State Department Noon Briefing, August 11, 2003

 

Monday August 11, 2003

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, August 11, 2003
1:33 p.m. EDT

BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

AFGHANISTAN/NATO
-- NATO Assumes Leadership of International Security Force in Afghanistan

LIBYA
-- Working-Level Meeting with U.S., UK and Libyan Counterparts in London
-- Regarding Pan Am 103 Case

LIBERIA
-- Resignation and Departure of Charles Taylor from Liberia
-- Situation on Ground/Delivery of Humanitarian Aid
-- U.S. Contact with New President/U.S. Diplomatic Efforts
-- Status of Indictments Against Charles Taylor
-- Prospects for Additional U.S. Military Personnel

NORTH KOREA
-- Coordination/Arrangements for Multilateral Talks
-- Informal Trilateral Consultations to be Held in Washington, DC
-- North Korean Comments Regarding Under Secretary Bolton
-- Reported Plans by South Korean Groups to Drop Radios in North Korea

GREECE
-- Security at Athens Airport/Reported Al-Qaida Operatives in Greece

ISRAEL/LEBANON/SYRIA
-- Hizballah Attacks on Sheba'a Farms
-- Secretary Powell's Call to Israeli Foreign Minster Shalom

MIDDLE EAST
-- Assistant Secretary Burns' Travel to Region

ISRAEL/INDIA
-- Israeli Transfer of Arrow Missiles and Phalcon Radar System to India

IRAQ
-- UN Secretary General's Request for Mandate to Establish a U.S. Assistance Mission for Iraq

IRAQ/TURKEY
-- Prospects for Turkish Contribution to Stabilization Force in Iraq

CAMBODIA
-- National Assembly Elections

PAKISTAN
-- Pakistan Complaint About US Forces Killing Two Pakistani Soldiers

TURKMENISTAN
-- Waiver of Jackson-Vanik Trade Sanctions

AFRICA
-- President's Recent Trip to Africa/HIV/AIDS Funding

DEPARTMENT
-- State Department Wins Inter-Agency Softball Tournament


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2003
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

1:33 p.m. EDT

MR. REEKER: Welcome back to the State Department, ladies and gentlemen. Following the briefing we will release a written statement to note that today NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has assumed leadership of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan. This is an important milestone for Afghanistan and also for NATO itself. So we will put that statement out after the briefing.

Why don't we just go straight to your questions, and in the absence of Mr. Schweid, Arshad?

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the U.S.-British-Libyan tri-level meeting in London today about Lockerbie?

MR. REEKER: I can't give you a lot of details on that. We did have a trilateral meeting at the working level. U.S. officials met with UK and Libyan counterparts in London on Monday, that is, today.

It is one in a series of meetings, as you are aware, that we have held over some times to discuss technical issues. That team will head back to Washington and I don't have any more details on their particular talks at this point. We will continue to wait and see how this progresses.

I think, as we discussed last week, Libya needs to abide by all of its UN obligations in terms of the Pan Am 103 case. There has been no change, certainly, in U.S. policy toward Libya, and we don't have any announcements to make at this time.

QUESTION: The British were actually relatively upbeat in what they said publicly about the meeting. They said that they were pleased by the progress at the meeting and they described it as a constructive session. Do you share that assessment?

MR. REEKER: I would expect I would, but that is the fortunate thing they have of being in London, where the meeting took place. I don't have a particular readout of the meeting. We can certainly try to get you one later this afternoon if we have got reports in from our people that were there as part of that meeting.

Certainly that's what we are working on is to have constructive meetings to see our way forward in this situation, but I don't have anything to announce or particularly characterize that meeting at this point.

Matt.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. REEKER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Phil, I don't know why it was that you were a little late. Were you waiting to come out for Charles Taylor's plane to leave the Liberian airport in Monrovia?

(Laughter.)

MR. REEKER: I knew you were all quite glued to your television screens.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about --

MR. REEKER: Let me just say we are pleased with the developments today in Liberia. Charles Taylor formally resigned in ceremonies earlier today and he has departed Liberia, as I think we all watched on the satellite television. We welcome these developments.

