Department Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker
October 22, 2001
MR. REEKER: Sorry for the delay, everyone. Welcome back to the State Department.
Secretary Powell returned from Shanghai early this morning, Washington time,
quite early in fact, or quite late last night, depending on how you want to
look at it. The Secretary is in the office today pursuing his schedule. But
I am here to try to take your questions and talk about the news of the day.
There were a couple of things I wanted to raise off the top. Several of you
had expressed interest in following up on the Foreign Service exam, which we
talked about some time prior to the test, which was offered on the 29th of September.
And while we are focusing on the difficult issues that are confronting our country
since September 11th, I think it is a tribute to the American people and the
vital role of this Department that 12,807 people took the Foreign Service written
exam on Saturday, September 29th. That, of course, is the first step toward
a career in the Foreign Service, and this is the highest number of people taking
the exam since 1988, and a 63 percent increase over last year.
Significantly, I would also like to note that minority participation increased
from 23 percent last year to 31 percent this year. The number of African American
test takers was the highest in the history of the Foreign Service, increasing
116 percent over last year. And Hispanic American test takers were also the
highest in the history of the Foreign Service, doubling in number from last
year. Asian American test takers increased 47 percent; Native American test
So we saw quite a strong result, I think, and we have had a great morale boost
just seeing these results, and the increased media attention that all of you
here helped to provide, I think, along with Secretary of State Powell and the
very positive message he has delivered about the role of the Foreign Service,
the role of the State Department in, obviously, American foreign policy, the
importance of diplomacy and representing our country abroad, dealing with issues
like those that we have been dealing with since September 11th, along with the
fact that we have put more money and commitment behind our recruitment and outreach.
So we are very pleased with those results.
I would also like to make a statement, which we will put out in written form
following the briefing, on the voluntary surrender of Pavle Strugar. The United
States welcomes the voluntary surrender and transfer of retired General Pavle
Strugar to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to
face prosecution. We commend the government of Montenegro for its cooperation
in this matter. Voluntary surrenders and transfers of indicted persons help
the region achieve peace and justice. And this is the first voluntary surrender
of a Yugoslav citizen.
It is an encouraging sign, certainly, that the people of Montenegro are moving
towards a stable and peaceful future by addressing the crimes of the past. And
we call upon all remaining fugitives to follow General Strugar's example of
publicly recognizing the personal honor and dignity of voluntary surrender to
the Tribunal to face the charges against him in, as he put it, a fair trial.
In particular, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic should immediately surrender
to the appropriate authorities.
So, with those subjects, I'm happy to turn it over to the Agence France Presse,
who holds the seat of honor as the wire service in residence today.
QUESTION: Thank you. The Russian President Vladimir Putin was today in Dushanbe,
Tajikistan, where he ruled out any Taliban participation in future government
in Afghanistan. He also strongly supported the Northern Alliance and former
President Rabbani. Do you think his statement and the Russian efforts in this
region are being in contradiction with your own approach to the Afghan problem?
MR. REEKER: No, not at all. And I think if you were listening closely to not
only the Secretary and his comments from Shanghai, but certainly to President
Bush and his remarks with President Putin, when they spoke following their meeting,
they confirmed their solidarity in fighting terrorism. Certainly, the discussion
included these topics. The Secretary addressed this in some of his television
As you know, we favor no Afghan faction, and I think peace and stability can
only be established for Afghanistan through the formation of a broad-based government
representing the broad mix of ethnicities and geographic distribution that characterizes
Afghanistan. And as the Secretary said in his interview yesterday, in such a
government, we need to represent the whole spectrum. And he noted quite clearly
that there will be no place in a new Afghan government for the current leaders
of the Taliban regime.
So again, we also join with others in the international community in supporting
a central role for the United Nations, and we welcome the Secretary General's
reappointment of Lakdhar Brahimi as his Special Representative for Afghanistan.
As you know, we had meetings first in New York, and then in Washington late
last week with Mr. Brahimi on that very important subject.
