State Department Noon Briefing, October 20, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: J. Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2003
1:10 p.m. EDT
MR. ERELI: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back from what I hope was a good weekend for you all. No announcements today. Who has the first question?
Since you raised your hand first.
QUESTION: In light of Secretary's intended visit to Kenya, can you just tell us a little bit more of the extent of the U.S. involvement in the peace negotiations in Sudan?
MR. ERELI: The negotiations are being led by the Kenyan mediator Lazaro Sumbeyiwo, and he has been leading this effort for some time since its beginning, and we salute his hard work and that of the Government of Kenya in supporting this. The United States has obviously been a key player in nurturing this process along in helping the parties to deal with the tough issues they have to overcome to bring this, what I believe is world's longest-running civil war to an end. And they are making progress.
As you know, they signed a security agreement several weeks ago that really covered, I think, most of the really tough issues that had been bedeviling peace for these 20 years. The outstanding issues that they are now negotiating deal with power sharing, wealth sharing, and the status of the three conflict areas, those being: Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and the Abeyi.
We are in daily contact at the present time with the negotiators and the mediators, and Secretary Powell, while in Kenya on October 21st and 22nd will engage with the parties to encourage progress in this process.
QUESTION: There's one question about Cyprus.
MR. ERELI: Let's stick with Sudan.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. ERELI: Follow up? Yes.
QUESTION: Is it true that the signing ceremony for final peace agreement is going to be here in Washington sometime?
MR. ERELI: That is news to me. I don't have any information to confirm that. I think that such speculation at this point is premature.
QUESTION: Is the thought that we are close to a peace agreement or are we close to an incremental step toward a peace agreement at this point?
MR. ERELI: I think it's fair to say that we are making progress toward a peace agreement, but we're not there yet.
QUESTION: Okay. And I know that the Europeans have talked about kicking some money in. So have some others. Are we -- is the United States planning to kick in aid, assuming -- I could have stated that more elegantly, I know, but is the United States planning to kick in some money if a peace agreement is reached?
MR. ERELI: I don't have anything specific for you on that. I think it's safe to say that we will support the parties. Those parties that make the tough decisions, we'll support them in every way that we can.
QUESTION: Is there AID money pending that is being held up to see what happens on these?
MR. ERELI: I can't comment on that.
QUESTION: Is Powell's arrival timed to completion of the agreement?
MR. ERELI: Secretary Powell --
QUESTION: That is the politest way to put the question.
MR. ERELI: Secretary Powell is going to Kenya.
QUESTION: Yes. And they are near an agreement.
MR. ERELI: And they are near an agreement.
QUESTION: And it would be just ducky if he happened to be there when they reached an agreement.
MR. ERELI: And his visit will be useful in helping these parties move further toward an agreement.
QUESTION: Could you elaborate on that at all?
MR. ERELI: There's negotiations underway. Negotiations are negotiations.
QUESTION: No, no, I mean, how -- I would understand that the President of the United States, Secretary of State, would have a salutary effect, but I mean, can you be more specific? Will he delve into some of the remaining hang-ups that maybe he will be able to --
MR. ERELI: Right. Well, let's be clear. Secretary Powell has been closely involved in this process and the United States has been closely involved in this process from the beginning in using its good offices and in its influence and its views to help bring the parties together and to encourage them and assist them in resolving issues that have frustrated peace for 20 years. That effort continues.
It has been intensified, I think, in the last several months, and at the level of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary Kansteiner and his whole very talented and dedicated team that's been doing the hard slogging in Kenya. And that I would look at this visit to Kenya as part of that process, as a continuation of that involvement and encouragement, and we're hoping that it will help the parties come to finalize the discussions and come to an agreement.
I think it's fair to say that this is an opportunity for the parties to seize the momentum that they achieved after signing the security agreement in late September and use this opportunity to reach a comprehensive agreement.
QUESTION: Is there a U.S. post-agreement role?
MR. ERELI: I'd leave that to after they sign the agreement -- what to look ahead and what are the next steps. I don't have anything for you on that today.