We are very pleased that the Economic Community of West African States, that is, the ECOWAS, with support of the United Nations, of the international community and of the United States has succeeded in putting in place a peaceful and constitutional transition of government in Monrovia. We look forward to continuing to work with ECOWAS to develop a governmental process leading to elections. We continue to work with ECOWAS at the United Nations to increase the size of the international force and to prepare for the blue-helmeted, the United Nations force, as mandated under UN Resolution 1497.

As you know, the United States has been providing liaison and logistics support through a team on the ground in Liberia. The key issue now is humanitarian aid and delivery of humanitarian aid. Ships and international organizations are in position to begin that process and we are continuing to be in very close touch and contact with the Nigerian ECOWAS forces that are there.

We are urging all parties to the conflict to continue to cooperate with the West African forces. And as I said, while in Monrovia, we have seen some fighting has seemed to subside, the humanitarian situation is very dire and that's why that remains the priority. So we are watching this very, very closely as things evolve, and we have just seen these recent developments with Taylor's departure.

QUESTION: What does Taylor's departure mean, if anything, for the United States?

MR. REEKER: Well, it is certainly something that we had called for that we wanted to see. It was an important part of the process. The resignation and departure from Liberia of Taylor is essential to restoring peace in Liberia. As I think you all know, Charles Taylor has been the catalyst for violence for some time in the region, and so his departure is something that we welcome.

And now we are working, as you know, as I said, with the West African countries, with the United Nations, with others in the international community, to set about dealing with this humanitarian situation, and also continuing this process of peaceful transition of government in Monrovia, as I mentioned, with a look toward elections down the road.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. Government had any contact with President Blah?

MR. REEKER: I know that our Embassy is active on the ground. I don't know specifically what conversations we have had with the new President Blah, who took over that office upon Taylor's resignation earlier today. But obviously, we will be continuing our contacts with his government, as we do continue contacts with other parties involved in this, including in the talks that are ongoing in Ghana that are focused on how we can move ahead in the process of transition, but also pressing all of the parties involved in the conflict to make sure that a peace agreement and a ceasefire can remain in place to allow the humanitarian assistance to address the very pressing needs of the Liberian population.

Yes, Tammy.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. have any concerns with Vice President Blah having assumed the helm there?

MR. REEKER: This is part of a transition. And as I said at the beginning, we welcome this development that the ECOWAS, that is, the West African States, with the support of the United States, of the international community, with the UN resolution that was passed on August the 1st, we have seen a peaceful, constitutional transition of government taking place in Monrovia and through the talks in Accra, and working with all of the parties involved, as I have just described.

We are going to look to continue that: continue the ceasefire, continue the transition, so that we can have elections down the road; but, most importantly, to allow the international community, the nongovernmental organizations, to take the crucial steps needed to alleviate the humanitarian situation which has become quite dire.

Liberia still?

Yeah, Adi.

QUESTION: The Special Court is saying now the onus is on the international community to put pressure on Nigeria to work out some sort of arrangement, so that Mr. Taylor does face this indictment. What is the United States' position on this indictment?

And before, the answer from the State Department officials was, "This is a matter to be worked out between Nigeria and Mr. Taylor." Has that position changed at all? Do you plan to apply any diplomatic pressure on?

MR. REEKER: It really was a matter, as the Secretary said, for Charles Taylor to work out with the Special Court in Sierra Leone. This is something he is going to have to answer to, and it's for him to address with the international court. And so we have supported the Special Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and that is where the matter resides. And now that he has left Liberia, it is going to be a matter that he will need to address with that Special Court.

Anything else on Liberia? Liberia?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. REEKER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say, or do you have a response to Mr. Taylor's remarks yesterday that the rebels were acting on behalf of the United States?

MR. REEKER: I think that is clearly not at all the case.

I'll stick with what I said earlier, that we have been working with others in the international community, with the West African states in the region, to see an end to all violence and hostility and hold to a ceasefire, and that included the process to get Charles Taylor out of the country.