QUESTION: In Shanghai, President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin talked
about -- they spoke generally about increasing cooperation in areas like trade
and economics. Do we know -- or could you tell us, are there new meetings that
will take place, or is there increased sort of shuttling back and forth between
the US and China as a result of the Shanghai meetings?
MR. REEKER: Well, I think there was a real building on discussions that the
two presidents had had earlier this year in fashioning the new Russian-American
relationship. And the talks, as they were certainly described to me, were very
productive and advanced our agenda. These are the talks that took place in Shanghai.
There were really, I think, three areas to focus on: the solidarity in fighting
terrorism, the discussion in-depth of the new strategic framework, and of course
then that leads into the next set -- to answer your question more specifically
-- the next set of talks that they expect to carry out in terms of dialogue
here in Washington and in Crawford, Texas next month. So I would really refer
you to the White House for more details on that. But the President is looking
forward to that.
Most importantly, though, it is quite clear, as we have discussed, that the
US and Russia are no longer enemies. We are working on a new strategic framework
together, and we think that will allow us to promote our relations with Russia
and work together to deter and defend against the new threats that we have seen.
QUESTION: My question is about China, though, I'm sorry.
MR. REEKER: About China?
QUESTION: Yes. Zemin and Bush talked about -- generally about trade and economics.
MR. REEKER: Those two presidents? I'm sorry.
QUESTION: That's all right. That's good stuff on Russia, though.
MR. REEKER: We were focusing on -- yes, take that for what it's worth. That
will take care of one of the future questions. We have got a lot of presidents
that we have been working with over the last few days.
I think, similarly, the main focus that you heard from Shanghai in the meeting
between President Jiang Zemin and the United States President, George W. Bush,
the main focus was counter-terrorism. The Chinese President assured our President
that China stood with the US and the international coalition in the response
to the September 11th attacks.
The two presidents did discuss economic issues, including our support for China's
accession to the WTO, the World Trade Organization, as well as other issues
in our bilateral agenda: nonproliferation, religious freedom, human rights issues,
missile defense, regional issues of interest, such as our shared desire to promote
peace on the Korean Peninsula. And we can certainly assist you in getting full
texts of the transcripts of their joint press conference and readouts that were
given in Shanghai.
QUESTION: Just before the APEC talks got going, President Bush called on North
Korea to resume a dialogue with the US. Do you see any signs that that is likely
to happen anytime soon?
MR. REEKER: Well, certainly, it is something we have been discussing for some
time, and I would refer to what the President said last Friday following his
meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, when they discussed the importance
of pursuing that dialogue. And we reaffirmed, as President Bush said, our support
for President Kim's Sunshine Policy. We have appreciated his leadership in this
very important issue, and as the President said, after we had reviewed our policy
on North Korea, we have offered the North Koreans the chance to meet with US
representatives. We look forward to hearing a positive response from him. We
wish to begin this dialogue with the Government of Kim Jong Il in North Korea.
So far, we have not had a positive response to that. And we would hope, again
as the President said, that he would accept not only our invitation, but seize
the opportunity to bring more peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula. There
is an opportunity there to lead, and it is a moment in history that we can grasp
and move forward on that.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the Taliban? Taliban error?
MR. REEKER: Let's finish -- we'll do a big global circle here.
QUESTION: The Secretary said they are going to work on the ABM Treaty between
US and Russia before President Putin comes to the US. Has there been anything
between the US and China on this same subject?
MR. REEKER: I think, as I indicated, in the broad dialogue that the two presidents
had, President Jiang Zemin and our President in Shanghai, they discussed a full
range of issues. I don't have any more details to go into here, but I am sure
the White House can review with you some of those things.
Obviously, the ABM Treaty is an issue between the United States and Russia.
