U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OCTOBER 20, 1994 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Thursday, October 20, 1994 Briefer: Christine Shelly HAITI Boatpeople Picked Up/Returned/in Safehavens .....1-2,9 Civil Order/Arms Collections ....................2-4 Haitians Questioned and Detained/Released .......3,6 US/UN View of Operations ........................4-5 Transition from Military to Police Force ........5-8 Travel-Ready Refugees ...........................5-6 NORTH KOREA Signing of Agreement with US on Nuclear Issues ..10-11 -- Confidential Annex ...........................10-11 Korean Energy Development Organization/US Role ..11-12 PAKISTAN Foreign Secretary's Meetings at Department ......12-15 HUNGARY New Ambassador to US ............................15-16 TURKEY/GREECE Territorial Limits ..............................16 MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS US Efforts to Curb Hamas Fund Raising Activities ....................................16-17 Israel Closes Borders ...........................18
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING DPC #151 THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1994, 1:09 P. M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department briefing. I want to kick off with a couple of things on Haiti today, and then I'll be happy to take your questions on Haiti or on other subjects.
The first thing I thought I might just bring you up to date on is where we are on the migrant repatriation. I wanted to particularly draw your attention to the fact that increasing numbers of Haitian migrants are requesting to return home voluntarily.
As you know, we had to suspend the program for a couple of days over the weekend when President Aristide returned. That was strictly for logistical reasons. But these repatriations have now resumed, and I just wanted to bring you up to date on the numbers.
First of all, in response to what has been a very, very high number of requests over the last several days, we've actually had to increase our capacity to return the Haitians, and that has involved stepping up the number of cutter trips which are going back and forth.
We expect to repatriate 2,500 Haitians this week alone. A total of 1,265 Haitians returned voluntarily to Haiti on Tuesday and Wednesday. Another 762 are en route to Port-au- Prince and are scheduled to arrive today. Another 500 so far are scheduled to return tomorrow.
This brings the number of voluntary returns to Haiti since the military operation began to 5,767. The overall total of voluntary returns to Haiti from Guantanamo -- and this includes today's returns which I just mentioned, and this is since the safehaven policy went effect -- is now 11,550.
What that leaves in terms of Haitian population still at Guantanamo, there are still 8,443; and of those, 8,399 are in safehaven status. There also are 44 who are approved refugees from the Comfort who are awaiting departure for the United States. And I would just add to that that there have not been any Haitians picked up at sea any time in the last few days. The last group was rescued on October 2. Those were the 22 which I mentioned previously were picked up off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.
And just again to give you an idea of the numbers on this, for the entire month of September there were 130 Haitian migrants picked up at sea as compared to 319 in August; and, of course, the large surge was in July, and that was when 16,019 were picked up.
I can come back to that in a second, but I also wanted to address a couple of things related to the whole issue of disarmament which has been out there. Several of you have been reporting on this recently and whether or not there have been any kind of disputes between us and the U.N. over how this program is going. But I just thought I'd take a couple of minutes to address that.
First of all, as you all know, we're working on three main things. The first is dismantling Haiti's illegal paramilitary structure. The second is to do everything that we possibly can to get the guns off the street, and third to create and do everything we can to contribute to the stable and secure environment in Haiti.
To bring you up to date on the numbers on this score as well, the MNF has collected now about 11,000 weapons in the one month since its arrival in October. We're talking about 4,000 weapons having been taken out of circulation through the buy- back program. This is something you heard something about a week ago, ten days ago or so. The program is still very active at this point, and I'm told that there were 200 weapons that were actually collected yesterday.
It's fully functional in the Port-au-Prince area and in the Cap Haitien area. But as I'm certain you can understand, it's quite a labor intensive program, and the two locations have been those which have been identified and equipped with all of the necessary support and administrative personnel to conduct the operations.
As you know, this relates to an operational program which is under the auspices of the Pentagon, so if you want to get more detailed into that, you might also put some questions to them as well.
Also of that 11,000 number in weapons collected, which I mentioned, there have also been approximately 7,000 weapons which have been taken from the Haitian military. Just to give you a few little additional details on that: As you know, some days back we announced that all of the heavy weapons had been collected. It also includes the armored cars which were used by the military down there -- the V-150s. It also includes mortars and air defense guns.
