State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for August 6

Published: Fri 9 Aug 2002 12:27 AM
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 6, 2002
1 Visiting Journalists Attending Briefing Today
1-2 Observance of Fourth Anniversary of the East Africa
2,3,7-8,9 Palestinian Delegation Members Meeting with Secretary
2,4-5 Update on Security and Security Cooperation
3-4 Israeli Demolition of Homes / Expulsions
5-6-7,8 Some Operations of Consulate General in East Jerusalem to
9-10 US Citizens Denied Entry into Israel by Israeli
Immigration Officials
23 Investigation into Killing of Five Americans in Recent
10-11,13-15 Funding for Iraqi National Congress
11-12,13 Meeting with Iraqi Opposition Groups
12 Administration's Position on Change in Regime in Iraq
15-19 Saudi Arabia's Cooperation on War on Terrorism / US
19,28 Status and Prospects for US-North Korea Dialogue
20 KEDO Ceremony in Kumho, North Korea and US Representation
19 Hiroshima Mayor's Comments
20-21 Case of Chinese Girl in US / Contacts with PRC
21 Taiwan President Chen's Recent Remarks
21 Taiwan Representatives Visit to US
22 State Department Plans to Commemorate September 11
23-27 White House Intention to Nominate Maura Harty as Assistant
Secretary for Consular Affairs
22-23 Lawsuit Against Exxon-Mobil Alleging Human Rights Abuses
MR. REEKER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the State Department this Tuesday. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the State Department, perhaps for the first time, seven visiting journalists, part of our International Visitors Program that gives opportunities for foreigners, including journalists, to come observe how we do things in the United States, including here at the State Department. We have journalists with us today from Angola, Cambodia, Jordan, Liberia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Yemen. So welcome to our briefing today.
I would like at the top to make note of one observation which we will have tomorrow; that is, August 7th, 2002, will mark the Fourth Anniversary of the East Africa bombings that took place in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. As you will recall, in 1998 at 10:38 a.m., 224 Americans, Kenyans and Tanzanians lost their lives, including 36 Department of State employees, contractors and family members. Other US Government agencies lost 17 members in their communities.
So tomorrow, Wednesday, August 7th, the American flags at all Department of State facilities will be lowered to half staff from 8:15 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and we encourage all of our employees to observe a moment of silence during the day to remember those who died in the bombings.
We ask that employees also remember other friends and colleagues who have died, especially Barbara Green and Kristen Wormsley who were killed in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 17th of this year in the terrible church bombing that took place there.
Employees may also wish to visit, and others may wish to join them, at the memorial dedicated to all those who died in the East Africa terrorist bombings. That memorial is located at Arlington National Cemetery. And so we will mark observation of that sad anniversary tomorrow here at the State Department and at our posts around the world.
With that, I would be happy to take your questions.
QUESTION: Can I ask a question?
QUESTION: Will the Secretary be doing anything special to mark this? Will he be at National Cemetery? Will he be downstairs at the plaque here?
MR. REEKER: I will have to check the Secretary's schedule for you, Betsy, and see. I know he intends to observe it, but in terms of what kind of press access there would be to that, I will check and we can get back to you.
QUESTION: Anything on the Palestinian delegation, please?
MR. REEKER: The -- sorry? I just missed it.
QUESTION: The Palestinian delegation.
MR. REEKER: The Palestinian delegation. I'm sorry.
Yes, as you know, we have talked for some time, the Secretary has, about meeting with a delegation of Palestinians. We do expect that a delegation of Palestinians will be in Washington for meetings with Secretary Powell and a range of other US officials on Thursday and Friday of this week -- that's August 8th and 9th. We expect to see Abdurazaq Yahiyeh, who is Minister of Interior, Maher Masri, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Saeb Erekat, who is Minister of Local Government.
So this is part of our ongoing series of meetings with those from the region. The purpose of these meetings will be to hold discussions and exchange views on a wide range of issues, including Palestinian civil reform efforts, a renewal of security cooperation, progress on political dialogue. Just as with these meetings, we look forward to further such exchanges in the future, which is part of our effort under the President's strategy which is supported by regional and international partners to restore calm, to renew hope for Palestinians and Israelis alike, focusing on institutions and real reforms, as the President described in his June 24th speech.
QUESTION: Phil, we never heard about security work here in the US for some time now. The CIA was supposed to be formulating changes or new ideas -- how to bolster security. Where is the process at this point?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have any particular updates to give you, Barry. At this point, obviously security and security cooperation is a vital part of this effort, as the Secretary and the President have made quite clear. It is absolutely important that the Palestinians do all they can to end the terror and violence, and security cooperation is an important element of that, but I don't think I can offer you any specifics at this point. But as we have things to discuss, I will certainly endeavor to see what I can give you.
QUESTION: Phil, you mentioned this delegation, but the security minister that Arafat recently named is not among them. If you are going to talk about security, why wouldn't you want to talk to the security guy?
MR. REEKER: I believe that Mr. Yahiyeh --
QUESTION: He is? Oh, you did. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Interior (inaudible) --
MR. REEKER: Eli's bad. Let's put that on the record. (Laughter.) Eli's bad. Thank you, Barry, for your support in that thing.
Elaine, you had something to follow up?
QUESTION: I was going to ask how you decided who to invite.
MR. REEKER: I think we have been talking to a wide range of Palestinians, as we have discussed over a period of time now. We have a broad array of contacts with Palestinians, including members of the legislative council, including individuals who have come here to Washington. The President discussed in his speech the need for reform, the need to develop institutions, and the need to work with individuals who can speak on behalf of the Palestinian community who can make a difference, who can exercise responsibility and leadership.
So the Secretary very much looks forward to the opportunity to talk to this group of Palestinians as part of our ongoing effort at the end of this week, and we will keep you posted on the follow-up to those talks.
QUESTION: Phil, the Israelis have had a whole series of, you know, suicide bombings in the last few days. It seems that nothing they do seems to have an effect, and they have now moved to demolishing homes and to deporting or exiling people into Gaza who apparently had some knowledge that their family member was about to carry out an attack.
What is the United States view of those two measures?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think as you are familiar, Ben, we said that Israel has a right to self-defense, and that remains our position. But as always, as we have said before, Israel should consider the consequences of any action it takes or plans to take, keep in mind the vision of peace to which we have all signed up, which the President has enunciated in his speeches and statements.
