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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Daily Press Briefings > 2004 > Press Briefing Transcripts > July
Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 30, 2004

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

Secretary Powells Schedule

UZBEKISTAN

Suicide Bombing Outside Embassy / Additional Explosions
Embassy Security
Time of Bombing
Reports of Claim of Responsibility
U.S. Relationship with Uzbek Security Forces / Cooperation

LIBYA

Alamoudi Charge / Assassination Attempt on Saudi Crown Prince / Terrorism List
Development of U.S.-Libya Relationship
Weapons of Mass Destruction / Non-Proliferation
U.S. Interests Section in Tripoli
Timing of Allegations

VENEZUELA

Recall Referendum Process
Election Observers
Importance of an Independent Civil Society

SUDAN

UN Security Council Vote / Abstentions / Ambassador Danforth Comments
Jingaweit / Arms Embargo
Security Council Action / Message

CHINA

Special Envoy DeTrani Meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi / North Korean Nuclear Program
Query on Working Group Discussions
Chinese Statement / Pyongyang / U.S. Proposal

SOUTH KOREA

Assistant Secretary Kelly Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minster Lee Soo-Hyuck / Six-Party Talks

NORTH KOREA

U.S.-North Korea Communications / Six-Party Talks

IRAQ

Insulation from Political Calendar / Democracy Timetable


TRANSCRIPT:

12:55 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: Well, welcome to all of you, including those who we don't get to see as often as we'd like, at the briefing. Who could that possibly be? (Laughter.) Welcome to everybody. Thank you for coming. Last briefing of the week.

QUESTION: And the month.

MR. ERELI: And the month, and then we inaugurate our wonderful August schedule beginning on Monday.

So, no announcements to start off with. Who has the first question?

QUESTION: When is the Secretary coming back?

MR. ERELI: The Secretary should be back early Monday morning.

QUESTION: Okay. I think we know what you want to say about what happened in Uzbekistan, but could you just run through it one more time?

MR. ERELI: Sure.

QUESTION: So far as in attacks on American installations, embassies?

MR. ERELI: A suicide bomber detonated a bomb outside the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent at 4:45 p.m., local time. The explosion seriously injured two Uzbek police officers who have been taken to the hospital. The explosion took place outside of the embassy perimeter and resulted in some minor damage to the perimeter wall. The United States deplores this act of terrorist violence and we extend our sympathies to the families of the injured policemen. Our embassy reports that all American and local staff are accounted for and uninjured and that a bomb squad is on the scene.

As to other explosions, which you were asking about earlier, Uzbek authorities have confirmed that there were at least two additional suicide bombings at the Israeli Embassy and the Uzbek prosecutor's office in Tashkent. I don't have any information for you to confirm or substantiate claims of responsibility.

QUESTION: Do you know enough, at this point, to say whether the fact that -- happily, it wasn't a successful bombing and that it was outside the embassy grounds itself -- is that the result of amateur terrorism or is it the result of U.S. security, in other words, for one thing, did the guards somehow impede the bomber?

MR. ERELI: I really don't have, I think, all the facts at hand to give your question a full and considered answer. I think what's important to note here is: (a) the Embassy in Tashkent has, as do all our embassies around the world, measures to counter and protect our staff from these kinds of attacks and it's important, I think it's important to note, that the State Department goes to great lengths and great expense, with the support of Congress, to provide our facilities the kind of protection that we need to confront these kinds of attacks; and second of all, I would note that we, in Uzbekistan, as in other countries around the world, have outstanding relations with local authorities to provide constant surveillance and constant alertness to this kind of attack. And that's part of the regular way that we do business and events like this demonstrate the necessity of doing business like that.

QUESTION: Adam, this is going to sound like nit-picking, but can you go back and ask EUR or someone or the Embassy to double-check on the time? Because your time of 4:45 is the third different time that's been offered by the State Department or the Embassy. The Warden Message that was just put out in Tashkent has a different time and so does the earlier Embassy statements. So can you just look at this?

MR. ERELI: I'll try to reconcile the different times.

QUESTION: Yes, a la the 5 million/25 million debacle of yesterday.

MR. ERELI: Which I think is resolved.

QUESTION: Yes. And can -- also, are you aware -- I presume you are since I told you about it ten minutes ago -- of this claim by the IMU? Do you have any --

MR. ERELI: Right. That's why I said we don't have any basis to confirm reports of responsibility.

Yes, Adi.

QUESTION: Do you believe any suspects are at large?

MR. ERELI: I'd leave that -- I can't say. I really just don't have the facts to be able to address who's responsible, how the operation was conducted and what is being done to follow up.