QUESTION: Can you say -- might he, when he's there, verbalize what the U.S. would be willing to do or prepared to do to keep an agreement in place, to mop up from this 20-year murder of 2 million people?
MR. ERELI: I really don't want to speculate as to what the Secretary might or might not say when he is there tomorrow. Let's leave that to your colleagues with the party to ask that, or get an answer to that question.
QUESTION: You're not prepared to say whether he will talk to the Sudanese about ways they can get off, or what they must do to get off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism?
MR. ERELI: It's pretty clear what Sudan needs to do to get off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Obviously, if there are discussions with the Sudanese and they raise that, we're prepared to make clear what's required, but there's really nothing new there in the sense that aid and support for terrorist organizations has to end.
QUESTION: Adam, do you see any reason -- do you have any reason to believe that it's likely that an agreement would be reached this week, or do you think this is just a push in the direction and it will happen whenever it happens? Do you have any reason to think it's going to happen?
MR. ERELI: Yes, you're asking me to handicap something, and you know how negotiations are.
QUESTION: I'm giving you an opportunity to play down an expectation.
MR. ERELI: I'll leave it where it was before -- that progress is being made and we hope to encourage that progress, and we believe that there is an opportunity -- that we urge the parties to cease.
QUESTION: Okay, one other just related to this. Is he going to Egypt on the way out of Kenya, and is he going to possibly see President Mubarak?
MR. ERELI: I'll leave it to the parties to make a statement on if there are going to be other steps between Kenya and Madrid. It's entirely possible, but when and where and how, I'll leave to the parties to make an announcement on that.
QUESTION: What made the Secretary and his party decide to actually make the trip? Because there had been speculation for so long and it seemed that they wanted the negotiators themselves to get to a stage where Powell could be of assistance. What convinced them that now was a good time after all?
MR. ERELI: Because the Secretary can be of assistance, as you said. The negotiations have reached a point where, I think it's safe to say they're close and the belief was that the Secretary's visit could facilitate progress, and that it was a useful -- it was a good use of his time, and that it's a good opportunity.
QUESTION: So they've definitely moved, then, in the last couple of days since he didn't place this stop officially on his itinerary to begin with?
MR. ERELI: There's been progress.
QUESTION: Let me try that one more time. You know, you say you don't want to speculate, you don't want to speculate, or handicap on how far the negotiations are --
MR. ERELI: No, I didn't want to handicap or speculate whether there would be an agreement or not.
QUESTION: Okay. But you did just say that the reason the Secretary is going there is because the talks are close.
MR. ERELI: It is an opportune time to facilitate progress.
QUESTION: Right. But I want to stay with your remark that they're close. What are they close to? Are they close to an interim step or are they close to an agreement?
MR. ERELI: We're working for an agreement. The goal is an agreement.
QUESTION: So are you expecting an agreement within coming days or --
MR. ERELI: That was what I was asked to handicap, which I don't want to do. I would say we're working for an agreement. You're talking about interim steps. My understanding is, our goal is an agreement, that we're, that we're making progress towards an agreement, that now is an opportune -- now there is an opportunity for the parties to seize the momentum and the visit of the Secretary of State, and the personal involvement of the Secretary of State that helps move that process along.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you this, then, and we'll let you off that hook. If -- if there is, as expected, a donors conference in Norway, has thought been given to any U.S. role?
MR. ERELI: Let me get back to you on that.
MR. ERELI: Cyprus? Everybody ready to go to Cyprus? Okay. Please.
QUESTION: Do you have a comment on the upcoming elections in the occupied area in Cyprus in December?
MR. ERELI: Yes. We see the elections for the Turkish Cypriot parliament as a crucial opportunity for Turkish Cypriots to express their will on the central question of whether they desire a Cyprus settlement based on UN Secretary General Annan's peace plan and EU membership. In this sense, the elections are a referendum on the Annan plan that the Turkish- Cypriots were denied when United Nations sponsored peace talks were abandoned by their side at The Hague.
