State Dept. Daily Press Briefing July 23, 2001
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing Index Monday, July 23, 2001
BRIEFER: Phillip Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
SECRETARY TRAVEL 1 Arrival in Tokyo
INDONESIA 1-2 Political Situation/ US Relations
MACEDONIA 3-4, 7-8 Pardew in Skopje / Situation / Talks Continue / Death of European Monitors
BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CONVENTION 4-5 US Support
GREECE 5-6 Combating Terrorism / Trafficking in Persons Report
JAPAN 6 Comfort Women Demonstration
ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 7 Situation Report
ARMS CONTROL 8 NSC Advisor Rice in Moscow
CLIMATE CHANGE 9-10 Talks in Bonn
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 104
MONDAY, JULY 23, 2001 1:04 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department for another quiet, pre-August week.
The Secretary has arrived at the first stop of his Asia tour. He is in Tokyo, arrived there around about 9:00 o'clock our time this morning, and is now well ensconced for the night, I suppose. Ambassador Boucher is, of course, accompanying him.
Since I don't have any announcements from here, I would be happy to start with questions.
QUESTION: Given what's happened in Indonesia, are you reviewing your policy toward Indonesia, including ties with the military or lack thereof?
MR. REEKER: At this stage, I think you are probably aware of the President's comments this morning from Italy, where President Bush stated earlier today that we look forward to working with the new Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, to meet Indonesia's many challenges. As the President noted, the Indonesian people have shown their commitment to the rule of law and democracy in resolving the leadership dispute that has been brewing for some time and, of course, came to a head over the weekend.
We urge all parties there to work together to maintain peace, support the constitution and promote national reconciliation. And we do appreciate President Wahid's work over the last two years in leading Indonesia through its democratic transition.
Obviously, our diplomats on the ground will be working swiftly to cement ties with the new government. It is a little premature probably to make any major statements about next steps there. But I believe Ambassador Gelbard is on the ground. We are following this very closely, as we did over the weekend, and today, keeping close touch with Secretary Powell's party and with the President's party still in Europe. So we will just continue to call for national reconciliation and see how steps move forward.
QUESTION: Even if you are not prepared to say anything about changes in policy, I mean, would you at least acknowledge that this change of government has forced you to take a new look, a fresh look at Indonesia?
MR. REEKER: I think we have made clear all along that we will support any peaceful, democratic and constitutional resolution to the leadership crisis in Jakarta. And now that Indonesia's institutions have installed Megawati as President, we look forward to meeting with her and with other members of her government. So, obviously, we will need to take a new look at new individuals and perhaps new policies as the Indonesian Government goes forward.
But the most important factor -- and we want to reiterate that -- again, as the President said, as we work with them, recognizing their commitment to democracy and the rule of law as they have in resolving the leadership dispute and that that is the path they should take in dealing with the many other issues they have to deal with. And so we will be there to work with them, and we want to have a strong bilateral relationship with Indonesia. But at this point, we will continue to see how things evolve in coming days.
QUESTION: One more on this. Do you see any signs of destabilization that would trouble you, any new signs of destabilization brought on by this change of leadership?
MR. REEKER: At this point, I don't think so. We again are welcoming the peaceful transition. The fact that the Indonesian people have shown their commitment to rule of law, the fact that security forces rejected former President Wahid's orders for a state of emergency.
So we are monitoring the situation very closely. Our embassy is very active in Jakarta to keep track of developments there. We will continue to do that as we press forward to pursue our relations with Jakarta and to help Indonesia meet its many challenges.
QUESTION: They are fighting in Macedonia. What does that say about the value or lack thereof of the ceasefire, and what do you see as the next steps?
MR. REEKER: Is there anything else on Indonesia before we move on? Let me just take care of this one, and then we will come back to that.
QUESTION: Can you tell us -- obviously you didn't mention about the corruption which triggered this transformation. You didn't mention at all in the statement, about the corruption.
MR. REEKER: Those are -- a lot of the issues there are, as we have said for some time now, are internal issues for Indonesia to solve. Our position has been, for many, many months, that we want to see a resolution of those problems through a process according to the rule of law through constitutional means. And as the President said, the Indonesian people have shown a commitment now to rule of law, towards a constitutional process in terms of resolving the leadership dispute that arose, and we are urging all the parties to work together to maintain peace.
Obviously issues like corruption are ones that we talk about on a worldwide basis, the importance in trying to root out corruption and move ahead. That will be vitally important for Indonesia, as it is for so many countries in making progress in terms of democratic reforms and economic reforms as well.
Anything else on Indonesia, and we could switch to Macedonia?