What I would say is, as I said earlier, that we have a very good relationship with Uzbek security forces. We've enjoyed, I think, close cooperation in counterterrorism training and so we look forward to providing whatever support we can for their investigation.

Yes.

QUESTION: You may not know this yet, but is this considered serious enough that you would -- may send a team from outside?

MR. ERELI: No, I don't know.

Yes. Andrea's got a question.

QUESTION: I've got a new subject.

MR. ERELI: New subject.

QUESTION: Now that the -- this Abdulrahman Alamoudi has copped a plea in court today regarding allegations that he was paid by the Libyan Government to try to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince, what is the State Department's reaction? I know last month Richard had said that, if true, it would certainly effect the pace of how the U.S. would move forward to take Libya off the state sponsors of terrorism list.

MR. ERELI: I think the Department of Justice will be putting out a press release shortly on this issue so, in terms of the case itself, I'd defer to them.

As far as the impact of this indictment on our diplomacy, we've been pretty clear about it. Most recently, the Secretary spoke to it yesterday, in which we said, you know, these allegations or these reports are of concern. Obviously, we need to take them into account. We're examining them. We take them seriously.

And it's also clear and we've said it many times that our relationship with Libya cannot be fully normal until it's absolutely clear that Libya is no longer participating in any kind of terrorist activity. This is a message that Secretary Burns and Special Coordinator for Counterterrorism Cofer Black delivered to the Libyan leadership in their last visit to Tripoli on June 28th. They raised this issue, as well as other concerns in the terrorism area, and so it's an important and prominent part of the diplomatic dialogue we are having with Libya.

QUESTION: Is there any doubt in your minds that Alamoudi is telling the truth?

MR. ERELI: I can't speak to Alamoudi's claims, per se.

QUESTION: I mean, do you --

MR. ERELI: I'm not going to evaluate. I just -- I can't evaluate their veracity.

QUESTION: So are you saying you would need to wait until he is found guilty of this? I mean, he's been indicted.

MR. ERELI: Well, my understanding is that this is a plea agreement. So, you know, again, I'd refer you to the Justice Department on the next steps and what judicial actions will be taken on the basis of this agreement. From our point of view, from the diplomatic point of view in dealing with Libya, these charges are of concern and they reinforce our commitment to making sure that Libya is really out of the terrorism game, our commitment to seeing that Libya is really out of the terrorism game and that -- and being out of the terrorism game is going to have an important impact on how our relationship develops.

QUESTION: Okay, just one more. I mean, is there any doubt, now that you know Alamoudi has admitted to this, that Libya would be out of the terrorism game?

MR. ERELI: I think that is something that remains to be seen. They've taken important actions in terms of helping in the global war on terror. They've pledged further cooperation. They've certainly fulfilled their commitments on eliminating weapons of mass destruction programs. They have asserted that they do not support the use of violence to settle political differences between states. So these are all actions that they have taken. These are things that they have said. But, in the final analysis, you've got to weigh actions, you've got to weigh relationships and you've got to weigh reports like this before you can make a final assessment.

QUESTION: So, currently, you're not ready to move forward on a relationship?

MR. ERELI: I said --

QUESTION: But you're also not ready to pull back on what you've for them already.

MR. ERELI: What the Secretary said was the relationship will not be fully normal.

QUESTION: But it's --

MR. ERELI: We are -- I'll put it this way. We are where we are. We have always made it clear that we will respond to Libyan actions. Libya, in discussions with the Libyans, we set forth a phased program of them doing certain things and us responding in certain ways. They have taken -- they have fulfilled the commitments they have made in the areas of weapons of mass destruction and disarmament and we have responded in kind to the point where we are. But let's remember, we are where we are, and further movement forward is going to proceed on the same basis, response based on actions that they take.

QUESTION: I don't want to beat it to death, but you're semi-relationship, semi-normal relationship, has this facilitated taking up such matters with the Libyans? Do you have more discourse now? Can you really get into this?

MR. ERELI: Well, we certainly have a level of dialogue and engagement having an interests section in Tripoli that we didn't have before we started this thing. And we certainly have, I think it's very important to note, progress in the area of nonproliferation that we didn't have and we certainly have an example of how determined and principled engagement can produce results that are good for the American people in terms of getting rid of a weapons program that was a threat.

So, you know, you have to look at it in its totality. This is an important -- this issue that we're talking about today on Alamoudi is an important concern and it is troubling and it obviously has an impact on our overall calculations.