Charles Taylor was certainly a catalyst to violence throughout the region for his years there on the stage, and so we welcome this development. And now we are saying to all parties involved that they need to work together through this process to continue a peaceful transition to end this violence that has plagued Liberia and created such a horrific humanitarian situation for the people of Liberia; concentrate on building new opportunities for the people of Liberia, first and foremost, by allowing the humanitarian aid and support, which we have contributed and others in the international community are contributing, allow that to get in to relieve the very urgent situation, and then continue to work towards a process that will lead to free and fair elections.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. REEKER: Anything else on Liberia? One more from our friend.

QUESTION: Will there any consideration now of additional U.S. military personnel going in?

MR. REEKER: Obviously, we keep in close touch with the Nigerians on the ground.

As you know, the President had instructed the Iwo Jima group to move closer to the Liberian Coast so he has all his options available. I don't have any announcements for you, but we do have the liaison team on the ground in Liberia keeping in close touch with the Nigerians as part of the ECOWAS force and we continue to look at the situation very closely.

Matt was going to change the subject.

QUESTION: North Korea. I understand that you are -- may be able to tell us something definite about meetings here?

MR. REEKER: North Korean meetings?

QUESTION: The meetings with the Japanese and the South Koreans, the non-TCOG TCOG meeting?

MR. REEKER: Oh, right. Okay. Not the North Korean meeting. In terms of the six-party talks, I still don't have an exact date as we continue to coordinate and make arrangements for those talks. We certainly expect that they will take place fairly soon, perhaps even later this month, but I don't have a specific date to announce at this point.

We are planning to hold some informal trilateral consultations here in Washington with Japan and South Korea August 13-14, so at the end of this week, to help prepare for the six-party talks. It is not, just to clarify, a meeting under the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group rubric, but a more informal trilateral consultation among our three countries. And so at the end of the week we'll do that. And as you know, we have been keeping in very close touch with all of the countries concerned on this.

QUESTION: Are the people who are involved in that -- are the same as what were in the -- in other words, Assistant Secretary Kelly, the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister?

MR. REEKER: I don't have an exact list of who would be participating in that. Assistant Secretary Kelly, obviously, as head of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau, would be involved. Exactly his participation or the names of others, we can look to try to get you later in the week when that gets pinned down.

Terri.

QUESTION: Have you seen the latest comments by North Korea on KCNA about John Bolton, calling him, once again, "an ugly fellow, who can't be regarded as a human being, a fascist..."

MR. REEKER: Yeah, I don't think you need to go into them.

QUESTION: Well, they do.

MR. REEKER: We generally don't comment on this kind of North Korean invective that we have all gotten used to, but this latest personal attack by North Korea on a senior State Department official is, frankly, absurd on its face and highly objectionable. And I don't want to dignify it with any further comment in that regard.

QUESTION: Well, they say that the White House defense of him, the Administration's defense of him will -- may have consequences on the six-party talks. Have they passed through the New York Channel or any other, any other methods besides just putting out these KCNA statements that there are going to be problems with setting up the talks because of this?

MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. We are going ahead. We are talking to lots of other countries, including the two we just discussed, Japan and South Korea, later this week in preparation for those six-party talks. We certainly have made clear, as the White House made clear, that Under Secretary Bolton's remarks a week or two ago were coordinated and cleared in advance and he was speaking in his official capacity. So that is where we will leave it.

QUESTION: Phil, today in Seoul, the famous or infamous German Doctor Norbert Vollersten, along with some other South Korean groups, or some South Korean groups, talked -- unveiled some plans to send by helium balloon radios across the border into North Korea, which would then, presumably, they hope, would fall into the hands of North Korean citizens and they would be able to listen to it.

One of the people who was involved in this has said that the United States is considering a similar program, or at least hoping to fund radio drops like this. Do you --

MR. REEKER: I am afraid I will have to check into that. I hadn't seen his remarks, nor do I know anything about it.

North Korea. Anything else?

Yeah.

QUESTION: You said it was preparation. But do you think that -- what kind of preparation? If you can go a little bit far -- details about that?

MR. REEKER: No.

QUESTION: And can you decide who will be the delegation of the top, each party? If you can decide, and will decide the --

MR. REEKER: I think that was Matt's question.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. REEKER: And I said I just didn't have any names to give you for those informal talks that we are going to have at the end of this week. So maybe as we get closer to them at the end of this week, we can provide you with names from the Republic of Korea side, and the Japanese side, and, of course, the U.S. side. But I don't have any further details at this point.