Obviously we are following the situation very closely in Macedonia. Ambassador Pardew remains in Skopje, along with our embassy, led by Ambassador Einik. Any breach of the ceasefire we consider unacceptable. The ceasefire is absolutely vital. All sides, including the armed ethnic Albanian extremists who have taken to arms and fighting, as well as the government of Macedonia, must exercise restraint and respect the ceasefire agreement that they signed.
The ceasefire was an open-ended commitment and is crucial in providing the right atmosphere for the political dialogue, which we think must move ahead. There is no military solution to the problems in Macedonia. I think all the people of Macedonia know that. I think ethnic Albanians understand that, ethnic Macedonians understand that. The government of Macedonia needs to understand that, and they need to focus on sticking with the cease-fire, which is very important, and then moving ahead with a political solution, which is continuing. Talks have been continuing.
As I said, Ambassador Pardew remains on the ground, working with the EU Special Envoy Leotard, in facilitating discussions. There is no particular deadline for reaching an agreement, but all the parties need to continue negotiations and reach an agreement that addresses, obviously, the concerns of all sides involved there in terms of respecting the rights of all citizens of Macedonia and preserving Macedonia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, which is what we have called for all along, what we have stood for very soundly since Macedonia's independence over a decade ago.
QUESTION: There is speculation going on that Mr. Bush will meet Mr. Trajkovski while in Kosovo. Is there any truth in it?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on that. I am afraid I would have to have you check with traveling White House press staff. But I would be happy to check into that to see if we know anything about that. I know we have been in regular touch with President Trajkovski and supported his efforts to lead in terms of having all political parties work with him in the negotiation. But I don't have any information on the specific meeting.
QUESTION: Are you saying that in spite of the experience and the arguments last week over this agreement that was drafted by the two envoys, negotiations or talks are continuing and they have not stalled at this point?
MR. REEKER: Right. I think talks can continue at different levels. We have been encouraging full participation by the leaders of all the political parties. Again, this is a negotiation and this is what negotiations are all about. It is about, in terms of our role, helping to facilitate by helping present drafts, ideas for the parties to work on, ever cognizant that, as part of a negotiation, both sides -- all sides in the matter -- need to consider compromises that can be made.
So those talks are continuing. The international community, in the form of the EU envoy and our special advisor, are continuing to facilitate those talks. And all of the political parties need to be very serious in their pursuit of this. Because, obviously, the solution to the problems there so that they can move ahead and not have the type of violence where we have seen sporadic breaks in the cease- fire is to find a political solution, so they can move ahead.
As you know, NATO has issued their own statement in terms of the role they will take, once there is a political solution to work on. So that is where we are continuing to focus our attention.
QUESTION: New topic. What is the US view on the work of the ad hoc group in Geneva on the Biological Weapons Convention?
MR. REEKER: Biological Weapons Convention. I think, as we have mentioned to some of you in the last few days, different agencies in the US Government have been meeting on the issue of the Biological Weapons Convention protocol and there is broad agreement that more work needs to be done to examine measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention in a way that effectively responds to the biological weapons threat. We have said this publicly, we have said this privately to our allies.
I do think it is worth noting that the United States has an unparalleled record for supporting multilateral nonproliferation objectives and efforts, and we fully support the Biological Weapons Convention, which has banned all biological weapons since it was created in 1972. We are a party to that convention, fully support it. We also support, of course, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. At this point, I just don't have anything to add. I know that the next scheduled round of negotiations on the protocol are scheduled to begin I believe today in Geneva. I just don't have any details to go beyond that at this point. But we will keep looking at that during the week.
QUESTION: So what is your comment on reports that Ambassador Mahley was dispatched to Geneva to inform the allies that the US was in fact - - found the draft protocol unacceptable and was going to reject it?
MR. REEKER: We have read those comments. We have read those reports. And at this point, I don't have anything to add, beyond what I said, that we have made clear quite publicly, as well as privately, that more work needs to be done to look at measures to strengthen the Bio-Weapons Convention, and we support the convention. We are a party to it and support it strongly, and we need to continue working on ways to effectively respond to the Bio-Weapons threat.
So at this point I just don't have anything to add to that.
QUESTION: What do you say to those who say that this is another example of increasingly frequent incidences of the US walking away from multilateral efforts to strengthen in this case the Biological Weapons Convention, and in other cases, other international --
MR. REEKER: I would say we haven't walked away from anything. We continue to be seriously engaged in a variety of multinational fora. When we have disagreements, when we don't feel that processes are meeting the goals they have set out to, we are quite clear in voicing our concerns and discussing what is important to the United States and what we feel is important in meeting the goals of these discussions.
