State Department Briefing


Tuesday  May 13, 2003

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, May 13, 2003 1:20 p.m. EDT BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman MIDDLE EAST -- Secretary Powell's Travel in Region / Meetings -- Terrorist Bombings in Riyadh / Counterterrorism Initiatives RUSSIA -- Counterterrorism Efforts in Chechnya CUBA -- Diplomats Declared Persona Non Grata CHINA -- Steps Taken to Encourage Dialogue on Tibet KOREAS -- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with Foreign Minister Yun -- Ongoing Bilateral Discussions / Security and Economic Issues CYPRUS -- Response to Green Line Crossing MACEDONIA -- Status of Talks on Article 98 Agreement U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) 1:20 p.m. EDT MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to the State Department. Secretary Powell, as you know, is on his way to Moscow having left Riyadh a short while ago. He woke up this morning in Amman, Jordan and then visited Riyadh, where he also had an opportunity to tour the site of the horrible terrorist bombings that took place last night and early this morning in Saudi Arabia. As the Secretary has indicated, we condemn in the strongest terms, the series of terrorist bombings in Riyadh. At this time, we believe at least seven American citizens were among those killed in this ruthless murder and at least 30 American citizens were injured. Those numbers could increase, of course, as more information becomes available. In addition, obviously, many more, other nationals were injured and some killed, including Saudis, including Filipinos and other nationals. We extend our condolences to the families and friends of those killed and our best wishes to those injured. Our consular officials in Riyadh are on the ground at the site providing assistance to American citizens working closely with Saudi officials. They are visiting hospitals. They are notifying families of the victims, and we will, of course, continue to offer all the assistance that we can at this time of sorrow and grief. We are working closely with Saudi officials. As I said, and as you heard Secretary Powell say from Riyadh, an inter-agency team, including officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be arriving soon in Saudi Arabia soon to assist with the investigation. Obviously, the Saudi Government may have more details on the investigation, and as official numbers of those killed, injured and missing become available, we'll be keeping in very close contact with the Saudi officials. This was clearly a well-planned terrorist attack. As the Secretary indicated, it had all the fingerprints, earmarks of al-Qaida. But of course, a final determination in this attack of who is responsible will depend upon the results of the ongoing investigation. These were people determined to murder innocents as they slept. And you'll note that our Travel Warning issued at the beginning of the month, on May 1st, for Saudi Arabia warned U.S. citizens to defer nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia because we were aware, as were others, and the Saudis were working on this, too, that terrorist groups may be in the final stages of planning attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia. So we continue to advise U.S. citizens to evaluate their own security situation and consider departing Saudi Arabia. We will be reevaluating our advice for travel and residence in Saudi Arabia on a continuing basis. I would note that the American School in Riyadh has suspended classes for the duration of the week. And, obviously, our Ambassador and his team in Riyadh are working round the clock, literally, to determine natures of threats to U.S. personnel and to U.S. installations in the American citizen community there. With that, I did want to make one short announcement that ties into terrorism, and that is a notice we will put out right after the briefing on the re-designation of the Real IRA as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. We are announcing today the re-designation of the Real Irish Republican Army; also know as the RIRA and other aliases, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under U.S. law. This Foreign Terrorist Organization, as you will recall, was first designated two years ago and designations last for a two-year period, so that's what prompts this designation today. The Real IRA is a militant group that seeks to end British rule in Northern Ireland and bring about political incorporation of Northern Ireland into the Republic of Ireland, and during the past two years they have continued their terrorist activities. So our full notice on that is today in the Federal Register and a statement will be put out after the briefing. Questions? QUESTION: On that designation, has nothing been changed in the law or in the law's post -- they were designated pre-9/11, and is there anything in this re-designation that is intended to bring it up to -- to keep it -- to make it conform with any changes in the FTO rules that you're aware of, or is it simply that it was -- MR. REEKER: I would have to go back and check the entire designation. It was about to expire. It was two years ago that this -- that we made