U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #65, 00-06-26
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
Monday, June 26, 2000
Briefer: PHILIP REEKER_
1 Kathie Scarrah, New Director of the Office of Regional Media
1, 5 Vice President Gore Meeting with Officials of the Iraqi National
Congress--Senior State Department Official Background Briefing
1 Election Results
1 US Commends Strong Democratic Participation
1 Nothing New on Cuban Doctors
2 Vice President Gore Meeting with Armenian President Kocharian
2-3 Maluku Province Violence
3 Declaration of Civil Emergency
3 Secretary's Statement on Democracy
3 Human Rights Report
4 Election Results
4 Impact of Elections on G-8 Summit
5 Special Envoy Harry Johnson's Travel to Khartoum
5 UN Sanctions
6 US Position on Sales of Food and Medicine
6 Nothing New on US-North Korea Talks.
6 Preparatory Talks in Rome were on May 31
6 Amb. Dennis Ross remains in the Middle East
6, 9 Amb. Ross' Meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Leaders and
6 Secretary Albright's Travel
7 President Khatami's Remarks on the UN
8 Reconstruction Aid
9 De-mining Aid
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2000, 1:35 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, and welcome back on this fine Monday to the
arctic conditions of the State Department briefing room. I'd like to start
off today by welcoming to the Bureau of Public Affairs our new Director of
the Office of Regional Media Outreach, Kathie Scarrah, who is joining us
today. Kathie came from Senator Lieberman's office, where she was Director
of Broadcast Communications for 11 years, and we are extremely pleased to
have her on board our public affairs team. And I'm sure many of you will
work with her in the coming weeks and months in terms of media outreach and
Just to remind people of the notice we posted on Friday that the Vice
President, Vice President Gore, will meet with officials of the Iraqi
National Congress at the Department of State today. The meeting is going to
take place from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m., and following that meeting a Senior
State Department Official will hold a background briefing for the press at
5:00 p.m. here in the State Department briefing room.
And with that, Mr. Gedda, we'll turn to your questions.
QUESTION: Any comment on the Zimbabwean election? The international
observer team says the elections could hardly be described as free and
MR. REEKER: Yes, I've seen a number of comments that have come out. We've
seen the various reports of high voter turnout, in the neighborhood, I
believe, of around 60 percent of registered voters. We've also seen reports
that the election was relatively peaceful with relatively few incidents of
intimidation or violence reported.
We do commend the Zimbabwean people for their strong democratic participation
in these elections, and we call on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure a
very transparent vote count, which is taking place now. I'm going to
refrain from commenting further on the elections until the results are
announced but, as we noted Friday, we feel that election monitors and our
Embassy in Harare dispatched several teams of observers throughout Zimbabwe
over the weekend with those elections.
QUESTION: Same general area. Anything new on the Cuban doctors?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything new on that. I haven't seen if they
have been turned over to UNHCR control yet. But we'll be happy to try to
check into that if you can't get an answer from UNHCR.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how - what your monitors reported back from the
elections in Zimbabwe? Did they get the access that they required or
MR. REEKER: I believe that the accesses, as we discussed a bit Friday,
was given. The monitoring teams went out throughout Zimbabwe over the
weekend. As I noted, our reports as well as the press reports suggested
there was a very high voter turnout, which is a positive thing, and that
the election was relatively peaceful with few incidents of intimidation or
violence being reported.
QUESTION: So there weren't any incidents of the monitors being prevented
from entering polling stations or –
MR. REEKER: None that I've seen, no. Other questions.
QUESTION: You said something about this morning - I guess I missed the
beginning, the opening - is the Vice President also seeing the Armenian
MR. REEKER: Yes, I believe that Vice President Gore, after meeting with
the Iraqi group, will meet here at the State Department around 5:30 p.m.
with Armenian President Kocharian.
QUESTION: And the coverage?
MR. REEKER: We will have to check on coverage. He is going to host a
dinner for the president this evening here at the State Department, and so
for further information you'd want to check with the Vice President's
office on that.
QUESTION: Why is Mr. Gore coming over here? Is he Acting Secretary of
MR. REEKER: No. I think it's often the case that the Vice President hosts
foreign leaders here at the State Department. I know often when there are
state visits the Vice President's role is done here, usually using the
QUESTION: On Indonesia, do you have anything on Indonesia declaring today,
or yesterday, a state of emergency in the Maluku Islands?
MR. REEKER: I did see those reports indicating that the government had
declared a civil emergency in the Malukus. We haven't gotten confirmation
of those reports from our Embassy, but other reports from the Embassy and
from the press indicate that at least 50 people have died and as many as
200 have been injured during the lastest clashes in Ambon, the capital of
the Maluku province.
