Browse through our Interesting Nodes for Financial Services in Greece A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Saturday, 16 January 2021
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Interesting Nodes
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #112, 00-11-08

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


BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman ---- PEACE PROCESS 1,5 Meeting schedules for Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak being finalized 2 Focus remains on implementing Sharm el-Sheikh agreements not implementing new UN resolutions such as an international protection force 6 Establishment of a fact-finding commission / Implementation of the Wye River Agreement IRAQ/EGYPT 1-2 Iraqi-Egyptian relations and possible decision to turn interest sections into embassies DOMESTIC 3-4 Reaction to the US Presidential Elections / No way of knowing the exact number of State Department personnel presently registered to absentee vote abroad SUDAN 4 Reports that the National Democratic Alliance (Sudanese opposition) has captured the town of Kassala / Activity on the eastern front INDONESIA 7 Embassy Jakarta reopened / Ambassador Gelbard travel plans YUGOSLAVIA 7-8 Inspections a former Embassy building are preliminary steps toward establishing diplomatic relations / Several months before former Chancery is usable LIBYA 8-10 Safety of Americans Going to Libya and issuance of visas to Libyan nationals to the US 10 Relevance to Lockerbie trial RUSSIA 10-12 Russian authorities release Edmond Pope's medical reports APEC/BRUNEI 12-13 Announcement of Secretary Albright visit and meetings with Foreign Ministers of APEC countries


DPB # 112



MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm not here to make news, but I'm happy to take your questions. We will have a statement after the briefing. We'll have a statement for you on the Secretary's meeting with the Austrian Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: You have Barak Sunday and you have Arafat --

QUESTION: You'll have it in statement form or --

MR. BOUCHER: We'll have a statement to release.

QUESTION: Is it ready yet?

MR. BOUCHER: It should be pretty soon. I think it's in the final --

QUESTION: Is she having any separate meetings with either of our visitors?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid the answer at this stage is I don't know. But I will check on it for you.

QUESTION: What was the question?

MR. BOUCHER: Is she having any separate meetings with any of the visitors like Arafat and Barak, and the answer to that is I don't know.

QUESTION: You don't know?

MR. BOUCHER: But I will check.


MR. BOUCHER: Off to a rolling start here.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Iraqi-Egyptian decision to turn their interest sections into embassies? Do you think it's a bad idea, perhaps?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I've seen that, so I don't think I do. I think generally you know what our position has been on relations with Iraq.

QUESTION: Which is?

MR. BOUCHER: Which I'll get for you.

QUESTION: But you don't have anything new about it?


QUESTION: So does that mean that the US is unaware of this? I know that my colleague over here is just finding out about it today, but we actually knew about it yesterday.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I congratulate you, and I assume that I'm in the same boat as your colleague because some of my colleagues are smarter than me and more aware of these things than I am as well.

QUESTION: I'm surprised -- (inaudible) -- yesterday.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's nice, but I don't think I was asked about it. And I'll check on it now for you since I have been asked.

QUESTION: Okay. To go back to Mr. Arafat, do you have anything new to say on the idea of an international protection force which he continues to float as a proposal despite discouraging noises both from here and from Jerusalem, or wherever the Israeli Government is these days?

MR. BOUCHER: If the question is do I have anything new to say, the answer is no. We have made quite clear it's not time for new UN resolutions. The focus remains to implement Sharm. Progress has always been based on finding areas of agreement between the parties. The best means to move forward is to do what they have already agreed to.

QUESTION: There has been think tankers trying to figure out what's next. It seemed to be -- it seemed to be that several of them seemed to be thinking that maybe considering everything, especially the violence, that it's time to -- almost inevitable that you back off and get into step-by-step diplomacy instead of going for a final settlement. Is it still the US's intention or hope that something can be done in a comprehensive way?

MR. BOUCHER: It's still the US's intention to work with the parties to help them try to achieve what they are in a position to achieve, what they want to achieve. Obviously we think that, first, attention needs to be paid to implementing the commitments at Sharm el-Sheikh, to reducing the violence, restoring the calm. And then as long as the parties tell us that they want to find a way back to the peace process, our intention is to work with them to find a way back to the peace process. But in this, throughout, we have been working with the parties to help them try to come to agreement on the things that they are trying to achieve.

QUESTION: This is kind of an offbeat question.

