U.S. Daily Press Briefing on DRC
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Secretary Rice Calls to Rawandan President Kagame, Belgian FM De Gucht
Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer's Travel / Kinshasa
Trying to Bring About a Resolution / Situation on the Ground Very Fluid
Four U.S. Government Employees Moved To Rwanda
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10:45 a.m. EDT
MR. WOOD: Good morning, everyone. Let me start off by reading a statement. Secretary of State Rice will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and Egypt, from November 5 to 9. While in the region, she will meet with her Quartet counterparts and senior government officials to discuss efforts to achieve positive and lasting peace in the region, consistent with the Annapolis process and the shared goal of a two-state solution.
As soon as we have some more details on the trip, we’ll get them to you. But I don’t have anything further on it right now.
QUESTION: Robert, do you –
MR. WOOD: Yes.
QUESTION: – have any update on Assistant Secretary Frazer’s trip?
MR. WOOD: Sure. Let me tell you a couple of things about what the Secretary’s been doing on the diplomatic front here. She had calls yesterday with President Kagame of Rwanda and the Belgian Foreign Minister De Gucht.
QUESTION: This is Rice?
MR. WOOD: Yes, Secretary Rice. Today, she plans to have a conversation – a phone call with UN Secretary General Ban. The Secretary has been following this issue very closely over the last – you know, last several weeks and, as a result, decided to send Jendayi Frazer to the region.
Jendayi is in Kinshasa today. She is going to meet with President Kabila as well as other Congolese officials. And then she will also meet with the UN Secretary General’s Special Rep Alan Doss. And there are plans for her to travel to Rwanda to meet with President Kagame, but her schedule is kind of fluid at the moment, so I don’t know whether that’s actually going to happen. But that’s –
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about what she’s – what her mission is? What is she doing?
MR. WOOD: Oh, yeah. Oh, absolutely. She is there to try to promote, you know, a peaceful solution to the conflict, to try to get the parties to, you know, implement the Goma agreements and the Nairobi communiqué, and obviously trying to bring about a resolution to the situation in, you know, eastern Congo.
And so the situation there on the ground is very fluid, and we’re watching it, as I said, very closely. And Assistant Secretary Frazer is going to do, you know, what she can on this trip to try to reduce the level of violence and tension in the region.
QUESTION: And exactly how is she going to do that? Exactly how is she going to try and reduce it –
MR. WOOD: Well, you know, as I said –
QUESTION: – especially if she’s not planning to talk to the other side?
MR. WOOD: Well, look, there – all of the parties know what their obligations are, particularly under, you know, the Goma agreements. And it’s basically to get all of the parties to agree to respect international law and human rights.
QUESTION: But you (inaudible), she’s not speaking to all the parties, though.
MR. WOOD: Well, she’s going to speak to the people she feels is necessary and the people she feels she needs to speak to in order to try to bring about a reduction in tensions in the region. And so, you know, that’s the purpose of her visit.
QUESTION: What’s the latest on any help the U.S. is providing the UN mission there for their security?
MR. WOOD: With regard to security?
MR. WOOD: Well, I mean, we have discussions with the UN on a wide range of issues in the DRC. And I’m not going to get into specifics of what we are, you know, talking to the UN about with regard to security. But it’s something we obviously are very concerned about, the situation on the ground. And where we can take steps to help the UN, we will. But I’m not going to get into the details of that here.
QUESTION: I think Sean had talked about an aid package that you guys might be getting ready.
MR. WOOD: Well, if we have something to announce, we will. I mean, we’re looking at various ways we can help support the process there and help the people of Congo, because we are very concerned about the situation there.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. support, in general, an increased troop presence of the UN force in Goma?
MR. WOOD: Well, you know, I’d like to withhold comment on that for the moment. I mean, we want to have continued discussions with the UN and – you know, and let those discussions take place before, you know, making that kind of a commitment.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the four U.S. Government employees that were in Goma were taken out of Goma?
MR. WOOD: Yeah.
QUESTION: How long do they intend to remain outside of – or in Rwanda, I guess, which is where they –
MR. WOOD: Well, they – there were four U.S. Government employees who were on temporary duty in Goma, I think through midday Wednesday, and at which point they were relocated across the border to Gisenyi.
QUESTION: How did they get there, because the UN evacuation yesterday, kind of, failed?
MR. WOOD: Yeah, I don’t know how they did, Matt. I really don’t know how they got there. But that’s – they’re in Gisenyi at this time. And we’ll continue to reassess their status before – you know, as events warrant.
QUESTION: And do you know who exactly they work for?
MR. WOOD: I don’t know, sorry.
QUESTION: I mean, you don’t know if they were State Department, AID, other government agencies or –
MR. WOOD: Well, these are the four U.S. Government – I’m sorry, what was your question, Matt, again? I’m sorry, yeah, U.S. Government personnel.
QUESTION: Yes, but you don’t know which agency (inaudible)?
MR. WOOD: No, I don’t – sorry – at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. WOOD: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 11:06 a.m.)