State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 5
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 5
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
October 5, 2004
- US View of Algerian Draft Security Council Resolution
- Status of Yaser Hamdi Agreement / Discussions
- US Concerns About Iran's Missile Programs
- Threat of Terrorism / Query Regarding Bomb Threats on Passenger
- US-Cyprus Bilateral Relationship
- 44th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Cyprus
- Status of Troops in Iraq
- Commitment to Fulfilling Mission in Iraq
- Agenda for Tokyo Donors' Conference / Identification of Needs by Iraq
- Identification of Resources for Iraq Reconstruction
- Need for International Assistance to Darfur / Timing
- Responsibilities of Government
- UN Special Representative Pronk's Report
- Expansion of African Union Mission
- Timeliness of UN Response to Situation in Sudan
- International Criminal Court Access to US Funds
- Current Number of Article 98 Agreements
- Basis for Numbers in Country Background Notes
12:50 p.m. EDT
MR. ERELI: Afternoon, everybody. Today our guests are journalists from Belgium. Welcome. Hope you find this briefing newsworthy.
QUESTION: So do we.
MR. ERELI: And that's in your hands, ladies and gentlemen.
QUESTION: That's interesting. I thought it was in your hands.
MR. ERELI: You've got to ask the right questions.
QUESTION: One question --
MR. ERELI: That's how we start. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Is it just me or has the Administration not made its mind up yet what to do about the Algerian resolution that would have Israel stop in its tracks its foray into Gaza? I've seen the Secretary's remarks, I've seen the Ambassador's remarks, but I don't know if this is evenhandedness you're shooting for or if you're going to veto it.
MR. ERELI: I think we've been fairly clear, both at the UN and here, in expressing our view that the resolution is unbalanced, that it is one-sided, doesn't look at all the issues involved in what's going on in Gaza at the present time. We've said that we will be discussing it today at the Security Council. We'll take this opportunity to convey our concerns to the other members of the Council as well as the Palestinians. I think that's a fairly clear statement of position.
I think at this stage I'm not going to speculate on what the outcome of today's session will be or what -- how we'll vote if it comes to a vote.
QUESTION: Why would you convey your views to the Palestinians? Are they on the Security Council?
MR. ERELI: They are not on the Security Council but they work through the Algerians, who represent the Arab Group, to -- in the process of the debate.
QUESTION: But is it safe or is it fair to assume that, in its present form, you would feel compelled to vote against it?
MR. ERELI: I'm not presaging how it's going to -- what changes may or may not come --
QUESTION: I'm not asking you if what changes --
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say the United States would not vote for a resolution that it finds unbalanced, one-sided and doesn't look at all the issues?
MR. ERELI: Let's see what comes out of the discussions today --
QUESTION: I'm asking a very simple question.
MR. ERELI: Yeah, and you know the answer is always the same, Matt, is that we don't engage in those kinds of hypotheticals; we wait until the -- we wait to see what we're dealing with when it comes to a vote, and at that time we make our decision based on what's before the table.
QUESTION: Yeah, but --
MR. ERELI: That moment hasn't come. I don't want to speculate about what the resolution is going to look like when it comes to a vote, and so we just don't do that.
QUESTION: Yeah, but the -- Barry's question was intended to elicit: Are you trying to get changes in the resolution so that you might be able to be support it? At least that's what I understood his question to mean. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it.
MR. ERELI: I think that the resolution, as it is, is unbalanced. We are discussing with our other members of the Council. If there were changes in it, if there were -- if it could be balanced in a way, then we might take a -- we might look at it in a different light. But it's very unclear how this discussion's going to come out. I think that, as a general proposition, we believe it's difficult to support a resolution that's unbalanced.
QUESTION: But those folks up there know that the U.S., on rare occasion, including this Administration, has abstained rather than veto the resolution it found unfairly unbalanced against Israel. So, you know, unless you threaten a veto, I don't know how you expect to be able to influence the outcome.
MR. ERELI: Let me put it this way. I'm not going to negotiate the resolution from the podium. We'll work in the Council to try to address the shortcomings that we see, and effect the changes that we think are needed. But it's not something I'm not going to do here.
QUESTION: But let's turn it around. You've dealt at length with the "unbalanced" issue, and from everything you say, you think it's appropriate that in some equitable form, the Security Council admonish Israel for defending itself by going into Gaza.
