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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 > August
Daily Press Briefing (Corrected)
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 2, 2004



Condemnation of Killing of Turkish Hostages in Iraq
Secretary Powell and Deputy Foreign Minister Barham Salahs Remarks
U.S. Contact with Turkey
Contributions to Coalition by Ukraine / Praise for Coalition Partners
Arab Force Proposed by Saudi Arabia


Requirements of Roadmap Regarding Settlements
Israeli Commitment to Roadmap
Israeli Initiative to Remove Settlements in Gaza


U.S. Relationship with Jordan / Jordans Efforts to Promote Regional Stability


Concern About Palestinians Stranded at Rafah
Contact with Israel, Egypt and Palestinian Authority to Resolve Situation


Kelly Meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Hyuk
Status of Six-Party Talks


UN Security Council Resolution
Little Progress Made to Stop Violence in Darfur
Refutation of Claim that Resolution is a Declaration of War
Assessment of Casualties


Disavowal of Allegations Linking President Uribe to Narcotics Trafficking


Li Gun Travel to New York
Six-Party Process Only Forum for Talks about Dismantling Nuclear Weapons


12:50 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: I don't have any announcements. I'd be happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: The Turkish hostages were murdered, not an unfamiliar thing in Iraq. Has there been any indication that the holding of hostages and now the killing of one has rattled the Turkish Government?

MR. ERELI: I will let the Turkish Government speak for itself. For the American Government, let me say that this is a heinous and barbarous act. It is one that we resolutely and unequivocally condemn. It shows the true nature of the terrorists holding this hostage and it shows what they're about. They're not about progress, they're not about working for the Iraqi people. They're about killing innocents and trying to impede progress towards stability, reconstruction and democracy in Iraq.

We, for our part, will not let them succeed. We are resolute in standing firm in the face of their terrorist threats.

The Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Barham Salah, I think, were particularly eloquent on this point in Baghdad on Friday. It is a tragic reminder, unfortunately, that there remain those elements in Iraq that are bent on thwarting the will of the vast majority of the Iraqi people. Working together with Iraq and our coalition partners, we will remain steadfast in our determination to help them.

QUESTION: Was there any need for any further contact since then? Since Friday? I mean, talking to --

MR. ERELI: I don't know what you mean.

QUESTION: Has there been any additional top-level senior officials talking to the Turks since -- was it Friday, you said?

MR. ERELI: We have, obviously, we have a constant dialogue with the Turks, both in Baghdad and through our embassy in Ankara. I'm not aware of any other conversations that we might have had.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up with a quick one? There seems to be some disagreement within the senior officials in Ukraine as to whether the Ukraine's contingent of troops should be reduced. Has the U.S. attempted to dissuade authorities in Kiev from cutting back?

MR. ERELI: I've seen that report, Barry, just coming over the wires. So, I don't really have too much for you on that particular comment. I would note that Ukraine is a strong and valued member of the coalition. Their contributions are important and valuable.

I would also, on just this general subject, again refer you to something the Secretary said yesterday in his meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister, where, you know, we praise, obviously, and welcome and value the contributions of our coalition partners. We note, obviously, that they're -- that these are expensive missions, both in terms of resources as well as lives. And these are sacrifices that we value and we think are honored in the cause of freedom.

We certainly hope that as Iraq moves towards elections in January and increases the capability of its security forces, that over time, you know, all of us will be able to gradually reduce the force presence in Iraq. That's, I think, the goal that we're all working towards.

QUESTION: Could you follow up on that?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you give us any status on the likelihood of Islamic and Arab forces going into Iraq? I asked the Pakistani Ambassador to Washington, who is going -- who is becoming the UN Envoy to Iraq, the other day on who -- he did not seem to favor the idea of sending troops, at least for the time being.

MR. ERELI: I think it's a little premature to give you a definitive picture of where things are. As we've said before, it's a picture -- I'm sorry -- it's an idea that the Saudis have presented. It is some -- one that they are discussing with the Iraqis. There is a lot of, I think, working out of the details that remains to be done, both with Iraq, but also with potentially -- potential contributors.

