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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #115, 99-09-01

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

Daily Press Briefing


Wednesday, Septemer 1, 1999

Briefer: Philip T. Reeker

1,3	Awaiting a response from our embassy on crash of plane / The
	 airplane has been located. 
3	The manifest stated there were 10 American tourists aboard.
4,5	Telephone number for family members to call will be given out.

GEORGIA 1 The US does not believe there is a link between the Wille and Makharadze cases. 1 The US has been in constant contact with the government of Georgia on Wille case. 1 The investigation is ongoing.

INDONESIA (EAST TIMOR) 5 Hundred of thousands of East Timorese defied months of intimidation. 6 Nature of the links between the military and militias queried.

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS 7,8 Secretary and party are traveling to area. 7,8 Wye implementation talks are ongoing.

CUBA 7 Press reports say the government intends to ban return of those who departed illegally. 8 US is worried about the disproportionate rise in alien smuggling.

IRAQ 9,14 Shipping of oil to Turkey / UN sanctions committee has agreed in principle. 13,14 Visit of congressional staff delegation

TURKEY 9 US earthquake aid has now surpassed $10 million.

GREECE/TURKEY 9 Aegean issue talks: No USG involvement 14 Greek government will lift its veto on EU financial aid to Ankara.

RUSSIA 10 Money laundering investigation is ongoing

KOSOVO 12 September 19 is deadline for KLA disarmament

ALBANIA 12 Amb. Holbrooke's stop was canceled due to aircraft problems.

GERMANY 1 2September 1 was deadline for concluding forced labor talks.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO 13 Signing of Peace Agreement hailed.


DPB #115



MR. REEKER: I apologize for being late. We were waiting to see if we got reports in from our embassies in Africa that are trying to get information on the crash of the small plane, and those reports haven't come in, so we may get something during the briefing. I'll try to get you that. I know some people were interested in that but they just haven't gotten back to us yet.

I do have a couple of statements that I will begin with. First of all, further to what we discussed yesterday, the Department of State has taken note of a number of press reports regarding the case of Loren Wille and would like to clarify several facts about his situation. Mr. Wille is a United States citizen working for Catholic Relief Services under contract to the US Agency for International Development, who was involved in a tragic automobile accident in Georgia on July 21, in which a Georgian citizen was killed. He is currently out on bail, but under investigation on criminal charges stemming from that accident.

The investigation, designed to clarify Mr. Wille's role in this accident, will determine whether any charges will actually be filed. The US Embassy in Tblisi has been actively engaged in assisting Mr. Wille since his accident, working to make certain that he receives medical treatment, and has access to legal counsel. The US ambassador in Georgia, Kenneth Yalowitz, has discussed Mr. Wille's situation with officials at every level of the Georgian Government, including with President Shevardnaze. All are committed to making certain that Mr. Wille receives equal treatment under the law.

Should Mr. Wille face trial in Georgia - that is, should charges be filed and a trial go forward - the embassy will work to assure that Mr. Wille receives fair treatment under the laws of that country. There is no link between the case of Mr. Wille and that of Mr. Gueorgui Makharadze, the former Georgian diplomat who is currently serving a sentence in a US federal prison. The Justice Department is considering the Georgian Government's request that Mr. Makharadze be permitted to serve sentence in his home country. Whatever the Justice Department's decision, it will have no effect on the State Department's commitment to assuring that Mr. Wille's medical and legal needs are met, and (that) he receives fair and equal treatment under Georgian law.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - yesterday?

MR. REEKER: I think that is probably an accurate description, but we wanted to release that as a formal statement.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: Sure, if there are questions on that statement.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: The statement will be out afterwards. Sure, I would be happy to take questions on that and I have a couple other statements.

QUESTION: You say the outcome will have no effect on US actions, but isn't it likely that the case will have some - the outcome of the request for a transfer to Georgia of the Georgian diplomat?

MR. REEKER: The Makharadze case.

QUESTION: Yes, would have some impact on Wille's case?

MR. REEKER: No, they are completely unrelated cases and we have been assured that by the Georgian government.

