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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #81, 00-08-14

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <>


U.S. Department of State Press Briefing

Monday, August 14, 2000 Briefer: PHILIP T. REEKER

1	US Contributions to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
1-2	Usama Bin Laden / Presence in Afghanistan/Terrorist Training Camps
2,13-14	Nuclear Submarine on Bottom of Barents Sea / Requests for Assistance
13	Status of Edmond Pope Case /Consular Access
2-3	Kim Jong Il re Missile Program Offer Made to President Putin / Next
	 Round of Missile Talks 
6-7	Prospect for Removal from Terrorism List / Relations with US /
	 Sheehan Meetings / Outcome 
3	Operations to Arrest Radovan Karadzic
3-4	Release of Declassified Documents on Pinochet Era in Chile
4,5	Dennis Ross Whereabouts / Prospects for Official Travel in the
5,12	Travel of Assistant Secretary Walker in the Region
6	Possible Travel by the Secretary to the Region
12-13	Status of Israeli-Palestinian Track / Permanent Status Issues
7	President-elect Fox's Interview / Upcoming Visit to Washington
7-11	Transit Stop in US by Taiwan President Chen / Meeting with
12	Status of Peace Talks


DPB #81

MONDAY, AUGUST 14, 2000, 1:45 P.M.


MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, everybody. Apologies for my slight delay. Let's see here, the only statement I have today -- and we'll post it after the briefing -- involves US contributions of an additional $42.9 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We'll post that. That brings out total contributions to date for refugees this year to $214 million.

QUESTION: I think they were distributed last week, but anyhow -

MR. REEKER: A separate one, Barry.

QUESTION: There's another one?


QUESTION: God, we're so generous. Here is probably an old report, but it keeps coming up. Do you know anything about restrictions placed on Usama bin Laden by the Afghan -- by the Taliban leadership -- communications, recruiting, et cetera? I think this report has been circulating for a few weeks.

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything new on that, Barry, in particular. As you know, we have discussed for a long time the difficulties with Usama bin Laden and his presence in Afghanistan. What I can say is that the United Nations Security Council Resolutions call for Mr. bin Laden to be turned over to a country where he can be brought to justice under those UN resolutions, and that has not occurred. So we have repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Taliban about the presence of Usama bin Laden there, also about the presence of training camps for militants and terrorists in Afghanistan and the need for them to be shut down. We've made our position known quite publicly on that, in addition to discussions with the Taliban.

Bin Laden and other camps, the presence of others there, are a threat to the region and beyond, and they must be shut down. You'll recall earlier this month we had a working group meeting with our Russian counterparts on Afghanistan here in Washington and issued a statement at that time discussing our renewed condemnation with Russia of the terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and reiterating the determination we have with Russia to cooperate in countering it and calling for full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions and support of further measures against the Taliban.

QUESTION: Do you think they're getting the message; they've begun to act?

MR. REEKER: Well, they should get the message because we reiterate it regularly through all of our contacts, not just us but the entire UN Security Council, including the Russians, as I indicated, and other members of the United Nations. So these are steps that need to be taken. We're patient. We're watching.

QUESTION: Have the Russians asked for, has the US offered any help in the matter of the submarine that seems to have sunk?

MR. REEKER: We have been following closely the situation there and awaiting confirmation of some details, which I see are coming minute by minute. I'm not aware of any particular conversations we've had at this point or requests for assistance. You might want to try the Pentagon since this is a continuously evolving situation involving that Russian submarine. We're still trying to get all the facts, and I would think the Pentagon would be first place to do that. But we'll watch that throughout the afternoon and can certainly let you know if there are any developments where we might be involved.

QUESTION: Phil, do you have anything on the fact that it's coming out now that Kim Jong-il was only kidding when he said to Putin that -- made that offer to Putin? I know you're familiar with it. Barry and I on the plane have always said that Kim was a big kidder.

QUESTION: And polite.

QUESTION: And he's very polite. He's a well-brought-up young man. And I wonder if you have anything on that.