This is something that Saudi Arabia and Iraq and the potential contributors will be working through in the weeks ahead. And really, until they're in a position to provide more clarity, I can't.

QUESTION: And just a quick follow-up. If it comes to pass that the Arabs and the Muslim nations are willing to send troops but not under U.S. military command, would that be something that the Administration would entertain?

MR. ERELI: Let's see where things go, really. I think that's just the best way to answer the question.


QUESTION: You guys were a bit more enthusiastic about it when it was first announced. You didn't say, now we welcome it, we look forward to hearing the results of the discussions. I mean, is that still the case or have you backed off of supporting the idea?

MR. ERELI: Oh, it's still very much the case. We're not -- don't -- you shouldn't read any backing off into my comments. We welcome the idea. It's an interesting idea. It's one that Saudi Arabia and Iraq and the UN and others will be pursuing and we will be supporting it how -- you know, however we can, further to their conversations, further to what they determine is the way they want to move forward.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Israel has approved 600 new houses, housing units for the West Bank. What's your comment on that?

MR. ERELI: Our comment is that the roadmap calls for an end to all settlement activities, including natural growth. We have discussed with Prime Minister Sharon the need to make progress on the settlement issue, beginning with the removal of unauthorized settlement outposts. We have obviously discussed this issue with the Israelis. Israel has made a commitment. We look forward to Israel abiding by that commitment and sticking by the roadmap.

QUESTION: The commitment is the roadmap?

MR. ERELI: The commitment is the roadmap, because the commitment is to dismantling outposts and --

QUESTION: Not expanding settlements?

MR. ERELI: And not expanding settlements.

QUESTION: But not removing settlements?

MR. ERELI: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: I know you didn't, but settlement activity --

MR. ERELI: I would note that each -- that Israel has come forward with initiative, which we support, for removing settlements from Gaza and some settlements from the West Bank. It certainly remains a focal point of our diplomacy to move forward in finding ways to take advantage of that opportunity and it will remain so.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) real quick. Can you comment on Jordanian claims that Israel is trying to block a transfer of air-to-air missiles from the United States?

MR. ERELI: I really don't have any specific comment on that report. What I would note with regard to the general subject of potential arms sales to Jordan is that without talking about the specific sale until we notify Congress, that we have a strong relationship with Jordan, we certainly appreciate all that Jordan has done to contribute to regional stability, including its support for a stable, secure, and democratic Iraq, as well as its efforts to foster peace between Palestinian and Israelis.

The unshakable friendship between Israel* and the U.S. is one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy and I think that gives you the sort of general optic in which we view the issue.

I would also note, at the same time, that we remain committed to Israel's qualitative military edge and will do nothing to degrade it.

QUESTION: Well, can you confirm that talks are underway with Jordan to buy the AMRAAM system?

MR. ERELI: No, I'm not going to confirm that.

QUESTION: Has Israel weighed in and asked you to think twice about approving this?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: And you're so concerned about Israel's security, do you think these weapons pose, raise any questions about jeopardizing Israel's security?

MR. ERELI: We would not do that.

QUESTION: You may not intentionally do that, but there was a huge fight over AWACSs many years ago, and it was really a heck of a fight, and you applied all sorts of -- to get it through, the U.S. applied all sorts of conditions to use of the, what was then, maybe still is, the world's greatest surveillance aircraft. Are you going to do -- is there anything of that -- is this deal going to be tempered or fine-tuned in any way to make sure Israel isn't hurt by it?

MR. ERELI: I think let's not get ahead of ourselves.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. ERELI: I don't think -- formal notification of this has been made, so let's leave things where they are in the process.


QUESTION: Move on?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could we follow on the subject of Israel? Are you aware of the about 300 -- I mean, 3,000 Palestinians stranded at the Egyptian site of Rafah? They have not been allowed in for about two weeks. The humanitarian situation is really bad. A lot of them are children who are coming back from summer camps in Morocco. And are you doing anything about it?