QUESTION: Let me just ask you: On Betsy's fine network this morning, Mr. Wille's - I think it was his sister-in-law was up here, and she seemed angry that the US Government wasn't doing enough. In a report on NBC, it said that I think a witness to the crime said that nothing - that Mr. Wille had done nothing wrong, and I believe a relative of the man killed said that the charges should be dropped. So the sister-in-law feels like there absolutely has to be a link, and that the US Government isn't doing enough.

How do you respond to that?

MR. REEKER: Well, we do not believe there is a link. It is very important to note - and that is why we have raised it again today in a formal statement, and I am repeating it again - there is no linkage between those two cases. This is a situation of something that is under investigation. We have been in continuous contact with the Georgian government since he was arrested on July 21.

I want to clarify another point - I think we made this point yesterday - but Mr. Wille is no longer in detention; he is out on bail. A condition of his bail is that he cannot leave Georgia, pending the conclusion of the investigation. As I said in the statement, the US ambassador to Georgia, Ambassador Yalowitz, has conveyed our interest in the Wille case to President Shevardnadze and to a broad range of Georgian officials at various levels, and I think we noted yesterday as well that Defense Secretary Cohen also raised the case with President Shevardnadze during his August 1 meeting with President Shevardnadze in Tblisi.

So we have been following this case very closely, and offering all of the standard consular services to Mr. Wille, and the investigation is ongoing and will be completed. But, again, I want to stress there is no linkage between that case and the Makharadze case, other than the cases affect the country of Georgia. But they are very different.

QUESTION: What do you mean there is no link? What sort of link are you suggesting?

MR. REEKER: I think the press reports have suggested there is some sort of link between the cases, and we are saying it is important to note there is no linkage between the cases. They are unrelated cases.

QUESTION: But what kind of link? I mean, if the reports say that the willingness of -

MR. REEKER: I think that is precisely our point. There is no link between these cases. The press reports intimate that there is some sort of link between these cases and action should be taken that way, and we're just reiterating that there is not.

QUESTION: There may be no link in your mind, but there may be very much of a link, politically or otherwise, in Georgia.

MR. REEKER: They have reassured us that there is not. That's why we have had those meetings at a variety of levels. There is not. They have an investigation that is ongoing since the time of the accident and his arrest, July 21.

QUESTION: As a USAID contract employee, he doesn't have diplomatic immunity?

MR. REEKER: No, he does not.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: Actually, sure. I would be happy to go on to Indonesia. And I just got something on the missing aircraft so we can get back to that.

QUESTION: Which missing aircraft?

MR. REEKER: The missing aircraft -- since that's the breaking news.

We have been informed by the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority that they have located the wreckage of the plane. The search team is approximately 30 minutes from the crash site, so it is our understanding that there were ten US citizens on board this flight. We have received a manifest from the charter company, and are in the process of contacting these people's families to let them know what we know at this point. Our embassy in Dar es Salaam is in close contact with both the Tanzanian authorities and with the charter company. Officials from our embassies in Dar es Salaam and in Nairobi will be on the scene early on September 2, remembering the time change involved here, to coordinate our efforts on behalf of US citizens involved. I'm afraid that is all the information I've got so far.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. REEKER: All I know is that we understand, through the charter company, that it was an aircraft carrying ten American tourists.

QUESTION: Are they all dead, do you know?

MR. REEKER: No, I don't have any information on --

QUESTION: On status of their -

MR. REEKER: Right. Obviously, they haven't reached the site yet.

QUESTION: So what are you telling the families?

MR. REEKER: They are to contact the families and let them know that they appear to be possibly those on an aircraft that is reported to be down.

QUESTION: Where is -- (inaudible) -- exactly?

MR. REEKER: I didn't say exactly. They have located the wreckage of the plane, but I don't have details on it. It's obviously taking them a little while to get out there so I would suspect that it is somewhat remote, remote at least, but let's see if we get an update even as we speak -- not that we're going to go on that long.

QUESTION: You don't have any idea of what caused this crash?

MR. REEKER: Nothing. That's really everything that we have. We had seen the press reports this morning. Shortly after I came in this morning we had the first word on it, and we were trying to be in touch with the embassy, which was immediately in touch. I would assume - it says they're on their way to 30 minutes from the crash site. I'm not familiar with the time difference, but I would suggest that it's already night in East Africa so if they are 30 minutes away, they are on their way.

QUESTION: You got a list of the people who were supposed to be on the plane from the company?

