State Department Noon Briefing, October 24, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: J. Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2003
MR. ERELI: Welcome, everybody, to the State Department briefing. It's a pleasure to see you all. I don't have any announcements to begin the briefing, so let's go to your questions.
Arshad, do you want to start?
QUESTION: Sure. Adam, it's very hard to disentangle what is being announced in Madrid, in terms of what is grant, and what are loans that are being offered to Iraq. If you have a way to divide that up for us, I'd be grateful for it.
If you don't, can you explain to us what is the U.S. Government's view of the fact that so much of the money that's being pledged is in the form of loans to an already highly indebted country?
MR. ERELI: The Secretary is giving a press conference now in Madrid, and I would refer you to that transcript for, sort of, the authoritative version of how we feel about coming out of Madrid.
I would -- in terms of going into the numbers of grants versus loans, I really don't want to do that. But I do have a couple of important points to make that I think encapsulate how we think about -- how we think about the general, overall view of the conference. And that is, we are very pleased with the participation at Madrid. There were a large numbers of countries that made important contributions.
Number two, we are pleased with the outcome at Madrid. The level of contributions exceeded our expectations.
And, number three, there was an unprecedented contribution from the United States and there were generous contributions, both large and small, from countries of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the international financial institutions.
This is an investment in the future of Iraq. It will help secure a stable and democratic nation that has only know terror and violence for the last 30 years. And together with Iraq's upcoming revenue from sales of oil, we believe that Madrid will go a long way to ensuring the people of Iraq have the money to help them rebuild their country.
The important point now is to deliver on the promises made at Madrid, to rebuild the schools, to revitalize the oil infrastructure, to do everything that Iraq needs to help the country get back on its feet again and to help Iraqis take over responsibility for their country.
QUESTION: Getting back to my question, this Administration has argued in Congress that it does not want the U.S. portion to be loaned because it does not want to add to the debt burden of an indebted country that's just getting back on its feet. And I wonder if you weren't slightly dismayed by the fact that so much of this money is coming in the form of loans, which is just going to add debt to a country.
MR. ERELI: Let's take things step by step. The important point about Madrid and the important result of Madrid is that you had a significant part of the international community come together to recognize that the Iraqi people needed help and to do their part to contribute to that need, number one.
Number two, their contributions were significant and they were notable, and we recognize their generosity and we thank them for it, and we think that the Iraqi people are going to be better off because of it.
And, finally, the loan issue is an issue. It is something we are going to be working on, and I think our officials in Madrid made that point very clearly across the board, that as we move forward we are going to be working to help relieve Iraq of its debt burden. That is an important thing to do. It will be a focus of our efforts. But let us now look at what happened at Madrid and recognize the achievements that were accomplished there.
QUESTION: Okay. So if you're happy with the contributions from other countries announced at Madrid that are in the form of loan, are you any more willing to accede to the U.S. Senate's desire for some of the $20.3 billion that the United States plans to contribute to be in the form of loan?
MR. ERELI: The Administration hasn't changed its position on the President's request. We continue to stand by the terms of that request, and that is grants not loans.
QUESTION: Okay. Go ahead.
MR. ERELI: Elise.
QUESTION: There were reports that the Coalition Provisional Authority is saying that if Congress grants the 20 billion for this year, that next year there wouldn't be a request for more money. Can you talk about this in relation to what -- without getting into actual numbers, do you think that Madrid, that the output that you -- and the pledges that you saw in Madrid, will be able to compensate for the lack of money that the coalition says it won't ask for next year?
MR. ERELI: We are confident that what came out of Madrid and the -- and what we hope Congress will appropriate for the United States is responsive to the needs of Iraq and will be utilized to their best advantage.
QUESTION: Well, is it --
MR. ERELI: The other important point to make here is that, remember, this is the beginning of a process. The needs of Iraq, the rebuilding of Iraq is going to take years. And this is an extremely significant and important first step, but it's a first step.
