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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 19 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing September 19, 2005

Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
September 19, 2005


Agreement on Joint Statement / Statement of Principles
North Korea's Commitment to Giving Up All Nuclear Weapons
Possible Fifth Round of Six Party Talks
Commitment to Comply with IAEA Safeguards, Return to NPT
Light Water Reactor to be Dealt with at Appropriate Time
Status of Yongbyon / Enrichment Activity
U.S. Diplomatic Relations with DPRK / Actions Will Be Met with Actions
Possible Energy Assistance to North Korea

Visit by the Vatican to Turkey

President Chen's Travel / Private and Unofficial Activities
Human Rights Record of Taiwan
Approval of Transit Consistent with Past Criteria
U.S. Policy on Arms Sales to Taiwan
Visit of Former President Lee

Secretary's Phone Conversations

U.S. Vision for Hemisphere / Positive Agenda
Possibility of Resuming Counternarcotics Cooperation

Election Results / Germany a Close Partner of the United States

Growing International Consensus that Iranian Nuclear Activities a Concern
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting with the EU-3 / Possible Referral

Peru's Support of the International Criminal Court / Article 98 Agreements


1:16 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our briefing today. I don't have any statements and would be happy to go to your questions.

QUESTION: How are things going on the Korean nuclear front?

MR. ERELI: Things are making progress. As you know, the parties agreed to a joint statement for the fourth round earlier today in Beijing. And this is clearly an important first step in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We will be putting out shortly the statement by the U.S. Delegation at the closing plenary, as well as the joint statement that was issued on behalf of all the parties. You will see that the statement lays out a number of principles for an agreement that will lead to a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea committed and I think it is important to underscore this -- to giving up all its nuclear programs and nuclear weapons. The statement talked about another round, a fifth round in November. The next step, frankly, is to talk about implementation of this agreement in a verifiable way. So all in all, a successful fourth round, an agreement on statement of principles, and the next step is to move forward on implementing that agreement.


QUESTION: Yes. Is the special inspection by IAEA included in the agreement?

MR. ERELI: Well, you'll see the agreement. In it the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea commits to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and to IAEA safeguards. And you will note in our Statement of the Delegation, it is quite clear that complying with IAEA safeguards and returning to the NPT is an important part of this agreement.


QUESTION: Adam, how is the issue of the light-water reactor from the peaceful civilian use of nuclear technology addressed in this statement?

MR. ERELI: Well, again, I don't -- you can see the agreement and you can see our statement. What's clear is that the parties agreed to talk about civilian light-water reactor in the future and at an appropriate time. What we make clear in our statement -- and I would underscore this with the other parties made clear in their statements as well -- is that an appropriate time means once North Korea has returned to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and once they are and in compliance with all IAEA safeguards. So it's a theoretical proposition in the future, contingent on dismantling haven taken place, re-signing up to the NPT and having IAEA safeguards in place. And this is something, frankly, that all five parties made explicit in their statements at the closing session.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that the U.S. position is that the Yongbyon nuclear facility should be entirely dismantled?

MR. ERELI: The U.S. position is, as stated by Assistant Secretary Hill in our closing statement, is that all elements of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- all elements of its nuclear programs past and present would be completely -- would be comprehensively declared and completely verifiably and irreversibly eliminated. And that would obviously include Yongbyon.


QUESTION: I apologize if I made mistake in what I remember in the joint statement doesn't include the item regarding with the so-called highly enrichment uranium program.

MR. ERELI: Well, the statement includes all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. And that includes, as Assistant Secretary Hill said in our closing statement, all elements of nuclear programs past and present and he specified plutonium and uranium and all nuclear weapons. So we are very explicit about it. We think the joint statement is also clear.

QUESTION: That is Mr. Christopher Hill's interpretation.

MR. ERELI: That's the United States --

QUESTION: U.S. position -- does North Korea agree that interpretation, that North Korea --

MR. ERELI: I'm not going to speak for North Korea.

QUESTION: Well, but it's --

MR. ERELI: I think it's clear -- it's quite clear in our view in the statement that all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, includes uranium enrichment.

QUESTION: But why you didn't mention clearly regarding the highly enriched uranium? It was a big issue with the United States.

MR. ERELI: Yes, and it is an issue that we believe is sufficiently dealt with in the statement, as drafted by the Chinese.

QUESTION: When do you expect a full diplomatic relationship between U.S. and North Korea?

MR. ERELI: Well, obviously, that is an issue to be discussed in the implementation phase of these agreements. It is something we're going it is an issue, obviously, we will be looking at in the intervening six to eight weeks or until the next round of talks. I would simply say that I can't be detailed because we really haven't, I think, fully thought it through. But I would underscore what it says in the joint statement, which is actions will be met with actions.


QUESTION: On Turkey, Mr. Ereli.

