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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #51, 00-05-31

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


851

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Briefer: Philip Reeker

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1 	AID Administrator Brady Anderson Announced New Projects Totaling
	 $11.4 Million Aimed at Reducing People in the Horn of Africa at
	 Risk from Severe Drought Conditions in the Region 
PERU
1-7	U.S. Reaction to Peru Elections
OAS
1-7	U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly of the Organization of
	 American States in Windsor, Ontario from June 4 through 6 /
	 U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Luis Laredo Congratulates Electoral
	 Observation Mission / OAS Resolution 1080 
LEBANON / SYRIA
8-9	Israeli Withdrawal / Shebaa Farms
15	UN Verification of Israeli Withdrawal
FIJI
9-13	Threat to Democracy / U.S. Strongly Opposed to the Overthrow of
	 Democratically Elected Governments by Force / U.S. Strongly
	 Supports Democracy and International Standards of Human Rights
	 Such as Those Embodied in Fiji's 1997 Constitution 
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
13	Clinton - Barak Meeting Scheduled in Lisbon
RUSSIA
14	Deputy Secretary Talbott's Travel to Moscow June 1st through 2nd to
	 Continue Ongoing Discussions on Arms Control, Proliferation, and
	 Regional Security Issues. 
IRAN
14-15	Support for Terrorist Organizations
ETHIOPIA / ERITREA
15-16	OAU Sponsored Proximity Talks Continue in Algiers
SERBIA (KOSOVO)
16-17	UNMIK
AFGHANISTAN
17-18 	Under Secretary Pickering's Talks with the Taliban
LIBYA
18	Travel Ban Report

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #51

WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2000, 1:30 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. That clock is fast. I was trying to be on time. Just a couple of announcements. First, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome to the State Department briefing room today students from the Political Science Department at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Welcome. And that's a sign to all of my journalist colleagues to be on their best behavior today.

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome to the Press Office Crystal Galny, who is an intern with us this summer filling in on some vacant spots. She is going to be a tremendous help to us. Crystal is a journalism major at Texas A&M University, and she'll be here for ten weeks this summer. I hope she'll have an opportunity to get to know a number of you in the press and take back interesting anecdotes and experiences when she returns to her journalism major.

One final note. A number of you, I know, attended the briefing today where USAID Administrator Brady Anderson announced new projects totaling $11.4 million aimed at reducing the suffering of the over 16 million people in the Horn of Africa at risk from the severe drought conditions in the region. We've had a number of briefings from this podium on that subject from State and AID officials, and we can give you the AID press release or refer you to appropriate people if you need more information on that.

And with that, I will be happy to turn to the esteemed Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: I can't think of a single thing to ask. You did such a good job yesterday. (Laughter.)

MR. REEKER: Thank you, George. George defers to our friends from the other wire service.

QUESTION: Yes. Perhaps you could fill us in on details of the US proposal on Peru. Do you intend to invoke Resolution 1080?

MR. REEKER: Let's talk about Peru since we probably didn't do it enough yesterday. (Laughter.) I don't really have anything new to report. I know a number of you have been watching the goings-on at the OAS.

As we stated yesterday, we believe that the government's refusal to accommodate the well-documented concerns of the Organization of American States that the process of elections in Peru could not be free and fair means that Sunday's electoral process was obviously flawed. Our deep concerns about the transparency and fairness of the elections are shared by many other countries, and we are taking this matter up as we speak with our hemispheric partners.

The Organization of American States is holding right now a special session of the Permanent Council, receiving a report which was already presented by Eduardo Stein, director of the observer mission. And we're very much looking forward to continuing those talks throughout today.

Our Ambassador to the OAS, Luis Lauredo spoke earlier, presented his statement. I think a number of you may have gotten copies of that. We can make those available after the briefing as well. I would like to reiterate what he said congratulating the OAS electoral observation mission and Mr. Stein for his leadership of that mission. They made series of recommendations, as I pointed out, to enhance the confidence in the process and, unfortunately, the Peruvian authorities decided to proceed with the elections without addressing these well-documented concerns and led to the obviously flawed elections there.

I think as you noted, Jonathan, Ambassador Lauredo did suggest or state that we believe that the proper context in which to analyze the issue is under consideration. The issue under consideration is Resolution 1080, which was established back in 1991 by the foreign ministers precisely for the purposes of discussing and addressing threats to democracy in the region.