We certainly understand the need for Israel to take steps to ensure its self-defense, and we have been very clear, as I said earlier, about the need for Palestinian action against violence and terror. And that will certainly be part of the focus of our talks with the Palestinian delegation later this week.
But at the same time, it is important to remember that steps such as the displacement of people through the demolition of homes and property can undermine trust and confidence. And I would say what we have said before; that is, that Israel should consider the consequences of such actions, keep in mind the vision of peace, thinking about the consequences and what really will make a difference in their security, as the President said last week. And we will continue to remind them of that.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up one thing? The Palestinians have been saying and some human rights groups have been saying that this is a violation of international law, or a violation of human rights, that it's collective punishment. Is it your view that this is not the case, that it's simply inadvisable because it undermines confidence, or is it your view that these are somehow illegal acts?
MR. REEKER: I will go back to what I said. I don't know if I could provide you any sort of international legal analysis. You know, we have always said that we expect Israel's action in its campaign against terror to be based on information related to an individual's culpability, not to a personal or family relationship.
I would just say once again, as we have before, that taking punitive actions against innocent people won't solve Israel's security problems, and if relatives of those who have committed terrorist acts, for instance, are involved in terrorist activities, then they should be dealt with through normal legal procedures. We make those views known to the Israelis, just as we make them known here.
QUESTION: Is it incumbent upon the Palestinian security forces to round up the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups? And I guess since they haven't yet, do we look at any marker for success of reform of the Palestinian security forces, the ability to achieve that goal?
MR. REEKER: Certainly discussion of security, security cooperation, steps that can be taken, will be part of what we talk about with the Palestinian delegation that will be here later this week. All Palestinians need to do all they can to end the terror and violence, to speak out against it, to take whatever steps they can. That is part of the strategy. It's going to be absolutely important to get security on the ground. That is an important thing that will help as we also move along the other tracks that the President outlined in his June 24 speech.
QUESTION: Well, I suppose not just being an important step, but are we looking at that as -- do we have a particular marker in mind? I mean, we do, I assume, want them to round up the leaders of these groups that claim responsibility for terrorist activities and for homicide bombings.
MR. REEKER: We will continue to talk to Palestinian leaders --
QUESTION: -- a milestone in mind as to when?
MR. REEKER: -- as they consider -- continue to work on reforming their institutions and developing the important institutions, including security cooperation, that are going to be important in this thing. I can't offer you any particular "when's", but it is something that everybody needs to be focused on. It is very much part of the strategy and what we will be talking to them about.
QUESTION: Moving to a nearby country, can you --
MR. REEKER: Was there anything else on this? I'm sorry. The gentleman behind you.
QUESTION: What steps did the State Department take regarding the humiliation and discrimination of the American delegation that was sent back?
MR. REEKER: To your question yesterday -- I will get to that, but if we could just finish, if there was anything more on this. But definitely we will make that the next question. Was there something else on the Middle East?
Let's do Judy and then --
QUESTION: The US Consulate -- is the State Department considering moving it from East Jerusalem?
MR. REEKER: As you know, and we have talked about it for some time, the security of our people overseas has to be a top priority, and we have been looking to relocate our Consulate in East Jerusalem to a more secure site for several years. That is nothing new and we have talked about it before.
We do plan to move some of the operations of the Consulate General to such a site, and that would include the Consular -- that is American Citizens' Services, visa services, those functions
-- as well as the Public Affairs offices. The Consul General's office and the main offices of our consulate will remain at their current location on Agron Road. The move is solely intended to address significant security concerns, which we have been looking at for some time.
QUESTION: So where's the new location?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any details, and I can try to get back to you if I can offer you any more details.
QUESTION: When is this going to start?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any more details and can try to get back to you on that. It's something that we have been looking at for some time, but I don't have a timetable on that.
Is this on this?
QUESTION: Yes. If it is for security reasons, why would you move only two functions of the Consulate and not the whole thing? I mean, it just seems --
MR. REEKER: Those are clearly the functions that have public access involved, and I think that is fairly obvious in terms of why those may need to have a different type of setting, because people have to have access to them to actually perform their defined functions. And in terms of other aspects of our work there, the access to and from for members of the public, for instance, is not as important. But we will be reviewing all of those things as we make these considerations.
QUESTION: And just a quick follow-up. I'm assuming the new location for these offices would be in Jerusalem-proper, West Jerusalem?
MR. REEKER: I just don't have any more information on the new location.
QUESTION: So you can't say even if they would be in Jerusalem?
MR. REEKER: As soon as I have more information, I would be happy to share it with you. I don't have any other information.
QUESTION: Phil, could "plan" be maybe not the right word? A plan, the word plan to me means that you know what you're doing, you know where you're moving. No, if there's a plan -- I don't mean it that way -- if there's a plan to move it, the plan would involve location X is where it's going.
MR. REEKER: Or maybe a variety of locations that we are looking at. I don't have any further information for you.
QUESTION: It's the intention to move, isn't it?
MR. REEKER: Barry, I'll let you write the word that you want. We plan, and we have for some time --
QUESTION: No, no. I have to use your words.
MR. REEKER: -- we plan to move some of the operations of our Consulate General to such a site, to relocate our Consulate in East Jerusalem to a more secure site. We have been talking about that for several years, looking at options. I have given you as much information as I can on that. I don't have any more information on that.
QUESTION: All right, fine.
MR. REEKER: I don't have any more information on that. When I have more information on when we are moving, where we are moving, what we are moving precisely, I will try to --
QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
MR. REEKER: To the best of my knowledge.
QUESTION: And just one last thing on the delegation. Are all three members of the delegation considered by Secretary of State Powell to be reformers? (Inaudible) Saeb Erekat in there?
MR. REEKER: Barry, they are Palestinians that we want to talk to. They are Palestinians who we think can engage in constructive discussions, can engage in the reforms of institutions necessary. I would note that some of these are, in fact, Palestinians with whom Israeli officials have met in recent days. Israel has also been meeting with a wide range of Palestinian officials. The Defense Minister met with Interior Minister Yahiyeh, and we regard those types of direct discussions to be important and we continue to urge the parties to continue with those, as well. So we will look forward to that.
