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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #52, 00-06-01

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


Thursday, June 1, 2000


1 	Fiji / Threat to Democracy
6-8	Secretary Albright's Travel to the Middle East
1-6	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 / Amnesty
	 offered to Speight and several of his followers / Possible repeal
	 of U.S. foreign assistance to Fiji 
1-3	U.S. in consultation with international community
6	Situation at U.S. Embassy
8-13	U.S. Reaction to Peru Elections
13-14	Status of Berenson case
8 	Assistant Secretary Harold Koh's meeting with Toledo's Peruvian
9	Eduardo Stein, leader of the Electoral Observation Mission,
	 presents report to Permanent Council 
8-13	U.S. Delegation to the General Assembly of the Organization of
	 American States in Windsor, Ontario from June 4 through 6 /
	 Article 61/ U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Luis Laredo withdraws OAS
	 Resolution 1080 proposal / Status of OAS Resolution 1080 
14-17	Visit of Kim Jong-il to China
15	June 12-14 North-South Summit
15-16	Forced repatriation of North Koreans
17	Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act
18	Assassination of Montenegrin Presidential Advisor Goran Zugic
18	Assassination of Acehnese rebel leader
18-19	Status of visas for family members
19-20	Troop withdrawals / Tony Lake leads U.S. delegation in Algiers
20-21	Legalization of prostitution / Ratification of the Convention on
	 the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women 


DPB #52

THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2000, 1:45 P.M.


MR. REEKER: Welcome back to the State Department on this fine Thursday, June 1st. Just a couple of recognitions. I'd like to welcome three visitors we have from the Institute of International Education: Marco Antonio Arauz Ortega from Ecuador, a journalist, and his escort and program intern. I'm very happy to have you here today.

And we also have some visitors from the Foreign Service Institute with us, people I know well, colleagues of mine: Millie McCoo and Gary Pergl from the Public Diplomacy Division over at FSI, along with their intern, Kelly Beaty from Spellman College. So welcome to the State Department and I'm sure we'll put on a fine show for you today.

With that, let me start with a statement I'd like to make regarding Fiji.

QUESTION: Finally.

MR. REEKER: I'll have you note, Mr. Lee, that we've put out several statements on Fiji over the previous days.

The United States continues to be very concerned about developments in the ongoing crisis in Fiji. We condemn the repugnant criminal actions of George Speight and his band of gunmen who are still holding hostages in Fiji's parliamentary complex. The hostages should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The United States opposes any unconstitutional change of government in the Republic of the Fiji Islands. The consequences of any such action would be substantial and detrimental to Fiji's standing in the international community. Upholding basic principles of democracy and international standards of human rights as embodied in Fiji's 1997 constitution will be a

benchmark for determining our reaction to the crisis in Fiji.

An unconstitutional change of government is taking place in Fiji. The army commander has declared he is in power and the 1997 constitution has been revoked. Amnesty has been offered to George Speight and some of his followers, and it is uncertain when democracy will return to Fiji.

Such actions fly in the face of international norms and standards of democracy. We are therefore considering a range of steps, in consultation with other nations, that could have serious impact on Fiji's international contacts, and on outside assistance.

We will post that statement in a written form for you following the briefing.

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of what the range of steps is?

MR. REEKER: At this point I think it would be premature to speculate on those. It's not useful, but I would note that US law provides that no foreign assistance may go to any country whose duly-elected head of government is deposed by military coups or decree.

QUESTION: Do you what the aid to Fiji is?

MR. REEKER: I'd have to get you breakdowns on that.

QUESTION: Why today? Why are we -- why this much of an outcry today, when it's been somewhat --

MR. REEKER: I think we've been noting developments, negative developments in Fiji for a number of days now. We've been condemning those repeatedly. We've had lengthy discussions here, from this podium. We've released statements, and this is another statement to note that this hostage crisis continues to go on. Hostages are continuing to be held for absolutely no reason, and those hostages should be released immediately and unconditionally, as I said in the statement.

QUESTION: You are now considering this to be a change in government?

MR. REEKER: As I said in the statement, an unconstitutional change of government is taking place. Once again, as I said yesterday, the situation is somewhat in flux; it remains extremely unsettled and uncertain. Recent press reports indicate that there may be some breakthrough in negotiations between the head of the armed forces and the ethnic Fijian businessman, Mr. Speight, on some proposal to end the hostage situation, but we cannot confirm this, which is why I want to reiterate once again that that situation should end immediately and unconditionally.

There are a number of hostages still in that complex, including Prime Minister Chaudhry, and I think as I made clear, we're repeating our call for unconditional and immediate release of all those persons held hostage, and would hope that the reports that we've seen are accurate. We'll be monitoring that very closely.

QUESTION: Can you tell us who you are in consultation with on this? I assume the Australians are there. Any others that you can name, and are you hoping for a kind of concerted package of measures; is that what you're working towards?

MR. REEKER: Well, as I noted, we are in consultation with a number of governments, other countries in the international community. We're working very closely, and consulting with the Australians, and other governments in the region and elsewhere, and we will continue to that. We have been obviously, all along.