MR. BOUCHER: That would be unusual.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Considering that you are the first point of contact for foreign governments in the States, and your embassies abroad are often -- are as well, I'm just wondering if you're aware of any, you know, increased inquiries from your foreign countries wondering why the most powerful country in the world, with the most advanced computers, is unable to tell who its next President is more than 24 hours after the election has been held.

MR. BOUCHER: You mean, whether people in countries where this takes days and weeks are asking us that question?

QUESTION: Well, no, I mean --

MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen a whole lot of -- any cable traffic, e-mails or whatever that might have been to that effect. I'm sure the way the world is wired these days they are probably reading in wire services and watching CNN and following things around the world -- and Fox -- and following things around the world exactly the way that many of us in the United States are. But I think our democracy is something we are very proud of, and I don't think there is any need to apologize for it or explain it.

QUESTION: No, no. I'm not asking -- I'm not suggesting you need to apologize for it. I'm just wondering if people have been asking the question to you or to this building or to your branch offices.

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have seen. And, frankly, based on my experience abroad when these things come up in conversations with Embassy people or other Americans, they are not the kinds of things that get reported back here unless there is some special angst being shown. But inquiries, commentary, chats, discussions, those kinds of things, they're not normally the subject that would affect our relationships.

QUESTION: Do you have any figures at all on the amount of US personnel overseas -- US State Department personnel overseas, or any type of absentee ballot information as far as State Department?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, nothing that -- we have numbers, but they are not very good numbers and they don't give you a good indication of a way of figuring out absentee ballots. There's probably something over four million Americans abroad. There is something like 6,000 to 7,000 Foreign Service people, Americans associated with our missions. But in both those numbers, I can't tell you how many are minors and how many are adults, how many might be registered, not registered, and certainly I can't tell you how many might be registered in some particular southern state. So those are sort of grosso modo, the kind of numbers that we have, but not enough to give you an indication of how many absentee ballots there might be spread throughout al! l the different jurisdictions.

QUESTION: Excuse me, I'm sorry. Did the Secretary of State vote in D.C. or in Virginia, I am wondering, having homes in both jurisdictions? I was just wondering.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to ask her.

QUESTION: Since the presidency is at stake, do you have any reaction somehow from the overseas posts or embassies, US embassies around the world, and also any from foreign leaders about this holdout? Any reaction?

MR. BOUCHER: Déjà vu all over again. That is what he just asked, and I said not really, not that it would be likely to be -- _

QUESTION_: From foreign leaders?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any reports to that effect. And most of our conversations that might come up with us, just like any other American overseas, is probably not something that would be reported as being somehow involved in our relationship.

QUESTION: Any immediate effect on the foreign policy because of this?

MR. BOUCHER: No. The President is the President -- today, yesterday, and tomorrow, all the way through January 21st. He and his foreign policy team, including the Secretary of State, intend to continue their authorities and to continue working as hard as they have on all these issues right through the end! .

QUESTION: Have you seen the reports that Sudanese rebels have captured the town of Kassala, and can you confirm it independently at all?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me see. I'm not we can confirm exactly. We know there is fighting on the eastern fronts. What we have seen is the reports that the National Democratic Alliance, the Sudanese opposition umbrella group, may have captured Kassala. The eastern front has been active in recent weeks. Fighting has taken place around areas neighboring Kassala. The taking of Kassala would be a significant development. It is important because of its proximity to Port Sudan, the oil pipeline and Khartoum, the capital. But the latest fighting increase, to us, underscores the need to pursue a negotiated settlement to the civil war.

QUESTION: Have you had any contact with the NDA -- (inaudible) --?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: On Arafat, can you give us any more details on his schedule tomorrow, or did you do this before I came in?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we did this before you came in. No, I can't give you any more details. But, yes, I will check on it.

QUESTION: Do we have him coming back here for a meeting with the Secretary yet?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that question was asked before. No, I don't know the answer. And, yes, I will check on it.

QUESTION: On the Arafat visit, this is technically in response to an invitation that went out two weeks ago now, or ten days ago. Can you tell us what the purpose of the invitation is, or has it changed since it was made? How do you see the -- why have you invited him here?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we have been remarkably consistent in terms of describing the purpose. Chairman Arafat will meet with the President and Secretary on Thursday. Prime Minister Barak will come on Sunday. Ending the violence, restoring calm to the region, is our immediate priority. Our goal in these meetings is to review implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh commitments and to find ways to move forward. As we have said before, it is up to the leaders to make the hard decisions and take the necessary steps that will make peace possible in the end.