Yes, Lambrose.

QUESTION: On Greece.

MR. REEKER: On Greece.

QUESTION: On August 7th, the New York Times, in a front-page story, against the security of the Venizelos International Airport of Athens, Greece, revealed that "the Bush Administration has dispatched team of aviation safety investigations to determine if terrorists might try to shoot down passenger planes using shoulder (inaudible) fire missiles." That's a quotation.

The spokesman of the Greek Government, Christos Protopapas, reject the delegation, saying inter alia, "The airport has been repeatedly inspected by the international security organization and has been found to be one of the safest in the world." What is the U.S. position on this crucial issue?

MR. REEKER: My position is to refer you to the FAA, where you may be able to get information like that. I don't handle Transportation Safety Issues, so I am afraid I would have to refer you over to --

QUESTION: FAA has --

MR. REEKER: From what you read me in that story, I do not have anything to contribute to it. But you might --

QUESTION: You don't have any opinion as a U.S. Government body, the security of airports?

MR. REEKER: You can look on our travel advisories, our travel information, consular information sheets, if you would like to see if there is anything particularly listed there about Greek airports. And I do believe that the Transportation Safety Administration also maintains some sort of database about airports.

QUESTION: So (inaudible) of this particular issue?

MR. REEKER: That is what I would recommend you try.

QUESTION: One more question. In the same story, the New York Times is also saying, "Al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates have long been known to operate in Greece." And the Greek spokesman, Mr. Christos Potopapas responded, "All the information pertaining to al-Qaida activities in Greece is false and unfounded."

I am wondering what the U.S. Government position to this effect and do you have otherwise whatever information that al-Qaida of Usama bin Laden is operating also in Greece?

MR. REEKER: I will refer you to the annual report that we release called Patterns on Global Terrorism and let you see what information you can find there.

Matt.

QUESTION: Middle East. I've been led to believe that the Secretary spoke with his Israeli counterpart today and the conversation may have had something to do with the situation on the border of Lebanon? Is that true?

MR. REEKER: Yes. Secretary Powell did speak with Foreign Minister Shalom of Israel. They did discuss the situation that is taking place in terms of these calculated and provocative escalations -- pardon me -- by Hezbollah since last week, since August the 8th.

Certainly, we have made very clear to Lebanon and Syria that this is a matter of serious concern. We have been in contact with the Israelis, as you noted, and with the other parties, with Lebanon and Syria, urging them to exercise maximum restraint in order to avoid further escalation.

As I think I noted last week, we find it unfortunate that these incidents come only two weeks after the United Nations Secretary General commended both Israel and Lebanon for maintaining calm in the area. As you know, there had been no incidents in the Shebaa Farms area since January.

So it remains in the interest of both Syria and Lebanon to maintain that calm along the Israel-Lebanon border, and we continue to reiterate our calls for all sides to abide by their assurances to the United Nations and ensure that there are no further violations of the UN-demarcated withdrawal line.

Terri.

QUESTION: You said you've been in contact with Lebanon and Syria. Are there recent phone calls based just on this latest Hezbollah attack that you have made?

MR. REEKER: That would be through our standard diplomatic channels. I don't have any --

QUESTION: The Secretary hasn't made any phone calls to Syria?

MR. REEKER: No, not that I have --

QUESTION: And is there any thought that Bill Burns might make a trip to Damascus on this trip?

MR. REEKER: I don't know. As you know, Assistant Secretary Burns is currently, I think, in Cairo. Let's double-check. Yeah, he's in Cairo today. He is traveling on to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Amman for meetings in those cities, as well, looking at the comprehensive issues of Arab-Israeli peace, efforts to promote regional stability and prosperity.

He had been in Baghdad last week, late last week, where he met with Coalition Provisional Authority officials and discussed the reconstruction efforts going on there. And as you will recall, he was in Moscow earlier in the week and met with Russian officials to discuss many --

QUESTION: You don't have any consideration that he might add Damascus now --

MR. REEKER: I don't have any indication of that, no.