QUESTION: My thought is something -- why have you decided today, as opposed to yesterday or the day before, that now what is going on there, what is taking place is an unconstitutional change in government?

MR. REEKER: As I think I made clear --

QUESTION: But there had to have been something that happened between yesterday and today for you to move from saying things are in flux, and while we want a constitutional --

MR. REEKER: I don't think there had to be any particular thing. What we've seen is an ongoing thing with developing aspects of this that have been very negative, and we've been condemning those all along. We've been looking for a release of the hostages, and I'm reiterating that again here. And as I said yesterday it was very difficult, and it remains difficult, to determine exactly how things stand in Fiji. It's very much an unsettled, uncertain situation there, but clearly an unconstitutional change of government is taking place.

Again, nothing is final in this situation. So we're watching that, but we're making these statements to put across our views very strongly, and urge that the hostages be released, and that they return to a constitutional process.

QUESTION: Phil, if I could just pick up on that. I do remember you saying repeatedly yesterday, that because this situation was unsettled and uncertain, the US couldn't make any kind of determination as to what would happen. So, you know, just to follow up on what Matt and Rebecca were saying, what changed between yesterday and today that now it's okay to say it's unconstitutional?

MR. REEKER: I ran through for you the things that have gone on there. You have, as I said, a repugnant criminal action continuing where gunmen are holding hostages in the parliament. That continues. We're unable to confirm the reports that there may have been some breakthrough for that.

What I noted is that unconstitutional change of government is taking place. That is the same formulation in terms of a continuum. Something is taking place; it's not complete. And what we're calling for is a release of the hostages --

QUESTION: You don't recognize the military as being the legitimate head of the government?

MR. REEKER: No, I think I noted for you that, along the events that have occurred, the commander has declared he is in power and that the 1997 constitution is revoked. Amnesty has apparently been offered to Speight and some of his followers. And when democracy will return to Fiji is clearly still unclear.

QUESTION: Is it necessary for Prime Minister Chaudhry to be reinstated under that formulation that you've just put forward?

MR. REEKER: I think at this point, as I went through again yesterday, what we want is a release of the hostages and a return to a constitutional process to settle things in Fiji.

QUESTION: A process that may not include Prime Minister --

MR. REEKER: A 1997 constitution, which I talked about yesterday, which we think represents the internationally recognized norms in terms of human rights; a multiethnic society, which is important for Fiji. And that's what we're calling for.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say that, basically, 14 days after armed gunmen stormed parliament, took the Prime Minister hostage along with other members of his cabinet, and after all the events that happened, the United States is finally acknowledging that there is a coup underway?

MR. REEKER: Matt, I think you've been here for all of those 14 days, and you've followed very closely the remarks that we've made from the beginning when the Secretary herself discussed her concern about what was happening there. And rather than leap to judgments in a situation that was uncertain -- and still remains uncertain as to exactly what's going on, who is in power, what is clear -- we have condemned those actions repeatedly. And my statement, I think, very much stands for itself.

QUESTION: But, before, it was a hostage-taking incident and now you're saying, in effect --

MR. REEKER: Matt, I'm not going to argue it with you. If you look at the record of the statements we've put out and what we've discussed from here, we have -- there still is a hostage-taking incident. What I'm saying is that there is an unconstitutional change of government taking place. Nothing is clear, nothing is final, and what we want to see is a resolution of the hostage-taking and of the change in government to be constitutional and to have that process in place.

QUESTION: For the last two weeks, you haven't been prepared to go and say that an unconstitutional change in government is taking place.

MR. REEKER: I think I referred repeatedly to our desire to return to a constitutional process there. I mean, endlessly yesterday and the day before.

QUESTION: So there's nothing new about the statement today than what you said in the past?

MR. REEKER: I'll let you make that judgment, Matt. The statement stands for itself. We've gone through it. I will put it out in written form if that will help you in any way to read what we're saying.

QUESTION: Let me put it this way. Could you say that your hopes are kind of -- that this hostage situation and all the constitutional goings-on might be resolved and everybody might step back from the brink have diminished over the days, and now you've decided that you have to act?

MR. REEKER: I think we've been making our statements very clear all along; that there is a situation in flux; there was no certainty about it. There is still no certainty about it. What we've been very clear about is that hostages should be released -- there is no excuse for hostage-holding - - and that there should be a return to constitutional rule.

What I'm putting out for you is a formal statement, similar to the one we put out Monday, but again, giving you exactly where we stand on the situation in Fiji right now, indicating that we look to Fiji to preserve a multiethnic democracy, and we call on the return to constitutional rule.

QUESTION: Not to belabor the point --

MR. REEKER: No. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The difference between Monday and today is that only now is the State Department saying that you're considering a range of steps.

MR. REEKER: I don't believe that's the case. If you go back to the transcripts, I think we talked about the implications that this might have for Fiji and its international standing and ours. I recall discussing with another --

QUESTION: But you didn't spell it out.

MR. REEKER: And I don't believe we spelled that out now either. It's premature. But we are considering -- it's in the statement that you'll get in written form, that we're considering a range of steps in consultation with our allies and other nations in the region, and in the international community, and these steps could have significant impact on Fiji's standing in the international community, and on their contacts and outside assistance for Fiji.

