State Department Briefing


Monday  May 12, 2003

(Announcement, Middle East/Powell's trip, Iraq, Iran, India/Pakistan, Sri Lanka, North/South Korea, Saudi Arabia) (7940) Deputy State Department Spokesman Phil Reeker conducted the noon briefing May 12. Following is the State Department transcript: (begin transcript) U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Index Monday, May 12, 2003 1:30 p.m. EDT BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman ANNOUNCEMENTS -- International Visitor from Poland Attending Today's Briefing MIDDLE EAST -- Secretary Powell's Travel in Region/Meetings IRAQ -- Death of Boston Globe Reporter Elizabeth Neuffer in Iraq -- Presidential Envoy to Iraq Bremer Arrives in Iraq -- Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs Personnel Rotations/Mission of ORHA -- Update on Reconstruction Efforts in Iraq -- Establishment of Temporary Embassy in Baghdad IRAN -- Prospects for Re-Establishing Diplomatic Relations with Iran -- U.S. Contacts with Iran regarding Afghanistan and Iraq -- U.S. Policy Toward Iran -- Iranian Concerns Regarding Future Government in Iraq INDIA/PAKISTAN -- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Travel to Region -- Visit/Discussions with Indian National Security Advisor SRI LANKA -- Assistant Secretary Rocca's Visit to Sri Lanka/Ongoing Peace Process NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA -- Reports of North Korea Nullifying 1992 Agreement with South Korea -- Seizure of North Korean Ship off Coast of Australia Carrying Heroin SAUDI ARABIA -- Expulsion of Saudi Diplomat U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MONDAY, MAY 12, 2003 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) 1:30 p.m. EDT MR. REEKER: Good afternoon. Welcome back to the State Department. I hope everybody had a nice weekend. I apologize for the slight delay. I was just on the telephone with Ambassador Boucher, who, of course, is traveling with Secretary Powell. They arrived just a short time ago in Amman, Jordan. The Secretary is dining this evening with King Abdullah, part of the ongoing trip in the Middle East where the Secretary, of course, has been holding a lot of productive, useful discussions with leaders in the region to seize the moment of opportunity we have there with the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and now the opportunity with the President's commitment to move forward, the determined commitment to move the peace process forward in that region. So that trip continues tomorrow with the Secretary going to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and then on to Moscow and points in Europe. So I did want to welcome to our briefing room one guest today, Ms. Marzanna Zielinska from Poland, who is participating in our International Visitors Program. She is a colleague of you, my friends in the press, the head of Television Network Lodz in Poland. So we are very pleased to have you with us today. On one sadder note, I did want to make note -- let's see, where did I put that? Lynn. If I can find the notes I had. Okay, there we go. That was to express on behalf of the entire Department of State our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Boston Globe reporter Elizabeth Neuffer and her translator, Waleed Khalifa Al-Dulami, who, as many of you know, died in Iraq on Friday in a tragic automobile accident. As you may have read, or many of you known personally, Elizabeth was known and deeply respected by many here in the Department for her award-winning work regarding war crimes in Bosnia and Rwanda. Her work contributed significantly to our own efforts to hold accountable those who perpetrated acts of atrocities in these countries. And her death is felt by many here, and she and her work will be missed. So we did want to note that at the top of this briefing. Other than that, I don't have other announcements for the day. So, George, would you like to begin? QUESTION: On Iran, USA Today was talking about an Iranian interest in establishing diplomatic relations or reestablishing diplomatic relations. In Iran's conversations with U.S. officials, has the issue of diplomatic relations ever come up? MR. REEKER: I think, as Secretary Powell indicated to a number of your colleagues on his airplane a couple of nights ago -- and that transcript is fully available -- diplomatic relations are not what's on the table in discussions with Iran. And, as National Security Advisor Rice has said in an interview with one of your competing wire services, George, you know -- I think we have talked about it before -- that the United Nations has regularly facilitated contacts between the United States and Iran through what we call the Geneva process, to discuss practical issues regarding Afghanistan originally, and that has expanded to Iraq. Dr. Rice noted just a short time ago that talks with officials from Iran, that these talks have involved the Presidential Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, as Dr. Rice said, grew directly out of needing to deal with some practical matters dealing with Afghanistan, and then we extended this to Iraq. This is not somehow a new opening of diplomatic relations. This is an opportunity to deal with some practical issues. And we have talked about the opportunity before and where we can discuss issues of mutual concern, particularly as they have to do with neighbors of Iran's -- that is, Afghanistan or Iraq. We continue to have longstanding policy differences with Iran. Our concerns, as you know, include Tehran's ongoing support for terrorism, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, the opposition to Middle East peace and the human rights process in Iran, the human rights situation, their record