this announcement, and therefore we are re-designating according to the Federal Register notice. You'll see that. It keeps the current number of officially designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations under U.S. law currently at 36, is that number. So, George. QUESTION: Getting back to the travel advisory, which, as you pointed out, expressed the possibility of a clear danger to Americans based on a potential terrorist attack, and I was wondering what was done in the aftermath to shore up security for Americans in Riyadh and elsewhere in light of the potential threat? MR. REEKER: Well, as the Travel Warning indicated, when it was put out on May the 1st updating our alerts to U.S. citizens about the increased security concerns there, we continued to have Authorized Departure for dependents and nonessential personnel on a voluntary basis from our Embassy in Saudi Arabia. Clearly, our Embassy, working with local officials, Saudi officials who are responsible for security of diplomats and diplomatic property, work together, as we do all around the world, to make sure our security is at the highest levels of alert. I will remind you that we have not only the Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia; we have another Travel Warning or Public Announcement in effect for the entire region, for the Middle East and North Africa. We last updated that on May the 5th, so we do have continuing concern about the threat of anti-American violence and terrorist actions that may target civilians specifically in those regions. We remain deeply concerned about the security of U.S. citizens overseas, all U.S. citizens and, of course, official Americans connected to our posts abroad, as well; and so we are encouraging a high level of vigilance to take appropriate steps, as necessary, to consider their safety, think about their travel. We also have a Public Announcement for East Africa, which remains in effect, and the continuing potential for terrorist actions in that part of the world. And, of course, we have a Worldwide Caution, which has been regularly updated -- most recently, April 21st -- that is last month, reminding U.S. citizens of these continuing threats. All around the world we work with local host governments to make sure that we can provide the best security possible for our facilities and for obviously for all Americans and for third-country nationals and nationals of the host-government, as well. These are threats, as we've seen, that were carried out against Saudi Arabia, as well, and I think you saw the comments of the Saudi Foreign Minister when he was with Secretary Powell earlier today talking about increasing our efforts, not hesitating to take whatever measure is necessary to oppose these people who are fueled by hate and seek out to murder innocent civilians. Terri. QUESTION: -- may have been asking -- what on the ground, what specific measures did you take on the ground to protect -- MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to describe individual security members, I think it is most prudent for us not to go into that type of detail but we are continuously reevaluating, continuously reevaluating our security -- QUESTION: But some measures were taken? MR. REEKER: -- in light of the various threats, the ones that we outlined publicly, as well, when we have this type of information that is specific and noncounterable, we make the public aware of that as well and we work very closely with our own security as well as the host country security. We've had excellent cooperation with Saudi Arabia with this attack. Over the last, not quite 24 hours, Saudi cooperation has been outstanding. As I indicated earlier, getting an accurate number of victims is going to be difficult in the early stages of this and that's why we're reluctant to pin down any particular numbers as we have to go through information about who was present at these facilities that were attacked, recover of remains, and making estimates of those presumed missing. And, of course, we have a responsibility in terms of American citizens to notify next-of-kin, and I know the Saudis are working with a number of third-country embassies in Riyadh, as well. Betsy. QUESTION: Well, the Vice President isn't adhering to those rules, and he just said that seven Americans have been killed and that there were 91 dead from the bombings -- not just Americans. MR. REEKER: Yes. When I started my comments, I said at least seven Americans were killed. That was the number that we are looking at now in terms of killed Americans, or Americans among those killed. 