U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #51, 00-05-31
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Briefer: Philip Reeker
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
1-7 U.S. Reaction to Peru Elections
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
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
14 Deputy Secretary Talbott's Travel to Moscow June 1st through 2nd to
Continue Ongoing Discussions on Arms Control, Proliferation, and
Regional Security Issues.
14-15 Support for Terrorist Organizations
ETHIOPIA / ERITREA
15-16 OAU Sponsored Proximity Talks Continue in Algiers
17-18 Under Secretary Pickering's Talks with the Taliban
18 Travel Ban Report
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: You mean you're going to call a meeting and talk about
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 -
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
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
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
QUESTION: Would you care to urge the Lebanese to drop their claim to these
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
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
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
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
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
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.
MR. REEKER: And for a return to constitutional order. Now, last Fiji
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
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
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
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
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
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
MR. REEKER: Let me follow you. Express doubt on whose part about
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
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
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
MR. REEKER: I would have to double check that. I believe she's here, but
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
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
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
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
(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 P.M.)
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