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. I don't know if we're done with this yet.


QUESTION: You said reconvene for the fifth round in November. Can you be a little bit more specific?

MR. ERELI: No, I can't. Again, I would refer you to the joint statement. It says that, "the six parties agree to hold the fifth round in Beijing in early November at a date to be determined." So it hasn't been determined, other than early November.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: In the joint statement, the United States is one of the countries which stated the interest in the willingness to provide energy assistance through North Korea.


QUESTION: Is this a change of the position of the United States because we know that the United States has supporting the South Korea's proposal to provide the electricity.

MR. ERELI: Right. And that's also mentioned in the agreement. Both are mentioned -- South Korea's electricity program and as well as other energy assistance.

QUESTION: Do you have any concrete in your mind that, you know, what kind of assistance, energy assistance?

MR. ERELI: No. I think it is the statement of a general willingness without going into a lot of details, simply because that detail hasn't been worked out. But as a matter of policy, we recognize that North Korea is going to have energy needs and in the context of comprehensive and verifiable and irreversible dismantlement, then we are willing to support those energy needs. But there's not more detail to it than that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: And wait until November to begin starting these discussions. That is the way I would put it.

Yes, on Turkey.

QUESTION: On Turkey. The Turkish Government denied the leader of one billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, to pay a visit to the leader of the 350 million Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, based in Instanbul, Turkey for a dialogue of Christian unity and universal Christian reconciliation according to the official religious invitation. I'm wondering what is the position of the U.S. Government from the religious freedom point of view, since the President of the United States, George W. Bush, is very sensitive on matters of religious freedom worldwide?

MR. ERELI: I don't know if I would agree with you on the facts in this matter. I can tell you, of course, the United States supports and calls for the respect of religion and the freedom to practice religion. As far as the matter of a visit by the Vatican to Turkey, that is a matter that concerns the two -- the Government of Turkey and the Holy See. And I would leave it to those two parties to talk about their plans or their intentions to have visits. I am not in the position to do that.

QUESTION: A follow-up. This is not a political matter. It's pure religious invitation from a religious leader to another religious leader. So what the Government of Turkey has to do with this?

MR. ERELI: This is -- the visit of a Pope to Turkey is a matter between the authorities in the Vatican and the Turkish authorities and I will leave it to those two to talk about it.

QUESTION: This is the position of the Turkish Government. So do you agree with that?

MR. ERELI: I've told you what our position is.

QUESTION: And one more question on USA. Mr. Alex Rondos was seen yesterday at the UN, accompanying Under Secretary Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary --

MR. ERELI: Mr. who?

QUESTION: Alex Rondos, R-o-n-d-o-s, was seen yesterday at the UN accompanying the Under Secretary Nicholas Burns and Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried prior to the meeting with the Greek Foreign Minister. I'm wondering under which capacity Mr. Alex Rondos is doing that and if he's still working for your government in any section of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece?

MR. ERELI: I don't know who this individual is and I don't know if he was in any way involved in these meetings.

QUESTION: But can you take this question because --

MR. ERELI: I'll take this question if -- I'll see what I can get for you on it.

QUESTION: Because in the past, there was a lot of discussion about this person in this briefing, and so I would like you to take this question, to look into that.

MR. ERELI: I'll see if Mr. Rondos was there and was involved.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Yes, on Taiwan. Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian's transit through Miami tomorrow. I wonder if you have anything on his transit? And if any U.S. State Department official would call to express a welcome? Thank you.

MR. ERELI: President Chen will transit the United States en route to and from Central America and the Caribbean. He will transit Miami, arriving September 20th and depart for Central America on September 22nd. As you know, when we receive requests for transit, we evaluate those requests on the basis of certain criteria. Those criteria are safety, comfort and convenience, while respecting the dignity of a trip -- the traveler. On that basis we approve this request for transit.

I would note that President Chen's activities while he is in the United States will be private and unofficial, consistent with the purposes of a transit. I don't have details on his schedule. I would refer you to the Taiwan authorities for that. I would note that he will be greeted when he arrives in the United States by the honorary chair of the American Institute in Taiwan which, as you know, is the private organization that carries out our unofficial relations with Taiwan.

QUESTION: Do you have any announcement on AIT's new chairman?

MR. ERELI: I don't.

QUESTION: Now President Chen will receive a human rights medal by the Congress -- Congressional Human Rights Caucus. In the Statement Department 2004 Human Rights Report, U.S. expressed concern on Taiwan's media censorship and I wonder if the State Department still have the same view?

MR. ERELI: Our views on that issue are a matter of public record. As far as the views of others, I'd refer you to them.

QUESTION: What is your -- in general, what is U.S. estimation on Taiwan's human rights --

MR. ERELI: I'd refer you to the Human Rights Report.


