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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
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 9, 2004



Iraqi Investigation into Ahmed and Salem Chalabi / Sovereign Authority of Iraq / Role of the United States
Iraqi Commitment to a Transparent and Fair Process of Justice
Remarks by Prime Minister Allawi on Sovereign Authority, the Rule of Law and Violence / Efforts of the Interim Iraqi Government / US Assistance
Iraqi Decision to Close Al-Jazeera / US Support for a Free and Independent Media / Existence of Freedom of Opinion and Expression in Iraq
Status of Multinational Force Terrorism Statements / Consensus and Commitment of Multinational Force


Necessity of Sanctions / Requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 / 30- Day Reporting Requirement by the UN Secretary General
Plan by Special Representative Pronk and Sudanese Foreign Minister
August 23 Peace Talks in Abuja


August 9 Meeting Between US Ambassador Ricciardone and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert / Topics of Discussion
US-Philippines Bilateral Relationship
Query Regarding Review of Major Non-NATO Ally Status


Query Regarding Secretary Powell's Participation in the Republican National Convention
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Observance of US Elections
Query Regarding Status of Cunningham Nomination
Query on Special Envoy Detrani's Travel and Meetings


US Policy on Iran's Clandestine Nuclear Program
Importance and Activism of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)


US Reaction to Appeals Court Decision to Overturn War Crimes Convictions


US View of Local Elections in Nagorno-Karabakh Region


Expression of Regret Regarding Incident Involving Dr. David Lee at Airport


Concerns by Pakistan Regarding US Law Enforcement Operation in New York


Meetings by Senior Administration Officials with Israelis and Palestinians


(1:05 p.m. EDT)

MR. ERELI: Hello, everybody.


MR. ERELI: Pleasure to see you all.


MR. ERELI: Since I don't have any briefing -- any announcements -- (laughter) -- and I don't have a briefing, we can go now. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Can we take a filing break?

MR. ERELI: Chalk that up to misspeach. No announcements, ladies and gentlemen. Open to your questions.

QUESTION: Okay, Chalabi, Mr. Chalabi and his nephew. Has the United States cooperated, played any role in the investigation?

MR. ERELI: This is a -- this is an internal Iraqi matter. It is something that the Iraqi -- the Iraqi courts and investigating authorities have responsibility for. I'm not aware of any cooperation. I think the important point here is that this is something that they are exercising their sovereign authority over, they are making the decisions, they are determining what needs to be done, and they are the authorities to talk to for information about why they've done and what they're going to be doing.

QUESTION: Wasn't Ahmed Chalabi, for a long, long time, on pretty good relationship with the United States? Did that just -- don't old friends get any help from the U.S.?

MR. ERELI: This is not a question of past associations or friendships. This is a question of the Iraqi justice system at work, and we're going to play the appropriate role, which is to let that process take its course.

QUESTION: All of which -- all of that, of course, can be done at the same time, providing assistance. But you know of no U.S. role in the investigation at all?

MR. ERELI: I don't have information about a U.S. role to share with you. I'm not aware of any.

QUESTION: Okay, and the last thing, if I may. Does this, especially the nephew, does this harm what you hope to get out of the -- does it have a negative impact on the Central Criminal -- on the, excuse me, on the war tribunal?

MR. ERELI: I wouldn't get ahead of ourselves here. Number one, this is an issue, again, under investigation and before Iraqi -- before the bar of Iraqi justice. So we're certainly not in a position to prejudge what's going to happen.

The second point I would make is, with regard to the special tribunal, it is the position of the Iraqi government that those charged with serious crimes from the former regime will be brought to justice in a transparent and fair way. We are -- that is a commitment that the Iraqi government has made to its people, and our position is to support them and try to help them in any way that we can.

So this is a question about government policies and institutions, it's not a question about personalities.

QUESTION: The U.S. Government was paying Mr. Chalabi $340,000 a month, as recently as May, when it cut off those payments. To your knowledge, did the U.S. Government have any reason to believe that Mr. Chalabi may have been involved in counterfeiting when it was paying him that money?

MR. ERELI: I have not heard of any such -- I have not heard any such suggestion.

QUESTION: And does the fact that he has subsequently been charged with counterfeiting raise any questions about the fact that the U.S. Government was paying him such a lot of money for such a long time?

