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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 > 2005 > March
Daily Press Briefing
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 24, 2005




Announcement Regarding Upcoming Travel of Deputy Secretary Zoellick


Update on Opposition Protests
Meetings with Opposition Leaders
Call for Rule of Law and Peaceful Protests
Consultations with European Leaders
Warden Message


U.S. Introduces Three UN Resolutions
Calls for Tribunal and Other Options for Accountability
Details of UN Resolution on Sanctions
Accountability and French Support for ICC


Deputy Secretary Zoellicks Travel to Greece


Rally and Taiwan Anti-Secession Law


EU-3 and Talks Aimed at Nuclear Anti-Enrichment Programs


Meetings Between U.S. and Palestinian Officials /Israeli Settlement Activity / Roadmap


U.S. Charges Against Bobby Fischer
Parliamentary Decision to Grant Fischer Citizenship


(1:00 p.m. EST)

MR. ERELI: Hello, everybody. I'll begin with a travel announcement. Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be traveling abroad from March 28th to April 5th. He will visit 14 European capitals during this time. They will include the capitals of Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece --

QUESTION: Greece, too.

MR. CASEY: (Laughter.) Another satisfied customer.

MR. ERELI: -- Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. You can do the math and divide the number of countries by the number of days to get a sense of how action-packed this trip is going to be.

Deputy Secretary Zoellick near the end of his trip will be participating in a session with the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and the North Atlantic Council at NATO. This will be Deputy Secretary Zoellick's first trip overseas. As you know, Secretary Rice has pledged that either she or Deputy Secretary Zoellick will visit all NATO capitals early in the President's second term.

During these visits, Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be reiterating our support for Europe as a strong and effective partner. He will be discussing with our friends how, together, we can confront common challenges, and very importantly, he will be looking to have a good dialogue and a good listening session to better understand the individual concerns and issues and ideas of the counterparts he will be meeting with in the individual countries he'll be traveling to.

So this is, I think, something to look forward to.

QUESTION: I know for him, too, I'll bet, huh?

MR. ERELI: Yeah, for all of us.

QUESTION: Is that the sequence? It sounds a little zig-zaggy.

MR. ERELI: Yeah, it is. Good point. It's not the exact sequence.

QUESTION: You don't go from Estonia to --

MR. ERELI: I don't have the specific itinerary and, generally, we don't go into that level of detail when talking about travel.

Any questions on this or other subjects? Front row.

QUESTION: Oh yeah. Well, if you want other subjects --

MR. ERELI: This or other subjects.

QUESTION: Kyrgyzstan. What do you make of --

QUESTION: Yes, one on this.

MR. ERELI: On this?

QUESTION: Yeah. I noticed that he's going to Estonia and Latvia and then the President is going to Latvia later in the month. What happened to Lithuania?

MR. ERELI: I'm sure Lithuania has neither been forgotten nor neglected. I expect Lithuania will be visited in due course as well.

QUESTION: What do you make of the flight of the leader of Kyrgyzstan and his family? What do you make of the people taking his place?

MR. ERELI: Obviously, we're following events in Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan closely. I can't confirm for you specific movements. We're following reports closely, but I don't have any confirmation of the whereabouts of the President or his entourage. What I can tell you is that we are working with our friends in the UN, in the OSCE, and in the international community to urge both government officials and protestors, both to refrain from violence and to engage in constructive dialogue.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in European Envoy, Mr. Peterle, is meeting with opposition figures in Bishkek. Our Ambassador, in coordination with the OSCE and others, plans to meet opposition figures, including Mr. Bakiyev and Mr. Kulov. We've been in contact with our Russian friends and Kyrgyzstan Central Asian neighbors to make sure we're all in sync on the need for a peaceful solution. I would say our overall approach to the situation is to support the efforts of the Kyrgyz people to build a stable and prosperous democracy and to work with the other members of the international community to achieve a peaceful solution to the current situation.

QUESTION: Is that the general overview, this last thought, or is this a step in that -- do you think this represents a step in --

MR. ERELI: The current events?


