State Department Noon Briefing, August 25, 2003
|Monday August 25, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
MONDAY, AUGUST 25, 2003
1:30 p.m. EDT
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon and welcome to the State Department on this fine August the 25th, Monday, the last week in August. I do want to begin with one statement that is regarding the bombings that took place today in Mumbai, India.
The United States condemns the senseless and cowardly terrorist attacks today in Mumbai, India. We hope that the perpetrators will quickly be identified and brought to justice.
Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke this morning to Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha about the bombings which killed dozens of innocent people and injured many, many more. The Secretary expressed our outrage at these attacks, and our condolences to the Indian Government and to the Indian people, and particularly to the families of the victims and to those injured.
We'll put that statement out in a formal paper copy after the briefing, just so you can have that. I'd be happy to take questions on any topic.
QUESTION: On that, is that statement in his name, or in your name, or --
MR. REEKER: It was in my name.
MR. REEKER: Referring to the fact that the Secretary made the call this morning. He spoke with the Foreign Minister of India.
QUESTION: On related phone calls, has the Secretary made any others?
MR. REEKER: Phone calls? In the days I think since Ambassador Boucher briefed you last week, the only call today was, so far, was the Indian Minister of External Affairs that I just mentioned. Yesterday, Sunday, he spoke with French Foreign Minister de Villepin. Saturday, he spoke with Egyptian President Mubarak and Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez. Friday, I think we endeavored to give you a readout of that, but he spoke with the Chinese Foreign Minister, the Japanese Foreign Minister, the Russian Foreign Minister, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Manley, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
QUESTION: The Palestinians -- apparently, Arafat has appointed a new security chief, Jabril Rajub, and I was wondering whether you have any opinion on that.
MR. REEKER: Well, I think I can point you, George, to what the Secretary said last week. Our view is that Prime Minister Abbas, as you know, needs to be given all available security elements, to have those elements under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the roadmap. And advancing the roadmap, as we have all indicated, remains the focus of our efforts with the parties, and we are encouraging both sides to rededicate themselves to making progress on the roadmap.
The Secretary has continued to be engaged on this subject with Israelis and Palestinians, as well as through his representatives, Ambassador Kurtzer in Israel and Acting Consul General Jeff Feltman. They have active discussions with both sides.
As I mentioned, the Secretary spoke with President Mubarak of Egypt over the weekend, stressing the need for regional leaders as well to do everything to assist in this effort to try to ensure a halt to all assistance, including funding flows to groups engaged in violence and terror.
Ambassador Wolf, John Wolf, is in the region -- I think we reported that to you last week -- meeting with officials from both sides and very much encouraging them to remain engaged in the roadmap process.
The President has consistently stated, we've told you from here, Dr. Rice said again this morning speaking in Texas, that the Palestinian Authority must dismantle and disarm terrorist organizations that take innocent lives in order to prevent the peace process from going forward.
These terrorists, these murderers who perpetrate these acts are the enemies of peace, they are the enemies of the ultimate goal of the Palestinian people and the Israelis and all of us in the international community to see two states living side by side with secure borders in peace. Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups must not be permitted to undermine the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
And so that is where we stand today. We remain engaged on this. We continue to call on everybody in the region to do everything they can to make sure these terrorist groups cannot perpetrate such attacks.
QUESTION: Do you have anything specific on the appointment of Rajub?
MR. REEKER: Well, as we indicated last week, all of the elements in terms of Palestinian security need to be under Prime Minister Abbas so that he can effectively exercise his leadership and take the actions that need to be done to dismantle these groups, to prevent this kind of violence. As the Secretary said, this is the way we are going to help make progress on the roadmap, this is the way we are going to end terror and end this violence that ends up perpetuating this cycle that we have seen so often. And it has to end, because, as the Secretary said last week in New York, the Palestinian people and the Israeli people deserve better.
QUESTION: Will the United States work with Jabril Rajub?
MR. REEKER: I guess what we are trying to do is get the sides to work together. Ambassador Wolf, as I already said, is in the region talking to both sides, encouraging their continued engagement, encouraging the cooperation that's necessary, that indeed is described under the roadmap, to make progress on this.