MR. ERELI: We are aware about this situation and we are deeply concerned about it. It is a humanitarian problem that disturbs us. Since the situation arose, we have been in touch with senior officials from Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian authority. We are urging them to do everything they can to resolve this situation, and we are reiterating our call on all the parties to avoid taking steps or actions that undermine trust and create new obstacles to implementing the roadmap and realizing this President's vision of two states.

The burden and hardshipping imposed upon Palestinians is problematic and I think we are working with all the parties to help resolve it.

QUESTION: Were you able to get any promises from Israel that they would allow them in soon?

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything specific I can share with you.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Moving on, without fobbing this question off to the Justice Department or somewhere else, can you give us a little bit of an update on your own real-life version of Searching For Bobby Fischer?

MR. ERELI: You know, I asked for that. I don't have it. Let me -- I won't fob it off on anybody. I'll endeavor to get you an answer.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, specifically, I want to know if you've been in touch with the Japanese about his asylum claim and that's --

MR. ERELI: I don't have anything authoritative for you right now.


QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts about the North Korean issues and the consultation between South Korea and your side, Mr. Kelly?

MR. ERELI: Mr. Kelly will be meeting with South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-Hyuck this afternoon. They will discuss our ongoing efforts to end North Korea's nuclear programs and preparations for the next round of six-party talks, both the plenary and the working sessions. I would just underscore that this is part of a regular pattern of diplomatic consultations that we have with our partners in this process. So I, perhaps, will have something more for you after the meeting takes place.

QUESTION: Consultation is just only today?


QUESTION: Nothing is scheduled tomorrow?

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

QUESTION: Do you have a date, a target date or at least a theory when the talks might resume?

MR. ERELI: Well -- in the last round, they agreed to hold them before the end of September --


MR. ERELI: -- at the plenary. And for the working group, we're endeavoring to convene that as soon as we can.

QUESTION: So, all that still holds?


Yes, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, can you explain in any detail, in any specificity at all, why exactly the consulate in Karachi told people to stay -- its employees to stay home on Friday?

MR. ERELI: I mean, I'll refer you -- obviously, you've seen the Warden Message --

QUESTION: Which is -- which is why I said in any specificity at all. So if you can't, just say no.

MR. ERELI: Let me endeavor to get back to you. So, we're 0 for 2 with Matt today.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: New subject.

MR. ERELI: New subject.


MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Could you tell us -- the Sudanese Government rejected out of hand the 30-day deadline, but they turned around and said they will abide by, or will they complete whatever is required of them on a 90-day schedule, which they had agreed to with Kofi Annan before.

MR. ERELI: I would note, number one, that Sudan's Foreign Minister has accepted the resolution and has said that Sudan will work to fulfill its requirements. The resolution is clear. It instructs the Secretary General to report back to the Security Council in 30 days about progress made. I think it's a little -- how shall I put it -- it's a little beside the point to, you know, say, oh, we don't have to do anything for nine -- not even beside the point -- it misses the point to say, we don't have to do anything for 90 days. The point is that one month ago, on July 3rd, Sudan committed to take actions to stop the violence in Darfur and to improve humanitarian access. Thirty days have passed and painfully little has been done.

This resolution notes that the Security Council will review it again in another 30 days. The need is now. There is no excuse for not taking action now. The Security Council calls for action now, and that's what we want to see, and we will evaluate the situation again in 30 days. To say that they've got 90 days, I think misses a critical point, and that critical point is the Security Council will be reporting back in 30 days and the need for action is now.

Yes, Michel.

QUESTION: Sudan's Army say that the UN resolution on the conflict in Darfur is a declaration of war and threatens to fight any foreign intervention.

MR. ERELI: We would certainly dispute that interpretation. Far from a declaration of war, it calls upon Sudan, the Government of Sudan to fulfill commitments it made. That's -- the point of departure is what Sudan itself said -- endeavored -- or committed -- to do. So I don't see how you can say the international community saying to Sudan, “fulfill your obligations, fulfill your commitments,” is a declaration of war. It's holding Sudan to account to the standards that it agreed to.