MR. ERELI: Does it represent a step? We think what's important is that as the Kyrgyz people handle unfolding events and determine their political and national future that they do so with respect for the peaceful expression of views, a tolerance of diversity of views and a resolution of differences through dialogue and that they work through institutions, existing institutions within the rule of law to resolve those differences and that they bear in mind as they work through these that the international community is watching, that there are international standards that we want to help them meet and fulfill.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) are you concerned with the way that this has unfolded?

MR. ERELI: Our concern is to avoid extra legal acts, avoid violence, avoid steps that are outside the law. And I think that is why our ambassador in Bishkek, our senior officials in Washington, including Under Secretary Nick Burns, and our senior members of the European Bureau have been in touch with Kyrgyz Government officials and Kyrgyz opposition figures to reinforce that message. The OSCE, I think, has been very clear about how they see events and about how importantly we can support and help bring this political situation to a peaceful, stable resolution that, frankly, serves the interest of the Kyrgyz people.

QUESTION: What's the level of engagement on the part of Secretary Rice so far with this issue? When you say, "We have reached out to our Russian friends, we have talked to people," has she been on the phone? What is her level of involvement in this?

MR. ERELI: No, the Secretary has not spoken with Russian counterparts. Under Secretary Burns has spoken with Russian foreign ministry officials. Our ambassador in Moscow has spoken with Russian foreign ministry officials. Our Deputy Assistant Secretary here in Washington has spoken with Embassy officials.

QUESTION: What level of involvement has she had?

MR. ERELI: Coordinating the response and also speaking with and working with our ambassador in Bishkek.




QUESTION: There has been a lot of talk by this Administration about, you know, the spread of freedom and the spread of democracy. There hasn't been a whole lot of emphasis on the need for people to do it within the rule of law and peaceful. And are you --

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. In this instance?

QUESTION: No, not in this -- I'm just saying, like, the first time we've kind of heard about the need to follow the rule of law and in all of processes is after a lot of these protestors did turn violent.

MR. ERELI: No, I don't think so. I'll have to go back and look at the statements.

QUESTION: Well, do you think --

MR. ERELI: But I think we've been very explicit and outspoken.

QUESTION: On this instance. But I mean, certainly, there have been a series of people power movements.

MR. ERELI: All of which we emphasize transparency, rule of law and peaceful action.

QUESTION: Well, are you concerned that there is going to be a spread of this type of activity, not only throughout former Soviet states, but in also, in other countries where people might feel oppressed and take to the streets but not necessarily do so in a peaceful manner?

MR. ERELI: Well, I'll put it this way. What we're seeing is negative public reaction when the accepted processes for political expression and political change are tampered with and when the rule of law is not followed. If you've got election irregularities and if you've got election fraud and if they are not dealt with openly, transparently and consistent with commitments that the government has to its people, then there is going to be a negative reaction.

That's what we're seeing. What we're seeing in Kyrgyzstan is a reflection of that. We've seen it in other places and when you have a situation like that, the position we've taken is it's important that legal processes be respected. It's important that the government be held accountable to the people, that differences be expressed peacefully and be resolved through dialogue and according to accepted legal processes and through accepted national institutions and that that's the way to work through these difficulties. And so, it's a question of how you manage problems and we apply a pretty standard set of criteria to managing those problems.


QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoken with President Bush about this issue today?

MR. ERELI: I don't know.

QUESTION: Okay. And does the United States have any particular interest in seeing any one of the various opposition leaders ascend to power?

MR. ERELI: Absolutely not. Our position is that the future of Kyrgyzstan should be decided by the people of Kyrgyzstan, consistent with the principles of peaceful change, a dialogue and respect for the rule of law. I would note that in Bishkek today, the former parliament will be meeting, perhaps, has already met in an extraordinary session. It will be discussing the extension of its mandate and future presidential and parliamentary elections so that we can see a process unfolding, a process that is based on Kyrgyz law and we would expect that that process respect the international principles and standards that the rest of Europe and all of us who are trying to help Kyrgyzstan live by.