QUESTION: Could we move from Fiji to Fujimori? (Laughter.)

MR. REEKER: Is there any last -- yes, Rebecca?

QUESTION: If amnesty is a solution for getting the hostages freed, why are you rejecting it?

MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: If offering Speight amnesty is one way that they may be able to negotiate an end to the hostage crisis.

MR. REEKER: I don't believe I rejected that. I noted that that was something that was being offered to him and his followers, and noted that it's uncertain when democracy is going to return to Fiji.

QUESTION: So amnesty is not something that the State Department is rejecting?

MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of the situation, other than to say that we want the hostage situation ended. We're not involved in ending the hostage situation. Speight should listen to us, and everybody else, including the people in Fiji, and end this hostage situation immediately and unconditionally. I did use the word "unconditional" several times.

QUESTION: So, can I ask you again, is amnesty something that's acceptable?

MR. REEKER: Can I say again, we want to see the hostage situation ended immediately and unconditionally. Any more Fiji questions?

QUESTION: Let me just clarify something. Are you saying that Fiji has not reached the stage yet at which it would be ineligible for US foreign assistance?

MR. REEKER: That would be correct, because we see an uncertain situation there and can't make any clear determinations of what's happening. But what is clear is that an unconstitutional change of government is taking place. Again, this is in a continuum, and because of this we are considering a range of steps, which obviously we've been looking at over a period of days as this has unfolded. After consultations with other nations, and depending on the outcome of the situation there, we will pursue those steps further.

QUESTION: Can you address the situation of US contacts there, how many people are still at the Embassy, roughly speaking, or specifically if you have a number, and what kind of contact, if any, has the US Ambassador had with any of the participants?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details on that for you. Our US Ambassador remains there with a core emergency staff. Dependents have largely withdrawn. As you know, we went to an authorized departure status when we issued a travel warning for Fiji. So I don't have details for you on talks. Our Ambassador is reporting regularly here, and is obviously in touch with colleges in Fiji and with representatives of other countries, as I said.

QUESTION: Can you say whether the Ambassador's been in touch with anybody inside the parliament building?

MR. REEKER: I don't have facts on that information. I don't believe the people in the parliament are in regular contact with the outside world.

Actually, could I move on to a second topic, and then we can go to George's topic, and that was noting the Secretary's travel, which was announced by the President, this morning our time, in Lisbon.

We have a notice out, I think, that the Secretary will travel to the Middle East June 5th, that's Monday, as the President said, to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in order to facilitate their efforts to reach agreement on permanent status issues. The United States continues to give very high priority to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians achieve this critical goal. The press sign- up arrangements are being made in the press office now.

QUESTION: Do you have much extra information about (inaudible)?

MR. REEKER: Obviously, I would defer to the traveling party for most of that. You all, I'm sure, saw the President's statements after his meeting with Prime Minister Barak. As he made clear, both Prime Mister Barak and Chairman Arafat are committed to reaching an agreement, and recognize the urgency of completing the work that has to be done. So Secretary Albright is going to the region next week, and President Clinton will be meeting soon with Chairman Arafat here in Washington, and as we continue to support the parties in their efforts to narrow gaps and reach agreement on all the permanent status issues.

QUESTION: Is the fact that she's going a sign that things are beginning to move again, or is it because they're not moving that she's going there?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think the President discussed this. I think he met with Barak, and I would really defer to the traveling party to talk to your colleagues who were with them on the outcome of those meetings. I'm sure you can be in touch with them on that.

But the Secretary is going on Monday. You know there are differences that have to be overcome -- I think clearly -- and the parties are working to do that.

QUESTION: Do you have an end date for her?

MR. REEKER: I don't have something like that.

QUESTION: You don't yet have the countries she's going to, either?

MR. REEKER: She's going to Israel and the West Bank, Gaza, to meet with Barak and Arafat.

QUESTION: You don't have Egypt, Jordan, Syria?

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything further beyond that.

QUESTION: But you're not ruling them out?

MR. REEKER: I just didn't get any information on that. Again, I think you need to talk to the party that's traveling. The Secretary is there with the President, who made the announcement this morning.

QUESTION: This is an additional trip, though. They're still saying that she'll take the trip that we've long known was planned, right? "I do not expect this to be her only trip," a Senior Administration Official said at this morning's briefing.

MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the party and those officials that are speaking. This is the trip that I was informed of this morning. Obviously, I'm here and the party is there, and I arranged this with Mr. Boucher and the Secretary's party pursuant to the President's remarks this morning. So if you need further details, I'd refer you out there.

QUESTION: Do you know, or can you find out for us today, what this means in terms of the UN Beijing Plus Five Conference?

MR. REEKER: The Secretary is scheduled to speak at the UN Beijing Plus Five Conference on Thursday.

QUESTION: And this is not expected to interfere with that?

MR. REEKER: All I can tell you is what I have in terms of her schedule at this point.

QUESTION: Will you let us know if that changes?

MR. REEKER: I would let you know as soon as I have information. But, also, the traveling party is clearly the place you should look for that.