We hope the elections will be fully free and fair and that the will of the Turkish-Cypriot people will be reflected in the choice of negotiator for their community.
QUESTION: And do you -- are you concerned at all about some indications of problems with the election lists in the occupied areas?
MR. ERELI: Yes, there are a number of press reports concerning possible irregularities in Turkish-Cypriot voter lists, such as the inclusion of dubiously qualified voters; and these reports do cause us concern.
QUESTION: And one related question, if you can, to the Kenya visit by the Secretary. There is a problem the last few days in Greece because the Greek Government announced the visit by the Secretary last week in Athens on the same day that he goes to Kenya. Can you clarify for us what happened then? This announcement came by the Greek Government by saying that the U.S. Embassy in Athens gave them assurances about the visit and that the Greek Embassy here had assurances from the Director of Southeast Europe of the Department here.
MR. ERELI: You'll have to ask the Greek Government about their issuance of the statement. Our view is until we issue a statement on a visit, it's not official.
QUESTION: On elections in disputed territories. Did you check on the Chechen election?
MR. ERELI: Yes, I did check on the Chechen election. We're not going to have anything new to say on that. What we've said before is still our view, that we consider the elections in Chechnya seriously flawed. There were numerous incidents of violence and other practices that we viewed as inconsistent with a free and fair election, and we called on Mr. Kadyrov and the Government of Russia to do everything possible to ensure that human rights are respected and that practices there are consistent with international norms.
QUESTION: That's a little new, because when Richard -- just after the election, Richard said that he'd be -- that the U.S. would be reviewing the results and the methods and deciding whether or not the elections were so flawed that they could not be accepted. So this is basically the decision that you are accepting the elections as final and you're not saying their invalid?
MR. ERELI: We're saying they're seriously flawed. I'd remind you that these are local elections. So these it's not like a sovereign entity. But we viewed these local elections as seriously flawed. It was our judgment that there were problems with them and that those problems are endemic of practices that need to be addressed.
QUESTION: Yes, the elections present Kadyrov as a legitimate representative of the region, obvious rhetoric.
MR. ERELI: President --
QUESTION: -- even if it's not an independent state.
MR. ERELI: Well, we are not going to comment on Kadyrov's legitimacy or not. Chechyna is a part of Russia, and we've made clear our concerns about what some of the practices that are going on there. And we looked to President Kadyrov and to the Russian Federation to, you know, follow international norms and practices in dealing with the issues there. But I'm not going to comment on the question of the legitimacy of a local elected official.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that, other issues on that?
Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: You go ahead.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. Government express its concerns at a high level to the Russian Government? Like, did the Secretary bring this up?
MR. ERELI: I'll check.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: The other elections in Azerbaijan, can I?
MR. ERELI: Sure.
QUESTION: The OSCE human rights had deplored the wave of arrests in Azerbaijan. There is information that election officials from opposition being arrested and also opposition members being arrested en masse. Do you have any information about this, and do you have anything to say about that?
MR. ERELI: Right. That we share those concerns at what appears to be a wave of politically motivated arrests over the weekend. It is our view that Azerbaijan's government must follow through on its OSCE commitments to safeguard its citizens and respect their rights. We also call upon the opposition parties to act peacefully and within the law.
I would add that we're also worried about post-election violence in Azerbaijan, and we have called on both the government and the opposition parties to stop it. Those who are engaged in criminal acts should be pursued, as should police who used excessive force. There is no place in a democracy for such violence.
QUESTION: A follow up on this. Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, according to Azeri official media, called to the President-elect Ilkham Aliyev, and according to Azeri official media, he congratulated him.
Do you have any information about this phone conversation? Was it a personal call, because you know, he has friends and relations Ilkham Aliyev? Or was it the official position with regards to U.S. Government?
MR. ERELI: Let me check with the Deputy Secretary and see what I can get for you on that call.
QUESTION: And the last question, if you can take my question. There is reports about disappearance of a journalist in Azerbaijan, and the series of attacks against media organizations, including one of the largest opposition newspaper, Yeni Musavat. The editor of the newspaper is hiding in the Norwegian Embassy. Just, if you can take my question, are you concerned with this development, too?