What we need to see is the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority under the authority of Prime Minister Abbas so that he can take the efforts, that he can exercise the leadership he is showing, and make progress on this. So it's not for us to work with one person or another; it's for us to encourage the sides to work together to end the violence, to take the steps necessary to root out the --
QUESTION: You always are mentioning working with Abbas and Mohamed Dahlan, and obviously this job that -- the job that Jabril Rajub would be fairly important and he was appointed --
MR. REEKER: Yeah, I think you are sort of speculating on what may or may not be happening in terms of specific Palestinian Authority developments. Our view is what I have described for you again here and as the Secretary said last week, that all of the Palestinian Authority security elements should be made available to Prime Minister Abbas, they should be able to report to him so that he and Mr. Dahlan can exercise the authority over these security elements to make them useful and practical in ending the type of terrorist violence. And that's what the Secretary called upon last week.
QUESTION: Phil, am I correct in saying, then, to boil everything down, that your answer to George's question, "Do you have anything specific about Rajub," is no?
MR. REEKER: Again, I mean, there are all kinds of press reports. Our view is what's important, Matt, and I think that's what I'm describing here.
QUESTION: Do you think this is an attempt by Yasser Arafat to undermine the leadership of Abbas?
MR. REEKER: I'm not going to try to do that analysis for you. What I'm going to tell you is what our position is, what we believe should happen. And the Secretary has described that last week and that continues to be what we have stressed in conversations with the parties in the region and with regional leaders as well and what I've told you right now today.
QUESTION: In the Secretary's conversation with Foreign Minister Derbez on Saturday, did that concern this draft Security Council resolution and U.S. objections to it, apparently, because it refers to the International Criminal Court?
MR. REEKER: Yes, they did discuss this draft Mexican resolution on protection of humanitarian workers. Of course, we fully appreciate the need for protection of humanitarian workers in the provision of access necessary for workers to carry out that type of work.
In this particular case, as I think we have described for you before, we have expressed our concerns to other members of the United Nations Security Council about some aspects of this draft resolution. Our concerns particularly involve language on the International Criminal Court. So we are working closely with other members of the UN Security Council, including Mexico, to make our views known, and we hope that language can be found that is acceptable to all parties on the Security Council.
QUESTION: What exactly don't you like about that language?
MR. REEKER: You know our views on the International Criminal Court. We are concerned that the language discussing that in the resolution is unnecessary. So we are continuing to talk with others about language that can be acceptable to all members of the Security Council, making our views known and listening to others. So we'll continue to have that discussion.
QUESTION: And he raised all these points on Saturday -- the Secretary himself?
MR. REEKER: He discussed this issue with the Mexican Foreign Minister --
QUESTION: And why do you -- why is the reference unnecessary, in your opinion?
MR. REEKER: We just are looking at language that can make the resolution, we think, stronger and more appropriate to us. I don't have any specific discussion to get into. I told you we have concerns about some of the language, particularly references to the International Criminal Court. You are very aware of our views on that. And so we'll continue to discuss this with others.
QUESTION: What would be the problem with prosecuting people for attacks like the one in Baghdad under the International Criminal Court?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any particular view on that. What we're talking about is a resolution and particular language in it. That's something we are discussing with other members of the Security Council and that's what we'll continue to do.
QUESTION: Would you be -- would you be happier with a resolution or would it be acceptable if that reference was just dropped? Or are there other things that need to be done to it as well?
MR. REEKER: Let's just leave it where I've said it, that we're discussing the language in the resolution, we're discussing with all members of the Security Council to come up with language that we're comfortable with, that others are comfortable with. That's our hope is to find language that's acceptable to all, and rather than try to do that sort of discussion and negotiation from here, we'll just do it in New York and then --
QUESTION: You say you think that the language is unnecessary, which means -- am I wrong in assuming, then, that you want that language out?
MR. REEKER: Matt, I'm not going to try to parse into specifically what we can do. What we're trying to do is have a discussion with others at the Security Council, in the hope that we can find language that's acceptable to all. And that's something that we can't do from here. We're going to do it in the discussions at the Security Council.
QUESTION: Is it still possible, you think, that the U.S. would decide it doesn't want to support this resolution? Deputy Secretary Armitage said outside just a bit ago that he wasn't sure that the U.S., or that the U.S. had not yet made the determination --
MR. REEKER: I think you're talking about a different resolution. Quite a different resolution. You're not talking about the Mexican resolution.
QUESTION: We're talking about -- well, the -- okay. What about -- I -- what about the U.S. resolution as, in general, though, is what I'm asking you about, and that's what we asked Secretary Armitage about.
MR. REEKER: Yeah, but the discussion that we just had for the last ten minutes was about an entirely different resolution. It's the Mexican resolution.