QUESTION: And are you concerned that -- I mean, I know you don't know whether the President has, in fact, left the country, but certainly these protestors are overrunning government buildings and at least trying to topple the government in a way that isn't necessarily peaceful. Are you concerned that the message of the need for the future to be decided by the peaceful -- and peaceful change, that message is getting diluted by the actions of these protestors?

MR. ERELI: Obviously, we're mindful of the events in Kyrgyzstan and that is why we continually reiterate the call for non-violence, the call for dialogue and compromise. It's an important principle and it's important that in situations like this that are fast-moving and where passions are high that there be a steady and firm call for moderation, call for restraint.


QUESTION: As far as I understand, State Department officials had a number of meetings or phone conversations with the Russian diplomats here in D.C. Have they discussed the possibility of the CIS peacekeepers or the Russian troops involvement in the issue?

MR. ERELI: I'm not aware that those kinds of details have been discussed. The United States and Russia and, I think, the international community, as a whole, are cooperating in responding to the events in Kyrgyzstan. The fact of the matter is that we all have a common interest and agreed upon position that we want a stable and peaceful and democratic outcome to the current situation in Kyrgyzstan and that has been really the tenor and substance of the conversations.


QUESTION: Does the U.S. and Russia have a joint position on the issue?

MR. ERELI: If you want to call a common interest and shared objective a joint position, fine.

QUESTION: How do you call it?

MR. ERELI: I would it call it a common interest and shared objective.



QUESTION: Does the U.S. still legally recognize, today, Mr. Akayev as the President of the opposition administered provisional government? And how do you react to assertions in parts of the Russian press that the United States is "mastermind" of the whole situation?

MR. ERELI: A) We're not the mastermind. We are a -- like the rest of the international community, a very interested party in the stability and success of democracy in Kyrgyzstan and we are working together as partners with our friends in international organizations in Europe and in Central Asia to help the Kyrgyz people find their way to that resolution. And frankly, I don't have an answer for you on the first question.


QUESTION:   Do you know how much foreign aid from United States Kyrgyzstan receives and are there any plans to augment that funding given the security situation in the country?

MR. ERELI:   I wished you had asked that yesterday because I had that information. I don't have it today. I'll have to get it back to you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: Oh yeah.

QUESTION: Could you do that as well for the question about whether or not she has spoken to President Bush today about that?



QUESTION: Any update on American citizens in Kyrgyzstan --

MR. ERELI: We put out a Warden Message on March -- today, March 24th, in which we urged Americans to, number one, consider carefully the risks of travel to Kyrgyzstan and we urged Americans in Kyrgyzstan to avoid large crowds and political demonstrations.


QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: No, wait, wait. Could you retrace, just if you have it, when you say you've talked to the government who have you talked to?

MR. ERELI: We have talked to --

QUESTION: I'm not the sure who the government is.

MR. ERELI: Well, Under Secretary Burns met with the President's National Security Advisor two days ago.

QUESTION: Oh, you mean before?

MR. ERELI: Today. Who have we talked to today?

QUESTION: Yeah, since the --

QUESTION: Right, right.

MR. ERELI: I don't know all the different government officials we've talked to, but there are still government officials in Bishkek.


MR. ERELI: I don't know exactly which ones.

QUESTION: Those are the ones you're in touch with?


QUESTION: Did you -- I'm sorry, maybe you went over this yesterday. But he was in Washington --


QUESTION: -- the President's National Security Advisor?

MR. ERELI: Yes, mm-hmm.

MR CASEY: We put out a statement on it, I believe.

QUESTION: Okay, sorry.

MR. ERELI: On Tuesday, I believe.

New subject?

QUESTION: Yeah. I hope you have some time now to study the French draft for resolution on Darfur in the UN. They have apparently decided to postpone the vote until next week. What's your first read of that text and is there any way that you can bridge the gap that you have now between the opposition and the French position on the ICC involvement?

