U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #93, 00-09-28
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2000
Briefer: PHILIP REEKER, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN
1-5 President Fujimori's Visit to Washington / Meetings with OAS /
Reports of Coup Plot / Prosecution of Mr. Montesinos/
Mr. Montesinos' Application For Asylum in Panama
5-12 If President Milosevic Can Escape War Crimes Charge / Election
Results / U S Officials Contact With Dr. Kostunica / Russian
Position Regarding Call For President Milosevic To Back Down /
Foreign Minister Vedrine's Call For Lifting of Sanctions / U S
Support of Opposition
11 Secretary Albright's Contact With Foreign Minister Ivanov
12-13 Raid on Newspaper Office / Harassment By Government
13-15 Meetings of Israeli and Palestinian Negotiators in Washington Area
/ Legislation Regarding Unilateral Declaration on Palestinian Side
15-16 Prime Minister Barak's Interview With Jerusalem Post / Visit of
16-18 Visit of Deputy Foreign Minister / Meeting With Undersecretary
Pickering / Taliban Proposal to Bring in Islamic Jurists to
Investigate Whether They Should Extradite Usama bin Laden / U S
Position on Taliban Seat At United Nations
19 Italy's Decision to Transfer Sylvia Baraldini to Hospital
19 Visit of President Khatami to Cuba
20 Designation of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan As Foreign Terrorist
21 Decision By Indonesian Court Not To Throw Out Trial of Ex-President
21-22 Exclusion of Opponent from Election
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2000, 1:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. REEKER: Welcome back to the State Department on this lovely Thursday.
I apologize for the delay; I was actually trying to get some of the
information I think you are going to be asking, and perhaps not all that
So I have no announcements today, and with that we will go to questions of
the Agence France Presse. Sorry, Reuters. You missed. We're letting Matt
start. Please begin.
QUESTION: Has there been a decision yet made on who President Fujimori is
going to be seeing, and what will they be discussing?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think, as many of you have seen in the press reports,
President Fujimori is in Washington today and tomorrow morning. He is at
least scheduled to arrive in Washington today. I don't have an update on
whether he has actually arrived, or his exact timetable.
We understand he has a meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization
of American States, Mr. Gaviria, to discuss the OAS-sponsored talks on
democratic reform, the dialogue that has been going on, as you know, in
Peru, and President Fujimori's plans for calling new national elections.
And we expect to arrange meetings with senior US Government officials to
discuss those very same issues; unfortunately, at this point, I don't have
a schedule for you. That is one of the things I was hoping to get before I
came out and delayed doing that. But I am unable to do that, so we will
keep looking at that this afternoon to get a --
QUESTION: He is apparently spending the night here. Do you have any idea -
are they trying to be arranged for today or tomorrow, or do you know?
MR. REEKER: At this point, I still don't know. Obviously, the day is
ticking by as we speak, and I don't have a schedule yet, so we would be
looking at something either later or tomorrow. We will, of course, when we
do meet with President Fujimori, emphasize our support for a peaceful
democratic and constitutional transition of power, and for the continuation
of that OAS dialogue that has been going on and which we have very much
QUESTION: Some people have speculated, or it is their understanding, that
one of the reasons that he is coming in to town is to say that he does
recognize that there needs to be a transition and wants this OAS dialogue,
but that he is unsatisfied with the dialogue and the forum thus far because
it seems to be more of a mouthpiece for the opposition to be making
political statements and not an effective kind of transition for change in
democracy. Has he brought the subject up with --
MR. REEKER: Well, obviously we haven't had any talks at this point with
President Fujimori, as I indicated. I can't predict what he wishes to raise,
although our understanding is that he is coming to discuss the OAS-
sponsored talks. He is meeting with the OAS Secretary General, and then, as
I said, we hope to schedule meetings with senior US officials. And those
are certainly subjects we will be discussing.
We have very much supported the OAS process in terms of Peru and what we
would like to see as a transition through peaceful democratic processes. A
transition in power and the OAS dialogue is very much a part of that. As
you know, they have outlined a number of steps that should be taken to make
this a more democratic process, and that is certainly what we will be
QUESTION: Why hasn't it been decided who would meet with him? And it is
an issue of schedules, or is it an issue of what level that the US wants to
be represented in the meeting?
MR. REEKER: I really can't tell you at this point. As I indicated, I
waited, hoping that we would get answers, since I knew this was a topic of
great interest, and they just didn't have it already. Schedules are
difficult to coordinate, as you know. President Fujimori en route,
obviously trying to work with the Peruvian Embassy, and with the schedules
of our various officials who would have meetings with him. But I just don't
have anything to announce yet. But I will certainly try to do that as soon
as we can.
QUESTION: Can I just - one more follow-up? Would it be fair to categorize
this last-minute kind of request for a meeting as kind of sudden? Did you
shock US officials? Is it - you know, is that part of the problem with the
scheduling because it's so last minute?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think clearly this is something that has come up
rather quickly. It wasn't something we were anticipating as we put together
schedules for the week or even for the days ahead. We can accommodate that,
and that's what we're trying to do. So I would hesitate to characterize it
in any other way other than to say that we are aware that President
Fujimori is coming to Washington; the meetings with the OAS are obviously
important; OAS headquarters in here in Washington; and the meetings with US
officials will also be important and we want to get those organized as
quickly as we can. I just can't put a finger on it now.
QUESTION: Did he, like, stress the urgency of such a meeting?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular readout on anything he stressed.
Obviously he made a determination he wanted to come to Washington, felt it
was important. We have felt that the OAS dialogue and that process was very
important, so we're trying to accommodate that in a schedule.