MR. REEKER: Well, I've seen a number of press reports. We were looking at those yesterday and this morning -- the press reports in question that suggest some of the things you're indicating.

As we've said many times before from here, we strongly encourage any concrete action that North Korea may take to achieve progress in addressing the concerns that the international community has, both about the North Korean missile export activities and about its indigenous missile program.

We agreed during bilateral missile talks, which you'll recall were held in Kuala Lumpur in July, to hold another round of missile talks as soon as possible to discuss those issues further, and we are seeking to arrange an early date. The next round of missile talks will certainly provide an opportunity, I think, for North Korea to explain very clearly whether it's interested in exploring the sort of arrangements that Putin had described earlier.

I think, as the Secretary said during her press conference after her meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek, that she wasn't able to glean further details of the proposal from the foreign minister. So we'd be very interested in seeing North Korea eliminate its ballistic missile and space launch vehicle programs and exports, in return for the ability to launch satellites from other countries using launch services from existing launch providers under the strict technology safeguards.

But again, I don't have any clarification, and we'll continue to follow up on that when we have our next round of missile talks.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about an issue reported today in the London Daily Telegraph which quotes British defense forces as saying the French military have thwarted efforts to arrest Karadzic? It also quotes former Hague chief prosecutor Louise Arbour as calling the French zone a "safe haven for war crimes."

MR. REEKER: I have seen a couple of those reports. All I can say is that NATO forces -- which would be SFOR -- in Bosnia should detain all indicted war criminals that they encounter in the course of their duties. That's been our position and our policy, and that has not changed. And we want to see those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia brought to justice. All indictees, and that would include Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and of course, Slobodan Milosevic, belong in The Hague, and that's where we want to see them.

I think Richard went over last week some of the numbers in terms of 94 persons who have been publicly indicted, 49 who have been brought to The Hague. I believe there are 19 others where indictments have been dropped or the individual has passed away. So we continue to pursue our policy that those responsible for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia should be brought to justice; that NATO forces, as they have, should detain indicted war criminals when they encounter them in the course of their duties.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) that the French have purposely tried to derail any plans, any operations?

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything specific on that. I think our policy remains very much the same, and we coordinate closely in SFOR on that.

QUESTION: Last week in The Washington Post there was a story saying that the CIA doesn't want to share with the public documents about Pinochet's era and the State Department has to release on September 14th some documents. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. REEKER: I think we may have discussed that last week; at least, if not in a briefing, some people called and we talked about that. As you know, the Administration has made a special effort over the last year to disclose and declassify and release documents on human rights abuses pertaining to the Pinochet era in Chile. This is a NSC-directed declassification project, which has involved the State Department, the CIA, the Defense Department, the FBI, the Justice Department and the National Archives in truly a massive undertaking, searching pertinent records. And that search continues. We hope -- expect -- the third tranche of documents to be released as scheduled in September. Any questions pertaining to a specific agency and their role played in this big project should be directed, I think, to that specific agency. But we expect to meet the date.

As you'll recall, originally we had hoped to release the third tranche earlier this summer, but the burgeoning size of this release -- we expect some 11,000 documents -- has forced a delay in the completion of the project. And we expect that, again, to be in September. A lot of the documents related to the Letelier case will be released at that time. There are other documents that may be withheld due to law enforcement sensitivities in connection with ongoing investigations regarding that assassination, but you may want to also talk to the Department of Justice for specifics on that.

QUESTION: Israeli radio is reporting that Dennis Ross is going to the Middle East to talk to both sides, to the Israelis and to the Palestinians. You all have said that he is going there on vacation. Can you clarify for us exactly what this trip of his entails?

MR. REEKER: Well, I don't get Israeli radio in the office but, as we have said before and as you indicated, Dennis Ross plans to travel to the region later this week for vacation. Not surprisingly, he will have some meetings while he's there, but I have no other details on that or specifics of his travel. The major purpose of his trip is to go on vacation. While he is out there he may have some meetings. I just don't have details for you.

