U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #57, 00-06-13
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
Tuesday, June 13, 2000
Briefer: PHILIP REEKER_
1 Azerbaijan and the Passing of the New Law on Central Election
1-2 Democratic Municipal elections in Montenegro -- OSCE Observers
2-3 Democratic Forces in Montenegro
2 Central Election
3-4 Chairman of Media Most Arrested
10 Secretary Cohen's Travel
4-5, 10-12 North-South Korea Summit Meeting
5-8 US involvement in Israeli-Palestinian Talks
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
7 US Secretary of State Meeting with Chairman Arafat
9 US Secretary of State Meeting with Dr. Asad
12-13 Foreign Minister Meeting with Deputy Secretary Talbott
13 Ambassadorial Nominations / Security Issues at the State Department
14 EU Wide Anti-Terror Cooperation
15-16 Representatives of the Conference
17 Status of the capital, Honiara
18 Evacuation of American Citizens
18-19 Asylum Status of Cuban Doctors
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 57
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2000 1:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. I think the last participant in the briefing
room was a tad shorter than I. Welcome back to the State Department. As you
know, Mr. Boucher remains traveling with the Secretary's party. The last
heard from, they had stopped in Rome for refueling on their way back from
I have a couple of statements that we'll be posting this afternoon: one on
Azerbaijan and the passing of a new law on the Central Election Commission
in that country, and also a statement on the democratic local elections in
The United States welcomes the peaceful and democratic municipal elections
that took place June 11th in the Montenegrin cities of Podgorica and Herceg
Novi. These elections mark an important step forward in the development of
democracy in Montenegro, as well as in Yugoslavia. The successful conduct
of these elections renews our hope that all of Yugoslavia will soon enjoy
the freedom and protection of basic human rights already enjoyed by the
people of Montenegro.
We fully support the preliminary findings issued June 12th by the OSCE,
which closely monitored the campaign and the balloting. Elections were free
and fair and conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. We commend the Montenegrin
Government for its cooperation with OSCE observers and its tolerance
towards political opponents, a position which contrasts sharply with the
attitude and behavior of the government in Belgrade.
By turning out in such large numbers, Montenegrin voters sent a clear
message that democracy is the best way for a society to make decisions and
to resolve differences. The June 11 elections provide clear evidence that
the Montenegrin people are ready to work for a better life in the 21st
century. And I might add, it's time for the people of Serbia to join them
in a democratic future.
We'll post a full --
QUESTION: Can I ask a question about that?
MR. REEKER: Yes, Matt.
QUESTION: Are you at all disappointed that pro-Milosevic people won in
the one municipality? And I realize that you're probably going to say no
but, I mean, you have taken positions on other elections, notably in Peru
and also in Austria, where the outcomes were not particularly pleasing to
MR. REEKER: We are, as I noted in the statement, pleased that the
elections were peaceful and that so many eligible voters took part in both
cities. We're calling on the new local governments in both of those cities
to dedicate themselves to supporting efforts to advance democratic and
economic reform. I think the important point is that the victor in these
elections in the people of Montenegro, who have exercised the right to
choose freely their own leaders and demonstrated a confidence in and
support for the democratic process.
QUESTION: Does that mean you would be willing work with the pro-Milosevic
folks that won?
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Does that mean you would be willing to work with the pro-
Milosevic people that won in that election? I think there's been a lot of
support given - USAID and it's kind of NDI - you know democracy-building
MR. REEKER: Right. I think, again, the Montenegrin Government's
cooperation with the OSCE observers and the elections in both of these
towns contrasted sharply with attitudes that we've seen on the part of the
government in Belgrade. The voters sent a clear message. We will continue
to work with local governments. I think my statement pretty much stands for
itself in terms of the people in Montenegro having had the opportunity to
express themselves in free and fair elections. And we will continue to
support democracy in Montenegro.
QUESTION: And in other parts of the world you're in favor of free and
MR. REEKER: That's right.
QUESTION: In every region in the world; the Middle East, for instance?
The Middle East, too?
MR. REEKER: Are we done with Montenegro?
QUESTION: In shorthand, can we say that just because pro-Milosevic - the
fact that pro-Milosevic people won in this - in one town in Montenegro does
not disqualify those towns from US support in terms of --
MR. REEKER: No, I think we continue to work with democratic forces in
Montenegro and to support Montenegrin --
QUESTION: The policy in Serbia, you were trying to distinguish between
towns and cities that seem to be democratically oriented and those that
weren't, and you were selectively applying assistance. That policy doesn't
prevail in Montenegro?