QUESTION: Phil, the call for maximum restraint last week, and I presume again today, applied solely to Lebanon and Syria, correct? There was no effort to call on Israel to exercise any kind of restraint in retaliating for these attacks?

MR. REEKER: I think we are calling on all countries to exercise restraint in this matter. It is important, as we said and made clear to Lebanon and Syria, that it is very unfortunate that these incidents come after a period where we had had calm in the area. And it is very important, I think, to avoid any further escalation on this. So we have made that point clear and --

QUESTION: Did that figure in the Secretary's call today to Foreign Minister Shalom?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any more specific

QUESTION: But generally?

MR. REEKER: -- details to describe, but the points that I made are the points that the Secretary shared with Foreign Minister Shalom. We think it's important that we have maximum restraint exercised by the parties and avoid any further escalation in the situation there.

QUESTION: Okay, so just to make sure. "The parties" includes Israel, as well?

MR. REEKER: Right. We have been in touch with everybody there. But Syria and Lebanon need to exercise control. Hezbollah, as you know, is a terrorist group full of people opposed to the peace process, full of people eager to disrupt efforts that are beneficial to the peoples of the region, to disrupt the roadmap, to disrupt the calm that we saw for so many months already this year. And they have got to take efforts to not allow these people to disrupt that and to continue with that before there is any further escalation.

QUESTION: Does the United States have any opinion about Israel sending jets over Beirut in a mock air raid? Is that --

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details on that, no.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other thing is it looks as though both the Israelis and the Lebanese want to bring this to the UN, to the Security Council. Do you have any comment, any feeling about that?

MR. REEKER: I am not aware that there are any consultations scheduled at the Security Council, at least not today or tomorrow. And I was not aware when I checked earlier that Israel or Lebanon had requested a Security Council meeting on those incidents.

So we will, you know, continue to urge Syrian and Lebanese leaders, to remind them that there is a new strategic dynamic in the region, and the time has come for them to end their support for Hezbollah's terrorist operations, and, at the same time, continue to urge Lebanon to deploy its armed forces to take control from Hezbollah over the southern border region of Lebanon, as required under the UN Security Council Resolution 1496.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Same region, but a slightly different topic.

QUESTION: I have something on the same topic. But what does it say about Syria's heeding its promises to Secretary Powell to shut down these offices in Damascus and to stop the attacks, basically, on his last visit there?

MR. REEKER: That is why we keep reiterating to Syria and Lebanon that they have got to do more. They have got to exercise maximum restraint. That is the message that we have repeatedly told them, whether in personal visits or through other diplomatic communications, that there is this new opportunity in the region. The people of the region want to pursue peace overwhelmingly.

And there are enemies of peace, like Hezbollah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization group that has global reach, that condones attacks against innocent civilians, and is intent on perpetuating violence and blocking our efforts to put the region back on the path towards peace and --

QUESTION: But what about the fact they're not heeding those messages?

MR. REEKER: We have got to keep reiterating that, Terri. And that is the message we will keep delivering. I think that is the focus that should be made in Damascus, in Beirut: that countries need to exercise leadership and their authority to work to prevent this kind of escalation by these kinds of groups who are opposed to peace.

QUESTION: Phil, has the United States dropped its opposition to Israel exporting the Phalcon radar system?

MR. REEKER: Let's see here. I have got to find -- it is listed under a slightly different country. On that matter, the United States has informed the governments of Israel and India that we have no objection to the Israeli transfer of the Phalcon airborne early warning system to India.

As you know, because I think we have discussed it here before, we have been discussing this potential sale with Israel for several years. And in the past, we have expressed concern that heightened tensions between India and Pakistan made the transfer inadvisable. It was really an issue of timing. But we feel that recent developments in the South Asia region have eased some of those concerns. And so that is why we have informed the two governments that we have no objections to that transfer.

QUESTION: When did you inform them of that?

MR. REEKER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Probably about a month and a half ago, actually.

MR. REEKER: Yeah, I don't have an exact date, so anything else on that subject?

QUESTION: No.

MR. REEKER: Yes.