QUESTION: You've had 24 hours to digest the OAS Permanent Council meeting yesterday on Peru, and also if you have anything to say about the meeting that you said the representatives of Mr. Toledo had here.

MR. REEKER: Let me take that second part first. As I mentioned yesterday, there was to be a meeting and, in fact, Assistant Secretary Harold Koh of our Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor met with two Peruvian representatives of Mr. Toledo this morning here in the Department; discussed the recent flawed election in Peru and the need to make this issue a priority at the OAS General Assembly meeting in Windsor.

In terms of your first question, yes, I have had 24 hours to review the OAS meeting yesterday. I must say that in terms of some of the press reporting that I read and the actual outcome of the meeting, I found some real opposition. I don't know if some of the newspapers were, in fact, covering the same story, the same meeting in which we participated yesterday.

We are delighted with the results of the May 31st meeting of the OAS Permanent Council. We achieved our two principle objectives: first, the Foreign Ministers at the June 4-6 OAS general assembly in Windsor, Ontario, will review the situation in Peru and decide on appropriate measures to take in response to that; secondly, OAS members joined us in expressing their concern about the fairness of the Peruvian elections and their strong support for the findings of the OAS observer mission to Peru. There was very clear agreement that the irregularities of Peru's electoral process are serious and must be urgently addressed. And as the President said, we will be working with our partners in the hemisphere to promote a vigorous response. The President put that statement out Friday.

We are now today, and throughout the rest of the week, continuing to work very closely with our partners in these days before the Windsor meeting. Eduardo Stein, the leader of the observer mission, presented his interim report to the Permanent Council. That report, as I noted previously, detailed numerous deficiencies in Peru's electoral process, and we are urging our partners in the hemisphere to study the report carefully to prepare for Sunday and the meetings in Windsor.

QUESTION: Are you going to renew your call for this Resolution 1080?

MR. REEKER: I think we need to look at what Resolution 1080 was. It's a mechanism that Ambassador Lauredo put on the table as a remedy. There was sort of a uniform feeling that this needed to be dealt with at the foreign minister level, and that was what 1080 was all about. On a technical basis, it was determined and felt that we could use regular Article 61 approach, and that is what has now put this on the agenda of the foreign ministers meeting which is taking place in Windsor. I mean, Lauredo withdrew the 1080 proposal because we didn't need it. I mean, we had consensus on having the foreign ministers meet.

QUESTION: Well, didn't -- no. Didn't he withdraw it because he knew that he wasn't going to get a consensus among the members? And isn't the 1080 really -- I mean, I know that it's a mechanism to discuss this, but doesn't it kind of determine that the democratic process has been interrupted and set up a whole -- and mandate a whole course of action and a negotiating team to negotiate a new settlement?

MR. REEKER: What Resolution 1080, as I understand it, does is instructs the OAS Secretary General to convene the Permanent Council in the event of a sudden or irregular interruption of the democratic process in a member state. The Permanent Council would then decide on convening a meeting of the foreign ministers or a special session of the General Assembly to decide on appropriate action.

Well we have a meeting of the general assembly, and so what transpired at the OAS meeting was a determination, you know, with very uniform feeling that we did need to have this addressed at the foreign minister level, and we have a meeting starting Sunday in Windsor. And I think that's where some of the reports seem to get this a little bit wrong in terms of, you know, failures and losses.

QUESTION: Ambassador Lauredo said yesterday to CNN that he didn't want to denounce his call for the 1080, and still leave it on the table.

MR. REEKER: Sure. I don't think he was planning on denouncing anything. I think what they did was worked and came to a consensus and a uniform feeling that this needed to be addressed, certainly a uniform acceptance and support for Ambassador Stein and the OAS mission and a very strong and deep concern expressed all around the table about the systematic manipulations of the electoral process that took place in Peru. So nothing is off the table from yesterday's meeting. I think that's the bottom line. And now we're working, consulting continuously, and we'll go to the ministerial meeting beginning on Sunday.

QUESTION: But the foreign ministers meeting was scheduled long before this Permanent Council, so why would you bring up the 1080 anyway if you didn't think it would serve any purpose since we already had a foreign ministers meeting?

MR. REEKER: It's a mechanism, Terri. It's a procedural mechanism. What's important is that everybody agreed that this was a very serious situation that we want to address, and that it should be addressed at that level. We have a meeting going on in Windsor on Sunday, and so it was put on the agenda through, as I said and as I was told, it's an Article 61 approach to this.

So I think the sort of mechanics of this which, you know, certainly didn't worry us -- what was important was the outcome. Frankly, I think the outcome was more than expected in terms of the support that was given, the confirming of support for Stein and the OAS mission there, and the concern expressed uniformly about the situation in Peru.

QUESTION: Phil, is it now the US expectation, now that you've been able to hear from your OAS colleagues, that during the foreign ministers meeting there will be that same consensus, unanimity of feeling, about the flawed election process that you feel has happened?

MR. REEKER: I certainly think that was reflected yesterday.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) actions would be taken?