MR. ERELI: We'll take the question.
QUESTION: There's a --
QUESTION: Parliament --
MR. ERELI: Okay, go ahead, George. Go ahead, Barry.
QUESTION: That's all right.
QUESTION: Palestinian -- a group of Palestinians, Fatah people I think, is that to see American officials or to see Dennis Ross, maybe?
MR. ERELI: To my knowledge, there are no meetings scheduled with State Department officials and Fatah officials. Should that, should that not be the case, I'll let you know.
QUESTION: A couple of questions on two reports that are out there: one is a Reporters Without Borders report and the other is the new UN-Arab report that was released in Jordan. The latter suggests that the U.S.-led war on terrorism has had, perhaps, the unintended consequence of giving Arab states an excuse to crack down on political dissent and to become more repressive. Do you share that conclusion? Do you see that as a regrettable side effect of the war on terrorism?
MR. ERELI: Let me first say that we welcome the 2003 Arab Human Development Report. The 2002 report was the first in the series. This is the second, and it was, obviously, a ground-breaking document, that not only was it written by Arab scholars, but it really, in a very new way, described the obstacles to democratic development, or development in the Middle East and identified deficits of freedom, knowledge, and women's empowerment.
It also served as a very useful guide for us in putting together the Middle East Partnership Initiative in terms of identifying needs and creating structures and ideas and means for dealing with them.
The 2003 report continues the work of its predecessor by providing an in-depth assessment of the knowledge deficit. It's just been put out. We look forward to reviewing it more carefully.
I'm really not comfortable at this point engaging in a sort of assessment of what it said. It needs to be needs to be looked at. It needs to be reviewed. But we will, I think it's safe to say, on the basis of this report, continue our consultations with the governments in the region and fold it into the ongoing work through the Middle East Partnership Initiative to expand education, economic opportunities, and democratic practices and institutions throughout the region.
QUESTION: So you really have nothing to say about its conclusion at this time, that there's been greater political repression in a number of Arab governments, post 9/11, because of the war on terrorism?
MR. ERELI: Right. One thing we did see that I, you know, I guess I would take issue with is -- or not take issue with, but maybe give a little bit of context to is the notion that post-9/11 security considerations or security measures in the United States have contributed to a lack of educational opportunity for Arabs in the -- Arabs and Muslims, or Arabs, and that this is somehow undermining the progress that we want to encourage in the region.
And I would simply say to that we have been and continue to work very diligently to balance the need for secure borders with open doors. And we recognize the importance to both the United States and the region of having people from this part of the world come to the United States to study, to learn new skills, to gain knowledge and experience, and to take that back to their region and contribute to their societies.
So this is something that's very important for us. This is something we're working very diligently to do, and we have been working for some time. And what we want to see is greater numbers of students coming here, working here, coming here, studying here, and then going back to their countries of origin.
QUESTION: Can I go into the Reporters Without Borders report? It has a couple of instant comments addressed at the United States, particularly in ranking the United States in terms of its respect for freedom of expression. It ranks it 31st in respect for freedom of expression at home, and 135th for respect for freedom of expression beyond U.S. borders. And in particular, it's critical of the U.S. treatment of reporters in Iraq, citing the arrest of a cameraman and a photographer over the weekend in Iraq, and also citing the deaths of, I think, 12 journalists since the start of the war, including five at the hands of the U.S. military.
Do you want to comment on that?
MR. ERELI: Other than to say that any death is regrettable. It's something that I'm not in a position here to comment on, given the fact that what the circumstances were in Iraq, I don't know. I would refer -- the people to answer that is the Department of Defense and those in Iraq. I think what's fair to say is that the record, I believe, speaks for itself; and we, the United States Government, I think, have made an unprecedented effort to facilitate the coverage of events there, to support journalists who are risking their lives, as we are, to help the Iraqi people and help the public. And this started from the day Operation Iraqi Freedom got underway and continues to this day.