QUESTION: Could you just clarify who, in fact, requested a meeting
between President Fujimori and US officials? Was this something that you
initiated or did he actually --
MR. REEKER: My understanding is this was a request from the Peruvians,
from President Fujimori, who is coming to Washington and is expected to be
in Washington today and tomorrow for the OAS meeting that he has set up
obviously through that channel, and has requested through their embassy
here and through our embassy in Lima meetings with senior US Government
officials. And that is what we are trying to accommodate at this point.
QUESTION: On that same theme - and I understand you don't know exactly
who will be seeing President Fujimori, but is it under consideration that
Secretary Albright will see him, or is that not even under consideration?
MR. REEKER: At this point I really can't say. I just haven't seen -
obviously the Secretary has a busy schedule, as always. I just haven't
gotten any particular readout on which officials would or will meet with
President Fujimori or where the schedule stands. And I do promise to try to
get you that as soon as we do have it.
QUESTION: Does the US take seriously reports of a coup plot?
MR. REEKER: I think in terms of the rumors I've seen and certain press
reports on that, let me just point out that the Peruvian armed forces
issued a statement last night, once again denying outright rumors of army-
led efforts to organize a coup. And I think that statement very much
reaffirms the support previously voiced by the military in Peru for
maintaining constitutional order, and we certainly expect that constitutional
order will be honored and preserved.
QUESTION: On a related matter - on Mr. Montesinos, who is in Panama -
there have been various indications that, for example, the ombudsman, the
Peruvian ombudsman, seemed to think it would be a good idea to prosecute
him. Can you clarify your position on asylum and immunity? Presumably, if
he did face prosecution he would have to return to Peru at some stage. Do
you think he would be - do you want him to stay in Panama for a certain
period of time and then perhaps to face prosecution?
MR. REEKER: First of all, I don't have any update on the particular
status of Mr. Montesinos. We understand that the Government of Panama is
still reviewing his application for asylum. As we have stated previously,
the United States, along with the Organization of American States and our
other partners in the hemisphere, supported the decision by Panama to
receive Mr. Montesinos in order to resolve some of the political tensions
The issue of political asylum which you raise is one which the Government
of Panama must determine. And I think in terms of the broader question that
you raise, it's important to note that at no time in this process has the
United States sought immunity for Mr. Montesinos for prosecution from
QUESTION: Okay. Well, let's just follow up on that. You think it's a good
idea that he's in Panama now, but if he is to be prosecuted he could
presumably be extradited quite quickly - I mean, in theory. But, I mean, do
you want him to stay there for a certain period of time to keep him out of
the way while you sort Peru out?
MR. REEKER: Again, I think those are "if" questions that we're just not
looking at. As I said, we have never sought any immunity for him for
prosecution from alleged crimes. That is something that the Peruvians have
to take - have a process on. It's a Peruvian question. The question in
Panama for Mr. Montesinos, in terms of his request for asylum there, is one
that is being considered by the Panamanian Government, and it's clearly
premature to judge any decisions on that since none have been announced.
QUESTION: But, ostensibly, you expressed your support for Mr. Montesinos
going to Panama to the Panamanians before they actually told him that he
could come, correct?
MR. REEKER: That's right. We discussed, I think, in some fair length --
QUESTION: So do you not have a position now, before - as the Panamanians
consider granting him asylum or not, are you not telling the Panamanians
what you think about the idea of asylum?
QUESTION: Even if it is for them to decide, you can have an opinion, I
MR. REEKER: I will stand by what I have said, that it is for them to
decide. It is a decision they must make. In terms of what we discussed, as
I think Ambassador Boucher outlined here earlier in the week, we supported
the OAS call to Panama to allow this, that they receive Mr. Montesinos. We
made calls, along with other Latin leaders, including some heads of state,
heads of government from other countries in the hemisphere, for doing this.
We certainly supported, then, Panama's decision to do that because it does
help resolve some of the political tensions in Peru. But the issue of
asylum is one that the Government of Panama must determine.
QUESTION: So you are not making any phone calls on the asylum issue?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular readout on any particular phone
calls since them. As I said, I don't have anything new on the status or any
update on Mr. Montesinos' status, except that we understand he is in Panama
and that the Government of Panama is still reviewing his request.
QUESTION: Is the United States Government considering calling the Member
of Congress that charged the military of this plot, calling him to the OAS
to testify and to tell you from firsthand about what he was told?
And my second question is, I would like to know if he or his family
requested any political asylum to warranty his safety in the United States.
Do you have any information on that?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any information on that. And in answer to your
first question, a request to testify before the OAS would be an issue for
the OAS to discuss. So in terms of the reports that we have seen, the
rumors of coups, all I can point you to is the facts that we do have, and
that would be the statement issued last night by the Peruvian military
denying outright those rumors.
QUESTION: But this Congressman is saying that he has proof that these
rumors could become reality in 20 days. Is the United States Government
thinking and probably calling this person in order to get all this --
MR. REEKER: I have no indication of that. I mean, what I can report to
you in terms of our looking at these rumors is exactly what came out from
the military last night. You have a statement. It's, I think, the second
one that --
QUESTION: What makes you think that they will honor their word?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think the statement reaffirms what they have said
before, in terms of their previously voiced stand, that the military is
very much for maintaining constitutional order. And that is very much what
we expect them to do.
QUESTION: A new subject?
MR. REEKER: Are we done with Peru? Yes.
QUESTION: There is talk that some Western official's envoys are
suggesting to President Milosevic that if he decides to give up power and
not force a second round, he may be able to find a graceful exit, implying
that he may somehow escape a war crimes charge. Is there any change in your
view on that? Are you looking to see him leave?