MR. ERELI: These charges are certainly new to us. I'm not aware that we had any notion of wrongdoing in the past. I think our dealings were, you know, were as transparent as they could be.

QUESTION: Adam, to follow up on an earlier answer, you said you have no information to share with us. Does that mean you have no information, or --

MR. ERELI: Means that I don't -- I don't have any -- I don't have enough -- I don't have any information that would confirm that.


QUESTION: I have a question about the impending call for revolution by Al-Sadr, the cleric in Najaf.

MR. ERELI: Are we done with Chalabi?


MR. ERELI: Okay.

QUESTION: Finally.


MR. ERELI: All right.

QUESTION: You certainly have been for some time, Adam.


MR. ERELI: For today. For today.

QUESTION: You mean the State Department is done with Chalabi.


MR. ERELI: On to Mr. Sadr.

QUESTION: Okay. He's called for further insurrection and fighting; of course, it's still going on. Back on June 7th, I asked about political influence by him, and with another cleric, Mr. Sistani, now in London for health concerns, is it American troops, State Department, and/or just the Iraqis themselves over the weekend, the interim government officials were meeting in Najaf to try and simmer down that situation?"

MR. ERELI: I really don't have too much to share with you on this issue. I think that the important point to note here is the remarks by Prime Minister Allawi and his visit to Najaf, and take the lead from there, which is that the interim Iraqi government is the sovereign authority in Iraq. They are asserting their control, they are working to provide stability and a brighter future and democracy for the people of Iraq. And it is -- and there are those who oppose that, who are using violence to advance their own agendas. The government of Iraq has said very clearly, very forcefully, that it will not tolerate this, and that it will act against those who subvert the rule of law and subvert the sovereign authority of the government.

Our role is to work with the government of Iraq in helping it to establish its authority, to cement its authority and to move forward in the political process, which aims to give peaceful and democratic voice to the people of Iraq. That's what's -- that's what we're doing in confronting the militia, and in Najaf, as elsewhere.

QUESTION: Adam, also, Al-Jazeera was turned off by the Iraqi government for a period of 30 days, and they say there is bias in the reporting. Do you think that it was Ambassador Negroponte to put any type of suggestions to the government there in Baghdad, or it was their own particular call?

MR. ERELI: This was an Iraqi decision. It was -- we had nothing to do with it. It was a decision that the Iraqi government made based on what they feel is the interests of the people of Iraq. I'd leave it to them to characterize the reasons for making their decision. Obviously, we are supportive of a free and independent media.

I think that if you look at the scene generally in -- media scene generally in Iraq, you'll see a quite vibrant and dynamic press that is frequently critical of the government of Iraq, frequently critical of decisions by and policies of the government of Iraq. This is a difficult situation and I guess for more I'd just refer you to the government of Iraq.

QUESTION: Well, wait. In other countries when -- that have taken similar -- that, you know, have taken similar steps against their own or foreign media, you have been quite critical of them. Are you critical of the Iraqis for shutting down Al-Jazeera --

MR. ERELI: I'd put it this way --

QUESTION: -- or do you not have an opinion?

MR. ERELI: I'd put it this way. The United States in Iraq, as elsewhere, supports a free and open media. We would also note that there are -- that the insurgency and others have made it a habit of using the media to advance their agenda. And it's a difficult situation in Iraq. The Iraqi government, I think, has weighed its appreciation and understanding and value for an independent and free media in taking this step.

We're all trying to work to get the balance right, to get the balance between respecting a free and independent media and acting against insurgents and providing for security. It's a -- it is a -- it is something that I think, hopefully, we can find the right balance and return life to normal.

QUESTION: Well, what does that mean? Does that mean that "return life to normal" means allowing Al-Jazeera to operate again?

MR. ERELI: It means acting in a way that protects innocent people and defeats the actions of terrorists.

QUESTION: Well, do you know if anyone from the embassy, from Ambassador Negroponte, or anyone else, has raised this issue since it happened?

MR. ERELI: I don't know.


QUESTION: Simply stated, I mean, do you think it's a good thing or not a good thing that Al-Jazeera has been closed down in Baghdad?

It's not a hard question.

MR. ERELI: No, but I'm not comfortable giving you a judgment call on it.


QUESTION: Yeah. Well, you wanted, the U.S. Government wanted Iraq to be a model for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, and by shutting down Al-Jazeera, they're shutting down the freedom of speech, freedom of opinion. Is this the kind of model you wanted to set in Iraq?

