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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #66, 00-06-27

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


524

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Briefer: Philip Reeker

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1	Adoption of OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Worldwide Caution Released, Onset of Summer Travel Season, Terrorist Threat CUBA 2-3 Congress Votes to Ease Sanctions; Rep. Nethercutt Amendment

President Clinton's April 1999 Easing of Food & Medicine Export, Sanctions Policy IRAQ 3 Asst Secretary of State Pickering's Meeting with Iraqi National Congress (INC) Officials ZIMBABWE 3-5 U S Statement on Elections to be Released; Congratulate People of Zimbabwe 10-11 Despite Harassment, Large Turnout, Peaceful, Well Organized; Some Irregularities

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 CHINA 5-7 Xinhua News Agency Property Purchase; Notification Letter from PRC Embassy U S has 60 Days to Review Request, Consider Options Under Foreign Missions Act Congress: House Vote on Xinhua Property Purchase Issue CYPRUS 7 Denktash re: Proximity Talks in Geneva: Talks Resume July 5 Under UN Auspices

U S Position on Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Turkish Cyprus SOUTH ASIA 7-8 Human Rights; Congressional Proposal re: "Honor Killings"; Link to Aid PAKISTAN / INDIA 8 Terrorism List; Congressional Recommendation Re: Inclusion of India ARMENIA 8 VP Meetings DPRK 8 No Date Set for US-DPRK Missile Talks GREECE 9-10 Claim that Terrorists Motivated by US Criticism of Greece; Amb. Burns Letter; Counter-terrorism Cooperation with Greek Government 17 November Terrorist Organization, Nationality of Members FRY 10 Draft Anti-terrorism Law, Clamp Down on Opposition AFGHANISTAN 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

DPB #66

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 affected.

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 caution.

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 season?

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 generally.

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 election?

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 forward.

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 intimidation?

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 forward.

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 Zimbabwe's future.

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 post-election period.

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 address.

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 options.

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 60-day period?

MR. REEKER: I have no indication of that. We have 60 days in which to review that.

Anything further on the Xinhua News Agency? Then, my friend, Lambros.

QUESTION: Cyprus.

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.

Any comments?

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 criteria.

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 visit?

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 month?

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 -- (inaudible)?

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 letter.

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 Greece.

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.)

This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.


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