Now, we are going to --
QUESTION: Well, one -- no, one more.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Barry.
QUESTION: Thursday and Friday, which day is Powell's day?
MR. REEKER: I don't have an exact schedule for you, Barry.
QUESTION: Why was it delayed? We heard at first they were going to come on Monday. Is there a reason for the delay?
MR. REEKER: There wasn't a set schedule yet. The Secretary just returned, as you know, from Asia, from an extensive trip there.
MR. REEKER: We had looked at scheduling in terms of this delegation being able to come, and these are the days on which it is scheduled.
QUESTION: In reference to the delay, I heard that one of the ministers had a family illness
or --
MR. REEKER: You would need to ask those individuals about their personal lives.
Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Do you consider the delegation to be one that is acceptable, not just to you, but also to Arafat?
MR. REEKER: You would have to ask him about that. Our focus is on working with Palestinians with whom we think we can have constructive discussions about the way to move forward in line with the President's strategy -- in terms of reforms, in terms of creating and restructuring Palestinian institutions to set them on the road to the statehood, to the independent statehood that the President has envisioned that all of the international community has signed up to.
QUESTION: Will ideas about restructuring be discussed with these officials while they're here? Obviously --
MR. REEKER: I am sure that will be part of the discussion. And as I said, and I can repeat what I said, the purpose of these meetings is to hold discussions and exchange views on a wide range of issues, including Palestinian civil reform efforts and a renewal of security cooperation and progress on political dialogue.
Now, this gentleman was waiting patiently. Thank you.
QUESTION: I only have one question about the Consulate General.
MR. REEKER: Okay. Sure.
QUESTION: I understand that although you haven't announced a site yet, the Palestinians are already worried that it's going to be somewhere they'll have difficulty getting to. In your consideration of a location, is one of the factors finding somewhere where Palestinians will not be restricted?
MR. REEKER: We consider all kinds of factors, Elaine, and I just can't describe for you in any great detail decisions that may or may not have been made.
QUESTION: One more follow-up on this?
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
MR. REEKER: That's all right.
QUESTION: With the delegation and in light of the recent spate of violence in Israel, are we still thinking that a January timetable is even doable? Is that going to be on the table for the discussion for the elections?
MR. REEKER: I'm not quite sure what timetable you're referring to.
QUESTION: Timetable for elections.
MR. REEKER: We will hear from the Palestinian delegation what they have to say, their views on that subject, and let you know if we have anything further to say after that.
Now, anything else on that? Okay.
This gentleman here had had a question yesterday. Go ahead and mention it again so I can recall what it was.
QUESTION: What steps did the State Department take to -- regarding the humiliation and discrimination of an American delegate that was turned back from Ben Gurion Airport?
MR. REEKER: That's right. You are referring to an incident on Sunday, June 16th, when a group of 20 American citizens from the group American Muslims for Jerusalem were denied entry into Israel by Israeli immigration and security officials. I did check into that, as I promised to yesterday, and discovered that our consular officials from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv have been in touch with the group and also asked Israeli officials to reconsider their decision at the time of the denial of entry into Israel.
The Israelis decided to deny entry and return the group to the United States. We then discussed the incident with Israeli officials, as well as with the organization. The Government of Israel is well aware of our concerns in this matter and on the issue of fair treatment for American citizens seeking entry to Israel.
Ultimately, however, as you know, and as also our decision, decisions on who to admit to their country is the prerogative of Israel, in this case, or any country involved.
QUESTION: I went to the website and I looked at the Travel Warnings, and does that mean that the State Department is willing to compromise the values that we hold dear and are willing to allow Israel, or any other country, to discriminate against Americans based on their national origin or religion?
MR. REEKER: We are not at all willing to compromise our values, and we do not do that. But what we cannot do is make determinations for another country in terms of entry into their country, just as we don't allow any other country to make those determinations for us. Ultimately, decisions on whom to admit is the prerogative of the country involved.
QUESTION: Did the -- excuse me, on this thing --
MR. REEKER: Yes, Gene.
QUESTION: Did the Israelis give you any reason?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any specifics. They made their decisions, we raised our concerns, and I am sure the Israelis would be happy to provide you with their views on the subject.
QUESTION: On Iraq, could you tell us where the $8 million that was sort of hanging -- funding for INC is? And also, if you have any comments on the agreement reportedly reached last week between the Pentagon and State on funding for the intelligence-gathering program.
MR. REEKER: Sure. Anything on the Pentagon side of it, I would just refer you over there. I think they would be --
QUESTION: But it was an agreement between you and them.
MR. REEKER: I will let them talk about it.
QUESTION: Oh, nice.
MR. REEKER: On May 23rd, as you will recall, and as you referenced, the Department of State notified Congress of our intent to award the Iraqi National Congress a new cooperative agreement offering the organization another $8 million for the period June through December of this year, 2002. We are still waiting for a formal response from the Iraqi National Congress to our offer, and that is where things stand. We are waiting for a response on that.
We are anxious to continue our support for the Iraqi National Congress's newspaper, their TV station, regional offices, their office of humanitarian relief, and we believe that they can continue to play a productive and useful role through the activities that were proposed in the agreement. But to this time, we don't have a response from them on that.
QUESTION: But, Phil, if the controversial part was the part that DOD is now funding, why wouldn't the 8 million be released?
MR. REEKER: You would need to ask the Iraqi National Congress. We have an offer on the table to them and we haven't gotten a response from them on that.
QUESTION: Phil, there are a number of questions --
QUESTION: Could you --
MR. REEKER: Let's just do -- let's do one at a time. Teri?
QUESTION: Go ahead.
MR. REEKER: Okay. Joel.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on that. But there were a number of conditions and stipulations, from what I understand, that the State Department put on that money. Could you run through what those are?
MR. REEKER: I don't have all the details of that. We usually do have conditions in terms of how our money is spent when we are using taxpayer money to further the goals in these things. We think that this could be very constructive. We have made this offer of an agreement and we are waiting for a formal response from the INC. If they have issues they want to discuss, they need to respond to them.
Yes, Elise.
QUESTION: Could you just sort this out? So are you saying that the State Department will still continue to administer and fund some of the activities of the Iraqi opposition and that the Pentagon will handle another part of it? Is that what you were saying?