there, which we consider to be quite poor. Those things have not changed. Those issues remain the serious concerns we have about Iran. But our ability through a variety of channels, including the Geneva channel, to have these contacts in order to discuss issues, to communicate with them, issues on things like Afghanistan and Iraq, have gone on and will, I am sure, go on in the future. Elise. QUESTION: Could you explain, help us understand a little bit more of this Geneva process? I know originally the conversations were with Iran vis--vis the 6+2 group, but could you just kind of give a little bit more definition of what the Geneva process actually is? MR. REEKER: No, I don't think I could. It is a reference to Geneva as a place where the United Nations facilitates talks. As you mentioned, the 6+2 context was a format the United Nations developed to deal with Afghanistan some years ago, and that included the six neighboring countries of Afghanistan, plus the United States and Russia, who had serious concerns about the situation in Afghanistan. We saw the situation with the Taliban, the support for terrorism there, the dreadful situation that the Afghan people were living under; and, of course, after September 11th we all know the history of the coalition efforts in Afghanistan that liberated that country from the Taliban and rooting out the terrorist cells, including al-Qaida, of course, based there. That was a process where we could discuss also with Iran issues pertaining to Afghanistan, and we have been able to expand that process to discuss issues of mutual interest, mutual concern in terms of Iraq. And that is really about as far as I can go. QUESTION: Do you see this process being expanded into areas of mutual cooperation beyond Iraq, such as drug trafficking, you know, to other issues of terrorism such as al-Qaida, issues of mutual concern to the two countries? MR. REEKER: I don't know if I would want to go beyond that. This is what we have used that structure for. And I would just refer you to Dr. Rice's remarks a short time ago and to what the Secretary said on the plane. I really don't think there is anything to add. Teri. QUESTION: So, can you say that these talks did only cover issues involved with Iraq? And at whose behest were the talks convened? MR. REEKER: I think it has been a matter of mutual interest. As the Secretary said, we have these channels with Iran. We use them to communicate. As the Secretary also pointed out, we use them to communicate how we believe that Iran ought to review their policies in terms of the changed situation in Iraq, the changed equation in the region, and I have outlined for you again the areas that are of concern to us. We have been quite clear, quite open, about those areas of concern. We publish annually a report on global terrorism that talks about Iranian support, state support, for terrorism. Our Human Rights Report outlines the human rights situation in Iran, which is of concern to us. QUESTION: (Inaudible) other than Iraq have traditionally been brought up in these -- MR. REEKER: It is where we can make clear to Iran what our concerns are, and on the basis of the fact that in Iraq there is a new situation and a new opportunity for the region, just as we have told other countries, like Syria, that they should examine, seriously think about how they want to deal with the neighborhood under the new situation and move forward. So that is the opportunity that we use and discuss that with them there. QUESTION: Why do they have to be held under UN auspices? MR. REEKER: This is the way it works, George. QUESTION: There is no reason why the two countries couldn't get together without somebody overseeing it, right? MR. REEKER: This is the way we have done it; this is the way we are doing it; this is the way we will do it. Sir. QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I represent the Daily Journal in Pakistan. After the initial euphoria about the Indo-Pak contacts and desire to meet -- MR. REEKER: Do we have other things on this subject? We tend to go subject by subject, sir. So if we have -- QUESTION: Well, I think this is in the subject, Mr. Armitage -- okay, close this. MR. REEKER: The subject we were on was Iran. When we are done with that subject, I will be happy to move on to another one. Thank you. Eli. QUESTION: Can you say anything now that would allay concerns that the Iranians might have about a future government in Iraq, and how that pro-American government would -- would somehow threaten the regime over in Tehran? I mean, is there anything you can say to that? There seems to be a lot of Iranian officials have -- MR. REEKER: I'm not quite sure what you're referring to. QUESTION: Many Iranian officials have said openly over the past three months that an American -- a pro-American government in Baghdad would be as dangerous or more dangerous to Iranian national security interests than even Saddam himself (inaudible) -- MR. REEKER: I haven't seen any of these comments that you're suggesting. I am sure they're out there. I have just missed it in my reading. So I am not going to try to address them generally. We have been quite clear, in terms of the vision we have for the future of Iraq, a government by Iraqis for Iraqis that is representative, that is democratic, that builds upon the diversity of the Iranian nation -- pardon me -- the Iraqi nation to have a government that can serve the people of Iraq, certainly better than the horrible regime of Saddam Hussein that tortured them. That is our goal, and there is nothing that I can see in that that should then represent any threat to any part of the neighborhood. We have been quite clear that our goal was an Iraq that had its territorial integrity