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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #116, 00-11-16

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

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


1482

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, November 16, 2000 Briefer: PHILIP REEKER, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN

SERBIA (FRY)
1-3	US Assessment of Yugoslavia's Cooperation With War Crimes
	 Tribunal / Jim O'Brien's Meetings in Belgrade / Indicted Criminals
	 Turned Over to the Hague/ Yugoslav Government's Decision to
	 Establish Diplomatic Relations With US / President Kostunica's
	 Concern That US was Trying to Monopolize Kosovo Process Outside
	 Context of UN / Meeting Between Ambassador Montgomery and Ministry
	 of Foreign Affairs Officials / US Aid Program/ Link Between Aid
	 Amount and Cooperation on War Crimes 
4-7	European Union Easing Visa Bans For Milosevic Aids / US Review
	 of Guidance on Restricting Travel by Former Milosevic Regime
	 Officials 
BOSNIA
3-4	Dayton Agreement Fifth Anniversary Celebrations / Who Will
	 Attend the Event
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
7-8	Ambassador Ross' Meetings With Chairman Arafat and Israeli
	 Prime Minister Barak / Continuation of Violence / State
	 Department's View of Israeli Tactics / Whether Secretary Albright
	 Is Initiating Conversations With Israelis or Palestinians
COLOMBIA
8-10	FARC Suspension of Peace Talks / Continuing Support for Plan
	 Colombia/ Ambassador Pickering's Trip to Colombia
U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
10-12	Perception of our Presidency Overseas/ Whether our Embassies
	 are Being Given Specific Guidance or Being Told How to Explain the
	 Situation / Reference Material That Explains our System and the
	 Ongoing Process / James Baker's Claim Regarding Great Concern Abroad
PERU
12-13	Intentions of President Fujimori / Peruvian Congress Scheduled
	 to Vote on New Congressional President Reports of President
	 Fujimori's Travel From Brunei / Rumors of President Fujimori's
	 Application for Asylum in Malaysia / Whether US Officials had
	 Contact With President Fujimori in Brunei / Peruvian Opposition
	 Leader Alejandro Toledo's Washington Meetings 
CAUCASUS
13	Military Equipment From Russian Military Base / Ceasefire
	 Violation Between Armenia and Azerbaijan/ Whether Issue was Raised
	 With Minsk Group
BURMA
13	International Labor Organization's Imposition of Sanctions on
	 Burma
TURKEY
14	European Union Vote Urging Turkey to Recognize Armenian Genocide

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

DPB #116

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2000, 1:10 P.M.

(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. REEKER: Barry es aqui. Welcome back, everybody else, this fine Thursday. I don't have any announcements, so why don't we turn directly to Mr. Schweid.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what the US assessment of Yugoslavia's cooperation of the War Crimes Tribunal is under the new president? Is it good or what?

MR. REEKER: Barry, I don't have a full readout for you on that. As you know, Jim O'Brien, our Special Envoy, is on his way back from Serbia where he has had meetings in Belgrade with President Kostunica, as well as the foreign minister and other officials there. And so we will wait till we get a readout from him sometime tomorrow.

QUESTION: You mean you would know -- the State Department would know -- if they have turned any war crimes suspects over to the tribunal? You wouldn't need Jim to come back and tell you that?

MR. REEKER: I would have to go and check, Barry. That is not something that I have for you today in terms of an update on that.

QUESTION: Well, today may be important because, as you know, we may get an announcement of a restoration of relations. So is it possible, please, because that seems to be an issue of some importance? If you can give us a total of what the new government -- how many indicted criminals the new government -- has turned over to The Hague sometime today, I would really appreciate it.

MR. REEKER: I will have to look after the briefing and see if we have any of that. I am not aware that the new government has fully moved ahead on a number of matters. As you know, it is a new government. As I said, we have had officials there recently. We have our presence there.

Let me just say that we do welcome today the Yugoslav Government's decision to establish diplomatic relations with the US, which I believe they formally announced. As we have discussed, we expect to complete the procedures for doing so within the next few days. We are pleased to be normalizing relationships with the Kostunica government, as has been planned between our two governments, and we hope to restore the strong ties that have historically characterized the relations between our two countries and peoples.

