U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #52, 00-06-01
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
Thursday, June 1, 2000
Briefer: PHILIP REEKER
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
ETHIOPIA / ERITREA
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
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 2000, 1:45 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MR. REEKER: I think, in fact, we're delighted, and that's how I started
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
MR. REEKER: I'd be happy to look into it.
QUESTION: On the OAS meeting, do you have the language of Article 61
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 --
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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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