QUESTION: And the ICC language. I understand.
MR. REEKER: Right. So you're changing subjects. Is there anything else on the Mexican --
QUESTION: Well, still talking about Iraq resolution.
MR. REEKER: Right, but this wasn't. Is there anything else on the Mexico -- draft Mexico resolution?
QUESTION: I guess you don't have an answer, though, to what it is that would -- that would make it satisfactory to you.
MR. REEKER: No. We're going to discuss that with people at the Security Council in the talks we're having.
Now, shifting --
QUESTION: On the Iraq reconstruction resolution --
MR. REEKER: Okay. Well, you heard what the Deputy Secretary had to say, that we're having discussions with colleagues in New York. I don't think I have anything new to report today. As he reflected, the Secretary has discussed this topic with many of the people on the phone that he's been actively talking to.
QUESTION: I'm surprised to hear him say that the U.S. hasn't yet determined that it necessarily wants another resolution now. It seemed liked that -- we'd already moved beyond that.
MR. REEKER: Well, no determinations have been made. That's the bottom line. So there are further discussions taking place.
You know, last week I think -- was it Thursday that the U.S. and the UK briefed the Security Council on progress made under Resolution 1483? We provided the update report on that.
We've been having informal consultations. Everybody agrees that a stable and secure Iraq is in everybody's interests. And after the terrorist attack on the UN Headquarters, it's critical that the Council come together and unreservedly galvanize international support for Iraq's reconstruction.
As we have said in the past, we believe that Resolution 1483 gives sufficient authority for countries to contribute to Iraq's rebuilding, but we have also said we are looking at other language that could be used. And so it's just -- I can't really move that any forward. Those kinds of discussions continue going on. And we're getting reactions from other delegations and continuing to have those discussions, but no final determinations have been made.
QUESTION: As to whether the U.S. would support another resolution at all?
MR. REEKER: Right. And, I mean, that's part of this -- the discussion about a resolution, what would be in such a resolution. The overall goal is there, but just I can't really move it forward at this point, today.
So, anything else on that particular one?
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. REEKER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Assistant Secretary Kelly arrived in Beijing today.
MR. REEKER: He did.
QUESTION: And I understand that he's got some non-"six-party talks" talks tomorrow.
QUESTION: Is that correct? Or some --
MR. REEKER: It's like a math class in here. They told me I didn't have to do math in this job.
Let me just see what I can tell you beyond the fact that Assistant Secretary James Kelly did arrive in Beijing. I think he had a few words for the press outside his hotel and then again inside his hotel. And, hopefully, there were no press staking him out inside his room.
But he indicated how he looks forward to getting going on Wednesday morning. There are some informal talks today, that is -- sorry -- well, Tuesday in Beijing, which is later today here.
He is going to meet with the leaders and members of other delegations, and there's a dinner Tuesday evening for delegations hosted by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, so --
QUESTION: But he doesn't intend to meet the leader of the North Korean delegation, right?
MR. REEKER: No, there won't be any bilateral, as a senior State Department official, I think, told you on Friday.
QUESTION: Right. But when you say the leaders of the other delegations, you means the leaders of the other four delegations -- the leaders of the other -- the Russian, the Chinese, the South Korea.
MR. REEKER: Yeah. And obviously, they'll all be at dinner, so --
QUESTION: Okay --
MR. REEKER: -- they can meet everybody in that context.
QUESTION: Does he have any -- well, I assume that his -- those -- those meetings are expected to focus only on what's going to happen this week and not other issues. Or does he have -- does he intend to raise, I don't know, say, unrelated or non-North Korea issues when he sees his Chinese counterpart?
MR. REEKER: I just don't know, Matt. I think there's very much focused on the six-party talks and you were briefed fairly extensively on Friday by a senior official on preparations for that.
QUESTION: What more can you tell us about Mr. Pritchard's decision to either resign or retire?
MR. REEKER: Ambassador Pritchard, yes, is going off to the private sector. Not a bad thing to do at certain times in one's life.
After a distinguished career in government that has included service in the U.S. military, with the Department of Defense and with the State Department, Ambassador Charles Prichard, known as Jack Pritchard, has decided to join the private sector. Last Friday, August 22nd, was his last day with the Department of State as Special Envoy for Negotiations with the DPRK and as U.S. Representative to KEDO.
