U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #62, 00-06-20
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 20, 2000
Briefer: Richard Boucher
1-2 Elections/International Republican Institute Cancels Plans to Send
CHINA / TAIWAN
2 President Chen's Summit Proposal
2 Secretary Albright's Beijing Discussions
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
2-4 Prospects for a Camp David Style Working Summit
3 US Discussions with the Palestinian Authority
3 Reported US Proposal to Chairman Arafat To Delay Israeli Hand Over
4 Ambassador Dennis Ross' Travel
5 Effect of Israeli Political Crisis
5 EU Decision to Accept Greece into the European Monetary System
5 Olympic Games/Lesperoglou and Konstantin Mitsotakis Case
5-8 Situation Update/Whereabouts of Mr. Manus, U.S. Assistance to
Mr. Manas in Fleeing Haiti/Status of Embassy
Port-au-Prince/Demonstrations Outside Embassy
U.S. Special Coordinator Donald Steinberg and NSC Director Artro
Vanenzuela Travel to Port-au-Prince
U.S. Position on the Election Results
Mr. Aristide and President Preval's Silence on the Violence
8 Status of D.C. Police Investigation of Altercation Outside Cuban
8-9 Exit Strategy for President Milosevic
9 Edmund Pope's Wife Allowed to Visit
9 Deputy Secretary Talbott's Talks
9 United Nations War Crimes Tribunal
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2000, 12:05 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER_: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any
statements. I would like, if I can express a hope, to get out of here at
12:30 so we can do the Moroccan events, but I'll leave that in your hands.
Be glad to take your questions.
Where do we start? Jonathan, do you want to take the – _
QUESTION: Oh, does this set a precedent?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it doesn't.
QUESTION: Go ahead, then.
QUESTION_: Finishing up on a subject yesterday, the International
Republican Institute has canceled its plans to send a delegation to
Zimbabwe. Do you have a statement on that? _
MR. BOUCHER_: We've seen that report. I don't think - I don't know that
we've been in touch with them since we've heard the announcement. But I do
think it's important to say that we continue to believe that election
monitoring is important in Zimbabwe. According to the Government of
Zimbabwe, the word we got was that foreign nongovernmental organizations
are not going to receive accreditation to be election monitors and that
only foreign government employees will receive accreditation. The reason
for this distinction has not been made clear to us, and we're disappointed
with that decision. _ The deadline for observers to be accredited is June
22nd. We have urged - and we will continue to urge - the Government of
Zimbabwe to accredit all foreign election observers, governmental and
nongovernmental, before this June 22nd deadline. _
QUESTION_: That's all you're going to say: "We're disappointed"?
MR. BOUCHER: We're pushing. We continue to push.
QUESTION: I mean, if they're not allowed, what does that mean?
MR. BOUCHER_: As I said, they've still got a couple more days when they
can do this, and we continue to urge them to do it. _
QUESTION: And if they don't?
MR. BOUCHER: Then we'll talk about it then.
QUESTION_: Well, it doesn't seem very likely that they will. You still
have some - do you have reason to believe that they're going to change
their minds? _
MR. BOUCHER_: We are urging them to change their minds and to accredit
these observers. _
QUESTION_: Do you have any reason to believe -- (inaudible) -- ?
MR. BOUCHER_: We continue to push for it. I'll tell you when it happens,
or if it doesn't happen. _
QUESTION_: The Taiwanese President Chen proposed a summit with President
Jiang. I assume you would endorse a summit? Could you say that this is a
good thing and a good idea? _
MR. BOUCHER_: Our view, as we've said before - and I'll say it again now -
is that we strongly support a resumption of the cross-Strait dialogue. We
are committed to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
It is up to Beijing and Taipei to determine the basis for the dialogue and
the modalities for the dialogue. Our abiding interest is in the peaceful
resolution of the differences between the two sides. _
QUESTION_: Were you warned, advised in advance, that he was going to make
this proposal? And did you encourage him to go ahead? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I don't have anything that would indicate that. I'd just
say that we have consistently encouraged the idea of resumption of a cross-
Strait dialogue. But, once again, it's up to the sides to specify the
modalities and the timing and things like that. _
QUESTION_: Will the Secretary encourage such a summit when she goes to
MR. BOUCHER_: Once again, she'll discuss cross-Straight developments,
certainly, when she goes to Beijing, and reiterate our view that sides
should resume their direct dialogue. _
QUESTION_: On the Middle East, the Israeli Government thinks it's time to
have a working summit, sort of a Camp David sort of gathering, I gather.