It is our treaty and that is something we will continue discussing. As you know,
we have said for quite some time, that treaty, which is over 30 years old, is
outmoded for the realities of today's world. And so it has been a topic of discussion
with our Russian friends. And we will continue those discussions when the presidents
meet again in Washington and Crawford next month.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the trial today of a Chinese American
citizen, Fong Fuming? His trial ended today but with no verdict.
MR. REEKER: Yes. As you indicate, Mr. Fong's trial took place today, October
22nd. I understand it lasted about seven hours. There was a US Embassy consular
officer in attendance in accordance with our US-China bilateral consular agreement
and the Vienna convention.
The court has announced that there will be an additional hearing to consider
further evidence in the case, but they did not announce a date and a time for
that additional hearing.
Our consular officer reported that Mr. Fong appeared healthy at the trial. And
that is really all I have to offer for you at this point.
QUESTION: Are you disappointed that there was no verdict today?
MR. REEKER: Mr. Fong has asked that we not discuss the substance of his case
in any further detail. So, in continuing with his wishes, I will leave it at
that. Those are the facts. Our consular officer was there and, as I said, we
don't have an indication yet from the Chinese as to when they would move on.
QUESTION: On the discussions with United Nations about the post-Taliban era,
as you said, a broad-based representative government, how the discussions were
about the King of Afghanistan who lives in Rome? What is the position of the
United States about that?
MR. REEKER: Our position has been that the future government of Afghanistan
should be as broad-based as possible. As you know, we have reached out and talked
to numerous groups of Afghans representing diverse geographic regions, ethnicities,
cultural backgrounds and the Afghan Diaspora. We have done that for many years.
That includes the former King. And we think he, as well as all the other groups,
can play a positive role in doing that. So we will continue to have those discussions.
I don't have any more details. But I think we were very much in sync with the
United Nations Representative when we met last week and will continue, since
that was obviously a first round of discussions, an opportunity to compare notes.
We will continue those discussions, I'm sure, in New York and here. Our Ambassador
Richard Haass, Director of the Office of Policy Planning, as you know, is coordinating
US Government efforts in that direction in terms of our policy on Afghanistan.
QUESTION: So you don't see any conflict, because the King comes from the Pashtun
ethnic group, as the Taliban government?
MR. REEKER: Once again, I don't know if I can say it any more clearly, we don't
support any individual or single group. We support as broad-based a future government
as can be brought together for Afghanistan, a successful government with a focus
on human rights, on actually governing, serving the people, unlike the regime
that they have had for five years, is what we would like to see there. And,
obviously, a regime that not only tries to bring stability to the country, but
also a regime that is dedicated to having a terrorist-free Afghanistan is, I
think, what everybody in the international community hopes for.
QUESTION: Phil, can I change the subject to Latin America?
MR. REEKER: Sure.
QUESTION: I have two questions in two different countries. First, in Mexico,
this weekend was killed one of the lawyers defending human rights, and I wonder
if you have any reaction to that, any comment?
MR. REEKER: Let me just say on that that the United States of America utterly
condemns the brutal murder on October 19th of Mexican human rights activist
Digna Ochoa. Ms. Ochoa was known and lauded the world over for her dedication,
a dedication which often entailed considerable personal risk, to advancing human
rights for all Mexicans. So again, we utterly condemn what was a deplorable
assassination there. We are not going to contribute to speculation as to the
perpetrators of this crime, but we expect certainly that the Government of Mexico
will fully investigate the murder and prosecute those found responsible.
QUESTION: And on Colombia, Phil, there have been new developments inside the
Government of Colombia in terms of the negotiations with the FARC, and also
actions to combat the acts -- the killing of people, civilians by this terrorist
They present a new set of measures, for the first time recognizing -- the Government
of Colombia -- the FARC as a terrorist group. Have you guys been looking at
these measures introduced?
MR. REEKER: Certainly we have recognized the FARC as a terrorist group for some
time, as you know, from regularly reading and referring to our annual Patterns
of Global Terrorism Report. In addition to the FARC, the ELN and this year,
since September 10th, the AUC organizations in Colombia, have all been designated
under our law as foreign terrorist organizations.