MR. REEKER: This indicated that we received a manifest from the charter company and are trying to contact families. That's one way we would we know that there were American citizens involved but, obviously, we're not in a position to discuss any names.

QUESTION: New subject?

MR. REEKER: New subject.

QUESTION: Does the State Department have some sort of telephone number that's set up for family members?

MR. REEKER: We have a standard telephone number for consular matters like that, which we can get for you if you want to flash that. Carol I think was - first she had talked about Indonesia.

QUESTION: East Timor.

MR. REEKER: Which I do have a statement on that so, if that's all right, we'll go with.

QUESTION: This was beaten to death yesterday, but what is the US position on potential intervention? I know there is some talk of the new New Zealand foreign minister today apparently was talking about some sort of an international force going into East Timor.

MR. REEKER: Yeah, I saw that wire story. Let me go ahead and give you the statement which we're releasing as I read it, on continuing militia violence in East Timor.

In an extraordinary display of courage, hundreds of thousands of East Timorese defied months of intimidation by armed pro-integration militias to cast their ballots and determine their future status in Monday's UN- administered election. While the balloting took place without major incident, pro-integration militias resumed their violent activities almost immediately after the voting ended. In separate incidents, they attacked offices of pro-independence parties, impeded access to the port and airport in Dili, resumed killing, leaving one UNAMET worker dead, and set up roadblocks to restrict travel in parts of East Timor.

The initial response by Indonesian military police to these tactics of intimidation has been seriously inadequate, and not in keeping with its commitments under the May 5th agreements. The United States is deeply concerned over this state of affairs on the ground in East Timor. We welcome the positive statements of support for the transition process by senior Indonesian officials, but Indonesia has yet to fulfill adequately its responsibilities to provide security and maintain order.

We urge Indonesian authorities fully to accept their responsibility, and to take immediate action that ends once and for all the activities of the pro- integration militias, and to arrest those disturbing order, terrorizing the populace, and disrupting the UN process. Indonesia's international reputation will suffer if it fails to abide by its commitments.

QUESTION: Will anything else suffer? I mean, will only Indonesia's reputation suffer if this continues? Indonesia has been flaunting the international community and the United States for weeks now on this issue and, I mean, will its access to multi-lateral or -national lending not -

MR. REEKER: At this point I don't want to speculate at all on what might happen. We have a clear view of what should happen and I think that was laid out fairly well in the statement. We have expressed concern -- deep concern -- over what has happened, and the initial response of the Indonesian military and police to the tactics of intimidation has been inadequate. Indonesians are obligated - they have agreed to and they are in a position to provide adequate security in East Timor - so we want to see them go forward with that and carry that out.

Again, I don't want to speculate on what might happen. Right now we want to look at what should happen, and we are very certain that Indonesia knows what to do.

QUESTION: Do you have a clear view on the nature of the links between the Indonesian military and these militias?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on that.

QUESTION: Would you favor any actions through the United Nations Security Council?

MR. REEKER: Again, I don't want to speculate on what might happen, or what the next steps would be. I think we've laid out what we're calling for and what should happen in East Timor, and we want to see security implemented by the Indonesians, which they have agreed to do, which they are obligated to do, and which they are in a position to do.

QUESTION: Are you aware this could be one subject of discussion in Australia when President Clinton visits next week for the Asian summit?

MR. REEKER: I believe President Clinton is going to New Zealand for the APEC summit, but I would imagine that Indonesia will be one topic of discussion, but I don't have any specific information on that. Obviously, in advance of that, everybody will be watching the situation in East Timor and, as I said, we have laid out -- I think quite strongly and directly -- our view of what should happen in East Timor.

QUESTION: I assume that this message has been delivered by the ambassador or embassy officials to Indonesian government officials?

MR. REEKER: I think that is a fair assumption, and the fact that we're putting this out publicly would indicate that.

QUESTION: So it would have been given to them sort of overnight our time?

MR. REEKER: I would have to check on the exact timing, but we rarely put out publicly something that we haven't transmitted first to our embassy.

QUESTION: Did you see any response to this?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on any response. I think the response would be the action that is taken on the ground, and we're watching just as you are. I was watching, just before coming in here, some very disturbing pictures, anyway, being transmitted from East Timor. So we'll be watching there and reminding Indonesians of what they should do.