MR. REEKER: We've tried to support democratic forces in Serbia, as well.
And we think that Montenegro is a fine model --
QUESTION: No, city by city?
MR. REEKER: -- for their effort. I don't think I'm going to get into your
characterizations of the particular groups elected in these countries.
What's important is that the Montenegrin people have had the opportunity
and demonstrated their desire to see democracy move ahead by making their
choices known and turning out in large numbers to support these free and
QUESTION: The Administration is - well, not on that. Do you have another
statement that you were going to say?
MR. REEKER: No, the one on Azerbaijan I'll just release afterwards.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. Well, the arrest of the newspaper executive Gusinskiy,
does this reflect a crackdown on the press? Does it reflect the president's
anti-corruption policy? Maybe a little of each? Or is it too early to say
what it is?
MR. REEKER: We did just see quite recently before I came out here the
press reports about that arrest and we are concerned by those press
reports. Our Embassy, in fact, has confirmed that Mr. Gusinskiy, the
chairman of Media Most, was arrested today. And we are following up with
Russian authorities and with Media Most officials to try to get more
details and information that. We had talked about, some time ago, federal
security service and tax police having raided the offices of Mr. Gusinskiy
and the media group on May 12th, I believe.
In light of the subsequent court ruling from that date, which called into
question the legality of some aspects of that raid, this new action against
Mr. Gusinskiy will obviously draw the closet of scrutiny. As you know, and
as we've talked about before, Mr. Gusinskiy is a prominent supporter of
press freedom as owner of the leading independent media conglomerate in
Russia. I think there have been a series of events now, including today's
events in Russia, which have drawn international attention to the issue of
press freedom, and for this reason President Clinton and Secretary Albright
emphasized the importance of the issue of press freedom in public
statements last week in Moscow.
QUESTION: Is it credible that Mr. Putin - Mr. Putin's statement that he
knew nothing about this? Can you make a move against somebody like him
without Putin knowing?
MR. REEKER: I think we'll have to look into the details on that, Barry.
As I said, our Embassy is trying to follow up. They were able to confirm
the arrest but will be following up with more details and watching that
QUESTION: When you say that this will obviously draw the closest of
scrutiny, you're talking about scrutiny from the US as well as others?
MR. REEKER: I think all of us have watched, as I indicated, developments
in Russia that have brought to question and drawn attention on the issue of
press freedom there.
QUESTION: So, yes, this is something that is going to draw the closest of
scrutiny from the US?
MR. REEKER: As I said, we'll be trying to follow up and get the details
on that. I think we talked about the earlier actions about a month ago and
we'll continue to follow that.
QUESTION: The summit meeting between North and South Korea is still going
on now in Pyongyang, and yesterday Chairman Kim Chong-il showed up at the
opportunity to meet President Kim Dae Jung. Any comment is ready for
MR. REEKER: We warmly welcome this historic meeting between the leaders
of South and North Korea. The personal reception of President Kim to
Pyongyang by Kim Chong-il is a hopeful sign. While the outcome of course
can not be predicted with certainty, to echo the words of President Kim on
his departure from Seoul, we are hopeful that this summit will represent
the beginning of a process which will lead to a fundamental reduction of
tension in the Korean Peninsula.
A direct and continuing dialogue between the South and the North is central
to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. As we've said many times
before, we strongly hope this historic meeting can be the first of many.
President Kim's vision of engagement, I think, has been instrumental in
preparing the ground for this summit meeting; and his support of a US-North
Korea dialogue, a Japan-North Korea dialogue, and dialogue between
Pyongyang and other nations, in fact, opened the door for this important
step which we're witnessing now.
QUESTION: What would you like to see come out of this? Are we going to
see unification, one country perhaps?
MR. REEKER: I think we want to watch this summit go forward.
QUESTION: The process --
MR. REEKER: It's a very important step. It's truly a historic step. The
pictures we've all seen yesterday and today definitely qualify as historic.
I think we're going to reserve any comment. We'd like to see a continued
dialogue and, as I indicated, this is an important step in a process of
dialogue, which is the best way to move forward and maintain peace and
stability on the Peninsula.
QUESTION: Were you be at all surprised at the, you know, enthusiasm of
the welcome that President Kim received?
MR. REEKER: Well, it was a very warm welcome, and we welcome that
MR. REEKER: I think all of us have been very --
QUESTION: Was the US expecting anything like this?