QUESTION: Okay. So some press reports, which I won't go into details of, have said your expectations for the meeting are very low. Is that a fair assessment of the way you feel?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think at any of these meetings we have tried to set expectations as being high, low or in the middle. The fact is there is work to be done. There are important issues at stake for the leaders themselves and for the future of the region, and we think these meetings need to address those important issues.

QUESTION: It was my understanding that this meeting was not really going to focus on the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement and implementing an end to the violence, but more on looking past a time where the violence was going to be over and they could look ahead to negotiations. Do you have anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: That is not what I said. And I don't know why you would have that understanding, but what I have said is there are a number of things that need to be looked at. Ending the violence, restoring calm, is the immediate priority. The goal is also to review implementation of Sharm el-Sheikh and find ways to move forward.

QUESTION: Saeb Erakat has said that one of the problems that sparked the violence was the non-implementation of the Wye River Agreement and the withdrawals. Is that going to be taken up at these meetings this week, do you think? And, if not, is Mitchell going to be meeting with Arafat and Barak before he goes out there?

MR. BOUCHER: The fact-finding committee has just been established. We really don't have anything at this stage on how they intend to proceed, how long they will take, how they are going to start their meetings, so I can't really answer questions for them. We obviously were instrumental in helping them get established and selected and figuring out whom it is, but now that they are decided, they will decide their own course of work. The questions of Wye River and interim issues fall in the same basket. Any of you can say, you know, are they going to talk about this, are they going to talk about that, it was my understanding they might do this, it was my understanding they might do that. I'm not going to deal with thousands of possibilities. I am going to tell you what they are going to talk about, what we want to talk about with them. And that is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from me.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: Regarding the meeting with Arafat, will he have staff with him and will Ross be sitting in, et cetera? Do you have any idea?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I assume Dennis Ross will be sitting in. He has been in most of them, but not all of them. There have been some that have been one-on-one with the President. There have been some that have been small groups and larger. I'm not sure that's decided at this point.

QUESTION: Given the fact that the election has taken place and a new President will be taking over in just a few months, how much do you think the parties themselves will take what the current President of the United States is going to say, and do you think that they will kind of be biding their time until the next President takes over?

MR. BOUCHER: You can ask that question of the parties. They have never been shy about making their views known. I think, for our part, we are prepared to do what we can, prepared to do everything we can. The President, the Secretary, Dennis Ross, and others have an enormous amount that they have personally contributed to this process. They have a deep understanding of the issues. They are willing and able to continue contributing as long as they are in office. So I think, once again, I return to the fundamental proposition, and that is we play this role in the process and have played this role in the process because that is what the parties have wanted us to do, and we will continue to do that as long as we can be helpful, as long as they want us to do this, because it is in our interest to do so.

QUESTION: I'll try to get election in here one more time. Ahead of the election, some of the missions abroad downscaled their plans for election night parties -- Bahrain canceled it -- especially in the Middle East. Can you tell us whether everything went smoothly, whether there were any demonstrations connected to our elections, and also throw in there about the Jakarta --

QUESTION: You mean Gore supporters outside?

QUESTION: They were worried about it, Matt. And also the Jakarta Embassy has been reopened, and if you could tell us about that.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything more broadly. I'll have to check if there were any incidents or events at election parties. I had not heard of any but, as we have established before, I don't have perfect knowledge of everyt! hing going on. The Embassy in Jakarta reopened on Tuesday for public services. We have obviously informed Americans in Indonesia. This decision by the Embassy, as you know, was made by the Embassy's leadership group, the Emergency Action Committee. The Department concurs, based on the situation out there, including the additional support that we've got from the Indonesian Government.

QUESTION: Can we change the subject again? Is there anything new on the Yugoslavia diplomatic relations angle?

MR. BOUCHER: I guess the news is that we have established that our Embassy is not going to be useable for a couple months. But we continue to proceed with the procedures that are involved in reestablishing relations, and that should be done soon.

QUESTION: What's wrong --?

MR. BOUCHER: And somehow I can't find my guidance, or I can tell you more about that.