I mean, you have invested billions of dollars there, hundreds of soldiers were killed there to make Iraq look better than it was during the Saddam era. Is this the kind of Iraq that you want right now?

MR. ERELI: Let me put it this way. As I said earlier, the evidence, in our opinion, shows that there is freedom of opinion and expression in Iraq. There are any number of outlets, both print, as well as TV, that voice dissent and do it -- but do it responsibly and do it in ways that don't endanger the lives of innocent people. There is a concern here, in this case, that that standard was not being met, and it is a difficult decision to second-guess, given the level of violence, given the level of unscrupulous, unscrupulousness that is practiced by the terrorists.

And there was another point that I had that I just -- that slipped my mind, but those are the major points I want to make, that there is dissenting views, that those dissenting views are tolerated, that there is unique set of circumstances here where people's lives at risk, are at risk.

And the other point I guess I would make is that, you know, people have had problems with Al-Jazeera before. This is not the first time that this has happened, that Al-Jazeera has taken steps that the government believes endanger the lives of innocent people.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Adam, a minute ago, you said that, you know, a responsible media that does not endanger the lives of people and does not propagate the insurgency. Have you been told by the Iraqi government that Al-Jazeera has done that, and with a case that they -- did they show anything like this that they have participated? Or -- and then you said that they have done it in the past, or this -- along the pattern of the past.

MR. ERELI: The Iraqi government has made clear its reasons for taking the actions against Al-Jazeera. I don't want to speak for them. They have made the points they want to make about Al-Jazeera's role in, I guess, whether directly or indirectly, deliberately or undeliberately, promoting or otherwise encouraging kidnappings and beheadings. So they have made those points. I won't make them for them.

Our view is, as I said before, that -- and I think the Iraqis, by other examples, have shown that, again, free media is important, but there is also concern that it not be exploited and used to -- in ways that lead to the deaths of innocent people.


QUESTION: I mean, Al-Jazeera just had a huge conference in Qatar, in Doha, and they announced their -- publicly, their code of ethics. For a station to do this, to have -- to set standards for its employees and announce it to people and to public, I mean, I don't see how this goes with the, you know, not meeting the standards of responsibility when reporting something out or Iraq or anywhere else. I mean, don't you think that there is some contradiction here? I mean --

MR. ERELI: As I said earlier, this is a balance that we've got to get -- that is difficult to get right, I think that people are working on to get right. The conference that you mentioned is an example of that, but obviously, there are ongoing problems that show we're not there yet. Hopefully, where there's a will, there's a way, but the way has not yet been found.


QUESTION: Change the subject? Sudan?

MR. ERELI: Sudan.

QUESTION: So the Arab League doesn't think that sanctions are the way to go on Sudan. Are you concerned that this eases the pressure on the Khartoum Government to comply with the last UN resolution?

MR. ERELI: Well, I think we'd all prefer for sanctions not to be necessary. We'd all prefer that the Government of Sudan voluntarily take the actions that it agreed to in the July communiqué and that were reprised, if you will, in Security Council Resolution 1556.

So let's all work toward a resolution of this problem that doesn't require sanctions, that provides for the Government of Sudan taking the actions before the period of 30 days comes, where sanctions would be reviewed, depending, you know, in light of circumstances, and so that we can get, you know, get the violence under control, and begin a process toward dialogue.

There certainly have been developments worth noting over the weekend in that direction. There was a plan worked out between Special Representative Pronk and the Sudanese Foreign Minister. We're looking at that plan. It's a good start. Obviously, much will depend on what concrete actions come out of it.

There have been talks, or dates for talks, announced between the rebel movements and the government in Abuja on August 23rd. That's an important development.

So let's work towards the goal of implementing what the resolution calls for so that the question of whether or not -- the question of whether to impose sanctions doesn't need to present itself.

QUESTION: But you put the -- that option on the table. You worked hard to make sure that the --

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the option of sanctions, the threat of sanctions was in the resolution as a way of pressuring the government. But then you have this large international body saying -- obviously, they agree with you that we'd prefer it all to be sorted out, but they're saying sanctions is the wrong way to do it because it would cause more harm in the country.

So they're showing that you don't have international support for this threat, and therefore the question is, does that ease the pressure on the government to do things?

