U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #66, 00-06-27
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 27, 2000
Briefer: Philip Reeker
1 Adoption of OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Worldwide Caution Released, Onset of Summer Travel Season,
2-3 Congress Votes to Ease Sanctions; Rep. Nethercutt Amendment
President Clinton's April 1999 Easing of Food & Medicine Export,
3 Asst Secretary of State Pickering's Meeting with Iraqi National
Congress (INC) Officials
3-5 U S Statement on Elections to be Released; Congratulate People of
10-11 Despite Harassment, Large Turnout, Peaceful, Well Organized; Some
Parties to Initiate Legal Challenges in Courts
U S Gratified by Transparent Conduct, Pre-Election Intimidation
Rendered Vote Short of "Free and Fair"; Call for Refrain from
Violence Contacts with GOZ in Harare and Washington will Continue
5-7 Xinhua News Agency Property Purchase; Notification Letter from PRC
U S has 60 Days to Review Request, Consider Options Under Foreign
Congress: House Vote on Xinhua Property Purchase Issue
7 Denktash re: Proximity Talks in Geneva: Talks Resume July 5 Under
U S Position on Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Turkish
7-8 Human Rights; Congressional Proposal re: "Honor Killings"; Link to
PAKISTAN / INDIA
8 Terrorism List; Congressional Recommendation Re: Inclusion of India
8 VP Meetings
8 No Date Set for US-DPRK Missile Talks
9-10 Claim that Terrorists Motivated by US Criticism of Greece;
Amb. Burns Letter; Counter-terrorism Cooperation with Greek
17 November Terrorist Organization, Nationality of Members
10 Draft Anti-terrorism Law, Clamp Down on Opposition
10 Report of Taliban Offer to Reduce Poppy Production in Exchange for
Infrastructure Reconstruction by International Community
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2000, 2:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. Apologies for the delay. I was just about
to comment on the fact that there was no one in the front row but, George,
thank you for taking care of that. I see that we continue to keep a brisk
temperature here in the State Department briefing room, and we welcome you
all on this fine summer day.
I would like to begin by noting that we'll have a statement for release
after the briefing welcoming the adoption of the OECD guidelines for
multinational enterprises. So watch for that.
And I guess I would begin by noting that this morning we issued a Worldwide
Caution. As we approach the height of the tourist season, the Department
of State reminds American citizens worldwide of the need to remain vigilant
with regard to their personal security. This Public Announcement released
this morning is not in response to a particular threat or event, but to
emphasize our ongoing concern for the security of Americans overseas.
Should the Department receive information about a specific and credible
threat, the information will of course be shared with all potentially
From time to time, the Department does receive unconfirmed reports that
prompt concern about the safety and security of US Government personnel and
private American citizens abroad. In addition, the possibility remains
that terrorist and other groups or individuals may take action against
Americans or American interests. In the past, these groups and individuals
have not distinguished between US Government and civilian targets.
We want to note particularly that periods on or around significant dates,
such as the August 7th anniversary of the bombings of the US Embassies in
Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, may be chosen as opportunities
for further terrorist attacks. As a result, security concerns continue to
be important at US Government facilities worldwide. Likewise, US citizens
traveling or residing abroad are urged to review their own personal
security practices, to be attentive to their surroundings, and to exercise
And that Public Announcement was posted this morning and copies are
available in the Press Office or on our worldwide web site.
QUESTION: You're doing this because it's the onset of the summer travel
MR. REEKER: Yeah. I think we want to emphasize here that we have no
specific information about any particular threat about which Americans need
to be concerned. We are beginning the height of the tourist season, as you
noted, and we want to take this opportunity to remind the American
traveling public that there are groups and individuals out there who have
threatened American citizens and American interests in the past and who may
do so again.
No one is trying to make anybody nervous, but what we are saying is that
Americans should take appropriate precautions when traveling abroad, such
as always being attentive to their surroundings and exercising caution
QUESTION: Any particular country?
MR. REEKER: No, it was a worldwide caution that we were making available
to take this opportunity to remind American citizens worldwide of the need
to remain vigilant to their security.
QUESTION: In the years that I have been here, I have never seen you all
issue one of these at the beginning of the summer season. You've issued
warnings for students who are going to be traveling overseas, but never to
the American traveling public at large. Is this the start of something new,
or is this just heightened concern?