QUESTION: Is it that it's crumbling, or has it been -- it's basically out of use, or is it something else, like it's been plastered with posters and --

MR. BOUCHER: No. Water damage, out of use, that sort of thing. Our inspections at the former Embassy building are part of the preliminary steps we are taking with a view to establishment of diplomatic relations. The old chancery is not currently in a physical condition to serve as a working office. We expect it will be several months before the building can serve as a fully functioning Embassy again. We do continue to rotate diplomats in and out of our Embassy in Budapest, to work in Belgrade. And we expect to formally establish relations very soon, but we can't say precisely when. It is accomplished, as we have said, by an exchange of letters between the two presidents.

QUESTION: You said last week or something -- was it last week or early -- it must have been last week -- that there was some kind of connection between the actual building and establishing relations. Is that not the case? I mean, you're not going to have to wait until --

MR. BOUCHER: We are not going to have to wait until the Embassy is put into service. No, the connection is these are the preliminary things you do. Clearly, if you can do it -- if you can reopen the old Embassy and establish relations in one fell swoop, that's nice, but generally I think they're not necessarily related. And now that we know it will take a couple months on the Embassy, we'll probably go ahead with the establishment of relations soon without it.

QUESTION: Where are they going to stay in the meantime?

MR. BOUCHER: We haven't specified locations, but they have found places to work in Belgrade.

QUESTION: But there's no thought of getting a new property? You're going to use the old one?

MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is we're going to fix it up.

QUESTION: And theirs here? Or did they complain? Was there anything --?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I know the exact physical status of their Embassy here. No, I don't.

QUESTION: And I'll finish mine with just wondering if you managed, which I don't expect you did, to get anything -- to pry anything on this Libya report out? I mean --


QUESTION: You did? Has there been a recommendation?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's not expect too much. "Anything" and a recommendation are obviously different standards. Then there's the issue of finding it. The issue is still under review. I am not going to comment on exactly where it stands in the bureaucratic process. It involves a number of considerations, including the trip report. We're going to make a decision when we think it's time. That said, we do have a Public Warning in place that indicates the continuing possibility of hostility towards American citizens among some segments of the population and some elements of Libyan Government. So that's worth noting as well in this context.

QUESTION: Are you saying the report is complete, but the decision is under review, or the report is still under review?

MR. BOUCHER: I said the issue is under review, and I'm not going to comment on exactly what papers might be in the bureaucratic process.

QUESTION: Well, does the bureaucratic process normally take this long? I mean, this was a less-than-36-hour trip, as I remember. These guys who went there! cannot have seen so much stuff that they've been unable to put it down in writing in the, what, nine months that it's been since they went there. What's the deal?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- okay.

QUESTION: Is there any intention to make a decision on this in the near future, or is it just sitting on a shelf somewhere?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. First of all, I said the decision involves more than the trip. Obviously, people can write up their trip fairly soon after going there. Second of all, I pointed out that we at present continue to have a warning to Americans that says that there are hostile possibilities, hostile elements in Libya and the population, and even some elements in the government. That's a factor that has to be considered. This decision is not just one trip report; this is a broader decision about the use of American passports and the safety of American citizens. It's not made because a piece of paper is ready or there's a box to check; it's made because we have re! ached a conclusion, a final conclusion about the status and the safety of Americans there. When we decide that the facts are such that we are ready to reach that conclusion, I'm sure we'll do that.

QUESTION: Well, if you remember, my earlier question was not a subtext of it, which is kind of - what I'm trying to get to.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the front text to it was Lockerbie, and I'm not saying that.

QUESTION: Well, exactly. But, I mean, you say that there's a lot of other things. Is Lockerbie one of the things that go into this consideration?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say this is a decision about the use of American passports and the safety of Americans, and those are the factors that need to be considered.

QUESTION: And it has nothing whatsoever to do with the results of the trial in Camp Zeist?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, the way you asked it was, "Are you waiting for the end of the trial?" No.


QUESTION: I'd like to follow up on that.

QUESTION: Yes. Me, too.

QUESTION: On Libya, the Libyans sort of wanted for some time to have a seminar here in the United States or elsewhere -- they had one in Malta a year ago -- with a meeting with a dialogue group from the United States, including some ex-Ambassadors and other people. Would you approve any visas for Libyan students -- I'm sorry -- Libyan professors, or say graduates of American universities who are presently in the educational area of the Libyan economy to come and to participate in seminars? What would be the reaction of the Department to this?

MR. BOUCHER: That's what we call a hypothetical, and I can't do that for you. It depends an awful lot on individual circumstances, an awful lot of --

QUESTION: Well, let me put it another way. Has the Department --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We had a question from Betsy, still.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: No, we had a Betsy question.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- turn down such a request in the past six months?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Will the United States be tougher as the Secretary --

MR. BOUCHER: Can I answer Betsy's question?