QUESTION: A follow-up, if possible.

MR. REEKER: You got so far on the first two.

QUESTION: Excuse me. But just to clarify. Since I do not recall what your report on terror is, you refresh me, is talking about al-Qaida in connection with Greece, do you recall, in order to clarify this mess?

MR. REEKER: I am going to let you look at the report, and you can clarify based on what our report says. That is the information that I am able to share with you. We put it out on an annual basis. We put it on the Worldwide Web, so that everybody can know the information, in an unclassified setting, we can share regarding our assessment of terrorism worldwide. We have a lot of information about terrorist groups, about countries where terrorism has taken place, about countries that sponsor terrorism.

QUESTION: On my best recollection, there is no such connection and I was wondering what is the position of New York Times specifically saying that al-Qaida is operating in Greece?

MR. REEKER: Then you need to ask the New York Times. The information I can provide you with is what is in our "Patterns on Global Terrorism" report. And I will invite you to review that once more --

QUESTION: But it's a matter of foreign policy because many, many times you have position on this --

MR. REEKER: No, I don't take positions on newspaper articles in this type of forum. Our views on terrorism globally are expressed in that report, and that is the best I can do to refer you to that.

QUESTION: Do you believe that al-Qaida is operating in Greece?

MR. REEKER: I have nothing further to share with you, Mr. Lambrose, than what is in our "Patterns on Global Terrorism" report. That's the unclassified location where we can provide information on that, and I would invite you to read it one more time.

Yes, Matt.

QUESTION: There were reports over the weekend and then again today resurfacing that you -- that the U.S. is getting ready to, this week, in the next day or so, present at the UN a resolution that would expand the mandate or give a more specific UN mandate to the stabilization force in Iraq.

Is that -- are those reports correct?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think what this gets to is what the Secretary General has talked about when he welcomed the establishment of the Iraqi Governing Council, for instance, as a broadly representative Iraqi party -- partner with whom the United Nations and the international community-at-large can engage.

And he has -- that is, the Secretary General has noted that it is important for the UN to recognize this development and made a request for a mandate from the Security Council to establish also a United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, already marvelously given the acronym of UNAMI.

And as Secretary Powell said -- said to you all last week, the U.S. has been working with the Secretary General and other Council members to see how best to provide the kind of recognition for the Governing Council and how to respond to the Secretary General's requests regarding this UNAMI assistance mission for Iraq. That is usually done via resolution, but at this point we have been having informal discussions in New York and seeing how best we can respond to the Secretary General's requests.

There have been other discussions, as you know, I think Secretary Powell has mentioned on a number of occasions in terms of expanding UN mandates. As we have said, and as the Secretary General's report from last month, from July, on implementation of Resolution 1483 indicates, the UN is already playing a vital role in Iraq on a wide range of fields, and Resolution 1483 offers ample scope for countries to contribute to peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. And so we will continue to have those discussions with many countries at the UN.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Kind of Iraq and Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister said that he forwarded some queries to Washington on the possible deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq as to how many it would be and where they would be deployed. When do you expect to respond? Or can you give us anything on this?

MR. REEKER: Well, as Secretary Powell told you when you asked him a similar question on Thursday, we have had discussions with a number of countries, but including Turkey, in response to your specific question, on contributing to stabilization in Iraq in line with the UN Security Council resolution we were just talking about with Matt's question.

As the Secretary said, and he communicated to Foreign Minister Gul when he was here, we would like to see a Turkish contribution. We are very satisfied that the request is going to be given every consideration, and so it is a discussion that we need to have that will take place. And that is an ongoing discussion, obviously. The Turkish Government has indicated that it is studying the request and is -- has taken the matter under active consideration. And so we will just wait to see.

Obviously, these are decisions for the Turkish Government to make. But as we are able to discuss possibilities, options, answer their questions, hear their views that is part of the ongoing discussions on the subject.

QUESTION: But this is a new development. He said today that they are awaiting a reply from Washington.

MR. REEKER: I think I just answered the question. We have an ongoing discussion. As they have questions and present them to us, as they have thoughts and ideas, there has to be a dialogue that takes place to answer those things. So I don't have any specific timelines to offer you.