QUESTION: Okay. And then also, a lot of, you know, as the Iraqi opposition comes in and has this meeting, and you have also been meeting with other groups, a lot of people that are -- you know, as the Hill has these hearings on Iraq, that none of these groups really provide a credible alternative to Saddam Hussein and that the real, kind of, post-Saddam government, if you will, will have to be germinated from within the country. Can you speak to that?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I can speculate and discuss hypotheticals. The purpose of the meeting like the one you reference, which we expect to take place on August 9th -- that is Friday -- with some figures from a variety of Iraqi opposition groups, is to discuss coordination and how they can work together, how we can work with them. Our policy remains very much the same. I don't have to share it with you again.
We do think that Iraq, the people of Iraq, the people of the region, indeed, the people of the world would be far better off with a regime change because of the threats posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein and what he has demonstrated in the past and his efforts to continue developing weapons of mass destruction and reneging on agreements he made, basically thumbing his nose at the international community and the UN Security Council on the requirements he has under those resolutions.
QUESTION: If I could follow up. But at the same time that you are working with these groups and you think that they have a lot to offer, the United States has obviously not created a government-in-exile, if you will, and a lot --
MR. REEKER: That was not the goal of any of our meetings. We have been --
QUESTION: Well, no, I --
MR. REEKER: --working with these groups to see where we can cooperate, exchange ideas and thoughts.
QUESTION: Right. But can you at least acknowledge that there are, when you think of a post-Saddam Iraq, that there are elements within the country themselves that perhaps nobody knows about that would have to be taken into consideration and --
QUESTION: Without trying to get into the area of the hypothetical, I am sure there are many Iraqis who could be strong leaders and could act responsibly for the good of their nation, for the good of the people of Iraq. That has never been in doubt. Our concerns have not been with the people of Iraq and we want to do whatever we can to help the people of Iraq. They are the ones that have suffered the most under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein's regime. They are the ones, many of his own people, who have been gassed, who have been subject to attacks with chemical weapons, for instance, as well as other countries who have come under those attacks throughout the period of Saddam's scourge.
So certainly, it is the people of Iraq who will benefit the most from a change of regime there. That has been our policy and will continue to be our policy as we keep all of our options on the table and continue talking with Iraqi opposition leaders, as well as with friends and allies around the world.
QUESTION: Just one more. If you say that there are obviously, or you believe there to be lots of people that would make good leaders in Iraq, how are you expecting to reach these people and work with the opposition that's outside of the country in determining --
MR. REEKER: We are working with the opposition outside of the country. Those are the types of people that are coming to our meetings.
QUESTION: But don't you think that some people are being left -- when you talk about a post-Saddam Iraq, that obviously isn't a huge population that not only would benefit from a post-Saddam Iraq, but could help take part in such a regime. Aren't they being left out of the equation?
MR. REEKER: In terms of that type of thing, I don't think that is something that I could discuss. And I think I have gone about as far as I can and have been pretty clear and discussed quite openly our contacts with Iraqi opposition.
QUESTION: Phil, back to the $8 million, and I don't want to belabor this point, and I --
QUESTION: You never want to belabor anything, but you do. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I never want to belabor. And also, I might add that I'm fully aware that this Administration never disagrees on anything internally. But --
QUESTION: Thank you, Eli, for that fine point.
QUESTION: But the $8 million that was on the table for the Iraqi National Congress, there was a stipulation, among other things, that if money could not be spent on the ground in Iraq, as I understand an information collection program --
MR. REEKER: Yes, we did not offer to continue our funding of the Iraqi National Congress's Information Collection Program in the new $8 million agreement. That is correct. I think that is on the record about six times over the past many months that we have discussed this.
QUESTION: Okay, absolutely. So now that the --
MR. REEKER: Thank you. Since you're not belaboring the point --
QUESTION: I'm not belaboring it, but now that the Information Collection Program, and I could not imagine it doing anything except for stuff on the ground in Iraq, is being funded, are we to assume that there's a change in US policy, that you are now funding activities on the ground in Iraq?
MR. REEKER: Eli, we are talking about a specific offer.
MR. REEKER: A cooperative agreement that covered a certain set of cooperation. And what that proposal was for was not reflective of any specific line of US policy, it was reflective of our overall policy; that is, to engage with Iraqi opposition and do things where we can cooperate, continuing our support, for instance, for their newspaper, TV station, regional offices, things like that. That is what this cooperative agreement was about. The offer is still on the table. We haven't had a formal response from the INC. That is what we are awaiting and I don't think -- you know, if you want to talk to DOD about the specifics of their offers and plans with Iraqi opposition, including the INC, I'll let you talk to DOD about that.
QUESTION: Well, I'm let me just -- I'm just asking a question about US foreign policy.
MR. REEKER: Exactly.
QUESTION: Do we fund opposition activities on the ground in Iraq -- yes or no?
MR. REEKER: I will let you talk to other agencies. I can talk to you about what the State Department is doing and what the State Department is offering, and those are the things that we have talked about here and talked about many times before.
QUESTION: I thought the State Department determined foreign policy for the United States of America.
MR. REEKER: We work very closely with all of the other agencies that are involved in national security and foreign policy under the President of the United States' direction.
QUESTION: Well, I'll call up George W. Bush.
MR. REEKER: Now. Who was next?
QUESTION: I have a question on Saudi Arabia, if people are done with Iraq.
MR. REEKER: Are we done with Iraq?
QUESTION: Well, I have one more Iraq question, actually.
MR. REEKER: Go ahead, Eli.
QUESTION: Sorry. Today and yesterday were there -- did you -- were we meeting with oppositionists? Can you go over that at all? Are we meeting with -- I understand that there's a joint meeting later this week or maybe rescheduled for later, but then there were, I think, other meetings that were envisioned as sort of these working groups to talk about --
MR. REEKER: Not that I have been informed. I would have to check.
QUESTION: You can't -- okay. My understanding was that there were these meetings.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Elaine.
QUESTION: Can you say whether Secretary Powell has been in touch with the Saudi Government about the Defense Department briefing that describes Saudi Arabia as an enemy?
MR. REEKER: Just to be quite clear, when you say Defense Department briefing, that was not in the capacity of a Defense Department briefing or a briefing like we do here. The views expressed by private individuals as outlined in a newspaper article today, and as the Defense Department has also told you, do not reflect the views of the President of the United States or of the US Government.