91 is a number that has been out there. It's one of the reports that indicates the severity of this attack. It indicates that we have a ways to go in pinpointing definitive numbers. QUESTION: Do you have any idea of those numbers? MR. REEKER: I can't give you a specific, accurate number on that. As I said, a lot of work has to go into verifying these numbers, but that is one estimate that has been put out there. I have seen it in a number of reports. We're going to be very careful about giving you information as we know it, bus as the Vice President indicated, that type of number, that type of death toll shows how truly vicious this type of attack is. QUESTION: Are you aware of any claim of responsibility? MR. REEKER: I have seen some media reports, but I am not aware of any official claims of responsibility. That will obviously be part of the investigation that we will be working on with Saudi authorities. Elise. QUESTION: Philip, in the Travel Warning, you said that you believed that al-Qaida was in the final stages of planning an attack against America. Do you believe that -- MR. REEKER: Actually, I don't believe we used that terminology. QUESTION: I believe the words "final phases of phases of planning an attack'' MR. REEKER: It didn't say al-Qaida. QUESTION: Okay, but the infor -- I'm sorry. Do you believe that those were the attacks? That these attacks were, indeed, the attacks you believe that terrorists were in the final phases of? MR. REEKER: I think that's the type of a determination that an investigation would have to make definitive. As the Secretary indicated to you, these attacks bore many of the hallmarks, if you will, of al-Qaida's type of attack and so that is clearly one assumption that people may need to put into their calculations as this investigation goes forth. Our warning, not only for Saudi Arabia but for other parts of the region and around the world, as I said, is broadly about threats from terrorists to Americans, to American facilities. QUESTION: But in terms of the threat that's still out there, this Travel Warning said that you believed that terrorists were in the final planning stages. Do you have any indications that terrorist attacks are still in the planning stages against American interests in Saudi Arabia? MR. REEKER: The Travel Warning that we have remains valid and that language remains operable. We will be looking to see whether we change or adjust that language over the coming hours and days. The terrorist threat doesn't disappear just because they perpetrate one appalling attack. The war on terror continues. As the President said, we are patient, but we are relentless in this and we will continue to work with all the other countries around the world who are part of this war against terrorism and utilizing all the tools we have against it. QUESTION: Just one more. Last night, there were some officials that were saying the Embassy was advising Americans to stay at home until you can assess the threat that's still out there, assess what's going on. In these early stages after the attack, is that still the advice of the State Department, for Americans in the country to stay at home? MR. REEKER: Our what we call a Warden Message, which was issued by our Embassy to the American community in Saudi Arabia -- that includes official Americans connected to the U.S. Government, but also other Americans, citizens there -- strongly advises American citizens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to use extreme caution and remain vigilant. We noted that we have warned American citizens to defer nonessential travel to Saudi Arabia and we continue to do that. And we counseled private Americans currently in Saudi Arabia to evaluate their own security and consider departing Saudi Arabia and we will continue to reevaluate that. The children and dependents of mission personnel, that is, U.S. Government officials in Saudi Arabia, are not attending school and mission personnel have been instructed to stay home except for essential official business. Matt, and then Adi. QUESTION: Along the lines of Elise's first question, which was about a link, and I realize it's very early and you may not know this, but do you guys have any indication that this attack was related at all to the arrests or the people that the Saudis said that they were looking for? I think there were 19 or 17 that they said that last week, after your warning came out. Is there any sign that this may -- MR. REEKER: Again, I think it would be too early to try to speculate. As you all are aware, Saudi authorities seized a large cache of explosives last week that suggested planning for an imminent terrorist attack, and it was clearly tied in with the information on which we were basing our warnings and the actions we were taking. Obviously, their investigation into that cache of explosives continues. And I really wouldn't want to speculate whether it was tied to that or their arrests, but those are the types of things the investigation will examine. QUESTION: And then just the last thing. Elise made the connection between al-Qaida and the May 1st -- well, actually, the April 30th warning that the Embassy put out before the State Department put out its own warning. Are you prepared at all to say that that -- the terrorist group or groups that you were talking about in that was, in fact, al-Qaida? MR. REEKER: Well, al-Qaida remains a threat that we've talked about, but they aren't the only threat and I'm not going to try to go to that level of specificity based on the intelligence and other information that we have on these threats. Adi. QUESTION: You have officials from Washington now heading over to Saudi Arabia. Would you now consider this a joint American-Saudi investigation into what happened yesterday? And secondly, what do you plan to do about the fact that, in some circles anyway, the Saudis are not seen