I guess I find it hard to believe that, you know, if you want to talk about openness and transparency, that you can get -- there's been much -- any greater of an effort made than we've made in Iraq.
QUESTION: More broadly, do you want to take issue with their suggestion that the United States maybe does a decent job of protecting freedom of expression at home but a much poorer job abroad, other than Iraq, just generally?
MR. ERELI: I really don't want to get into a back-and-forth on the report. I think what's important to say is that we are doing, I think, everything we can and much more than has been done in the past to give people the opportunity to cover the story and to get the information out safely and accurately.
Elise, you've had a question.
QUESTION: Also on Iraq, a report the other day in the New York Times about the Future of Iraq Project and how these reports, although a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of the State Department team working with these Iraqis were put into this report and a great deal of work product came out of it, that those reports were largely ignored by the Pentagon.
Can you -- Secretary Powell spoke a little bit to this, --
MR. ERELI: Right.
QUESTION: But is there anything you can add in terms of your understanding of how these reports were perceived and used by the Pentagon?
MR. ERELI: Right. I'd leave it to the Pentagon to sort of characterize how it used the report. As Secretary Powell said, we did prepare this report. It had the involvement and participation of a large number of experts both within and from outside government. A large number of the people who were from the State Department who wrote that report, and participated in that report, are now in Iraq working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in helping to rebuild that country. So I think it's fair to say that their contribution has not only been welcomed, but is being utilized in a very tangible way.
I would also note that I think the Department of Defense spokesman spoke to this issue in the weekend press reports and said that the report was not ignored and that it was a valuable contribution.
QUESTION: But I'm, but again, there were significant volumes of work printed out. Were these volumes given to the Iraqi Governing Council? What was the State Department -- a lot of people in these working groups had said previously that it was their understanding that these -- that their efforts -- it wasn't an academic exercise, that this work was going to be seriously considered as the future of Iraq was -- as the reconstruction efforts took place. Do you think that they were misled in terms of, you know, where their efforts were actually being focused towards?
MR. ERELI: I think what's fair to say is what I said before, that there was a lot of work being done in Iraq, a lot of planning. That planning is now being put into practice. Not every part of every plan actually gets used because the reality that you find when you actually go into a situation may be different from what was expected.
You know, as I believe the Secretary says, there's no plan that survives the first encounter of battle. And what we're seeing now is that -- and I think the greatest testimony to the utility of the plan -- is that many of those who were involved in putting it together, and who were involved in thinking about these issues are now in a position to put those ideas into practice, or if those ideas, you know, weren't exactly what subsequent events bore out, are in a position to help change things.
So, that's how I would answer the question.
QUESTION: Does the State Department believe that some of the work that came out of these groups foresaw some of the problems that the U.S. is encountering now and the coalition is encountering now, and could have been prevented if being -- if used a little bit more explicitly?
MR. ERELI: We're focused on the way ahead and what we can do to help the Iraqi people. And obviously, in every situation there are lessons learned; when you do an analysis, things that in hindsight you might have done differently. And that analysis may be done some day. But right now it's safe to say that we are, in this Department, as well as other parts of the U.S. Government, fully engaged and looking ahead and trying to develop the structures and processes and institutions to help the Iraqi people and to turn that country over to the Iraqis so that they can run their own country by themselves as quickly as possible.
Tammy, you had a question.
QUESTION: Yes, also about Iraq. The idea of the World Bank having an independent agency that administers the reconstruction money, what sort of a role/input/you know, authorizing role would the U.S. have in this kind of an arrangement?
MR. ERELI: This is, frankly, a story that's been around for a while. And it was originally proposed on June 24th, at an international meeting in New York on coordinating Iraqi reconstruction assistance. We're talking about a multi-donor fund that is administered by the World Bank and the UN. We have strongly supported this idea from the outset and we have supported a leading role for the United Nations and the World Bank in setting it up and administering it.
I'd point out that the details are still being worked out. It will probably have two arms: one that is administered by the World Bank and one that is administered by the United Nations, and both of which will be overseen by an international coordinating committee.