QUESTION: I'm assuming you don't have any fresh guidance on the Middle East and the snag between the Israelis and the Palestinians on prisoner releases.

MR. REEKER: I don't have much on that and, as is standard, when the Secretary is traveling along with my boss, Mr. Foley - let me just find what I do have - we're going to stick with our standard practice not to really comment on the region. As I understand it, the Secretary should arrive in Morocco in a matter of hours.

What I can say is that our understanding remains; the discussions are ongoing between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I've been watching the wires this morning, hour by hour. There are going to be ups and downs in the process, as there have been all along, but we are still hopeful that the parties will reach agreement. But as far as any current status of the talks, I am afraid I'm not in a position to offer anything else. The efforts are obviously ongoing.

QUESTION: The Israelis say the talks are not ongoing, that they've offered something to the Palestinians, take it or leave it by tonight. You're saying they are?

MR. REEKER: I've seen a number of wire stories that indicate that the talks are ongoing and, as I said, I'm really not in a position to comment any further. The Secretary will be arriving in the region and Mr. Foley will be handling all those questions with your colleagues that are there.

QUESTION: Leaving the wire services out, is it the State Department's understanding that talks are continuing?

MR. REEKER: When I brought this subject up this morning, talks were certainly continuing. I've been following a number of issues, and I'll leave this now to Mr. Foley and the Secretary's party, which include the people which are most intimately involved in these issues. They will be on the ground shortly in Morocco.

QUESTION: On that, if you can address it, the Lebanese prime minister says that the Secretary is welcome, and may come on the 4th of September to Beirut. Can you make that -

MR. REEKER: I have nothing on that. Again, I will leave that, as is the standard practice, to the party traveling on the ground.

QUESTION: The Cuban government apparently has decided to bar the return to Cuba of migrants who left the country illegally. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: We have seen those press reports, that the government of Cuba intends to ban the return of those who illegally departed the island after 1994, I believe. If those press reports are accurate, it is unfortunate that the government of Cuba has made this extreme decision, but we have not been officially advised by the Cubans of that. That decision would be inconsistent with internationally recognized rights of individuals to travel freely. However, we do also recognize that every country has the right to establish its immigration laws and to protect its borders.

As far as Cuban migration is concerned, let me say a few words. There we are extremely worried about the disproportionate rise in alien smuggling. The U.S. is thoroughly committed to promoting safe, legal and orderly migration, as set forth in the migration accords with Cuba. The United States has met the goal of issuing 20,000 travel authorizations in each of the four years since the accords of September 1994, and we will continue to do so. In fact, in the past four years, we have surpassed the 20,000 allotment, and our migration policy is very much working and remains unchanged.

QUESTION: Do you think this decision by the Cuban government in some way reveals the illegal immigration from the Cubans to the United States?

MR. REEKER: As I said, we have not been officially advised by the Cubans of this, so I do not have anything further than what I said. We have just read some press reports.

QUESTION: Besides the advice from the Cuban government, do you see it as a right action by the Cuban government to stop the illegal immigration to the United States?

MR. REEKER: I think I noted that if those press reports turn out to be correct, it may be unfortunate that the government of Cuba has made an extreme decision that would be inconsistent with internationally recognized norms on the rights of individuals to travel freely. At the same time, we recognize that every country has the right to establish its immigration laws and to protect its borders. So I really wouldn't have anything further. As I said, we haven't been advised of anything from the Cubans.

QUESTION: Israel: You've probably seen a story in the Post today. A New York group is apparently trying to lobby First Lady Hillary Clinton, to try and lobby her husband,. to recommend the release of Jonathan Pollard. First of all, just on the report itself, does this building have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: No. I think - my understanding is that the Pollard matters are usually handled by the President and his direct dealings. I would just refer you over to the White House on that.

QUESTION: Just in general, though, because Jim sort of addressed this about a month ago: I mean, is there concern that these kind of things could come up, could complicate the State Department's efforts in the Middle East peace process because of the First Lady, who may take another position?

MR. REEKER: I don't even want to touch on Middle East peace process issues because, as I said, we are going to stick with the fact that we're not commenting on that with the Secretary about to arrive there, and that has sort of been a tradition. So maybe you want to raise that with Jim after he comes back from participating in that trip. Got to let the news catch up with the news cycle.

