions a number of specific options that have been put forward, including African tribunals, and calls for discussion and consensus on what mechanism we can move forward on. But the common element to all of them is international accountability.
QUESTION: The U.S. Government still opposes referring this or allowing the ICC to handle any such cases, correct?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)
* The reference should be to "both sides."