Ultimately, these are decisions for the Turkish Government to make. We have said that we would like to see a Turkish contribution, and Turkey has said that they are looking at that possibility. And we will wait and see what the final decisions are.

Joel.

QUESTION: Phil, in the news over the last several weeks, several, I guess, high-ranking families in the ex-regime have sought asylum and have been granted that in Jordan.

MR. REEKER: Which? Oh, Iraq.

QUESTION: From Iraq, right. And one of the complaints by the Aziz family is that their husband -- they haven't heard from their --

MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I don't know who the Aziz family is, Joel.

QUESTION: Former foreign minister of Iraq. Haven't heard from their family member --

MR. REEKER: Joel, I would just refer you to the Coalition Provisional Authority. I am not going to have any information for you.

QUESTION: Well, it seems to be developing into a controversy. Is -- now, they're a Christian family. Has he offered to help the United States in any way?

MR. REEKER: Joel, I would refer you to the Coalition Provisional Authority, which would have any information on that that they could.

Anything else? I do have one other announcement, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, I've got, actually, a couple questions -- three brief ones, all on Southeast Asia, and I'll go from west to east.

And first is Burma. Do you have anything to say about the new Burmese allegations that the United States is funding insurgent groups that are --

MR. REEKER: I hadn't even seen that, so I will have to look that up.

QUESTION: Then moving east, do you have any reaction to the passage of the new antiterrorism law in Thailand?

MR. REEKER: I don't think I have seen that either.

QUESTION: And then, for strike three -- (laughter) -- do you have anything on the results of the -- the formalized results of the Cambodian elections, which came out on Friday, and the situation there?

MR. REEKER: Right. In fact, as we, I think, said in a statement about two weeks ago, ten days ago, July 30th -- let me find the right -- that addresses that. Hold on a second here. We -- let me just make sure this is the most current stuff. Yeah.

We did make clear in a formal statement July 30th, which we point you to again, that the formation of a coalition government in Cambodia is a matter for the political parties to determine among themselves. This is -- should be guided by the election law and the constitutional process.

We are urging the Government of Cambodia to respect the right of the people to assemble peacefully and respect their views and grievances and air them fully.

In terms of a specific judgment on the election, we are not going to make an overall judgment until we have had a chance to review the process after it has been fully completed by all the parties and all the parties have had an opportunity to submit complaints to the National Election Committee.

And after that process is closed, the Committee has 48 hours to rule on the complaint. And then if complaints are referred to the Constitutional Council, they have 10 to 20 days to make a judgment. So we are going to continue to hope that the process proceeds peacefully, urging the Cambodian Government and all the parties to continue to maintain the prevailing air of calm and public order. And we are not going to make an assessment until the full process is complete.

Terri.

QUESTION: Same region. Pakistan says it's complained to the U.S. Government about the shooting and killing of two Pakistani soldiers in the border area by U.S. forces.

MR. REEKER: I am aware of that. I think it has been through military channels.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. REEKER: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Turkey for a minute?

MR. REEKER: Of course.

QUESTION: Would Turkey be one of those core nations around which other military units would be built, the way that Poland serves as one?

MR. REEKER: That would be a determination that the Turkish authorities would have to make in terms of that?

QUESTION: But would the U.S. like to see that?

MR. REEKER: I don't think I want to get into specifics. We have said, as the Secretary did last week again, that we would like to see a Turkish contribution, and we are satisfied that they are going to give our request every consideration, and they will need some time to analyze that and get back to us with what they may be able to provide.

Joel.

QUESTION: I realize this is rather strange, but did the State Department and Moscow have anything to do or to facilitate the marriage aboard the -- between Houston and the space station?

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any State Department connection with that.

QUESTION: On Russia, though, and its immediate environs. Very late on Friday night, the White House released a bunch of statements, which appeared to me to be having something to do with Jackson-Vanik. The former Soviet --

MR. REEKER: We planned this specifically for your Friday night.

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, it being outside of my beat, I wasn't able to find out anything. Have you guys -- has the President or the Secretary of State delivered any new recommendation or finding to Congress about countries meeting or not meeting the Jackson-Vanik requirements?