MR. ERELI: I didn't say that.
QUESTION: Well, then why would you support a resolution that, if it were balanced, that took Israel to task?
MR. ERELI: Again, you're asking me to -- if you're asking me --
QUESTION: If you didn't dislike what they do.
MR. ERELI: You're asking me to express an opinion about a resolution that, at this point, doesn't exist, and I'm not going to do that.
We're dealing with what we have before us, which is an unbalanced resolution. What comes out of this process, and how we -- what position we take based on what comes out of this process, I think, needs to wait for that process to complete itself. And at this stage, you're asking me to speculate about, well, if the process produces this --
QUESTION: No, I'm not.
MR. ERELI: -- would you do that; if it doesn't produce that, would you do this.
MR. ERELI: And, again, I just can't do it.
QUESTION: No, I think there's a clear inference here. If it says both sides in a -- if, in a balanced way, it says both sides are bad, the United States will stand up and cheer.
MR. ERELI: Hypothetical.
QUESTION: But Adam, you just said, in the first comments, you say what we're looking at is a resolution that doesn't exist. And then you said, well, we're looking -- what we have now is a resolution that's unbalanced.
MR. ERELI: Right.
QUESTION: Well, you can't have it both ways --
MR. ERELI: You're asking me --
QUESTION: -- because you have -- there is a draft of a resolution out there that you say is unbalanced, one-sided, and doesn't look at all the issues --
MR. ERELI: Right.
QUESTION: -- what's going on in Gaza. You say that it's difficult to support a resolution that's unbalanced. Why is it not impossible to support a resolution that is unbalanced, unfair and one-sided?
MR. ERELI: Matt, I've expressed the opinion of the resolution, as it exists. You're asking me, how will we vote if it were brought to the table today? And I'm just not going to get into that kind of speculation, that kind of hypothetical. I'll tell you that we will decide how we will vote on this resolution based on the text that is presented for a vote. That hasn't happened yet. We're in the process of having discussions about our views on the resolution and how we think the issue should be treated in the Security Council. And our actions will be determined by the response to those discussions.
But that's a process that's playing itself out. But I'm not going to, at this time in the process, say some things are possible and some things are impossible. I'll just say it's a process that's working itself out in the Security Council.
QUESTION: Do you mean to leave the door open to the possibility that the United States might vote in favor of or not vote against a resolution that you find to be unbalanced and one-sided?
MR. ERELI: I mean to leave open --
QUESTION: That's the impression that you're giving.
MR. ERELI: I mean to leave open the possibility that we think -- to leave open the -- I wish to give the impression that we think that this resolution is unbalanced and that we are expressing our concerns and having discussions about it in the Security Council, and that I'm not going to speculate about what the outcome of those discussions are going to be or how we will vote until we have a final text that's presented to be voted on.
QUESTION: On a different issue but thinking -- speaking of things that are in progress, can you talk about what the Hamdi case is and whether you and the Saudis have made any progress and whether the Secretary or anyone at the most senior levels has weighed in on this case?
MR. ERELI: There haven't been any calls made at the senior level that I know about. As far as progress made, as I think we discussed yesterday, this is an issue that we continue to have discussions with the Saudis about, working with the Saudis to facilitate implementation of the agreement between Mr. Hamdi's lawyers and the Department of Justice. Not all issues related to implementing that agreement have been worked out, so we are where we were.
QUESTION: A related topic. A senior Iranian official claims that Iran has a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers. Do you have any reason to believe that that's true and do you have any comment on the claim?
MR. ERELI: I'm not going to -- I'm not in a position to confirm to you the range cited. Obviously, that deals with intelligence matters, which we don't discuss.
Obviously, the United States has had and continues to have serious concerns about Iran's missile programs. As you know, we view Iran's efforts to further develop its missile capabilities as a threat to the region and to the United States interests, and all the more so in light of its ongoing nuclear program.
With specific reference to this report, it's well known that Iran has had an active missile program for almost two decades, that Iran has been in the late stages of developing the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile and that is has been working on longer range systems. So it is -- these kinds of long-range missiles which have been the subject of reports has been an active area of Iranian weapons development for some time, has been a concern of ours for some time. And international cooperation with likeminded countries is important to take steps to address these efforts, and that's where we're focusing our efforts.