The weapons -- this figure that I just referred to represents those seized in raids of illegal arms caches and, as I mentioned also, the number of those turned in for cash.
The MNF has also conducted 35 sizable company-size operations on the arms caches since October 1. I'm told that of those 35 raids that they've had, approximately 15 of those did not produce any direct and immediate weapons results. But 20 of those raids did produce weapons and/or detainees associated with the weapons.
Then I also wanted to address the issue about persons who have been detained and questioned. I think this is also useful to go over.
The MNF has also detained and questioned about 200 persons thus far, about 40 of which are still being held. Those released have been determined to not present a threat or to have been involved in what we would consider to be documentable serious crime. We certainly appreciate the efforts to draw attention of attaches to the MNF and also to Haitian authorities. But, if there is not any kind of credible evidence to the contrary, those who are not directly linked to any kind of serious crime are not detained any longer at that point, and they are turned over to Haitian authorities to see if they wish to make any further investigation; and, if the Haitian authorities do not, then they are released at that point.
Our forces to have a presence at FAD'H military barracks - - I think at this point virtually all over Haiti -- and certainly since the MNF's arrival, the security climate has improved very dramatically as a result of all of those actions which I've just mentioned.
I'd be happy to take your questions.
Q Do you have any idea whether this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of weapons seizures or whether you're making major headway into disarming the country?
MS. SHELLY: George, I don't know if we really have a complete head count, for example, on the exact number of weapons that might be out there. I do know that there was a registry -- I think it involved the licensing and permits for guns that was kept by one Haitian authority, and, as I think you know, there also was a requirement that those permits be renewed.
But some of those people -- all of those people who actually had licenses for some kind of hand gun or things like that, these are not all necessarily people who have had some kind of nefarious intent or have been paramilitaries or attaches.
Some of these are legitimate uses and licenses. For example, businesses and various establishments have security guards and things like that. So you can't just take the potential registry and assume that all of those weapons necessarily have to get collected.
But I think we have to deal in terms of certainly any kind of report which comes to our attention that should be checked out, and that's what the MNF is doing down there. And then also for them to certainly be very vigilant and in cases where paramilitaries or attaches are seen out in the streets brandishing weapons, that is also certainly a situation where those people can be turned over to the Haitian authorities or the MNF.
Q Christine, you said you wanted to address the question of the United Nations. Is there any dispute. Has the United Nations informed the United States in any way that it thinks not enough has been done or that a lot more needs to be done or that the pace is too leisurely, or anything like that?
MS. SHELLY: We certainly have had discussions with them, as this has been a very serious concern for us and certainly for the U.N. and undoubtedly also for the Government of Haiti. We are working very, very closely with the U.N., with the MNF planners and with the Haitian Government. I think we're all very much on the same track on this, and there certainly is a lot of concern about reducing, if not eliminating, the arms from the members of the paramilitary groups in Haiti. And those consultations, of course, are underway, and they certainly will be ongoing. But I'm not aware of there being any particular problem.
Q If I could follow on that, it's sort of a deja vu all over again to a certain extent. About two Decembers back, the same thing came up in terms of Somalia and everybody was saying, "We're all working together; we're going to get it worked out and everything." And, as it subsequently transpired, there actually was a rather bitter fundamental dispute between Boutros-Ghali and between Bob Oakley on behalf of the U.S. Government at the time about how much of an effort we were going to make on this.
Is there anything like this brewing in the background that you can see?
MS. SHELLY: That, of course, was before my time, and so I don't want to reopen the Somalia question.
Q Yes, I understand (inaudible).
MS. SHELLY: But, no, not that I'm aware of. I think that particularly because of what may have transpired in the past, it's been very important for everybody to be sure that we're all on the same wavelength on this. They certainly have concerns in this regard. We have concerns in this regard. The Haitian Government has concerns in this regard, but I think we're pretty confident that we're all working on the same track on this one.
Q Is it your understanding that the U.N. does not want to send in U.N. peacekeepers until Haiti has been substantially disarmed?
MS. SHELLY: I wouldn't characterize that as being the case. I think the U.N. has concerns about this. We have concerns, too. We have discussed it with them. The exact hand-off as to how the transfer between MNF and UNMIH would go, we've talked about that many times in the past, and there isn't any change on that.