As we go forward, there will be other gatherings, international gatherings, like Madrid, to look at how the needs are evolving, how the pledges are being implemented, what more can be done for Iraq, and how we can work together to respond to those needs. So don't presume that, you know, Madrid is over and the game is finished. There is a long series of implementation that we are going to be moving on with.
In the back.
QUESTION: Wait. Can I--
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. A follow-up.
QUESTION: -- just follow up? I guess I'm saying -- you said it exceeded your expectations, you're happy. Is it enough?
MR. ERELI: It is -- it is what the Iraqi people need.
QUESTION: Do they need more than what they're going to get, though?
MR. ERELI: It is -- it is -- it meets their needs and will be -- and is a first step in what will be a process of rebuilding the country. There are, you know, if you look at what the estimates are from, you know, the World Bank and other needs assessments, there are short-term and medium-term needs. This was very significant in meeting short-term needs.
As we continue, we'll be looking at medium-term needs and what could be done for them. So there will be opportunities in the future for others to contribute in ways that they, perhaps, haven't done until now, and we look forward to working with the international community in expanding on those contributions and working to meet the medium-term needs of Iraq.
QUESTION: My name is Nayyar Zaidi. I represent the Daily Jang in Pakistan. I believe you said that United States will help Iraq in relieving the debt burden.
MR. ERELI: The United States is going to work with its partners in the international community to relieve Iraq of its heavy debt burden
QUESTION: Debt burden, yeah.
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: I just wanted to refresh the issue. Now, with the exception of debt forgiveness, in certain cases, can you name one country or more than one country where the U.S. really helped its country relieve its debt burden -- during the last century?
MR. ERELI: Yes, I can. But it's not -- there are a number --
QUESTION: Not debt forgiveness.
MR. ERELI: There are a number of examples that I'm not prepared to go into. We can get you, I -- I would presume, a rather complete list. Let me consult with our economic experts.
QUESTION: Where the country paid its own debt with the help of the United States, not forgiveness, not --
MR. ERELI: Let me consult with the experts, and then --
QUESTION: Okay, please, please. Yeah.
QUESTION: Adam, can you address one point of this very issue though, which is that, you know, the United States has many, many times worked through the Paris Club to reschedule or at times, forgive debt. The issue though, is, what is the point in doing that, with one hand, if with the other hand, you're just handing them more loans?
MR. ERELI: Right. The issue, Arshad, is not, this has to be all grants or all loans. The issue is, what can we do to max -- to meet, at the present time, as much as possible, the short-term needs of Iraq?
And what you have coming out of Iraq is generous contributions that far exceed what we -- I would say, that exceed what we had hoped for, and that send a very strong signal that the countries of the international community are committing themselves to meeting the Iraq people -- the needs of the people of Iraq in the short-term, and over the medium term, that those needs are also being taken into account and measures are being taken to meet them.
Not everything given to Iraq is going to be -- is going to be grant aid. The more, the better. But even those -- even that aid that is given in terms of loans is helpful and does move us in the right direction. And if you look at what the World Bank is doing, for example, there are very preferential terms and fully within, you know, the context of what the World Bank normally does. But it's not an either/or proposition, as you, you know, suggested.
QUESTION: Did you -- when you were talking to other countries about this, did you ask them to give grants rather than loans? Was that your stated position?
MR. ERELI: We certainly -- we've certainly said publicly that it's our view that the short-term needs of Iraq and the needs of the Iraqi people can best be met with as generous grants as possible.
QUESTION: Could you say something specifically about the Gulf States -- Saudi Arabia, UAE, et cetera, and their response, if that's what you want to call it, at Madrid?
MR. ERELI: I would note that the Arab countries at Madrid pledged substantial amounts. We welcome those pledges. They are generous and they are a recognition that we all share an interest in responding to the needs of the Iraqi people.