in place, that did not threaten its neighbors, as the Saddam Hussein regime did for many, many years, and Iran is certainly an example of that, as is Kuwait. Also, that doesn't threaten the region, that doesn't develop weapons of mass destruction, and that doesn't harbor terrorists or have links to international terrorists groups that threaten all of us around the world. QUESTION: I mean, I don't want to go further than what you just said there. Are you conveying this message to the Iranians in Geneva and other -- MR. REEKER: I am sure they just heard it now. QUESTION: They just heard it now. But -- MR. REEKER: I am sure they read all of our statements, Eli, about what we hope for the future Iraq. And from the very beginning and before there was even a decision to take military action, we had discussed for years our goal of seeing an Iraq with a government that represented all of the Iraqi people and did not threaten its neighbors and brought stability to the region. And, indeed, as the President said, as the Secretary said, we now have a new opportunity with Saddam Hussein gone from the scene to build on that and make a better region for all of the peoples of the area. Anything else on that? Now, sir, let's go back to -- you were talking about Pakistan. QUESTION: Yes, I was talking about Pakistan-India since Deputy Secretary Armitage, I think, has concluded his visit. MR. REEKER: He returned last night, yes. QUESTION: There was an initial euphoria and positive things from India and Pakistan both. But after that, I think India has adopted a certain hostile attitude, declining the meeting with the Prime Minister Zaffarullah Jamali, and all kinds are that. So, in that context, what is the feedback from Mr. Armitage, how -- or what do you have to say about his meetings in India? What is the attitude of the Indian Government and leaders on this? MR. REEKER: Well, for the attitude of the Indian Government leaders, I would direct you to the Indian Government, where I am sure they will be happy to give you -- QUESTION: Or might have been observed by Mr. Armitage? MR. REEKER: -- give you their views. In terms of euphoria, we are all quite euphoric when Deputy Secretary Armitage visits with us and visits other places. He had a very successful visit to South Asia, and I don't know that I accept your characterizations of the reactions since. He just got back last night. You know he visited Pakistan, he visited Afghanistan and he visited India. He had productive meetings in Pakistan with President Musharraf. He also met with President Karzai in Kabul and with Prime Ministers Vajpayee of India and Jamali of Pakistan, as well as other senior officials in all three countries, and, of course, discussed bilateral issues and regional issues and global issues. In Pakistan, of course, he had an opportunity to discuss with Pakistani leaders the draft resolution that is before the Security Council now that was introduced on Friday, Pakistan having an important role to play as a member of the UN Security Council now. In Afghanistan, of course, he was reviewing security issues, reconstruction efforts, much of which the United States is leading there, and, of course, overall U.S.-Afghan relations, and stressing that the United States remains fully committed to Afghanistan's reconstruction. And I think just to look at our budget documents and the people and efforts we have on the ground there confirm that most visibly. In both Pakistan and in India, as you would have seen from the press availabilities that Deputy Secretary Armitage had in those countries, he discussed the expanding bilateral relationship that we have with each country and commended both governments on their renewed efforts begun last month by Prime Minister Vajpayee's speech in Srinigar and followed by Prime Minister Jamali's telephone call that began a process to resolve their differences. As you know, the United States has a continuing interest in strong relationships with each of the countries in the region and in promoting peace and stability. And as we have said many times before, and Deputy Secretary Armitage underscored during his visit, peace in the region, whether it's in Afghanistan or whether it's between India and Pakistan or whether in Nepal or in Sri Lanka, will be achieved through the efforts of the governments and peoples of South Asia, and the United States stands ready to assist South Asians in their efforts, as they may request. QUESTION: May I ask a follow-up? MR. REEKER: Yes. QUESTION: Mr. Brajesh Mishra was here also, probably in the same time frame, and we were told that, or we heard that Mr. Mishra was here only to discuss U.S.-India bilateral relations and other issues, and it was not for India-Pakistan. But did India-Pakistan come up? Did the Kashmir initiative or this dialogue initiative come up in talks with Mr. Mishra and Mr. Powell or other officials? MR. REEKER: I couldn't tell you. I wasn't in the meetings so I couldn't give you specifics of that. The focus of our meetings, and we had a very successful series of meetings, with Indian National Security Advisor Mishra during his visit to Washington. It did cover a wide variety of subjects, including India's keen interest in pressing forward with high technology commerce and civil nuclear cooperation. These were areas that were, as you will recall, first outlined by President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee in November of 2001, and they are areas where we have taken a number of steps. And I would just point you to the fact that we are going to hold the first session of the High Technology Cooperation Group in June. QUESTION: In India? In the U.S.? MR. REEKER: India and the United States. QUESTION: And how would you