I'm told that we have had some preliminary discussions with the U.N. about that hand-off, but, as you know, we're not at the point yet where we're ready to make that kind of a hand- off. It's an issue that will be addressed in the context of continuing our discussions with them as we get closer to the time when we can do that. But I'm not aware that there's any specific condition that's been laid down.
Q On a different -- going back to the Haitians and the groups you talked about, you mentioned those from Guantanamo and those picked up or not picked up at sea. What about the group that was in Haiti with travel-ready status that have been approved to come to the U.S.? What's happened to that group in terms of numbers? Have they all said, "Thanks anyway, we'll stay?" Or some said, "We'd like to go even though Father Aristide has been returned?"
MS. SHELLY: You're talking about the refugees --
MS. SHELLY: -- who had applied and been approved through the in-country processing? I don't have the numbers on that with me but I can certainly get them and have that for you fairly early this afternoon.
What I can tell you, in generality, is, of those who had been approved and were completely travel-ready, many of them have continued to leave. Whether there have been some cases of those who had approved who chose for one reason or another not to leave, I can also check on that, too.
Even in the most recent timeframe -- meaning, in terms of, say, the last week or so -- we have continued to facilitate the departure of those who are travel-ready.
There was also another category of people who were provisionally approved but not travel-ready. Since they're not travel-ready, what ultimately happens to them hasn't been addressed. I don't know if there have been any applications recently through the in-country processing.
I think we had largely suspended the activity for new applications because, as circumstances unfolded, certainly the level in interest in doing that had been coming down. We still obviously also have our exchanges with NGOs and other types of organizations, if it would seem that someone had a particularly distressful situation. But I don't think at this point that the necessity for the program is there any longer, and we're not seeing the public expressions of interest in applying for refugee status that we certainly saw before.
Q The bottom line from that group is that though Father Aristide was returned, there were still some Haitians who wanted to leave, having the opportunity to do so.
MS. SHELLY: Again, the position we've always taken on this is those who had been formally approved for refugee status, who were travel-ready, that they would be permitted to leave if they chose to do so. Again, we had this information with us virtually everyday. I just don't have it with me today, but I'll put up the answers to that a little bit later.
Mark, you had a follow-up question.
Q On the detainees, of the 40 that are still being held, are they all members of FRAPH or other paramilitary groups, how long will they be held? Will there be a trial? How are they going to be dealt with?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have answers to that. I'll check into it and see if we can come up with any kind of a profile on who those 40 are and what the intended next steps would be.
Q You say you're not ready to make the hand-off yet. What has to happen before the United States is ready to hand- off the operation to the U.N.? How are they going to know? Is there an exit strategy?
MS. SHELLY: The whole question of the transition to UNMIH is one I think we've laid out before, but I'll be happy to go through that again.
Q (Inaudible) you're underway. When are you going to leave?
MS. SHELLY: As we have talked about the necessity to make that transition there, I would just mention, there is an advance team -- 60-person UNMIH advance team which is already in Haiti and which is already involved in liaison with the MNF.
The multinational force will terminate its mission and UNMIH will assume the full range of functions when the secure and stable environment has been established and when UNMIH has the adequate force capability and structure in place in order to be able to take over.
This determination will be made by the U.N. Security Council. It will take into account recommendations from the MNF commander, and certainly from also the U.N. Secretary General himself.
The Secretary General is being kept informed on a day-by- day basis through this 60-person UNMIH advance team. It's in Haiti, among its other tasks, to establish the appropriate means of coordination with the MNF and also to obviously prepare for the full deployment of UNMIH.
We're still talking in terms of a transition which would occur early next year at the very latest. But as we have said before, it's still the expectation that this would take place sometime after the parliamentary elections were held.
Q Is there agreement between the MNF and the U.N. on how to define a secure environment?
MS. SHELLY: Again, it's a question of some determinations that will have to be made on the basis of recommendations coming out of either the advance team by the MNF commander down there and ultimately it's the Security Council that will have to make the judgment based on these recommendations that the hand-off can occur.
Q Christine, Strobe Talbott and John Deutsch stood up here a couple of months ago or so and said that there would be no question that when the United States thought it was the time to go, they would go; that Boutros Ghali would play along and so would the Security Council.