I would also note that, you know, Iraq will continue to need help, and we certainly hope that Iraq's friends and neighbors will continue to look to ways that they can help meet these medium and longer term needs.
QUESTION: Was there some indication, if I might follow up quickly, that they would be maybe more forthcoming if they see more success in Iraq with the U.S. goals?
MR. ERELI: I'd let them speak for themselves. I think what we can take away from Madrid is, as I said, a recognition by the countries that pledged that Iraq has needs that they feel -- feel a responsibility towards helping with.
QUESTION: So you were not disappointed?
MR. ERELI: We were -- as I said, their contributions were generous, and we recognize that generosity.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
Some of those Gulf States, without mentioning any names, are some of the richest countries in the world. And, I mean, I know that there was an expectation that some of those countries would be far more generous and, you know, with actual grants rather than export credits or loans or things like that.
So, I mean, did it seem shocking to you that there wasn't a greater contribution?
MR. ERELI: There are a lot of ways to help Iraq, both now and in the future, and we believe that all countries, including Iraq's neighbors, coming away from Madrid, recognize the need to help and will be looking at ways that they can contribute.
QUESTION: The president of the Athens court, Mr. Magaritis, presided in the case of November 17 terrorist organization, stated last Wednesday during the judicial process that, "November 17 had the political vision" in its brutal killings transforming, actually, the Greek inner court into Carla del Ponte's political tribunal.
I am wondering, do you consider the November 17 terrorist organization issues a criminal or political one like al-Qaida or Usama bin Laden?
MR. ERELI: You're referring, Mr. Lambros, to a trial in Greece that is underway.
MR. ERELI: It would be inappropriate for me to comment on ongoing judicial investigations or proceedings, so I don't really have anything to say on that trial or the judge's comments.
QUESTION: One more question? Anything on the -- on Ambassador Tom Weston talks in Cyprus? And what about Rauf Denktash statement against Weston as a non persona grata?
MR. ERELI: I don't have anything more to say on that than I said yesterday.
QUESTION: On the issue of pre-war intelligence, there is new criticism coming out of -- coming off the Hill about the intelligence community having overstated some claims that were then used by decision makers, policy makers. Does Secretary Powell feel that any of the intelligence that he received was overstated?
He has talked about how he spent four days in a room going through the intelligence and, you know, if people weren't solidly behind it, it didn't go into the speech. But was some of the stuff that was not used, did he feel it was overstated?
MR. ERELI: We stand by the national intelligence estimate. It represents the considered judgment of our experts and it reflects ten years of work investigating Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction's programs.
The Iraq survey group must be allowed to continue and complete its work in Iraq, but even at this early stage, the interim report clearly establishes that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions related to WMD. It had an active WMD program that it was trying to conceal in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
QUESTION: So he has no concerns about it?
MR. ERELI: I think we stand by the intelligence estimate.
QUESTION: Do you stand by everything else?
MR. ERELI: I'd refer you -- for further comment on this, I think the Central Intelligence Agency put out a statement today. I'd refer you to that statement and for a fuller response to reports out of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
QUESTION: Do you feel that intelligence analysts in this building, that their views were taken into account and that an intelligence estimate was put together?
MR. ERELI: We've addressed that issue, the issue of the final product being a considered -- considered evaluation of all the information available, and solid conclusions based on the information and the analysis that was done.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Cuba? The Senate voted yesterday to -- you know, do you have anything on this?
MR. ERELI: I don't have anything on that. I would note that Assistant Secretary Roger Noriega briefed it a little bit earlier today, and perhaps you might want to refer to his briefing for any comment on that.
QUESTION: A question about China. With both the President and the Secretary recently in the talks in Thailand, are we, in many instances, backing away from bringing to the Chinese the question of human rights and treatment - there are two workers who were in prison recently and are greatly ill, factory workers, that led a layoff of a factory, and also other aspects with the Falun Gong and other individuals?