QUESTION: On which part?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details for you, Barry. We've seen various reports coming out of there. I think Dennis is prepared to have meetings that may be useful since he'll be in the region, but the main purpose of his travel is to go on vacation.

QUESTION: And are you playing -- I mean, we're all familiar with how Ross trips are played down. And no reflection on you; this is the way it's been going on for 12 years or so.

MR. REEKER: Thanks, Barry.

QUESTION: Ross goes on vacation, and so if he doesn't get any place in his meetings he was on vacation; if he got someplace, hip, hip, hooray. I'm tempted to ask again if he's traveling on government expense or he's traveling on his own, because if he's traveling at government expense then he's on an official trip and we can stop horsing around. I don't want to get into his personal security, but we don't want to do anything that would bring that to anyone's attention.

MR. REEKER: I just don't think there's anything more for you, Barry, and we'll see as his travel evolves and he goes on vacation. If he has meetings, we'll see what we can get as far as with whom, when, where.

QUESTION: Meanwhile, someplace on the radio -- and I apologize -- I don't know, might have been NPR, might have been somebody reading an AP or Reuters story - there was Ambassador Walker or Secretary Walker, who as we all know is traveling the region - I don't think he's on vacation - was said to have said that he expects a breakthrough soon in this effort to resume negotiations. Whether he was quoted correctly or not - perhaps you know - but more to the point, is a breakthrough in getting going again imminent, do you suppose?

MR. REEKER: Well, I have seen a variety of reports coming out of the Middle East. What I can tell you, Barry, and everyone else, is that Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Walker is still traveling in the region to brief Arab countries on the developments that took place at Camp David. Today he is in Turkey. He is going to continue to North Africa later this week, and we expect him back in Washington about the end of the week. I don't have an exact itinerary. He was in Doha yesterday and has reported back that he has found seriousness and commitment by all the countries to the peace process and a desire to move the process forward.

Obviously, Secretary Albright will look forward to his report when he returns and when she's back from South America, and discussions on how best to move the process forward. But I don't have anything else to give you in terms of any specific next steps.

QUESTION: So nobody here possibly heard the report or checked to see if Walker said anything like that, or is that the assessment, if not Walker's - -

MR. REEKER: I think what I just gave you was as much as I have on Ambassador Walker's travel. I don't have anything on specific readouts. I don't think he's been providing readouts or predictions on next steps. He's taking the trip that we discussed at the behest of the President and the Secretary of State, and he will finish that trip around the end of the week and come back and report to the Secretary and then we'll be able to discuss where we'll go from there.

QUESTION: Can I get a clarification on the same subject? Did I understand that you were taking Barry's question about whether Dennis Ross was traveling at government expense?

MR. REEKER: I thought we had taken Barry's question, or someone's question last week to that effect.

QUESTION: But nobody has --

QUESTION: You took the question but haven't said what he --

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. REEKER: So we'll have to continue to take that question until we can clarify that. Obviously a lot of it will depend on what decisions are made.

QUESTION: There were reports in the region, too, that the Secretary herself will be traveling in the Mideast after Dennis. Is there any word on that? And if so, is it official --

MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of any plans for the Secretary to travel at this point.

QUESTION: Could you comment on the report out of North Korea that Kim Jong-il is prepared to resume ties with the US tomorrow if the US removes North Korea from the terrorism list?

MR. REEKER: We saw those reports. I think as everyone is aware, we've been talking about North Korea for some time now; in accordance with Dr. Perry's recommendations in the review he did of US policy toward North Korea, we are prepared to improve relations with Pyongyang as North Korea addresses the areas of concern that we have had. The Perry report and what we've called the Perry process focuses on our key nuclear and missile concerns, but also the state support of terrorism is another important area where we've had concerns about North Korea for a long time.

Last week, as you'll recall, Ambassador Michael Sheehan visited Pyongyang and held productive talks with Vice Foreign Minister Kim. This was the second round of terrorism talks that have been held, the first round having been in March in New York. Ambassador Sheehan explained to the North Koreans the steps that North Korea needs to take to cease support for terrorism and thereby be removed from our list of state sponsors of terrorism.