MR. REEKER: Absolutely not. I think we have said it repeatedly. We have
said it in all kinds of fora. Milosevic belongs in The Hague, where he
should stand trial for his crimes. It is the responsibility of all states
where indictees of the UN-mandated international tribunals are present to
hand over those indictees. There is no discussion of a deal, and I can't be
much more categorical than that.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the seeming intent, this test of
wills now, between Milosevic to press ahead with a second round, and what
we saw last night in Belgrade?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think what I can reiterate is what the President has
said earlier, what Secretary Albright has said when she was up on the Hill
earlier this week: The people have spoken in Yugoslavia, and we have seen
the people continue to speak in Belgrade. The opposition has shown the
actual records of this election, and Mr. Kostunica beat Milosevic. It is
time for Milosevic to step aside. Those are the facts.
There is not an issue of a runoff. There is no basis for that. It is an
issue of who won, and Dr. Kostunica won this election. The opposition has
put forward documentation in a very transparent and methodical, legal way,
giving the current regime every opportunity to step aside.
QUESTION: On Dr. Kostunica, has there been any contact with US officials
talking with him about his public position that he would not extradite
Milosevic for the war crimes tribunal?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any particular conversations directly with
Dr. Kostunica at this point.
QUESTION: Or with anyone in the opposition at this point?
MR. REEKER: Our point is extremely clear. I think I have reiterated right
here again, in terms of where Milosevic belongs, and that is in the
QUESTION: And the United States encouraged the Montenegrin leadership not
to boycott the elections. Have you communicated any position to the
opposition now about what they should do on the runoff, or are you leaving
it to European allies and the opposition to decide themselves?
MR. REEKER: Look, there is no basis for a runoff. This question of a
second round is not an issue. The issue was who won. And the opposition has
presented, as I said, documentation in a very transparent manner, very
methodically, very legally, that shows that Dr. Kostunica has won. The
facts show that the people of Yugoslavia, and of Serbia in particular, have
spoken, and that Dr. Kostunica won a clear majority. And as I said,
President Clinton stated yesterday the federal election commission in
Yugoslavia has absolutely no credibility. I think, in fact, their deputy
director has already resigned, stepped aside, and it is time for Milosevic
to step aside as well.
QUESTION: But the problem is that the runoff is an issue. You can't just
say it's not. It is an issue because Milosevic is making it an issue. So I
realize that you think that it shouldn't be an issue and that there
shouldn't be any question about it, but that is a perfect situation for you
guys and it's not happening that way.
MR. REEKER: The federal election commission, as I said, has absolutely no
credibility. And the opposition, which has presented all of the evidence of
their resounding victory in the first round, has challenged that commission
to put up similar results.
QUESTION: I understood that, but --
MR. REEKER: The hesitation of that, I think, seems to show that the
regime realizes that they have lost.
QUESTION: Right. But if Milosevic goes ahead and there is a second round,
a runoff, would you encourage the opposition not to participate?
MR. REEKER: That is a huge "if" and I am not going to get into the "if"
questions because there is no issue here. There is no need for a second
QUESTION: But we are not talking about it because it doesn't exist; we're
talking about it because it is out there. I mean, it is being made an
issue. I mean, you can't just ignore it; it's not going to go away.
MR. REEKER: Our position is what I have just described: the people of
Serbia have spoken; the opposition has the records; they presented them
with that; Kostunica won this election outright; it is time for Milosevic
QUESTION: How do you feel about the Russians not supporting the call for
Milosevic to back down?
MR. REEKER: In fact, I think the Russians have earlier been with us in
terms of the Contact Group statement and said that they look forward to
welcoming democratic Serbia back into the international community. You know,
the Russians have always been strong supporters of the Serbian people, and
I think that's the fundamental thing here. They still are. And we're strong
supporters of the Serbian people, and the Serbian people have spoken. It's
time for Milosevic to go. We have seen the similar calls from the Patriarch
of the Serbian Orthodox Church; in fact, the entire synod, in calling for
him to leave.
QUESTION: So you don't read anything into an Ivanov quote as Russia will
not exert pressure on anyone in Yugoslavia?
MR. REEKER: I think Russia has had a very straightforward position. They
joined in the Contact Group statement, as you'll recall, in looking forward
to welcoming a democratic Yugoslavia. That's what we're talking about.
There has been a democratic process here. There is transparent and clear
evidence of the results of that process, and it's time for Milosevic to
The Secretary has spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov yesterday, the day
before. She is in regular touch with him, and we will continue to do
QUESTION: Well, if Milosevic has - since Milosevic has called the
election, by the opposition not agreeing to kind of take part in the
election, doesn't that give him kind of ammunition to say that he's not,
you know, part of the process - a democratic process? And if the opposition
did win by such a majority, then they'd obviously win again in a second
runoff, so what's the problem with a second?
MR. REEKER: Because there is no issue of a second runoff. The evidence is
clear. Milosevic can say what he wants. This federal election commission,
which has absolutely no credibility at all given the fraud that took place,
has no standing. It's very clear that the opposition has challenged the
federal election commission then to show their evidence.
QUESTION: But aren't you concerned that by the opposition not taking part
in this runoff that Milosevic has called, that that's going to give him
ammunition to --
MR. REEKER: I think, again, you're assuming a runoff or a second round
that is not an issue because there is no basis for it.