define civil nuclear cooperation? MR. REEKER: I will have to get you a specific definition of that. QUESTION: Yes, I would be -- MR. REEKER: It makes sense to me. Their civil nuclear power things -- QUESTION: Non-defense? It is a dual-use technology, I mean -- MR. REEKER: I think you are quite familiar with our dual-use policies, so everything will be in the framework of that. Teri, did you have one on that? QUESTION: No. MR. REEKER: Matt. QUESTION: You mentioned Sri Lanka in your comments. The Deputy Secretary did not go there, but I understand that Assistant Secretary Rocca is in Colombo or in Sri Lanka, as well and traveling. What is she doing there? MR. REEKER: She is in Sri Lanka today, May 12th, and tomorrow, May 13th. This follows her own trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, when she was accompanying the Deputy Secretary. Her trip is really in the context of U.S. support for the ongoing peace process in Sri Lanka. This, of course, if you will recall, most recently demonstrated in the workshop that we co-hosted here at the State Department last month, in April. I believe Assistant Secretary Rocca is expected to see President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and other Sri Lankan officials during her visit. And then, as I indicated, she'll wrap that up on the 13th, and I believe head back to Washington. I don't have an arrival date, but we will see her back home soon. QUESTION: All right. And there seems to be -- the peace process which there were many high hopes for seems to have hit a bit of a stumbling block now with the Tamil Tigers refusing to go to the meeting in Japan, and now apparently a bit of an internal -- a bit of internal politics, political strife, within the Sri Lankan Government. Does that have anything to do with her -- with Assistant Secretary Rocca's visit? MR. REEKER: Well, she is using the opportunity, being in the region, to go to Sri Lanka as well, as I indicated, to continue to express our support for that. We have always urged the political parties and senior officials in Sri Lanka to work for the cause of peace together. That is certainly a message that Assistant Secretary Rocca will continue to underscore while she is there. Now, Teri. QUESTION: On North Korea? MR. REEKER: North Korea. QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to North Korea's latest pronouncement in which it says it is -- I don't know if it says it nullified, or it just has been nullified, this agreement with South Korea from 1992, just as President Roh visits -- MR. REEKER: As you indicated just in your question, often these things are a little difficult in terms of complicated language and translation. All I had seen was one wire service report reporting on a report from the North Korean official news agency, so I will have to look further into it and see if we have a more specific look at that and any sort of reaction we would have. But I don't have anything further at this point. Betsy. QUESTION: Yes. Could you comment, please, on the seemingly abrupt change of administrations in Iraq? MR. REEKER: Well, I would suggest that Saddam Hussein's departure was relatively abrupt, and that did indicate a change of administration, indeed. (Laughter.) I guess you are referring to the arrival today of Ambassador Bremer, Jerry Bremer, the President's Special Envoy, or Presidential Envoy to Iraq. He is going to serve as the senior coalition official in Iraq and will oversee coalition reconstruction efforts and the process by which the Iraqi people build the institutions and governing structures that are going to guide their future, as President Bush told you last week when he announced the appointment. So he has arrived on the ground now. Of course, he has still got Retired General Garner there running the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. And we have had a number of personnel that have been out there with General Garner on what we have called emergency assignments working for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. A number of those are also -- a number of those individuals are also returning to their regular assignments or follow-on assignments that they have. I can speak, of course, for State Department personnel, but the personnel in that operation come from a variety of Departments across the government depending on the needs and their specialties. These assignments, I think, were always intended to be temporary in nature and were explained as such at the time. So, as people depart, that's quite consistent with the plans for supporting this office. And I think you will all remember that Mr. Garner himself was widely quoted when he first arrived in Baghdad, and even before when they were preparing to go to Iraq from Kuwait, that his job, as he saw it, was to put himself out of a job. And so he and his team have laid a lot of the groundwork for the major efforts that still lie ahead. I am told there are still 30 to 40 current and former State Department personnel attached to the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. There were seven of ambassadorial rank. Some of those, like Ambassador John Limbert, who has been overseeing our efforts with the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, he is going to be departing Iraq to return to his position as Ambassador to Mauritania. So he needs to get back to Nouakchott, where he oversees -- runs our Embassy there. Ambassador Barbara Bodine, who many of you are familiar with, she has departed today following completion of her assignment. She is coming back to Washington, ultimately, to take up a position that she was expected to fill, and that is as the Senior Advisor for Base Accessing and Burden Sharing, reporting directly