As you'll recall - and from our report on terrorism, which is issued annually - under US law, a country may be removed from the list only after the President certifies to Congress that that country's government has not been supporting terrorism and has given assurances that it will not support terrorism in the future.

So to that end, we expect to hold further bilateral talks on the subject of terrorism with North Korea, and we hope they will be prepared to take the necessary steps to allow us to then remove them from the list.

QUESTION: Can you just expand on that a little bit? Expect to. Did Sheehan depart with an agreement to hold another --

MR. REEKER: We do expect to have another round of talks, but I don't have a specific date for you.

QUESTION: Can you say whether there was any progress made at all in those talks?

MR. REEKER: They were reported to me as being good talks, where Ambassador Sheehan was able to explain again the steps that we see that North Korea needs to take to be considered for removal from the list. He described them as productive talks, but indicated that we would continue those talks in another round -- date to be determined, obviously.

I'm not in a position to sort of get into a defining step by step, or discussing the details of that. We have indicated in the past, and it's in our terrorism report, that one of the steps, for instance, would be ceasing the safe haven that's been provided for Japanese Red Army faction hijackers from the 1970s. That's an example of a step that the North Koreans would need to take, and that's listed in our annual report on terrorism.

Anything more on this?

QUESTION: On Mexico. President-elect of Mexico gave an interview to an American journalist this weekend.

MR. REEKER: Were you there?

QUESTION: No. I said American. He talked about opening the border to the Mexican immigrants as one of the tools to solve the violence on the border. My question is, the State Department supports the idea to have a new amnesty program in the US trying to solve these violence problems on the border, and also in the extradition issue, he seems more open to concede the extradition of Mexicans to the request of the United States. What's your opinion?

MR. REEKER: Well, obviously, it's a little premature to comment on any developments there. We've noted with interest the reports of President- elect Fox's discussions. We're looking forward very much to his visit to Washington, I believe the 24th of this month, where he'll meet with President Clinton at the White House, and they'll have an opportunity to discuss this.

As we've said from here, we are extremely excited for Mexico. This is a tremendous opportunity. We look forward very much to working with President- elect Fox and his administration. Secretary Albright this past weekend had good meetings with her Mexican counterpart, as well as Canadian counterpart, when they held their annual trilateral meeting in Santa Fe.

In terms of the specifics, again I'm not going to get into the specifics until we've had more of a chance to discuss these with President-elect Fox, and until his administration can take over. I think we've talked about before the fact that an open border can only be achieved with a certain economic symmetry that we need to work on, and President-elect Fox also indicated the need to reduce the flow of illegal migration.

So we look forward again to hearing the details of the proposals that President-elect Fox will have. Again, as I said, he'll be here in Washington on the 24th, and we will follow this with great interest.

QUESTION: President Chen Shui-bien of Taiwan was in LA transiting this weekend, and canceled plans to meet with several members of Congress, reportedly under pressure from this Department, which said that if he did so, he might not be allowed to transit the US again. Can you comment on those reports?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think as we discussed quite fully last week, Mr. Chen acted in accordance with our shared understanding of the private nature of his transit. They had requested a transit of the United States for travel purposes, and we agreed to that, considering his safety, comfort and convenience. This is a standard practice. We granted this transit stop through the United States for President Chen on his way to Latin America, and I believe to Africa.

We noted, on that basis, that our expectation was that Mr. Chen's activities while in the United States would be private and consistent with the purposes of transit, as has always been standard with transits in the past. We certainly welcomed the decision by Taiwan to act consistent with the purposes of transit.

I think we also discussed last week the fact that members of Congress travel to Taiwan regularly, and have an opportunity to meet with the president and other Taiwan officials when they are there. We welcome that. We often facilitate such contacts. I think many members of Congress understand and endorse the US government's approach on transits of Taiwan senior officials, and that his activities that are private and consistent with our longstanding approach to transit was what transpired on this visit as well.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) specifically accused the Administration or described the Administration as applying pressure. Did the Administration apply pressure on the president - the democratically elected president of Taiwan not to meet with members of Congress who have some authority under the Constitution to play a role in foreign policy?

