U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #55, 00-06-07
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Wednesday, June 7, 2000
Briefer: Philip Reeker
1 Terrorist Bombing in Sri Lanka
1 War Crimes by ICTY
2 Commission on Counter-Terrorism
3 Resumption of Nonproliferation Talks
INDIA / PAKISTAN
3 US stance on Kashmir situation
4-5 Nuclear Programs
5 Asylum Status of Cuban Doctors
5-6 Joint Statement
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7, 2000, 1:55 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the State Department,
everybody. Iíd like to begin today with a statement on the terrorist
bombing that took place in Sri Lanka. The United States strongly condemns
todayís barbarous terrorist bombing in Sri Lanka that cost the life of
Minister For Industrial Development C. V. Gooneratne and at least 20 other
people. At least 60 people were injured including the ministerís wife, who
was critically hurt.
No one has claimed responsibility, but this terrorist method has been used
frequently in the past by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. We extend
our condolences to the relatives of the victims and hope for a speedy
recovery for those who were injured.
The US strongly supports the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and a
political solution to the conflict that would provide dignity and security
for all Sri Lankans, but again we strongly condemn todayís barbarous
terrorism there. And weíll have that as a written statement for you
With that, Iíll go to Mr. Geddaís question.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Amnesty International and itís
contention that NATO bombing over Yugoslavia last summer, in which 16
people died, constitutes a war crime?
MR. REEKER: I think we covered this really fairly fully after the
statements of the International Criminal Tribunal Prosecutor Carla Del
Ponte on Friday at the Security Council of the United Nations in New
As we said in the past, there is no basis for the Yugslav War Crimes
Tribunal to launch an investigation into NATO actions during the Kosovo
conflict. Madame Del Ponteís statements on Friday showed that that was the
conclusion of the tribunal as well. Attention now should be focused
exclusively, as we said it should be, on many serious violations of
international humanitarian law that were caused by Milosevicís forces in
Kosovo and that took place in Bosnia and Croatia from 1991 to 1995.
The tribunal already gave these allegations more attention than they
deserved and I think our words and response stand for themselves.
QUESTION: Yesterday, in New Mexico, there was, Iím not sure if this is
something you would refer to the Pentagon, but there was a successful test
of an experimental laser anti-missile system designed to destroy Katyusha
rockets. Itís a joint US-Israeli project.
How is this system going to contribute to the Middle East Peace Process?
MR. REEKER: Iím unaware of that system, and you may want to try over at
the Pentagon for details on that. I donít have anything for you there.
QUESTION: But just in a general way, could you say that Ė
MR. REEKER: I couldnít. Iím unaware of the details of military
systems. Itís not something I usually practice back here.
QUESTION: In the last three days Greece Ė the Greeks, and the Greek
government are under an unusual attack by the exalted director of Kissinger
and Associates, Incorporated, Ambassador Paul Bremen, regarding terrorism.
Could you please clarify for the record how many US federal agencies
including law enforcement, FBI, and even CIA are cooperating with the
Simitis Government in Athens, right now against international terrorism?
MR. REEKER: Iíve addressed the subject that came up in the report of the
Commission on Counter-Terrorism at great length earlier this week, and I
refer you back to those statements. We can provide you the transcripts if
We made specific Ė our views on working with the Greeks to improve the
situation regarding terrorism, working together there, and Iím not about to
get into specifics of our people that work with Greeks in Athens and here,
to deal with those things.
QUESTION: How do you comment on Senator Sarbanesí statement yesterday
that it is my understanding that the US and Greece have been working
together on the counter-terrorism effort and that has been ongoing over a
considerable period of time?
MR. REEKER: I think thatís exactly the type of statements that I used
earlier during the week, that we work very closely with the Greeks.
Ambassador Burns has a very close working relationship with the appropriate
ministers in the Greek Government and we are going to continue working to
address the terrorist issue there.
QUESTION: The last question, I was told that Kissinger and Associates,
Incorporated, hired by the Department of State in order to prepare, via the
service of Ambassador Bremen, some kind of pattern or format for Greece to
combat terrorism. Could you please comment?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that at all.
QUESTION: Could you please take my question?
MR. REEKER: I would be happy to look into it for you.
QUESTION: There is a report coming out today that, in regard to the US-
North Korea talks that concluded in Rome, that the US would proceed with
partially lifting sanctions against North Korea while North Korea would
reaffirm its commitment to not testing missiles. Can you confirm
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have anything further on the talks in Rome
than what we reported at the end of last week. The Rome talks were a
preparatory round to have a further set of missile talks. The President
had talked earlier about the possibility of lifting certain sanctions vis-a-
vis North Korea but I would have to check into the details of that. I
would be happy to get back to you after the briefing.
QUESTION: There is a report today in the <I>Janeís Intelligence
Digest</I> saying that the United States has started a secret diplomatic
mediation between India and Pakistan to settle the dispute in Kashmir. Do
you have anything on that?
MR. REEKER: I saw those reports and, no, we are not and have not done
any such thing. Our approach on Kashmir has not changed. We continue to
urge restraint and dialogue and do what we can, certainly, to encourage the
parties to resolve their differences. But we do not see ourselves as
I think the President said it best when he noted there is no military
solution for Kashmir and he said that we believe there should be a process
by which legitimate grievances of the Kashmiris can be addressed.