And the remaining procedures for establishing diplomatic relations, I think as we have discussed already, are the exchange of presidential letters and diplomatic notes, and this will occur in a meeting between Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and Ambassador Montgomery, as I said, in the next few days.

QUESTION: Following up in this, President Kostunica today, I believe, reiterated his concern that the United States was trying to monopolize the Kosovo process outside the context of the UN. Do you have any response to this?

MR. REEKER: I am not even aware of the comment, so I would not be able to respond to it.

QUESTION: Well, has it been a source of any tension at this point in terms of this process?

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of it at all. I think you are quite aware of the Kosovo process in terms of the UN mandate there. It is the UN that has authority in Kosovo now, on the basis of a UN Security Council resolution. They recently had local elections in Kosovo, which were an important step in developing the type of democratic civil institutions necessary to bring democracy to Kosovo, and we certainly support that effort and support the UN there very much.

QUESTION: What about the US aid program to Yugoslavia?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any details right here, but we could certainly look at it in terms of the upcoming fiscal year or the fiscal year we are currently in. We can try to get you some figures on what our package is expected to be or what we are looking at, but we will have to check into that afterwards.

QUESTION: If this recognition, or re-recognition, triggers something, and if the aid amount or aid itself is linked to their cooperation on war crimes.

MR. REEKER: Just on your first point, the impact of formally establishing diplomatic relations, or reestablishing as the case is here, means that we can have a resumption of consular services; for instance, the hiring of staff, some of the routine and regular contacts that we would have with Foreign Ministry officials. As an extension of that, I believe Yugoslav diplomats are already beginning the process of reestablishing their diplomatic mission here in Washington. And likewise, as we have discussed over the recent days and weeks, we are moving forward with preparing our Embassy and properties in Belgrade for the return to normal Embassy operations.

In terms of aid, I would have to get you what is under consideration and some details on that. I just don't have anything.

QUESTION: On the Montgomery meeting with the -- you said in the next few days, or in the coming days?

MR. REEKER: In the next few days is what they are describing to me.

QUESTION: Okay. And it is not just a letter between the presidents? It is also diplomatic notes? Are these just like formalities?

MR. REEKER: As I understand it, the remaining procedures -- we both declared our intention. As I said, we welcome the Yugoslav expression of their intent today.

QUESTION: Yes, but I just want to know whether the diplomatic notes are formalities or not. I mean, are they -- is it just kind of --

MR. REEKER: An exchange of presidential letters and diplomatic notes is indeed a formality, but that is something that does need to take place and will take place in a meeting between Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and Ambassador Montgomery in the coming days. We will certainly let you know.

QUESTION: What are the diplomatic notes?

MR. REEKER: What are the diplomatic notes? Diplomatic notes are diplomatic notes that say we establish relations -- I don't have a precise readout of all the details that that would go into, but I think it is a fairly standard procedure. We can probably look into that for you if you want to know the protocols involved.

QUESTION: Well, I just want to know exactly -- well, that's what I wondered, if they would be different for each -- you know, fill in the blank on the name of the country or whatever, if they are different for --

MR. REEKER: That is something I would have to check. I think we customize them for the country in question.

QUESTION: Perhaps it is not really your department, but who do you know will be in Dayton over the weekend for the celebrations?

MR. REEKER: I know -- because I had a note here on it -- I know that Ambassador Holbrooke will be attending the Dayton Agreement Fifth Anniversary discussions that will be held in Ohio tomorrow and Saturday, along with other US, European and Balkan officials. We are committed to ensuring that the peace process in Bosnia continues to advance, and the discussions in Dayton, which will be held in the coming days, are part of the process of strengthening the peace agreement. So we are looking forward to that. I believe the Press Office had a copy of the schedule that was produced, along with a guest list of those that will be attending by the foundation.