MR. REEKER: I don't think it was up for us to make expectations. As we've
said, we can't predict outcomes. We welcome the announcement of this summit
and certainly are watching closely along with the rest of the world as this
QUESTION: Was Wendy Sherman smiling.
MR. REEKER: You would have to check with her office on that. She was
smiling when I saw her this morning.
Anything more on Korea?
QUESTION: The Israeli-Palestinian talks. Can you tell us whether - we
heard this morning that Mr. Miller was meeting them separately. Has he
gotten them together yet? And can you perhaps finally explain to us why
they are split between Andrews and Bolling and who's doing what where?
MR. REEKER: I know that's been just driving you crazy, Jonathan.
QUESTION: Everybody keeps calling. All over the country they want to know
why they split.
MR. REEKER: That's right, calling in. Look, I'm not going to have a lot
of details. I indicated that before. It should come as no surprise to any
of you who have followed this process and how these talks and negotiations
have been conducted in the past.
As you indicated, Deputy Special Middle East Coordinator Aaron Miller has
met separately with the Israelis and the Palestinians. They will have a
three-way meeting this afternoon at Bolling Air Force Base. I'm just really
not going to get into any further details on it other than to say that the
two sides will be engaged throughout the week in serious and intensive
discussions. They are going to involve a variety of different types of
meetings and at the two different locations that we've mentioned. There
will be separate meetings between the US and each of the parties; there
will be meetings between the parties at which we're not present; and there
will be three-way meetings where all of us are there.
Pursuant to your question about the two locations, that was determined to
be the best way to proceed. At Andrews, we expect that the parties will be
discussing permanent status issues only, and at Bolling they'll be
discussing different issues related to permanent status as well as various
QUESTION: The Secretary, she's coming home --
QUESTION: At Bolling they'll be discussing issues related to permanent
status plus interim?
MR. REEKER: Let's run that one again. We'll go to the videotape. At
Andrews, the parties will be discussing permanent status issues only. At
Bolling Air Force Base, they'll be discussing different issues related to
permanent status, as well as some interim issues.
QUESTION: Can we stay with the logistics just for a second?
MR. REEKER: Okay.
QUESTION: One, does this mean that this afternoon's meeting is going to
follow that line because it's at Bolling? Or is this kind of like a
MR. REEKER: I don't have a specific readout on this. This will be the
first time we'll get them all together. This is the first full day,
obviously. But then we expect the talks to follow the sort of break-down in
terms of the two sites along what I just read.
QUESTION: So we shouldn't necessarily assume that because the meeting
this afternoon is at Bolling, they're going to be discussing what you said
was the topic?
MR. REEKER: I don't think you should necessarily assume that as the first
time when we're having a three-way meeting.
QUESTION: This is all at Bolling, including the Andrews side at
MR. REEKER: Yes, that's my understanding is that there will be a three-
way meeting at Bolling today with the delegations and --
QUESTION: Are the delegations effectively split in two? Or an Andrews
team and a Bolling team?
MR. REEKER: I'm just not going to get into who, what, where - teams.
We've given you a broad outline of how the talks are going to proceed. And
we're going to let them proceed so that we can move this process forward.
QUESTION: A where question? Do you -
MR. REEKER: A where question?
QUESTION: Yeah. Where were Aaron Miller's meetings this morning? Can you
say that? Or do you know? I mean, were they at one or the other or
MR. REEKER: Adam - I don't think I discovered that.
MR. REEKER: Yes, we're just not going to - I think I've sort of exhausted
what I can give you on that. Did you have something else?
QUESTION: Just wondering if the Secretary is going to jump into the
situation when she comes home.
MR. REEKER: Obviously, the Secretary is on her way home from Syria. She's
following the negotiations closely. I was speaking to Mr. Boucher about
that progress just a few moments before coming in here. I wouldn't rule out
her meeting with the negotiators at some point as the week goes on. But I
don't have anything further, obviously, until she comes back from Syria and
we look at schedules and look at how things are proceeding.
QUESTION: What about Arafat? Does she see him before he calls at the
White House Thursday?
MR. REEKER: My understanding is that schedules are still being worked
out. But as you know, Chairman Arafat is expected here in Washington,
arriving tomorrow. I believe the Secretary will see him Thursday, but I'm
just not sure on the timing of that meeting and vis-a-vis the White House
meeting with the President, which is scheduled.
QUESTION: So she may just join in with the President at the White
MR. REEKER: I expect her to have a separate meeting with Chairman Arafat,
but I don't have any particular schedules at this point. But that would all
be on Thursday. More on this? Yes, in the back.