MR. ERELI: Let me take a -- let's take a step back and look at the situation as a whole. The situation of Sudan and what's going on at the United Nations -- what happened yesterday, what's going on today, what will be happening in the next few days.

As you know, yesterday, we put forward three resolutions: one on peacekeeping, one on sanctions and one on accountability. We are very pleased that there is broad agreement on the peacekeeping resolution and we look forward to its adoption later today by all members of the Security Council. This will represent a important step in the international community's taking much needed action to bring peace to Sudan. This resolution will authorize the deployment of a 10,000-member UN mission, which is critical to implementing the comprehensive peace agreement between the north and the south and to keep that process moving forward.

It will also provide for an enhanced role for the United Nations in Darfur in support of ongoing African Union efforts. It will call for close coordination between the United Nations and the African Union and for the Secretary General to report on options for how the UN mission can assist African Union efforts to foster peace in Darfur. And finally, it will call for the parties to the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan, the north-south agreement, to take an active role in support of the Abuja talks.

So what this does, quite frankly, is to give -- to help bring to completion and to fruition the north-south agreement but also to give a real shot in the arm to our efforts to bring peace to Darfur. So this should be recognized as an important moment for international action in Sudan and an important step towards resolving the conflict there, both north-south and Darfur.

With respect to the issues of sanctions and accountability, we certainly look forward to having a good discussion with our partners on the Security Council. In the days ahead, on those two points, the sanctions resolution we think is important to keep the pressure on the parties to the Darfur conflict, to bring an end to the violence, and to move events in the direction of a political solution which is really the only long-term way you're going to be able to resolve this conflict.

And finally, on the issue of accountability, we are all for accountability. I think there is broad agreement that those who are responsible for violations of international law and human rights law need to be brought to justice. That certainly has been our position since the very beginning. We were among the strongest supporters and backers of the Commission of Inquiry, which the Secretary General formed to look at the human rights abuses in Darfur. We took it upon ourselves to send our own -- to do our own investigation and do our own analysis and we were the first to determine that acts of genocide had taken place.

So I think we're strongly on record as calling -- or documenting what's going on and calling for accountability. There are a number of ideas out there about how accountability can be provided for. There is the idea presented in the French resolution about the International Criminal Court. There are other suggestions by -- or there are suggestions by others, such as the Nigerians for an African Panel for Criminal Justice and Reconciliation and there are ideas calling for an African tribunal or the establishment of a tribunal under the auspices of the African Union or the UN.

These are all ideas that merit discussion. I think there's general agreement on the principle of accountability. There is disagreement on the mechanisms for that accountability and those will be discussions we will be having. Our objective will be to -- as we've done on the peacekeeping, as we hope to do on the sanctions, to help bridge those differences and find a way that we can move to action to accomplish the goals that we all seek.


QUESTION: On the sanctions. I know we've talked about this in the past, but can you remind us what exactly, what kind of sanctions are you seeking in this particular text?

MR. ERELI: The draft calls for targeted sanctions, specifically, an assets freeze and travel ban on those responsible for the violence. It extends the arms embargo on combatants in Darfur to include the Government of Sudan and any other belligerence, and it calls for cessation of offensive military flights in and over Darfur.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?


QUESTION: The 15,000 peacekeeping troops --

MR. ERELI: 10,000.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, 10,000. That’s obviously, significantly more than what the African Union has in the region right now. Why did it take so long for the U.S. and France and others to decide that, you know, they would need that many more troops in the area?

MR. ERELI: The 10,000-member UN mission -- again, to remind you -- is to be deployed to monitor -- to implement the north-south agreement. That's separate and distinct from the existing African Union mission in Darfur to monitor the ceasefire and protect vulnerable populations. Now there will be -- and we hope -- we expect there will be an impact of this 10,000-member UN peacekeeping operation to implement the north-south agreement. There will be an impact of them on the Darfur conflict but think of them as distinct operations.

And then your second part of the question was -- oh, why did it take so long?


