State Department Noon Briefing, April 29


Thursday April 29, 2004

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Thursday, April 29, 2004
12:40 p.m. EDT

BRIEFER: Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman

-- USAID Pulls Funding from Global Health Council Meeting

-- Accession by Turkey

-- Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)/Visas

-- Six-Party Talks
-- Nuclear Weapons Programs
-- Assistance Following Train Explosion

-- Foreign Minister Ondo Bile Meets Deputy Secretary Armitage, Other Department Officials

-- Concerns About Accuracy of Al-Jazeera Reporting



12:40 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Thank you.

QUESTION: We're ready to go. (Laughter.)

MR. ERELI: Oh, I get it. Before we say "thank you," we have to begin. So who would like to begin?

QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MR. ERELI: Really?

QUESTION: The only question -- I only have one question, and that's my leftover question from yesterday about the AID funding for this conference, and --

MR. ERELI: Did we put that out?

QUESTION: No, there was guidance prepared last night, but I'd like to hear you say it.

MR. CASEY: We'll go get it. Have you got any other questions, Matt?

MR. ERELI: I don't have it in my book, Matt.

QUESTION: Oh, really?

MR. ERELI: Since we put it out yesterday.

QUESTION: You didn't put -- well, you didn't put it out yesterday. It wasn't -- it didn't come out as a taken question.

MR. CASEY: It was merely read to him on the record by the duty officer.

QUESTION: It was. But there was an error in it, and I wanted to give you a chance to correct it.

MR. ERELI: Well, we'll have to do this on the record on another occasion, which we are very happy to do.

QUESTION: Will you put it out as a TQ?

MR. ERELI: We'll put it out on the record and we'll also take Matt's question.


QUESTION: President Chirac said this morning that he saw it would take 10 to 15 years for Turkey to join the European Union. Is that the sort of timeframe the U.S. is looking at?

MR. ERELI: I haven't seen those remarks so I'll refrain from commenting on them other than to say, as -- you know, other than to reiterate our longstanding position, which is while this is a matter for negotiation between Turkey and the EU, we do support Turkey's accession to the European Union.

QUESTION: I've got one other question. After your days and days of persistent haranguing, the Sudanese have finally agreed to allow your DART team in, or give them visas, at least. Do you have anything to say about that?

MR. ERELI: I can confirm that Sudan's Foreign Ministry told us, or has informed us, that the Disaster Assistance Response Team from the United States Agency for International Development will receive visas when the United Nations Assessment Team completes its mission. This is a positive move. We would urge the Government of Sudan to issue the visas expeditiously so that our experts can begin to address the situation in Darfur.

I would continue to underscore our concern about what, what we believe are credible reports of continuing attacks by the Jingaweit of innocent civilians in the Darfur area and reiterate our calls on the Government of Sudan to rein in the Jingaweit and stop all civilian attacks immediately.

QUESTION: Adam, does the United States believe that there's any reason that the two teams can't be there at the same time? Is there some -- do you accept or -- what do you think of the condition that they will only get visas when UN team leaves?

MR. ERELI: We would like to see the visas issued as expeditiously as possible. We don't see any reason for unnecessary delays.

QUESTION: Oh, and this is an unnecessary delay, waiting for the UN team to leave?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware of what the logistical details involved here are. We want to get there as soon as possible, as soon as practicable, and that's what we're asking the Government of Sudan to do.

QUESTION: Did they say they'd give you all -- visas for all 28 that you had wanted, or did they put some limitation on the number?

MR. ERELI: There were no limitations that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Did they guarantee their safety?

MR. ERELI: I think that's presumed. That's the responsibility of the Government of Sudan.


QUESTION: Anything on North Korea talks?

MR. ERELI: There will be a six-party working group meeting that will begin in Beijing on May 12th. Our delegation will be headed by Special Envoy Joseph DiTrani and will include -- and representation by the interagency community.

Our aim, as you're well aware, is the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs, and we hope that we'll be able to make progress toward that end through this working group meeting in preparing for the next plenary at the end of June.