I am not aware of the specifics of the Colombian developments. I would be happy
to check into that and see if we had anything to add. But as you know, we have
been very supportive of President Pastrana and his Plan Colombia, his strong
counter-narcotics program. We have talked about, our Patterns of Global Terrorism
has talked about, the links between these terrorist organizations with narcotics
trafficking as well. So those are issues that remain of great concern to us.
QUESTION: Phil, on the Mid-East, Israeli Foreign Minister Peres has spoken today,
and I guess yesterday as well, about the idea of the Palestinians having "a
position" in Jerusalem, that that could be part of a formula for a solution.
I wonder if you could comment on that specific aspect of his comments.
And also, just to complete the question, whether you could give us sort of a
rundown of the Foreign Minister's schedule tomorrow, and on the US goals for
this latest round of Mid-East diplomacy?
MR. REEKER: Well, for a specific rundown of the Foreign Minister's schedule,
I would refer you to the Embassy of Israel. The Foreign Minister will be here
to meet with Secretary Powell tomorrow afternoon.
In answer to your first question, before I forget it, as we have always said,
issues of Jerusalem are, we believe, final status issues that should be addressed
in dialogue in negotiations between the parties. That is what we have called
for for so long, of course, under the basis of the UN Security Council Resolutions
242 and 338.
In that vein, knowing that that is the goal that we have long advocated -- that
is, getting into the Mitchell Committee recommendations, moving back towards
a dialogue where they can negotiate final status issues for a lasting peace
in the region -- we are very concerned at the escalation of violence and the
deterioration in conditions on the ground over the past several days.
We have made those concerns very clear in conversations over the weekend. Secretary
Powell spoke with Prime Minister Sharon and with Chairman Arafat. He spoke with
them from Shanghai before he departed to return to Washington. Those calls have
been followed up by Ambassador Kurtzer, who has met with Israeli officials today,
and our Consul General Schlicher, who met with Chairman Arafat this morning.
They both met separately, and also with other representatives of the international
community in those meetings.
As you indicated, Foreign Minister Peres is in Washington. He will meet with
Secretary Powell tomorrow afternoon. We have made very clear to Chairman Arafat
and the Palestinian Authority that they must act immediately to arrest all those
responsible for the assassination of Minister Zeevi last week, as well as moving
decisively against those planning and conducting other acts of terror.
In this regard, the Palestinian Authority's decree outlawing such activities
is a positive step. But, as we have said many times in the past, actions are
required, not just words. Those who operate against the authority of Chairman
Arafat and efforts to achieve a cease-fire, act against the interests and aspirations
of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Authority, again, must do all in
its power to halt violence and terror and bring to justice the terrorists whose
actions are betraying Palestinian interests.
We have also made quite clear to Israel that Israel must act now in a manner
that helps restore calm. Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas
have contributed to a significant escalation and tension and violence, as I
noted earlier. The Government of Israel has told us that it does not intend
to remain in those areas. Israeli defense forces should be withdrawn immediately
from all Palestinian-controlled areas and no further such incursions should
We deeply regret and deplore Israeli defense force actions that have killed
numerous Palestinian civilians over the weekend. The deaths of those innocent
civilians under the circumstances reported in recent days are unacceptable,
and we call upon Israel to ensure that its armed forces exercise greater discipline
As we've said in the past, both sides have to step back and consider where their
actions are leading. Failure on the part of the Palestinian Authority to confront
terror in a decisive manner is absolutely unacceptable. Retaliatory actions
by Israel cannot produce lasting security, which is the goal we have so long
So we call upon both sides to do all they can to halt this continuing dangerous
situation marked by violence and provocation and act in a manner that allows
progress on implementing the Mitchell Report and restoration of direct dialogue
between the parties, as I said, on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolutions
242 and 338.
QUESTION: As a follow-up, there have been a number of reports indicating that
the United States was prepared to advance a plan that included final status
proposals, such as a Palestinian position in Jerusalem. Was that an idea that
was advanced and then shelved for some reason?