MR. REEKER: The President sent a letter to the House of Representatives and to the Senate, as you indicated, on Friday, and as required under U.S. law, to note that a number of countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan had all met the standards under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

Turkmenistan generally complied with the immigration requirements of Jackson-Vanik until recent months. And in recent months, following the November 2002, attack on the motorcade of President Niyazov, the government began to tighten control over travel outside of Turkmenistan. And while the government there insists that the measures are temporary and based solely on security concerns, the measures include a reimposition of exit visas, selective use of regulations against individuals identified by the government.

We believe that granting a waiver under Jackson-Vanik will encourage the Government of Turkmenistan to move forward expeditiously to remove the exit regime and its selective application, because they had already previously lifted the exit visa ban, there is reason to believe they will do it again. And so on that basis we submitted a waiver, the President submitted to Congress a waiver for Turkmenistan.

QUESTION: What would the penalties have been had they not been granted a waiver?

MR. REEKER: I don't know if I can tell you that, but I can provide you some paper on which you can figure it out yourself.

QUESTION: Well, that was what led to the problem in the first place is the paper coming out of the White House.

MR. REEKER: We'll give you some more paper.

QUESTION: It's notoriously unspecific about what exactly --

MR. REEKER: I don't know. The law is, I am sure, quite publicly available, but I just don't have --

QUESTION: It's also similarly unreadable.

MR. REEKER: Well, Matt, in the --

QUESTION: Inexplicable is what you might say.

MR. REEKER: Maybe there is work for you at other government agencies, but we can assist you in finding the details on that.

Now, if there are no other questions, I did have -- Joel has a question. Go ahead, Joel.

QUESTION: Over the week, the Government of South Africa has changed its regard to HIV/AIDS and is now saying that they will actually help and be more forceful and proactive in solving this epidemic there. Has that had any impact on the Bush Administration's thoughts of working more with the pharmaceutical companies and --

MR. REEKER: I would have to see if there were any particular developments tied to that. Certainly, we have made very clear -- President Bush did this on his recent trip to Africa, we have done it here, Secretary Powell has been a strong advocate of our increased funding for HIV/AIDS work overseas. As you know, we are in the process of establishing a new office and drastically increased funding for these programs, and so it is a welcome thing when other governments are heeding that call and getting serious about what is a serious problem, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where this is a problem that affects not only people's lives and as a humanitarian catastrophe, but has serious implications for economic and security situations in those countries.

So I will look and see if there is any particular in the South African case that has changed because of some of the reports that I saw over the weekend as well, but generally we welcome the increased involvement and have been encouraging governments throughout the region to really focus on this core problem.

QUESTION: President Bush on Friday had a lot of nice things to say about Germany -- first time in quite a while. The Germans were pretty pleased about it. Do we see the President's comments as a signal that he is ready to start talking to the Germans again and that --

MR. REEKER: I think your question is more directed to the White House, where they can speak to you about the President or any signals he was sending. We all saw his comments. They largely speak for himself, so I think I will just leave it at that. But certainly, the President did make those remarks, indeed.

I did have one last announcement that I wanted to make, and Matt's analogy to three strikes was almost appropriate. I did want to just point out that this past Saturday, August the 9th, the State Department softball team won the interagency softball tournament to become the 2003 league champions, entering the playoffs with a season record of nine wins and five losses.

The State Department was seated eighth in a field of 11 games. Overcoming a challenging schedule, State won four games on Saturday, beating teams from the Commerce Department; from the number two seated Justice Department; the number five seated Labor Department; and in the final game, the number three seated Environmental Protection Agency to take the championship.

And so we are very proud of our ball players.

QUESTION: Yeah. But, Phil, the real question, how did you do against the Pentagon? Did you win any games against them?

MR. REEKER: I have a note here if asked, (laughter) "The Defense Department's team did not make the playoffs." Sorry, guys. So congratulations to our softball players and to all of the softballers here in the Washington area, but the State Department has done us proud. Thanks.

HOME

Copyright 2014  Q Madp  PO Box 86888  Portland OR 97286-0888  www.OurWarHeroes.org