to the Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs, in that bureau here in the Department. And then, of course, Ambassador Margaret Tutwiler, who is our Ambassador to Morocco, has been in Baghdad as a Presidential Envoy for Communications working with General Garner and his team. And, of course, she would be expected to return in the near future to Morocco. George Ward, just as another example, is a retired U.S. Ambassador who was serving as Coordinator for Relief and Humanitarian Assistance, and he is returning to his position at the U.S. Institute of Peace. So these rotations are sort of part of the natural order of things. And now, with Ambassador Bremer on the ground, he'll undoubtedly be bringing in other people as he establishes his team. QUESTION: But Ambassador Bodine herself said that she felt it was startlingly quick that she was sort of notified late one night, and she had only been there three weeks. I mean, don't these things normally -- MR. REEKER: I think that's right. She has been in Iraq about three weeks, and she was in Kuwait for a number of weeks before that. And in terms of emergency assignments, it is similar to the notification a lot of these people had when they were taken out on very short notice to Kuwait in preparation for going to Iraq. And so, in Ambassador Bodine's case, for instance, her position back here in the Department is a very important and vital position. The Secretary needs her in that job. And so she will be taking up the position she was always scheduled to take up. QUESTION: Phil, if I could follow up. MR. REEKER: Yes. QUESTION: But what she said was that her original discussions were that this wasn't supposed to be just a three-week thing, that it was supposed to be a little bit longer. Could you say what it is that she was sent there to do and to fulfill, and spell out how she is going to fill those tasks? MR. REEKER: I don't -- I have talked to Barbara a number of times. And so I don't know when you say what she said was, I don't -- I don't know. QUESTION: Well, she was quoted widely in the papers as saying that she doesn't understand why she was taken out so quickly. MR. REEKER: It doesn't reflect the conversations that I have had with her. I have just explained to you what Ambassador Bodine, as one example, is doing, in terms of these were temporary emergency, indeed, was the title of the orders. QUESTION: Well, what was she sent there to do? MR. REEKER: She was sent there to work with General Garner. She, I believe, had the central region, including Baghdad, if you go back and check the specifics of where she fit into the Garner group set up there. As you know, Barbara Bodine, for instance, has tremendous experience in the region, language experience, and so her skills were utilized to a great extent, pulling her out of her assignment where she was a diplomat-in-residence at a university, also on very short notice to send her over. And now she will have an opportunity to come back, wrap that up before taking up the job here. Some of the things that Ambassador Bodine and others in ORHA have been focused on was to work closely with the coalition forces to establish a safe and secure environment for all Iraqis. And as you know, this is a very difficult job. It is a tall order. We are quite confident that the Iraqi people themselves are quite capable of finding order, and that they want to have order. They can get on their feet with our help. And so restoration of law and order has been a high priority, security being a critical building block, I guess you would say, to achieving the reconstruction goals that we have discussed in Iraq, including facilitating a political process leading to a democratic government, realizing the secure unified Iraq that we talked about a little bit ago. Some of the other things that have been accomplished -- and Barbara Bodine and others on her team, under General Garner, have had a very strong hand in this -- was making emergency payments, putting in place a system to make emergency payments to over half a million Iraqi civil servants to facilitate their return to work, which is absolutely crucial to bringing order back to Baghdad and other parts of the country. Ten thousand Iraqi police officers have been put back on the street. The Iraqi criminal court resumed legal proceedings last week. Several railway links with Iraq have been restored. We are working now to restore commercial air links with Baghdad and Basra because this will help benefit Iraq's economy. Primary schools in the country reopen May the 4th, secondary schools reopened I believe just a couple of days ago on May the 10th, and preparations are being made to resume university instruction later this week or next week. The electricity output around the country is increasing to meet demand. That is an area where still a lot of work needs to be done, although if you look at some of the baseline figures for electricity throughout the country, even under Saddam Hussein's regime, I think we will find we are getting back to those levels, but we want to make it better than that. And, of course, shipments of oil and liquid propane have been brought in from neighboring countries to get the domestic fuel production up is a high priority in the meantime. They are helping bring in fuel for cooking and such things from neighboring countries. So these are all the types of things that Ambassador Bodine and her colleagues have worked on and established an infrastructure through the ORHA that now Ambassador Bremer can utilize as the coalition continues to focus on security and this new structure takes place and continues in earnest -- the political track that we have been working on with Iraqis, both inside the country and