QUESTION: Well, there's an issue because it's going to take place. I mean,
whether they take part in it --
MR. REEKER: You're saying that. So I think what we have to do is look at
what the facts are and - again, look at what the facts are. The opposition
has called upon the federal election commission to show their evidence,
their basis for the statements that they have made, which certainly lack
credibility compared to the transparent, extremely methodical, evidence
that the opposition has put forward. And that's where we stand.
QUESTION: So what's going to happen then? I mean, you say that there
isn't going to be a second round, so obviously you know what's going to
take place. What is the scenario? How is it going to play out?
MR. REEKER: I have never suggested, Jonathan, that I know what is going
to take place. What I am looking at are the facts. And what I am telling
you, as we see it, is that the opposition has put forward this documentation.
It's very clear that Mr. Kostunica won outright in this round in a very
legal way. They have presented it very methodically, very clearly. They
have challenged the regime authorities to present any other evidence that
they may have to put up similar results, but the authorities have
absolutely no credibility. So it's very much time for Milosevic to step
QUESTION: Does this mean that the United States Government is in
agreement with Mr. Kostunica that there should not be a second round of
MR. REEKER: I think we've gone about as far with this as we can, so why
don't we move on, if someone else has a question that --
QUESTION: I do. Can you tell us what your view is of, then, Foreign
Minister Vedrine's statement already that he is calling for sanctions to be
lifted? Britain has said that it's too soon. What does the United States
MR. REEKER: I think we've been very clear in our position on the lifting
of sanctions; that once a democratic transition has taken place in
Yugoslavia, in Serbia, that then we will take steps to lift sanctions. As
we have discussed, there are steps that have to be taken. Once a transition
has taken place, then we would look into those steps.
QUESTION: A follow-up, then. What is your specific reaction to Foreign
Minister Vedrine's call for sanctions to be lifted?
MR. REEKER: We have been very supportive of our European allies. We have
been working very closely with them, keeping in regular touch with them. I
think earlier we noted - and, in fact, put out a statement responding to
their discussion and their statements on sanctions, noting at that time
that with a democratic transition we, too, would take the steps necessary
to lift our sanctions.
QUESTION: You'll be pleased to know I don't have any questions about a
runoff. You may not be pleased to know I do have a question about the
MR. REEKER: The --
QUESTION: A deal. Whether a deal is --
MR. REEKER: No deal.
QUESTION: You say, "No deal." And I want to clarify, are you saying the
US is not - doesn't want to be, won't be - part of a deal to relieve
Milosevic of any responsibility for his crimes? Or are you saying there are
no discussions that the US is aware of by anyone - the European allies, the
Russians, anyone - that there is a deal?
MR. REEKER: I am aware of no discussions of a deal. Our position is
extremely clear and firm on that. We have repeatedly said that Mr.
Milosevic belongs in The Hague. It's time for him to step aside, and that's
where he belongs.
QUESTION: A deal involves getting something for doing something, so
you've convinced us that - me, at least - that as far as the US is
concerned, Milosevic can't get off the indictment as part of a deal. Is the
US aware of efforts - and does it support efforts - for Milosevic to get
out of there and clear the way for a successor, without us necessarily
asking you what does he get for it?
MR. REEKER: I mean, I've said about a dozen times now it's time for him
to step aside. Is that what you were --
QUESTION: No, step aside doesn't mean he leaves the country.
MR. REEKER: We think he belongs in The Hague.
QUESTION: Well, that's true. Good point.
QUESTION: But the point is, there is a question whether ways are being
discussed to get him out of Serbia.
MR. REEKER: I'm not aware of any such discussions.
QUESTION: That's what I meant.
QUESTION: You talk about the transition. Can you be a little bit more
specific? At what point does the - or has it been decided yet at what point
you can say that the transition has occurred? Is it Milosevic out, or is it
Kostunica sworn in as --
MR. REEKER: I can't - I'd be happy to see if we have looked beyond - at
that point, again, we're looking at developments. What we've seen very much
is the will of the people having been expressed very clearly - time for
Milosevic to go. We have said when a transition takes place. We will have
follow that --
QUESTION: But wait. Just on the - is it possible that even if - well,
even when, as you seem to think it's going to happen - it's inevitable that
Kostunica is sworn is as president, that Milosevic's cronies will still
have enough control so that you might not be able to make the decision that
a democratic transition has occurred.
MR. REEKER: That's an awfully complex hypothetical, and I just can't
address that. I think we've seen an overwhelming opposition victory in the
first round of the elections that were held on Sunday, and they have
presented that factually. Everyone knows it. The people of Belgrade and the
rest of Serbia and Yugoslavia have spoken. It's time for Milosevic and his
cronies to step aside, for the regime to change, so that the Serbian people
can rejoin Europe where they belong, once again become a normal European
country and work on returning themselves to the status they once enjoyed
within the international community.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up to that. Can you define exactly "democratic
transition" in terms of the US position on sanctions?
MR. REEKER: Oh, goodness. Why don't we get you another one of our special
briefings to go through that. I mean, I think I really laid out exactly
what we have to say today, so I just don't think rehashing it over and over
- I don't really have a lot more to say because it's fairly clear where we
stand now. Let's see if we can move on.
QUESTION: You did speak about coordination with Europeans and agreeing
with them and everything, but it does seem that there is a gap here, a
coordination gap, between you and the Europeans on the sanctions.
MR. REEKER: Are you trying to bridge those gaps?
QUESTION: Well, I mean, has the Secretary spoken to any of the European
foreign ministers today?
MR. REEKER: I don't have a readout on the Secretary's phone calls today
or yesterday specifically. I knew she spoke to Foreign Minister Ivanov.