as the best team players when it comes to joint investigations, going back to Khobar in 1995? MR. REEKER: Well, what is seen in some circles isn't what's important. What's important is what we're doing. And I think you heard the comments of the Saudi Foreign Minister and you heard Secretary Powell following his meetings there today. Obviously, this wasn't the topic we were expecting to discuss, but clearly topped the agenda as the Secretary met with the Foreign Minister and with Crown Prince Abdallah. We are working very closely with Saudi officials at the sites of these attacks. Our Embassy security personnel are clearly involved and a team is going out, as I indicated, an interagency team that includes FBI officials. They will arrive soon and assist with the investigation. We will continue working with the Saudis and we are pleased with the overall level of cooperation in the war on terrorism. As you know, we received good cooperation from the Saudis on counterterrorism initiatives. We are maintaining an ongoing dialogue. Clearly, this attack will now be a part of that dialogue informally, and I will remind you of the U.S.-Saudi Joint Working Group on Terrorism which was created last year. This structure has further improved and formalized our cooperation and our efforts in countering terrorism. It has established a solid mechanism for joint activities, exchange of information and setting of mutual priorities in this battle. On our side, of course, it is chaired by our Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Cofer Black. And so we will continue to use that mechanism as well. QUESTION: But who is leading the investigation? MR. REEKER: Well, it is a Saudi site, so the Saudis have an investigation that we will work on them with. At this point, I don't think I can describe specifically leads. I don't think that is what's important. I think what's important is working together, as we have been, not only on this specific case, but in rooting out these terrorists, rooting out their finances, using law enforcement to round up and arrest terrorists and putting an end to this scourge. QUESTION: Can I follow up, please? MR. REEKER: Yes, Elise. QUESTION: As a matter of course though, if it's not a U.S. diplomatic or military facility that's attacked, and it's on another country's soil but Americans are killed in such an attack, as a matter of course, do you defer to the host country of that site in terms of the investigation and taking the lead, or because of our -- MR. REEKER: We work together with them on this. That's why a team is going out. That's why our security personnel on the ground are -- QUESTION: Well, of course, you're going to work with them. But do you defer to them in terms of how the investigation is run, things like that, and you assist? Or, because Americans were killed, do you feel as if it's America's responsibility to do its own investigation? MR. REEKER: We will be working with the Saudis, perhaps other countries as well who have lost people in this. American citizens were killed and clearly Saudis were killed and other third-country nationals were killed. This was a direct attack upon Saudi Arabia as well as against Americans and American interests. And so we will continue to cooperate. On that level, the semantics of these types of things I don't think are important. What's important is that we are working, as the President described, patiently and relentlessly to counter this terrorist threat, which is still out there and remains our number one priority. Yes, Bill. QUESTION: I want to go to Cuba. MR. REEKER: Changing subjects. Sorry. Anybody else on this? Joel. QUESTION: In light of what has actually occurred and also within the last day or so a terrorist bombing in Chechnya, are the Russians and others willing to, especially focused on the Middle East and such, willing to maybe put together a concerted effort and conference to deal with this more in a regional type basis? You've got these militant groups and they're all apparently interconnected. You mentioned al-Qaida, but more church-related or militants within populations. Cofer Black did mention that in his press conference that we'll go after it, but he mentioned in a generic. Is it -- should there be a concerted effort or warning put to -- MR. REEKER: There is a concerted effort. We have referred to it as the war on terrorism. We have been working very, very closely with so many countries, including Russia. Russia has suffered attacks by terrorist groups and we have had a very good relationship with Russia in that regard. I am sure this is a subject that the Secretary will be able to raise when he has his meetings in Moscow. He arrives there later today. You mentioned the truck bombing in Chechnya on Sunday. Certainly, I would point out that the United States extends its condolences to the victims and the family members that were those killed in this suicide truck bombing in -- I believe it was the northern city Znamenskoye in Chechnya. This, like with the attacks today, is something that the United States resolutely condemns and we join others in the international community in doing so. All sides in the conflict have to do all we can to end terrorism and this senseless violence against