MR. ERELI: I'll put it this way, nothing has been said or done to attenuate the requirements of Resolution 1556; 1556 remains, I think, the operative instrument in dealing with this issue. And so, if you are asking whether somehow what was agreed to at the UN has changed or decreased the significance, the answer is no.

QUESTION: A critical meeting on August 23rd, you would say, has no impact on the 30-day -- the tolling of the 30 days, which will just about be up then?

MR. ERELI: I didn't say that. I said it's an important development.

QUESTION: I'm sorry. I should have put it in question form.

MR. ERELI: You're asking me will it have an impact?

QUESTION: Does the 30-day deadline stand? Remember, the Secretary insisted on a 30-day deadline. Kofi Annan had 90 days in mind, I think, and some time it elapsed and maybe it wasn't quite 90, but it wasn't 30.

MR. ERELI: Right. Well, what they --

QUESTION: And now you've had a -- all right.

MR. ERELI: Sure, what the resolution provides for is Secretary General reporting to the Security Council in 30 days on actions that have been taken. And so the Security Council will consider that report when reviewing what appropriate measures to take, and obviously whether their talks in Abuja on the 23rd will be something important to be factored into it all.

QUESTION: Can I go back to a semi-Iraq-related thing, which is, ever since Richard last week announced this statement that was being put out by all the members of the coalition, there has been -- and the comments that he made surrounding it -- there has been a lot of confusion, especially in the Philippines, about their status. And now, there were some cryptic comments made by Ambassador Ricciardone about whether the United States might be reviewing the Philippines' status as a Major Non-NATO Ally as a result of this. Can you shed any light on what the -- what's going on here?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware of any review of Major Non-NATO Ally status is. What I can tell you is that Ambassador Ricciardone met with the Philippine Foreign Secretary today. They discussed U.S.-Philippine relations and other issues, including Iraq. In this meeting, Secretary Albert reiterated the commitment of the Government of Philippines to the future of Iraq and condemnation of acts of terror there.

From our point of view, the Philippines remains an ally with whom we have a long, shared history and many common interests and cooperation between us will continue on a wide variety of fronts, including counterterrorism. Secretary Albert did state that her government would continue to do what it can to assist the people of Iraq, but for details on specifically what was meant by that, I'd have to refer you to the Government of the Philippines.

QUESTION:   Well, that's all very well and good, but is there or is there not a review of Major Non-NATO Ally status?

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

QUESTION: Okay, so you don't know?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that there is a review underway.

QUESTION: Well, Ambassador Ricciardone seemed to think that -- well, he said in his answer to a question about this, he said that he wasn't sure the review was complete.

MR. ERELI: I didn't see Ambassador Ricciardone's comments.

QUESTION: Could you take the question and double check whether there is or is not such a review?

MR. ERELI: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Well, but, I mean, on that point, I mean, are there -- are you considering any particular consequences for Philippines' decision of pulling out of the coalition or --

MR. ERELI: I think we've expressed our view on that decision and, as I said before, we can disagree about it, we can have differing views, strongly differing views. We remain an ally. We have a strong partnership that has been built over decades and generations, and we will continue to cooperate on a wide variety of issues.

QUESTION: Now change the subject.

QUESTION: No, can I stay on this?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On the statement itself, I think Richard gave an update on Thursday, it was about a dozen countries that issued a similar statement.

MR. ERELI: Right, we're now up to 20.


MR. ERELI: That have issued specific statements.

QUESTION: What about the other --

QUESTION: Boucher said 11. Can you tell us the nine additions, please, if you have them?

MR. ERELI: Sure. Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

QUESTION: And the United States?

MR. ERELI: And the United States.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.


QUESTION: Adam, can we go -- I'm sorry.

QUESTION: So what about -- what's the status of -- which countries do we know for sure are not going to issue this statement and why?

MR. ERELI: I would make two points. Point number one is that all members of the coalition signed on to -- or saw the statement and were comfortable with it. So this is a statement that reflects, I think, the consensus view of the members of the multinational force in Iraq.

Each country -- it's up to each country whether and in what form to express additional endorsement or additional expression of their own views on this issue, on this subject. And I would expect there will be others, but I couldn't tell you right now who and when.

QUESTION: But if you say that they're all comfortable with this statement, why won't they issue this statement themselves? What's the --

MR. ERELI: You'd have to ask them. I mean, everybody has a different way of expressing it. There was not a -- it was not something that -- the way the MNF works, it's not like, you know, a -- how should I put it? -- NATO, where you put out a NATO statement.