QUESTION: Do you have anything firm on who else is definitely attending, because the guest list was just invitees, really, rather than people who are --

MR. REEKER: Well, what I know is that --

QUESTION: Presumably the State Department is listing these people in some way, no?

MR. REEKER: No, it is not a State Department function. No.

QUESTION: You will have some kind of protocol person there, too?

MR. REEKER: I would imagine for foreign leaders we would have the standard arrangements that would be made.

QUESTION: Do you have a definitive --

MR. REEKER: I can check with the Press Office and see. I don't believe that we have a definitive list of everyone that will be attending those things. It is not a State Department or US Government-sponsored event. We can certainly --

QUESTION: Carla del Ponte, for sure?

MR. REEKER: I am not certain whether she is coming or not. I had heard reports that she may be there.

QUESTION: Phil, one more on Yugoslavia. The European Union recently eased visa bans for Milosevic aides, including this Serbian secret police chief. Is this something the US is going to look at as well?

MR. REEKER: Yes, I had seen the reports on visas in recent days. We had seen a list, in fact, eliminating the list of former officials under the Milosevic regime that the European Union had. We are currently reviewing our guidance on restrictions on travel by former Milosevic regime officials, given, obviously, the new circumstances in Yugoslavia. We are consulting with the European Union and with the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on that process. We don't publicize -- we cannot publicize -- the names of people ineligible for travel to the US because every visa application is considered individually. But as many --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- for Milosevic himself?

MR. REEKER: -- as many of the individuals -- he is free to apply, Matt. As many of the individuals affected could not or may not be considered public figures, and if that is not the case, then we can't comment on individual cases or eligibility for visas under our law.

QUESTION: You mean reviewing with a notion of perhaps some restrictions could be eased, or some mixture of easing and tightening?

MR. REEKER: Well, it is a question, Barry, of people that may be deemed ineligible for US visas, and we are currently reviewing our guidance on restrictions on travel by former Milosevic regime officials. But as I said, I can't do the similar -- the Europeans have provided a list. We don't do that. Our system doesn't provide for that.

QUESTION: Is that because of privacy?

QUESTION: You review them on the grounds that they no longer are in positions of authority and therefore --

MR. REEKER: Again, I can't comment on individual cases. Every visa application is considered an individual case so --

QUESTION: (Inaudible)?

MR. REEKER: Can I comment on the -- ?

QUESTION: On what principles you will be reviewing. Because these people are named largely because of the positions they held rather than because of their individuality.

MR. REEKER: I think at the time we talked about people that may be considered ineligible for an American visa for a variety of reasons. Each visa application is considered separately, and denial of that visa is made on the grounds of certain legal or regulatory criteria.

What I cannot do, as I was trying to tell Barry, is list for you people that are eligible or not eligible. Eligibility of individuals who might be considered public figures is what we are currently reviewing.

QUESTION: Are the criteria going to change? That's what I was asked you.

MR. REEKER: That is under review.

QUESTION: Okay. So you're not reviewing the list; you're reviewing the criteria first, and then you're going to review the list? I mean --

QUESTION: Are you undertaking the review because of the decision the European Union just took?

MR. REEKER: I am not quite sure why this is so complicated. No, there are new circumstances in Yugoslavia. I think everybody can agree upon that. And the United States is reviewing our guidance, the guidance that is provided to visa officers, because, as I said, every visa application is adjudicated individually. Certain guidance may be provided to our consular officers who are undertaking that adjudication. So given the new circumstances, we are reviewing what guidance we provide. And in the process of reviewing that, we are consulting with the European Union, as we often do on issues related to Yugoslavia, and with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

QUESTION: So let me get it straight. You don't actually have a list of names; you just have a guidance?

MR. REEKER: That is right. We do not publicize a list or names of people because we don't do that under our system.