civilians. In the Chechnya context, obviously we, as we have before, we call on Chechen leadership to repudiate terrorism in word and in deed and to cut ties with Chechen and international terrorists. And I think it was clear from the reporting that we saw on this that the attack in Chechnya may have been meant to undercut the efforts that Russian officials have undertaken with some Chechen leaders to initiate a political process. And of course, as we have all along, we support a political process to bring about a sustainable peace in Chechnya. And this type of terrorist attack is no way to support that effort. QUESTION: Phil, I don't know whether there's a kernel of something in that question which -- President Putin has said there is a direct link between these two attacks. Are you guys prepared to say that? MR. REEKER: I don't think I could at this point, no. Okay, we are changing the subject to Cuba. QUESTION: Can you say what a lot of these diplomats that have been expelled are accused of doing that got them expelled? MR. REEKER: As some of you have seen through reports -- I think I have spoken with a number of you -- in response to certain inappropriate and unacceptable activities, the United States has decided to take strong action and we have declared seven diplomats from the Cuban Interests Section here in Washington, an Interests Section under the Embassy of Switzerland -- we have declared them persona non grata, requiring their departure from the United States. In a separate action, seven members of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations have been requested to leave the United States for engaging in activities deemed to be harmful to the United States outside of their official capacity as members of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations, and those activities constitute an abuse of their privileges of residence. I think you are all familiar with the record of espionage by the Cuban regime against the United States. It's a long record. Recent Cuban acts of espionage, just reading the headlines, include the analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Montes, the case of a former INS official and the so-called "Wasp Ring" case in Miami, all of which have resulted in convictions for espionage or espionage-related crimes. QUESTION: Phil, on that, in November, the last time you guys expelled some Cubans, two from New York and two from here, there was a direct link made between, I believe it was the two from the Interests Section, between them -- the Department made a direct link between them and the Belen Montes case. Are any of these 14 also related to that case, or are they the two other cases? MR. REEKER: I don't think I am going to go beyond where I am, other than to say that these people are being expelled from the United States, being asked to leave, because of activities, which are not in keeping with their official duties, inappropriate and unacceptable activities. Yes, George. QUESTION: Two questions. How long do they have to leave the country? MR. REEKER: Ten days. QUESTION: Ten days for each -- each one? MR. REEKER: It's ten days from this morning for those in Washington. Let me see if there is any difference for those in New York. I believe it's the same, same situation. QUESTION: Weren't they notified yesterday, though? MR. REEKER: No, the Cuban Interests Section here was notified today, this morning, about 9 o'clock. We called the Cubans in to the Department and delivered verbally and with a diplomatic note--this notice. QUESTION: You said we are all familiar with Cuban espionage activities based on past cases. Are you suggesting that the U.S. doesn't do some of this on its own? MR. REEKER: George, I am talking about cases that have been through our courts that have been espionage cases that have been tried and where convictions have been made. Those are the ones that I referenced as an example of those activities. Yes, sir. QUESTION: When was the last time there was such a large mass expulsion? And can you give the ranks of the diplomats? Were they first secretaries? What level? What are their names? MR. REEKER: I am not going to be providing you with names. In terms of when was the last time, your colleague noted some expulsions that took place in November. I don't have a chronology of other such expulsions. And in terms of the level, it's a range of officers. I am not going to do a list of them. These are not the heads of those -- their Mission to the UN or of their Interests Section here in Washington, but a range of Cuban diplomats. QUESTION: Could I ask you to take the question in terms of when the last time there was 14 or more diplomats expelled at once? MR. REEKER: You can do some research, but we'll be happy to do some as well. QUESTION: Phil, is it incorrect to say these are mid-ranking? MR. REEKER: It's a range of officials. QUESTION: From low to mid, not the most senior? You said they're not the most senior. MR. REEKER: Not the head of the place, but I am not going to try to characterize levels of seniority, otherwise I wouldn't even be here. Yes, sir. Is this still on Cuba? QUESTION: It's going to be Tibet. MR. REEKER: Okay, let's try to finish up Cuba first, okay? I'll come back to