QUESTION: Can you explain this gap given the level of coordination that
one would expect?
MR. REEKER: I wouldn't particularly describe a gap. I think that makes a
lovely headline for your story, but in fact we've been working very closely
with the Europeans on this. I mean, we had a Contact Group statement just a
couple of weeks ago that set out very clearly how united we were in our
position and our support for the opposition there. And now we have seen
that the Serbian people have spoken and they have expressed their will to
return to Europe, to have a democratic change that's been long in coming.
And that's what we look forward to.
QUESTION: Still on this. So what I hear is that you're just saying, you
know, the people have spoken and - are you just saying that it's a matter
of time before Kostunica is sworn in, or have you had any contingency plans
for the very real possibility that Milosevic is not going to step aside,
he's not going to - even if the opposition were to take part in a runoff,
that he's just not gong to step aside? So what is the US prepared to do if
the will of the people does not come through?
MR. REEKER: Look, we've said Milosevic is the problem of the people of
Serbia, of Yugoslavia, and they have spoken, and it's very clear that he
needs to go. And the opposition has made very clear that they are taking
steps in a very factual, transparent way to give every opportunity for the
regime to simply step aside, as they should do, and that's what we're
waiting for. So these what-ifs, one could come up with a thousand of them
and we could spend all afternoon doing that. I'll let you do your what-if
analyses. Our position is simply very clear: It's time for him to
QUESTION: Yeah, but it seems more like a what-if he were step aside. That
doesn't really seem like a real possibility at this point.
MR. REEKER: I think it seems like a very real possibility because we have
seen the people of Serbia speak.
QUESTION: But 13 years of rule has shown that he really doesn't care --
MR. REEKER: And that just highlights that his time is well due and he'll
move on. You know, you can write your what-ifs and do your analysis. That's
what journalists are paid for. We'll leave that to you. You have asked me
what the United States position is on this. I think we have made it very
QUESTION: I asked what the US was prepared to do should he not step
MR. REEKER: I think that's just such a hypothetical question. We've made
very clear what we're doing. Our position on Milosevic has been very clear.
Our position in supporting the opposition has also been very clear.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - support the opposition and they have expressed -
the will of the people has been expressed. Would you continue to support
these sort of rallies that we've seen? Would you encourage the Serbian
people to turn out the way they have?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think, again, these are questions for the Serbian
people. These are questions that need to take place with the Serbian
people. The opposition has once again presented very factually the evidence
that shows an overwhelming victory for them. The Serbian people expressed
that will. They have been expressing it, certainly in Belgrade and in their
views. And so it's very clear. All the evidence shows that this was a
sweeping victory for the opposition. And the opposition has also been very
careful in setting up methodical and legal steps towards a peaceful
transition, and we certainly are in support of that. And they are giving
the regime every opportunity to step aside.
QUESTION: This extensive coordination on your part, I mean, you're not --
QUESTION: You're saying -- (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: I don't know where else we're going to go on this. Is there
anything else on this?
QUESTION: One more. You knocked down these talks about a deal. There are
also rumors swirling around for the last few days, including this morning
which you're aware of, that Milosevic in fact has left.
MR. REEKER: Right. I'm not aware of any information on that. I've seen
the same rumors that you have. In fact, you guys were kind enough to
apprise me of those rumors, so I appreciate that.
Can we move on to a new subject?
QUESTION: Pakistan. Have you --
MR. REEKER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: It's about Pakistan. I wonder whether you have heard at all of
a raid carried out on Pakistan's Karachi's newspaper Dawn by Pakistan army
men and some military engineers. This was yesterday.
MR. REEKER: In fact, I am aware of reports - I looked it up on the
Internet - that Pakistani officials entered the offices of the newspaper
Dawn, which is a major Pakistani newspaper, to carry out what was described
as an unannounced electrical inspection. And the newspaper asserts that
this is harassment by the government. Other than that, we really have few
details of the incident, and I am certainly not in a position to make any
specific comments on that. Generally, though, it is our belief that freedom
of the press is a vital component of a free society and strong democratic
institutions in any country. And we will certainly continue to feel that
way about Pakistan as well.
QUESTION: It even bothers you that it is harassment by the government?
MR. REEKER: As I said, I don't have enough facts to make any specific
comments on that.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update in as great -- or as great detail as
you can, which I'm sure will not be very much - on where the peace talks
stand at the moment?
MR. REEKER: Is that a snide remark about the information we've provided?
Peace talks. And that would be the Middle East peace talks. As you know,
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and US officials have met - have been
meeting this week in the Washington area. Those meetings will end today. I
don't have an exact time; I believe sometime later this afternoon.
Our Special Middle East Coordinator, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and other
State Department officials have been involved for the US. I can report that
Israeli and Palestinian participants met directly, and we also had meetings
with each of those groups individually.
QUESTION: Was that directly alone or with US officials?
MR. REEKER: I would have to check that specifically, and I can get back
to you. To be absolutely precise, I don't have any specific information on
the meeting. But the question that I anticipated was, had they met together,
and indeed they had.
MR. REEKER: I don't have a date for you.
QUESTION: If I could just sort of follow up on this. The House, yesterday,
passed the - well, it's sort of --
QUESTION: Can we stay on this? There was talk yesterday that the
Secretary was going to be in touch with the two sides. Has she done that
MR. REEKER: She did not meet with them.
QUESTION: No, I know that.
MR. REEKER: But in terms of talks, I don't know. I will have to check. As
you know, she was in New York yesterday afternoon, and I just don't have a
readout of anything on that. Certainly Ambassador Ross was very much
involved, along with other people from the Middle East team.