QUESTION: No, but do you have a list, even if you don't publicize it? I mean, is there a list or is it just --

MR. REEKER: We provide guidance --

QUESTION: -- just guidance, and then you --

MR. REEKER: We provide guidance to visa officers, officers adjudicating visas. This concept of a list is incorrect. We do not have a list. We do not provide a list that we --

QUESTION: There is not a watch list of people who are on -- that contained about 300-some names, because that is what we were told after the Secretary and Robin Cook announced --

MR. REEKER: Let me check on exactly how they describe the guidance that is provided to people in terms of individuals that would be considered ineligible, or under what criteria, whether it is the criteria that then the officer, using that criteria, makes the judgment on the individual or whether there are individual lists. I will check for you to try to be very specific on that.

QUESTION: I still don't understand. There is a new situation, you say. There is. People who were officials and are former officials. And as a general matter, are you looking to see whether people who were not eligible to get visas because they were officials might now be eligible because they are former officials and therefore not --

MR. REEKER: We are reviewing the guidance and trying to make a determination. I can't give you anything more than that. It is under review, and until we have made a determination of the new guidance --

QUESTION: No, no, I'm not asking the results. What I'm saying is there has to be a purpose for reviewing the guidance. I mean, there has got to be a reason the guidance is being reviewed.

MR. REEKER: The guidance is being reviewed because there is a new situation. There are certain restrictions now on travel of officials of the former regime, and that is being reviewed. And as of yet, we don't have a determination to tell you the results of that review. And when we do, I will see if we can get you more information on that.

QUESTION: So is it fair to say you are weighing the arguments pro and con as to whether or not you want to ease the guidance regarding these former officials?

MR. REEKER: We are reviewing the whole situation. That is the end of it.

QUESTION: I have one other thing from a different direction slightly. Is the reason the US doesn't have a list, or you can't tell us the names on the list or can't tell us the names from the privacy angle, or is it because it is a bureaucratic hardship to --

MR. REEKER: I wish I had brought the piece of paper on which my colleagues tried to explain this to me. Under the law, under the US law regarding issuance of visas, we are not allowed to disclose information about people, necessarily applying for visas or denied for visas, unless they are categorized or can be considered as public figures. And as many of the individuals affected under our current guidelines may not be or could not be considered public figures, we cannot comment on their individual cases or eligibility for visas. In terms of those figures who might be considered public figures, the eligibility of anybody that we could comment on is also under review.

Does that make sense?

QUESTION: Well, somewhat. But just --

MR. REEKER: Why don't I -- I can even get you a copy of the law, Charlie, and then you can interpret it for yourself.

QUESTION: To follow what you are saying and to take it out of Yugoslavia, if Saddam Hussein applied for a visa, you could tell us that because he is a public figure, but if his daughter-in-law applied, you couldn't?

MR. REEKER: We would have to make a determination of who is a public figure.

QUESTION: All right. Do you want something easy? Let's turn to something easy here.

MR. REEKER: Anything else on Yugoslavia?

QUESTION: No, no, I wouldn't dare. Dennis Ross went in to see Arafat and Barak, and the fighting continues. And would we be right to figure from that, infer from this, that he hasn't made much headway in getting the violence stopped?

MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to characterize your interpretation, certainly, Barry.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- both of us.

MR. REEKER: The facts are that Dennis Ross did meet with Israeli Prime Minister, Prime Minister Barak, yesterday, Wednesday, and he met with Chairman Arafat earlier today, and he has continued later today to meet with negotiators from both sides. The focus of all these meetings has been on ending the violence and restoring calm, finding a way back to the negotiating table. Dennis is planning to depart the region tonight, so we expect Ambassador Ross back later tonight or tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can I ask you why he would be talking to negotiators if it is agreed -- I think it is agreed -- that before there can be a return to negotiations, the violence must stop? I mean, wouldn't all his efforts be concentrated on ending the violence unless -- it would imply that he is going over issues if he is talking to negotiators?

MR. REEKER: I can't categorize what has happened in his meetings. As you know, Ambassador Ross is there to have meetings, to have discussions. That is what we think is important, but overall right now the focus has to be on ending the violence. That is what we have been discussing since this violence began. We have an agreement from Sharm el Sheikh which outlines the things that need to be done in terms of ending the violence. As we have said before, we are willing to assist the parties in any way possible, including in discussions that Ambassador Ross may have to move the process forward, to find areas of agreement between the parties, like those commitments they made at Sharm el Sheikh, and we think that is the best means to do so.