The way it was agreed that we would deal with this issue was we drafted the statement; we shared it with the members of the multinational force; we, in discussions and consultations with them, arrived at a consensus that this is a view that's shared by all; and that it was agreed that some would put out their own expressions of support for the statement, or expressions of, in their own way, what the statement represented; others would not. And that's just the way we agreed to handle this issue.

QUESTION: But it doesn't look like unanimity when some countries are putting out a statement and others are saying nothing. I mean, how -- what is the message that that sends? It seems counterproductive to what you intended.

MR. ERELI: The message is very, I think, very clear and not counterproductive at all. The message is, you've got 30-plus countries staying in the coalition, sticking with it, confronting terrorism, not cutting and running, and endorsing a statement that the United States and that others have put out. That doesn't, to me, indicate a sign of disagreement or dissention. It indicates to me a sign that, in the face of attacks against civilians and attempts by terrorists to divide the coalition -- or the multinational force -- that the multinational force is, to the contrary, reacting forcefully against it.

QUESTION: Adam, do you expect -- I realize you don't know how many, or which or when, but do you expect all of the other 12 to put out something? Or are there some that you know will not?

MR. ERELI: I think there are probably some that will just leave it to -- leave it at where it is now, as opposed to issuing additional statements.

QUESTION: Do you know how many that is?

MR. ERELI: No, I don't.


QUESTION: But, Adam, just this -- but the lack of these countries putting out a statement, you don't see that as an indicator, or you're not concerned that perhaps these countries could cut and run if they're faced with that type of situation?

MR. ERELI: I would say this: The measure by which you should evaluate a country's commitment to Iraq, or multinational force, is whether they're there or not. By being there, by sticking with it, by putting their nationals in the line of fire, on behalf of Iraq and on behalf of the multinational force, that is, I think, as forceful and convincing a statement of support as anybody should need.

QUESTION: It wasn’t an issue of --

QUESTION: Well, then, why did you put it out in the first place?

MR. ERELI: Because --

QUESTION: I mean, that's the -- you present -- when it was put out, it was presented as, "Here is this great show of unity from the coalition." And, you know, unfortunately, you are the ones, after, you know, years of saying you don't like to get into counting games and numbers games, you guys started this one, not us. So --

MR. ERELI: Yeah, the measure -- again, the measure should not be --

QUESTION: When you say there's 32 members of the coalition, and five days after the statement comes out, there are still 12 that haven't signed on --

MR. ERELI: That's not true. All 31 have signed on, otherwise, the statement wouldn't have been put out.

QUESTION: Okay, there's 31 --

MR. ERELI: The point is that maybe all 31 have not -- or all 32 have not issued their own statements, but that's not the measure of whether there's unity or support for the statement, or unity or support for fighting terror and not giving into terror. The measure is: (a) that they're still there; (b) that they support the statement; and I think (c) that there are some that are putting out statements in their own name.

You should not say just because all 32 haven't put out their own statement does not mean there is not unanimity, not cohesion of the multinational force.

QUESTION: I've got to say, your definition of fighting terror, and what it -- how you show that you're against terror, you know, could be applied to the countries that aren't there at all and it would be extremely critical, not so much to the 11 or 12 who haven't mimicked the U.S. statement by putting out a similar statement, but the countries that aren't in Iraq. They're not fighting terror, by your definition.

MR. ERELI: All right. Well, let's be clear. The statement said, "conceding to terror," and noting that what terrorists were doing in Iraq was attempt to rock the coalition.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something else? Can I try something else?

MR. ERELI: Wait, we're still on this.

QUESTION: Yeah, on that topic.

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Would you view these countries as being equal in strength, as far as their commitment is concerned, or would you feel that maybe some are more equivocal than others in their commitment?

MR. ERELI: No, I would think that -- I would say that countries that are in Iraq, countries that are in the multinational force, are all demonstrating their support for Iraq and their sharing of the burden in helping rebuild Iraq and provide security for Iraq.

QUESTION: Yeah, on the issue, Adam, of the statement itself, can you tell us definitively today that none of the countries remaining in the coalition in Iraq will make a deal with a kidnapper in that country? That was the central issue of the statement. It dealt with the issue of negotiating with terrorists. Can you tell us that none of the countries that remain will make --

MR. ERELI: I can tell you that all the countries that are in the multinational force share the sentiments that were expressed in that statement.