QUESTION: Can you tell us what the U.S. Government's estimate is for the number of people who have been killed in the violence since the conflict started in February 2003?

MR. ERELI: I will try to get you -- I don't -- I'll try to get you a more specific number. I think all of us are a little leery about being too specific, just because documenting the suffering in Darfur is difficult. Clearly, there are thousands, even tens of thousands that we believe have died, millions that have been displaced, and hundreds of thousands who are at risk of death due to disease and the rains.

So I will try to get you what, you know, we're comfortable saying on the numbers of casualties. But again, the point from our perspective is, there are too many, there have been too many, there are too many at risk. And this is a humanitarian disaster of crisis proportions and there can be no excuse for not acting immediately to address it.

QUESTION: Is it actually killed, if you don't mind -- and when you can get us figures. We were told just Friday that more people have died of famine than have actually been killed. So could you expand?

MR. ERELI: So we will endeavor to get you our best estimate --

QUESTION: Of both categories?

MR. ERELI: -- of those killed as a result of violence, and those who have died as a result of --

QUESTION: Hunger and disease.

MR. ERELI: -- the consequences of that violence.

QUESTION: And also, is it possible to get us what your estimate is of the death rate, because sometimes when we report something, the number --

MR. ERELI: Well, I'm going to hold off on that one, just because I think it's such a moving target. You get different -- you get, you know, you've got World Health Organization, you've got NGOs. I'll leave it to that, to them to speak to that. I think clearly what we're -- you know, clearly, it is too high and too troubling and that is what informs our actions on this issue.


QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about this newly unclassified document that says Colombian President Uribe was involved with the Medellin Cartel?

MR. ERELI: Well, we spoke to this over the weekend. I don't really have much to add to it.

QUESTION: Could you do it on TV now?

MR. ERELI: I'll do it -- (laughter) --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: As we've said before, we completely disavow these allegations about President Uribe. We have no credible information that substantiates or corroborates these allegations that appeared in an unevaluated 1991 report, linking President Uribe to the narcotics business or trafficking. In fact, President Uribe has an outstanding record of strong opposition to narcoterrorism and narcotics trafficking. He is a -- he is also an outspoken proponent of extradition as a weapon in the war against drugs.

QUESTION: So who compiled this report for the government? How can you say that it was completely unreviewed and came, basically, came from nowhere?

MR. ERELI: What I can tell you is that this was a report that included information that was based on input from an uncorroborated source. It is raw information. It was not finely evaluated intelligence. And my understanding from my Department of Defense colleagues is that it did not constitute an official DIA or DOD position.

QUESTION: So we don't listen to single uncorroborated sources anymore?

MR. ERELI: I think one needs to take them with a --

QUESTION: (inaudible)

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. ERELI: -- with a grain of salt.

QUESTION: That was my point.

MR. ERELI: And you need -- you know, there's one data point and you need, I think, multiple sources to be able to come to some conclusion that you're comfortable with.


QUESTION: Those North Korean representatives, (inaudible) representative -- of six-way talk, Mr. Li Gun, will visit New York next week to join a seminar. And the seminar, as you know, Mr. DeTrani will join too. So does Mr. DeTrani have any plan to meet Mr. Li Gun with respect --

MR. ERELI: I don't have any update on possible travel by Mr. Li Gun from North Korea. As we discussed last week, he has been invited to participate in a conference in New York. I'll refer to the conference organizers or the North Koreans to update you on whether he will be participating. As far as State Department participation goes, I don't have any facts I can share with you on who will be participating. I'm not even sure that the conference has actually been scheduled yet.

But what I would say is that, with respect to and speculation of possible contacts, we have one forum and one forum only to talk about six-party -- or to talk about dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program and that's through the six-party process. That's where we do our discussions. That's where we deal with this issue. And so, I would just bear that in mind as we move forward on this issue. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:19 p.m. EDT)

DPB # 127


* Jordan

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