Secretary Powell has assured the Saudi Foreign Minister of this in a telephone conversation this morning. As we have reiterated, the musings of private individuals do not reflect US Government views or policies. And indeed, briefings by outside individuals are not reflective of views in the Department of Defense or the State Department or any part of the US Government.
The United States and Saudi Arabia enjoy excellent relations. We share a broad array of interests, including a common vision of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. We are pleased that we have been able to expand this relationship to include common efforts against the threat of international terrorism. The Saudi Government has cooperated in the international campaign against terrorism and we welcome steps taken by Saudi Arabia to help combat the problem of terrorism financing, an important aspect of our war on terrorism globally.
As with any relationship, we have differences with the Saudis. We raise these differences, they raise their differences. We have private discussions at all levels, and then we work to resolve them. That is what diplomacy is about. But certainly these views that have been bantered about by certain individuals do not reflect the views of the President, nor of the US Government, and the Secretary made that quite clear in his telephone conversation today.
QUESTION: To the Foreign Minister, you say? Excuse me.
MR. REEKER: Yes, Barry, that's what I said.
QUESTION: Who took the initiative of the call this morning?
MR. REEKER: I believe Secretary Powell called Foreign Minister Saud.
QUESTION: And are we to -- did Powell call Foreign Minister Saud because --
MR. REEKER: That's what I just said.
QUESTION: I understand that, but did he call because of the Tom Ricks article in The Washington Post? Is that what prompted the phone call?
MR. REEKER: They speak quite often, but I think he wanted to make quite clear that those views, as the Defense Department already had, that those views do not represent the views of the US Government, that these musings of private individuals are not indicative of US policy.
QUESTION: So this wasn't a routine, how are you, foreign minister call; this was an FYI?
MR. REEKER: I think they discussed a number of issues in terms of the bilateral relationship. We have a regular dialogue, including discussions about progress in the strategy on the Middle East process. As you know, we have met with Foreign Minister Saud and other Saudi officials, as well as other Arab leaders. They are taking their responsibilities that the President outlined in terms of working on this process, along with the Israelis, along with the Palestinians, along with others in the international community. So that is part of a regular dialogue they have. But in the phone call today, the Secretary did reiterate the points I just mentioned.
QUESTION: Phil, but you -- I mean, you talked about how we have the cozy relationship with the Saudis, but, you know --
MR. REEKER: It's not the word I used, but go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, no. But --
MR. REEKER: You like paraphrasing.
QUESTION: Excellent bilateral relations, et cetera. But if you look at what the Rand guy was talking about in this briefing, he didn't really use many facts that aren't well known, just the fact that -- and the State Department acknowledges this -- Saudi money has gone to fund the families of homicide bombers, that Saudi money does fund rather radical madrassas (inaudible) education throughout the world, and institutions that we ourselves want to see changing because we, I think, fear that there is a fueling of terrorism in those institutions, and yet --
MR. REEKER: And your point is?
QUESTION: Well, despite all this, is there at least a reevaluation that is going on within the State Department thinking about maybe this embrace of the Saudis is not the wisest thing for our foreign diplomacy?
MR. REEKER: Again, I think your characterization of embraces or otherwise doesn't reflect the way diplomacy is conducted. We work with countries with which we have relationships. We have a broad array of interests. We sometimes have differences and we are able to discuss those differences because we have strong diplomatic relations. That is what that's about. That's how we can effect changes, how we can make our interests and our points known. We have discussed some of the concerns we have had in this regard. The Saudis have discussed some of these concerns.
We have worked with Saudi Arabia in terms of the financial aspects of the war on terrorism. We have provided expertise. We have had teams that have gone back and forth between our two countries on that, and they have -- we have indeed expanded our efforts in this regard in recent times. I think that is all part of the process of diplomacy and why it is important to have those channels at a variety of levels to make clear when we have differences and concerns and how we can work mutually to the benefit of both our countries and both our peoples.
QUESTION: But how do they have a vision of peace if we know they're fueling terrorism?
MR. REEKER: Again, you need to listen to what I've said.
QUESTION: I'm listening.
MR. REEKER: And you need to look at what we have been working on in the Middle East in terms of the Saudis taking an active role, meeting with the President and talking about the responsibilities they have and meeting those responsibilities and working with the parties in the Middle East to work toward the strategy that the President has enunciated on June 24th.
QUESTION: And I get that, but the Saudi Committee for Support of the Intifada Al Quds, which is the one that did the telethon, which is giving the money to the families of the homicide bombers, is headed up by the Interior Minister, who is a member of the royal family.
MR. REEKER: Joel, we have been through all of that. We have talked about before what the Saudi official government has said and steps they're taking to look into those things and steps they're taking to ensure that financing does not go to terrorists. And we will continue to work on those subjects.
So to go over it again here, I can just refer you back to what we have said before, what I have said now about how we work together with the Saudis to see that issues of concern to us are addressed, and that is what diplomacy is about and why we will continue to maintain our relations with Saudi Arabia and with so many other countries to look out for the interests of the United States and our people as we work together all around the world.
QUESTION: One last follow-up. Other than the word of the Saudi Government, what assurances do we have that their money is no longer going into these --
MR. REEKER: We watch these things very closely through a variety of mechanisms, most of which I am not in a position to share with you here.
Yes, Barry.
QUESTION: Has anybody talked to the Rand Corporation, or intends to talk to the Rand Corporation, from the State Department?
MR. REEKER: I don't know. I don't know, Barry,
QUESTION: And by "musings," a word you used twice, which is --
MR. REEKER: I could use it three times, or not.
QUESTION: Well, it sort of suggests, you know, sort of -- well, we all know what "musings" mean. They're just sort of almost like talking in your sleep, someone talking in his sleep. Is there any basis --
QUESTION: You're paraphrasing?
MR. REEKER: We have a dictionary here in our room.
QUESTION: The Rand Corporation is a government-financed, well-regarded research group.
MR. REEKER: Exactly.
QUESTION: And the State Department is dismissing everything that was said as "musings"?
MR. REEKER: I didn't say that, Barry. I said that the views of private individuals speaking to a group of private individuals do not reflect US Government policy.