We also believe that this matter should be addressed by the foreign ministers when they meet in Windsor, Ontario, during the upcoming general assembly session that will be held there. So we're consulting with our partners in the hemisphere and in the international community more broadly to determine appropriate next steps. And I hope that addresses some of your questions.

QUESTION: While it's open - I mean, they haven't decided what --

MR. REEKER: That's right. No decisions have been taken. I think the OAS discussions are ongoing, obviously. I know a number of you will be covering --

QUESTION: Phil, it was decided, was it not, that 1080 - 1080 was withdrawn at the last minute because there was no support for it, and that Guatemala had an alternative going to Article 61 so that the US proposal really did not get the support that --

MR. REEKER: The last word I had before coming out here was that they hadn't even finished all making their statements and that there was no final decision at the OAS. I understood that there was something else from Guatemala.

QUESTION: That Lauredo did reply --

MR. REEKER: What I'll have to do is defer to our folks at the OAS, and we can try to get you updates on that throughout the afternoon as things go there. But what we're doing there is what I described we would do when we spoke about this yesterday. We're using the OAS to consult with the partners in the hemisphere and then determine next steps. And as I noted, we would like to see this discussed at the general assembly in Ontario later in the week.

QUESTION: Do you expect this to be decided today or to flow into meetings tomorrow, possibly?

MR. REEKER: I don't have an definitive word on that. As I said, the talks are ongoing there at the OAS and so I'd refer you there. They have a press office that may be able to give you a more minute-by-minute, you know, how things are progressing. But as I noted, we would like to see this addressed. We think it's appropriate to address it at the general assembly when the ministers meet there later in the week.

QUESTION: Has there been an announcement on who is going to represent the US in Windsor?

MR. REEKER: Yes, I had that somewhere.

QUESTION: And, also, unless there's a huge massive amount of objection, can you - what does invoking Resolution 1080 mean?

MR. REEKER: I may have to get somebody for a better understanding of OAS than --

QUESTION: You mean you're going to call a meeting and talk about it?

MR. REEKER: Well, it's the context in which these things are done is a process that Resolution 1080 describes.

QUESTION: Yeah, but what's the practical effect on Peru of invoking Resolution 1080? It sounds to me like it's nothing. They get hauled in front of bunch of people who yell at them for a couple hours, and that's about it.

MR. REEKER: Thank you, Matt, for those --

QUESTION: Is that not what it is?

QUESTION: No, they don't yell.

QUESTION: It's not? What is it?

MR. REEKER: I'll let a number of your colleagues describe to you afterwards. I don't have great details here on the process of 1080, but that is what we'd look at as a way for the OAS to determine possible next steps that could be taken and how we discuss this.

In terms of your specific question, the US delegation going to the general assembly of the Organization of American States in Windsor, Ontario, from June 4th through 6th, the head of the delegation will be Kenneth Mackay, "Buddy" Mackay, the President's Special Envoy to the Americas. And other key members of that delegation will be Ambassador Peter Romero, our Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Ambassador Lauredo, our US Permanent Representative at the OAS.

QUESTION: There's no thought to the Secretary going?

MR. REEKER: The Secretary is with the President at the Summit Meeting in Moscow.

QUESTION: Yeah, but she has made detours before, to Geneva and back.

MR. REEKER: I don't believe at this point there is --

QUESTION: There's no plans for her to go?

MR. REEKER: I would refer that question to the traveling party if you want a specific response, but I'm not aware of any plans for the Secretary to be there.

QUESTION: Phil, already Ambassador Lauredo presented the US position. Many countries, like Mexico and Brazil, expressed opposition to use Resolution 1080. And after they spoke, they say the United States withdrawal to use Resolution 1080 because they didn't find any support for the US position in the meeting. And they are proposing to call Mr. Fujimori to participate in the general assembly in Canada.

Is the United States point of view that Mr. Fujimori will be good attending the meeting in Canada?

MR. REEKER: I don't know who is expected to represent Peru at that meeting. As we've already said, those talks at the OAS, the discussions, are ongoing. And I'm just unable to give a minute-by-minute description of who supported 1080 or other mechanisms or other ways for approaching this.

