UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


28 July 2004

State Department Daily Briefing: July 28

Afghanistan, Japan, China, North Korea, Iran, Sudan

State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli briefed reporters July 28.

Following is a transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
12:45 p.m. EDT

BRIEFER: Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman

-- Withdrawal of Doctors Without Borders
-- U.S. Commitment to Security in Afghanistan
-- Voter Registration in Afghanistan
-- Rejection of Allegation that U.S. Uses Aid for Political Motives

-- Sergeant Charles Jenkins

-- Special Envoy De Trani Trip to Beijing

-- Possible Visit of Mr. Li Gun to New York

-- U.S. Concern over Centrifuge Manufacture and Assembly/Failure to Meet Commitments
-- U.S. Cooperation with EU-3

-- Status of UN Security Council Resolution


12:45 p.m. EDT

MR. ERELI: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our briefing today. I don't have any announcements. Who would like to have the first question?

QUESTION: Matt would.

MR. ERELI: We'll go to Matt.

QUESTION: I have not a thing to ask.

MR. ERELI: That is on the record. For posterity, Matt has nothing to ask. Well, I think we can just go home, then.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. opened the consulate in Mosul?

MR. ERELI: I'll have to check. I know that Ambassador Negroponte has been going outside of Baghdad to the facilities that we are operating. I'll have to check and make sure whether we've actually raised the flag on that facility yet.


QUESTION: What's your reaction Doctors Without Borders pulling out of Afghanistan?

MR. ERELI: We regret it. Certainly, we're aware of their plans. We hope they'll reconsider. They are doing important and valuable work there. They've been there for 24 years. They enjoy wide international respect precisely because of the risks they've been willing to take and the sacrifices they've made to end human suffering.

We view the deliberate targeting of aid workers as callous disregard for the lives of those most in need. We are committed, I think the international community is committed, to providing security in Afghanistan. We've done a lot of work in terms of training and standing up Afghan police and military forces. So, clearly, there are actions that are reprehensible and that are targeted at aid workers, but the work they're doing is important and we hope that they can find a way to stay.

QUESTION: A follow-up? What message does this send to your partners in Afghanistan that a well-known NGO is pulling out?

MR. ERELI: Well, I can't speak for our partners. I think I can speak for the United States and say that we are committed to staying the course in Afghanistan. There's important progress being made. It's important to look, I think, at just the numbers in the registration process. We're now up to over 8 million registered voters, of 40 percent of whom are women, in anticipation of Afghanistan's first presidential elections. And that is in the face of what many people thought was going to be a registration campaign marked by violence, marked by disruptions. There has been a little violence, or some violence. There have been disruptions. But the lesson to take away from this is that the will of the people won't be frustrated. And in terms of providing humanitarian assistance, that is a need that is going to continue and we hope that in spite of the dangers that the international community will find a way, both governments and NGOs, to be responsive to that need.

QUESTION: How do you respond to the MSF's allegations that the U.S. Government is using humanitarian aid for political and military motives? That's one of the reasons they actually give for pulling out, not just local Afghanistan.

MR. ERELI: There's no basis for such a charge. There really isn't. We've never conditioned our aid on cooperation with military operations. We strongly reject any allegation that our actions have made it more dangerous for humanitarian workers to assist the people of Afghanistan. I think the responsibility should be put on the doorstep of those who commit the acts. There people who are willing to exploit innocent life for extremist ends, and that's where the blame should be placed, not on all of us who are just trying to work to make Afghanistan a better place for Afghanis.

QUESTION: Have there been conversations between them and the U.S. officials on the ground, military or diplomatic officials on the ground, about this? I mean, did they come to U.S. and say, we're having this complaint. Did you have any forewarning that they may -- this may be one of the reasons they decide to pull out?

MR. ERELI: Without getting to -- answering the specifics of your question, what I can tell you is that there is, I think, ongoing and close cooperation between ISAF, between the embassy, and between the NGO community on the issue of not only needs, but security and how we can best coordinate all our efforts to ensure that the people who need assistance get it, and that assistance is provided -- and that assistance is provided in as secure an environment as possible.

QUESTION: Were you aware they were displeased?

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


QUESTION: New subject? On Mr. Jenkins, there are reports saying Japan has transferred his records to the U.S. force in Japan. Can you update on this situation? And have you requested to hand over?

MR. ERELI: That's -- the status of his records is something to ask the Japanese and the U.S. military. I don't have any information to share with you on that. As far as his legal status, as we've said, we will consider requesting custody at an appropriate time. That remains our position.

QUESTION: Go to North Korea? Can you talk about Mr. DeTrani's trip to Beijing?