QUESTION: Adam, the last time this came up, as you said, a month or so ago, we were told that there was no evidence that State Department knew of -- that these allegations were true. Can you say that at least the more recent revelations now have you still asking questions about it? It's not closed in the mind of the State Department?

MR. ERELI: I think I'd leave it where I said before. These reports are of concern. We're examining them and it's, you know, we're not saying, we're not in a position to say they're 100 percent true, we can confirm them. At the same time, we're not in a position to say they don't have any basis. They are what they are and we view them with concern. We are examining them and we're factoring them into our consideration, our calculations on the overall issue.

QUESTION: But nobody has to be brought home for consultation? It doesn't --

MR. ERELI: Those decisions -- no, nothing's been decided on that.

QUESTION: Can I just say this to see if I've got this straight? You said, the events of today or the information that's come -- the information that's come out today do not, in your mind, in the State Department's mind, shift the situation from where it was when Black and Burns went to Tripoli on the 28th and produced, along with the Libyans, this joint statement which talked about -- I don't remember the exact words -- but formal, I think formalizing the relationship with the -- diplomatic relationship with the opening -- the official opening of --

MR. ERELI: It was direct contacts, direct contacts.

QUESTION: Direct contacts --

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: -- with the establishment of the interests section as a formal, as an official entity.

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: That situation, as far as you know, or to your mind, has not changed?

MR. ERELI: No, it hasn't.

QUESTION: I can't recall. Did you say that Libyan officials did outright deny this? Is it true?

MR. ERELI: No, what I've said is that Libyan, when we've raised this issue with the Libyans before, they have told us that Libya does not support the use of violence to settle political differences between states.

QUESTION: Well, I hope you would follow that up, as we do. When you ask specifically about this case, do they just answer in the vague like that, or do they say, no, we didn't take part in a plot like this?

MR. ERELI: I don't have more to share with you on -- than that on -- to characterize their response. But I would say that this is something that we have discussed and continue to discuss with the Libyans.

Yes, Chris.

QUESTION: Adam, can you comment on a USA Today report that senior officials were, in fact, aware of this plot prior to the rapprochement with Libya?

MR. ERELI: Yeah, I should say that I believe the specific allegations we became aware of in, the date I've heard is April 2004. That said, you know, it's important to note that we went into this initiative or this demarche, if you will, with Libya with our eyes open. I mean, we knew, we were aware of reports of Libyan involvement in this type of activity. And that, I think, is one of the reasons for our prudence, our caution and our moving forward in a very deliberate, careful and considered way. Because, you know, this, these reports are not, while they're specific, some specific details might be new, the general tenor of them is something that we've been familiar with for some time.

QUESTION: April of 2004? That's not before --

MR. ERELI: No, December 2003 was when --

QUESTION: Yes, and Burns made his first landmark trip in March, which is, to my mind --

MR. ERELI: March 2004.

QUESTION: Four.

MR. ERELI: Exactly.

QUESTION: Which is before April 2004.

MR. ERELI: Right. But what I'm saying is these specific, Alamoudi's specific allegations we were aware of in April 2004 but there were reports --

QUESTION: My question --

MR. ERELI: -- there were reports of this kind of activity that we were aware of before, earlier, and --

QUESTION: Involving --

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- the Crown Prince?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: New topic?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: The Washington Post today has a very strong editorial saying that Mr. Chavez of Venezuela is not being very sincere in his democracy and is not paying much attention to the rule of law. That goes quite a bit further than you've ever been willing to say from up here. I wonder what your reaction is to this.

MR. ERELI: I think we've been very clear from the beginning that the United States supports the efforts of the Venezuelan people to achieve a constitutional, democratic and peaceful electoral solution through the recall referendum process in Venezuela.

As to the specific reports that you're citing, we certainly are concerned about harassment and intimidation of civil society, whether it be in Venezuela or whether it be anywhere else. These reports of politically motivated investigations against an NGO which is trying to help promote voter mobilization and ensure that the referendum proceeds peacefully and in a transparent manner are something that are also of concern.

We believe that as the August 15th recall referendum approaches it's important that all of Venezuela's citizens be able to exercise their constitutional rights free of fear and intimidation and that the Venezuelan Government has a special responsibility to ensure an environment that is conducive to the free exercise of basic rights.

QUESTION: Well, they refer specifically to this organization, Sumate, and indicate that if those leaders, which the government is threatening to jail, and the head of the electoral commission was in Washington recently and said specifically they would jail them, if -- the article says this is the canary test from the coal mines. And if that happens, what is your reaction? If this happens, can there be the kind of fair and free test you're talking about?