Our position was described by Ambassador Lauredo in his statement at the OAS, and I'm describing for you here that we also believe that the matter should be addressed by foreign ministers in Windsor at the upcoming session this weekend. And so I think we need to see - again, let the news happen, let the events occur at the OAS, and move on towards Windsor and I'll see if I can have more for you later this afternoon.

QUESTION: Besides Resolution 1080, the United States is still considering the use of unilateral sanctions against Peru?

MR. REEKER: As I said, we're consulting with partners in the hemisphere and others in the international community to determine appropriate next steps. No decisions or determinations have been made, and we aren't presently considering taking unilateral action but we haven't made any determinations yet. So, again, we need to let events go forward.

QUESTION: Toledo said that you would be sending some people to the US. Will they be meeting with anybody at the State Department?

MR. REEKER: We do plan to meet with Toledo's representatives. We haven't set up a meeting yet so I don't have any further details on that for you.

QUESTION: Do you any idea how many people are - he is sending?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details on the number that will be in that party.

QUESTION: Today at the OAS there was also a complaint issued about the situation in Arkansas where a legitimate political candidate, Lyndon Larouche, won 22 percent of the votes and that the delegates which he would be entitled to were given to Al Gore, an obvious violation of free and fair elections.

MR. REEKER: I'm going to stop you right there because I don't comment on domestic US political things.

QUESTION: Well, since it is the OAS which is going to take consideration of this, isn't this something of an embarrassment where the US would get on its high horse talking about free and fair elections where there's an obvious case where they haven't cleaned up in their own stables?

MR. REEKER: I think our position has been very clear that we're talking about Peru here. I'm unaware of the situation you're describing, and it's not something that would be appropriate for discussion from this podium.

What we're looking at are some clear flawed processes that took place in Peru in terms of their election process. It could not have been seen as free and fair. The OAS electoral observation mission had some recommendations that were made; the Peruvian authorities proceeded with election without addressing well-documented concerns of the OAS. And that's now what we're involved in discussions with our hemispheric partners about.

But couldn't this still lead to the accusations from many Latin American countries that it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

MR. REEKER: You'd have to ask them that.

QUESTION: Does the "flawed" reference you're making today translate to "not valid"?

MR. REEKER: I think we can go back to yesterday's transcript, if you want to repeat all that. I've got it here.

QUESTION: I don't want to repeat it all, but I thought it was worth asking at least once.

MR. REEKER: I think I used the word "flawed" a number of times yesterday as well.

QUESTION: Any contact between the United States and the Peruvian Government after the elections expressing your position to the --

MR. REEKER: I think our position has been expressed extremely clearly from this space. The President made it very clear on Friday. The Secretary, through Mr. Boucher, released a statement yesterday. I addressed that. I think the Peruvian Government has been made aware of that. I am not in possession of details of what conversations have taken place in Lima or here in Washington with Peruvian authorities, but I think our points are obviously clear.

QUESTION: A Peruvian delegate to the OAS today said that it's an internal matter, that the United States and the OAS should not intervene. They said that the delaying of elections, the decision to delay elections, was the responsibility of the electoral commission.

Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: I read that wire story, or saw those remarks. Also in that wire story - and, again, I would just go back to the points we have made. Peru is a member of the OAS. There are certain standards that the OAS has established in terms of standards for democratic free and fair elections.

The OAS electoral observer mission, which we have strongly supported all along and was very useful in Peru in making recommendations that could enhance the confidence of the people, the Peruvian people as well as others in the process, to ensure that the election would represent the authentic will of the people. That's what important here. The Peruvian authorities decided to proceed with the elections without addressing any of these well- documented concerns, and that's what has brought us to the point where we are pursuing the discussions we're having now.

QUESTION: As I understand it, the report by Mr. Stein said that there was not enough evidence to say that the election was flawed, that basically Mr. Toledo pulled out of the race. On what basis do you say that the election was flawed.

MR. REEKER: I think the refusal to accommodate the well-documented concerns that were raised by the OAS. They made a series of recommendations that would have allowed the process to proceed with confidence and ensure that this election, as I said, represented the authentic will of the people. On that basis I've said, as I said yesterday, that this process was obviously flawed. And those are the discussions that are continuing as we speak, and we'll await the next steps to see how we proceed.

QUESTION: Do you want to go to a new subject?

MR. REEKER: Let me see if that's the consensus of your colleagues.

QUESTION: There have been - there was an election just now in Haiti, and now we have the election in Peru. Do you see that there is sort of a trend, a backsliding, away from democracy in Latin America, or the risk of that?