MR. REEKER: That was reflected yesterday and we're right now in the phase where we're working with our allies, as I said, talking very closely with partners in the hemisphere, to get a very vigorous OAS response. As the President said on Friday, again referring to his statement, we would hope that Peru cooperates with the OAS. And we always reserve the right to take steps and actions on a bilateral basis as we deem necessary. Things are moving forward; now we need to let the next news occur, and that will be the meeting taking place beginning Sunday.

QUESTION: You talked about a vigorous OAS response. Is the United States circulating or planning to circulate a draft resolution for the OAS meeting?

MR. REEKER: I'd have to check on details of that. We're certainly having consultations with all of our partners, and if that's part of that consultative process, that would be perfectly normal. I don't have details on those conversations and consultations, and we'll need to wait for the process to go ahead in Windsor.

QUESTION: You were characterizing the position of other countries at yesterday's meeting, and I'd like to know if you know how many, besides Ambassador Lauredo, referred to 1080?

MR. REEKER: I don't have exact nose counts for you, and I would refer you back to the OAS to get that. Again, Ambassador Lauredo presented -- put forth 1080 on the table, as a remedy, as a way of proceeding. There was a uniform feeling that this needed to be addressed. There was as I said, sort of frankly an outcome more than what we expected, in terms of the expressions of support for the OAS mission, and of concern for what's going on in Peru.

QUESTION: And there were also a lot of statements which seemed to express concern about interference in Peru's internal affairs.

MR. REEKER: Well, I noticed that the Peruvian delegate did that. Let's just remember that it was Peru that invited in the OAS mission to come there and monitor their election. As the President noted, Peru could have taken steps to have even a slight delay in the election Sunday, that would have allowed the OAS mission to take steps to be able to verify the election as a free and fair election. They didn't take those steps, and consequently the flaws that we've discussed are evident.

QUESTION: If journalists were covering the wrong meeting, than maybe some of the ambassadors were at the wrong meeting as well, because some of them are saying that the US was getting ahead of the other ambassadors, and that they weren't yet -- the other countries weren't yet prepared to go that far; that they still wanted to see more information, see more results, and then decide how far they were prepared to go. Are you saying that the US is not in any way disappointed that 1080 was not taken up at this meeting?

MR. REEKER: I think, in fact, we're delighted, and that's how I started this out.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

MR. REEKER: Because it was a mechanism, Rebecca. It was a way to do it, and they chose to do it another way. The outcome is the same, and it is exactly what we wanted to see. We achieved the two principal objectives, along with our partners in the hemisphere, which is what we wanted: to have the foreign ministers address this, using the meeting that was already scheduled, adjusting the agenda accordingly to review the situation, and decide on appropriate measures, and; secondly, the overwhelming support that was given, the expressions of concern about the fairness of the elections, and the overwhelming support for the mission and the report of Mr. Stein.

QUESTION: Can you clear up for me -- it seems like it is still possible to have 1080 considered at the Windsor meeting, because people are saying they're still looking to consider it at that meeting. So how does it work?

MR. REEKER: Let's go through, to my knowledge, and I looked into this in preparation for your question. As I understand it, Resolution 1080 instructs the OAS Secretary General to convene a Permanent Council, convene the Permanent Council immediately in the event of some sudden or irregular interruption of the democratic process in one of the OAS member states. Then the Permanent Council decides whether to convene a meeting of the foreign ministers or a special session of the General Assembly.

We don't need to do that, because there is a meeting of the General Assembly. So the procedure by which you would go to putting this on the agenda of a meeting of the General Assembly of the foreign ministers is irrelevant. What's important, and what we are extremely pleased about, is that we're going to go forward with that, and we're going to continue the meetings that we're having with our partners in the hemisphere and in the international community, and we're going to go to Windsor on Sunday, and then we will pursue talks there, and the process, and work with our allies to have a vigorous OAS response.

QUESTION: There's some confusion about that, because some are saying that they're still willing to consider it at the next meeting. Let me ask you another thing. When you say bilateral do you mean that the United Sates is now willing to consider, if they don't have some type of agreement at the OAS meeting, is the US willing to consider unilateral --

MR. REEKER: We have always been. What I have said all along is that no decisions or determinations have been made, but nothing is off the table.

QUESTION: Is the range of options open to the OAS under Article 61 any smaller than the range of options open to the OAS under 1080?

MR. REEKER: I would have to refer you to my OAS specialists on that. I just am not familiar enough with the details of that, but I believe that was the article under which they could then put on the agenda for the foreign minister's meeting. There are processes to these things. There are structures, there are things that are --

QUESTION: I mean, and this is basically the same overall question. It's just that why did he propose it in the first place if you knew -- I mean, why didn't he just come out and say look, why don't we get together and talk about this under Article 61? And if people had said no, then he could have said let's do it under 1080. Or is it done because 1080 is stronger and that's what --

MR. REEKER: Again, I can't characterize the details of OAS workings and the processes that have to go on in a body that runs according to rules and to articles of its charter.

QUESTION: Then the confusion, because when you propose some things and then withdraw it, it doesn't look like a victory to anyone except for, I think, the people here.