He has played a significant and valued role in this Administration's efforts to deal with the challenges posed by North Korea in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Secretary Powell specifically said to note how much he appreciates everything Ambassador Pritchard has done. We certainly wish him well in his new role in the private sector.
QUESTION: Right before the big talks?
MR. REEKER: No.
QUESTION: Has this been in the works for a while?
MR. REEKER: Yeah. My understanding was the decision to depart at this time was a personal one, one that he had been making for several months, and made the effective date on Friday.
QUESTION: It's not -- his decision to leave, to your knowledge, is not in any way related to policy?
MR. REEKER: No. The Department would have welcomed his further contributions to U.S. efforts to deal with the North Korea issue, including his participation in the Beijing talks, but certainly we can understand the personal decision he's made to move on to other things.
QUESTION: Where he's going -- do you know?
MR. REEKER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Has anyone been named to take over that post right now?
MR. REEKER: No, there are no decisions on that at this point. We will just have to see.
QUESTION: Does that suggest that the -- that KEDO's status is still kind of up in the air?
MR. REEKER: I couldn't say why that is because, but what I can tell you is that there are no decisions on that.
QUESTION: Phil, when you say no decisions, do you mean decisions on whether to fill the post or on who would fill the post?
MR. REEKER: No decisions is what I mean on either of them. I can't parse that any further, sorry. No decisions on that.
QUESTION: Can we --
MR. REEKER: Same subject?
QUESTION: Staying on the same subject. When you talk about informal talks, do you know of informal talks outside the dinner meeting?
MR. REEKER: My understanding, if I can find what we had, was that, as is usual, on Tuesday -- again, Tuesday in Beijing -- Assistant Secretary Kelly will have discussions that include meetings with the South Koreans and the Japanese. And that's about as far of a schedule that I have other than the dinner that I mentioned that is scheduled to be hosted by the Chinese Tuesday night.
QUESTION: I have a question on Venezuela. Can I change subjects?
MR. REEKER: Is there something else on North Korea?
QUESTION: On North Korea.
MR. REEKER: North Korea.
QUESTION: Yeah, last week in the briefing here, Mr. Boucher said that there would be a chance to talk directly with North Korea within the talks that are going to be held. How does that marry up with the U.S. decision not to hold any kind of bilateral talks with North Korea?
MR. REEKER: As we have said all along, and if you have followed this, this is a multilateral issue. That's why President Bush and Secretary Powell were very insistent that this needed to be dealt with on a multilateral basis. And that's why we're pleased, with the help of the Chinese that we have six-party talks, including South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States, China, and, of course, North Korea.
As was also indicated all along, including in the background briefing that a senior administration official provided on Friday in preparation for these talks, obviously, when you are in a room and holding talks with six parties, there is opportunity to raise issues with any of your interlocutors across the table, across the room. So that is something that has always been acknowledged.
But the focus needs to be the end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and you know our position on that. That's what we are going into these talks to discuss, and that is being done in a multilateral forum with six countries represented as present.
Anything else on North Korea?
Joel. You look casual today.
QUESTION: All right. Do you see that any of the developments over the weekend with -- at the sporting event and/or the Japanese barring a ferry from leaving, accused North Korea of military gunrunning, getting equipment from Japan to North Korea, is -- may be stalling out the talks from beginning?
MR. REEKER: No, I think I just indicated Assistant Secretary Kelly and his delegation have arrived in Beijing. They are planning some informal discussions and a dinner Tuesday in Beijing and the six-party talks begin on Wednesday.
North Korea? Okay, then we're going to go to this lady here. Venezuela.
QUESTION: There is now an attempt to recall Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. What is the U.S. position on this attempt? And if there is a recall vote, would the U.S. endorse sending Jimmy Carter or someone else to oversee the vote?
MR. REEKER: There is a whole process underway in Venezuela that was agreed to. It's something that the OAS and the Friends of the Secretary General have worked on in terms of doing that. I don't have anything new on that. I just refer you back to our positions on that all along.
QUESTION: Sorry. Go back to the Mexican. Just one thing.
Did Secretary Powell and Secretary Derbez agree on or discuss when Mexico is going to present the resolution to the Security Council?
MR. REEKER: That would be something you would want to ask Mexico.
QUESTION: Because we hear that Ambassador of Mexico to UN tell us on Friday New York that Mexico was supposed to present the resolution today.
MR. REEKER: As far as I know, there is no action suspected in the Security Council today.
QUESTION: Suspected or expected?
MR. REEKER: Did I say suspected?