QUESTION: And, of course, when you say he is coming home, the whole group is coming home? Aaron Miller and --

MR. REEKER: Right, exactly. Aaron Miller and -- I do know that Ambassador Ross and Aaron Miller are both expected.

QUESTION: Could I ask you if the State Department has anything to say about the way the Israelis, you know, rocketing now, or are creeping closer to Arafat's headquarters, if not to Arafat himself? Do you disapprove of their tactics, or is it --

MR. REEKER: Again, we have not gotten into a day-by-day review of those things, other than to say that overall the violence needs to stop, the commitments made at Sharm el Sheikh need to be implemented, and we have got to see a restoration of calm so that ultimately we can have a return to the peace process and the negotiations.

QUESTION: And do you happen to know -- because she does use the telephone and it is readily available these days -- is the Secretary from her outpost -- and I guess she will be home this weekend -- has she been following up on any of these -- well, not following up -- initiating any conversations with the Israelis or the Palestinians?

MR. REEKER: As you know, I think we discussed a couple of days ago, President Clinton had a telephone conversation with Chairman Arafat on Tuesday, and I know that the Secretary also spoke with Prime Minister Barak following the President's conversation. Since that time, I don't have a read-out of the Secretary's phone calls from Brunei.

Anything else on this?

QUESTION: On Colombia, Phil. The FARC has left the table of negotiations with the government of Pastrana, and they say that the Colombian Government refused to do something to dismantling the paramilitary groups. My question is: How do you see the situation on Pastrana and the paramilitary groups, and do you see a possible way to appeal the FARCs to come back to the peace table?

MR. REEKER: Well, in terms of the announcement or the reports that the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia, had said they were suspending peace talks, we believe this is only a temporary setback to the peace process, but we certainly are disappointed that the FARC appears to be engaging once again in this sort of subterfuge to avoid substantive discussions with the government because the peace talks were to begin addressing the issue of a cease-fire, which we think is vitally important.

Rather than finding excuses for more delays in the talks, the FARC should be seeking to address their concerns through the peace process, to use the talks to address those concerns. Obviously, as we have said many times before, a negotiated settlement provides the best way to resolve these problems and to reach national reconciliation.

So I would also point out that Under Secretary Pickering, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Barry McCaffrey will lead an interagency group, an interagency delegation, that will travel to Colombia on Monday, this coming Monday, November the 20th. They will meet with President Pastrana and the Government of Colombia officials to underscore our continuing support for Plan Colombia and have meetings there.

QUESTION: But so far the State Department has made a lot of calls to the military -- Colombia dismantling or trying to work with the paramilitary groups to stop the violence. My question was: Do you see any progress in that area in terms of the Government of Colombia with the paramilitary --

MR. REEKER: I don't have any sort of updates or readouts on our views of that, and I think Ambassador Pickering's trip to Colombia will be the ideal opportunity, after he has come back, perhaps, to look at that and see if we can get you a report on that. So if you want to wait for that, we will try to --

QUESTION: Do you see the paramilitary groups as an obstacle to the peace agreement?

MR. REEKER: Again, I don't have anything different from what we have said in the past on the subject, and I would suggest that letting Ambassador Pickering and his delegation go down, have their meetings there, underscoring our support for Plan Colombia. Once they are back, we can try to arrange perhaps some readouts or briefings on where we see things standing in that process.

QUESTION: Philip, one of the reasons for the FARC to have suspended their talks is the Plan Colombia. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: Well, we support Plan Colombia, and Under Secretary Pickering and his delegation are going to go to Colombia and meet with President Pastrana to underscore our continued support for that. I think you are well aware of our financial commitment to working with the Colombians, along with our other allies and friends in the international community that are supporting that.