you. Yes, ma'am. QUESTION: What does an "abuse of residence" mean? MR. REEKER: An abuse of residence, I think, refers generally to the fact that they were dealing with activities or undertaking activities that were inconsistent with their work, with their -- at the United Nations, under the host country agreement we have with the United Nations, diplomats assigned to the United Nations are given privilege of residence in the United States, and we determined that these seven members of the Cuban Mission, whom we have requested to leave, were engaging in activities deemed to be harmful to the United States outside of their official capacities as members of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations and those constitute an abuse of residence, abuse of the privileges of residence, I guess is the proper way to put it to be thorough. QUESTION: It wasn't because they weren't paying parking tickets? MR. REEKER: I would have to go back and check on their parking records. Elise. QUESTION: On the diplomats that remain, there was a report from a very intrepid reporter recently about limitations that the State Department has put on diplomats that remain, such as forcing them to go through the State Department to secure goods and services. Is there anything you could say about that -- what type of limitations and why they were imposed? MR. REEKER: Well, as we have said -- and I read that intrepid report by one of our good friends -- as we have said before, we are reviewing all of our policies in our approach to Cuba in light of the significant deterioration in their human rights situation there. We have all discussed here several times the absolutely appalling situation, the worst in over a decade, in terms of what the regime has done to silence people who are simply trying to speak, to restrict journalists from practicing their trade, jailing, death sentences. So, to ensure that we are doing all we can to support those seeking democratic change, we are reviewing our policies, looking at all aspects of the bilateral relationship. We have long been frustrated by the lack of parity between how U.S. diplomats are treated by their Cuban hosts that is, through our diplomats at our Interests Section in Havana, and the privileges extended to Cuban diplomats in the United States. So the issue of reciprocity is one such area that is under review. No specific measures have been taken yet. When we actually complete deliberations and make some decisions, we will provide details as we can. And this, obviously, something that is unrelated to today's particular news, that is, the expulsions. QUESTION: Has there been a change in the way that U.S. officials in Cuba were treated in the last several weeks or months to cause the review of this particular policy, or is this -- MR. REEKER: I think this was more, as I indicated, as I said, this was something that we have been frustrated about for a long time, the lack of parity, and so part of our review is this issue of reciprocity in that area. QUESTION: Can you say -- MR. REEKER: On Cuba, still? QUESTION: Yeah. I don't really -- I'm going to ask this, but -- MR. REEKER: Note for the record. QUESTION: One of the parts in that story said that the Cubans had been told of specific measures last week. Was there any kind of meeting like that that you guys are aware of in which -- MR. REEKER: Don't know. I would have to check. My understanding is that we have not completed deliberations on that and so no specific measures have been taken yet. Anything else Cuba? Betsy. QUESTION: Phil, will they be able to replace these people, or does this mean they go down seven people? You didn't get that answer? MR. REEKER: I didn't get that answer. I asked that question. It's a good question, and so I will endeavor to get the full answer. It was something I had thought of. Yes. QUESTION: Once a specific diplomat is expelled, can that person come back, or they're out altogether? MR. REEKER: I think my understanding of the term persona non grata means that that person is persona non grata in the United States. QUESTION: So you can't get regratified, then? (Laughter.) MR. REEKER: I can check on that too, but I think it's kind of something you take on. Yes, sir. Still Cuba? QUESTION: Yes. So do you have the number of Cuban diplomats registered both at the UN Mission and here? And on a parallel vein, can you tell us how many U.S. diplomats are registered in Havana? Because there is often retaliation in these kind of moves. MR. REEKER: I love it when I actually checked on some of these things because I guessed you are going to ask that. QUESTION: Going down to 38. MR. REEKER: Let me see if I can prove Matt wrong. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington -- as I say, that falls under the umbrella of the Embassy of Switzerland -- is authorized 26 permanent accredited staff. There are, at the Cuban Mission in New York, their Mission to the United Nations, there were 37 diplomats. After the departure of the 7, there will be 30 diplomats and 14 staff members. In Havana, our Interests Section is authorized 51 positions because we have to have extra personnel to process the travel documents under the immigration procedures for Cuba. QUESTION: Can you -- those figures are different than the ones in the Diplomatic List. Are these -- MR. REEKER: Those are -- as I said, those are authorized permanent positions. The Diplomatic List doesn't list blanks or, you know, positions that may not be filled. I couldn't tell you. It's, obviously, a fluid type of thing. People come and go. Anything else on Cuba? QUESTION: Sorry to abuse your patience on Cuba. MR. REEKER: Please. QUESTION: Is there under consideration a reduction of personnel at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana as part of this policy review and therefore a reduction -- MR. REEKER: I don't know. Since no determinations have been made, there have been no terms of our policy review. I couldn't answer the question. QUESTION: Well, we haven't heard yet about (inaudible). MR. REEKER: I have been in here for an hour and I haven't heard anything. No. This gentleman was going to be next over here. He was going to ask about Burma. QUESTION: Tibet. MR. REEKER: Tibet. I'm sorry. QUESTION: It's clear from the Tibet Negotiation Report that the administration has been pushing the Tibet issue with the Chinese Government. Can you give us an idea of what the next step in that area might be? Are there more meetings planned? MR. REEKER: The report you refer to, of course, is the report we send to Congress as mandated under the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. It was sent by the White House yesterday. (Correction: It was sent by the White House on May 8.) It discusses steps taken by the President and the Secretary of State to encourage the government of the Peoples' Republic of China to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, as well as the current situation of negotiations between those two sides. It was transmitted to congressional leaders May the 8th, in fact, last week, and it is posted on the Department's website. So if anybody wants to look at it, they should feel free to go to the website and find it there. In terms of next steps and next meetings, I don't really have a particular schedule. It is an issue that we bring up. We discuss human rights with China on a regular basis. Tibet is part of that discussion and our concerns about that remain, and it is something we bring up in our diplomatic contacts and dialogue with China. Changing subjects. Yes, ma'am. QUESTION: Thank you. I have a question about Korea and North Korea. As you know, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun arrived in Washington this morning for a summit talking with President Bush tomorrow. And to cope with the North Korean nuclear crisis, the United States, it seems to have two different approaches. One is the apply military pressure and the other is diplomatic one. Which is more effective measure at this particular moment? MR. REEKER: I will let you do your own analysis or talk to the many talking heads around town. What I would note, as you did, is that South Korean President Roh arrived in New York -- I think we discussed this yesterday -- for the start of a five-day visit. He has come to Washington this morning. Later in the week he will travel to San Francisco before returning on Friday. Indeed, he will meet with the President tomorrow at the White House and he is meeting with several members of the Cabinet, including with the Deputy Secretary Mr. Armitage, in Secretary Powell's absence; also with congressional leadership. The South Korean Embassy can give you more details of his schedule. And, of course, accompanying him is the Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Yun, and he is meeting with Deputy Secretary Armitage this afternoon at 4:30 here at the State Department. They are going to discuss key issues of mutual interest, and, of course, that does include the nuclear issue with North Korea, as well as our very extensive bilateral and security issues and economic issues that we normally discuss. Terri. QUESTION: Did reports that North Korea fired a laser at U.S. troops come up in the recent U.S. talks with North Korea and China? MR. REEKER: I don't know. QUESTION: Does the State Department have any confirmation on these reports? MR. REEKER: I don't know. Those would be military issues. QUESTION: Phil? MR. REEKER: Matt. QUESTION: Yesterday, you were asked about the North Koreans -- reports that the North Koreans were pulling out or had declared null and void the '92 nonproliferation agreements. MR. REEKER: We did, then, find the report that I think some of you were referencing, so we have seen this report from North Korea's official news agency, the KCNA. As you are aware, the 1992 North-South Joint Declaration specifies in detail measures for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And what we have read in this report is a regrettable step, we believe, in the wrong direction. It follows North Korea's violation of its other international nuclear obligations. And again, I would just say that we urge North Korea, in keeping with the desire of its neighbors, of the international community as a whole, to verifiably and irreversibly terminate its nuclear weapons program. This is clearly another attempt by North Koreans to pin responsibility for their own actions on others, and their efforts to deny responsibility for