those that have come from the outside, and the overall reconstruction efforts. QUESTION: So she wasn't put in place -- she was just put in place to establish the infrastructure but not to oversee its implementation? And was -- MR. REEKER: Those are nice words. I mean, I just described for you the types of jobs that she did. QUESTION: I understand. But would you say that she has established a safe and secure environment, restored law and order, and facilitated the political process enough so that she should be pulled out to go home now? MR. REEKER: Again, these are tasks for all of the people involved in the effort, not for any single individual. Just as journalists get rotated in and out of assignments overseas, so do Foreign Service personnel. And that is exactly what people who were on emergency assignment have done. They have gone and, in many cases, through extraordinary hardship, done a tremendous amount of work to pull together the basic structure of the organization. And now, with Ambassador Bremer arriving, he will put in place the civilian structures that will work closely with the coalition forces on the overall effort. Teri. QUESTION: Who makes the decision about them coming back? As State Department employees, it is Secretary Powell, in this building? MR. REEKER: I don't know exactly. They have been reporting though General Garner and to the Defense Department. Obviously, we have provided them -- in some cases, it is quite clear the needs of the State Department and our assignments process, so I just -- I don't know exactly at what point any individual or the Secretary himself would be involved. QUESTION: Okay. You don't know at what level -- if there -- a level of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary? MR. REEKER: I just don't know. Eli. QUESTION: Phil, I'm still a little unclear. If Garner was the head of the Office of Humanitarian Relief and Reconstruction -- MR. REEKER: Reconstruction and Humanitarian -- QUESTION: -- Reconstruction and Humanitarian Relief, and now Ambassador Bremer is essentially in charge of that office? Or he's in charge of coalition reconstruction, but there is still an office, there's still an ORHA that Garner is in charge of? I just -- MR. REEKER: Right. Garner has had a specific set of tasks in the immediate implementation. You will recall that with the fall of -- well, the beginning of hostilities and at the end of hostilities and the complete disintegration of the regime and the liberation of the country from Saddam Hussein, that the situation was unknowable to anybody and there was certainly a lot of talk -- we discussed some of it here and certainly in the pages and minutes of many of your broadcasts and writings, there was a lot of concern about humanitarian crisis, about what we would face. Many of those things, as they evolved, fortunately, did not transpire. There was not a humanitarian crisis. There was not a refugee crisis. Food has not been a tremendous problem in Iraq. And so Garner's team went into Baghdad, as security allowed, and began to set up the infrastructure we needed to pursue these various tracks, including the political track, pulling together the meetings that we held in Nasiriya and in Baghdad with Iraqi -- emerging Iraqi political leaders. And so all of his team had different assignments, some of them geographically based, some of them more specifically thematically based. As he said at the time, his job was to wrap up his job, to put himself out of a job, that sort of initial input that his team provided. And now Ambassador Bremer arrives and will put into place his team, which is now as the President's envoy, and the President and White House have described for you that structure reporting to the President through the Secretary of Defense. QUESTION: Phil, can I just follow up? Are you at all concerned that this turnover may be very confusing to Iraqis that are now trying to work with the U.S.-led coalition to come up with a transitional -- I mean, you had Garner and Khalilzad running a meeting in Nasiriya -- MR. REEKER: And we expected -- QUESTION: And I would imagine -- my understanding from talking to people who were there was the expectation was that they would sort of be there through this, to shepherd this process, and now you've got a new guy coming in, and Ambassador Bodine and other State Department people leaving. Are you kind of like at all concerned that you maybe are taking one step forward and two steps back, and that kind of stuff? MR. REEKER: Not at all. QUESTION: Not at all? You don't think it's confusing to Iraqis? MR. REEKER: I think in any situation like this, there may be occasions where you take two steps forward and you have a step back, but I don't see at all a trend that you described, Eli. These relationships and these structures are not built on individuals. We are not trying to do a reconstruction based on individual American officers. What we are doing is putting in place a structure, putting in place processes, and we want this to be done by the Iraqis. That is the most important thing. The focus needs to be on Iraqi leaders who are emerging, Iraqi individuals who will lead their country and represent their people. That has always been the goal. And so the individual Americans, while I know it is of great interest to all of you, and we certainly have a lot of my own colleagues and colleagues from other departments who have gone out, dedicated public servants who have taken great risks and endured a lot of hardship for these processes, they also deserve to be able to rotate back, to be able to pursue their careers, to be able to take up the assignments that they had, to be able to resume the work that they interrupted to take on the initial emergency