MR. REEKER: I don't know why, because the outcome -- the problem is, why aren't people looking at the outcome? This is what puzzled me, and a number of articles seemed to understand what the outcome was. This desire to sort of, I think, have articles that talk about failure and loss I think sometimes gets us a little ahead of things. This isn't about winning or losing anything; this is about a process that we're following. The only losers here are the Peruvian people, who have been denied the opportunity to have their will represented in a free and fair democratic election.

QUESTION: I just want to move a couple steps down the road to understand why it is that the US is so confident that the OAS, if it does make a decision that the democratic process has been interrupted, will be able to reverse what has happened, because as you may know, in 1992, the OAS invoked Resolution 1080 with Fujimori, and he's still there. It took him several --

MR. REEKER: I'm not going to make any predictions, and I'm not going to talk about any particular confidence. What we're very happy about is the process that's gone forward. I outlined for you at considerable length over the last couple of days the only decisions we've made in terms of steps, and that was to meet at the OAS, which took place yesterday. We're very pleased with the outcome of yesterday's meeting, and the results that will mean that this will be dealt with at the ministerial meeting, the General Assembly meeting in Windsor. That's a couple days down the road.

In the meantime, we'll continue talking and preparing for that, and working with our allies to have a vigorous OAS response. We would hope that Peru would cooperate with that, as a member of the OAS, and the country that invited the OAS mission into Peru in the first place. Then we will look at the situation, and move on to the next steps that might be considered. So it's premature to speculate beyond that. What I'm saying is that, contrary to some reports, we're very pleased with yesterday's meeting, and we are looking forward to continuing the work this week, and taking up this serious matter at the OAS Ministerial in Windsor.

QUESTION: Isn't there a little bit of a concern that some of the other countries in the OAS feel that they don't have the moral authority to make such a strong statement on Peru given that a good portion of them are having their own election and democratic problems right now?

MR. REEKER: I'd have to refer you to those countries and their determination of their own moral authorities.

QUESTION: Also on Peru, the Berenson case, there's an article today in the Post that's quite critical of the State Department's assistance to Lori Berenson, and saying the State Department should be more supportive of her, and implying that the Clinton Administration is being soft on Fujimori in this case, much the same criticism as has come from some sides on the election.

MR. REEKER: I did, and many of us read and were frankly dismayed to read that column this morning, and its implication that the US Government has not been fully engaged in this case. I would note that the columnist never contacted us for any comment about that. In fact, the United States Government has at all levels been actively involved in Ms. Berenson's case since her arrest in November 1995. We have consistently maintained that Ms. Berenson's military trial did not meet international standards of due process, and we have repeatedly urged the Government of Peru to grant her a new trial in civilian court with full due process protection.

QUESTION: Have Toledo's representatives ever brought up this case in any of their meetings with the State Department?

MR. REEKER: I'm not sure. We had the meetings of his representatives this morning, and I don't have exactly what they discussed.

QUESTION: So those are the first meetings between Toledo's representatives and State?

MR. REEKER: I think we met with representatives of Toledo before. We meet often with opposition leaders in many countries, but I don't have any specifics on that.

QUESTION: Could you find out if that case has come up in those meetings?

MR. REEKER: I'd be happy to look into it.

QUESTION: On the OAS meeting, do you have the language of Article 61 there?

MR. REEKER: I don't. No, George, I don't.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

MR. REEKER: Are we done with Peru, the Berenson case?

QUESTION: Yes. I would like to know if the US is pleased that Kim Jong- il has come out of his shell and traveled to China and apparently has quit smoking and now doesn't drink nearly as much as he used to? (Laughter.)

MR. REEKER: Matt, are you going to take some lessons? (Laughter.)

We continue to believe that dialogue among all countries in the region contributes to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. I would note, I think, that in the run-up to the June 12-14 South-North Summit it would be natural for the two sides to discuss issues related to the Korean Peninsula.

As you know, China has played --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: No, the June 12-14 South-North Summit is --

QUESTION: Yeah, but --

MR. REEKER: It would be natural for --

QUESTION: North Korea and South Korea --

MR. REEKER: Both sides, North Korea and South Korea, to discuss issues with others related to the Summit, if you'll let me continue.

As you know, China has played a constructive role as a participant in the Four Party Talks and we, in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, continue to work with China in pursuing the goal of a stable, peaceful Korean Peninsula.

We have consistently stated that South-North dialogue is key to achieving this goal, and we warmly welcome the announcement of the Summit, the North- South Summit June 12 - 14. Meanwhile, the United States remains resolved to continue conducting a serious dialogue with DPRK on the settlement of pending issues. In terms of specifics of the visit, I'd just refer you to those two governments.

QUESTION: Are you drawing any conclusions from -- or from the fact that he has traveled or about his status internally?

MR. REEKER: I'm not drawing any conclusions other than what I stated.

QUESTION: Is there any way you can go beyond what was put out yesterday in response to the taken question about the preparatory missile talks?

MR. REEKER: No, there really isn't. They had the preparatory talks as planned and as scheduled, and --

QUESTION: But they, in fact, did not go for another day, right? It was just a one-day meeting?

MR. REEKER: No, it was a one-day meeting. And I put out the taken question, so you have had the answer specifically.