I think as I indicated, the FARC has tried to avoid the substantive discussions which are the key to a peace process. They need to go ahead with the discussions, which we expect to include discussion of a ceasefire, and stop finding these excuses. And if they have concerns, that should be addressed through dialogue; it should be addressed through the peace process, through the kind of talks that were going on. Obviously, as I said, a negotiated settlement is the best way to resolve problems and to reach a reconciliation for all Colombians. It is the best way forward.

QUESTION: But many people in Colombia now are trying to push President Pastrana to stop definitely their talks, because they say it is -- (inaudible) -- from the FARC, the demilitarized area. Has the State Department made any recommendations to President Pastrana on this?

MR. REEKER: Well, I think my points about the talks, and what I have tried to say in response to the reports that the FARC has pulled out, do that. We think that the FARC should sit down and have these talks. The solution to these problems is through dialogue. Obviously, when Under Secretary Pickering and his team are in Colombia next week, they will be discussing these types of issues with President Pastrana. So again, once they are back, perhaps we can get an update and we will have an opportunity to look at --

QUESTION: Yes, if I could return to something we tried a few days ago --

MR. REEKER: We're still in Colombia.

QUESTION: Do you know where in Colombia he is going?

MR. REEKER: I don't, no.

Was there something else on Colombia? Are you finished with that? We'll go to Barry and we'll come back to you in just

QUESTION: Gracias. A few days ago we tried -- we pursued, tried to pursue, how this election model, slow process, might -- (inaudible) -- the President --

MR. REEKER: Which?

QUESTION: Our President.

MR. REEKER: Oh, the US.

QUESTION: Yes, I'm sorry. Our presidency might be perceived overseas. The President said they are relaxed about it overseas. Mr. Baker seems to think otherwise.

I was wondering, as this goes on and on and on, are Embassies being given any specific guidances or being told how to explain the situation, or is it up to each individual to explain it as best he can if he is asked about it? I'm just trying to get a feeling whether there is anything to tell other governments. I know, you know, it has been said, this doesn't interfere with the operation of our government. I mean, there must be curiosity, wonderment. This is unprecedented.

MR. REEKER: Well, I think it has been a great opportunity, from certainly the public diplomacy standpoint, for many foreign publics to study American civics and the American democratic process. It is certainly something that our diplomats abroad try to spend a lot of time focusing on and explaining at any time, particularly when you have an election. So I think each Embassy is certainly aware of some of the resources out there in terms of explaining the process, and I would be happy to check with our Public Diplomacy and International Information Program elements to find out if there are particular things that they have highlighted.

But from my own experience, I know American democracy and American civic processes are something that are of interest to foreign audiences, and this election certainly is an opportunity to highlight that. And this is a particular election where we have a unique situation where a process that is not often explored is being followed, and so it is a chance to highlight again part of the American democratic process overseas.

QUESTION: Does that process -- I mean, can you kind of elaborate on what that would mean? Does it mean explaining what the electoral college is, or does it mean explaining -- I mean, because when you see the news reports, they are talking about hand counting ballots and law suits and other things. I mean, how far does this basic stuff go?

MR. REEKER: I can't comment on the electoral process.

QUESTION: No, no. I'm talking about the -- when you say the resources available to our diplomats abroad in terms of explaining American democracy.

MR. REEKER: Well, I think you have the same textbooks here that the diplomats abroad --

QUESTION: Right, okay. So it's --

MR. REEKER: Certainly the Internet provides a tremendous amount of resources. Our Information Resource Centers that are attached to our Embassies abroad are useful that way. And certainly we welcome any foreign audiences, officials or public, who are interested to contact the Public Affairs Sections, the Information Resource Sections, of our Embassies or Consulates, and they can give them reference material or point them in the direction that helps to explain our system and the process that is ongoing.

QUESTION: So would you refute Mr. Baker's claim that there is great concern abroad? You say it is just curiosity. There is no concern, according to official cable traffic?

MR. REEKER: I can't judge others' concern.

QUESTION: What is your --

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any expressions in official traffic of such concerns. I am just not aware of that. Obviously it is up for individuals abroad, whether they are leaders or individuals or the public, to make their own decisions in terms of their interest or how they want to follow our developments.