We are deeply concerned, as we've indicated before, by the intensifying
cycle of violence and retaliation between Christian and Muslim communities
in the Maluku provinces. We are especially troubled by the fact that
security forces have proven either unwilling or unable to stop the
violence. And we have been urging the Government of Indonesia to take
immediate and effective measures to prevent further bloodshed.
In particular, I want to note that the government should prevent organized
groups from initiating attacks and stop extremists from outside areas from
inflaming the situation and engaging in violence. So we had welcomed
President Wahid's declaration of a ban on travel by outsiders to the
Malukus, and we hope that the government is able to take immediate measures
to enforce the ban.
And as I indicated, we've seen the reports that they had declared a civil
emergency, so we're calling on all parties to show restraint and refrain
from violence there.
QUESTION: It's not time, as far as the United States is concerned, to
urge the UN or any regional groups to take any military action in the
MR. REEKER: I think as I indicated, we're urging the government, and
we've been doing so for some time, to take immediate measures. We've seen
these reports that the Indonesian Government has declared a civil emergency
in the Malukus and we welcome President Wahid's steps last week to try to
tone down the violence there. And we are urging all parties to that to show
restraint, to cease the violence, which doesn't lead to any sort of
solution in the Malukus.
QUESTION: Do you think, Phil, that it's a matter of unable or unwilling?
Which is the side that the United States would come down on with regard to
the armed forces of Indonesia?
MR. REEKER: I think I indicated that we were troubled by the fact that
some security forces have proven unable or unwilling. I'm not making a
particular judgment on which it is. I'm unable to do that. But there's a
problem there, and we're calling on the government to do everything they
can to cease the violence, to make sure that violence stops there. And, of
course, the parties who are responsible for the violence need to stop and
need to seek other ways of dealing with their problems.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary declared today in Warsaw, Poland, that "We can
not secure our future without democracy." How this apply in the case of
Greece, since US individuals in the most recent days are undermining the
political institutions and the democracy of Greece in the name of
MR. REEKER: I take great umbrage at your statement. I disagree with that
completely. As far as the Secretary's statement on democracy at the
conference, the transcript is readily available. In terms of views of
democracy in Greece, I would refer you to our human rights report if you're
interested, and I have nothing further for you.
QUESTION: A well-known British author in Germany, Christopher Heitzen, in
his editorial of the last issue of the national magazine criticizes as
hysterical the recent campaign against Greece in the name of terrorism and
pointed out, "So -- (inaudible) - could be right in implying that November
17 is a cover operation rather than a revolutionary movement. One does not
wish to license paranoid thinking or the conspiratorial mentality, but now
that -- (inaudible) - has forced us to ask the question he ought in all
fairness to -- (inaudible) - is answer it, too."
MR. REEKER: No.
QUESTION: What is your comment about Japanese election?
MR. REEKER: Sure. I think some of you called over the weekend and talked
to one of our spokespeople. All I can say is we look forward very much to
continuing our close work with the Japanese Government for a successful G-8
summit and on the many other challenges of the 21st century that we deal
with together. We have excellent cooperation with the Japanese Government
on a range of bilateral issues, a very positive relationship in terms of
our bilateral economic, political and security issues, as well as a range
of third country issues such as Indonesia and North Korea. And we
congratulate all the successful candidates in the Japanese election.
QUESTION: The trade minister lost his post in the elections. Will that
make it harder or easier to complete some negotiations before the summit,
like the NTT?
MR. REEKER: Well, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss or
speculate on the Japanese democratic process or any individual results of
those elections. I think, as I indicated, we look forward to continuing our
very strong relations with Japan and with the Japanese Government and
expect a successful G-8 summit, as well as continuing successful work on a
number of other issues.
QUESTION: A couple of things. The Russians have detained a Lithuanian.
They say he's been spying for the United States. Is this true?
MR. REEKER: I saw the story, and I have nothing for you on that. As you
know, we never comment on alleged intelligence matters.
QUESTION: Another one. There's been a lot of speculation about a possible
new approach to the Western Sahara, and former Secretary Baker has been
working on this. How does the United States feel about this? Are you deeply
committed to the UN referendum idea, or are you open to other ideas?
MR. REEKER: I know that we've been strongly supportive of the UN process,
and as you noted, former Secretary of State Baker is a UN Envoy for Western
Sahara. I don't have any particulars for you. I'd be happy to check into
that and see if we had taken any specific positions other than supporting
the UN process in that.
QUESTION: There are reports that the United States has contacted Sudan
over the weekend and at least Khartoum is speculating that this may be more
- another facet of the warming relations with states of concern. Do you
have any comment on that and whether there is any movement on the US
position on sanctions?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything specific on contacts over the weekend.