QUESTION: There was a story, I believe, in the Times the other day about China accelerating return of North Korean refugees to North Korea to certain persecution and perhaps death, in violation of international law. Do you have anything on that?

MR. REEKER: I read that article, which was on the 31st, I believe, yesterday morning. We are deeply concerned about the desperate situation many North Koreans face. Many cross into China to find work or food and then return to North Korea. Some remain in China for a longer time.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and several non- governmental organizations are assisting these people by giving them food. And the United States supports those efforts both as a donor and as a partner.

There are no reliable reports, from what I could tell, concerning the number of North Koreans in China. The South Korean Government has given estimates of 10,000 to 30,000 persons. China has stated that there are only a few hundred, while some Korean NGOs that have religious affiliations have suggested that there are between 50- and 300,000.

I think as all of you know, we take human rights extremely seriously and expect all members of the international community to abide by the guiding principles of the UN charter, as well as the 1951 Convention on Refugees and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

QUESTION: So on the narrow issue of forced repatriation of North Koreans, is that what you're addressing there in that last statement?

MR. REEKER: In terms of -- yes, we support the position of the High Commissioner against refoulement --- if I pronounced that correctly. We do support the High Commissioner's position against refoulement, which is the forcible return of a person to a place where he or she faces persecution. And this is under the terms of the 1951 Convention on Refugees.

We've raised our concern for the status of these individuals and our support for the UNHCR with Chinese officials at high levels.


MR. REEKER: I don't have exact times for that. I think that's been an ongoing subject.

QUESTION: If I could just ask, getting back to Kim Jong-il's visit, does the US have -- I mean, this is the first time that he's left the country in 17 years. Have you made any kind of, you know, just first -- at least first assessment as to, you know, how he's doing? I mean, this is -- no, this is a guy that for --

MR. REEKER: I don't think he was meeting with us, and I just don't have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: Right. But, I mean, the pictures have been on television and - -

MR. REEKER: On your network. I don't have anything for you on that, on those kinds of assessments, and I don't believe I would.

QUESTION: Also, do you have any idea why -- and I understand the North- South Summit is happening in a few days -- but why Kim Jong-il -- he could have consulted with the Chinese in North Korea, as he has -- why he actually left the country? Was it a signal?

MR. REEKER: That would be a question for him.

QUESTION: So the US doesn't have any opinion on it?

MR. REEKER: I don't. We were not apprised of plans for this visit by either side, and I think I went through our position on that.

QUESTION: Can I go back to what you said? You said, "We were not apprised." So have you still not received direct confirmation of the visit? Are you still going on the pictures and --

MR. REEKER: I think at a certain point it becomes rather a moot point.

QUESTION: You never know with video.

MR. REEKER: Note that, please, for the record. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So the Chinese Government has not made any official notification to the US Government at any level that this has occurred?

MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: So it's still a reported visit?

MR. REEKER: It was widely reported. That's right.

QUESTION: The US Treasury Department is about to, along with the White House, release this list of drug kingpins and the foreign companies that do business with them, leading up to possible freezing of assets for these companies. Mexican officials are saying that if the US isn't careful and comes down too hard on Mexican companies, this could do serious damage to the bilateral relationship in other areas.

Is there a response to that?

MR. REEKER: I think any sort of response would be premature. And you said it yourself in your question that the Treasury Department and the White House are coordinating. They have the lead in that, and they will release that report, the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, in which Congress declared that there is a national emergency resulting from the activities of international narcotics traffickers and their organizations that threatens the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States. Treasury has the lead on that, and I would refer you to them or to the White House for any of the --

QUESTION: I know that the Treasury has the lead on the list, but the State Department -- I mean, Rosario Green was here just a few weeks ago working on other areas of bilateral cooperation. So is the State Department concerned that this is going to affect other areas of bilateral cooperation?

MR. REEKER: I don't think we have any concerns to reflect until the report comes out. We work in conjunction with Treasury. The Secretary of State, along with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, all coordinate and make recommendations that the Treasury Department has a lead on in working with the White House, making recommendations to the President. So we'll have to wait and let that come out. I'll refer you to Treasury for any details on that, because I don't have them.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. REEKER: Anybody else on drug kingpins?

QUESTION: Drug kingpins? Okay. The assassination of the security advisor to Montenegrin President Djukanovic. Do you have a statement or anything?

MR. REEKER: Well, I've seen the press reports on that, and other reports that Montenegrin Presidential Advisor Goran Zugic was killed outside his home in Podgorica yesterday. Montenegrin authorities are apparently conducting an investigation into the killing. I think it's too soon obviously to draw any conclusions about the perpetrators of the crime, but clearly this happened in a climate of fear and violence that's been perpetrated by the Milosevic regime in Belgrade. We are very much in touch with the Montenegrin government, and have conveyed our condolences.

QUESTION: Can we go to another assassination? Just a couple of hours before the Indonesian Aceh peace agreement truce was supposed to go into affect, one of the main Acehnese rebel leaders, considered a moderate, was killed in Kuala Lumpur.

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on developments there, sorry. I'd be happy to be check into that for you.

QUESTION: You don't have anything on that?

MR. REEKER: I don't.