MR. REEKER: I think again, Barry, I just indicated Mr. Chen acted in accordance with our shared understanding of what is a private transit.

QUESTION: How much (inaudible) did it take for him to come to that understanding?

MR. REEKER: You'd have to discuss that with him. We granted, at their request, a transit stop through the United States. That's what President Chen requested. That's what we granted. It's a standard procedure, a standard process. And we noted to Taiwan, as we always do, our expectation that the activities while in the United States would be in line with a transit, would be consistent with that, would be private in nature. And that's exactly what occurred.

QUESTION: One of the Congressmen says that he did meet President Chen last night.

MR. REEKER: I do understand that Congressman Rohrabacher did go uninvited to President Chen's hotel in Long Beach and visited briefly with Mr. Chen. At the time, Mr. Chen clearly stated that his limited time in Los Angeles precluded the possibility of meeting with members of Congress. I believe he greeted Mr. Rohrabacher briefly and returned to the private dinner that he was having. And as I said, many members of Congress understand and endorse our position, our longstanding approach on transits of Taiwan's senior leaders, that being that these transits are private in nature. And that's the purpose of the transit as requested.

QUESTION: But that didn't upset the Administration at all that Chen had violated any sort of agreement by meeting --

MR. REEKER: I think, as I just said again, that Mr. Chen himself clearly stated that his limited time in Los Angeles precluded the possibility of meeting with members of Congress. We granted a transit stop, which is what was requested, in accordance with standard practice. We noted to Taiwan our expectation that the activities would be in accordance with that standard practice. And we welcome very much the decision by Taiwan to act consistently with the purposes of the transit. And I believe he has already left the country to proceed with this planned trip.

QUESTION: Following up on the pressure question, or the understanding as you called it, Richard said last week that the transit is granted for the safety and convenience of the traveler. I think that's a phrase you also just used now.

MR. REEKER: Safety, comfort and convenience of the traveler, yes.

QUESTION: Sorry, I left out comfort. If the US is saying meet with these people and you won't be allowed to transit here again, that sort of belies the concern at least for his safety.

MR. REEKER: I don't recall having said that.

QUESTION: No, that was my --

MR. REEKER: And I don't recall having indicated that anybody said that. What I described for you was a request that was made for a transit. This is a fairly standard thing. We've granted permission for transits over a period of years to Taiwan officials. Again, transit for safety, comfort and convenience in terms of travel, in this case en route to Latin America and Africa. On the basis of that, we note to Taiwan our expectation that activities are consistent with the purposes of a transit; i.e., private in nature. And so any future requests for transit will be treated in the same way and the expectations of the activities involved in that transit will be the same.

QUESTION: Do you consider although he did meet Rohrabacher that, in fact, he did act then in conformity with the practices you're talking about?

MR. REEKER: Well, as I indicated, my understanding is that Congressman Rohrabacher went uninvited to President Chen's hotel and briefly visited with him. Mr. Chen himself had stated that his limited time precluded the possibility of meeting with members of Congress, and after his briefing meeting with Congressman Rohrabacher he returned to the private dinner that he was involved in.

QUESTION: So that's not -- what you're saying is that's not a problem?

MR. REEKER: I believe he's already moved on and is continuing with his travels.

QUESTION: But it's not a problem for the Administration -- this meeting?

MR. REEKER: What I indicated to you was that we were very pleased that President Chen and Taiwan had decided to act consistent with the purposes of the transit, and I think that's exactly what President Chen did.

QUESTION: Any new statement or expression from China since last week on the subject?

MR. REEKER: Not that I'm aware of. I'd be happy to check into that, but you'd probably know before I would.

QUESTION: No, no. I just wondered if they told the US Government thanks for your efforts or something.

MR. REEKER: Thank you, Barry, for your editorial comment.