MR. REEKER: I think Ambassador Boucher was quite clear in earlier briefings,
if I can quote him. We have no plan. What we want to do, as we have been doing,
is encourage both sides to make maximum efforts to get the violence down, stop
the cycle of provocation and violence, get into the Mitchell Committee recommendations,
which, as you know, provide the roadmap, the framework for moving ahead so we
can get back to a position where the two sides can pursue dialogue, can pursue
negotiation toward a final status agreement. That's where those issues can be
raised. But right now, we're very concerned about what has happened on the ground
and we are urging both sides to take the steps that I just outlined.
MR. REEKER: Is there anything else on the Middle East first? Can I just see
if we want to follow that up first.
QUESTION: It seems today there has been a decision to hold the WTO meeting in
Qatar. And I am wondering two things. One, what role do you guys play in ensuring
security there? And how large will your delegation be?
MR. REEKER: WTO is a bit of a jump from the Middle East, but that's okay. I
will note, as I think you were indicating, that Mike Moore, the Director General
of the World Trade Organization, announced today that the World Trade Organization
Ministerial would go ahead in Doha, Qatar, as scheduled November 9th through
13th. And I think Qatar deserves to be applauded for its truly excellent preparations
for the ministerial. The United States certainly looks forward to a successful
meeting that we hope will result in the launching of a new trade round, something
the President has indicated is vitally important as we focus on economic reforms
and developments, moving ahead in that.
I think for any further detail or information on our delegation, you would have
to talk to the US Trade Representative's office, since they have the lead on
that. But certainly there is likely to be State Department participation in
QUESTION: Broadly connected to the Middle East. Do we have any, or does the
administration have any indication or reason to believe that there is any Iraqi
connection to the anthrax incidents here domestically?
MR. REEKER: I think that is something that the Secretary and others have addressed.
We have no illusions about Saddam Hussein, and his record of threats and assaults
upon his own people, as well as neighboring countries, is very well known, as
are his attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction. We don't put anything
past Saddam Hussein, but I don't believe that there is any clear linkage at
this point. I would have to refer you to investigating authorities in the health
field or at the Justice Department for anything specific.
But the Secretary has said previously that the extent of any linkages based
on some of the reports we have seen is not clear. But he has underscored the
fact that we have no illusions about Saddam Hussein.
Our focus, of course, in the campaign against global terrorism right now is
on the al-Qaida terrorist network hiding in Afghanistan, where they have been
given cover by the Taliban regime which, of course, has decided to side with
the terrorists and now are paying that price as well.
QUESTION: As a follow-up, there have been a number of reports of suspicious
packages and letters being delivered to embassies around the world. Have any
of those turned up positive for anthrax?
MR. REEKER: You are correct that a number of embassies and consulates have received
letters with suspicious powders, just as we have seen domestically as well,
and certainly in other countries. Just judging by the press reports, this is
not an isolated phenomenon.
I am not going to get into the specifics of which embassies or consulates have
or have not received suspicious letters or packages, other than to say that
all posts have responded properly and they are taking the necessary precautions.
They are continually reviewing their security postures, taking additional steps
if necessary. Last week, we discussed a bit about our review with employees
in terms of mail handling and the appropriate steps to take, similar to those
that we are discussing domestically.
Support from host governments overall has been outstanding, in cases where our
embassies have had suspicious packages. And in most cases, I think, those are
turned over to local authorities for testing. I am not aware of all the reviews
of those tests at this point, but when last I checked, there was no confirmation
of any hazardous substance. So there are a lot of reports out there and we are
following up and checking on all of those.
Anything further on that subject?