QUESTION: Will they, in fact, negotiate with kidnappers?

MR. ERELI: I think there is a view that that is not the way to -- that that is not the way to solve the challenge facing us.

QUESTION: Do you have that guarantee from all of them?

MR. ERELI: I think the statement speaks for itself.

QUESTION: Don't you understand that when you say that, that's fine, except that there are 12 countries that haven't signed the statement?

MR. ERELI: There's not a question of signing the statement.

QUESTION: Or put out a statement.

MR. ERELI: It is a question of endorsing the substance of the statement, which they all did, and which we wouldn't have put out if they hadn't.

QUESTION: But the way it was put to us originally was that they would all join in and put out their own statements.

MR. ERELI: No, it was never said -- that was --


MR. ERELI: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Not at all.

MR. ERELI: That was never said.


MR. ERELI: From the very beginning, we said, look, we're putting this out. This is a statement that was worked out with the other members of the multinational force, and that the other members of the multinational force endorsed, and that other countries would -- some other countries would be putting out their statements on their own, other countries would not, but that this was a consensus view of the MNF.

It was never, ever said that everybody would be putting out their own statement, nor should that be a measure of a country's commitment to the multinational force. A measure of the country's commitment to the multinational force is that it is there and that it is continuing to sacrifice its blood and treasure on behalf of a stable Iraq.

QUESTION: Can I get one thing straight on the numbers? When you said 20 have signed on, that did not include the U.S.?

MR. ERELI: Not including the United States.

QUESTION: So it's 21 total?

QUESTION: Can I try on something else?

MR. ERELI: Still on this?

QUESTION: Move to Sudan?

MR. ERELI: Let's go to --

QUESTION: Okay. I want to try you on the Secretary's plans. One newspaper over the weekend said he wouldn't be at the convention -- maybe this has been dealt with -- I don't recall -- or that he wouldn't be at the Republican Convention. It's suggested that, you know, he'd be vacationing, maybe, or on a trip to places that he's always wanted to go to.

Can you bring us -- a lot of it was, you know, officials without attribution, without names. He has a pretty strong following, both in the Republican party and among the voters that the President probably needs in order to keep his job. Can you enlighten us on the Secretary's plans to go to the Convention?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware of any plans to -- for the Secretary to be at the Convention. I will just check and confirm that that's the case.

QUESTION: All right and I appreciate it. And when you do, could you -- I mean, I almost could write the words myself, but when you do -- we don't do that -- when you do, could you find out what is it that -- he hasn't left the Republican party, I don't suppose. He has his reasons, I'm sure, and I think we've heard them apropos these debates that he doesn't want to get into, he says, political debates. But, you know, he won't be there, but why won't he be there is the question?

MR. ERELI: I will see what I can do.

QUESTION: Appreciate it.

QUESTION: A follow-up, Adam?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Also, at the same time, I guess people come -- election people have come to the State Department and asked the OSCE to send monitors to the presidential election on November 2nd. Why here? Why to the State Department?

MR. ERELI: This is -- I think a lot is being made out of this, which isn't necessarily warranted. The fact of the matter is that, in 1990, all member states of OSCE agreed that they would allow OSC -- representatives of OSCE member states to observe their elections. So this is a practice that was started in 1990. I think there have been OSCE observers in the United States for U.S. elections before and, most recently, in the 2003 gubernatorial election in California, and the 2002 elections in Florida -- gubernatorial elections in Florida. So wouldn't see this as news, per se, but rather continuation of standing practice.

QUESTION: Well, but Adam, was there any -- were OSCE monitors here in the 2000 election?

MR. ERELI: I don't believe so. I'm not -- I'll have to check, but I don't think so.

QUESTION: Well, how much -- the State Department invited them, yes?

MR. ERELI: I would say, that's -- this is something -- it's not a question of State Department inviting. This is something that all countries, all participating states in the OSCE agreed to in 1990, so it is a standing agreement between the United States and other countries of the OSCE. It's not a question of State Department inviting now. It is a question of U.S. commitments internationally.

QUESTION: Well, then why did it take 12 years for the first monitoring team to -- or observer team to show up from the OSCE?

MR. ERELI: Let me make sure that that was actually the first team. It's the latest that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: So, I mean, if I get you correctly, are you saying that this has nothing to do with the contested 2000 election?