MR. ERELI: We've been pushing this for a while. As you know, there have been, sort of several extensions for the UN mission in Sudan. And what's held it up, frankly, is, I think, the disagreements or the differences over the sanctions and accountability issue. And that's why we split up -- that's why we presented three resolutions so that we could move forward on areas where there’s agreement and not let the differences delay action that was needed urgently on areas where there was agreement. And I think the fact that the resolution is going to pass this afternoon demonstrates the wisdom of our approach.


QUESTION: Are there any conditions under which the U.S. would support the French measure to have accountability at the ICC?

MR. ERELI: I really don't want to engage in theoretical possibilities. I will tell you that our position, I think, on the ICC is well known, as is our commitment to accountability in Sudan and for those who have committed crimes in Darfur, and we will be working with the French and others on the Security Council to produce a positive outcome.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary spoke with the French about this?

MR. ERELI: Secretary Rice has spoken to Foreign Minister Barnier today and they did discuss security -- events in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Adam, since your position on the ICC is so well known then wouldn't the answer be no?

MR. ERELI: Like I said, I'm not going to engage in theoretical possibilities.

QUESTION: It's not theoretical. I mean, it's on the table.

MR. ERELI: Put the question -- put it as a question. What's the question?

QUESTION: Is the French proposal under consideration or did you rule it out?

MR. ERELI: The French proposal is out there. It will be the subject of discussion.


QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the issue of the Greek Orthodox (inaudible) for which a pertaining question of mine is pending on since yesterday?

MR. ERELI: It's pending since yesterday. We're still looking at it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Second, do you know if Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick is going to pay a full-day visit in Athens or just for a while?


MR. ERELI: I don't know how long Secretary Zoellick is going to be -- Deputy Secretary Zoellick is going to be in Athens, but he will be able to cover all the issues and give Greece and the Greeks every attention and the full focus of his very able capabilities while he's there.

QUESTION: On the Balkans. According to today's Washington Post main editorial quote, "Western governments seems to agree that territory whose population is mostly ethnic Albanian can never be returned to Soviet rule, which means it must become independent," unquote. How do you comment on that?

MR. ERELI: I didn't read the editorial. I don't have a comment on it.

QUESTION: And the last one. Anything about tomorrow's meeting between Secretary Condoleezza Rice and the Bulgarian Foreign Minster, Mr. Passy?

MR. ERELI: Let's get through today's meetings before commenting on tomorrow's meetings.


QUESTION: Taiwan's President Chen announced that he would join the rally to protest against China's anti-secession law and all his Cabinet members, including the Premier, as well as all their families are encouraged to join them. What do you think?

MR. ERELI: I don't have any comment on the rally or the participants in the rally. What I would tell you is that our position is to encourage both sides to look for opportunities for dialogue and we continue to encourage both sides to avoid steps that can be seen as being unilateral or trying to resolve their differences in any way other than through dialogue.

QUESTION: President Chen had planned to give a speech during the rally, however, he changed his mind after his meeting with a U.S. representative in Taipei. Some (inaudible) he made such a concession under U.S. --

MR. ERELI: I wouldn't necessarily read it cause and effect to those two separate events.

QUESTION: According to Taiwan's Government official, U.S. Government will be informed as soon as President Chen's made up his mind. My question is --

MR. ERELI: About what? About his speech?

QUESTION: About -- yeah -- about he will join the rally but he will not give a speech.

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: My question is, has the U.S. been informed?

MR. ERELI: Don't know.


QUESTION: Yeah. Adam, have you had time to develop any sort of response reaction to the talks between Iran and the EU-3? Also, that there are reports that the Europeans are discussing with the Iranians the possibility of allowing them to develop a small amounts of enriched uranium. Is that something that the U.S. could live with?

MR. ERELI: I don't have too much for you on the EU-3-Iran talks. Beyond saying, obviously, that we support their diplomatic efforts, that our common purpose in trying to achieve the cessation of Iran's enrichment programs, the EU-3 confirmed yesterday that their talks with Iran will continue and we will continue to consult closely with them, with the EU-3, in order to support their efforts. But I don't have comments on or interpretations of specific issues that might have been discussed in those talks.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. ERELI: Sure.