Does the State Department see any advantage in that now? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I'd say that on the summit issue, where we have been for the
last few days, the Secretary, as you know, will go out to the region next
week to determine if there is a sufficient - if the necessary basis exists
for a summit, or whether we need to continue the work. _ The President, I
believe, two or three days ago said that at this juncture we would say that
a basis does not exist, but the point is to see next week when the
Secretary goes out if there is such a basis or if we need to continue. _ We
have made quite clear - the President has made quite clear - that we're
prepared to go forward with a summit at the appropriate time when we think
the necessary basis exists. _
QUESTION_: Have you talked to the Palestinians about this? Are they also
in favor of such a - another level of discussion? _
MR. BOUCHER_: The issue has been certainly discussed with both sides as
we've been discussing with both sides how to reach agreement on the
permanent status issues - the real tough issues, the fundamental issues -
that are under discussion at this point. _
QUESTION_: When you make a determination of whether they're ready, is that
based mainly on whether they say they're ready, or would you make an
independent judgment independently of whether they say they're ready?
MR. BOUCHER_: I think it's a combination of all our discussions on these
QUESTION_: Would you expand on proposals that the US - that the President
apparently made last week to Mr. Arafat about delaying Israeli handover?
That comes from the Palestinian side, Saeb Erakat. _
MR. BOUCHER_: No, I think what I would say is that further redeployment -
this is the issue there I think you're asking about - this is an issue that
the two sides are continuing to discuss. I would also say that we have a
window of opportunity right now to concentrate also on the permanent status
issues and to try to resolve some of those fundamental issues. _
QUESTION: But it was a US initiative to delay the –
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't mention that.
QUESTION: You didn't?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that, no.
QUESTION: Do you deny it?
MR. BOUCHER_: All I'm saying is this is an issue the two parties are
continuing to discuss. _
QUESTION_: Richard, my colleagues in the Middle East say that the Israelis
are reporting the summit as if almost it's a done deal, and they're even
giving a specific date now. We had heard that Barak had suggested to the
President after July 4th, but now apparently Israeli newspapers are
reporting a July 6th summit. _ Do you have any comment on the fact that
they're already reporting it as if it's almost a done deal? And is that a
deliberate effort to try and pressure you guys into going ahead with that
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment.
QUESTION_: Is that time frame a feasible time frame? I mean, it seems
like the Secretary is going to be around, the President is going to be
around, it's after the holiday weekend. Would there be, if there was to be
a summit proposal, is that a reasonable – _
MR. BOUCHER_: If there is a necessary basis for a summit, then any time is
a suitable time. I think the Secretary and the President have made clear
they are prepared to do what it takes to reach an agreement. If they
thought the basis existed to reach an agreement, they would be prepared to
do what it takes. So I don't want to speculate on any particular date but
just tell you that their commitment as they, both the Secretary and the
President have stated it personally and recently, is strong to doing
whatever they can to make this work, if we think a deal can be reached.
QUESTION: Can we go to Haiti?
QUESTION: When does Ambassador Ross go?
MR. BOUCHER: Midweek, this week.
QUESTION: This Wednesday?
MR. BOUCHER: Midweek.
QUESTION: Wednesday is midweek. Is it Wednesday?
QUESTION_: Has it not been decided or - I mean, this is really ridiculous.
I mean, it's not that big a deal to say when he's going. Has it not –
QUESTION: The Israelis said he's going to be there today.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, he's not.
QUESTION: Is there a date planned for when he leaves?
MR. BOUCHER_: All I can tell you at this point is he is planning on being
in the region middle of this week. _
QUESTION_: Any comment on the EU decision to accept Greece into the
European monetary system? _
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, we've got one more on the Middle East.
QUESTION_: What effect, if any, does the political crisis inside the
Israeli Government have on this? I know it's something you don't like to
address very much but it seems rather - in the (inaudible) - it's rather
vital that. It would be hard to arrange a summit with – _
MR. BOUCHER_: Well, you're right. The specifics of what's going on
between the parties is internal politics in Israel, and I don't want to try
to get into those questions. I think it's clear to us that the Israeli
Government and the Israeli people have committed themselves to striving for
peace through negotiations. We're confident that this will remain Israel's
policy and we will do everything we can to support the peace process.
QUESTION: About Haiti?
MR. BOUCHER_: Well, we were going to go to Greece back there, I think.