MR. ERELI: I can. Our special envoy Mr. DeTrani was invited to Beijing to discuss preparations for the next six-party working group session. He departed yesterday, arrived in Beijing today, and will begin consultations tomorrow. He plans to meet with his Chinese counterpart Ning Fukui, and he may meet other People's Republic officials as well. Mr. DeTrani will return to Washington on Saturday.

QUESTION: And was his trip arranged at the last moment because of concerns that the six-party process is going badly?

MR. ERELI: No, this is part of a, I think, a regular and expected pattern of diplomatic consultations between China as the host of the six-party talks and the other members of the process in advance of what is expected to be a working group meeting in the near future.

QUESTION: Is there a special reason for his visit, then?

MR. ERELI: Other than routine consultations in advance of a planned-for meeting.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Stay on North Korea?

MR. ERELI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about the report on the chief delegation of North Korea to a working group session? Mr. Li Gun going to come to Washington or New York? Do you have any information on that?

MR. ERELI: Yeah, our understand is that Mr. Li Gun -- Li Gun, excuse me, who is Vice-Director of the Institute of Disarmament and Peace in North Korea, has been invited to attend a privately sponsored conference in New York in early August. I don't know whether he'll be coming or not. You'd have to refer to -- you'd have to ask the North Koreans or the conference organizers.

Were he to come, obviously there would be -- there are no plans for bilateral meetings between him and U.S. officials.


QUESTION: What do you mean --

MR. ERELI: As I said, there are no plans.

QUESTION: Okay. Has North Korea applied any permission to come down to Washington maybe?

MR. ERELI: I think we spoke to this earlier. There was the Permanent Representative and the Deputy Permanent Representative came to Washington to participate in an event organized on Capitol Hill. Those requests were granted. It's not the first time that North Korean officials have been to Washington, but there's nothing new that I'm aware of.

Yes, Michel.

QUESTION: Has Secretary Powell talked to Chairman Arafat by phone when he was in a meeting with President Mubarak?

MR. ERELI: I have not heard that and I'm not aware of any such call.

QUESTION: You're not even aware the call took place --

MR. ERELI: Between --

QUESTION: -- with Mubarak?

MR. ERELI: No. Between Secretary Powell and Yasser Arafat?

QUESTION: No, between Mubarak and Arafat with Powell, I believe, in the room.

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

QUESTION: Okay. Anything more on Iran since yesterday on what -- you didn't have any -- you didn't draw any conclusions on whether it's true that Iran has broken some of these seals and started working on uranium enrichment again?

MR. ERELI: Without speaking to those reports, this issue of Iran's continuation of centrifuge manufacture and assembly has been something that has been with us for the last several weeks, the last several months. It's an issue that we remain deeply concerned about. We view it as a direct challenge to the IAEA's call on Iran to suspend all enrichment related and reprocessing activities. It certainly raises questions about Iran -- other commitments Iran has made concerning its nuclear program. But, beyond that, I really don't have much more for you.

QUESTION: What raises questions? What is a direct challenge and what raises questions? These latest things or just in general? Is there anything new in what you're saying? It's what, you know, you said the same thing a month ago.

MR. ERELI: Right. And there's -- what we're seeing, the reports we're seeing now, I think, are further evidence of a continued failure to abide by commitments.

QUESTION: Do you have any high hopes for the meeting of the European troika with the Iranians tomorrow?

MR. ERELI: Well, we're consulting closely with the Europeans. I think we share the same concerns, those that I just expressed. Iran made a pledge to suspend the manufacture and assembly of centrifuges. They've gone back on that pledge. As I said, it's disturbing and a matter of concern.

We've been in contact with -- we've been in close contact with our EU-3 partners. They will be talking to the Iranians about this and we'll be following it closely and continuing our close cooperation with the EU-3 on the matter.

QUESTION: You find these talks are still useful, even though last time they extracted a promise from Iran it didn't -- it didn't come through?

MR. ERELI: I think we share a common concern and we are working well together in a multilateral context to bring the light -- to shine the light on Iran's program and to try to marshal international cooperation to get it under control.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Any update on the Security Council, if they decided when the draft resolution will be put to a vote?

MR. ERELI: I don't have specific timing to discuss with you. Ambassadors on the Security Council met -- or discussed the resolution yesterday. They're going to meet again this afternoon. Reaction has been generally positive and we're still hoping to see a vote before the end of the week.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Powell make any calls on behalf of the resolution?

MR. ERELI: Not today.

QUESTION: Any other calls?


QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. ERELI: Okay.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:58 p.m.)

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list