QUESTION: Do you have anything at all to comment on the recent practices by anonymous callers who succeeded three times for Olympic Airways flights to make emergency landing in Ireland and England and the island of Corfu yesterday under the threat of a bomb in flight and today a Lufthansa flight which made an emergency landing to Cyprus for the same reason?
MR. ERELI: I don't know the facts behind these cases. Obviously, as they demonstrate, the threat of terrorism remains very real and there's a need to take it seriously and to take action to prevent it, and it's a reminder of the reality of the dangers we live with.
But as far as what's behind it and what's prompting it, those are questions that I just am not in a position to answer.
QUESTION: Any comment on the 44th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Cyprus on October 1st, 1960, after decades of British colonial rule?
MR. ERELI: The Cyprus anniversary of October 1st, 1960?
MR. ERELI: You know, obviously, the Republic of Cyprus is a country that we have a strong relationship with and I am sure we expressed our pleasure and pride in that relationship in the appropriate way through our Embassy in Cyprus on October 1st.
QUESTION: One more question -- sorry. Do you believe via the services of coordinator Under Secretary Laura Kennedy that U.S. citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus will be enabled to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of the land or the Turkish Government?
MR. ERELI: I didn't follow all the intricacies of the question. Let me see if I can get something from Ms. Kennedy on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Adam, in response to questions about various comments from Polish officials about the troop commitment and deployment of troops in Iraq, you said that it was your understanding that the Polish commitment was not calendar-driven, but rather mission-driven, as was the commitment of all the other people, all the other countries who are in the coalition.
Today, the Defense Minister has said that very soon, the government is going to set a date certain for the withdrawal, at least partial withdrawal, the beginning of the withdrawal of Polish troops. Is it still your understanding that the Polish commitment is not calendar-driven?
MR. ERELI: I haven't seen those comments, so I really couldn't react in an informed way to them. I think, obviously, you know, moving troops around is one question. And, you know, how you rotate troops, how you manage your force structure, there are calendar, I think, calendar considerations.
The presence -- the question of the presence in Iraq, and the participation in the coalition, and the fulfillment of commitments made to Iraq and the coalition are mission-driven. So I don't see a necessarily contradiction between those two. I tried to explain that yesterday, but I think you can have calendar considerations in terms of how you go about fulfilling the mission, but the commitment continues through the completion of the mission.
QUESTION: So your understanding is still that the Poles will -- that Polish troops will stay in Iraq until the mission is completed, and not --
MR. ERELI: We have no --
QUESTION: -- for some arbitrary or artificial calendar deadline?
MR. ERELI: Yeah, we have no cause to doubt the strength and solidity of Poland's commitment to fulfilling the mission in Iraq and supporting the coalition and the multinational force and in helping Iraq develop the capability to provide its own security and assume full control over their country.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. Government asked other countries to contribute money to fund some of the Iraq reconstruction efforts that the U.S. Government has chosen not to fund? I'm referring specifically to the transfer of about $3.5 billion of U.S. reconstruction monies that you got permission from Congress to carry out, I guess about ten days ago. Have you gone to other countries to ask them to try to fund some of the things that you're no longer going to fund in the short-term? And has anybody out of the Tokyo conference given you any -- stepped up to the plate and said, yes, they'll do that?
MR. ERELI: No, that's not really how we're approaching the issue, frankly. You referred to Tokyo and how that's going to play out. What we expect to happen at Tokyo, frankly, is that the -- it will provide an opportunity for the Iraqi Government, a year after Madrid, to come before the international community, review the progress that has been made in that year, and lay out for all of us a vision of where they are and what their needs are and what they are looking to the international community for, bearing in mind the progress that's been made and what's been done.
Obviously, as part of that, we are letting people know what we're doing in Iraq and how we are using our resources as part of the bigger picture. We're making it clear to everybody, you know, how we're shifting our monies, how we're responding what the Iraqis are saying their needs are, and we are encouraging others to be responsive as well and to do what they can to help fulfill the Iraqi needs as the Iraqis lay them out.
So I think it's a much broader question than simply: Is the United States trying to get people to cover what they're shifting what their money for? What the United States is doing is calling attention to what -- the plan the Iraqis are putting forward, in the broader sense, not just as a function of what we're doing, but as a function of the big picture in Iraq, what the Iraqis need, where they see the holes, what the other countries are doing, and then asking to support the Iraqis in that way.