MR. ERELI: I would say that this is something that has been on the books for some time and is done not just of the United States, but is done for all states in the OSCE.

QUESTION: Right, but there are states in the OSCE, where there -- there's not a question of whether there will be a free and fair election, and so the OSCE doesn't, you know --

MR. ERELI: This is not a question of whether there's a free and fair election in the United States. This is a question of an agreement among all states of the OSCE, that it is right and appropriate in the interest of transparency and equity for all of us at various times to look at each other's elections.

QUESTION: And this -- if I may, one more on this -- did this have anything to do with some members of the House of Representatives calling for monitors, whether it be the UN or OSCE?

MR. ERELI: I don't know.


MR. ERELI: Let's go to Teri.

QUESTION: Change the subject?

QUESTION: One more.

MR. ERELI: Same subject?

QUESTION: Same subject. Will the OSCE have any particular enforcement type of function, and/or if they make a legal challenge or some type of challenge to what's happening, is there any --

MR. ERELI: I don't think either of those questions pose themselves. There's --


QUESTION: Same subject. I'm sorry. I'm still not clear. If this has been basically something that's been happening automatically since 1990, why this would be the first U.S. election in which they'd be present? And is there more you can tell us in terms of the size of the delegation, their likely activities, which countries they'll be from?

MR. ERELI: We don't yet have details on the size or composition of the observer mission, nor where the observer missions will meet. As I said before, I'm -- I'll have to -- we'll have to look back and see when they've been here before. This is a practice that has been, as we've said, been in existence since 1990, that different OSCE countries have done with it, different OSCE countries since then. But let me check and see when the last time they were here, besides the 2002 and 2003 gubernatorial elections.

QUESTION: It's not the last time they were here, it's the first time they were here, that we want to know.

MR. ERELI: I'll have to check and see.

QUESTION: Change the subject?


QUESTION: Russia is expressing concern about the deal that Secretary Powell signed last week in Greenland, believe it or not, and they've put out, the Foreign Ministry's put out a statement that says that -- it questions that although the U.S. is assuring them that missile defense will not target them, that they are making sure that they take appropriate measures to maintain its own security.

Besides the Foreign Ministry statement, has the Foreign Ministry raised this with anyone in the U.S. Government?

MR. ERELI: No, this is the first I've heard of it, actually, so.

QUESTION: Yeah, check Reuters.

QUESTION: Change subject.

MR. ERELI: Let's go to Said.

QUESTION: Change subjects?


QUESTION: Yesterday, the National Security Advisor issued pretty strong statements against Iran. Do you see that the U.S.-Iranian relations were headed toward confrontation of any kind?

MR. ERELI: I think those -- I saw those statements. They were, very, very good reiterations of our longstanding policy, which is that the United States has long been -- felt that Iran had a clandestine nuclear program for military purposes.

We have been, I think, very persistent and consistent in trying to bring that issue and problem to the attention of the international community, and over the last several years of diplomacy, that those efforts have produced important results, as evidenced by the growing importance and activism of the IAEA and the Board of Governors in confronting Iran and demanding answers about what it's doing, and as well, our commitment to continue taking the steps necessary to, you know, prevent Iran from flouting its international obligations and posing a risk to international security.

QUESTION: So you're saying that the U.S. policy will continue to be diplomacy and not force?

MR. ERELI: You know, obviously, we -- and as the National Security Advisor said, we'd never take -- are not going to take options off the table, but our focus is, and our approach is working with international partners to address this issue.

QUESTION: But, Adam, I mean, at the same time, you've been working on this diplomacy for several years, evidenced by the fact they are still trying to get the international community to take, you know, more forceful actions, such as in IAEA or the Security Council, that this diplomacy has not curved Iran's nuclear programs. So at what point would you --

MR. ERELI: I would challenge that assertion and contend that our forceful advocacy of this issue internationally has constrained Iran and has put the spotlight on Iran in ways that would not have been the case if we had not been as active as we are. Obviously, concerns remain or we wouldn't be -- I mean, we wouldn't be where we are. But at the same time, those concerns are producing, I think, greater and greater consensus about the nature of the problem and determination to do something about it. And as the National Security Advisor said, we are determined to do something about it.


QUESTION: Related. What's your understanding of Mr. Cunningham's status on the Hill?