QUESTION: Hello, just to follow that, Phil, is it deemed by the U.S. Government, this department especially, that it is either unfair or basically a nuisance, that every time there is a major negotiation involving the United States in matters concerning Israel, that the Pollard issue shows up? The Pollard issue has been on the front burner for quite a bit this year.

MR. REEKER: I don't have any comment on that. Again, I am not going to address Middle East issues at all and that is clearly a Middle East issue. As I said, the Secretary is about to land in the region, she's got a trip ahead of her. Mr. Foley is with her there, and on that specific subject, I just refer you to the NSC. The White House usually handles those things.

QUESTION: A Middle East question you might be able to talk about. The Iraqi government announced at the United Nations that they will be shipping $10 million worth of oil to Turkey which would make them, according to the Iraqis, the largest single humanitarian contributor to the earthquake aid. Have you seen the report?

MR. REEKER: I have seen a variety of reports on that. I have a little something for you. I would note - if I can flip to the right page - first, if you consult our latest AID sheet, just to update you from where we were yesterday, we were talking some very specific figures. The total USG assistance now is $10,676,570 and I do have - we can always give out to you the fact sheets on US aid, since you raised the Turkey earthquake situation.

On the Iraqi oil issue, I do know that yesterday, Tuesday, the UN sanctions committee agreed in principle to the humanitarian donation of Iraqi oil to Turkish earthquake victims, within the framework of the Iraq sanctions. The committee is apparently drafting notification to the UN to this effect, and the US did support that decision.

QUESTION: Anything on the Turkish request for the issuance of bonds with support of the US Government for earthquake victims?

MR. REEKER: We had something on that that we raised - was that yesterday? I would just refer you to the transcript yesterday. Mr. Foley answered that, I think, completely.

QUESTION: And it was reported that the Greek-Turkish secret talks on the Aegean issue are in process in Brussels, and the Greek ambassador Loucas Tsilas, with US and NATO involvement, too. See, the Greek ambassador is talking about the US plan and even for Mr. Holbrooke's concern too. I wonder if you have anything on that.

MR. REEKER: That is completely wrong.

QUESTION: What is wrong? The impression -

MR. REEKER: There is no US involvement. I have no information on any talks.

Yes. In the back.

QUESTION: A short visit to Turkey. Can you confirm the date? It's September 5th?

MR. REEKER: I am still not in a position on that. I know we went through this yesterday that there was an interest on the Secretary's part, possibly to visit Turkey, and they were working with schedulers. I don't think we have anything further on that. It will depend on a variety of factors, but keep in touch with us, and we would certainly let you know if that were the case.

QUESTION: There is a report in y'all's favorite newspaper today which accuses the Administration of ignoring intelligence reports about official corruption in Russia, siphoning of US assistance, international assistance, to foreign accounts. It claims that the Vice President dismissed it, but now it appears that those reports might have been correct. Can you comment on that?

MR. REEKER: We have sort of gone with, I think, similar words certainly all this week on the Russian money laundering question. The investigation is ongoing, and facts in that case are still being established. The current money laundering and corruption charges are serious, and they are being thoroughly investigated by law enforcement agencies. Obviously, we will not provide assistance to Russia unless we can be sure unless it will support market and other reforms in that country, and will not be misused or diverted. The IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions take a similar approach.

As a practical matter - and I think Jim raised this earlier in the week as well - most of our bilateral assistance to Russia comes in the form of technical assistance and training, and is not provided as cash. But I will note, as we said earlier, there has been a lot of speculation about this, and we have been told by the Department of Justice that many of the allegations published in the press, including references to IMF or US assistance funds, are based on speculation, outdated or perhaps factually incorrect. But we cannot comment further on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: I am not asking you to comment on the investigation. I mean, you remember Strobe Talbott, Sestanovich, all talked to the New York Times on the record about this so at least you can cover the same ground that they were willing to cover on the record with the New York Times, dealing with the Vice President, the potential president of the United States, turning a blind eye to his own people's reports that this was going on in the interest of promoting Mr. Chernomyrdin as his candidate to take over from Mr. Yeltsin, for example, as one allegation.

MR. REEKER: Anything concerning the Vice President, I would refer you to the Vice President's office.