I'd add that, once again, final, the final details are going to have to be worked out. The other thing I'd point out is that there are a number of precedents for this kind of fund. They were set up, similar types of funds, were set up to monitor assistance or to disburse assistance, receive and disburse assistance for Afghanistan, for East Timor, for the West Bank and Gaza, and for Kosovo.
So, I don't want to speculate about the specific U.S. role in this. We are a member of the core group, obviously. The core group has been closely involved in working with the World Bank and the UN in the setting up of this fund. I would expect there to be some kind of involvement but the precise modalities of which I'd leave to the experts to comment on when this thing is set up and functioning.
QUESTION: What are they exactly administering?
MR. ERELI: The donations -- the collection and disbursement of funds for Iraq by donors to Iraq.
QUESTION: Including the United States?
MR. ERELI: We will probably make some contribution to the trust fund, but most of our assistance will continue to be disbursed directly.
QUESTION: Oh. All right. And I have a question about that, if I may. Is American assistance contingent on American contracts for that assistance, if I put it clearly?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: Is that, is that the way it is?
MR. ERELI: Right. I'd have to look at the, at the supplemental request and see what the, you know, earmarks are on that. And we've have to look at the --
QUESTION: Appropriation legislation.
MR. ERELI: -- at the appropriation legislation, yes.
QUESTION: All right. MR. ERELI: Charlie.
QUESTION: Just for the record, wasn't this World Bank fund, idea, notion, talked about in a briefing here in this room several months ago?
MR. ERELI: Yes. Yes, oh yes. This is not new.
In the back.
QUESTION: Yes, according to several press report, Ambassador Bremer urged Washington and don't rush to send Turkish troops to Iraq because of the strong opposition. According to this report, is the Ambassador Bremer also talk with the Secretary Powell too. If it's true, how do you overcome this opposition, and also, can you confirm that this warning from the Ambassador Bremer?
MR. ERELI: I'm not going to confirm reports of what Ambassador Bremer said or didn't say. The best way to get the facts on that is to ask Ambassador Bremer.
As to the general issue of Turkish troops in Iraq, I'd say the following: that we are continuing to consult closely with the Turkish authorities on the details of their possible deployment; that our Ambassador in Ankara today met with a senior official of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the subject; and that we continue to believe that Turkey has an important role to play in contributing to the stability in Iraq.
Adi. I'm sorry -- Arshad.
QUESTION: Adam, Prime Minister Sharon made a speech today in which he said -- in which he described, "Arafat as the biggest obstacle to peace and, therefore, Israel is determined to bring about his removal from the political arena."
Do you think it is constructive to talk about removing Arafat from the political arena? Does that accord with your view?
MR. ERELI: Our views haven't changed. And as you recall, those views are that taking actions against Arafat could prove counterproductive and would not be helpful.
QUESTION: When you say actions, are you talking about exiling him, or other things?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes, to both?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry, Christopher.
QUESTION: Do you know who is going to represent the U.S. for the funerals of former President Izetbegovic of Bosnia?
MR. ERELI: I do not know whether that decision has been made. I would say, however, that the Department of State does express its deepest condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of the first President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Bosniac member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
President Izetbegovic's personal courage helped the Bosnian people endure one of Europe's greatest tragedies since World War II. He was a determined leader and was instrumental in Bosnia and Herzegovina remaining a unified, multiethnic country. His commitment to a European future for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a part of this legacy.
QUESTION: It's not a follow-up. It's on another issue. The Federal Register today published the name of new foreign organization, which I understand is now considered as a terrorist. Its name is Dhamat Houmet Daawa Salafia. Can you elaborate or give us more details about this movement?
MR. ERELI: This organization, the Dhamat Houmet Daawa Salafia was listed in the Federal Register as coming under the terms of Executive Order 13224 on Terrorism Financing. What this means is that the group's assets in the U.S. are blocked and transactions, most transactions with this group, are made illegal.
It is a designation that is made in consultation with Justice and Homeland Security, and it's on the basis of the determination that the group committed or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terror that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.