QUESTION: Well, then, am I -- is the answer to the question, then, no, that you're not asking other countries to cough up some money to help pay for some of the things you're not going to --
MR. ERELI: Yeah, and if the questions phrased in the narrow way, the answer is no.
QUESTION: Okay. And then are you asking them to start shifting their monies in the way that you have? For example, to cough up more money or to shuffle money towards security --
MR. ERELI: No, we're not really --
QUESTION: -- and away from things like sewers and such?
MR. ERELI: Not really. What we're doing is we're asking people to listen to the Iraqi Government and listen to what the Iraqi Government says in Madrid, and be responsive to what the Iraqis say their needs are and be responsive to -- and to help support the Iraqis in those areas, those sectors that the Iraqis identify as the most pressing and short-term as well as the long-term needs.
So it's basically, listen to the Iraqis. This is what we did and it was on this basis that we made our decisions. We ask you to do the same and to be responsive to their needs as they articulate them.
QUESTION: To your knowledge, are the Iraqis saying, "Hey, the Americans are pulling $3.5 billion out of A, B, C, D, E. Can you fund that for us, please, other countries?"
MR. ERELI: No, to my knowledge, that's not what's being said. To my knowledge, what's being said is, "Here's the broad landscape on Iraq. Here's where we have short-term needs, here's where we have medium-term needs, here's where we have longer term needs." They include, obviously, some of the things that were being funded by us, but they include a lot of other things as well that are being funded or that have been identified by the World Bank or the UN as important areas for development and investment. So it's not seen through the narrow prism of the U.S. reconstruction program.
QUESTION: Speaking of giving, the State Department statement yesterday on U.S. assistance to refugees from Darfur who are in Chad -- 62 million approximately, $1 million -- concluded with an appeal to other countries to contribute as well.
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you -- do you happen to have handy either figures and/or some statement as to how forthcoming these other countries have been? Isn't this almost entirely an American humanitarian venture?
MR. ERELI: We have been very outspoken about the need for the international community to do more to help the people of Darfur. It is a problem of a huge scale beyond the capability of any one country. Obviously, the United States is the largest donor, the largest provider of assistance to the people in need in Darfur and in Chad. There have been pledges from the international community, pledges that are important and necessary but that have gone unfilled to date. It's important, we've said, that they be filled but I don't know if we're in a position to provide for you an accounting, really, of what's been pledged and what's been provided, other than to say that I think it's -- the delta remains too large.
QUESTION: You didn't attach to that the usual caveat. People pledge, governments pledge, but, you know, they're always a little slow writing checks, nothing to get alarmed about. Is that what we have here or do we have the empty pledges showboating that won't be followed through.
MR. ERELI: I think our sense is that it's a question of timing, and because the need is so urgent, so is the importance of moving the money quickly.
QUESTION: What is your grasp of the situation now? I mean, the UN Secretary General is putting great emphasis on bringing in more African Union people. Is that the issue? Is that the solution? Or is the solution maybe to stop these Arab-led militia from beating on and killing and displacing all these people?
MR. ERELI: There are a number of things that need to be done and all of them in conjunction with each other. Obviously, the Government of Sudan needs to stop and prevent the activities of the Jingaweit militias which it supports and arms. The Secretary General's Special Representative for Sudan, Mr. Pronk, briefed the Security Council this morning on the latest assessment by the UN of the state of affairs in Darfur.
He made a couple of important points. One, he outlined the areas where the Government of Sudan has not fully met its obligations under Resolutions 1556 and 1564 during the month of September. He points to the need for a rapid deployment of an expanded AU mission. Mr. Pronk notes that the security situation worsened in some parts of Darfur, especially in the north. He states that militias and government soldiers continue to attack and intimidate civilians. He notes that breaches of the ceasefire by both sides continued and he also notes that the government has not made any progress toward disarming the Jingaweit.
We agree with the report's statement that the most important steps to be taken in the coming weeks is to begin the speedy deployment of a sizeable, expanded African Union mission and we also agree with the report's conclusion that the Naivasha talks are crucial to the long-term solution to the Darfur crisis.
In the wake of this report, what we are going to be looking for is an end to attacks by government forces on the civilian population, no further breaches of the N'Djamena ceasefire by government forces, steps by the Government of Sudan to stop the Jingaweit militia from attacking civilians, and should the government be unable to do so, it should request international assistance to fulfill its responsibility in this regard.