QUESTION: The Israeli radio reported yesterday - referring to security
and diplomatic sources - saying that Palestinians are not interested in
reading a final status framework agreement. And they also said they want
the territories first, and only afterwards will they decide if they want a
Would you like to comment on that? Are they coming here - the Palestinians -
you know, with no intention of reaching a final framework agreement?
MR. REEKER: No, I would not like to comment on that. I'm not going to
comment on reports, and don't expect comments on those reports. Don't
expect readouts or briefings on these talks. We're going to let these talks
proceed as we've let other talks go on. Both sides have come to deal with
these very important, very difficult issues. They both are dedicated to
working hard in this process this week, and we're just going to let that
process move forward.
QUESTION: Does the US want Israel to pull back this month, irrespective
of what happens in the final status talks?
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to get into any more details on what we want.
What we want is to see the two parties work together to move towards a
final status agreement. That's been our goal all along, Barry, as you
QUESTION: The final status. Now, do you want to work together to work out
this interim pull-back?
MR. REEKER: I think we've talked about what's going to go on. There's
going to be discussion on final status issues and there will be discussion
on interim issues. That's where we'll leave it.
QUESTION: That's not the issue. The issue is your policy. There's a
distinction between the two sides. There's a promise by the Israelis to
pull back again this month. The Israelis are trying to put it all in one
package. The Palestinians want to keep it separate and get that pull-back
Now, does the US, which I suppose is calling audibles; is that what it is?
When the US says, 3-7-12, hike, do they say, pull back on the West Bank? Or
do they say it's up to you?
MR. REEKER: You've lost me, Barry.
QUESTION: Well, you can't -
MR. REEKER: This is up to the parties. This is a negotiation with the
parties and --
QUESTION: I'm told you guys took the position that you're going to be
aggressively involved in the - once the US took - announced that its going
to call the audibles, that it's going to be an active participant, I think
you lose some of your immunity and your license to keep saying it's up to
the parties. Apparently, it's also up to the US if the US is deeply into
MR. REEKER: Look, the two sides have asked the United States to
participate in the talks.
QUESTION: Right. I didn't say you were pushing your way in.
MR. REEKER: And we will do so as appropriate. As I mentioned, the Deputy
Special Middle East Coordinator, Aaron Miller, is involved from the US
side. Dennis Ross will be back when he returns with the Secretary's party
this evening. They're together with officials from the Bureau of Near
Eastern Affairs, and they will work in response to requests to move the
As the Secretary told you yesterday, we're going to do everything we can to
assist the parties as they make the hard decisions necessary for peace. But
I'm not going to get into specifics and the steps taken for that. It
doesn't help the process to do so. And we're going to let these talks move
forward this week and move ahead with the process.
QUESTION: Let me try to just make absolutely clear what it is I'm
MR. REEKER: I understand your question, Barry, and I'm not going to have
anything for you on it.
QUESTION: That's all right. Can I just say it one more time because I
didn't put it very well. The US takes a public position they would like to
see an overall agreement; they would like to see a framework agreement. I'm
asking if the US also has a public position on whether they want to see
Israel carry out a pull-back this month. If you have no position on it,
MR. REEKER: I have nothing further to give you, Barry.
QUESTION: Fine. You're silent on the subject.
QUESTION: In your conversations with Ambassador Boucher, were you able to
get any more of a readout with the Secretary's meeting with Dr. Assad?
MR. REEKER: I can really refer you to the party who, as you know, have a
number of your colleagues traveling with them. The Secretary had some
comments this morning I think you were all aware of. After that --
QUESTION: So let me ask you about one of the things she said in those
comments, which was that she was able to then have a one-on-one meeting
with Dr. Assad -
MR. REEKER: A short meeting, yes.
QUESTION: -- in which they were able to discuss her hopes that he will
continue in the negotiations. Anything to elaborate on that? Did he make
any kind of commitment?
MR. REEKER: I have nothing further to elaborate on what the Secretary
already said in terms of those meetings. She said we want to wait and see
what the constitutional process and the Syrian people decide there. And
what she noted - and I'll note again here - is that as his funeral is
wrapping up, the process there seems to be proceeding in a peaceful and
Yes. Is it still on Syrian, the Middle East, broadly?
QUESTION: No, I would like to move over to Moscow.
MR. REEKER: Move back to Moscow. Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Back to Moscow, yes. Mr. Reeker, is the State
Department represented in the talks between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sergeyev? And
do you have any details at all about the status of the talks?