MR. REEKER: This was just an opportunity, I think as I said, to
emphasize that security is something everyone should take into account in
making their travel decisions and being aware of their surroundings. Let
me say again, that we have no specific information about any particular
threat about which Americans need to be concerned. This is a general
notice, similar to the cautionary advice that the Secretary gives every
year to college students before spring break. You'll recall that every
year she sends a letter to newspapers reminding students that they should
go out, have fun, but be smart about what they do. And that's all we're
saying here: enjoy your vacations, enjoy your travel abroad, see the world,
but be smart and safe while you're doing it.
Anything further on this?
QUESTION: Well, on another subject, apparently there's an agreement on
the Hill on the legislation to ease restrictions on the sale of food and
medicine to Cuba. And I know the Administration had some reservations
about that because it in some way limited the President's prerogatives to
impose sanctions. And I'm wondering if you had any comment.
MR. REEKER: I've seen all the reports on that. At this point, I haven't
seen the language so I don't have a lot of details for you in terms of
Representative Nethercutt's amendment as revised. So to reiterate what
we've made clear in terms of our view, the President directed in April 1999
that the Administration should exempt commercial sales of food, medicine
and medial equipment from future sanctions regimes and extended that policy
to existing regimes on a case-by-case basis. In so doing, we open farm
exports to Iran, Sudan and Libya.
The President's policy is an appropriate balance between his constitutional
responsibility to conduct foreign policy and the need to minimize the costs
of economic sanctions to the United States, including American farmers. So
I think, as Mr. Lockhart has addressed at the White House, the President
believes food and medicine should not be used as a tool of foreign policy
except under extraordinary circumstances. The measures that are being
debated in terms of the legislation on the Hill at this point echo in some
respects what the Administration has already done in terms of opening up
farm exports where that is in the national interest.
Last year, as I indicated, the President expressed his strong desire to
work with Congress on a bipartisan basis to develop ways to transfer food
and humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people. We continue to stand
ready to work with Congress on this and we want to ensure, at the same time,
that the final outcome preserves the flexibility of the President to impose
or lift sanctions. It's very important, as you indicated, George, not to
restrict the President's ability to conduct foreign policy.
QUESTION: Any details from Mr. Pickering's meetings this morning with
the Iraqi opposition?
MR. REEKER: In fact, I don't have great detail on his meetings. Acting
Secretary of State Pickering did meet this morning with the Iraqi
delegation. This is the same delegation of senior folks from the Iraqi
National Congress who met with Vice President Gore yesterday here at the
State Department. During these meetings, we discussed - or were discussed
generally our efforts to move ahead with assistance and training in
accordance with the Iraqi Liberation Act and direct economic support
funding commensurate with the Iraqi National Congress' capability to absorb
this assistance and use it accountably and effectively.
So we've moved as quickly as possible to make funds available for training
and assistance, and as the group's internal organization strengthens, so
will its ability to absorb increased funding and assistance. And I believe
the Vice President's office released a statement yesterday, and we also had
a background briefing here yesterday after the meeting. We can certainly
get you a transcript of that if it would be useful.
QUESTION: I have that. I just wondered about today's meetings.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything further on the details of the meeting
with Acting Secretary Pickering.
QUESTION: On Zimbabwe, do you have a comment about the result of the
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: And do you believe that, finally, this election was conducted
in a free and fair manner, and that the outcome is credible?
MR. REEKER: We will post a statement following the briefing on the
Zimbabwe elections, but let me say that the United States congratulates the
people of Zimbabwe for their participation in record numbers in the
recently concluded parliamentary elections.
Zimbabwe now has an opportunity to move beyond the destructive polarizing
politics of the recent past and begin a new, more constructive chapter in
its development. Despite significant violence, intimidation and harassment
during the campaign prior to the election, almost two-thirds of registered
voters bravely exercised their democratic right to choose their representatives.
Preliminary reports from election observers indicate that the voting
process was generally peaceful, orderly and well organized, although
serious irregularities occurred in a number of constituencies throughout
the country. We share the concerns expressed by international observers
over last-minute changes to electoral administrative responsibilities, the
accreditation of observers and monitors, and numerous irregularities in the
voters roll that led to the disenfranchisement of many voters.