QUESTION: Phil, that's the -- it's the Defense Policy Advisory Board. It's not --
MR. REEKER: It's the Defense Policy --
QUESTION: I mean, it's not like us, a bunch of private individuals.
MR. REEKER: Eli --
QUESTION: It's the people who are supposed to advise the Secretary of Defense on policy --
MR. REEKER: -- who got this from another individual. It was not the Board who was making these statements, Eli.
QUESTION: I understand the Board is not making the statements, but according to Tom Ricks's reporting, the -- everybody except for Henry Kissinger pretty much agreed.
MR. REEKER: I have no way of adjudicating that, Eli, because I wasn't there, nor have I talked to any individual there, and I don't believe you were either.
QUESTION: I was not there. I was not.
MR. REEKER: Are we ready to change the subject from this, or something more?
MR. REEKER: My patient friend over here, please go ahead, and then the gentleman in the back.
QUESTION: Can you tell us if the Secretary briefed the President on North Korea last night?
MR. REEKER: I can't tell you any specifics on that. It's a subject the Secretary will be raising with the President in terms of the conversation he had with the North Korea Foreign Minister on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei last week. He will be discussing that with other colleagues in the National Security apparatus. And I just don't have anything new to offer in terms of next steps on that, but we'll keep you posted.
QUESTION: The city of Hiroshima is commemorating the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945. The mayor of Hiroshima delivered an annual peace declaration in which he criticized US policy, using the word "unilateral." At the same time, so focusing on US nuclear policy, he pointed out the Bush Administration has increased the threat of nuclear war.
What is the reaction of the State Department?
MR. REEKER: I just don't have a reaction to a mayor's comments. It is a world in which people are, mercifully in most places, free to express their views and opinions. We respect that. But I haven't studied his comments in any great detail. I think our record stands for itself. Certainly the President's, this Administration's record on working with the Russians, for instance, on disarmament aspects, the recent Moscow Treaty stands for itself. And I'll just let you review that and make your own evaluation in light of others' personal comments.
QUESTION: So you mean the State Department declined to comment on the Hiroshima peace declaration?
MR. REEKER: That sounds about right.
Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Back on North Korea, there will be a light-water reactor construction launch ceremony to be held in North Korea tomorrow, which US Special Envoy Pritchard will be attending. Is there any meeting or talk planned on the sideline of the ceremony with regard to US-North dialogue?
MR. REEKER: Again, just to reiterate what you mentioned, our Ambassador Charles Pritchard will represent the US delegation at KEDO's ceremony in Kumho, North Korea tomorrow, August 7th, marking the laying of a concrete foundation for the light-water reactor project. Representatives of KEDO's executive board -- that includes the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the European Union -- as well as representatives from a number of other KEDO member countries will also attend.
I don't expect that there are other meetings in terms of our next steps with North Korea, as I just said in answer to your colleague's question. The Secretary has indicated that he will be consulting with senior officials here in Washington. And the purpose of Ambassador Pritchard's visit is to represent the United States at this event at the pouring ceremony for the light-water reactor. He has no meetings scheduled outside of the KEDO ceremony.
QUESTION: Do you know where he's off to next?
MR. REEKER: No. Sorry. Too many travel schedules to keep track of.
QUESTION: Has the US been contacted by the Chinese on the case of the 12-year-old girl who went to her aunt and uncle's house in Amherst, Massachusetts? The Chinese Government seems to want to talk to her about her -- what she's done, what her intentions are.
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of any specific contacts -- but I will continue to check on that -- through the State Department. Any questions regarding this individual, I think should be directed to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, who would deal with individuals in the country. And so that is about as much as I can tell you at this point.
QUESTION: But wouldn't the State Department be able to arrange a meeting? Wouldn t you be the intermediary between the Government of China and --
MR. REEKER: We could probably pass messages from the Chinese officials to law enforcement or to the INS. I would have to check, but I am not aware of any particular contacts. We will continue to check with the East Asia Bureau to see if they have heard anything in that capacity.
QUESTION: China. Has the State Department --
MR. REEKER: What else?
QUESTION: Well, I have another question not China related --
MR. REEKER: Okay. Let's get to that. Okay.
QUESTION: China first -- contacted the embassy or Chinese Foreign Ministry on the Taiwan statement at all during the past 24-30 hours?
MR. REEKER: Not that I am aware of. I mean, we have regular, continuous discussions with our Chinese interlocutors all the time in Washington and in Beijing. That is part of diplomacy. But I think I made quite clear yesterday that our views haven't changed, our policy hasn't changed at all. We have a "One China" policy and that's the way it continues.
QUESTION: Yes, we know you won't change your policy every time there's something come up when -- and with something maybe you did without changing the policy?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have anything else to offer you.
QUESTION: Okay. And is anyone in the Department meeting with the Taiwanese official, Tsai, Tsai Ying-wen?
MR. REEKER: Oh, you asked me about that yesterday. Tsai Ying-wen is the person you asked me about? I would refer you to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office for information about Ms. Tsai.
As you know, we meet from time to time with Taiwan representatives, but we don't get into details regarding these contacts. That has been our standard policy, and so I don't have any other details to share with you.
MR. REEKER: She had one more.
QUESTION: The non-China related.
MR. REEKER: Was this China related? Okay. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Indonesia.
MR. REEKER: Same region. Good.
QUESTION: Does the State Department have any plan on 9/11? Have you or any people informed the consulates or embassies overseas on how to observe the occasion?
MR. REEKER: We have, in fact, been working here. We have been coordinating with the White House and with other government authorities, and certainly I think with the private sector, with New York, here in Washington, obviously with the Pentagon, with plans for commemorating those that were killed when the plane went down in Pennsylvania, all a part of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And certainly we have been trying to share information with our embassies and consulates abroad so that they know what plans are here, what the President and Secretary will be doing, types of commemorations. But I just don't have any details right now. All of that is still evolving.
Certainly, I would think each of our embassies will be planning events of their own in conjunction, perhaps, with host governments. Because, let's remember that the attack perpetrated against the United States on September 11th affected the entire world and people from countries all around the globe were killed in the World Trade Center, in addition to the thousands of Americans who were killed on that day. So this will be a day for the world to remember and to look back on the steps we have taken together in a unified coalition in our war against terrorism.
QUESTION: Especially in Kabul or Islamabad?