MR. REEKER: My understanding is that Secretary Cohen has already left
Moscow on his way to his next stop. I'm not sure of the exact make-up of
his delegation, but I would refer you over to the Pentagon for details on
QUESTION: On Cyprus - anything on the upcoming Cyprus talk in Geneva July
5th? And may we have your assessment at this stage?
MR. REEKER: I have nothing for you on that.
QUESTION: It is premature to talk about the post-summit meeting. But
there is already some reports that a hot line is agreed to be connected
between the two presidents. And Kim Dae Jung was received personally at the
airport by Kim Chong-il.
MR. REEKER: We discussed that.
QUESTION: Yeah. Is it - I mean, whenever there is an event, there is
certainly expectation: better than expected, worse than expected. What is
your response to this kind of --
MR. REEKER: I'll just refer you to what I already said, that we very much
welcome the historic meeting and that the personal reception at the airport
was, in fact, a very hopeful sign. We can't predict outcomes. That summit
meeting is still ongoing through tomorrow, but we're very hopeful that the
summit will represent a beginning of a process which will lead to a
fundamental reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Reviewing more about North Korea and South Korea summit meeting,
sir, were you surprised that on the television last night show up suddenly
Chong-il Kim in airport and they go in together one car -- (inaudible) --
from Chong-il Kim accepted President Kim?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I'm going to have a lot more to tell you. The
summit meeting is ongoing. I've told you very much our reaction to
QUESTION: Would you -- (inaudible) - changed North Korea than before? Do
you have idea of that?
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Any changed big North Korea?
MR. REEKER: I don't understand your question. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Extended change.
QUESTION: Any changeover in North Korea than before?
MR. REEKER: I think what I've said will stand, that we watch this summit
very closely; it's a historic occasion and we find it a very hopeful
occasion that there will be a beginning - that this is the beginning of a
process that will lead to a fundamental reduction of tension in the Korean
Peninsula and that this historic meeting can be the first of many.
One more on Korea.
QUESTION: In my understanding, the US Government is deeply concerned over
the North Korea nuclear and missile programs. To what extent do you expect
it could be discussed on the table?
MR. REEKER: I have nothing to add to that. This is a summit meeting
between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, and we need to let that
summit continue, as it will for the next two days. And those would be
questions you'd want to ask those two leaders.
QUESTION: Is South Korea concerned about North Korea's nuclear program?
MR. REEKER: That's a question you'd want to ask the South Koreans.
QUESTION: I mean, we don't know that? We don't know if the concern is
only US or is it supposed to be Japan?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything new to add for you.
QUESTION: That's a threshold question.
MR. REEKER: I have nothing new to add for you on concerns about that. I
don't think there's anything new to discuss there. What I'm saying on the
summit is I'm not going to have anything more to talk about on the details
on South and North Korea relations until that process finishes.
QUESTION: I'm just trying to determine if the US has asked South Korea,
which is said to be similarly concerned by the program, to see if you could
make some headway on that in the summit.
MR. REEKER: I think we continue to talk regularly with our South Korean
allies. Right now, we're letting the summit, the historic summit between
the North and South, go forward. It's a step we very much welcome and we're
very hopeful about it.
QUESTION: The Pakistani Foreign Minister is expected in Washington this
week to meet with Strobe Talbott on Thursday, I believe. Can you give us
more details on that? I believe these are the first talks covering nuclear
and security issues.
MR. REEKER: The Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdus Sattar will meet with
Deputy Secretary Talbott in Washington on Thursday, July 15th, as you
noted. This visit arises from an agreement during the - I'm sorry, June
15th. Thank you, Trudy. This Thursday.
It arises from an agreement during President Clinton's visit to Pakistan in
March that the United States and Pakistan should renew their dialogue on
security and nonproliferation. So in that sense, the Deputy Secretary will
meet with the Pakistani Foreign Minister on Thursday.
He last met - that is, Deputy Secretary Talbott last met with a senior
Pakistani official to discuss these issues in February of 1999. Of course,
it remains the subject of great importance and interest to the United
States. I understand that Mr. Sattar will also meet with Under Secretary
Pickering to discuss other important issues, the restoration of democracy
in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir, continuing those talks.
QUESTION: Well, just that Talbott met with him last, but isn't that the
last time any US officials met on these issues?
MR. REEKER: As you know, Under Secretary Pickering was recently traveling
and discussed these issues in Islamabad on a number of issues.