their actions and decisions are, frankly, convincing to no one. Yes. Behind you, and then we'll come forward. QUESTION: Mr. Reeker, how do you comment on the fact that in the recent days more than 300,000 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots crossed the green line of the divided island of Cyprus without a minor incident for the first time after 30 years of Turkish invasion and occupation? MR. REEKER: Well, without taking any particular position on your statements, I don't really have a particular comment. It is something we have observed. Those are choices for the peoples on Cyprus to make. I think it's a good thing that there has been no violence. That's very good. And as you know, for years we have been urging both sides in the situation there to work under the good offices of the United Nations effort to find a solution to that. QUESTION: A follow-up. It was reported extensively in the recent days the U.S. administration is moving to the direction to restart again the negotiation between the two sides? MR. REEKER: It's a UN process. QUESTION: Again, prior to the UN General Assembly in New York City. Do you have anything to say on this? MR. REEKER: No, I would refer you to the United Nations. That is the process that we support. Ma'am. QUESTION: Has the State Department put an official request to the Macedonian Government to sign an agreement for exemption of American citizens from prosecution of International Criminal Court? And if not, are there any consultation going on between two countries in this issue? MR. REEKER: To put that in context, I think everyone is aware that since last summer the United States has been in contact with countries all around the world with regard to their signing what we call Article 98 agreements with us. As part of that process, our Embassy in Skopje has approached the Macedonian Government, also in writing, as we have done with so many countries around the world, proposing formal talks on concluding an agreement, and we do have a team currently in Skopje for discussions. I should remind you that the -- under provisions of the American Servicemembers Protection Act, which was a law enacted as part of the supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year 2002, the provision of military assistance, like International Military Education and Training and Foreign Military Financing, is prohibited after, or effective, July 1st of this year to any country that is a party to the International Criminal Court and has not concluded an Article 98 agreement. So under that United States law, that's an important thing to note. Of course, there are some countries that are exempted from that provision. And so that is the type of discussion we are having with Macedonia. QUESTION: Can we expect this agreement to be signed before 1st of July? And what will be the consequences, other consequences besides that, if they don't -- if the Macedonians don't sign this agreement? MR. REEKER: I couldn't speculate because we have a team in Skopje now discussing that with the Macedonians, as we have with so many countries around the world. The specific consequences fall under the law that I just referenced, and so -- QUESTION: What about according to Macedonian aspiration of membership in NATO and European Union? MR. REEKER: I don't see that that's connected. QUESTION: What will be the consequences? MR. REEKER: The consequences are those under the law that I just described. QUESTION: Other consequences? MR. REEKER: Other consequences I wouldn't speculate on. This is an important thing. It's a priority for us. QUESTION: Will Macedonia lose the American support for membership in NATO? MR. REEKER: No, you haven't. We just signed, as you will recall, just a little over a week ago, in Tirana an important charter that included Macedonia, Albania and Croatia, the Adriatic Charter, where we pledged to work together with Macedonia and the other two countries and were quite supportive of Macedonia's aspirations toward NATO membership. The efforts Macedonia has taken have been very positive, and as the Secretary said in signing that agreement, we encourage all those countries to continue working together and working with us and working through NATO structures because we think that leads to a lot of progress in many areas and stability for Macedonia and for the region. The Article 98 agreement is an important thing in our bilateral relationship with Macedonia, and that is why, as we have with Macedonia, and that is why, as we have with many other countries, we have sent a team there to work on this subject with the Government of Macedonia. Yes, sir. QUESTION: This Adriatic Charter you mentioned is already related with the NATO structure? MR. REEKER: I'll let you read the Adriatic Charter and everything we said about it last week, and leave it at that. QUESTION: Phil, is it correct that, still, the last Article 98 agreement that you guys have signed was the one with Albania, or have there been -- MR. REEKER: I believe that is the last one I remember. We can get you the comprehensive list. Anything else? (No response.) MR. REEKER: Thanks. (The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)


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