QUESTION: Same subject?

QUESTION: Secretary Rice?

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry -- same subject.

QUESTION: Did you hear from the Chinese on this transit?

MR. ERELI: If we have, it's at a working level. It hasn't made the news.

QUESTION: But you can make news now by --

MR. ERELI: I'm not -- it's not something that -- I don't know if we have. But as I said before, this approval of transit is consistent with criteria that we've applied in the past.


QUESTION: Secretary Rice had a phone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister over the weekend?

MR. ERELI: Yes, she had a number of conversations with the Chinese Foreign Minister over the weekend, as well as our other partners in the six-party process -- Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban, Japanese Foreign Minister Machimura. And the purpose of all these calls was to work the diplomacy actively in order to bring about the agreement that we witnessed earlier today.

And I think the fact that we have been able to not only reach agreement on a joint statement but also have the kind of consensus and closeness in each of our final statements is in large measure due to that very active engagement by the Secretary.

QUESTION: Did Chinese Foreign Minister have any protest to Taiwan's President Chen's transit?

MR. ERELI: That was not an issue of discussion as far as I'm aware.

QUESTION: Did they reach an agreement that the president who was coming to the States --

MR. ERELI: That also was not a subject of discussion. It was focused on the six-party talks.

QUESTION: So -- okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Clarification -- so nothing on Taiwan and China has been discussed during the phone conversation?

MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of, no.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, another follow-up, may I? Mr. Fordhart is attending the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in San Diego. And I wonder what message he would like to deliver.

MR. ERELI: I think those remarks there are off the record.

QUESTION: And what does U.S. Department's position on Taiwan's arms purchase?

MR. ERELI: Our policy on that is well known and is governed by Taiwan Relations Act.

QUESTION: Now another -- I'm sorry, another question.

MR. ERELI: Okay. We're going to let -- this will be the last one because I think there are others who want to talk.

QUESTION: Sure. Mr. James Keith mentioned in his congressional testimony last week that when Taiwan's opposition party visited in China, President Chen Shui-bian asked a position -- the political party leader to pass a message about one China and about Taiwan's Government has denied -- there is such a thing. I wonder is there any clarification in --

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything to add to what Mr. Keith said in his testimony.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: A related Taiwan question?

MR. ERELI: Okay.

QUESTION: Taiwan's -- former President of Taiwan, Mr. Lee, has scheduled to come to the U.S. early October. But according to press reports --

MR. ERELI: As a private citizen?

QUESTION: As a private citizen. But according to press reports he was told to delay his visit. I wonder what kind of concern does the U.S. have?

MR. ERELI: I don't -- I'm in no position -- I haven't seen the press reports. I'm in no position to give you an evaluation of them. He's a private citizen as far as I'm aware. We're focusing on existing public officials not former ones.


QUESTION: Wait a second, so private Americans tell him to delay his visit?

MR. ERELI: I don't know.

QUESTION: Could you check?

MR. ERELI: Why would I speak for private Americans?

QUESTION: No, I mean, I'm sure it must have been U.S. Government officials who asked him to delay --

MR. ERELI: I'll check to see if we've got anything on the Lee visit.

On to Venezuela.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Ereli, do you have any update on Venezuela after the UN meeting in New York?

MR. ERELI: I don't. I think we spoke to it on Friday. We have a positive vision for the hemisphere. We want to see hemispheric cooperation in terms of fighting narcotrafficking, fighting terror, promoting economic growth and development and prosperity for the people of the region. That's where we focus our attention and we work with countries and governments in the region that share those goals.

QUESTION: So is the cooperation with Venezuela over?

MR. ERELI: I didn't say that.


MR. ERELI: I said we work -- we work on a positive agenda and we look forward and welcome countries that share that positive vision for the region, working in a spirit of cooperation and understanding. And we have that kind of relationship with a great many, in fact, the vast majority of our hemispheric partners.

QUESTION: What about Venezuela?

MR. ERELI: Venezuela, I think you know what the issues are. In many of these areas I think we've got -- unfortunately we don't have the kind of commonality of views that we have with our other partners. That is unfortunate but we are always willing to work to help the Venezuelan people and help the people of the region in ways that are mutually beneficial.

QUESTION: Do you plan to resume the cooperation in narcotrafficking, in the fight against narcotrafficking?

MR. ERELI: It depends on how much Venezuela wants to help -- clear their programs, clear the goals. Clearly, there are good examples to follow, such as we have with Colombia and others, but it takes two to tango. And right now we're dancing alone.

QUESTION: What happened with the proposal Venezuela submit to the U.S. Government on narcotrafficking?

MR. ERELI: I don't know what proposal you're talking about.