MR. REEKER: Neither. Neither suspected or expected. As far as I know, no action on that today. It's something we are continuing to discuss among the various Security Council members.
Okay, Matt. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Phil, I understand that the State Department's computers, or at least some of the State Department's computer system, had been burrowed into by some kind of infectious worm that caused --
MR. REEKER: Burrowed?
QUESTION: -- that caused some problems. What can you say about that, if anything?
MR. REEKER: Well, on Wednesday, last Wednesday, August 20th, the Department, the people that watch for these things, saw some activity related to this Welchia/Nachi worm, computer worm. And while the computer worm does not appear to damage information systems, the speed at which it was replicating caused the Department's network to experience a slowdown.
We immediately isolated six network segments to internally scan to make sure there was not a worm and eradicate where necessary. It's kind of like biting into the apple, and when you find half a worm, you know you've got trouble.
So they tell me that in our examination we found some evidence of the worm and took steps necessary to isolate and remove it from the Department's network. The most affected part of the State Department's overall system was the domestic passport offices, where they experienced a slowdown.
But this fighting of worms and viruses is something that we do every day. It's a reality of 21st century computing. We do have a very strong 24-hour, 7-day-a-week anti-virus network intrusion detection and firewall program here at the Department. And in a system that processes, on average, about 400,000 e-mails through the Internet every day, it's very important that we carefully scan for viruses and/or other malicious code. And I think, generally, we have been very, very successful with that.
So we have a patch management program which makes available the latest security patches across the State Department and all our various systems, and we are very proactive in distributing that.
QUESTION: Do you know how many passport offices were affected?
MR. REEKER: I don't, specifically. I know that at a certain point, the goal being to reactivate all of the 14 regional passport offices -- you know domestically we're divided into 14 regions, the numerous passport offices with these regional offices -- to do that as expeditiously as possible.
QUESTION: They were all shut down for a little while?
MR. REEKER: And then we went through an internal examination and each office was individually reactivated and monitored as they were reconnected to the regional system.
QUESTION: Okay. Did this affect anything in this building or at any embassies?
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I don't have any other details on that, whether there were some slowdowns or not. I know people around the world were experiencing slowdowns. I know when I returned to the country on Thursday, processing by Customs agents was slowed down because of computer slowdowns. So that's not connected to the State Department, but obviously it's a problem we were all experiencing.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on the events in Kirkuk since Friday? Eleven Turkmens died by shots fired either from the U.S. soldiers or by the Peshmergas over there.
MR. REEKER: I don't. I suggest you might check with the Defense Department or with the Coalition Authority in Iraq.
QUESTION: I did that. But what is your policy at State Department?
MR. REEKER: My policy is not to comment on military matters that I don't know anything about. So we'll let you talk to the Defense Department about that.
Did you have something else?
QUESTION: Do you consider warning -- issuing a warning to the Peshmergas or were they --
MR. REEKER: Again, ma'am, I'm sorry. I don't know the details of what you're talking about. It's a military matter, and I'm afraid I just don't have any information on it.
QUESTION: It's not a military matter.
MR. REEKER: Warnings and firing of shots is a military matter which I would refer to the Defense Department. I have no information on it.
QUESTION: Is that -- (inaudible)?
MR. REEKER: I have no information on it.
QUESTION: In terms of reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, there is renewed talks that there is a -- might be some sort of increased funding over the course of the next -- an undefined period for Afghanistan. Can you fill us in on what that might be about?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think we've discussed for some time that the United States has been considering what efforts we could take to accelerate reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, increasing assistance level.
As you know, we have made long-term commitments to Afghanistan's stability and reconstruction, and we are going to continue pursuing these goals. We have already provided significant assistance to Afghanistan, including in the areas of health and education, security, infrastructure. In the fiscal year 2002 some $928 million was provided, and in fiscal year 2003, which is slowly coming to an end in another month, $926 million has been provided -- again, generally divided, about in even thirds between the humanitarian sector, the security sector in terms of training new security -- Afghan security forces -- and reconstruction sector, things like roads, the Kabul-to-Kandahar road which is so important which has been -- the grading of which has been completed and the asphalt is being laid, which is a major infrastructure project.
But we are looking at what we can accelerate and efforts we can make to have benefits available to the people, have things actually be concrete and visible. Now, things like roads clearly are, schools and hospitals. And so we're considering what other funding we may have.