QUESTION: On the - related - the House yesterday passed, I guess,
legislation regarding a unilateral declaration on the Palestinian side.
Does that help or harm the process at this point? I mean, what is the State
MR. REEKER: Well, I think it is well known to all of you that President
Clinton has made very clear to the Palestinians our opposition to any
unilateral declaration of statehood, and the consequences of such a
declaration. And I think the Palestinians understand that negotiations are
the only way to produce an enduring solution, as we have seen talks that
have gone on indeed this week.
I could point out, too, that Prime Minister Barak met Monday with Chairman
Arafat, and they both reiterated their commitment to the peace process and
to reaching a negotiated settlement. So they have had these talks this
In terms of the legislation you referred to, I think it is very imperative
that we seek to support the parties, as we have done, and do not take steps
to hamper their efforts or place obstacles in their way. I think the
Secretary, the President, have all made very clear that we have a major
opportunity to bring a final and enduring peace to the Middle East, and
legislation at this time complicates the very process that we seek to
conclude and makes it more difficult to reach a just and lasting peace.
QUESTION: Especially if the legislation totally reflects Administration
policy. Doesn't the legislation put some pressure on Arafat to make the
compromises you're looking for?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think I would just go back to what I already said,
QUESTION: It's not Congress's business?
MR. REEKER: -- that the President has made very clear our opposition to
that, and the Palestinians understand the negotiations under way to produce
an enduring solution. So while we try to take steps to help the parties and
not hamper their efforts, we think that legislation just complicates the
process. And, at this time, we are focused on seeking to conclude an
enduring peace, and we don't want to add anything that makes that more
QUESTION: Can you say how it complicates the process? I don't want to be
picky, but --
MR. REEKER: Again, I think to add other factors into it, to place
obstacles in their way, to divert attention from the issues at hand, the
difficult decisions that need to be made, is not something that helps the
process. So as the parties address the most difficult decisions in these
negotiations, it is critical that we refrain from any steps that could
hinder their efforts.
QUESTION: You don't have to answer this question, but you might.
MR. REEKER: You're going to try anyway.
QUESTION: No, I understand that you will. On the bridging proposals,
during Mr. Ross' contacts with the two delegations, did he present any
bridging proposals whatsoever?
MR. REEKER: No.
MR. REEKER: No. We haven't made any decisions with respect to bridging
proposals. This depends really on whether we think there is going to be a
chance to bridge gaps through such proposals, and so, to this point, no
decisions have been made.
Was that enough of an answer?
QUESTION: On the face of this question, it's going to sound absurd, but
let me try it anyhow. Did they discuss the issues in these talks?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any specifics to give you on what the talks were
QUESTION: I ask, because Arafat and Barak met --
MR. REEKER: Yes. Monday.
QUESTION: -- and had a nice, long meeting going into the next morning,
and both sides said they didn't discuss the issues. So I think it is
germane whether this venue took up the issues or not.
MR. REEKER: I just don't have a readout on what was discussed. The
meetings took place. They, as you know, went on this week. They are ending
today, and we certainly expect the parties to have additional discussions.
QUESTION: On the Temple Mount incident yesterday, and on Prime Minister
Barak's interview with The Jerusalem Post in which he made reference to a
Palestinian capital, and called it Al Qods, without defining it --
MR. REEKER: In terms of that interview, I haven't seen that, and so I
really can't comment on the specifics of that.
In terms of the first part of your questions, obviously, as everyone is
aware, this is a very sensitive and holy place, that all sides need to
respect that fact. And in view of the sensitivity of the site, everyone
needs to exercise careful judgment on actions that are taken there. So any
action with respect to such a sensitive site needs to be carefully weighed
in order to avoid tensions.
QUESTION: Do you think that Mr. Sharon's visit was provocative?
MR. REEKER: Well, let me just repeat what I just said, that everyone
needs to exercise judgment on actions there, and any action with respect to
those sites - such sensitive sites - need to be carefully weighed in order
to avoid tensions. And that is what we are trying to avoid.
QUESTION: New subject. The Deputy Foreign Minister of the Taliban is in
town. I am wondering who, if anyone, he is going to see here in the
Department. And I'm also wondering if you can comment --
QUESTION: -- why it's not on the schedule?
QUESTION: -- comment on these rather unusual allegations made yesterday
by Congressman Rohrabacher about the US supporting - covertly supporting
the Taliban and drawing some kind of link between Inderfurth's visits to
Pakistan and immediately - the link between his visits and, upon his
departure, Rohrabacher said there was an unusual - there always seemed to
be a Taliban offensive against the Northern Alliance?
MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I just don't - I think I saw one press report of
those comments, and I guess that was following the Secretary's testimony. I
wasn't here for that, so I don't think I can really give you anything on
On the meetings - and nothing was on the schedule because it did not
involve the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary. Two Afghan delegations were
scheduled to meet today with Under Secretary of State Pickering and other
State Department officials to discuss developments in Afghanistan.
Abdurahman Zahid, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Taliban, was to meet
Under Secretary Pickering at 11 o'clock this morning. And as of the time I
came out here, for unknown reasons, the Taliban delegation did not arrive
at the appointed time. And I have no further information on their
whereabouts or their scheduling.
QUESTION: They're out with Rohrabacher.
QUESTION: Is Inderfurth in the building?
MR. REEKER: Yes, Inderfurth is in the building.
Abdullah Abdulla, the Foreign Minister of the United Islamic Front for the
Salvation of Afghanistan, will meet with Under Secretary Pickering at 5:00
p.m. this afternoon.