MR. REEKER: I am sure they will also be looking at it as we work with Afghan officials and Afghan individuals and private people to note what happened and also to look forward to what we are doing there, look to the future, the reconstruction efforts, the humanitarian efforts that we have all contributed. I think most Afghans will look back on a year in their lives where their lives have changed tremendously after a period of, indeed, decades of suffering.
There is a long road to go, but we are committed, as President Bush has said, to seeing that forward and working with the international community to reconstruct Afghanistan and bring a better quality of life to the people there and more stability so that terrorism cannot grow and develop in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: There is a story today in The Financial Times saying that the State Department is trying to stop a lawsuit launched by Indonesian people against the oil company, Exxon-Mobil. Can you confirm? The paper said that the State Department --
MR. REEKER: On May the 10th of this year, the US District Court for the District of Columbia asked the Department, the Department of State, for its views on whether adjudication of a case would be adverse to the interests of the United States. And so on July 29th, the Department of State sent a letter to the court in response to this request.
The letter speaks for itself. It has been made public and actually, I would be happy to make a copy available to you. If you want, the Press Office can do that for you right after the briefing.
That was a letter to the court. Because it is a matter before the court, I don't want to try to comment any more. I will just let you review the letter. In fact, what the letter makes quite clear is reaffirming the condemnation of human rights abuses in Indonesia, which has been very much a part of US policy, certainly reiterated by Secretary Powell in his visit to Indonesia, part of his travels to Asia last week.
Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: A follow-up on the Indonesia question. Without going into the details of this particular lawsuit, could you explain the policy, the US policy that in what way, as the letter said, that the decision would have a potentially serious adverse effect on US interests, including the US war on terrorism. Could you detail what is it in the State Department's view about this lawsuit that would hinder the US effort --
MR. REEKER: I can't give you any more details than the six pages in the letter at this point. Because it is an ongoing case, I will let you refer to the letter and draw from it what you will or what you can.
QUESTION: A couple of questions. Is the United States cooperating with Israel on trying to find and extradite, possibly, the killers of the five Americans in the blast in Jerusalem?
MR. REEKER: I believe that the law enforcement agency, the FBI, has talked about instigating an investigation. We have said before that we would be cooperating closely with Israeli authorities in their investigation of that. Our goal, as always, is to bring to justice those killers. I just don't have any more details for you on that. You might check with law enforcement agencies to see if there's developments or movements in that case.
QUESTION: And Maura Harty's nomination to become Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, has that been sent by the White House to the Senate at this point, or is there any progress on this that you can tell us about?
MR. REEKER: I believe the White House announced yesterday an intent to nominate Ambassador Maura Harty to be Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, that's the President's intention has been expressed there. Maura Harty, as I think we discussed last week, when there were other references to her, is currently the Executive Secretary of the Department of State. She is, in many ways, Secretary Powell's chief executive for executing the functioning of his office and the Department, and has a history of being a tremendous manager, executive, and an agent of change.
And that's why Secretary Powell, who himself I think has some experience in the executive field, in management, has recommended to the President, and with the President's own decision, that this top diplomat be nominated to run the Bureau of Consular Affairs to deal with all the many changes and reviews we look at in that bureau as we move into the future and all the things that it does for American citizens abroad.
QUESTION: A follow-up on this.
MR. REEKER: Oh, sorry. Can we -- sorry. I know you've been waiting. We'll do this Joel first and then another one.
QUESTION: I saw in the --
MR. REEKER: No, no. We're doing this Joel first --
QUESTION: And then that Joel.
MR. REEKER: And then that Joel. So Joel One and Joel Two.
QUESTION: Rare that you find that in the same room.
You called Maura Harty an agent of change, but is it -- I mean, is the State Department exactly known for promoting and advancing people who are agents of change? It may be more of a rhetorical question.
MR. REEKER: I'm here.
QUESTION: And you shake things up, Phil. But I guess, you know, why the sudden rush to -- her name was sent over to the White House, I believe, within a week of Maura Harty -- of Mary Ryan, excuse me, cleaning out her desk. Why didn't the State Department do any kind of extensive search to find a replacement rather than just going to someone, you know, I guess at Powell's right hand, for lack of a better term?
MR. REEKER: I think --
QUESTION: Well, if only one week elapses, it couldn't have been much of a search.
MR. REEKER: First of all, as we have discussed, Assistant Secretary Ryan, Ambassador Mary Ryan, had been weighing retirement for some time -- ever since she agreed to stay on at the Secretary's request throughout the transition from the previous administration. So I'm sure this may have been something the Secretary had been looking at for some time.
Shortly after the transition, he chose Ambassador Harty to be his Executive Secretary for the Department to coordinate all of the interagency dialogues -- that is, with the National Security Council and the White House, with the Defense Department, with other agencies in government
-- and coordinate his operation, the Secretariat of the Department that oversees his travel and the smooth operating of his office, which, as you can imagine, knowing Secretary Powell, is important to him. And I think he makes extraordinarily good decisions in that regard.
It is because of the importance of the job of Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, particularly as we move into a new era where there will be new chains of command in terms of the legislative authority that we're looking to see in the Department of Homeland Security under the President's bill and what the House of Representatives has already passed, that the Secretary was looking for somebody new that was ready to implement changes as necessary that could be visionary, that could look ahead at many of these things. Maura Harty has always been seen as someone, whether it was in her early jobs as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State Shultz, or as Ambassador to Paraguay, as identifying problems and issues, taking concrete steps to find viable and long-lasting remedies. Certainly this is the type of thing she instituted in previous assignments here in Washington, as well.
And so that decision, I think, was a process where the Secretary was able to make recommendations to the White House, and ultimately these are the decisions by the President in terms of whom he chooses to nominate or announce his intention to nominate for an appointment of that level.
QUESTION: Now, Phil, one of the accomplishments you had cited was that she was responsible. Your word -- responsible -- for the creation of The Office of Children's Issues. Now when you say that, do you mean that she was mainly responsible, primarily or the driving force? What, exactly, do you mean by "responsible" for that?
MR. REEKER: Sort of have to write your articles for you? I think we talked about before when there was some somewhat, shall we say, unbalanced press reporting about our Executive Secretary, that Ambassador Harty's past efforts to reorganize the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services that is within the Bureau of Consular Affairs included the creation of an Office of Children's Issues.