QUESTION: I've got a Middle East question, before you go to Colombia. Foreign
Minister Peres's remarks have really been markedly different from the statements
coming out of Israel in the past several days. Obviously, we all understand
Peres and Sharon have different political views. But I wonder if the State Department
perceives a shift in the tone from the Israeli Government, compared to last
week when things really were at a high boil, what with the assassination and
MR. REEKER: I would leave the Israeli Government to describe or give tone to
their statements. I think we really have to leave that up to them and I will
let you do your own analysis. Foreign Minister Peres is seeing Secretary Powell
tomorrow. They will be meeting in the afternoon to discuss the broad spectrum
of bilateral and regional issues between us. And, obviously, the Secretary plans
to discuss implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations and our
ongoing efforts to encourage the two sides to reduce the violence, as I said
I think we have stated our positions clearly, both publicly and in private discussions
with the Israelis, and we are going to continue to make our views known in our
discussions with both sides in that conflict, as we hope to see progress that
can get them on the right path to resolving their differences, to a lasting
peace so that all the people in the region can live more secure, more prosperous,
QUESTION: You said a few minutes ago that all responsible for last week's assassination
of the tourism minister in Israel should be arrested. Foreign Minister Peres,
last night and this morning, went further and said they should be jailed and
even demanded that they be handed over. Do you think those demands are justified?
MR. REEKER: I think we addressed that subject last week. Again, our call is
for Chairman Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, to take immediate action to
arrest those responsible and move decisively, frankly, against all those planning
or conducting terrorism. And there are security structures in place, through
the Tenet work plan and other ways that the two sides can discuss those issues.
QUESTION: To follow up on Jesus' question, I would like to know your impression
about the Colombian Government today is going to present a strong bill -- anti-terrorism
bill. It contains heavy penalties to combat terrorists. It is important, a statement
from Colombian Government against terrorism campaign?
MR. REEKER: Not having actually seen the bill or knowing what the Colombian
Government is going to do, I can't really comment on it. But certainly our stand
against terrorism has been quite clear for a long, long time. But particularly
since September the 11th, when we have seen the tragic results of what these
terrorists can do to our country. This is a global threat. We are working with
a worldwide coalition of the civilized world to stamp out terrorism, focusing
right now on al-Qaida, using all the tools available to us, that is financial
and economic steps we can take, diplomacy, where we are working with countries
all over the world and keeping in a close dialogue on counter-terrorism issues
with many countries.
We are using law enforcement cooperation. You have seen reports of arrests,
you have seen countries passing laws or introducing legislation to tighten up
on terrorists, to take away their ability to take advantage of open societies,
to take advantage of the global financial network. These are the steps we have
to take, not to jeopardize our values and what is important in our lives, but
to disallow the terrorists from using those aspects of our society, of the 21st
century, to use those against us for their own twisted means and aims.
So we will continue working with countries in our coalition. Different countries
will be called on to do different things at different times. But we certainly
applaud all steps taken in this direction and, like I say, I can't comment specifically
on the Colombian steps but I know we will continue to have a strong dialogue
with our friends in Colombia.
QUESTION: I have one other question, I'm sorry. Colombian army found a secret
document which belonged to the AUC. That document contained a list of names.
These are men who are supporting AUC. Actually, the document shows that people
supporting paramilitaries have been sending checks from USA, US banks. So is
the USA helping Colombian authorities in this investigation?
MR. REEKER: I am not aware of that specific document or that specific thing.
I am aware that, on September the 10th, we formally designated the AUC as a
terrorist organization under our law. So it now appears on the list and we spoke
about that at some length on September the 10th. So that joins the other two
organizations that had been previously designated and have since been re-designated
as foreign terrorist organizations in Colombia.
I know that we have a counter-terrorism dialogue in terms of part of our relationship
with Colombia. I don't have anything specific for you on that. I wasn't even
aware of those reports. But just the other day, I issued a statement condemning
a terrorist action taken by the AUC in terms of murdering a number of civilians,
innocent civilians, and we condemned that most roundly.
QUESTION: Have you been following the people who are supporting paramilitaries
from USA banks in the United States?
MR. REEKER: I think I just indicated that I don't have any information on the
reports you are talking about.