MR. ERELI: Our reaction is that civil society, an independent civil society, has an important role to play in a democratic society; that we support the work of these organizations because they're playing an important role and that how civil society is treated is an indicator of the kind of environment that exists for the exercise of democratic rights. And that's how we view the situation. I wouldn't speculate as to what may or may not happen. We believe that it's important, as I said, for the government to do everything it can to ensure that people are free to express their views and to vote as they wish.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. Government sending observers down there for this election?

MR. ERELI: I think the observer -- the issue of observers has been worked out with the Venezuelans and the other organizations. I believe they're going to be led by OAS and Carter Center observers.

QUESTION: But is there anybody representing the U.S. Government?

MR. ERELI: Our Embassy is in Venezuela to represent our interest.

QUESTION: Well, last time, there were representatives from Congress down there.

MR. ERELI: I can't speak for Congress.
Teri.

QUESTION: Go to Sudan and the resolution. You're satisfied, I presume, with two abstentions, no vetoes, but there are those, obviously, who are saying that still that this was a weakening and that it gives the Government of Sudan too much leeway, especially because they're still, the Jingaweit are being singled out but not the government as far as possible sanctions or the arms embargo at this point.

MR. ERELI: As I said yesterday, I think as Ambassador Danforth made clear in explaining our vote, we believe that this is a strong resolution. We believe that it sends an unmistakable message of international -- the resolve of the international community in the face of a humanitarian disaster that is occurring in Sudan and that is -- and responsibility for which lies squarely at the feet of the Government of Sudan.

The resolution makes clear that the Government of Sudan undertook or made commitments to the international community in the form of a communiqué of July 3rd, and that it has failed to live up to its commitments in that communiqué, particularly with regard to reining in the Jingaweit and asserting government control in the areas where Jingaweit are operating. And it makes clear, frankly, that what the Government of Sudan needs to do and what the view of the international community is or the unanimous view of the international community is, that the Government of Sudan needs to do to rectify the situation. And it makes clear that it is the view of the international community that the Government of Sudan is capable of doing these things.

So the fact is that the Security Council, in our view, has acted decisively and it's acted with unity to put the onus squarely where it belongs, which is on the Government of Sudan, and that now the clock is ticking. We have 30 days to see if they act as they said they would three and a half weeks ago, and at the end of those 30 days that the groundwork has been laid for taking further action in the form of sanctions.

QUESTION: What about the arms embargo, though?

MR. ERELI: What about it?

QUESTION: Why not already extend the arms embargo to the government instead of just the Jingaweit?

MR. ERELI: The problem, first and foremost, is getting the government to exercise its responsibility to arrest and otherwise stop the Jingaweit from continuing its depredations and the consensus view was that an arms embargo against the Jingaweit was a useful and appropriate tool toward that end.

QUESTION: But why not the government? That's not my question.

MR. ERELI: As I said, this was the measure that the Security Council felt was the most appropriate to achieve the objective they've set out for themselves.

QUESTION: Doesn't the vote also send an unmistakable message to Sudan that two countries couldn't support this resolution and that one of those countries has the power to veto any attempt to bring -- to impose sanctions on them should that be the desire of the other members of the Council?

MR. ERELI: Well, first of all, I wouldn't want to predict what may or may not happen in a month. But, second of all --

QUESTION: Well, I'm not --

MR. ERELI: But, second of all, I would say that a 13 to 0 vote with two abstentions, there's very little comfort to be taken in that from Sudan in the sense that they've got to be aware that the European Union, the United States and the rest of the Security Council are clear that this is a problem, that they're committed to acting on it and to bet that there's going to be a veto or not is a real slim read, I would think, to avoid taking action.

And, look, time will tell. And if, there's really, in our view, there's no excuse for not doing what it is the responsibility of the Government of Sudan to do, which is to take care of its people. If they don't decide not to do it, not exercise responsibly, not to take care of their people because they think they can get away with it, that's a calculation that's up to them to make but I certainly wouldn't draw that conclusion from the vote today.

QUESTION: Well, it doesn't, you know, you do admit that it doesn't matter if the United States, the European Union and other members of the Council are all firmly behind this if, in fact, you admit that the Chinese could stop anything in the Council, right?

MR. ERELI: That's -- by definition, that's the way the Security Council works. But I don't think that's --

QUESTION: Or you just choose to ignore that whole --

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. I don't think that's the important point. I think the important point here is that you have a resolution that's passed and that resolution says very clearly that the Security Council expects Sudan to take action and that there is a monitoring mechanism and a reporting mechanism to account for that action and that there are measures that can be taken if that action is -- or those commitments are not fulfilled.