There has also been significant funding for famine relief, where we've prevented famine, frankly, for two years; agricultural support, with thousands of individual agricultural projects that we've supported. In the education sector, for instance, some 3,000 -- sorry, 3 million children went to school, about a third of those young women and girls, because we've been able to provide 25 million textbooks and rebuild 203 schools, at the last count, and trained 1,600 primary teachers, and they're training an additional 1,500 this year.
So that's sort of what we're looking at. I can't give you any exact figures yet at this point, but we're very much focused on, after now, some not quite two years of experience with this endeavor, looking at where we can focus additional resources to make sure that the people can feel the impact and the improvement in terms of reconstruction, in terms of security, and, of course, continuing the humanitarian support we provide.
QUESTION: When Ambassador Taylor had a briefing for some of us a few weeks ago, and then -- he spoke about a renewed focus and a renewed urgency to the reconstruction mission. Can you speak a little bit about that? Why --
MR. REEKER: Pretty much just exactly -- I just used that up, I thought, in answer to Adi's question. I don't -- I can do it again but then always hate that, so -- (laughter).
QUESTION: Well, why is there an urgency now for this additional money? I mean, it doesn't sound like you want until the budget next year to increase the funding.
MR. REEKER: Well, we're constantly looking at, you know, what we can do. I've outlined for you what we've been doing, and others in the international community have been doing that. We want to make sure that others in the international community continue to meet their pledges and think about the importance of this in terms of contributing to this. It is an international, multinational effort, but we want to bring the benefits of reconstruction to the Afghan people, and that's important.
As I said, we've had nearly two years since the Taliban were ousted and the Afghan people were freed from their misrule, to make some strong inroads, as I pointed out. But it gives you an opportunity, too, to analyze what more can be done, what works, what doesn't, what our priorities should be, what people need. And that's what we're focusing on in terms of additional assistance that we can provide, you know, in the very near future. We're looking at what more we can do in, say, the next ten months or so.
QUESTION: The embassy in Kabul right now. Am I correct in thinking that there is no Ambassador and no DCM at the moment?
MR. REEKER: There's a chargé d'affaires. I'm not sure the name of the individual --
QUESTION: But there is one --
MR. REEKER: Brad Hanson is the chargé d'affaires.
MR. REEKER: Why, are you convinced there's not?
MR. REEKER: Okay. I can double-check. There's always a chargé d'affaires at the embassies.
QUESTION: Right, but the chargé is not always the DCM so --
MR. REEKER: This is very much -- this is very true.
QUESTION: Yes. And just one other thing --
MR. REEKER: It's whoever the chargé is --
QUESTION: What is the -- what is your thinking, the State Department's thinking, about what the plans are for -- the plans at least for one person, to set up a kind of parallel U.S. organization on the ground in Kabul, apart from the embassy. It was mentioned a little bit -- I think the only thing particularly new in the story today that wasn't in the Post story from some weeks ago was the addition, was the idea that 12 senior advisors would be going over to assist with the ministries, very much, and kind of modeling the -- your Afghan reconstruction efforts on what's going on in Iraq, or what you're trying to do in Iraq right now. Has it gotten that far yet or is --
MR. REEKER: I just -- yeah, I don't think I can offer you anything definitive. I mean, often, these press reports have a variety of speculation, or thoughts or ideas that are being looked at, but in terms of any personnel decisions, you know, they get made as needed. Any decisions on the next ambassador, since Ambassador Finn finished his tour, those would be made by the White House and would certainly -- the overall structure of our mission in Afghanistan will reflect however we've assessed is the best way to accomplish our objectives in terms of supporting the Afghan Government, supporting the overall efforts there, and staffing our embassy appropriately.
I don't have any -- any new announcements on that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Terry Todman, a retired Foreign Service officer, going off to Haiti as OAS Special Envoy?
MR. REEKER: Why, yes. I do. We welcome the appointment of Ambassador Todman to this challenging assignment. We certainly support his effort on behalf of the Organization of American States to achieve agreement on a new provisional, electoral council for Haiti and fulfillment by the Government of Haiti of its commitments under the OAS Resolution 822 to improve public security and observe human rights. These are commitments that we have said for some time Haiti must meet to provide a climate of security conducive to the formation of a credible, neutral and independent provisional electoral council, and free and fair elections.
Ambassador Todman, who many of you may know, is a retired career ambassador in the United States Foreign Service. He has served as U.S. Ambassador to six countries and is an Assistant Secretary of State and held various other high-level positions, and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, appointed Ambassador Todman a week or so ago, August 19th.