QUESTION: Considering that the Secretary had promised aid and assistance to -- anyway, it's threatened to --

MR. REEKER: I'm sorry, I just don't have anything for you on that, but we'll certainly check with the appropriate bureaus to look into that. Other subjects?

QUESTION: Can I talk about Elian? You knew you wouldn't get away without it today?

MR. REEKER: I think it will be pretty quiet, but --

QUESTION: Well, I just want to ask you about -- there is a report from some of Juan Miguel's counsels -- counselors that they had applied for the grandmothers to get new visas, and that those visas have been pending but not granted. Is that the case, and if so, why have they not been granted?

MR. REEKER: I do think we've discussed it previously. There were seven grandparents and great-grandparents and step-grandparents who applied for visas, and those applications remain under review.

QUESTION: Apparently, Juan Miguel had let it be know, via his side, that especially the two grandmothers it was very important to him that they get their visas. So beyond the numbers of people who have applied for visas, why specifically would the State Department hold off on granting those --

MR. REEKER: The visas are under review.

QUESTION: But you've granted them for playmates, and others, and the grandmothers have been here before.

MR. REEKER: Certain visas were granted; everything you've said I believe is correct, and those visas remain under review.

QUESTION: Technical question. Seven, you said? I thought it was six.

MR. REEKER: I believe it's seven, including a great-grandparent. I'd have to go back, Charlie, to check the record, or you could do that from a previous briefing. I believe it's two sets of grandparents, a set of step- grandparents, and a great-grandparent.

QUESTION: If Juan Miguel decides, or has to stay through the appeals process, is there any plan to extend the visas for the playmates?

MR. REEKER: I'd refer you to the INS that has the extension privileges. I think we've been through all that numerous times. They are the ones that deal with stay in the United States.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on -- kind of obscure.

MR. REEKER: I love these.

QUESTION: On UN peacekeepers being taken hostage in Abkhazia?

MR. REEKER: I don't. I heard of that report before coming out here, and I didn't have time to even check on it. I advise you to check with the UN directly, or I can certainly check --

QUESTION: Well I'm not looking for information about it. We already know the -- I'm just wondering if there was any condemnation or --

MR. REEKER: I just don't have even facts.

QUESTION: The people in this building yesterday were fairly optimistic about Ethiopia and Eritrea. They seemed to think it was all over, but it doesn't actually look quite as simple as that today.

MR. REEKER: That's certainly not anything that I said or heard.

QUESTION: I wondered if you were in the mood to urge them to do anything today?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think I put out a statement yesterday, or perhaps it was two days ago, the 30th, noting the assurances from the Ethiopian Government that it had no territorial designs in Eritrea, and we had at that time confirmed that Eritrea had withdrawn its forces from all territories occupied forcibly by Eritrea since May '98.

The situation -- the update that I got was that on the various fronts of this conflict it remains fairly quiet. We've received the assurances, as I said, from Ethiopia, that it doesn't have territorial designs on Eritrea, and that it would carry out its own withdrawals once the Eritrean forces have left. We've confirmed that Eritrea has done so. We are encouraged by reports of Ethiopian withdrawals in the western areas of Eritrea, but we cannot independently confirm this.

As you know, there's a US delegation led by Tony Lake at the peace talks in Algiers. They are working actively with the Organization of African Unity to achieve the earliest possible resolution of the conflict.

QUESTION: Did you take a position on Ethiopia's insistence on international guarantees they won't be attacked again or, alternatively, on the Eritrean demand -- refusal to declare a cease-fire until the Ethiopians withdraw?

MR. REEKER: The US delegation is at the peace talks, and they're working very actively to do that. And I think our statements stand for that, and we're trying to get a resolution to this.

Other subjects, anything even more obscure?

QUESTION: Does the United States think that it would be a good idea for the Chinese authorities to legalize prostitution?

MR. REEKER: I'm actually glad you raised that, because a number of you were at the briefing yesterday in which Secretary of Health and Human Services Shalala spoke at great length to preview for you the Beijing Plus Five Conference. Then I think all of us read certain press stories based on that today.

First of all, let's just reiterate in terms of where we stand. The United States has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, due to opposition in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is a treaty that was signed in 1979.

The Administration strongly supports ratification of the Convention because of its strong provisions for the protection of women throughout the world. Ratification of the Convention and support for women's rights are very high priorities for this Administration, and certainly for Secretary Albright, and has a strong bi-partisan support. The Washington Times incorrectly says that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, a body of independent experts from among those countries which have ratified the Convention, that this committee ordered "China to legalize prostitution."

As the article actually does note, the UN or this committee does not have authority to order any country to legalize prostitution. In fact, that committee did recommend such a step. The US is not a member of the committee, but we strongly disagree, as Secretary Shalala said yesterday, with its recommendation that China legalize prostitution. I think the transcript of that briefing is available.

The Administration stands by American laws, and we oppose prostitution in all its forms. We are working vigorously to halt the shameful process of trafficking, and we've discussed that extensively: trafficking in persons across the globe for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor or domestic servitude. I should add that the only way to influence the committee is for the US to ratify the Convention, and then work within it, so we can have our point of view prevail.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:40 P.M.)

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