QUESTION: The Alliance? Is that -
MR. REEKER: What used to be known as the Northern Alliance. I think they
formally changed their name to the United Islamic Front for the Salvation
of Afghanistan. So, at 5:00 p.m., Under Secretary Pickering will meet with
Abdullah Abdullah. Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs Karl
Inderfurth will also be in that meeting. He was scheduled to meet with the
earlier delegation as well. And Foreign Minister Abdullah is expected to
talk to officials from the Office of Counter-Terrorism as well.
QUESTION: Is it your - or is it Pickering's office's conclusion that
these guys are not going to show up at all?
MR. REEKER: We just didn't have any further information. They were
expecting them at 11:00.
QUESTION: They made no call to reschedule?
MR. REEKER: It was another one of those issues that I delayed coming out
here to try to get you answers on, and we had no further information. I
might point out - and perhaps it helps you with an earlier question you had
- that the issues that we were prepared to raise with the Taliban
representative, which is the same type of thing we discuss every time we
meet them, are: the continuing international demand that Usama bin Laden be
expelled from Afghanistan to a place where he can be brought to justice;
the need for the Taliban to end its abuse of the human rights of the
Afghans, particularly women and girls; and, also, to stop the production of
narcotics in the areas that the Taliban occupies. And Under Secretary
Pickering certainly would have urged the Taliban to work with other Afghans
in that country to end the fighting and begin a peace process that could
lead to a sort of broad-based representative government.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed they didn't show up?
MR. REEKER: Well, I want to wait and see what the outcome of the day is,
and if we have any --
QUESTION: So Pickering's office is amenable to rescheduling this meeting?
It wasn't a one-time-only deal?
MR. REEKER: Well, I have to say that Under Secretary Pickering is an
extremely busy person, as all of you know. I don't know what the scheduling
opportunities will be. That meeting was missed. We don't know why as of the
time I came out here. We didn't have an explanation or whereabouts of the
delegation. But if you want to check back at the end of the day, we can
certainly check with you.
QUESTION: Do we have a position - maybe it's covering old ground - on the
Taliban's proposal to bring in Islamic jurists from Saudi Arabia,
Afghanistan and other countries, to investigate whether they should
extradite bin Laden?
MR. REEKER: I think it is something we have discussed in the past. Our
view is perfectly clear, and it is the view of the United Nations. Security
Council resolutions call for Mr. bin Laden to be expelled from where he is
and turned over to a country where he can face justice.
Still on the Taliban?
QUESTION: Speaking of the United Nations, was Pickering - or will he, at
a subsequent scheduled meeting, give a US position on a Taliban seat at the
MR. REEKER: I think the Secretary was very clear in New York in terms of
stating quite outright that we will oppose giving the UN seat for
Afghanistan to the Taliban. We do not favor any Afghan faction. We are
working, along with the United Nations, in fact, and with other concerned
countries, to help the Afghans establish a broad-based government that
would receive international recognition. And so I don't think any more
needed to be said.
QUESTION: I have a question on another subject, and it is a rather
circumscribed subject, so if anybody in the room is interested in more
background on it, I'd be glad top provide it. If not, I'm just going to ask
you, is there any reaction to Italy's decision to transfer Sylvia Baraldini
from the jail to a hospital? And is there any reaction to appeals from
Italy and appeals from her American attorneys for her to be released?
MR. REEKER: I hadn't even seen those reports. I apologize. So I would be
happy to check into it afterwards or you may just want to just contact our
European Bureau directly. But we can look into it afterwards.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: Iran and Cuba. Do you have any reaction to the upcoming visit
of the Iranian President Khatami to Cuba? I believe it is tomorrow, and he
is expected to be welcomed in Havana with full honors from Cuban President
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular reaction to that. I'm sorry. I
would be happy to look into it and see if we do, but I'm not certain that
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the referendum on the Euro in
Denmark, which is currently neck-and-neck yes and no?
MR. REEKER: Well, nothing other than to say that that is an issue for the
Danish voters to decide. And we will read about it in the paper.
QUESTION: You're not concerned about what the impact might be on the Euro,
which is kind of important for the United States?
MR. REEKER: I think at this point it is an issue that needs to be decided
by the Danish voters. They have clearly had ample opportunity to receive
free and open information and make their decision, and I am not going to
weigh in with any US position on that.
QUESTION: Has Mike Sheehan come back from India yet to participate in the
North Korea talks? And I'm wondering also if you would just let us know if
those have begun. They were supposed to begin yesterday.
MR. REEKER: Yes. North Korean talks, our comprehensive talks with North
Korea in New York, are proceeding in a positive manner and a good
atmosphere. We have been discussing the full range of issues of common
concern. I think, as you know, in terms of other talks, we don't get into
details of the discussions while they are still in progress, which they
very much are. They are going to continue tomorrow. There is no fixed date
for ending these talks.
And to, unfortunately, not answer fully your question about Ambassador
Sheehan, I'm not sure. I know that he was expected in New York for those
talks. Terrorism is one of the issues, obviously, that they will be
discussing. That was to be in a sequential manner. I will have to check on
his whereabouts, if he has returned yet from India or is he en route.
QUESTION: The Chinese Government News Agency has been saying that the
United States in joining Galun Fong (sic), Tibet, Free Tibet groups and
other anti-Chinese Government groups to topple the Communist Party in
China. This, I think, is a very serious accusation the Chinese have made,
especially since our human rights report. Have you any response?