Now you're saying it's up to the Security Council vote; that it's not actually up to the United States military when they will depart?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I don't want to refute what they've said before. But I think, obviously, the U.S. view in this is going to be a very strong voice heard simply by the predominance of our military forces in the MNF.
It's not that suddenly a moment will occur and it's going to come as a big surprise to anybody that the hand-off is occurring. This is exactly why an advance team is there right now and why they are working every step of the way.
So we certainly are not expecting this to shape up in a way that there's going to be some kind of dispute over whether it's a safe and secure environment.
Q Correct me if I'm wrong. Now the Security Council is going to vote on it. That's nothing --
MS. SHELLY: I didn't that it was going to be a vote, per se. I said that it was going to be a determination made by the Council, taking into account all the recommendations that would be made. It certainly is our expectation that as this process unfolds, this will be done in a way which satisfies the large majority of concerns that both the MNF and UNMIH would have. I think given the very broad multinational participation in this, it's important that the Security Council be a part of that process. But the form in which that would actually take, if it would be simply a kind of notification to the Security Council or if there would be something more formal, I don't have the details at this point on how that would be done.
Q What foreign participation is there at this point in the multinational force, and also the monitoring of people that are actually in Haiti and working?
MS. SHELLY: Okay. On the monitors, I'll check. I believe that yesterday or the day before, we put up, in response to a question raised at the briefing in our famous TQ format, we put up an answer to those who are participating currently in the multinational force. I don't think it's changed in the last two days. So I think you can get the countries from the Press Office.
Q (Inaudible) on Guantanamo. You said there are 8,000 who are still there. It would seem to me that they would have a weak claim to continued U.S. protection because of the changed circumstances inside Haiti. It would seem to me the overwhelming majority would not have a well-founded fear of persecution. On that basis, how could anybody be entitled to remain on Guantanamo?
MS. SHELLY: To my knowledge, there isn't anybody who has said at this point, hard and fast, that they absolutely refuse to return. They had been accorded safehaven status, as I've mentioned. The issue of any individuals or groups refusing to return has not arisen at this point. So I think it borders on being a hypothetical.
I would just mention that there are other countries, as you know, that did offer the safehaven possibility, even when it looked like we were going to be able to accommodate the numbers. Obviously, for simplicity sake, it was an awful lot easier from a logistical point of view to keep them together rather than parceling them out in a number of different locations. Even when it became apparent that we might not need to immediately avail ourselves of those other possibilities, we've always kept them open.
To my knowledge, other safehaven possibilities still exist, but I think we'll have to see where we are a little farther down the road before we would be able to address that in any greater specificity.
Q Christine, do you have any better idea yet here in Washington about when Aristide is likely to name a Prime Minister and a Cabinet?
MS. SHELLY: I don't. I know there was some speculation that he might be going to do that yesterday in the context of his press conference. I know that he has been having consultations with quite a number of people since his return. I think he wants to make sure that there is very broadbase support for his Cabinet. We're certainly expecting that it will happen sometime in the near future, but don't have a date at this point about when the Cabinet will be named.
Q Different subject? Libya has offered to turn over the two Lockerbie suspects to the Arab League. Is that something we are jumping to applaud?
MS. SHELLY: You caught me, Sid. I hadn't seen that. I'll check and see what kind of response we'd like to make to that this afternoon.
Q You ought to be able to do that off-the-cuff.
MS. SHELLY: What?
Q You ought to be able to do that one off the cuff.
MS. SHELLY: I could do that one off the cuff, but I would want to -- I know you're a very reliable source for information, but that being said, I will check in what way we may have learned of that and then comment in a responsible way.
Q Christine, yet another topic. Yesterday, Ambassador Gallucci at a briefing at the Foreign Press Center said in regard to the Framework Agreement which is to be signed tomorrow with North Korea that there is what he called a "Confidential Minute" that is a portion of the document a couple of pages long; and while the Framework Agreement will be made public, this "Confidential Minute" will not.
Can you tell me what is the purpose and the scope of this "Confidential Minute?"
MS. SHELLY: On the first part, on the timing and location of this, my understanding now is this will take place tomorrow, 10:00 Washington-time, 3:00 Geneva-time. I don't know where, but I'm told it's probably the North Korean mission. I think our mission in Geneva will put out the exact timing of that. It certainly is our intention to make the agreement available at that time.