QUESTION: Are you made aware of it if there were any?

MR. REEKER: Well, I guess I'm not quite sure what your question is.

QUESTION: Well, Richard -- we have asked him almost every day, you know, have you gotten any expressions of concern from foreign governments. And he was able to say there hasn't been any.

MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any. Right. I am not aware of any.

QUESTION: On Peru, have you heard anything from your Embassy in Lima about the intentions or the situation of President Fujimori?

MR. REEKER: I guess I'm not quite --

QUESTION: Are we pleased he just went off to Kuala Lumpur and there were rumors that he --

MR. REEKER: I saw the various press.... The Peruvian congress is scheduled to vote today on a new congressional president. That has already taken place. That is what the Embassy was reporting this morning. This of course follows the vote, the decision taken earlier in the week to censor and remove the previous leader.

I have seen these reports of President Fujimori's travel from Brunei. The Peruvian Government officials, according to our Embassy, say that rumors of Fujimori's application for asylum in Malaysia, which I saw in some reports, are completely unfounded. So our position, and certainly what our Embassy has been saying, is to continue to urge all the parties in Peru to focus on their efforts, working towards the future and the democratic reform that is ongoing there.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- interest to know whether anybody had any contact with him, any US officials had any contact with him in Brunei?

MR. REEKER: I don't -- you would have to check with the various traveling parties that were there. I just don't have any read-outs on that.

QUESTION: Can I change regions?

MR. REEKER: Anything else on --

QUESTION: Can I ask a question on Peru? Toledo was here this weekend. You were supposed to see if he met someone from the State Department?

MR. REEKER: Right. Chuck, did we have something on that? I promised somebody to get a read-out on that, and I just -- I think I'll have to look -- sorry, Jesus, afterwards. I think I had something yesterday and I just didn't bring it back today. It seemed like old news. Sorry.

QUESTION: Another --

MR. REEKER: Latin America, still?

QUESTION: No. Another region.

MR. REEKER: Well, go ahead. You have been waiting.

QUESTION: Caucasus. Phil, some news agencies from the region, including Armenian ones, reported that a part of military equipment from Russian military base, which have been withdrawn from Georgia, goes to Armenia and then transferred to Nagorno-Karabakh. And some days ago there was again a cease-fire violation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

And my question is: Did you, as Minsk Group co-chairs seeking for a peaceful resolution, raise any concern or stayed in touch with other Minsk Group co-chairs on the issue?

MR. REEKER: I would have to check. I am just not aware of that. I know we dealt with a similar question a couple of weeks ago, and we had no information to the effect of the reports you are suggesting. So we could certainly look into it, but I am not aware of any involvement in that.

QUESTION: Different subject. I presume -- although it may be incorrectly -- that you might like to lavish some praise on the ILO, which a couple -- within the last hour and a half or so just imposed some new sanctions on Burma.

MR. REEKER: I think that might be a little cutting it too close for my time lines there, Matt. I don't have anything particular on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- what your position was going into the meeting, and maybe you can just change the tense of it? I assure you that they did impose them.

MR. REEKER: I don't have anything on that. I would be happy to look into it for you.

QUESTION: You don't have anything? Okay.

MR. REEKER: Let me make sure we're --

QUESTION: ILO meeting --

MR. REEKER: International Labor Organization.

QUESTION: Right. I mean, the US was pushing for these, along with the Europeans, and Malaysia was trying to stop it.

MR. REEKER: I will be happy to check into it. It's just not something --

QUESTION: It was just the Thais vetoed the Malaysian --

MR. REEKER: Not something that crossed my radar screen this morning, but I am sure officials --

QUESTION: Well, considering the Secretary's longstanding interest in Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi --

MR. REEKER: Absolutely. All the more reason that we will look into it directly.

QUESTION: The European Union has again voted to urge Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, I guess conditioning their membership in that body to their formal recognition of this. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. REEKER: The European Parliament's resolution was strictly a matter for that body to decide upon, and obviously the United States doesn't have any role in the European Parliament or its deliberations.

Anything else?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Thanks, everyone.

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


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