MR. REEKER: No, I think there's been, on the contrary, a lot of progress over the last years, recent years, in Latin American democracy. This is why we take this so seriously. The people of Latin America, regardless of what country they're in, deserve to have their will represented in free and fair elections. And that's what we try to pursue, and that's why we use structures like the OAS to review this with our partners in the hemisphere , as we review it with others in the international community and make our views known as well.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about wire reports that Kim Chong-il and some 50-60 other North Korean officials just wrapped up a visit to Beijing?

MR. REEKER: I can tell you that I've seen those same wire reports, and I have no further information on them for you. I would have to refer you to those two capitals for information on it.

QUESTION: Can you tell me whether it would be your understanding that if he made this trip that it would be his first foreign trip?

MR. REEKER: I would have to check into that. As you know, I haven't stood here all that long and I'm not precise. I've seen reports to that effect, but we can check what our information is. Obviously, we would refer you to them for their own position on travel.

QUESTION: Indirectly related to North Korea, maybe more than less, Phil --

MR. REEKER: Do I shift to the Asia section?

QUESTION: No, no. I was thinking of the missile threat of North Korea and specifically the National Missile Defense system. Can you comment at all about the news that was made today by the President of giving the National Missile Defense system, when it is perfected, giving the information to allies, giving it to - he said responsible nations, I believe is the word he used, or something to that effect.

Can you comment on that at all?

MR. REEKER: Let me just say, obviously - and I'm sure it will not come as a great surprise that I would refer you to the traveling party that's with the President in Lisbon and with the Secretary of State on all the matters regarding the President's comments today on those issues as he travels. That's our standard practice.

QUESTION: Okay, let me just go back to my original question. The European allies and especially the Russians and the Chinese are very much opposed to the US building a national missile system. Does this - does this -

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: Bill, could I just - I'm going to defer this to the traveling party. We've addressed broader issues of National Missile Defense extensively and I would be happy to have somebody help you find transcripts from those briefings. I don't think there is anything I can add here today.

QUESTION: Can you - on the same kind of subject, there were preparatory talks or the next round of missile talks or next official round of missile talks in Rome today. Do you have a readout on how those went?

MR. REEKER: I don't yet. I have not gotten something on - I know that I announced that yesterday and they have not - what time is it in Rome? - it is the end of the end of the day but I haven't gotten anything.

QUESTION: Can we maybe get something on that later on if there is -

MR. REEKER: Certainly we will try. We'll check.

QUESTION: I asked Mr. Boucher about this some time ago and you must have prepared something about this by now on the Shebaa Farms.

MR. REEKER: Yes.

QUESTION: It has become an issue again today because the Lebanese and the Syrians don't seem to agree on it now. Does the United States take a position on who owns the Shebaa Farms or how it should be resolved or how this should affect the determination on whether withdrawal has been complete?

MR. REEKER: Let me find my words so that I can give you that very appropriately prepared answer.

We supported the UN Secretary General's report, which was submitted to the Security Council and unanimously endorsed that Shebaa Farms is part of a territory that Israel occupied in 1967, so the UN has stated very clearly that Shebaa Farms does not fall within the scope of the UN Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 which regard to the withdrawal from Lebanon. That would fall under Resolutions 242 and 338, I believe, if my numbers are correct.

QUESTION: Would you care to urge the Lebanese to drop their claim to these territories?

MR. REEKER: I stand by the UN Secretary General's report as endorsed by the Security Council.

QUESTION: Any update on the --

QUESTION: Before we leave that point?

MR. REEKER: Sorry.

QUESTION: Is one then to infer from what you are saying that it is the American position that Shebaa Farms are part of Syria and not part of Lebanon?

MR. REEKER: Our position is that what the UN Secretary General's report contained was that that's territory that was occupied by Israel in 1967. So it does not fall under the Resolution 425 in terms of determining withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon.

QUESTION: But that's not my question. My question is, are we going to infer from that that the American State Department believes that the Shebaa Farms are part of Syria and not part of Lebanon?

MR. REEKER: I think if you listen to what I said, I said the UN is in the process right now of verifying the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon and that process will be completed in a short time, in the coming days. In terms of Shebaa Farms, the UN made a determination that that was not subject to the Resolution 425 and 426, so I think that speaks for itself.