My understanding is that there is no end date set for the working group. So I couldn't tell you how long it's going to go on.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) you said interagency teams. So could you elaborate the, you know, contents of the interagency team, which?

MR. ERELI: It means people from different agencies of the government.

QUESTION: Yeah. Could you say which departments?

MR. ERELI: No, I don't have that. I don't have that information in front of me.

QUESTION: Is there anyone from the Department of Interior that's going to be included in that?


MR. ERELI: I think the appropriate agencies will be there.

QUESTION: So same as last time 6 Party Talks? Is that the --

MR. ERELI: I don't have the details of the composition of the team.


QUESTION: Dr. Rice mentioned the report that the North Koreans may have more than two nuclear bombs. There are probably eight bombs. And can that report be an agenda for the working group?

MR. ERELI: That's not -- that's not a subject I think -- the report itself would not be a subject of discussion. Obviously, North Korea's nuclear program will. But our official government estimate, of which there is not a new one, I don't think is going to be a subject of discussion.

QUESTION: But in the last meeting, the focus was uranium enrichment program, instead of plutonium things.

MR. ERELI: That's - the focus was not uranium enrichment. The focus was North Korea's nuclear program of which uranium enrichment is a part.

Obviously, the purpose of the talks is to put an end to North Korea's program and to discuss ways to do that. So in that context you're talking about different aspects of the program. But it's the program in its entirety that is our focus, not one aspect or another aspect.

QUESTION: Can I ask you to take one other question, and that is can we get some kind of a readout of Deputy Secretary Armitage's meeting with the Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea after it's over or is it already over?

MR. ERELI: Well, I can give you a little bit of a preview.

QUESTION: I'm only doing this for George. This is the George Gedda memorial taken question.

MR. ERELI: This is the George Gedda memorial. In honor of our colleague, Mr. Gedda, the Deputy Secretary will meet with -- Deputy Secretary Armitage will meet with the Foreign Minister of Equatorial Guinea, Pastor Micha Ondo Bile, this afternoon at -- this afternoon.

The Foreign Minister will also be meeting with Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, Mr. Lorne Craner, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Mr. Donald Yamamoto. Our discussions will cover an update on the situation in Equatorial Guinea, municipal and legislative elections scheduled -- that were held on April 25th.

Obviously, human rights will be a big function of our discussion, a big part of our discussion. And we will also talk about other areas of cooperation and mutual interest.

QUESTION: Such as oil?

MR. ERELI: Such as -- among other things, yes.

QUESTION: Naval facilities?

MR. ERELI: Not that I'm aware of.


QUESTION: I have quick one. Train explosion issue, your donation. You got any thanks or appreciate reward from North Korea so far?

MR. ERELI: Nothing new to report on that.

QUESTION: What about the sending a medical team to North Korea?

MR. ERELI: A what team?

QUESTION: Sending medical, medical team.

MR. ERELI: Right. As we said yesterday, we've made that offer. We've not heard back any response on it.

One more. Tammy.

QUESTION: One more. Sorry. Any progress on the Al-Jazeera discussions that were supposed to be intense over the last several days?

MR. ERELI: Nothing -- nothing that I can sort of report to you on. I would just sort of caution you against looking for something on a day-to-day basis. I mean, this is an issue that's, I think, I'm not expecting to have something quantifiable for you, you know, tomorrow or the next day. It's an ongoing concern. We're looking at it. We're making our views known, and we're looking for the Qataris to take action, but I don't have anything specific to share with you.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: This is an issue you've been taking up with them since Afghanistan. So they haven't done -- you know, obviously, you're still concerned and it doesn't seem as if they've done anything up until now. So what makes you think they're going to do anything now? I mean, did you make clear that this would, you know, affect the deepening of relations or -- ?

MR. ERELI: I think what we've made clear is that -- a couple of things: One is the specificity of our concerns, specific examples of specific reports that are false or erroneous or irresponsible and unprofessionable, in specific ways, asked them to look into those reports, asked them to take steps to professionalize the station, and to adapt and adopt practices that other responsible news organizations do, and expect that that will -- that will happen in due course.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)


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