It's not the same as designating it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
QUESTION: And who are they?
MR. ERELI: It's an Algerian group that, for more details, I'd refer you to our counterterrorism people.
QUESTION: I know this isn't always State Department's purview, but any comments on the new al-Qaida tape, the CIA now confirming they believe it was bin Laden talking about the Riyadh attacks?
MR. ERELI: Right. No comment other than to reiterate our abhorrence at such calls for violence that serve no purpose other than to frustrate the will of the great majority of people for a more peaceful and prosperous life, and that have nothing to do with religion or politics and have everything to do with hate.
QUESTION: Does the State Department generally believe that al-Qaida was responsible for the May 12th bombing in Riyadh?
MR. ERELI: I don't know what the latest thinking on that issue is, frankly.
I'm sorry. In the back.
QUESTION: When asked about bilateral talks between President Hu of China and U.S. President Bush, a senior Bush Administration official said, here I quote, "We have initiated an agreement with them," here means Chinese, "to set up an expert group to see how China could move more rapidly towards a genuine floating exchange rate."
However, when this question has been put forward to the Chinese Foreign Minister, he said he didn't heard much about this agreement. Can you tell us whether there is agreement like this? Has it been signed? Under what circumstances it has been signed? And what exactly are the contents of this agreement, if there is an agreement like this?
MR. ERELI: Right. I hate to disappoint you on this one, but I'm going to refer you to the President's party, the White House, since those were the people making the thing --
QUESTION: Actually, it was a background briefing here, is what I quote from.
MR. ERELI: Right. Well, this is the State Department, so the White House is really the place to go for information on the President's meeting with the President of China and where we stand on the issues that they discussed.
QUESTION: On Iran. If Iran doesn't meet its IAEA deadline of October 31st, what would the United States' next step be?
MR. ERELI: I'd refer you to the resolution of the IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, of September 12th, which lays it out pretty clearly. It says that Iran has to comply fully with all of the requirements of the resolution, and those requirements are also very clearly laid out.
The Board is going to meet again in November, to review Iran's compliance. If it doesn't comply fully and completely with the requirements set out in the September 12th resolution, then it is our view that the November Board must report Iran's noncompliance to the Security Council.
QUESTION: And where would you go from there?
MR. ERELI: Well, it would be a subject for debate for the Security Council and we'd have to see -- we have to see what action the Security Council takes.
QUESTION: What do you think of the visit of Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and --British, French and German Foreign Ministers to Iran?
MR. ERELI: We're in close consultation with the UK, France, and Germany, as well as other friends and allies, on Iran's nuclear program and the IAEA investigation. We all support full compliance with the IAEA and Non-Proliferation Treaty requirements without delay or conditions, and we are confident that the Foreign Ministers will make this clear to Iran, if they travel there; and the need for such compliance.
QUESTION: And do you think if they are "offering carrots," as the diplomatic lingo goes, is that inappropriate since Iran already is required to comply?
MR. ERELI: Right. It is our view that Iran's obligations under the NPT and the IAEA, safeguards agreement are non-negotiable.
QUESTION: Yeah. But at the same time -- well --
QUESTION: It's not the same thing. You know, I mean, you don't seem to be hesitant to offer carrots to North Korea, such as security assurances. So is there anything you can do to Iran to help them assure?
MR. ERELI: The September 12th Board of Governors resolution is clear about what Iran has to do by October 31st. And that's what we expect Iran to do and not negotiate, not offer inducements, do what's required by the Board of Governors by October 31st, and then the board will meet.
QUESTION: So, if the foreign ministers are offering some kind of inducements like trade, if Iran will comply, the U.S. feels that's inappropriate?
MR. ERELI: I'm not going to sort of speculate about what the group might or might not be doing. What I would say is that having consulted closely with them, we are of the view that we all share the conviction that full compliance without delay or conditions is what is called for by the Board of Governors. And that's what our understanding is -- will be made clear to the Iranians.
QUESTION: And you -- so you think you're all on the same page?
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
MR. ERELI: Thank you.
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