QUESTION: This is specifically limited to nuclear issues, isn't
MR. REEKER: The Deputy Secretary is meeting with the Pakistani Foreign
Minister in a visit that arises from an agreement made during the
President's visit to Pakistan. That was in March. And at that time, we
agreed that the United States and Pakistan should renew a dialogue on
security and nonproliferation. So following up on the last meeting which
was in February of last year, the Deputy Secretary will meet and discuss
these issues which are, as I noted, of great importance to us, and Under
Secretary Pickering will continue the dialogue that he has been having on
QUESTION: Does that mean that these kind of talks were suspended? I don't
want to say formally suspended, but there hasn't been one since February
'99, before the coup in Pakistan?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything particular to give you on the stages of
those talks. The last time the Deputy Secretary met with a senior Pakistani
official to discuss these issues was in February of last year.
QUESTION: Over a year ago?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Before the --
MR. REEKER: As you know, there have been other discussions that have gone
on, including the President's visit to Pakistan in March.
QUESTION: A little more than a year after.
QUESTION: Well, given the rank of Mr. Abdus Sattar, why is the Secretary
not planning to see him?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything for you on scheduling or that. The
Deputy Secretary is going to meet with him. That was the plan, and that's
exactly what they're going to do.
QUESTION: What is the message that David Carpenter is taking to Congress
in terms of their complaints that if you really are trying to send a strong
signal that security is taken seriously in this building that you shouldn't
be nominating people to be chiefs of mission that have so many security
violations? And is there any consideration being given to pulling some of
those nominees who have the longest list of grievances or have the most
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of the details on any of those nominations. And
as we discussed a week ago - exactly last Tuesday - I can't get into
specifics of personnel issues, personnel files that fall under Privacy Act
QUESTION: Since those discussions, the Secretary has had conversations
with members of Congress about this. And now David Carpenter has been
summoned to come to the Hill and discuss this, so -
MR. REEKER: I think the Secretary has reiterated what she told all of us -
and all of you included - that she's firmly committed to supporting the
highest standards of security awareness and practices in the Department,
both here in Washington and at our various facilities in other locations,
our embassies aboard.
As I talked about last week generally, prior to recommending career
officers for chief of mission appointments - that would be ambassador
appointments - the Department reviews a range of factors in a rigorous
review to determine candidates' suitability. That includes checks with the
Office of Security through the personnel system, the Inspector General, the
legal advisor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. And there is a
vigorous field review that takes places in terms of screening and doing a
security investigation, as well as a financial disclosure investigation
that goes through.
I think we noted last week that the majority of security incidents received
by some career nominees - I can't be specific, I don't even have specific
information - were incurred often many years ago throughout lengthy careers
that may be decades long. Officers receive counseling. They receive
security warnings as part of the system, which is very much designed to
underscore the importance of security and to make sure that classified
information is protected abroad so that there is a series of steps to
double-check those things.
As you know we're undertaking review of security and the number of measures
to enhance security - both here in Washington and at our posts abroad. And
I think you'll also recall - and I mentioned last week - that when the
Secretary talked about security she specifically directed the incoming
director general of the Foreign Service to weigh security factors in all
personnel decisions, including nominations and promotions. And those
factors are weighed.
QUESTION: Could we then - given that the State Department is so satisfied
with the process that they went through in selecting these nominees - is
the State Department going to stand by these nominees and refuse to pull
the names of any of the nominees in the face of the congressional -
MR. REEKER: At this point I don't have any details on the process or
where things stand vis-a-vis these nominees. We nominate, and constitutionally
the Senate must provide advice and consent to those nominations. The White
House, in fact -- the President makes these nominations - obviously working
very closely with the State Department in the process. So I just don't have
any further details on those reports for you.
Can we go to the back - or is this a follow-up? Yes.
QUESTION: Second subject - Mehmet Agca who attempted to assassinate the
Pope is forgiven by the Pope and is expected to be extradited to Turkey
MR. REEKER: I saw that report.
QUESTION: Would you like to comment on that?
MR. REEKER: No. That's an Italian matter.
QUESTION: I have a question on counter-terrorism. A report out of Athens
yesterday said the Greek Government had prepared an initiative to sign -
well, one to sign with the European Union and one with the United States.