And that derives from the resolution, I think back in June, in Santiago, when the OAS resolution calls on ways to promote increased dialogue between the Government of Haiti and the civil society and opposition political parties there.
So he'll be working on that, have an opportunity to meet with political actors in Haiti and catalyze some of the confidence-building that is needed there.
QUESTION: Is he going to extend the deadline that Secretary Powell wanted the Haitians to meet, in other words, this coming month?
MR. REEKER: I'd have to go back and check if there was something tied into the resolution in June. Obviously, it's something we think Haiti needs to focus on. That's why we're applauding the appointment and the willingness of Ambassador Todman to serve. And, obviously, our embassy, led by Ambassador James Foley when he arrives in Port au Prince, will be equally focused on these efforts.
QUESTION: Well, have you taken note at this apparently significant reshuffling in the Burmese government, and, if you have, what do you think about it?
MR. REEKER: Somebody may have taken note, but I haven't, so I will go and take notes, appropriately, and see if we can look into that. I haven't even seen the reports of that.
Tammy, thank you for waiting patiently. I kept meaning to come back to you.
QUESTION: Can you update us on where things stand with a possible resolution -- or a resolution to lift sanctions on Libya, now that I think the money's been paid?
MR. REEKER: Indeed, we learned Friday, we were notified by the lawyers for the families of the Pan Am 103 victims, that Libya had completed transfer of the $2.7 billion, and that money is now in an escrow account at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel. So now that that has taken place, the Council should be addressing the issue of the UN sanctions, and the consultations, I believe, are in process on that.
As you know, there were some issues with the French Government. The Secretary has been in contact with Foreign Minister de Villepin to continue discussing that. He spoke to him over the weekend.
We have certainly made clear our deep concern over any possible actions by France or any other country that would impede the settlement, and so -- well, I just don't have any particular update from New York on where that stands right now. But we would want to see that, you know, go forward as soon as possible. I think the consultations are ongoing.
QUESTION: Is there any indication, particularly in the phone call between Secretary Powell and de Villepin, about how much longer the French would have to work something out?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can offer any particular timeline. There are discussions ongoing -- high-level consultations -- but the Secretary, once again, reflected directly to his French colleague what I just told you, that we would like to see this move ahead as quickly as possible.
We continue to support compensation for all victims of terrorism, of course, but the Council's consideration of lifting the Libya sanctions should be based solely on Libya meeting the requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions, as we've said all along.
QUESTION: Has the United States Government reached an agreement with the Government of Hungary regarding the training of local Iraqis in Hungary at some sort of old military base? Or is -- are there details still to be worked out and, as a result, no agreement has been reached?
MR. REEKER: I guess more toward the latter of your questions, or suggestions -- first of all, Hungary has been a strong coalition partner in the Iraq effort, through its deployment of a transportation battalion to Iraq.
As you know, we are always looking for ways to cooperate with other governments to promote stability in Iraq, and we are currently in discussions with several governments, including the Government of Hungary, regarding police training for Iraqis.
We are interested in buttressing the number of Iraqi police forces on the ground to help with the security situation. And at this time, you know, we don't have a specific agreement with the Government of Hungary. It's something we would be discussing with them as we also discuss with others about the possibility of training Iraqi police at the Hungarian military base near the city of Tazar, the town of Tazar, in southern Hungary in Somogy County.
QUESTION: I'm a realist, here. Are you saying that there are several countries where local Iraqis could be transported to get training?
MR. REEKER: We are talking to a number of countries about, or several governments, including Hungary's, about police training for Iraqis. The possibility of training Iraqi police at the Tazar base, which is a very useful location and facility, as you are well aware from recent history, it is a possibility. But it is something we would want to continue discussing with the Hungarian Government, and we will just have to see -- see where that goes. It's a little premature to speculate on the specifics. But we're also talking to other governments, too.
The overall goal, of course, is to increase training, increase the number of Iraqis who can provide police services, who can provide the security needed in their own country. And that is the ultimate goal and we appreciate the help of any other countries that can be a part of that effort. So we will keep discussions going with Hungary and other governments, as well.
QUESTION: Phil, what county was that, again?
MR. REEKER: Somogy. I hope. I think. Last time I checked.
QUESTION: What about training in Iraq?
MR. REEKER: You would want to talk to experts in police training and others. I don't know. It is not something that I am specialized in.
Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Iraq. In the wake of French, Turkish and Indian demand that any of their troops must be under UN control in Iraq, is the U.S. willing to modify its position that the U.S. military must be in command of all troops sent to Iraq?
MR. REEKER: I have answered that question. The Secretary has answered that question. The -- Richard answered that question last week. We have already discussed it here in terms of discussions that we're having with colleagues in New York. There are no determinations made about future resolutions or specific language. It is something that we are discussing.
As we've said many times, and already today, Resolution 1483, we believe, gives broad authority and opportunity for countries to participate. And a more recent resolution that supports the Iraq Governing Council also recognizes that. So we're continuing those types of discussions in terms of what we can all do to move forward in Iraq, what can contribute to stronger efforts, better efforts at this, and that's a conversation that we continue to have with various colleagues.
QUESTION: Phil, the Deputy Secretary hosted a lunch for the Azeri Prime Minister. I presume there was more than just pleasantries discussed. Can you tell us what they --
MR. REEKER: I don't have a full readout of that. The Deputy Secretary described a little bit to you, I know when he came out, but as he was doing that, I was getting ready to come in here.
Obviously, as he indicated, he welcomed the Azerbaijani Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev to the Department today. They had a working lunch. I think Mr. Aliyev indicated to you that he's been in Cleveland in the past few days visiting his father, President Heydar Aliyev, who is undergoing treatment there.
They discussed several issues, or were expected to discuss several issues of importance to U.S.-Azerbaijani relations, including the need to guarantee transparent and democratic presidential elections on October 15th. This is something I indicated when we discussed Azerbaijan, certainly when I was briefing August the 4th.
These economic and democratic reforms, which is what we have been calling for, what we had said we hoped and expect to see under the new Prime Minister, is important.
And they also expected to discuss the conflict with -- between Armenia and Azerbaijan, over Nagorno-Karabakh.
So this election, let me stress, we think is very important. October 15th, Azerbaijan is going to hold a presidential election and our principal interest in ensuring that the election is conducted in accordance with the recently adopted Unified Election Code, along with Azerbaijan's constitution and international standards.
You may recall that almost exactly a year ago, from this podium, Ambassador Boucher talked about some of our concerns in terms of the referendum in Azerbaijan that took place at that time, and over the last year we have spent effort and put in funding to help the Azerbaijanis prepare this Unified Election Code. And that's why we think it's an important -- important piece for them to stick with. So we will be, you know, monitoring that very closely.
QUESTION: Can you give me an update on President Aliyev's health?
MR. REEKER: You'd need to get that from his people.
QUESTION: And just very briefly on elections, there was a presidential election today in Rwanda.
MR. REEKER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have much of a readout at this point, but indeed, as you suggest today, August 25th, Rwanda held its first presidential election since the 1994 genocide. So this was an important milestone in Rwanda's political transition.
The polls closed about 9:00 a.m. our time here in Washington today, and vote counting began a little later this morning. That was around 4 o'clock local time in Rwanda.
U.S. Embassy staff, as well, are visiting local polling stations across the country and reported that elections proceeded smoothly and quietly across the country. We do remain concerned, however, about continued reports of intimidation and harassment of opposition candidates, their campaign workers and supporters.
We note the arrest on Saturday of 12 election observers working for opposition candidate Faustin Twagiramungu, and for the election to be considered truly free and fair, all participants must be safe to express their opinions and ideas without the fear of intimidation or arrest.
So we will continue to call upon the Rwandan Government and all political parties and civil society to work cooperatively to ensure that the vote count is a free and transparent one, and that this presidential election, as well as upcoming parliamentary elections that I think are scheduled for September 2nd -- for the period -- no, end of September, through October 2nd, September 29th through October 2nd, that they can be called free and fair as well.
QUESTION: Can you -- just to clarify one thing? When you said that you have concerns about reports of intimidation, do those include reports of intimidation during the election today itself or are you talking about prior to today's --
MR. REEKER: Well, there were the particular arrests on Saturday that I mentioned --
QUESTION: Right. I know what you're talking about. Do you have reports of intimidation today?
MR. REEKER: I don't have that kind of detailed breakdown, Arshad, to provide you. I know there have been various reports. We've seen some press reports of it.
Our embassy staff, who visited local polling stations across the country, said that the elections proceeded smoothly and quietly, but there were, in the case of the arrests that I noted and I think there's some other reports that cause some concern. And that's why we are emphasizing, once again, the importance of transparent, free and fair elections.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:15 p.m.)
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