We understand that the parties will initiative a number of challenges
through the courts, and we urge all parties to exercise restraint, adhere
to the rule of law, and pursue their appeals through established legal
channels. Political violence, I'd like to remind everyone, as well as
intimidation or retribution, have no place in a democratic society.
This election has signaled dramatically the desire of the people of
Zimbabwe for peaceful democratic change, and we strongly urge the
Government of Zimbabwe to work with the opposition and civil society to
enter into a new period of dialogue that will permit the country to move
In response to your specific question, we are gratified, as I noted in the
statement, by the initial reports indicating that, by and large, the
conduct of the elections and the tallying of ballots appear to have been
done in relative transparency; however, there is no doubt that the violence
and intimidation that characterized the pre-election period rendered the
outcome of the elections short of free and fair.
QUESTION: Do you want to say who is responsible for the violence and
MR. REEKER: I think we've discussed that in the period leading up to the
elections, and we called upon everybody to avoid violence and intimidation.
I think we indicated early on that the ruling party was responsible for
some of the violence and intimidation that we saw. What we want to stress
here is that the people of Zimbabwe have spoken; they've cast their ballots
in record numbers, standing for the right to choose their representatives;
and now we're calling upon the Government of Zimbabwe to work with the
opposition and with other elements of a civil society so that they can have
a new period of dialogue and goodwill that will permit Zimbabwe to move
QUESTION: I'm kind of stunned with that. It's so mild, given the
egregious actions of the government and the intimidation that went on
before this election and the violence that did occur during the election.
And I'm surprised that the US has not joined the foreign organizations that
have condemned these elections.
MR. REEKER: I think the important point here is that this election marks
a turning point in Zimbabwe. We have condemned for a number of weeks now
from this podium - we've had a number of discussions about the violence
that marred the campaign period, that period of many weeks leading up to
the election, and our tremendous concerns about that.
And as I noted, the violence and intimidation that took place during that
period, regardless of the relative transparency of the ballot counting,
rendered the outcome of these elections short of free and fair. No matter
how smooth the voting process and how honest the tallying of ballots may
have been, they can not erase the negative impact that the violence and
intimidation characterized for the campaign period.
So I, in no way, want to fall short of reiterating our concerns about that,
the point we made all along about that situation, but I do want to
reiterate what I've said in the statement - and you'll see that in a
printed form following the briefing - that this is an opportunity to
congratulate the people of Zimbabwe who, in spite of the reprehensible
violence and intimidation that took place, turned out in record numbers and
are giving Zimbabwe now a chance to move beyond the polarizing politics of
the very recent past and they bravely exercised their democratic rights.
And we're calling upon all of them to work together now to move forward for
QUESTION: How are you reiterating those concerns? Are you doing it just
from the podium or are you going to actually press this with the Zimbabwean
Government in some other form?
MR. REEKER: These are issues that I'm sure will be continuously raised
by our diplomats in Harare, certainly in our discussions with Zimbabwean
diplomats here, certainly generally from this podium as your questions
arise, and our statements will reflect that. We will continue to watch,
obviously, the evolution of this. As I noted, close to two-thirds of
registered voters turned out and we commended them for that.
We're calling on all the political parties in Zimbabwe to encourage their
supporters to refrain from any violent actions against other opponents, and
we don't want to see a return of the violence and intimidation that
occurred before the election, and we don't want that to continue into the
Anything further on Zimbabwe?
QUESTION: Do you have any update on whether the Chinese Embassy has made
any effort to come into line with US law on the Xinhua purchase?
MR. REEKER: Yes, in fact, I do. The Chinese Embassy, on Monday - that
would be yesterday - provided the State Department with a copy of a
notification letter on Xinhua News Agency letterhead dated May 22nd, 2000,
and addressed to the State Department. No office was designated in the
As I've mentioned several times since this issue arose, the State
Department has no record of receiving the original of this notification
letter. Regardless, as we've also discussed, the State Department now has
60 days from the date of receipt of the letter - in this case, June 26th -
in which to review a request for purchase, which would take us to some time
around the 26th of August.