QUESTION_: Any comment on the EU decision to accept Greece into the
European monetary system? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I think we - first of all, we congratulate the Greek
Government and the Greek people on this decision that occurred in Portugal.
It demonstrates Greece's remarkable economic progress in recent years and
it complements Greece's increasingly active political role within the
European Union. I'll leave it at that for my comments, but I think there
might be something from the White House today. _
QUESTION_: Any response to my pending questions on Mr. Lesperoglou's case,
on Mr. Konstantin Mitsotakis, and on the Olympic Games in Athens?
MR. BOUCHER_: Have we gotten anything back on that? I think the Press
Office will make sure to get you something. _
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, Haiti. Go ahead.
QUESTION_: What is the situation in Haiti? Have any Americans been
attacked? What is the situation? Is the Embassy opened up today? What is
the Embassy's - what is the US view of who is behind the violence, and what
is the fate of the head of the electoral commission who fled the country?
MR. BOUCHER_: Let's do some of this either way. The head of the electoral
commission, Mr. Manus - I think I reported on yesterday or the day before -
he's in the United States with his wife. They traveled on previously
issued visas, and naturally we're concerned about the fact that they felt
it necessary to leave the country. _ As far as the situation in Haiti,
there was a small demonstration yesterday near the embassy in Port au
Prince. There were about a hundred demonstrators; they set a small fire in
the street outside of the Embassy, then they moved to an adjacent park
where it's reported that they hauled down and attempted to burn an American
flag that had been flying in the park. _ Significant demonstrations
occurred throughout Port au Prince yesterday by small groups of protesters
calling for the announcement of the official results of the May 21
elections. Several main roads in and leading out of the capital were
blocked by barricades of burning tires and other vehicular parts. _ Now,
today - I would also mention yesterday, because of the demonstrations
around the Embassy, our Embassy had to close for the day. Today, the
situation we understand in Port au Prince is calm and our Embassy is open.
_ I would also point out that Special Haiti Coordinator Donald Steinberg
and National Security Council Senior Director Arturo Valenzuela are
currently in Port au Prince for meetings related to the election results.
QUESTION_: What is the US position right now in terms of those results?
MR. BOUCHER_: That they need to be carefully and accurately reported, is
the way I'd put it. _
QUESTION_: Does anybody in the Department plan to meet with Mr. Manus and
get a debriefing from him? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I'm sure people are in touch with him. I'll have to check
to see if there are any meetings planned. _
QUESTION_: But you don't know where he is? He was in New England
yesterday – _
MR. BOUCHER_: Yeah, I'm not exactly sure where he is. I'll have to check
if there are any meetings scheduled with him.
Do you have one, or did we take care of it? _
QUESTION_: No, I have a question on Zimbabwe - oh, Sierra Leone, excuse
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Finished with Haiti?
QUESTION_: How long will Steinberg and Valenzuela be there, and how long
do you think it will take for the US to decide whether or not the votes
have been accurately counted? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I don't know how long they'll be there and I don't really
have time frames for these things. They're down there having discussions,
and we'll see where we get to and when we think the process has been
completed in a fair manner. _
QUESTION_: Do you have any overall comment in terms of how you viewed the
election process in Haiti? _
MR. BOUCHER_: Well, I think we said at the time of the elections that we
were pleased that it was peaceful and there was a very large turnout. But
the entire election process continues, and it's too early because some of
the results haven't been made, haven't been finalized. And the manner in
which they're counted and finalized is very important to us so it's to
early to make some grand declaration on it. We're certainly quite aware of
the process and believe it needs to be handled very carefully to make sure
it's fair. _
QUESTION_: Can I just ask one last question? This process that they used,
apparently, where they didn't include everyone running, in terms of
determining the majority that excluded some of the more minor candidates,
is that acceptable to the US? _
MR. BOUCHER_: I don't want to talk about the particular process at this
point. I know there have been various reports down there about final
results, one way or the other, that turned out not to be final. We do
think it's very important how the process is handled, and we're paying
close attention to that. _
QUESTION_: So far, Mr. Aristide, the former president, and President
Preval have said virtually nothing about the violence in the city. Do you
have any comment on that? Do you - would urge them to speak out? Or are
you disappointed that they seem to be quiet? _
MR. BOUCHER_: You know, without having any particular comment on them,
because I just hadn't really focused on that, obviously, we think everybody
should be exercising restraint and urging calm and trying to make this
process continue in a manner that does turn out to be free and fair.