Can you give me any details on that? And where the process is in terms of
whether the US is looking to this initiative and what it expects to get out
of it? And at the same time, could you give any details that might be
available from the counter-terrorism conference that's being held here
today? As I understand, there's going to be no press availability on
MR. REEKER: Right. On the Greek situation, which we have discussed at a
considerable length over the last few days, we fully support any international
cooperation that leads to the arrest and punishment of terrorists. I don't
have any details on that.
QUESTION: About this new initiative?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics on that new initiative. I did see
the press reports this morning about that, but I'm afraid I don't have any
details. I would refer you to the Greeks for details on their initiative on
that. But certainly, we welcome and support any cooperation that leads to
arrests and punishment of terrorists.
QUESTION: They're looking for a US signature on it, though. Are we
prepared to sign it?
MR. REEKER: I think it's a little premature about something that was
announced and discussed in today's papers to make any particular comments
other than to say we fully support international cooperation that leads to
arrests and punishment of terrorists.
And on your other --
QUESTION: Can I follow up on the first question, very quickly?
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: So we haven't received a copy of the initiative?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe I said that at all. I think we may have. I
don't have any details of it for you. I said I saw the reports that there
had been such an initiative. I don't have a readout from Embassy Athens on
what they've received or not. What I was able to give you was a broad
answer in line with that we've talked about over the last few days is that
we fully support international cooperation that leads to the arrest and
punishment of terrorists. I just don't have any details on initiatives. I
would refer you to the Greek Government to get those details. And perhaps
I'll have something for you later in the week.
And your other question was regarding the counter-terrorism conference that
is being held --
QUESTION: And at unknown --
MR. REEKER: -- at an unknown location in Washington. Thank you, Matt
Just to follow up, I think we discussed this or I discussed it with some of
you earlier, this is a conference that the Secretary discussed and invited
countries to send representatives to during her recent trip to Central
Asia. So we have senior officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, as well as Egypt, Spain, the Russian Federation,
our own representatives from the United States participating. And there are
representatives from Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe there as observers.
The conference began today. I don't have any particular details on that.
You're correct. There will not be press briefings or readouts specific on
that conference. But as you know, counter-terrorism is something we take
very seriously and have offered - and these countries have accepted our
offer to work with them closely on those issues.
QUESTION: Is this something the State Department has organized? Put
MR. REEKER: That's right.
QUESTION: No availability to the press at all?
MR. REEKER: No, these issues are ones that involve people to deal with
security matters and it wasn't deemed --
QUESTION: Are they talking nitty-gritty? Are there any real sort of hard
MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics for you on what it's --
QUESTION: Security information -
MR. REEKER: Exactly. This is all part our trying to work together with
these countries. It was a major topic of discussion when the Secretary
visited countries in Central Asia recently. And it's something that we
continue to follow up on.
QUESTION: Sorry - can you read that list of countries again slowly?
MR. REEKER: Sure, one more time for the record. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Spain, the Russian Federation
and the United States are the participating countries. And there are also
representatives from Turkey, the United Kingdom and the OSCE observing.
QUESTION: What's the difference between observing and participating?
QUESTION: Observers meet at Bolling - the other meet at Andrews.
MR. REEKER: That's right. Thank you, Charlie.
QUESTION: Does Turkey participate as part of its own group? Or the OSCE
MR. REEKER: That's right.
QUESTION: In other words, they observe part of the time and participate
part of the time?
MR. REEKER: No, Turkey is an observer. The OSCE is an observer. The
United Kingdom is an observer. That's the status that they chose to have in
terms of these talks. Egypt and Spain are making presentations on their
political strategies for countering terrorism. And Russia is working with
the United States co-presenting issues on counter-terrorism diplomacy in
the context of the United Nations and the G-8.
QUESTION: But they do -- (inaudible) -- just pass papers along. They
speak; it's a verbal meeting?
MR. REEKER: I believe there is some verbal exchange going on there, yes.
QUESTION: You may not have anything on this. I see that the Government of
the Solomon Islands has asked for foreign forces to intervene. Have you
received any such requests and what do you think about it?
MR. REEKER: Let me just run through the latest that we have on the
Solomon Islands. The armed militants Malaita Eagle Force continue to
control the streets of the capital, Honiara. But we understand it remains
calm there. There had been some intensive gun battles last week east of the
international airport. And those, I understand, have ceased. The militants
do continue to control a commandeered Solomon Islands police patrol boat
that was used last week to bombard coastal positions.