QUESTION: Does 425 refer to lands occupied in the '78 conflict or does it refer to parts of Lebanon which are occupied? You see, it's an interesting point. I mean it's possible that the Israelis -

MR. REEKER: I would have to get someone to -

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - part of Lebanon in 1967 and nobody ever noticed.

MR. REEKER: I would have to get someone to go into the UN resolutions and the specificity there, which I just - yeah.

QUESTION: Any update on the martial law in Fiji and also the army of the chief has said that -

MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Update on the martial law in Fiji?

MR. REEKER: Oh, Fiji, yes.

QUESTION: And the army chief has said that the country will be run now by the military. And if the US government is thinking or decided to enforce any sanctions against Fiji?

MR. REEKER: Let me start by noting, as I did yesterday, that the situation remains terribly uncertain, unsettled. I think, just to review, over the weekend the president, President Ratu Mara, resigned. The head of the armed forces, Commodore Frank Bainamarama, announced that he had suspended the constitution, declared martial law, said that he had taken control of the country and named a new interim prime minister.

I think right now the Fijian businessman George Speight continues to reject all proposals to end the hostage situation, which is really quite intolerable. The armed group he leads continues to hold a number of hostages, including Prime Minister Chaudhry, in the parliament building. This has gone on for days.

As we've said before many times, the United States is strongly opposed to the overthrow of democratically elected governments by force and we remain very concerned about the situation in Fiji, including the latest developments and the situation which remains largely uncertain.

In addition to the comments I made yesterday, I want to make sure people were aware of the statement that we released on Monday, that was a holiday, in which Mr. Boucher stated that we strongly support democracy and international standards of human rights, such as those embodied in Fiji's 1997 constitution. The upholding of these principles is an important benchmark for the United States in any resolution of the crisis in Fiji. And I will note that we also said then entrenching discrimination or unequal political rights based on grounds of race or ethnicity would fly in the face of the important global norms that we advocate. The effects on Fiji's international contacts and on its economy would certainly be severe.

I think it's important to note, once again, that the hostages need to be released and we need to see a return to constitutional rule in Fiji.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - sanctions? I'm sorry. Sanctions, US sanctions?

MR. REEKER: I think it's a little premature to look at that.

QUESTION: Did you figure out how many - do you have numbers on the number of US -

MR. REEKER: I don't and I don't think we're going to have a nose-counting on the number of people that have left. But the majority of dependents have left.

QUESTION: I'm - as I was yesterday - who does the United States think is in charge there? Is President Ratu Mara still considered the president in the eyes of the US? I noticed that he fled for his life today.

MR. REEKER: He resigned.

QUESTION: No, and now he's fled Suva fearing for his life.

MR. REEKER: As I said -

QUESTION: The military ruler has had to withdraw his nominee to replace the elected prime minister because Mr. Speight refused to have him. This hostage crisis is continuing. I don't understand why there is a reluctance on the part of the United States to say that democracy has been - that an elected government has in fact been toppled.

MR. REEKER: I don't think there has been a reluctance, Matt, in the sense that there have been a number, over a period of many days now, a number of negative developments in Fiji and we have strongly denounced those developments, including the recent ones, including violence and particularly the holding of hostages inside the parliament compound.

And what you're asking me to do is sort of respond to some sort of fait accompli. The only problem is the fait has not been accomplied. So we are looking at the situation very closely, as closely as you are. It remains very unsettled, very uncertain. There is, you know, a desire to see Fiji preserve a multiethnic democracy and we are calling for release of those hostages and for a return to constitutional rule.

QUESTION: But two weeks ago there was a president and an elected prime minister and a government. And now you have the prime minister and most of his government being held hostage in parliament, the president has resigned and the country is allegedly being run by this military commander. I just don't see -

MR. REEKER: I think your comments reflect exactly what I've said from here, that the situation is incredibly unsettled and uncertain. And so it is very difficult to make any definitive statements of the situation in Fiji other than to say that hostages should be released and there should be a return to constitutional order and government.

QUESTION: Does that mean then that you want this military commander to step down as the leader of Fiji?