assignments that they took in Iraq. So you will see turnover, just as we see turnover, as I mentioned, in the journalist corps, as you see turnover with us in jobs here at the State Department. That is the nature of things. But the work itself, the very important work, continues unabated. QUESTION: Retired General Garner just -- I'm sorry, and then I'll stop. Retired General Garner is now no longer in charge of reconstruction? MR. REEKER: He still heads the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. He is reporting to -- QUESTION: From Washington? MR. REEKER: No, he is not in Washington. I don't believe he has left Iraq, unless you are in possession of information that I am not, Eli. Yes, Elise, and then Matt. QUESTION: Foreign Secretary Straw today, speaking to the House of Commons, said something to the effect of -- I don't remember the exact quote -- but that the Office of Humanitarian Reconstruction, Garner's office, and that process that was set up hadn't produced the productivity that they would have liked, and he hopes that Ambassador Bremer's new authority will bring better results. So are you saying that this new appointment of Ambassador Bremer is not to make up for some deficiencies that were in the last administration? MR. REEKER: No, not at all. I think given the situation that was found on the ground, first of all, the unknown characterizations that nobody could predict what we would face, but we were always quite clear in what we wanted to do, and that was as rapidly as possible bring some stability, first liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, work on securing the country, and then work with Iraqis to bring order back to rebuild the infrastructure, much of it which had been so terribly neglected over 30 years of the Baathist rule. We have a lot of confidence in the Iraqi people that they, first of all, have an interest in doing this, that they want to see their country move forward, that they have a lot of the skills necessary to do that, that they have basic infrastructure, that they are well educated and quite capable of doing this with the support and the leg up that we in the international community can give them. So I reject the notion that somehow the initial efforts, you know, failed in any particular way. We still would like to do more. As Foreign Secretary Straw indicated, the situation is still unacceptable. We are still striving to do more, and I think the Iraqi people are striving to do more. And that is the goal all along. So we always want to do more, and I think Ambassador Bremer and his team will be focused very much on those various efforts in this next stage in the process. This is a step-by-step process and you are really dealing with a situation in Iraq, a situation on the ground, that no one could predict with any particular accuracy, and you are trying to make the right decisions, to prioritize work, as necessary. Matt. QUESTION: Yeah, Phil, you keep talking about this in terms of rotation and moving. Unless I've missed it, I haven't heard you say who is replacing these people. MR. REEKER: I don't have lists of all those. We have to get that from Mr. Bremer. QUESTION: Are these positions intended to be -- are they going to be filled, or are you going to -- MR. REEKER: I couldn't tell you, Matt, at this point how Ambassador Bremer expects to structure this next phase of the effort. QUESTION: Well, I am particularly interested in the position that the Ambassador to Mauritania, the Ambassador to Mauritania had, which was given in terms of the Culture Ministry, because it was my understanding he was supposed to work with the Iraqis on the antiquities and artifacts, which you guys had put such a high priority on after the initial looting. So can you let us know if that position is planning on -- MR. REEKER: I will certainly check into it. I think you may find that information more readily from other sources. But I will, in due course, be able to get a list, as well, of Ambassador Bremer's team. QUESTION: And about him, can you explain, for the record, how someone whose neither of whose first names are Jerry, has become -- has come to be known as Jerry? Do you have any idea why? MR. REEKER: I'm afraid I can't. I think that goes back -- maybe some of your colleagues who have covered the Department. I notice Barry is not here. He is traveling with the Secretary. But, as you know, Ambassador Bremer was -- QUESTION: It just gets a little confusing after a long time. MR. REEKER: -- an important figure in this Department for many years. Unfortunately, I think several of those years I was otherwise engaged in high school or something, so. (Laughter.) QUESTION: So you don't know. Okay. MR. REEKER: I would be happy to ask him though, if I get the opportunity. QUESTION: Yeah, would you? MR. REEKER: So we'll ask one of your colleagues to ask him at some point. Sir. And then we'll go back to -- QUESTION: When and why or how did the administration realize that it really needed a diplomat to head its effort in Iraq rather than a retired general? MR. REEKER: I think that's the kind of question I can't answer. These have been things that have evolved. These are decisions that the President took. General Garner has done a terrific job, as I have already discussed, and others far senior to I have discussed, in terms of going into a very difficult situation, enduring extreme hardship, tough security, you know, essentially, camping out in a very difficult environment to put this in place. And it was always a vision of at the right moment bringing in a civilian structure. The fact that Mr. Garner was a retired general, I think, was often confused by many people. He was exactly that, a retired general; i.e., a civilian. He