QUESTION: And Mr. Talbot saying that one of the reasons it might have appeared they were going easy on President Yeltsin and the Russians was that they wanted to continue to encourage disarmament, and didn't want to do anything to upset that.

MR. REEKER: I think what I can say is, as we have stressed several times from this podium, the battle against money laundering is a top priority for the US Government and we are, of course, concerned about any reports of money laundering, and the State Department will do whatever it can to assist those agencies that are actually involved in investigating this case. But it is our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations and --

QUESTION: One other point. How do you feel about President Yeltsin, if the report is correct, personally -- vetoing , I guess, is the right word but maybe not exactly the right word in that context, but I will use it here - vetoing legislation enacting money-laundering laws in Russia, after they had been endorsed by his own parliament?

MR. REEKER: I think my comment has to stand where it is, that money laundering as a broad topic is a top priority for the US Government. I don't have any information on specific legislation in Russia, and I'm happy to look into that for you if there is something specific on that.

Regarding the newspaper articles that you have been referring to, and the investigation, it's an ongoing investigation. The Department of State is committed to working with the agencies that are involved in that investigation and supporting them where we can, but obviously as an ongoing investigation we have nothing more to say.

QUESTION: There has been a lot of bad press for foreign assistance in the last month. Are you concerned that the American public is getting the wrong impression about where their tax money is going?

MR. REEKER: I think, first of all, that Mr. Foley addressed very fully and extensively the issue that was involved in some erroneous reports, which gave some false impressions about the possible loss or misuse of the US assistance fund.

I wanted to point out - I think I just stated it earlier - that regarding Russia, as a practical matter, our bilateral assistance is largely in the form of technical assistance and training programs. I would be happy to get you extensive information on the types of programs we have there to help them in their transition to a free market economy and various democratic practices. It's not provided in a cash form. As I also stated - and I can reiterate it again - we will not provide assistance to Russia unless we can be sure it will support market and other reforms in that country and not be misused or diverted.

QUESTION: Do you think that argument will placate Congress?

MR. REEKER: I leave that for others to decide. That's our position. I did have one other statement I want to get to on Africa, but I'm happy to go on for a while.

QUESTION: On Mexico, increasing number of reports coming from that country saying there is thousands of people from the south on the border with the United States ready to cross illegally. Have you received any advice from the embassy or -

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

QUESTION: Can you take the question?

MR. REEKER: Sure. What is the question?

QUESTION: If the embassy of the United States in Mexico has advised this government or the Mexican Government announced advice about this probably close to thousands of Mexican illegally on the border.

MR. REEKER: Okay, we'll try to see if we can get something on that.

QUESTION: Are you going to disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, by September 19th which is the deadline?

MR. REEKER: Let me give you a few words of update on Kosovo. On your specific question, I think it's been raised again, just yesterday and the day before, that is the deadline. We have an agreement with the KLA, and they are expected to comply with that agreement, as they agreed to do.

Just to reiterate, since we haven't gone through this for a little time now, KFOR, the NATO force in Kosovo, NATO-led force, has more than 40,000 troops in Kosovo; 6,300 of those are US troops and there are about 3,600 Russian soldiers and they have 6,000 additional troops stationed in the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

There are now more than 1,000 UN international police, including 320 Americans, expected on the ground by the end of the week, and Kosovo has remained generally quiet over the past 24 hours. So in response to your specific question, we do expect that to go ahead, and September 19 is the date.

QUESTION: Why did Mr. Holbrooke cancel his stop in Albania?

MR. REEKER: My understanding of that, yesterday, from talking to his party, was a combination of weather and aircraft matters, and I am not sure if it was that the aircraft could not make it in terms of the weather. I did understand that there was some very severe weather, both in Skopje, where he was visiting, and in Albania. He is on in Bosnia now.

Go ahead, and then I would like to get to our Africa statement.

QUESTION: Today is September 1st, which was the self-imposed deadline in the forced labor talks which the US and German governments have been mediating. They didn't meet the deadline.

Is it the US view that the talks should go on indefinitely?

MR. REEKER: I think Deputy Secretary Eizenstat had a statement on that a couple of days ago, and I would be happy to take that and try to get for you what he had. I don't have anything updated since those talks ended last week, I believe.