MR. ERELI: I don't -- I'm not familiar with the cases you're referring to, Joel. But I can assure you that we are no way -- I can assure you that this Administration is pursuing, with as much energy and commitment as ever, the cases -- the issues of human rights in China. And our consular officers routinely visit individuals, American citizens detained in China, and we will maintain that level of activity and commitment.
QUESTION: Follow-up on China?
MR. ERELI: Sure.
QUESTION: National Security Advisor Rice had -- had this article in Wall Street Journal, said the clarity of our commitment to our allies and to peaceful resolution of Taiwan issue pave the way to a better relation with Beijing, essentially.
Can you, in any way, explain that, why, because is says the commitment with our allies, which -- and China is not one -- and the peaceful resolution which China has said they will not give up the use of force? Why do those contribute to a better relation with China?
MR. ERELI: We are committed to a One-China Policy, and we support a peaceful resolution of that issue, China -- that issue through dialogue. To the extent that dialogue is continuing, we believe it's positive. But beyond that, I really don't want to go into a sort of exegesis of Dr. Rice's article. I think it pretty well stands on its own.
QUESTION: Okay. Could you -- do you have any comment on Madame Chiang Kai-shek's death?
MR. ERELI: We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, who died in New York at the age of 105. Madame Chiang Kai-shek, who is also known as Soong Mei-Ling, was a historic figure. She made contributions to building international friendship and understanding, and was a friend of America and Americans throughout her life.
QUESTION: New topic, did you mention?
MR. ERELI: China?
QUESTION: Yes. Do you have any update on the situation of Charles Lee, the U.S. citizen who was jailed in China?
MR. ERELI: Chuck Lee was visited most recently by a consular officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai on October 16th. The consular officer brought magazines, newspapers and chapstick to Mr. Lee, per his request. He expressed that he was in good health.
QUESTION: Did he show any bruise to the consulate official on his body?
MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Maybe you can double check and get back to me?
MR. ERELI: We will double check.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERELI: Elise.
QUESTION: There are reports out of Kenya that some people in custody, terror suspects, say that al-Qaida operatives planned to drive a car bomb and fly a plane into a U.S. Embassy in Nairobi a few months back, and that this is the reason that the embassy was closed. Do you have anything on that?
MR. ERELI: I don't have anything for you. I can check. But we generally don't comment too much on the nature of -- specific nature of terrorist threats, but let me check on it for you.
QUESTION: The Iranians yesterday delivered a report on their nuclear activities to the IAEA in Vienna, do you see this as a new step in the right direction, and did you have a chance to look at that report?
MR. ERELI: Iran provided that information to the IAEA, and I would refer you to the IAEA for details on the information. I would say, as a, you know, general -- as a general rule, Iraq -- the Board of Governors resolution is pretty clear that Iraq has to fully disclose --
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. Iran has to fully disclose the information it requested, and that we expect it to provide all information that the IAEA deems necessary by the October 31st deadline.
QUESTION: Are there any plans for a U.S.-South Korean-Japanese meeting on North Korea meeting early next month? TCOG, or a non-TCOG, TCOG or --
MR. ERELI: Right. We saw those reports. There is no meeting of the -- Japan, the United States and South Korea scheduled at this time.
QUESTION: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in remarks that were published today, had said that the United States needs to reorganize its war of ideas in the war on terrorism. Given that the State Department has an Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy, not to mention the White House Office of Global Communications, I wanted to see if it was the Department's -- if the Department was in agreement with the apparent suggestion that we're not winning the war of ideas and the suggestion that we might need to create a super agency to take over those efforts?
MR. ERELI: That's -- we are -- that's really not a subject that I'm prepared to comment on. I think the U.S. Government is, under the leadership of President Bush, committed to doing everything it takes to win the war on terror and that all resources of this government -- financial, military, diplomatic -- are committed to that end, and that we are working with the same -- with the same objective and with the same level of energy, which is to prosecuting -- to prosecuting the campaign as fully and as energetically as we can.