QUESTION: Just in connection with that, there are a couple of names that
have been linked to the United States as possible mediators or at least
people working on behalf of the United States in this regard. One is
Mansoor Ijaz, the other is Farook Kathwari. I wonder if you had a chance
to see whether either of these gentlemen were Ė
MR. REEKER: I saw those reports and those gentlemen would be acting on
their own personal behalf. As I said, the United States has not changed
our approach to Kashmir. We do not see ourselves as mediators.
QUESTION: Are you aware of either of them acting in some kind of
mediation regard, even independently?
MR. REEKER: I am not. I think I gave you our position from the US
Governmentís point of view. What weíve called for in the Kashmir situation
is restraint, respect for the Line Of Control, renewal of dialogue, to
reject violence and reduce tension and resolve this peacefully.
QUESTION: Also, to follow up on that, is the US in any way involved in
discussions which may be taking place directly between the Indians and the
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that. I think we have talked about a
number of high-level visitors. We have a regular dialogue with both
governments. But, as I said, we donít see ourselves as mediators.
QUESTION: Okay, you donít see yourselves that way, but do you think
perhaps it could be interpreted that way by others? I mean, thatís the US
interpretation of it.
MR. REEKER: If there are reports of that, thatís some reporters do that.
We are not mediating this conflict. We have said very clearly what our
position is on it. We urge restraint and dialogue but thatís for the two
countries to do.
QUESTION: During Pickeringís trip to the region, was he asked by either
country to take a message back to the United States that either side would
be amiable to having the US be mediators?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any such thing, no.
QUESTION: India-Pakistan related. There are reports that the Administration
has done a revised assessment of the relative strengths of the Pakistani
and Indian nuclear programs and that they have found that Pakistan has in
fact a more advanced system than previously thought and therefore more
powerful and possibly with more weapons than the Indian program. Do you
have any comment on this, please?
MR. REEKER: Iíve seen those reports and obviously those reports go
directly to questions of intelligence matters and I am not in a position to
comment or discuss that. But let me say this is not a question of a
numbers game. The right number is zero on both sides. Exactly how many
nuclear missiles each side could assemble and deploy if it chose to do so
is not as important as avoiding an arms race. Engaging in a numbers game
would only make matters even worse and inflame tensions which already
create a very dangerous situation.
I think the 1998 tests showed that both India and Pakistan obviously have
capability to field nuclear weapons. This fact is sufficient to prompt a
great concern in the international community and here in the United
Our view, as weíve stated on numerous occasions, has been to work hard with
both sides to urge restraint and exercising of restraint in nuclear weapons
and development and to resume a dialogue to resolve tensions. We would
like to bring both India and Pakistan into the global nonproliferation
mainstream and thatís a message that the President delivered very strongly
when he visited both countries.
QUESTION: Do you know if Mr. Pickering also carried a message on
MR. REEKER: I think thatís a message thatís regularly delivered to both
India and Pakistan and our views on that are quite well known and weíll
continue to share those. We hope to persuade India and Pakistan that they
will be more secure without nuclear weapons and for now our emphasis is to
urge maximum restraint and steps towards renewed dialogue between the two
QUESTION: Do you have a view on the kidnapping of two would-be Cuban
defectors in Zimbabwe?
MR. REEKER: I saw those stories and did look into it. According to the
press reports that we looked into, the Zimbabwean Government tried to
return applicants for asylum to their home country by force without hearing
their asylum claim. The attempt failed and the two doctors now are
reported to be in detention.
If this is true, this directly contravenes the Geneva Convention on the
Status of Refugees of 1951 and the 1967 Protocols which Zimbabwe signed.
So we are urging the Government of Zimbabwe to hear the asylum claims of
these doctors or allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to
do so. In either case, the Government of Zimbabwe should allow the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees access to the asylum seekers.
QUESTION: New subject. Well, actually, itís going back to something. I
just wondered, since we haven't had a full readout of Mr. Pickeringís visit
with Taliban officials in Islamabad, whether you had a fuller readout now
that you can share with us?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have anything further to add to that. The
points that we stress regarding compliance with UN Security Council
resolutions vis-a-vis turning over Usama bin Laden to face justice and the
issues that we continue to have with them on a number of matters.
QUESTION: Is there anything Ė do you have an assessment at the moment of
how well the sanctions which are in place at the UN against Taliban are
MR. REEKER: I think the other direction I would point you is the
statement that I released on May 30<SUP>th</SUP>, which was in fact a joint
statement that had been issued in Moscow following Assistant Secretary
Inderfurthís meetings there on Afghanistan and South Asia. And at that
point and in that statement, we noted that the Russians and the United
States agreed that if Kandahar continued to ignore world opinion, this
could lead to consideration in the United Nations Security Council of
QUESTION: Where did Kandahar come from?
MR. REEKER: That was part of the statement that Iím reading from in
terms of the assistant secretary that was in Moscow working that. I refer
you back to that full statement in terms of dealing with the Afghan
QUESTION: And if Kandahar refers to what?
MR. REEKER: Thatís a reference to the discussions that our assistant
secretary had Ė
QUESTION: The venue?
MR. REEKER: Right.
QUESTION: Is there any comment on the latest Amnesty International
report on Ė to the effect that NATO had Ė
MR. REEKER: I think you must have come in late because I already
answered that question.
QUESTION: Oh, you did?
MR. REEKER: Yes, it was the first question, I believe, of the briefing.
(The briefing concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
Back to the Press Briefing Calendar.
Return to the Home Page. This is an
official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of
non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.