QUESTION: I wonder if you could react to statements by Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness today calling on -- who say that they have called on the IRA leadership
to make a gesture on decommissioning?
MR. REEKER: I did see reports of those statements just before I was coming out.
I am afraid it was cutting the edge too closely. I've got to let my folks look
at the facts, look at the reports, examine those, and we will try to get you
something this afternoon. So if you want to keep in touch with the Press Office,
we will get some reaction on that. But they need to have a look at that. I'm
sorry, the timing doesn't do well for some people's deadlines, I know.
QUESTION: What details can you provide about the letter the Administration has
sent EU officials listing several dozen areas where United States wants more
cooperation from the EU?
MR. REEKER: I don't think I have any specifics on the letter. As you know, we
have an intensive dialogue. One major aspect of our campaign against terrorism
is a diplomatic dialogue that discusses a number of these things, ideas, back
and forth, certainly with our European friends and allies. That has been important.
I think the European Council indicated on Friday that, again, when meeting in
Ghent, they stated their unequivocal support for the actions taken in the global
campaign against terrorism. The EU has taken unprecedented steps to improve
their capacity to fight terrorism on many levels and they are working extremely
closely with us. And that will be the context in terms of our information sharing,
two-way information sharing on ideas and next steps forward to, as I said, root
out, choke off the ability of these organizations to operate.
So we are very grateful for the immediate, resolute and effective support for
the coalition among our European friends. I think a number of our allies have
taken impressive steps to track down terrorist activity within their individual
borders, and these actions have been really crucial to the coalition's pursuit
of al-Qaida in particular and our endeavors to rip out all terrorism with a
As the President has said and Secretary Powell has echoed, this is going to
be a long-term, multi-faceted global campaign to combat terror. And we will
continue to work very closely with our European allies, but with all those in
the coalition, as they have different roles and efforts they can undertake to
help in this.
QUESTION: Could I go back to Afghanistan?
MR. REEKER: Please. I'll get you a ticket -- (laughter).
QUESTION: The ban on the growth of the opium poppy is reportedly unraveling.
How serious is that? And would you do something about that in the possible post-Taliban
MR. REEKER: I think you are indicating the reports that we have also seen from
UN drug control officers in Pakistan that they have reportedly detected signs
that Afghan farmers in Taliban areas have begun planting opium poppy again.
We have not seen reports that the Taliban has officially lifted the ban on growing
of opium poppy, but the resumption of poppy cultivation suggests that the Taliban
is not enforcing the ban that they had declared. And we think that the resumption
of such cultivation would be unfortunate and again would further distance the
Taliban from the international community and would highlight once again the
cynicism of their approach in their regime in Afghanistan.
So we will continue to monitor that situation closely, working obviously with
the UN and others in the international narcotics eradication and control efforts.
And we continue to be quite concerned about other aspects of the drug trade
there, beyond just poppy cultivation, and that is heroin production and certainly
trading and trafficking in heroin and processed poppy products.
There have been large seizures of opiates originating in Afghanistan, and that
continues to take place in Pakistan and other neighboring countries, indicating
that in spite of their ban on poppy growth, drug traffickers are able to draw
on stockpiles of opium that were produced in Afghanistan under the Taliban over
the last several years. And we know that the Taliban has derived revenue from
the drug trade in the past and have no evidence indicating that that practice
has stopped. So it is something that concerns us that we will follow quite closely
as part of our campaign.
QUESTION: Will you take any specific measure in the future?
MR. REEKER: Again, I don't think I can discuss specific measures that we have
taken or will take. It is something that, as you know, we have been very involved
in. Prior to September the 11th, the US Government was preparing to provide
over $2 million in assistance to the UN and nongovernmental organizations for
former poppy farmers affected by the drought in Afghanistan and unable to pursue
alternative crops. And these projects are on hold in light of recent events.