QUESTION: No, no. I mean --

MR. REEKER: Any more questions?

QUESTION: No, no, let's clarify. I'm trying to describe in a short way, we know how they feel about him trans-shipping. The thing that happened since was --

MR. REEKER: Trans-shipping?

QUESTION: Stopping in LA on his way for his comfort, convenience. But in the meantime, this meeting with members of Congress had been sidetracked, so I'm asking you in a shorthand way -- and maybe it wasn't clear, and I apologize if it wasn't -- whether the Chinese have weighed in with any expression of sentiment regarding the sidetracking or the shelving of this meeting. That's what I meant.

MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of any communications from the Chinese regarding the transit of Mr. Chen.

QUESTION: One quick one on this again. Was this, then, this whole incident over the meetings and the cancellation, perhaps the case of a "newbie" not understanding what goes on with the transit from your perspective, this guy being new and this is his first time transiting the US and he's thinking, well, I'll take a minute or two --

MR. REEKER: I'm guess I'm missing the gist of your whole point. We had a request for a transit. We reviewed, as we always do, the basis of what a transit is.

QUESTION: But was this a case of him --

MR. REEKER: And we welcomed the decision by Taiwan to act consistently in accordance with the purposes of a transit. And that is exactly what they did. So I don't see the premise of your question.

QUESTION: Well, just because they hadn't done it before, or he hadn't done it before. I mean, obviously Taiwan leaders have done it before, but this one hadn't, so maybe he thought --

MR. REEKER: This would in fact - I believe that is a fact that --

QUESTION: But, I mean, is this a situation maybe he just, from your point of view, didn't understand that he's allowed to basically, as long as he sticks to the hotel and doesn't see anybody, he's --

MR. REEKER: I think they did exactly -- they acted exactly in accordance with a transit, and I think it's you that were speculating on what might occur, and this was simply our position. This is a transit and this is what we expect to happen.

QUESTION: Phil, the same restrictions, did they apply when he had this visit of Lee Teng-hui, and obviously that was a little different situation because there wasn't just transit. But were they the same restrictions placed on the private nature of the visit, which of course was violated in that case?

MR. REEKER: You'll have to refresh my -

QUESTION: When he came to give a speech. I don't recall the details.

MR. REEKER: In 1995, I believe.

QUESTION: And it created a furor because --

MR. REEKER: I'm sure we covered it at the time there. I think that was not a transit, and I just don't have anything more to add on what happened in 1995.

QUESTION: Was it the same type of restrictions in terms of meetings with Congressmen and the like?

MR. REEKER: That was not a transit. That was a different situation. If there's a different situation in the future, I'll be happy to outline for you what that would be.

QUESTION: Could we move to the Middle East just for a minute?

MR. REEKER: Of course.

QUESTION: Please. It's timely, I suppose, because we're past the 13th now so you have less than a month to the September 13th deadline. And without getting into various reports which have familiar terminology like windows opening and closing, and gaps narrowing and widening, it makes you wonder not too hard who the senior official is. But there is some reference in some of these reports to September 13th can be a hard shot, maybe the end of September is the critical marker, because the set the deadline themselves. But how does the Administration now feel about September 13th? It was never written in stone but --

MR. REEKER: Well, exactly. I think if you'll recall - and, Barry, you know this as well as anybody -- in the September 4th, 1999 Sharm el-Sheik Agreement the parties agreed to conclude a comprehensive agreement on permanent status issues by September 13th, 2000. Now, clearly the Camp David summit produced significant progress on these issues, in fact addressing in many ways for the first time some of these difficult permanent status issues. And the Israelis and Palestinians have resumed their direct discussions on this.

The issue is not one of deadlines or dates. The focus really has to be on serious discussion of substance leading to decisions that can produce an agreement. So without using -- with using some of the phrases that you didn't want to repeat, there is a window of opportunity that won't remain open for long, obviously. I think as the President said and Secretary Albright has said many times, if the parties are ready to make decisions, we are ready to support the process in any way possible.