MR. REEKER: Well, I stand very much by our human rights report. As you
know, we have a vigorous process of reviewing human rights in every country
around the globe, and we report that faithfully, annually. We discuss those
issues in great detail here. I don't think I have anything particular to
add. I'm not familiar with the specific remarks of the Chinese Government
to which you are referring, but I will note that we have a complex
relationship with China, and we engage them on a variety of levels,
including human rights, which we talk about often.
QUESTION: So the US Government, as far as you know, is not plotting
against the Communist Party in China at all?
MR. REEKER: No.
QUESTION: I think the designation of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
must now have gone through its procedural process on the Hill, and I was
wondering whether you have identified any individuals who will consequently
lose their visas or any assets which will be frozen?
MR. REEKER: Let me tell you what I can on that subject. On September 25th,
a number of you may have noticed that the United States published in the
Federal Register the formal designation of the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan as a foreign terrorist organization under US law. It shouldn't
come as any surprise to most of you who have followed this that the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan is a deadly terrorist group. It has threatened the
security of Uzbekistan and the region. Its publicly stated goal is the
forcible overthrow of Uzbekistan's current government. And we believe that
this Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was involved in explosions in Tashkent
that killed 16 people, as well as a bus hijacking in 1999 in which two
passengers and several police were killed. Also, in 1999, the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan took a group of Japanese geologists hostage. And
just last month, the group kidnapped four US citizens, who I believe were
mountain climbers, and held them hostage. Fortunately, as you will recall,
the four were able to escape.
So the Department has had this group under review for some time and has
determined that it meets the criteria to be designated as a foreign
terrorist organization. The law authorizes the Secretary of State to make
these designations, which are reviewed every two years - at least every two
years - once they are made. And of course the Secretary may add or delete
organizations at any time.
And in terms of your specifics, I really don't have anything. There are
legal consequences which may be of interest. It will be unlawful for a
person in the United States, or subject to the jurisdiction of the United
States, to provide funds or other material support to a foreign terrorist
organization. And, as you indicated, representatives and certain members of
designated foreign terrorist organizations - if they are aliens - can be
denied visas or excluded from the United States. In terms of specific names
that would fall under that category, I just don't have anything for you at
QUESTION: Not specific names, but just any consequences from this move at
MR. REEKER: Well, I just outlined two of the consequences --
QUESTION: Have you worked out what they will be yet?
MR. REEKER: Well, those are the things - once it is designated - what we
will have to look at. I don't have anything to tell you now. As well, the
third consequence is that US financial institutions must block funds of
designated foreign terrorist organizations and their agents, and report the
blockage to the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Department of
QUESTION: You guys have been a great, great promoter of rule of law, and
have the need for no impunity. And I'm wondering, in that light, if you
have anything to say about the decision by the Indonesian court not to
throw out the trial of the President Suharto, ex-President Suharto.
MR. REEKER: Yes, rule of law is, of course, something we take extremely
seriously. But I would add that it is very much up to the Indonesian people
and to their government to decide how to pursue specific corruption
investigations and prosecutions through their legal system. As you indicate,
a key issue facing Indonesia is economic recovery - that is what this has
been about - and building foundations necessary for long-term economic
growth. Fighting corruption, as we have discussed here often, is a critical
component in creating an environment for growth to take place. So we
strongly support the rule of law in Indonesia, and we urge demonstrators
protesting the court's decision to observe and support the principle of the
rule of law by refraining from violence.
QUESTION: So you don't necessarily think that it is a bad thing? You're
not concerned that throwing this case out might have a deleterious effect
MR. REEKER: Well, again, we think fighting corruption is very important,
and we think the rule of law is important, and we think that needs to be
followed. But obviously those are decisions that the government and the
Indonesian people need to make in terms of how to pursue specific --
QUESTION: So you have no position, then, on the decision of the
MR. REEKER: Right. That's a domestic issue for the Indonesians.
QUESTION: And then just the last thing, I'm wondering if you care to - or
can - put on the record some comments that were being made yesterday by
some officials in this building about the situation in the Ivory Coast,
with the alleged forged birth - marriage certificate?
MR. REEKER: Is that where I saw those from - anonymous State Department
officials? In terms of the reports of falsified marriage certificates, I
believe, for Mr. Ouattara, which would be designed, of course, to
disqualify him from being a candidate in elections in Cote d'Ivoire, we
have seen the news reports to that effect. And we are gravely concerned,
but frankly not surprised, that the Government of Cote d'Ivoire is using a
falsified document as a pretext for excluding an opponent from the
And I will just take this opportunity to reiterate that the United States
calls for an electoral process in Cote d'Ivoire in which the people of Cote
d'Ivoire may freely choose the candidates of their choice in inclusive,
free and fair and transparent elections. We believe, as we have said before,
it is entirely inappropriate and ill-advised for General Guei to stand as a
candidate in the presidential election, as he came to power and remains in
power as a result of a military coup, and thus he is in a position to
manipulate the outcome of the elections. And moreover, recent actions, such
as the one we have been discussing, suggest that that is indeed his
QUESTION: I had posed some detailed questions on this yesterday. I didn't
get any answers. Have you actually checked out the authenticity of this
document independently of press reports?
MR. REEKER: I don't know that we have done that, that the Department of
State has done that. I think it was fairly clear from some of the press
reports that this was apparently a marriage certificate, I believe from the
state of Pennsylvania --
QUESTION: Pennsylvania, yes.
MR. REEKER: -- which would obviously be a matter for local authorities to
determine definitively. But I think there was some fine journalistic
reporting done on that which indicated that this had been falsified. And as
we said, it wasn't actually surprising to us that the government was using
a falsified document as a pretext to try to keep Mr. Ouattara from being a
(The briefing was concluded at 2:40 P.M.)