MR. REEKER: I don't think it's very clear who the leader of Fiji is at this point. I think the situation is such that it's very unsettled and uncertain, you know, and that it's impossible to comment on outcomes of a situation that have not yet occurred. So we are standing for - calling for a return to constitutional order -

QUESTION: I am just unclear as to what that means, when you say "a return to constitutional order." I mean, you won't say that you want Chaudhry to stay as prime minister, you won't say that you want the president to stay as president. You won't say that you want the military to -

MR. REEKER: Matt, I don't think it's for us to say, you know, who should be leaders there. What we want to see is a democracy in Fiji, preserving a multiethnic democracy. I will refer you back to the same statements that I've just discussed now and described. Hostages need to be released and then we need to see a return to some sort of order. And usually the term "constitutional process" or "constitutional rule" is a reflection, a semantic reflection of an order.

And then the Fijians can determine exactly how their system is going to work out. We want to see that constitution, a return to order, we want to see democracy restored there, we want it to be multiethnic democracy. And we see that the 1997 constitution embodies the standards, the international human rights standards, which we very much support.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - who is running the country and you are not getting updates from the US Ambassador in Fiji?

MR. REEKER: We have constant updates from the US Ambassador in Fiji. I think the situation, as he describes it, as you all describe it, as your correspondents there describe it, is very unsettled and uncertain. And it is impossible to make definitive statements about situations which have not been resolved.

QUESTION: You are only saying really that US wants to see democracy in Fiji. But what the US is doing for the last 10 days that all this is happening and a democratically elected government is being held by a businessman and now -

MR. REEKER: That's right.

QUESTION: - the military was supporting the prime minister and the president just two days before and now military has stepped in and the commander is saying that he will run the country.

MR. REEKER: I think the clarity of your question reflects the clarity of the situation, and that is that it's remarkably unsettled and uncertain. And what we have been doing is calling from the beginning for a release of the hostages. There is no reason to support continued holding of hostages at any time.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: And for a return to constitutional order. Now, last Fiji question.

QUESTION: You are aware that the Australian Prime Minister has said and the Australian Government has said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that if the outcome of the situation in Fiji is either a repeal of multiethnic democracy or a government which includes the main hostage taker, Mr. Speight, he will approve sanctions. Would the US support that?

MR. REEKER: I don't think I want to predict or categorize - it's slightly premature to do that. We're obviously in very close touch with people in Canberra and with Australians here in Washington on that. I don't want to go one way or the other; it's premature.

What I want to do is say that we need to see the release of the hostages and a return to order and then we will take it the next step once we see how the situation evolves and what develops.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - the US making it clear to Fiji what those consequences might be, however?

MR. REEKER: That may evolve over coming days. I think we've said and I think it's not hard to know that standing in the international community is in sort of a precarious balance for Fiji right now, that the situation there is really quite unsettled, quite uncertain and they need to move towards a return to order and solve these things through a constitutional and democratic process.

QUESTION: I understand the US wants all the governments around the world to be democratically elected. But every day, one by one, we are losing democratically elected governments like in Pakistan. Now Pakistan's army - he became - he said that he will remain for three more years.

MR. REEKER: Do you have a question?

QUESTION: What I'm saying is, how can we preserve our democratically and civilly elected governments around the world if the US doesn't take harder steps on these -

MR. REEKER: I think I stand here or Mr. Boucher stands here, the Secretary, the President, we all speak for democracy. I think our positions and US policy broadly on democracy is very well known, we enunciate it regularly. So I really don't have anything to add to sort of vague commentary from here.

QUESTION: Barak. Let me just ask this, Barak will now meet with the President and Secretary on Thursday morning and it will now be in Lisbon; is that correct?

MR. REEKER: That is my understanding. For details on timing or anything like that, I would refer you to the party. But, yes, I understand that Thursday morning - Ambassador Ross will be leaving today to join the President and the Secretary for their meeting with Prime Minister Barak in Lisbon tomorrow morning.

QUESTION: Are you saying he left already?

MR. REEKER: He was here this morning. I don't know what time he's leaving to make that connection to Lisbon.

QUESTION: I have another question about the trip but if Trudy wants to stay with Barak, then we'll come back to -

QUESTION: They changed it from Berlin. Do you know why they changed it?

MR. REEKER: I understand it was a scheduling situation for the Prime Minister because the President will be in Lisbon tomorrow morning before he goes on to Germany.

QUESTION: She sits in on all the meetings?

MR. REEKER: Yes, the Secretary is extremely involved in these issues and she will be in the meetings with the President.