I think we've had contacts. Harry Johnson was there recently on his second
trip, traveled to Khartoum from June 12th through 14th, and had consultations
later in Kenya and other places. He was there, as we've discussed before,
to strengthen the Sudan peace process, to press for human rights improvements
and to urge increased access for humanitarian supplies.
In terms of the sanctions position, we do not support the lifting of
sanctions until the Government of Sudan takes concrete, verifiable steps to
end its support for terrorist groups. This is a direct reflection of the UN
Security Council Resolution 1044, 1054 and 1070, which set specific
requirements which Sudan has not fulfilled.
The sanctions were imposed, as you know, in January of 1996 as a result of
the Sudanese Government's continuing support for terrorism. The resolutions
called on Sudan to take action to extradite to Ethiopia three suspects in
the 1995 attack on the Egyptian president, which took place in Addis Ababa,
and to stop assisting, supporting and facilitating terrorist activities.
Sudan has not turned over or accounted for the suspects in the attack on
President Mubarak, and we have not yet seen evidence that it has taken
convincing steps to end its support for terrorist groups.
QUESTION: The Vice President with the meeting, the Iraqi opposition this
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: What is the purpose of this meeting?
MR. REEKER: Well, a senior delegation of the Iraqi National Congress
arrived over the weekend and they're going to meet the Vice President this
evening, late this afternoon, here at the State Department, as I indicated.
They're also going to meet Acting Secretary of State Pickering tomorrow
I think the best thing is to be here for the background briefing today at
5:00, and you can get a lot of details on their visit.
QUESTION: On Cuba, the legislation to allow unrestricted sales of food
and medicine to Cuba is coming to a head, perhaps this evening. And I just
wonder whether the Administration has taken a position on that.
MR. REEKER: Well, I think the bottom line is we have to await the
amendment's final language to determine how it might be used within the
broader context that we've talked about previously. I don't have a specific
position for you on that.
QUESTION: Do you have an announcement on the US-North Korea missile
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have an announcement yet. We still expect that to
take place soon - the announcement. You'll recall that May 31st was when we
had the preparatory round of talks in Rome, and at that time we said we
would continue working on coming up with a date, and we'll have an
appropriate announcement at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: Questions on where two people are. Is Dennis back yet?
MR. REEKER: No, Dennis remains in the Middle East preparing for the
Secretary's arrival there tomorrow evening. And?
MR. REEKER: Strobe Talbott, I believe, is on vacation.
QUESTION: On Dennis Ross, can you tell us whether he is reporting that
the parties are closer to reaching a stage at which a summit might be
MR. REEKER: I don't think I'm going to be able to sort of categorize as
much as I'm sure you would like. As I indicated, he is continuing his
meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and negotiators. He met with
Chairman Arafat today. He will continue this intensive round of negotiations
in preparation for the Secretary's arrival tomorrow, and he is going to
remain in the region through the Secretary's visit.
As we've discussed for some time now, one of the objectives of the
Secretary's visit will be to determine if we have a basis, if we've reached
the point where there is a basis to have a summit, or if more work is
necessary. And so that's where we'll proceed tomorrow.
QUESTION: Did you say that he would stay in the region after the visit,
or just until the visit?
MR. REEKER: I don't know his plans through the visit. The Secretary, as
you know, will be there until Thursday and we'll just have to see what his
plans are after that.
QUESTION: Any response to the report that came out, I believe by the AP
over the weekend, saying that Americans abroad are constantly the subject
of attempts to gather intelligence, and it listed some of the cases?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I saw that specific AP report.
QUESTION: I think it was carried in The Washington Post as well. It
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything specific for you on that. I thought you
might have been indicating the public announcement we made on Jordan and
the Embassy in Amman, but you were talking about intelligence, not
MR. REEKER: Sorry.
QUESTION: It was reported today in Washington Times that Turkish Cypriot
demands for autonomy and recognition of the UDI are seriously damaging the
planned talks July 5th in Geneva. Any comment?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything particular except that we understand
that Secretary General Annan and his special advisor will reconvene the
talks on July 5th in Geneva. There was a mandate of the peacekeeping force,
the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, which was renewed June 15th for
another six months. That's independent of those talks. The UN is going to
determine the specific modalities of the talks that take place, but we
expect the Secretary General to convene those talks July 5th.
QUESTION: Can you answer my pending question why Secretary of State has
decided to replace your overqualified Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Nicholas
Burns, with Ambassador Tom Miller in the end of this year?
MR. REEKER: I told you, I think last week, that I had no indication of
that; I had never heard of such a thing.
QUESTION: What about in the other question on the contacts between the so-
called -- (inaudible) - Mr. Konstantin Mitsotakis and the State Department
regarding terrorism in Greece?
MR. REEKER: You indicated a question about Ambassador Sheehan meeting
with somebody, and we checked. He has not met with any past or present
Greek officials recently.