I'll note again that Xinhua did not observe this requirement in making its
decision to purchase the building. And as I said yesterday and previously,
we're currently evaluating the situation and considering options available
to us under the Foreign Missions Act.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on - I'm not going to say it was a
bill, or part of a bill, that was passed last night?
MR. REEKER: The House vote. We hope and expect this issue to be
resolved before the next fiscal year, which is when the House measure would
take effect. But, in any event, no decision has been made in the US
Government at this point regarding the appropriate handling of the property
in question. And as I said, we're addressing this with the appropriate
administrative offices within the State Department and considering all the
Anything further on the Xinhua?
QUESTION: What are the options?
MR. REEKER: Those are what are being addressed, and there is a number of
issues under the –
QUESTION: What are they, though?
MR. REEKER: I'm not in a position to outline the steps that the
Department will take. They have 60 days now to review the notification
that was made now formally yesterday and review this request to purchase
the building in question. And we will get back to you when we have
QUESTION: Is deciding that they couldn't actually buy that building one
of the options?
MR. REEKER: Well, as of right now, the Xinhua News Agency has been put
on notice by the Department through the Embassy of the People's Republic of
China that they may not occupy or use the building they have purchased
without first seeking Department approval. And we will continue to look at
this. We take the issue very seriously and we are weighing all the options
under the Foreign Missions Act. I think we provided copies of the Foreign
Missions Act to any of you that were interested, and you can review that.
We'll continue to consult with the relevant US Government agencies as well
as with the Chinese Embassy on the matter.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - ask for the review of the expedited short of the
MR. REEKER: I have no indication of that. We have 60 days in which to
Anything further on the Xinhua News Agency? Then, my friend, Lambros.
MR. REEKER: Cyprus.
QUESTION: Yes. The Turkish Cypriot leader has stated today that he does
not -- (inaudible) -- finally the proximity talks to take place in Geneva.
Since your government is having these talks diplomatically under UN
auspices, could you please respond?
MR. REEKER: My understanding is that the Secretary General of the United
Nations is going to call for those talks to resume July the 5th, and our
agreement, long-standing with the United Nations, is not to discuss
specifics of those talks. We expect them to go forward.
QUESTION: And as I told you yesterday, Washington Times and almost the
entire Greek and Turkish Cypriot press are talking about plans toward the
recognition of the pseudo-state of Rauf Denktash. Could you please comment
and clarify once again the US position on this crucial issue?
MR. REEKER: I think I missed that in your questioning yesterday, so
we'll have to look into that for you afterwards.
QUESTION: No, no, I'm saying could you please clarify the US position
vis-a-vis Cyprus –
MR. REEKER: We'll look into that for you afterwards.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. REEKER: I'll look into that for you afterwards.
QUESTION: So you don't have position –
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything for you right now.
QUESTION: No, no –
MR. REEKER: Thank you.
QUESTION: Congressman Nadler and Senator Reid introduced legislation on
the Hill on honor killings in many countries, including India and Pakistan
and Bangladesh, and they're calling on the State Department that they
should include in their Annual Report on Human Rights honor killings also
as part of human rights.
MR. REEKER: Well, I know we do address this issue to a great degree in
our annual review of human rights and would refer you, obviously, to the
Human Rights Report. I don't have anything specific on what's been
introduced on the Hill. It's something that Secretary Albright has spoken
to, saying that these killings have nothing to do with culture but with
crime, and deploring those. So we'll be happy to look into it further and
look at the legislation or the action on the Hill, but I don't have
anything specific on it.
QUESTION: They are saying that, like human rights, violations in certain
countries that aid should be upheld, the same thing that they like to say
if there is honor killings in particular countries that aid should be put
on hold until the action is taken by their countries on honor killings.
MR. REEKER: I think I told you I hadn't seen the specific legislation on
the Hill, and I don't have anything further to add for you.
QUESTION: Another one. It was the first national commission on
terrorism who said that Pakistan should be put on the list of countries
supporting terrorism. Now, about 20 congressmen wrote to the President and
to the Secretary of State that India should be put on the country list of
countries supporting terrorism.