QUESTION: The President is now trying to somewhat increase expectations when expectations had been somewhat dampened for what may result from his meeting with Putin on missile defense. What is the State Department's characterization of what they're expecting -

MR. REEKER: My characterization, unsurprisingly, is to refer you to the traveling party, which is very much doing that. And you will know that that is the standard practice when the President or the Secretary are traveling in preparation for a summit.

I will note that Deputy Secretary Talbott is traveling to Moscow. He is departing tonight and in Moscow from June 1st through 2nd, he is going to continue the ongoing discussions that have taken place. He was there, as you know, last week with the Russians on arms control, proliferation, regional security issues. He is going to be meeting with his counterpart, Mamedov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, and other officials and follow up on those meetings and discuss the agenda for the summit. But in terms of specific views on that, I would just refer you to the traveling party who will have plenty for that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - is he going to try and get some of the less contentious issues already wrapped up and resolved or will he - will it focus on the agenda?

MR. REEKER: He is going to continue the ongoing discussions that they have been having as they focused on establishing the agenda for the summit over the weekend.

QUESTION: You took my question about the release of the narco-traffickers tomorrow by the President. The Secretary has already --

MR. REEKER: That is a Treasury Department issue. That was the answer I got on that, as I told George yesterday. I'm sorry I didn't get in touch with you, Jesus. That report is spearheaded by the Treasury Department. The Secretary of State gives some input to that but it's a Treasury Department issue and the Treasury or the White House can help you on where to find information on that.

QUESTION: Does the US have any reason to believe, just returning to the Middle East, that Iran has, in fact, stepped up its support, supplying of weapons to Hizballah?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular information on that. I'd be happy to check it out.

QUESTION: The Iranians have denied it and I am just wondering whether or not the US accepts their statement as fact.

MR. REEKER: I think we continue to have a problem with their support for terrorist organizations. That's a well known fact. But, in terms of any new information, I don't have anything.

QUESTION: Along those lines, is there a plan that the US knows about by the UN to decommission those Hizballah guerrillas that are in the formerly occupied zone? Will that be part of the measures that will be taken?

MR. REEKER: In terms of Lebanon, I think we -

QUESTION: As far as Lebanon and Hizballah.

MR. REEKER: We've covered Lebanon greatly. Right now - what we are doing right now is awaiting the report of the UN Secretary General's envoy to confirm, verify the withdrawal of Israel within the context of the UN Security Council Resolution 425 and then to see Lebanese, obviously, exert their authority over all of Lebanon, including those southern areas. In terms of other developments in that region, someone had asked me earlier, before the briefing, about the request from the Government of Israel and, after some consultations with Congress, that the US will be making available up to $50 million in existing foreign military funding to assist security costs in northern Israel related to the withdrawal.

QUESTION: What's taking so long on the verification?

MR. REEKER: I don't believe anything is out of the ordinary in terms of a process that's established under the Security Council resolution and what the envoy has to go through in terms of meeting those steps. I would refer you to the UN, and I know we expect his verification shortly.

QUESTION: Back to my first question. Decommissioning by Lebanon, by UN, by some joint interim working - taking the weapons away?

MR. REEKER: Let me refer you the UN because, as I said, we're going to do this one step at a time and see the Security Council resolution implemented.

QUESTION: Can I switch to Ethiopia-Eritrea?

MR. REEKER: Any complaints? No? Good.

QUESTION: Just one question. Has the United States specifically urged the Ethiopian Government to limits its war aims to recovery of territory taken by Eritrea?

MR. REEKER: My understanding is that we have said from the very beginning that this war shouldn't take place at all, that there should be negotiations in terms of what's going on right now in Algiers in the OAU context to put that peace plan into place.

QUESTION: My question is motivated by considerations in some areas that the Ethiopians might take advantage of the military situation to attack other parts of Eritrea, including the Port of Assab, for which they might have --

MR. REEKER: We're strongly against any attacks or against any military operations. What we see is a process at the OAU, talks currently going on, proximity talks taking place in Algiers, and we have a team there to try to support that effort. And that's, I think, where we stand.

QUESTION: A fallout from yesterday's question where you said - in which your statement said that the United States has confirmed that Eritrea had withdrawn from all Ethiopian territory. Our reports in Addis Ababa - maybe they don't match others - continue to express some doubt on Ethiopia's part about this.

MR. REEKER: Let me follow you. Express doubt on whose part about what?