QUESTION: Does the Department, then, stand by its efforts in the field of Public Diplomacy up to date?
MR. ERELI: Yes.
QUESTION: Hi. I have a question about an incident yesterday. An El Al jet on its way to Los Angeles was diverted to Hamilton, Ontario for several hours and I -- before it went on to Los Angeles. I wanted to know what you know about it, and what the concerns are maybe about it?
MR. ERELI: I'll have to check on it for you. I'm not familiar with that story.
QUESTION: You're not at all?
MR. ERELI: Mr. Lambros.
QUESTION: Adam, your legal advisor, Mr. Taft, yesterday testified before the Senate International Relations Committee that regarding the ratification of the Treaty of the Law of the Sea of 1982 extending the nautical miles to 12. Do you have anything on that?
MR. ERELI: What, particularly, are you looking for?
QUESTION: What I'm looking?
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
QUESTION: If you have any comment on his statement about his testimony?
MR. ERELI: I think his statement speaks for itself.
QUESTION: Adam, you admonished yesterday, the Israelis for their settlements. They want to possibly now extend this wall into the Jordan Valley. And yet, at the same time, in Gaza, some of the militants have hit some of the settlements with some armed killings overnight. Your speaking to both sides is not getting through.
MR. ERELI: What's the question?
QUESTION: The question is, where do you proceed from here?
MR. ERELI: We remain engaged with both parties in working to achieve fulfillment of commitments pledged under the roadmap. Both side have commitments. We are looking to both sides to honor those commitments. We believe that, as a first step, the Palestinians need to put together a government that is empowered to deal with terror and that takes actions to dismantle the terror organizations that are operating in the territories -- in the territories for which it is responsible.
QUESTION: Part of the commitments under the roadmap, Israel must stop building or reconstructing new settlements. It is not stopping. It is going on.
MR. ERELI: That remains -- that remains a commitment, and that does remain a concern of ours, and we are conveying that concern to the Government of Israel.
QUESTION: How are you conveying it? At what level? Is it embassy, or is it higher than that?
MR. ERELI: Let me check. I mean, I know it's embassy. As to what higher level it may be, I'll check on it for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. ERELI: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: If things continue to go the way they've been going, though, are you prepared to stand up here six or nine months from now and keep repeating that same line?
MR. ERELI: Ask me in six or nine months.
QUESTION: Oh, I will.
MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. Christophe, you had a question?
QUESTION: Can you update us on the status of your talks with the Turks about sending troops to Iraq?
MR. ERELI: Yeah.
QUESTION: I'm asking that because the Turkish Prime Minister said today that these talks are suspended.
MR. ERELI: Right.
QUESTION: And he said that you asked for the suspension.
MR. ERELI: Right.
MR. ERELI: Let me give you some context to that. The fact is we are continuing talks with all parties to seek a -- over the details and modalities of bringing Turkish troops to Iraq. Those talks take a variety of formats, take place, you know, in different places at different times. Just because they're not -- you know, today we're not talking to them in Ankara doesn't mean they're suspended. It means that we're talking with somebody else somewhere else in response to what we heard, you know, in another place at another time.
So these talks and these arrangements and these consultations are ongoing. I wouldn't say that they're stopped or suspended or anything. It continues to be an issue we work. I think what I also said yesterday is it's going to take time. This is complicated. It's better to get it -- it's better to get it right than to get it in a hurry.
QUESTION: Are you still -- you still are fully committed to having Turkish troops --
MR. ERELI: We are still working -- we are still working to -- to bring this idea to pass.
QUESTION: Adam, why you are saying that they are complicated? There is any disagreement between the political and military leaders in Ankara to this effect?
MR. ERELI: I think what there are are questions about how to -- how to do it in a way that makes sense, in a way that's -- that everybody's comfortable with.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m.)
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