But diplomats in Honiara report that the militant force for Malaita has
signed a cease-fire with the Guadalcanal militants, who were the two main
parties. And this calls for hostilities to be suspended for 14 days while
parliament seeks a constitutional resolution to the crisis. I understand
parliament is scheduled to convene on June 15th and we will follow those
International telecommunications seem to be restored. The airport remains
closed, however. Australian and New Zealand military aircraft continue to
conduct evacuation flights from that airport. To date, 91 American citizens
have been evacuated to Australia or New Zealand. And our Consulates General
in Sydney and Auckland have sent officers to assist Americans on their
arrival in those countries.
I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of the United States
Government to express our deepest thanks to the Governments of Australia
and New Zealand for assisting American citizens during those evacuations.
As I understand it, Australian and New Zealand ships have arrived in
Honiara to take on additional evacuees if necessary. I believe approximately
15 Americans remain in the capital and many of those are long time
residents. So to answer your question, specifically I don't have information
on requests for foreign intervention there.
We have been working, as I indicated, very closely with the Australians and
the New Zealanders in helping evacuate citizens who wish to leave. I think
it goes without saying - we've said it before - that we strongly oppose the
overthrow of democratically elected governments by force. And we are really
calling for the laying down of arms and a resumption of normal constitutional
government there. I know there's a cease-fire that is reportedly in place.
But there should be a laying down of arms and a cessation of that. And we
just will remain in close contact and consultation with governments in the
QUESTION: I have two brief questions on Zimbabwe. The first one is, is
there anything new on the doctors - Cuban doctors? Have they left Harare
for - I think they were supposed to go to Nairobi?
And then the second question is, I notice that the US Ambassador there
joined five or six other ambassadors in making quite a strong protest to
the deputy foreign minister about the elections. But I'm wondering - and I
questioned last week - about the UN decision not to coordinate, whether the
US has made a decision on what its participation in terms of observers is
going to be in the election?
MR. REEKER: Let me answer your second question, first, regarding the
elections there. We did talk about this a bit last week. As you know, the
United States has called on the Government of Zimbabwe to enhance prospects
for credible elections by ending the campaign of intimidation and violence
perpetrated by supporters of the ruling party against the government,
allowing the opposition access to broadcast airwaves and assuring all
voters of the secrecy of the ballot. Those are some fundamentals of
democratic elections we would like to see there.
We are funding international observers from the National Democratic
Institute and the International Republican Institute. And I would also note
that I would expect embassy observers - embassy officials to be observing
the elections that are scheduled to take place June 24 and 25.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- didn't affect what the US participation -
MR. REEKER: No, our plan is go ahead with that. And we're funding over 10,
000 domestic and African observers there, helping with audits of voters
rolls, assisting human rights organizations that are monitoring any
violence that should break out, and programs of voter education and
training poll officials from all political parties there.
We were expecting to provide about $300,000 to fund international election
monitoring in Zimbabwe -- $300,000.
QUESTION: Do you take a position --
QUESTION: I'm sorry, did you say something?
MR. REEKER: $300,000.
QUESTION: And then after that? I thought I heard something else, but may
MR. REEKER: To fund international monitoring of the elections in
QUESTION: On that subject, do you take a position on this $100 fee that
the government has imposed on each observer, which appears to be either a
revenue-raising scheme or a disincentive for people to come and monitor the
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything specific on that, but I'll certainly
check into that for you.
QUESTION: The doctors?
MR. REEKER: In terms of the doctors, we have been calling on the
Government of Zimbabwe to adhere to the Geneva convention and immediately
release the Cuban doctors to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees. I don't have an answer to that from the Government of Zimbabwe.
It does appear that the ongoing detention, when last I was able to check,
appears to be against international law.
So I have nothing further in terms of details there, except that we have
called on the Government of Zimbabwe and we'll continue to make our views
known there on this position to adhere to the Geneva Convention to which
they are a signer.
QUESTION: Have you had an explanation from them why they remain in
detention when the United States has agreed to take them? It doesn't seem
to make much sense.
MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics for you. As a matter of our policy,
our focus is on release of the Cubans to the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees, and not on specific resettlement possibilities. And we have
called upon them to release them to the High Commissioner for Refugees. I
don't believe we've gotten an answer or a satisfactory response from the
Government of Zimbabwe since this illegal detention appears to be
QUESTION: Is it the plan, if and when they are released, for them to go
Nairobi for this process?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any details on their onward movement of
specifics of their possible resettlement. As you know, the policy based on
international law is that the two Cubans in this case should be released to
the UN Commissioner for Refugees, and then steps will follow according - on
(The briefing was concluded at 2:30 P.M.)