QUESTION: Well, that Ethiopia is not confirming themselves - not confirming that the Eritreans have withdrawn from all territory.

MR. REEKER: Well, the United States is confirming - did yesterday - confirmed the Eritrean withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1998.

QUESTION: What is the basis for your confirmation?

MR. REEKER: I think as you know, Jonathan, we don't discuss methods and sources we use for making those kind of determinations.

QUESTION: But it is independent confirmation by modern national technical means?

MR. REEKER: It is a United States confirmation that that has occurred.

QUESTION: They're actually just taking my word for it.

MR. REEKER: That's right.

QUESTION: Are we on the same subject or can I - oh, I wanted to ask one about this. Is Assistant Secretary Rice in Algiers as well, or is she here?

MR. REEKER: I would have to double check that. I believe she's here, but I --

QUESTION: Okay. Can I change the subject? I don't know if you noticed this or not this morning or today, but this morning UNMIK has established international postal service in Kosovo. And Mr. - what's the guy's name - Kouchner sent the first letter to Kofi Annan.

MR. REEKER: Did you send it - oh, he sent it to --

QUESTION: He sent it to Kofi Annan saying how wonderful this is. I'm just wondering why people in Belgrade shouldn't look at this as yet another move to make Kosovo independent of Serbia.

MR. REEKER: Well, I think our statements stand all along that we don't support an independence from Kosovo.

QUESTION: Now you have an independent postal service there.

MR. REEKER: I'd refer you to the UN and UNMIK for the details of how they're structuring to get mail service from Kosovo and to Kosovo with international mail. I'm just not aware of the details of the report. And if you want some details on that, just show me the thing and I'll try find out something for you. But I think you're probably better off checking with UNMIK because they'll have the details.

QUESTION: Phil, the most wanted terrorist in the world, Usama bin Laden, according to the reports and Pakistani officials have changed his bodyguards from Saudi to Pakistani and -- (inaudible) - militants in Afghanistan.

Do you have any comments on that?

MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm unaware of those reports. I think our position on Usama bin Laden and the UN resolution that calls for his being turned over to country where he can be taken into custody and brought to justice stand as they have all along.

QUESTION: On that point, have you gotten a readout from Mr. Inderfurth's meeting with, I guess, the deputy - was it the deputy foreign minister of the Taliban?

MR. REEKER: Inderfurth's or Pickering?

QUESTION: Pickering. Sorry.

MR. REEKER: We did that yesterday.

QUESTION: Did you --

MR. REEKER: I went through it, I think at some length. Let me see. I checked - I promised I would check in.

QUESTION: I remember you mentioning it, but I don't remember any details.

MR. REEKER: The question was - I can't remember who raised it - whether there was some offer that the Taliban would turn over Usama bin Laden in exchange for recognition, I believe was the question posed by one of your colleagues. I checked on that. The Taliban made no such offer. And again, just as I said in answering the previous question, UN Security Council Resolution 1267 requires that the Taliban unconditionally turn over Usama bin Laden to a country where he'll be arrested and brought to justice. And that's the fact.

QUESTION: Any word on the Libya travel ban report?

MR. REEKER: The passport restriction - passport use restriction to Libya, the report on that, I believe, has not been presented to the Secretary - just to correct your semantic mistake there, Matt.

QUESTION: What is holding it up?

QUESTION: It's being held up for the Lockerbie trial?

MR. REEKER: I would dispute the concept that there's anything being held back. I don't think we have particular timetables in which reports are prepared and cleared and reviewed for presentation to the Secretary of State, who is currently traveling with the President.

QUESTION: Why don't you bring this up with whatever bureau deals with it because, I mean, they spent 26 hours in the country and it's been like two and a half months. I mean, what are they doing?

MR. REEKER: I'll continue to ask them on your behalf.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Anything else?

QUESTION: You said that Taliban never made any offer of exchanging - in exchange of recognition. If they do, do you think US will agree?

MR. REEKER: I think I answered that, and let me say it once more so that it's extremely clear. The UN Security Council resolution, that is, the United Nations Resolution 1267, requires that the Taliban unconditionally turn over Usama bin Laden to a country where he will be arrested and brought to justice.

QUESTION: So you go only with the UN resolution?

MR. REEKER: That's what we're talking about. That's what we're looking to enforce.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 P.M.)

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