QUESTION: Could you do Africa and then I have an Iraq question.

MR. REEKER: Africa and then Iraq. Maybe I will take my time with Africa. This is another statement that will be available as soon as the briefing is over.

The United States Government welcomes the August 31st signing in Lusaka by the founding members of the Rally for Congolese Democracy of the agreement to end the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RCD signature of the Lusaka agreement had delayed since July 10th by dispute - or had been delayed, excuse me, since July 10th by a dispute over who should sign. This delay resulted in continued unnecessary loss of life in the Congo, particularly during the recent fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in Kisangani. RCD signature of the agreement must represent the end of armed conflict in the Congo and the beginning of a comprehensive, peaceful settlement.

The United States believes swift and unconditional implementation of the provisions of the Lusaka accords is essential. In particular, we urge the Congolese parties to take the steps necessary to begin the national dialogue under a neutral facilitator and we call on all the parties to work with the OAU-appointed chairman of the joint military commission, General Rachid Lallali, on the modalities for military disengagement.

The United States stands ready to assist the people and leaders in the region who seek peace, prosperity, democracy and respect for fundamental human rights. We affirm our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Congo. We will continue to seek stable, economically self- reliant and democratic nations, with which we can work to address our mutual economic and security interest on the African continent and to oppose those who would perpetuate genocide in the region.

The United States congratulates the governments of Zambia and South Africa for their efforts and leadership in securing RCD signature of the Lusaka agreement. In particular, we recognize the role played by President Chiluba as host of these peace talks, and we believe that this agreement holds the prospect of resolving the causes of the conflict, and creating conditions for lasting development and reconstruction.

QUESTION: You said a CD signature?

MR. REEKER: The RCD. The signature by all of the - I believe it was 50 members of the Rally for Congolese Democracy. That's high tech.

QUESTION: On Iraq, are you able to go beyond where Jim Foley was yesterday, concerning the visiting congressional staff delegation?

MR. REEKER: Let's see what I've got for you on that. I don't think it really goes any further than what we have in the record.

(As was said) yesterday, as we made very clear, the State Department declined the validate the passports of the group of congressional staff members now traveling in Iraq because of our concerns for their safety while in Iraq. Beyond that, I don't have any further comment. Our policy toward Iraq is clear. Saddam Hussein has not complied fully with any UN Security Council resolutions, and the sanctions should remain in place until the UN Security Council requirements are fully met.

QUESTION: On Iraq, do you know if the oil donation by Iraq counted towards the current quota that was set for them by the UN, or if it was outside of it?

MR. REEKER: I guess that is attached to what I just said about that theme. My understanding, and I will be happy to try to clarify that, is that what the sanctions commission approved - let me get that exact language for you. Where did it go? The UN Sanctions Committee, which agreed yesterday to the humanitarian donation of Iraqi oil to Turkish earthquake victims was within the framework of the Iraq sanctions, so they are drafting notification to the UN to this effect. I did note that the US supported that decision.

Does that answer your question?

QUESTION: I am just curious. They are allowed to export, I think, 5.26 billion every six months, and I think they wanted that not counted against that larger number. And I just didn't know -

MR. REEKER: Right. This donation, I think, obviously isn't part of $5.26 billion because it's -

QUESTION: The Greek government said yesterday that it is ready to lift its veto on EU financial aid to Ankara, in order to help the earthquake victims. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: Well, any help for the earthquake victims, I think, is a very positive thing. We have been doing a lot to help earthquake victims and I think it is very good that Greece, as well as other countries, can help those earthquake victims. We did have something yesterday on it.

The US has made clear in the past that we would like to see the maximum assistance possible flow to Turkey during this time of need for Turkey. As for the provision of funds under the 1995 customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU, we recognize that releasing those funds is an internal EU decision. For our part, we continue to support full implementation of that agreement.

QUESTION: The State Department's new Cyprus coordinator, do you know, is he going to go to island or area in early September?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on his travel but I am happy to -

QUESTION: The White House, I believe, is - one - some of the national security advisor, they announced he is going to go, early September, to the island.

MR. REEKER: Let's check that afterward, because I think the end of last week or Monday we had something that described his travel plans but I don't have it with me.

Is that everything?

(The briefing concluded at 1:52 PM.)

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