QUESTION: Yeah, new subject?
QUESTION: Different -- same subject, please. This morning, former Secretary of State Albright, speaking to a private group, said she thought the UN had been slow in responding to Sudan. Would you agree with that assessment?
MR. ERELI: Well, I think the UN has been very active and has played a very crucial role in addressing this problem. I think that was symbolized by the visit of the Secretary General to Darfur in July, I believe it was, with -- at the same time as Secretary Powell.
We have been, since really early February, perhaps before, or actually late last year, calling the attention of the international community to the growing crisis in Darfur. As we made our concerns known, I think there was a concerted international response. Could it have been quicker? Well, you know, I suppose you can always say things could have been quicker. But I think that the UN moved quickly and is playing a critical and vital role in marshalling international opinion and international resources on behalf of the people of Darfur.
I would also note that the report by the Secretary General's Special Humanitarian Representative early on in this crisis brought to the attention of the Security Council what was going on and I think focused attention on it and galvanized opinion in a very positive way.
So, all in all, the UN involvement has been timely and important and they continue to be a critical actor in resolving this crisis.
QUESTION: Adam, yesterday up in New York, the Secretary General signed an agreement with the head of the International Criminal Court, your favorite organization, which gives the tribunal access to UN funds. Now, back when this agreement was first being looked at or when it was adopted by the General Assembly or by a grouping before then, the U.S. position was that non-state parties to the Rome Statute which created the court should not have to contribute to its upkeep.
But, on Friday, your representative said that -- he appeared to change that a little bit and said that all UN funding to the court should be reimbursable, suggesting that, in fact, you will be -- some U.S. money or some money from other non-parties to the Rome Treaty, their money would be going to the court's maintenance but it would have to be paid back.
What's going on here?
MR. ERELI: As far as I know, there's no intention by the United States to contribute resources to the International Criminal Court.
QUESTION: Not bilaterally. I mean you are the largest donor to the United Nations, your money gets -- your money is, with the exception of specific cases where you make it non-fungible, say the UNFPA, your money is commingled with everyone else's. So what's the U.S. position on --
MR. ERELI: How we're going to get money back that the UN spends on the ICC?
QUESTION: Well, is there some provision in there, in this agreement, that says that the U.S. contributions to the UN system will not go to the ICC? And if there isn't, how are you going to get money back from the ICC if -- how are you going to get the ICC, a institution which has no visible means of self-financing, how are you going to get that money back?
MR. ERELI: Let me see what -- let me check and see what kind of firewalls we've instituted to ensure that U.S. funds don't make their way to the ICC.
QUESTION: Okay, and then one other on the same subject. Last week, you guys very quietly signed another Article 98 agreement with -- maybe not quietly, but with Papua New Guinea. What does this bring the total to now?
MR. ERELI: I'd refer you to the website, which keeps --
QUESTION: The website hasn't been updated in about three months. I just looked.
MR. ERELI: You did? All right, let me see if I can get you the latest numbers. I'm surprised that it's not updated because they're pretty good about that.
QUESTION: On Albania, the American Hellenic Institute here in the town with written statement denounces the Department of State publications of inaccurate and misleading data which changes the significant Greek minority in Albania, the nation's largest minority, and says inter alia, that the recently released Background Note for Albania prepared by the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the Department of State misrepresents the ethnic Greek population of Albania as 1.17 percent of the total population. The actual percentage of the Greek minority, as reported by numerous international authorities, according to the Library of Congress Country Studies latest report on Albania, the Greek minority constitutes 8 percent of the population, the CIA World Fact Book records the Greek minority at 8 percent of the total population. Another international organization, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, estimates the Greek minority in Albania to be 280,000 of a total population of approximately 3.2 million, or roughly 8.75 percent of the population, and by its failures to remain objective the Department of State not only submitted to improper pressure from Albania, but worse, it endorsed the Albanian Government's discriminatory practices of denying the rights, and the very existence of an important segment of its citizenry, the Greek minority.
How do you respond to those accusations?
MR. ERELI: The numbers that are used in the Country Notes are based on publicly available material that the bureaus consult. There is no -- there are no political considerations. Any charges that the numbers used are designed to or intended to further a political point of view or a political agenda are false. And if there are suggestions that you have about how the numbers should be more accurately reflect based on the available public information, I think you should -- I refer you to the European Bureau.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERELI: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)