QUESTION: Well, what was her question?

QUESTION: I didn't hear her question.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I did. So I'll answer her question, and then you can guess at what it was.

QUESTION: It's not a -- (inaudible) --

MR. BOUCHER: We got from the Russians the results of medical exams of Edmond Pope, including the MRI and the blood work. They were shared with the physician who is assigned to our Embassy in Moscow. The Russian physicians have told our doctor that their assessment shows no evidence of cancer, only back problems. But I want to point out we have not fully reviewed the test results ourselves, and so we can't comment on our own evaluation. On the other hand, the trial has resumed today. Our consular officers have continued to be denied access to Mr. Pope and to the proceedings. We continue to insist on the need for Russia to comply with treaty obligations for consular access. We note we have not had direct contact with Mr. Pope since October 11th. Over the last few days, we have continued to press at the highest levels of the Russian Gove rnment regarding our concerns about Mr. Pope's health and our inability to see him or have access to his trial. Once again, we state our belief he should be released immediately to be reunited with his family and to receive proper medical treatment.

QUESTION: When you say there were --

QUESTION: There are wire stories that his accuser has recanted his statements.

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that, and we have no way of verifying that because we are not allowed access into the trial.

QUESTION: But are you talking to his lawyers?

MR. BOUCHER: I assume that we are in touch. I just don't know that it's for us to talk about it anyway, but I don't have that information myself.

QUESTION: Did you find out any more about the circumstances of this medical examination, whether it was voluntary or was imposed on him in some way? We've got the reports, but the --

MR. BOUCHER: I remember the reports. I don't know. I'll have to check on that and see.

QUESTION: So what credence are you giving to them, exactly?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have had medical tests, the data from medical tests, shared with us, and our doctor, I'm sure, will go over it.

QUESTION: Can you say when that was shared with you?

MR. BOUCHER: The MRI results were today, Wednesday, in Moscow. I'm not sure if that's when the other stuff was -- when the other results were turned over.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that all of these results were from the exam on Friday?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that. I don't know for sure.

QUESTION: So it could be stuff from before as well?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, or it could be subsequent.

QUESTION: Oh. But you're not aware, though, that he was -- that there was any examination of him after Friday?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure that there was. We were told that he was taken for medical exams on Friday. As Jonathan points out, there was some different reporting about the circumstances of that. I will try to check and see if we know ! whether the results that were shared with us were indeed only from Friday and, second of all, whether we have found out at this point the circumstances of his going for those tests.

QUESTION: The reason I was asking, I mean, they're not showing you stuff that they might have done like five months ago or something like that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about that, but I assume that our physicians might be able to tell that.

QUESTION: And do you know whether you'll have any access to the doctors who carried out this examination so that you can --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, they were shared by Russian physicians with our doctor.

QUESTION: Okay. So they sat down together and went over them?

MR. BOUCHER: And that's when they shared the results. I assume we'll be able to get back through the same channel if we have more questions or discussions.

QUESTION: So this is a welcome development, but still not even close to what you want?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's good that we have acce! ss at least to data about his health, but I think our insistence, first of all, on having consular access, second of all, having our doctors see him, and third of all, our insistence that he be released and returned home remain.

QUESTION: The statement on the Secretary going to Brunei speaks of her having her own meetings there with foreign ministers. Do you happen to know at this point whom she'll be talking to? Was it an assumption that, you know, the opportunity will be there?

MR. BOUCHER: We're in the process -- I mean, the APEC 21 foreign ministers -- 20 foreign ministers expected to be there, and she'll have a number of meetings. We're in the process of setting those up, but I don't have a full list yet. Partly it depends on where -- which meetings she goes to with the President. And sometimes presidents and foreign ministers meet each other together, and foreign ministers don't need a separate meeting. There are all kinds of permutations, so it's still being set up.!

QUESTION: How many foreign ministers are expected, would you say? About 20?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, normally there would be 20 there. I haven't counted.


QUESTION: Normally there would be 21. Isn't that what you said?

MR. BOUCHER: I said 20.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 P.M.)

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
Back to Top
Copyright © 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
All Rights Reserved.

HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
std2html v1.01b run on Tuesday, 14 November 2000 - 2:38:18 UTC