QUESTION: The Iranians said very categorically that the idea of giving up any possibility of enriching uranium is off the table for them, that they will not abide by that. Is this something that's going to be a deal breaker?

MR. ERELI: Well, I mean, let's remember, what's the situation. They've got a program that doesn't meet -- that is at variance with their – their own activities that do not comport with their treaty obligations or their other commitments that they have made, and that these activities and programs raise serious doubts and concerns among the members of the international community, and that as a result of those doubts and concerns Iran finds itself isolated and -- isolated in the subject of repeated calls for transparency and cooperation.

The choice is theirs: They can either respond positively to what is gradually and but fairly steadily becoming a unified bloc against them; or they can persist in thumbing their nose at the rest of us and risk further ostracization as a result.


QUESTION: Can you update us on Mr. Welch and Mr. Abram's visit to the Palestinian territories?

MR. ERELI: Sure. Assistant Secretary Welch and Deputy National Security Advisor Abrams are in the last day of their three-day visit to the region. Today they met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Qureia, Mohamed Dahlan, Saeb Erekat, Finance Minister Salaam Fayyad, Minister of Interior, National Security Nasser Yusif. As you know, yesterday they met with Prime Minister Sharon and Vice Premier Peres and Minister of Defense Mofaz.

They've had a -- I think, a good, full discussion of all the issues that are before us, as together we try to move toward peace, we try to move toward a fulfillment of the President's vision of two states living side by side; talked about reform, talked about the need for security, talked about Gaza withdrawal, talked about support for the economic, social needs of the Palestinian people.

They did talk about settlement activity, obviously. On the subject of settlement activity, particularly with respect to the report of 3500 units that you have been asking consistently about, Secretary Welch and -- Assistant Secretary Welch and Deputy National Security Advisor Abrams raised the issues -- raised the issue with Israeli officials during the visit. They did ask for additional information.

We've been told that no final decisions have been made. We have restated our fundamental concern regarding any unilateral action that could prejudice the rights of other parties or the outcome of final status negotiations or adversely affect the situation of people living in the areas. And we would expect those concerns to be taken on board and we'll continue to follow the matter closely.


QUESTION: Is it fair to say the U.S. was looking the other way when Bobby Fischer went from Japan to Europe?

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry. Is that it for that subject?


QUESTION: I mean, is --

MR. ERELI: Bobby Fischer?


MR. ERELI: Looking the other way?


MR. ERELI: No. Obviously, we're disappointed that Bobby Fischer has not yet been -- that he has not yet been in a position to face the charges against him. I would remind you that he is accused of violating U.S. law. There are charges and a warrant out for his -- or to bring him to answer those charges.

We have been -- I'm just trying to find it. We've been working with the Japanese regarding his detention in Japan. Obviously, we had hoped that the Japanese courts could have resolved this in a way that would have led to his repatriation to the United States. We're disappointed that that was not able to happen, but we will continue to press the issue.

QUESTION: Are you going to talk to the Government of Iceland about seeking his extradition or asking them to take up the matter?

MR. ERELI: We have been in touch with the Government of Iceland on this issue on multiple occasions. I'm not in a position to outline for you what steps we are considering. That's a matter for the Department of Justice. I would simply note that we're going to continue to act on this case and we're going to continue to seek to bring it to a satisfactory resolution.

QUESTION: But you're not making it a diplomatic issue between the U.S. and Iceland?

MR. ERELI: It's an issue on which our diplomats are involved. I'd put it that way.

QUESTION: How about the Secretary? Has she talked to the Icelanders personally about this?



QUESTION: Adam, before they granted him citizenship in Iceland, did you ask the government in Reykjavik not to do that?

MR. ERELI: I would note that it was the parliament's decision to offer Mr. Fischer citizenship. It was not the government's decision. We did communicate -- prior to the parliament's decision, we did communicate to the Government of Iceland our views on the matter.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)

DPB # 49

Released on March 24, 2005

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