QUESTION: After the UN Security Council extension of the UN peace forces in Cyprus and the Turkish side takes some precautions, and they stopped cooperation with the UN forces. Do you have any reaction on this subject?

MR. REEKER: I don't. I'm not aware of developments in that situation.

QUESTION: Also, that Richard Holbrooke said in some Greek newspapers, he said that he will personally be involved the next step, the next phase of the Cyprus invited to the talks in New York.

MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of that, either. I can refer you to Ambassador Holbrooke's office. As you know, we're very supportive of the UN talks regarding Cyprus, but we've also agreed with the UN and with the parties that we won't discuss those talks while they go ahead, and I believe they're scheduled to resume early in September.

QUESTION: Is Mr. Walker talking about water in Turkey, which is an issue? It could be consistent with briefing.

MR. REEKER: I don't have a rundown, Barry, on issues specifically. He was briefing countries in the region on the Camp David talks.

QUESTION: But Turkey has special significance.

MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics on those talks.

QUESTION: Do the Russians remain intransigent in the matter of Captain Pope, whose health we understand is deteriorating quickly? I'm sure that the State Department is doing everything diplomatically possible, but I mean what in the last analysis can be done to get the Russians to allow this American citizen to see an Embassy doctor or receive other care he needs?

MR. REEKER: As we discussed at length last week, the Russians do have the responsibility for protecting the welfare of American citizens who are detained in Russia. I don't have any positive news to add to what we discussed Thursday and Friday. As you know, we had our ninth consular visit with Mr. Pope on August 10th, which was Thursday, and we remain extremely concerned about his health, which appeared in that visit to have deteriorated sharply during his incarceration since April.

We have protested, and continue to do so, to the Russian Government at very high levels over their refusal to allow our Embassy physician to see Mr. Pope, and we continue to press them for access for our doctor, but also for an independent specialist to have access to Mr. Pope. We've also requested copies of the Russian medical records on Mr. Pope, so that we could review those in terms of learning more about his condition.

So again, we've made very clear to them that they bear responsibility for that. This refusal, which continues -- at least until I came out here -- the refusal to allow the access calls into question our ability to protect the health and welfare of American citizens traveling or living in Russia. It's our right to act to ensure that they are protected by the Russians, as they're obliged to do. So we're examining implications of that, and what that may mean.

QUESTION: I think that we're getting to what I wanted to ask, and that is, over and above protests at the highest level, can the United States do something that would put pressure? Now, from what I understand, I'm inferring from the last thing that you said, that perhaps Americans could be discouraged from traveling there, passport restrictions, that sort of thing?

MR. REEKER: Well, I'm not going to speculate on what steps might be taken. I think you can obviously do that independently in your reporting. But as I've said, this is a very serious matter because Russia, or any country, has the responsibility for protecting the welfare of an American citizen who may be incarcerated there.

And we need to take action to ensure that that protection comes about. And this refusal so far calls into question the ability to actually do that. We will need to examine the implications of that, and what that does mean for Americans traveling or living in Russia. We'll continue to do that, as well as continue to make our strong protest to the Russian government.

QUESTION: Has Russia officially notified the US about the circumstances of this submarine, what happened, was it an accident, whatever?

MR. REEKER: Again, I think the Pentagon is in a better position to give you any details on that. I'm trying to check -- as it is an evolving situation -- I tried to check before I came out. We were very much aware of their reports of this Russian nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Barents Sea and understand that, based on the reports, that the submarine is not carrying any nuclear weapons.

I believe a Russian navy spokesman was quoted as saying that no radiation leaks were reported, and the nuclear propulsion plant was shut down on that submarine, that also reportedly has over 100 men on board. I believe just looking at the news reports that rescue operations are underway, but I don't have a lot of further details. Again, I think it's something the Pentagon would be able to address more fully.

QUESTION: But there's been no country-to-country communication on --

MR. REEKER: I wasn't aware of anything specifically this morning, other than the reports that we'd seen that were public in terms of this.

Other issues? Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 P.M.)

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