MR. ERELI: My understanding is -- well, I'd refer you to the White House on that. It's a White House nomination so the status on that --

QUESTION: Sorry. It seems from the story today that the State Department was pretty involved in it, with the Secretary making phone calls, at least.

MR. ERELI: Right, I don't have anything for you on it.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: North Korea?


QUESTION:   The U.S. Special Envoy, North Korea, Mr. DeTrani, will attend a conference in New York tomorrow and meet with his counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea and the North Korea. Do you have more information on that, in terms of the agenda, the --

MR. ERELI: No, I don't have anything on Special Envoy DeTrani's planned meetings. Let me see if I can get you something on it.


QUESTION: Different subject. It came out late last week that a appeals court in Indonesia overturned the convictions of several people who had been convicted of offenses for East Timor, and practically no one now in Indonesia is doing any time or being punished for East Timor. I wonder if you have a reflection on that.

MR. ERELI: An appeals court overturned convictions of all Indonesian military and police officers who are charged with crimes against humanity for their role in the violence and destruction in East Timor in 1999. We are dismayed by this decision, and we are profoundly disappointed with the performance and record of the Indonesian ad hoc tribunal.

In our view, as a result of this appeals decision, only two of the 18 defendants have been convicted and both individuals are ethnic Timoris and received sentences below the 10-year minimum set by law. We think that the overall process was seriously flawed and lacked credibility.

QUESTION: Has this been communicated to them in any special way?

MR. ERELI: We are consulting with the governments concerned and international organizations on how to ensure a credible level of justice for these abuses.

And one more? Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Unrelated, though. The Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh held elections over the weekend, obviously without the consent of the Azerbaijan Government. And I wondered what -- anything you might have to say about that.

MR. ERELI: The first point to make is obviously that we don't recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country. The future status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of negotiations in the Minsk process. Our position is to support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and we don't believe that these elections will have an impact on the peace process or the Minsk process.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Dr. David Lee, was fingerprinted and photo taken on his arrival at Dulles International Airport, July 23rd, and Taiwan said this has violated the agreement between U.S. and Taiwan. And also, after the -- after they complained, the U.S. already apologized for the incident and also committed improvement. Can you confirm that?

MR. ERELI: What I can tell you is that the Acting Chairman of the American Institute of Taipei expressed our regret for this mistake or mishandling at the airport, and that that expression of regret was accepted.


QUESTION: The Government of Pakistan has issued a complaint to the United States over a fake plot to kill their UN envoy. Do you have any comments?

MR. ERELI: What I would tell you is that the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs did express today to our embassy in Islamabad its concern about a recent law enforcement operation in New York state that was carried out by the FBI. I'm not in a position to confirm to you the details of that action, and would refer you to the Department of Justice for the facts.

We, for our part, are sharing the concern of the Pakistani authorities with the relevant authorities in the United States. As always, we value our close relationship with Pakistan. They are a key ally in the global war on terror, and we're doing everything possible to ensure that that cooperation continues.

QUESTION: Also on Pakistan, the government has made several comments of late about the leak of this al-Qaida mole, that it -- that by the U.S. doing so, it possibly jeopardized future arrests and the acquisition of future information and possibly even finding bin Laden himself, and that, you know, the U.S. really should have kind of let the Pakistanis take the lead on that. Any comment?

MR. ERELI: No. Not -- since it deals with intelligence and law enforcement, I don't have comments on either.

QUESTION: Have they raised that with you, the Pakistanis?

MR. ERELI: Not that --

QUESTION: Or the State Department?

MR. ERELI: -- not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Wait, one more, one more.

QUESTION: More on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Could you share with us some update on Mr. Abrams' visit with the Israeli Prime Minister or, for instance, was the -- allowing the Palestinians to cross over as a result of pressure that was brought to bear by Mr. Abrams or with your statement that you issued? And are there any plans for, in the near future, for visit by State Department officials to the area to meet with Palestinians?

MR. ERELI: As for future travel, I don't have anything really to share with you. As far as the meetings that took place, I think as we said before, this was an opportunity for Senior Administration Officials to confer with both Palestinians and Israelis on the President's vision, the roadmap, steps that each side could take in furtherance of those objectives, with particular focus on the opportunity presented by Prime Minister Sharon's withdrawal plan and the need for concrete action to establish security in territories under Palestinian control.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 p.m.)

DPB # 131

Released on August 9, 2004

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