Back in the '90's, Ambassador Harty was at the forefront of recognizing that this was a growing problem, partially because of globalization and the world we live in, this issue of children who have been part of international parental child abduction was becoming one that was of increasing concern to many Americans who were involved in that. And the Office of Children's Issues was created to support those parents in 1994 under Ambassador Harty's leadership.
Certainly, we think, that American citizens that are in this horrible and frustrating situation, emotionally wrenching situation of having their children taken from them by a spouse who may seek refuge in a foreign country, that those citizens have the right to expect their government to do everything within its power to support their efforts to resolve those cases, and to use all the tools available.
And, of course, there are people we have tried to help through this office who have been disappointed. And they are tragic, emotional cases that I think very few of us can comprehend and our hearts go out to those people.
It is unfortunate, I think, that some critics have rushed to judge someone like Ambassador Harty, whom some of them actually admit they have never spoken with or met, and suggest that that person, that Ambassador Harty is some obstacle on these tough issues. In fact, that's an extremely misguided approach. Some of those quoted in today's press, for instance, suggest that we need somebody who will rock the boat. And that, indeed, is a person that Ambassador Maura Harty is going to be in terms of rocking the boat, just as she did when she created this new office to deal with this new type of issue.
QUESTION: Okay, but Phil, you know, the desk was created back in 1987 out of pressure from Patricia Rausch and then-Senator Alan Dixon. The desk was created. It was turned into an office in 1994. And she had--
MR. REEKER: Exactly. The office was created in 1994.
QUESTION: Right. And she had two stints there. And I have spoken to a number of the parents of the kidnapped children and, you know, it's a pretty widely held view among those families that Maura Harty was not an agent of change or someone who was willing to rock the boat, and that that was the biggest part of the problem is that she wasn't aggressive or even anything better than patent and passive, at best, at getting these kids who are kidnapped and trapped in foreign countries.
MR. REEKER: Okay. Again, your characterization, based on some of those who we haven't been able to help -- and it is a tragic situation -- there are those we have tried to help who have been disappointed. And we acknowledge that and they have every right to criticize the government when we fail to be able to get their children back. And it is something we continue to work out, and Maura Harty is one who takes this personally. And when she was in that office, was an agent of change by creating a special office to deal with this, creating an abduction unit that has now grown to 17, and includes specialized people, officers on abductions, that reflects partially the growth of the issue, but partially the need to focus experienced case officers on it. They give personalized attention to the left-behind parent, who is a victim of this type of thing. Maybe we should bring to your attention the 170 parents, or those parents of 170 children, who were returned from foreign countries in 2001 through active involvement of the Office of Children's Issues in that.
And certainly, at the early time of the creation of the office, under Ambassador Harty's stewardship, one of the first things they did was implement the International Child Abduction Remedies Act -- legislation that brought The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction into force in the United States, giving us this valuable tool. And at this time, at any given moment, presently we deal with about a thousand cases, both of abduction and access, and that is every year.
So with this tool and The Hague Convention and the partnership that Ambassador Harty also spearheaded back in 1995 with the Partnership for National -- The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an organization that President Bush was discussing today in the Rose Garden this morning, we have developed also a comprehensive case tracking system to produce more comprehensive statistics; and by 1999 we had established a Children's Issues Point of Contact in every overseas embassy and consulate, and giving those officers the latest information on policies and procedures and reminding them of the need to focus resources to cases of international parental child abduction. These are raised with new ambassadors in their training before going out to be chiefs of mission, with our deputy chiefs of mission, with heads of consular -- at all levels in their training. There has been a vigorous outreach campaign, as well. I could just highlight some of the information programs that have been done to inform people of the risks of this type of thing in terms of a spouse taking children to a foreign country.
We make it part of our Consular Information Sheet. For every country there is a section. There is a booklet that was developed on international parental child abduction. That custody information, as I said, is included in the Consular Information Sheet for every country. There are country-specific fliers that have been developed on that, and we try to make information available to parents through a variety of means, including an Internet website, so the parents, attorneys, judges, law enforcement officers all can be aware of the remedies and tools at their disposal.
QUESTION: Phil, that's impressive litany and I just have one, one last thing, and I apologize here to everyone. But in 1995, after the creation of the Office of Children's Issues, after the incorporation of The Hague, you know, there was a deal in place from Ray Mabus, Ambassador Ray Mabus in Saudi Arabia, to ensure the return, the safe return, of Pat Rausch's two children who were kidnapped and trapped in Saudi Arabia, and the deal was scuttled with the backing of the State Department, by the new Ambassador, Wyche Fowler. And this is something that happened after this Department that was supposed to help get kids back and scuttled the deal.
MR. REEKER: We have been through that case, the case of Mrs. Rausch, many, many times from this podium. You have your version of facts and I'll let you just continue to believe those.
QUESTION: That's the version that Congress found as well.
MR. REEKER: We understand and sympathize with the frustrating and emotionally wrenching plight of parents who have gone through this, whose children have been taken from them by people that they were once married to.
And so there are people we have tried to help who have been disappointed, as I said earlier. Our hearts go out to them, but that doesn't stop us from doing everything we can to help every single one of them, including the parents of the 170 children that we were able to help bring back to the United States last year alone.
Anything else on this subject?
This lady back here. Wait, hold it. And then the other Joel. I'm sorry. Sorry. Joel One took all the time, so Joel Two, please.
QUESTION: A question the incoming leader of the British or UK Anglican Church has been both, in his view, is very much against both Britain and the United States on how he views both the Middle East and Asia. What do you have -- do you have anything to say concerning that? He's once again issued those statements.
MR. REEKER: No. I think just as with mayors, I think church leaders are also people who have absolutely every right to express their views or the views of their institutions. We respect that, but I don't have any particular comment on anybody else's comments.
And now, this lady here.
QUESTION: Just another scheduling question. Do you have any word as to whether Mr. Jim Kelly will be following Mr. Pritchard to Pyongyang, or whether there's a visit upcoming by Mr. Kelly?
MR. REEKER: The answer to that is contained in the answer to your other colleagues who asked that. The Secretary said quite clearly that he would be coming back to Washington, which he has now done; he would be discussing with other officials, including the President, the next steps forward on North Korea. I have nothing new on that at this point.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:35 p.m. EDT)

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