We have been working and cooperating regionally with the United Nations and
with Afghanistan's neighbors there in the region to build capabilities regionally
and nationally to counter the Afghan drug trade that takes place under the Taliban.
We have been very active, as you know, in the UN-sanctioned Six Plus Two working
group on drugs, and that is the six countries neighboring Afghanistan, as well
as the United States and Russia, in efforts to launch a regional counter-narcotics
initiative. So we will continue with those efforts, because it is something
that concerns us, and it is a way that the Taliban has found funding for their
regime which, of course, supports the al-Qaida network.
QUESTION: This morning, I spoke to former Congressman Dan Glickman who is now
working, I guess, with NGOs to stamp out what has been a surge in the last several
years of a lack of fine stringency for US patents and trade, stamping out so-called
sweatshops in the apparel lines as well as, if you would, counterfeit watches,
software, video and that style of export. And we have been mentioning the Middle
East, we have been mentioning India, Pakistan. But some of these countries they
are bearing down on or talking with are Indonesia, to some degree the Philippines
and other small areas, Malaysia, where some of this does go on.
One of the concerns is China. Was something on that order brought up in these
talks this past week at the APEC meeting?
MR. REEKER: I would have to check and see if that specific thing you are mentioning
was. It is an area that is of interest to us. It is an aspect of contemporary
diplomacy in terms of intellectual property protection, an issue that is dealt
with under trade. That is why we think the World Trade Organization is an important
organization and we are glad to see the meeting in Doha going ahead and the
opportunity to advance a new round of trade negotiations.
Why don't we try to hook you up with somebody in our Economic and Business Affairs
Bureau, who might be able to talk to you more specifically about those things,
and we can check and see if that came into the agenda specifically at APEC in
I did want to note, because some had asked earlier and we didn't have all the
information updated for today, about the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan.
We will be putting out a paper statement later this afternoon noting that the
US has contributed another $10 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
We are announcing that again in response to UNHCR's current emergency needs
to assist Afghan refugees who are fleeing to neighboring countries, particularly
Pakistan, in this case. And with this latest contribution, we have given $14
million to the UN Commissioner for Refugees to assist the people of Afghanistan
over the coming winter. This, of course, is in addition to all the other assistance
that we have been discussing, part of the $320 million initiative the President
has announced to support the people of Afghanistan. It complements the assistance
provided by USAID and the Department of Agriculture in terms of the food shipments
going there, and that remains a major priority of ours.
With the sudden increase in the number of Afghan refugees at the Chaman border
with Pakistan, the World Food Program is moving enough food to the area to feed
the new arrivals. Today -- and these are the figures I was able to get just
now -- 80 metric tons of wheat flour, 4 metric tons of oil, and 8 metric tons
of beans are on their way to Chaman. Four hundred and seventy-five metric tons
of wheat are already pre-positioned there for further refugee arrivals. And
yesterday and today, 38 metric tons of high-energy biscuits have been moved
from Quetta, Pakistan, to the border. And I would just note that 300 grams of
those biscuits are enough to feed one person for one day. So 38 metric tons,
you guys can do the math, with 300 grams -- it's a great metric system test
for all of us.
Distribution of food inside Afghanistan is continuing, despite increasingly
difficult conditions, including looting reported to be taking place, perpetrated
by the Taliban. Today, I am told World Food Program staff have distributed 500
metric tons of food to internally displaced persons in Kabul Province through
the Canadian Relief Fund. And that's about enough food, I am told, for 10,000
households for one month.
And so we continue to pursue those initiatives because, as the President and
Secretary Powell have made quite clear, we have no quarrel with the Afghan people.
Their hardship was coming to a head long before the tragic incidents when we
were attacked on September 11th. They have suffered through 22 years of civil
war, they have suffered through five years of the Taliban rule and, of course,
three years of severe drought and are facing a major famine. They certainly
were facing that before September the 11th. And the United States has supplied
more than 80 percent of all food shipments sent to vulnerable Afghans through
the UN World Food Program and will continue to be the leading food donor for