QUESTION_: My understanding that the demonstration in the alleged flag
burning was a reaction to the fact that Mr. Manus has come to the United
States. And has he requested any kind of special attention while he's
here? Has he requested asylum? _
MR. BOUCHER_: You mean, security or asylum? Well, he had a visa to come
into the United States, so I think that's how he got here and how he stays
here. If he had requested some special status, then I don't think we would
be able to comment on it anyway because of privacy reasons. But our
understanding of the – _
QUESTION: He hasn't, but if he had you couldn't say?
MR. BOUCHER_: No, I didn't really try to say whether he had or hadn't,
because I don't know. But if he had or he hadn't, we wouldn't be able to
say. As far as the demonstrations, our understanding they were calling for
the announcement for official results of the May 21 election. So that
involves a whole lot of issues, including some of the ones you raised.
QUESTION_: Richard, did the American Embassy assist Mr. Manus in fleeing
the country? _
MR. BOUCHER_: He had a visa already and he came here on an existing visa.
QUESTION_: No, he went through the Dominican Republic and he hid out in an
embassy in Port au Prince for a couple of days and then fled. I'm
wondering if the Americans were involved in helping him flee.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll check and see if there is anything we can say, if we
have anything for you on that. _
QUESTION_: After yesterday's briefing, I called the Metropolitan Police
Department to see if they had finished their investigation of the assault
on April 14th of demonstrators across 16th Street from the Cuban Interest
Section. And the officer I reached said that the department had pretty
much completed its investigation and that the case is being reviewed by a
US Attorney and the State Department. I called the US attorney and they -
they're going to get back to me. _ But maybe you would prefer to take this
question. But I would like to know if - what the status of this report is
and what, if anything, the Justice Department, the US Attorneys Office and
the State Department are doing in its evaluation of the police report.
MR. BOUCHER_: Our understanding is that the Metropolitan Police and the US
Attorney for the District of Columbia are still actively investigating the
incident, so I'm not aware that we have gotten any report from them at this
point. The decision regarding prosecution has to be made when the
investigation is completed so there is no - no basis for that yet. And
that's a decision made by the attorney. _
QUESTION_: I'm sure you've seen the piece by Mr. Panic in The Washington
Post today outlining a proposal which you touched on yesterday. Do you see
any merits in the proposal as he formulated it? _
MR. BOUCHER_: A proposal that I touched on yesterday? I thought we
touched on it quite firmly yesterday and, if I didn't, let me touch on it
quite firmly again. We think the only proposal for Mr. Milosevic's future
is that he be out of power, out of the country, and in The Hague. And
that's the only one that we - we have not seen any other proposals from
governments and we're not interested. _
QUESTION: But it's certainly two out of three.
MR. BOUCHER_: We were asked that yesterday, and I said we want three for
three. He belongs in The Hague; it's a one-way ticket policy and that's
what we're looking for. _
QUESTION_: On Russia. I understand that Mrs. Pope was allowed in to see
her husband today in Lefortovo. And, also, if you have any readout on
Strobe's talks with the Russians. They seemed to be quite upbeat after the
MR. BOUCHER_: Well, what I saw on the wires was that they had concluded
their meetings and announced that they had nothing to say about them. So,
at this point, I don't
have – _
QUESTION_: Well, I think Mamedov said there's always progress when we talk
with Strobe, or something like that. _
MR. BOUCHER_: Okay, well, that goes without saying. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Actually –
MR. BOUCHER_: No, I don't have anything on Strobe's talks yet. I think
he's on his way back. I was not able to find anything this morning.
Mrs. Pope did visit her husband this morning at Lefortovo Prison for
approximately two hours. A consular officer from the Embassy accompanied
her on the visit, but we defer to Mrs. Pope for any comments to make about
the visit. _
QUESTION_: On Sierra Leone, the Government of Sierra Leone said today that
it has asked the United Nations to set up an international tribunal for war
crimes against humanity to try Foday Sankoh. Is it a decision that you
would back within the UN? _
MR. BOUCHER_: We have said there needs to be accountability and justice
for Mr. Sankoh. We have said quite clearly we don't think he has any
continuing role in the process. We've also said that we look to the
Government of Sierra Leone and the UN Security Council to determine what's
the best way to bring him to justice and to have accountability. So while
I'm not aware of that specific proposal having been made, it has been
discussed before, and certainly we would look forward to discussing it with
others in the Security Council as well as the government. _
(The briefing was concluded at 12:25 P.M.)