And so we will continue to have these discussions. We will continue to discuss, obviously, the Bio-Weapons Convention and how it can be strengthened to effectively respond to the biological weapons threat that is out there. As I said, and I will say it once again, we are a party to the Biological Weapons Convention from 1972. We think it is very important. We strongly support that convention.
But as we have said for some time now, more work needs to be done on steps taken to strengthen that, to respond to the threats that are out there. And right now, at an interagency level in the US Government, we are continuing to look at that through a variety of meetings. And I just don't have any particular results or steps to announce today.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Ambassador Tom Miller testifying the other day before the Senate committee stated inter alia earlier that one of his top priorities will be the combat of terrorism in Greece, and more specifically, the arrest and prosecute of terrorists pertaining to the brutal terrorist organization, November 17th.
Since his statement reflects, of course, the view of the policy, could you please elaborate more what is all about?
MR. REEKER: I think you have summed it up quite nicely. We have talked at great length, many times, particularly when we have rolled out our Annual Terrorism Report, about working closely with the Government of Greece, our close ally and friend, in combating terrorism. It is one of our top priorities around the world, and Ambassador Miller, obviously in his testimony as part of his confirmation hearing in a process to become Ambassador to Greece, should the Senate advise and consent to that, was simply restating one of the top priorities we have. I don't think there is any mystery in that. It is something we have talked about quite often from here, and I know we will continue working with our Greek friends on that subject.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) terrorism must be necessarily Greeks and not Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Turks, Armenian or Arabs? Why Greeks? Do you have any idea?
MR. REEKER: Because Ambassador Miller is nominated to be Ambassador to Greece, not to any other countries. And I'm sure, in all those countries, where there are issues of terrorism involved, we are working with those countries, and any nominees to those jobs will be interested in pursuing that, too. It is something we pursue with countries all around the world, and I would just refer you to our annual review of the Patterns of Global Terrorism, which summarizes that quite nicely.
QUESTION: Mr. Miller stated also that one of his top priorities priorities will be to conduct "the transfer of human beings," which means prostitutes, and the organized crime in Greece. Could you please elaborate more on those issues, because Greece was caught by surprise.
MR. REEKER: I don't think anybody should have been caught by surprise. We have been talking quite a lot about the issue of trafficking in persons. In fact, you may have missed it due to your absence, but we had the first release of the first Trafficking in Persons Report, as required under law by our Congress. We released that and we had a briefing on that subject. We would be happy to get you a transcript of that. It is, again, not something that is peculiar to Greece; it is a global phenomenon which we have been discussing for a number of years now. It has been a high priority for this Administration, as it was for the previous administration. We are working with friends and allies, like Greece, to help combat that tragic global problem.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- resume his duties in Athens approximately?
MR. REEKER: That is a question you need to direct to the United States Senate.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Mr. Montgomery visited recently the western Thrace of Greece and the most (inaudible) three towns looking for gypsies and (inaudible). And in another development, Ambassador Nicholas Burns was looking over Attica to find the so-called (inaudible) gypsies. Do you know what this is all about?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm not aware of that at all.
QUESTION: Can you take this question?
MR. REEKER: No, I really can't. You need to direct that to those particular embassies.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. REEKER: You would need to direct that to those particular embassies and ambassadors.
QUESTION: To Montgomery and Mr. Burns?
MR. REEKER: Go right ahead. Yes.
QUESTION: While we were walking in this room, there was a demonstration outside this building regarding the comfort woman issue and asking the State Department to withdrawal statement of interest. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm afraid I am not aware of the demonstration outside the building. As you just noted yourself, I just walked in this room and I haven't been out front. So that is something we would have to look into.
QUESTION: Regarding the statement of interest?
MR. REEKER: I am not even sure what you are referring to. So perhaps we could look into the question for you afterwards.
QUESTION: Can we move to Middle East?
MR. REEKER: Middle East? Anything else? Okay, sure.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask, the Israelis are saying that they are agreeing to an increased number of CIA personnel, but they are saying that the United States hasn't even approached them with this. Is the US going to do that?
MR. REEKER: I think it is a subject that we are discussing, an issue that we are discussing with the parties in general, and I just don't have any details to share at this time.
Generally, in terms of catching up on the Middle East, since Friday, there has been a relatively lower level of violence on the ground and we certainly hope this will continue. We have seen this trend of relative calm before, only to be followed by renewed violence. So we want to reiterate that it remains absolutely crucial that the parties exert maximum effort to halt the violence, avoid escalation, desist from provocations and incitements and strive to create and sustain through words and deeds on the ground an environment of trust and confidence that will permit the parties then to move forward with the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects. And so we remain obviously in continuous contact with the parties. Our missions in the region are meeting regularly with Israeli and Palestinian officials in an effort to advance the Mitchell timeline.