QUESTION: Do you know when the Department of State defined November 17 as
a foreign terrorist organization?
MR. REEKER: I would refer you to the report, the annual report on
QUESTION: But there is no "when." That's why I'm asking.
MR. REEKER: If you don't find that under the terrorist organization
section, we can check into that at what date it was originally designated
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Iranian Government or authority's
closure of a reformist newspaper?
MR. REEKER: Yes, I read about that, read the report. I think all I can
say is that our policy toward Iran hasn't changed. Let me make sure I read
you the right thing. We always say that, so –
QUESTION: Of course, that was in response to Khatami's comments?
MR. REEKER: Right.
QUESTION: Well, you might as well give us that while you're at it.
MR. REEKER: I definitely had something about this paper. Well, let me
tell you broadly, our policies haven't changed and we have offered, as you
know, to engage in an official dialogue with Iran in order to address the
serious issues which divide us, including Iran's support for opponents of
the Middle East peace process, terrorism, and Iran's continuing efforts to
acquire weapons of mass destruction. I think Secretary Albright outlined
this extremely well March 17th in the speech that she made here in
We have no illusions that decades of mistrust between our two countries can
be wiped out overnight. We are very prepared to be patient and we're urging
all nations, including Iran, to support the Middle East peace process, the
goal of which, as you know, is a just and comprehensive, durable peace in
the Middle East.
QUESTION: So you weren't disappointed by Mr. - President Khatami's
remarks? You're prepared to be patient?
MR. REEKER: I think our position stands. We're prepared to be patient,
QUESTION: On the same subject, the, I guess, Senate Judiciary Committee
passed the Victims of Terrorism legislation, which has serious implication
for policy on Iran. I wasn't here. You may have commented then. If you
didn't and have the guidance still there, could you?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I had anything on that legislation or
resolution, but I'd be happy to check into that.
QUESTION: There is some allegation in the Lebanese papers that United
States is preventing Lebanon from having international help to reconstruct
in the south.
MR. REEKER: And?
QUESTION: There is any changing of the US position in that? Is it true
that United States is preventing international help?
MR. REEKER: No. In terms of our reconstruction aid for Lebanon, we are in
the process ourselves of assessing the needs for Lebanon, including in the
south. And at an appropriate time, we're going to consult with Congress, as
we normally do, on how best to address those needs. I think, as you know,
we very much want to see peace and prosperity returned to Lebanon and we
will want to be involved in international efforts to support Lebanon's
We need to take into account, of course, Lebanon's ability to meet its
responsibilities under the UN Security Council resolution; that is, the
Government's responsibility to create a climate of security and stability
throughout Lebanon, including in the south. Specifically, the Government of
Lebanon needs to reassert authority over all of Lebanon, and that will be a
very important consideration for the effective implementation of a donor
We presently have an assistance program for Lebanon that supports $12 to
$15 million annually in de-mining, economic assistance and other smaller
programs to support civilian control of the military. At this time, we
don't have a formal proposal to do more, but we're going to continue to
assess the needs and requirements there.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Reeker. Mr. Arafat has spoken in terms of
Palestine belonging to the Palestinians and to, any time now, initiate a
statehood declaration. And I take it that the US would very much like to
see this not happen and that the negotiations would go on without this
particular declaration. Is that correct?
MR. REEKER: I haven't seen any particular news there. I think I ran
through where we stand right now. Dennis Ross is in the Middle East. He is
continuing his meetings with Palestinians and Israelis. The Secretary will
arrive there tomorrow. She is going to make a determination whether we're
at the point where a summit would be helpful or whether we need to continue
working to get to that point.
Our goal, of course, is a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, as I've
indicated already. The President has made it very clear that he is prepared
to host a summit when the appropriate basis exists, and I think we need to
see what happens over the next couple of days and where we go from
QUESTION: I take it a declaration of statehood by Palestine would not be
MR. REEKER: We're going to continue in this process and see what the
determination the Secretary is able to make after her visit, and we'll
continue that process trying to seek a comprehensive peace for everyone in
the Middle East.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the group of Algerian
journalists who were brave enough to visit Israel and who have been
bitterly criticized at home for going there?
MR. REEKER: I don't, unfortunately. No, I hadn't even seen that
QUESTION: Since I could not find an answer about religious ID in DOS
report that you referred me the other day, I am wondering, do you consider
Mr. Simitis' refusal towards Bishop Christodoulos as an act of religious
discrimination and even human rights violation according to your own
standard and criteria set out by those reports?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything to say on that. We just don't have a
position on that.
QUESTION: But that is your criteria.
MR. REEKER: We don't have a position on that.
QUESTION: You don't.
MR. REEKER: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 P.M.)
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