05/24/2001: Excerpts from Daily Press Briefing with Remarks about Taliban
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
QUESTION: Can you give us a readout on the US-Russian meeting this morning on Afghanistan?
MR. REEKER: Right. I believe that is still going on, or maybe it just finished, so I don't have a complete read out on it but we can talk a little bit about it. Deputy Secretary Armitage was leading the group of US officials that were meeting with Russian officials in the third round of bilateral consultations regarding Afghanistan. That actually is today and tomorrow.
The US-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan discussions, as I said, are chaired by the Deputy Secretary and, on the Russian side, by the First Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov. The talks focus on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1333, UN efforts to seek Taliban compliance with US Security Council Resolutions 1267 and the 1333 requirements. Obviously counter-narcotics issues are involved here and there are regional issues, including the Central Asian states and their ability to counter threats emanating from Afghanistan.
As we have discussed before, the US and Russia agree that the situation in Afghanistan, and especially the Taliban leadership's support for terrorism, continues to be a threat to interests of both countries, as well as to regional and international stability. So we pursue those talks and quite appreciate the Russian team being here and working with them.
QUESTION: In those talks, does the US side bring up Russian support for the Northern Alliance? I mean, my understanding is that the US position so far has been not to take sides in what may or may not be much of a civil war right now in Afghanistan, but do we bring that up?
MR. REEKER: I think you characterize our position correctly there in terms of not taking sides in that. Obviously we have broad discussions with Russia on the humanitarian crisis there and focusing on implementation of the Security Council resolutions. As I mentioned, counter-narcotics is an aspect of that and regional issues, but in terms of any more specific details I just don't have any readout on them.
QUESTION: Will you be discussing during this meeting the new practice by the Taliban of labeling all minority Hindus, and is there anything planned to reach out to the Taliban to try to get them to stop it? I mean --
MR. REEKER: I think we covered that the last two days. I don't know that --
QUESTION: No, no, I understand. I mean, is there anything new, at least?
MR. REEKER: I don't believe there is anything new to add. I don't know that that would be a subject specifically of our discussions with the Russians in terms of security issues and compliance with UN Security Council resolutions and terrorism and counter-narcotics per se. It may come up in the course of discussions since they are looking at Afghanistan, but I don't think I have anything to add to what we have said about that reported plan of the Taliban to implement such a sort of egregious step.
QUESTION: Can I follow up? I mean, I know we've talked about it and -- I mean, are you waiting for something to happen before someone takes some kind of action? I mean, in the last couple of days there have been a lot of comparisons to the Nazi era and what the Nazis did to the Jews and --
MR. REEKER: I think our statements were really quite strong on that. As I said yesterday, we had raised that with Taliban officials in terms of our view on that. I'm not quite sure what step you're anticipating next.
QUESTION: This is on Mexico. I was trying to find out if there is new information from the US Government on the investigation of the accounts of Mr. Raul Salinas that were tied in the United States and Switzerland, and also if the US Government was aware of his links with the drug cartels in Colombia.
MR. REEKER: I don't have anything for you on that. If it involves an investigation or a law enforcement matter, I suggest you might try the Justice Department.
QUESTION: There is another case, the extradition of Jose Amezcua. He is known as one of the kings of the traffic of methamphetamines to the United States.
MR. REEKER: Is that what you asking about yesterday, George?
MR. REEKER: And I still don't have anything on that. We can try to look into that, but extradition is usually a law enforcement matter and you might also want to check with Justice on that.
QUESTION: Did somebody request the extradition of this person?
MR. REEKER: I would ask you to check with the Justice Department, and we can also see what we can find out here. Thanks.
QUESTION: Going back to the Russian delegation, I understand there is going to be discussions on Armenia and Azerbaijan as well; is that correct?
MR. REEKER: I wasn't aware of that being part of our discussion. Obviously with First Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov here, he has been involved in those issues, but this is a working group on Afghanistan
QUESTION: Okay. Just do you have anything on Russia and some of these other former Soviet countries having met and agreed to set up a rapid reaction force?
MR. REEKER: I don't.
MR. REEKER: Sorry.
QUESTION: For the record, could you give us an update of where the investigation is on the Peruvian situation?
MR. REEKER: Sure. Let just check on that. I don't think I really have anything new to report on that, but just to update you, the US team investigating that tragedy continues to work with their Peruvian counterparts in the joint investigation. Cooperation, I must say, has been excellent. There are a number of issues that remain to be reviewed. I believe over the past weekend, US and Peruvian teams interviewed Kevin Donaldson, the pilot, and Jim Bowers, who lost his wife and daughter in the tragic incident, as you know.
The Peruvian team is still here in the United States, and we expect to have a report in the next few weeks, as soon as it is complete and we have the answers that we need, and then we will be able to share our findings with the public.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the situation in Indonesia?
MR. REEKER: Indonesia. Certainly. That's a subject we haven't talked about for a while. We certainly have been watching the developments in Indonesia closely.
Let me just say that the United States hopes to see Indonesia achieve a timely resolution of the political crisis taking place there, ideally in a way that promotes reconciliation and effective governance. Whatever the outcome, we are prepared to support any resolution that can be achieved through peaceful and constitutional means.
It is difficult, I think, to exaggerate the importance for Indonesia's future of avoiding violence or incitements to violence as they try to resolve that conflict.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. REEKER: Is that it? Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)