Do you have any statement on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything. I think our annual report on
terrorism comes out every year, and we've addressed how countries end up on
the list of state sponsors of terrorism. There are criteria, which are
evaluated very closely, and we make decisions based on that factual
QUESTION: I mean, do you believe at this Department India is a country
supporting terrorism, like the certain congressmen?
MR. REEKER: I think you've seen the list, like everybody has seen, and I
don't believe India is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
QUESTION: Do you have anything new about the Armenian president's
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything further on that. No, I just believe
that the Vice President, as we discussed yesterday, was hosting a dinner.
I think there were some meetings going on today. You might check with the
White House for details on that.
QUESTION: Do you have a date of the US-North Korean missile talks?
MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any date to announce for you. I have
nothing further to what we've been saying for the last couple of weeks.
QUESTION: Do you expect the talks are going to start by the end of this
MR. REEKER: I don't have a specific date, but you'll recall that in Rome
on the 31st of May we had a preparatory round of talks, and we've been
continuing to work toward that goal of having missile talks. But I just
don't have a date to announce for you.
QUESTION: On terrorism. How do you respond to Mr. Spyropoulos, Director
of American Hellenic Media Project, his statement that the killers of
Brigadier Saunders in Athens were motivated by the recent State Department
report which presented Greece as a terrorist mecca and was failing to
control terror and, therefore, he demands an apology from your --
MR. REEKER: I think Ambassador Burns wrote a letter, with which I'm sure
you're familiar, which reflects fully and accurately the views of the US
Government on the issue of terrorism in Greece. The letter speaks very
much for itself, as I speak for the Department from here, and we've
addressed fully our concerns about terrorism there. Ambassador Burns made
very clear that the idea of a link between US statements on terrorism in
Greece and the heinous murder of Brigadier Saunders defies logic and is
unhelpful to Greece's counter-terrorism efforts.
QUESTION: But Mr. Burns is also stating that Saunders was more at the
hands of the Marxist-Leninist terror group. Do you agree?
MR. REEKER: I agree with everything Ambassador Burns wrote in his
QUESTION: And how do you know that the killers are members of the
Marxist-Leninist terror group?
MR. REEKER: I will leave that to our terrorism report to refer to issues
involving terrorism in Greece. We've been over this many, many times and I
have nothing to add to –
QUESTION: But, other words, do you rely then to the publicity circulated
by terrorist group. Are they reliable to you?
MR. REEKER: We work very closely with the Greek Government, as we've
discussed, Lambros, on these issues. We take the issue very seriously and
I'm not going to get into a discussion with you of our sources of
information and how we do this. The important thing is to work together
with the Greek Government to try to deal with the problem of terrorism in
QUESTION: One - how do you know that the murderers of the 17 November
terrorist organization are Greek and not other nationals?
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: How do you know that murderers of 17 November terror group are
Greeks and not other nationals?
MR. REEKER: As I just indicated in my previous answer, I'm not prepared
to get into a discussion with you of our study of these issues.
QUESTION: Let us briefly return to Zimbabwe. Has there been any
communication between Washington and Pretoria on the subject of how to move
forward vis-a-vis Zimbabwe?
MR. REEKER: I just don't have any specific information on that. I'm
sure we have shared our views, but I couldn't tell you exactly who has
spoken with whom or where.
QUESTION: Yugoslavia today released details of a draft anti-terrorism
law. Critics are already saying it's aimed at clamping down on the
opposition. Do you have anything?
MR. REEKER: I'm not familiar with the specific law, but nothing would
surprise me in terms of Yugoslavia's steps to try to clamp down on the
opposition. Milosevic's rather rancid regime has a strong history of
trying to stamp out democratic movement within Yugoslavia.
QUESTION: There was a wire story yesterday that quoted the Taliban, who
are reported to have said that they would cut down on the production of
poppies in their country, or in Afghanistan, if the international community
were to rebuild the infrastructure of Afghanistan - roads, bridges,
sanitation, et cetera. Are you all aware of this?
MR. REEKER: I haven't seen that wire report. I'd be happy to look into
it and see. I think our position on the Taliban vis-a-vis narcotics issues,
as well as harboring terrorists like Usama bin Laden, are well known and we
have UN Security Council resolutions which deal with the latter of that.
So I'll be happy to try to look into that. Maybe I can get a copy from you
in case I don't have it.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 P.M.)
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