So we will continue working in that regard.
QUESTION: On Skopje. Any comment on the death of the two European monitors in Tetovo the other day by mines?
MR. REEKER: It was a tragic accident demonstrating again how the violence, the use of weapons, including land mines, in this situation has only led to tragedy, to the death in this case of two European monitors, who were doing an important job. They have had a role in Macedonia for many years, and we certainly regret the death of those two individuals, and our sympathies go out to their families.
Again, it demonstrates the need for both sides in the Macedonian conflict and for all parties, all ethnicities, all citizens of Macedonia to think seriously about the situation they confront, and to work together; a time for political leaders to show leadership and work at coming up with compromise, to move ahead on the political dialogue so that we can have an agreement that can be enforced so that Macedonia as a country, with its sovereignty, with its fully territorial integrity in a multi-ethnic capacity, can move forward to be a real example to Europe and be part of the Europe whole and free that we have called for.
So again, violence doesn't beget anything except violence, and we need to move ahead on a political solution.
QUESTION: US-Russia relations, with the talk about arms control, any upcoming meetings? What happens next? Who goes where?
MR. REEKER: I think probably most of this is coming out from the President's party. You saw the statement put out yesterday by President Bush, as well as President Putin, in terms of beginning shortly intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects, as they put it, of both offensive of defensive systems.
National Security Advisor Rice, as I understand it, will visit Moscow July 24 - 25 to discuss the schedule and modalities of these consultations. I believe she will be joined there by our Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Steve Pifer.
We are very pleased with the meeting that the two presidents had, which was constructive and open, about the need for a new strategic framework to reflect today's security environment, and I think I would just refer you back to the joint statement of the two leaders that pointed out that major changes have occurred in the world, and they require concrete discussions of both offensive and defensive systems.
So we are going to move ahead with that quite smartly.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) one meeting that you know of?
MR. REEKER: Obviously in Moscow, beginning tomorrow, to then discuss the modalities and the next steps and the scheduling of those discussions. So we are moving quite swiftly and smartly in that direction.
QUESTION: One question about global warming. There was a meeting (inaudible) meeting in Bonn, Germany, and I think the environment ministers agreed on some sort of rules to proceed with the Kyoto Protocol. And do you have any statement on that? That's one question.
And the other question is, the Japanese Environment Minister, actually she addressed some sort of -- she indicated that she wants to proceed with the procedures without the US verification. Would you give us some comment about that issue?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think you know that we have made it very clear that the United States will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but we had a delegation in Bonn led by our Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, which was participating as a party to the UN framework -- the Framework Convention on Climate Change. And we have worked very actively and constructively to look at our legitimate interests, US interests, while working on the problem of climate change, which as you know, the President and others have made quite clear is something quite serious to us.
As you indicated, that sixth conference of parties that began July 19th concluded, I believe, today in Geneva. The negotiations had continued pretty much nonstop, I think, over the weekend. And as we indicated at the outset of that, when Under Secretary Dobriansky went to Bonn and in her opening remarks, we went there to be constructive and were constructive throughout the talks. And we certainly didn't stand in the way of other parties' decisions about the Kyoto Protocol. We have made our views quite well known. We have tried to be quite clear on that.
I understand technical level discussions are continuing in Bonn until Friday, and I think you know that we have been concerned that the climate change negotiations were producing a response to the problem that would not be effective over the long time it will take for the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, because they weren't leading to a truly global agreement. And that was the concern we had raised. We want to see some sort of solution that is scientifically based, that is environmentally effective and economically sustainable. That is what has been underlying the work we have continued to do.
So I think in Bonn, we worked constructively to enhance international cooperation. We identified areas where we can cooperate, particularly cooperation among developed and developing countries under the Framework Convention. We are members of that Framework Convention and we can expect to continue working under that Framework Convention, and also helping increase the capacity for developing countries to facilitate and respond to the issue of global climate change, including export of advanced clean energy technologies and other actions that will help mitigate the greenhouse gas problem.
So that is the type of approach we have been taking. We certainly have a strong tradition in working with developing countries on issues like this. And so we do take this quite seriously, and we will continue to work in that framework.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Japanese Government about this issue?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything specific on that. I don't know what they may have talked about or what Under Secretary Dobriansky may have said in Bonn. We can check and see if there were any other remarks that were made. I think we have tried to work with all countries -- developed countries like Japan, developing countries, our friends, our allies -- in moving ahead on this.
Obviously, the Secretary of State is in Tokyo today, as I indicated at the beginning. I don't have a rundown of the issues he will be dealing with in his talks with Japanese government officials tomorrow. But he will do that, and we will try to keep you posted certainly on what develops there.
Anything else? Last chance? Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)