QUESTION: The Venezuelan Government announced -- said something --

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware of any proposal. I think if you look at -- if you look at our briefing that we gave at the Foreign Press Center on Thursday, as well as in, you know, meetings with the Venezuelans and -- it's very clear what the parameters of cooperation are, what needs to be done. And in our view, they're just not doing it.


QUESTION: Anything on the German election since there is no winner?

MR. ERELI: The only thing I have to say about the German election is that we, like you, are following it with great interest. Germany is a close friend and ally of the United States and we look forward to continuing our excellent relations as they form a new government and after they form a new government.

QUESTION: Another one: Iran's President, according to the Washington Post today, stated, "We (inaudible) need nuclear arms." Can you comment on that? There's been a lot of discussion in the recent months about this issue.

MR. ERELI: Well, I don't have any comments with respect to that -- to reports of what he has said recently. I would simply reiterate our position, which is that there is a growing international consensus that Iran's activities are of concern, based on the extensive discussions we've had at the UN over the last week or so.

It's clear to us that, speaking broadly, the international community doesn't want to see Iran get a nuclear weapon, is concerned about the activities that they are engaged in, has a problem with -- failure to be transparent and be open and answer the questions of the IAEA and there's a broad-based and intensive diplomatic effort internationally underway to try to address that situation. The focus of it, obviously at present is in Vienna at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting with the EU-3 presenting its views and recommending some action. We are supporting them and we will look forward to carrying it on there.


QUESTION: A related question. In following the success of your face-to-face talks with North Korea on their nuclear issue, would you contemplate holding face-to-face talks with the Iranians?

MR. ERELI: That's not something that's in the cards, quite frankly. I think the EU-3 -- I mean look at what happened to the EU-3; they had face-to-face negotiations. They had a -- they presented a proposal to the Iranians and the Iranians threw it back in their face and walked away from the talks. So I think one has to study the past carefully before anyone jumps into some far-fetched notions that others are throwing about.

Look, the focus here and the important point here is to get Iran back within the confines of international agreements and international practice and they're outside of that. They've been outside of it for a long time. And the diplomacy of the EU-3 and our support is designed to bring Iraq -- sorry, bring Iran back into -- back to the place where you can have a reasonable conversation and a reasonable process for addressing the concerns in the international community.

QUESTION: Can I ask just one follow-up? Do you think you -- you're talking about a broad base and you mentioned the word "consensus." Do you have even -- do you think a majority of support on the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the Security Council?

MR. ERELI: Frankly, I wouldn't define consensus on those terms. I would define, at this point, consensus on the fact that we've got a problem that we need to deal with and the international community views Iran's action with concern and wants to see a resumption of -- a re-suspension of enrichment-related activity and negotiations with the EU-3. And, frankly, it doesn't want to see Iran get a nuclear weapon and that's the consensus.

And obviously the issue of -- and how we get there is a matter of diplomacy. I think we're all committed to the diplomatic track. I think we're committed to working together to achieve that. I think that the more that Iran takes a confrontational attitude or deceptive -- and continues to engage in deceptive practices, the tougher they're going to find the going.


QUESTION: At the South and North Korea Minister-level meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea has demanded South Korea to abolish South Korean National Security Law and also demanded a South Korea to stop U.S. in South Korea joint military exercises. Can you comment on that?

MR. ERELI: I'm not familiar with the substance of these talks or meetings, so I really can't comment on it, no.


QUESTION: Mr. Ereli, on Latin America but this time on Peru. I would like to know the U.S. position on Peru considering that the Peruvian Government is for the International Criminal Court of Justice. So I would like to know that will be -- that could have any impact in the negotiations with the Free Trade Agreement between Peru and the United States?

MR. ERELI: I'll have to check my facts. Obviously there are a lot of countries that support the ICC. You know the United States' position about the ICC. Obviously, our ability to provide assistance to certain countries is contingent upon them signing an Article 98 Agreement with the United States. That is something we seek to conclude with every country that's a member of the ICC. I'm not sure where we stand on that with Peru. I'd refer you to the Department website and many countries that we have agreements with are on that. And I don't know, frankly, to what extent not having an Article 98 Agreement would affect FTA. That's a question I will look into.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Mr. Ereli, Rita and further hurricanes are on their way to Florida, actually today. Do you have anything on that?

MR. ERELI: I'm always wondering what the Foreign Affairs angle to that was. No.

QUESTION: I know, because in the recent days you did so much as far as for Katrina, (inaudible), measures, et cetera, et cetera. I was wondering from the prepared point of view, what is the U.S. position -- with the Government readiness as far as to face another?

MR. ERELI: As you know, we remain extremely grateful for the assistance we've -- that our foreign friends and those who feel for the United States abroad have provided us in the wake of Katrina. We certainly hope and pray that we can weather these storms and the damage will be minimum.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:44 p.m.)

DPB # 160

Released on September 19, 2005


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