was not an active military officer. He worked very closely, of course, with the coalition forces reporting to General Franks because CENTCOM and the coalition forces have to have its major role there, given that security is the most important aspect of all of this right now. Without the security that the coalition brings, it is impossible for any of these teams to do this work. So if this is an evolving process, and the President made these decisions and informed you of his choice last week selecting Ambassador Bremer, who, thankfully, agreed to take on a difficult job and go out to Baghdad. QUESTION: Just a brief follow-up. There are two possibilities in my mind: One, a statement was attributed to Jay Garner that the U.S. had decided to resolve "Kashmir issue" by December -- MR. REEKER: That was a completely wrong statement. That was an erroneous press report because Mr. Garner is in Baghdad and has not said anything about Kashmir. QUESTION: No, he wasn't quoted -- that was a Pakistan source -- MR. REEKER: It was a wrong thing. It was a wrong press report. Now, do you have a question? QUESTION: He didn't say it, or that he was wrong? MR. REEKER: I am told it was he did not say it. He has -- this is very old news, Eli, and your colleague would know that. He was asked about it and said he never had anything to do with that subject. So, do you have a question? Ask a question. QUESTION: You didn't allow me to finish. MR. REEKER: Go ahead. QUESTION: Now that you're -- there was this statement -- and I was saying whether it was this kind of reckless statement. Now that you say it's wrong, all close ties to Israel that the administration realized that it needed a diplomat? MR. REEKER: No, you're wrong. QUESTION: Okay. MR. REEKER: Everything I said before covers what you have said. QUESTION: The story of my life. MR. REEKER: You have had your statements and now we are going to move on to some real questions. QUESTION: Anything new on the establishment of the temporary embassy in Baghdad? MR. REEKER: No, nothing, nothing new on that. Our embassy would be established, I think, at the point where there is something to establish it to. Yes, in the back. QUESTION: The four officials that you mentioned, in addition to Bodine, did they also get similar sort of short announcements, you know, that there are going to be -- that they were going to leave in three our four days, as that was the situation -- MR. REEKER: I have no idea. QUESTION: Okay. MR. REEKER: I have no idea. QUESTION: Do you have anything on North Korean ship carrying around tons of drugs in nearby Australia? MR. REEKER: Do you mean the Australian -- QUESTION: Yes, Australian. MR. REEKER: -- the ship that was stopped by Australian, seized by Australian officials. I don't really have anything particularly new on it. That certainly is, you know, something that we will watch closely, in terms of evidence that we have seen, as part of our look at international drug trafficking, which, as you know, has a high priority on our global agenda. It does fall into the category of the allegations that we have seen before, that either the North Koreans state or criminal North Korean drug traders are involved in drug trafficking with criminal elements in Japan and on Taiwan, who then sell drugs to final consumers. A lot of that we have written about in our annual global narcotics report. So I'd just refer you to that. I don't think I have anything particularly new. This was a very impressive seizure off Australia's coast, of a North Korean ship, the Pong Su, which was carrying heroin, and does provide new evidence of trafficking from North Korea and clearly suggests involvement of North Korean state entities in criminal activities. So we will continue to work with others and follow them. Betsy. QUESTION: Do you have anything else about Saudi attempts to arrest any of the 19 people that they were seeking in connection with arms cache? MR. REEKER: I don't. You would need to ask the Saudis about that. QUESTION: This is probably more of an FBI question. But do you have anything on Saudi, a Saudi diplomat, unable to enter this country from LA? MR. REEKER: Unable to enter this country from LA? QUESTION: No, exit to LA, I mean. MR. REEKER: Last I checked, LA was still in the country. We have been consulted, I am told, by the Department of Homeland Security, the immigration bureaus there, regarding the expulsion of an individual, and we have been in touch with the Saudi Embassy regarding the decision. But I would have to refer you to that Department, or to the Saudi Embassy themselves for any other comment. QUESTION: You said you don't have anything on the grounds for expulsion or -- QUESTION: He was expelled, correct? MR. REEKER: No, I don't have anything else. You would want to talk to those guys. Joel. QUESTION: I'd like to ask some questions concerning the roadmap. It seems it may be mired down and not getting traction. MR. REEKER: No, I think, Joel, you want to stick with what the Secretary has said from the road. There has been a lot of sort of insta-press reporting. I think if you read his transcripts, look at what the Secretary has said on the record to your colleagues who are traveling with him, I am going to leave those discussions out there. But the Secretary has had good meetings at all of his stops and will continue on in the discussions with others in the region on that subject, but we will leave it to the traveling party. QUESTION: Well, I do have a question concerning his talks in Egypt. MR. REEKER: That is what you would want to leave to the traveling party, Joel. QUESTION: All right. MR. REEKER: Anyone else? Thanks. (The briefing was concluded at 2:25 p.m.)


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