That's where we are at the moment. That's -- the onus lies on the Government of Sudan. And I think the judgment of the international community will be very, very harsh if, having been given this opportunity, a second opportunity to fulfill commitments, they don't act on them.

Yes.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. ERELI: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have any readout of the discussion in Beijing with -- between Mr. DeTrani and the Chinese authority on North Korean nuclear program?

MR. ERELI: I really don't have much more for you than I've had at the last couple days, which you probably find a little bit lacking. But what I'll tell you is that Mr. -- our special envoy Mr. DeTrani met Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi today. They discussed preparations for six-party talks. Mr. DeTrani has no further meetings scheduled in Beijing and will return to Washington tomorrow.

QUESTION: The working group -- do you have any sense of timing, the date of next working group, based on the substance of these discussion in Beijing?

MR. ERELI: No, we've said we'd like to convene them as soon as possible, but I don't have any dates or general timeframe other than before the plenary.

QUESTION: And also, South Korean delegation is coming to Washington, I think, early in the next week. And can you say anything on that?

MR. ERELI: Yes. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Jim Kelly is scheduled to meet with Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-Hyuck on Monday. They will be consulting on preparations for six-party talks.

QUESTION: Based on Mr. DeTrani's conversations, what's your understanding of where the North Koreans are now? I mean, you know, there were a lot of things, a statement last weekend which was rather negative in tone. Does he come away from his meetings with the Chinese believing that that's where Pyongyang is headed? Do you see any hope?

MR. ERELI: I'd say we're approaching this fairly realistically. I wouldn't characterize it as hope or optimistic or pessimistic. Our view is that we've got a serious proposal. We presented a serious proposal at the last plenary. We had constructive discussions on that proposal; that it's our view that that proposal is still under consideration. We have not heard the final word from the North Koreans. We expect to get their response to our proposal at the next plenary and we think it's a serious proposal and it's one that deserves due consideration and that we're not expecting a quick response and, you know, we look forward to the next plenary where we can continue to build on what we've accomplished in the last three rounds.

QUESTION: Did the Chinese suggest that you have to do more, that you have to modify your proposal in any way?

MR. ERELI: I can't really characterize the discussions more than I have. I certainly wouldn't get into the details of the back-and-forth with the Chinese and DeTrani. I think our goal remains the same, which is working to achieve the end of North Korea's nuclear program, and we're discussing based on our proposal what the best ways to do that are.

QUESTION: And there have been -- there's a report that the United States was concerned that the Chinese was, perhaps, not always interpreting the U.S. position clearly to Pyongyang. Is that, in fact, a concern of yours?

MR. ERELI: We are -- we have had and continue to have nothing but praise for the Chinese role in hosting these talks. It's a complicated endeavor. It's one that they have devoted a great deal of energy and expertise to. And we are working very well with them and with our other partners in moving this process forward. So I wouldn't endorse those kinds of reports.

QUESTION: Did Mr. DeTrani have any contacts with the North Koreans while he was in Beijing?

MR. ERELI: No, not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Change the subject?

MR. ERELI: Yes.

QUESTION: Just one more?

MR. ERELI: North Korea?

QUESTION: North Korea. Have you had any direct contact with North Korea regarding your comprehensive proposal, for example, in New York, China, or so on?

MR. ERELI: No. We deal on this issue with North Korea through the six-party process.

QUESTION: You said then you don't expect an early response from North Korea. What does it mean? That you don't expect North Korea to respond in next substantial talk in September or so?

MR. ERELI: No, I said we expect to hear from North Korea in the next round of plenaries.

Yes.

QUESTION: Adam, a lot's being said about Iraq in the context of the political campaigns and I'm wondering if you think that all the discussion is adding to the pressure and/or complications that the State Department is facing in Iraq.

MR. ERELI: I would say that the State Department, at least in my dealings with the State, with our offices in the State Department, we are very insulated from the political calendar, I would say completely insulated, in the sense that we are working with Iraq on an Iraqi calendar; i.e., there is a timetable out there for a transition to democracy, that timetable began two days early, on June 28th, and it's not going to end on November 3rd, it's going to go through January 2005 for the selection of a constitutional assembly and then elections, full elections in December 2005.

That's the timetable that we, as a government, through our embassy accredited to the sovereign government of Iraq, are working on. And so that's why I say that's -- our perspective is that perspective. It's not the back-and-forth of politics in the United States.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)

DPB #126


Released on July 30, 2004

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