As to the "Minute" which you have referred to, quoting Ambassador Gallucci there is a "Confidential Minute." It's not unusual for international accords to have confidential annexes when one or more of the parties do not want to make public certain aspects of the understandings.
Nothing we have made public concerning the agreement has been or will be inconsistent with the entire agreement, including the "Minute." The Congress, of course, will be briefed in an appropriate setting on the full agreement, including the "Minute." But as Ambassador Gallucci indicated yesterday and did not get into any of the details of the "Minute," we have in fact agreed that it will remain confidential.
Q Can you say why the United States agreed to keep, presumably, an important part of a crucial document out of view of the American public?
MS. SHELLY: I think I just answered that. It is something that is consistent with the practice and negotiation of international agreements.
Q Which party wanted it confidential?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have the details on that.
Q You mentioned Congress. Since, presumably, some money is going to be changing hands, like $4 billion, at some point, will Congress at any point be called in to authorize expenditures or loans?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, let me refute the notion that somehow $4 billion of U.S. money is going to be changing hands.
MS. SHELLY: First of all, we have already begun our Congressional consultations on this. Certainly anything at all that involves any kind of U.S. commitment to agree to help in any kind of way if it incurs a financial obligation on the part of the U.S., it's also something that certainly we'd be in consultation with the U.S. Congress every step of the way.
Let me just get into that, if I can, a little bit about the money angle. It's estimated, as I think you know, that the two light-water reactors may cost as much as $4 billion. We don't have an exact estimate at this point about the supplemental fuel which will be provided under the terms of the agreement to meet energy needs in the interim period.
As I think you know, almost all of the costs of constructing the light-water reactors will be borne by other consortium members, and specifically, the Republic of Korea and Japan. In terms of any kind of direct costs to the U.S., we are in consultation with Congress on the issue.
There is the $5 million which has been referred to that the U.S. has undertaken to pay for the initial shipment of heavy fuel oil that would be shipped to the DPRK. We are estimating at this point that would be about $5 million. Subsequent alternate energy needs will be funded by a multinational consortium, which we would expect to be established in the near future. So that's the amount that has come up at this point regarding a possible U.S. financial commitment, and, as I said, we have begun consultations with the Congress on this.
Q Presumably, the United States will be part of this international consortium?
MS. SHELLY: That's the plan.
Q Christine, could we move onto Pakistan. Secretary Christopher met with the Pakistani Foreign Secretary; and also Lynn Davis, too, met with him this morning. Have you got any readout on it, and what was the purpose of the meeting?
MS. SHELLY: I have a little bit of a readout on that, because I thought you would probably be interested in that since it took place this morning.
This is Secretary Christopher's meeting with the Foreign Secretary. This is not the Foreign Minister, it's the Foreign Secretary. I understand that he is the Number Two, I think, in the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. It's Najmuddin Shaikh -- is that the correct pronunciation ?
MS. SHELLY: He saw the Secretary this morning. They had a very good review of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. They met for approximately half an hour.
The Foreign Secretary, as you've already mentioned, will be seeing a number of other State Department officials while he's here, including Under Secretary Tarnoff, Under Secretary Davis, and also Assistant Secretary Raphel.
The meeting is part of our mutual effort to broaden the traditional strong ties which exist between Pakistan and the United States. We have many shared concerns with Pakistan, and we are cooperating very closely to address them.
Recently, the United States and Pakistan worked very closely together at the Cairo Population Conference, also on some major peacekeeping operations, and in the global non- proliferation fora.
The Secretary and the Foreign Secretary discussed many issues in the bilateral relationship, including commercial ties, regional security, the Indo-Pakistani relations, and the Kashmir dispute, and as I mentioned already, some broader non- proliferation issues.
Q I've got a couple more, Christine. One is that the U.S. has said that if Pakistan offers the same assurances as China did on missile proliferation, the sanctions would be lifted. Is there going to be any announcement soon that sanctions against Pakistan will be lifted? Because he's meeting separately with Lynn Davis, too.
MS. SHELLY: As these meetings are underway, I don't have any announcement to make at this point. As a general point, the U.S. has very serious concerns, as you know, about the dangers of nuclear and missile proliferation in south Asia. We recognize that security concerns of the countries in the region are a very key part of this problem. We have had differences with Pakistan in the past over these issues and we'll continue to discuss them.
I can just mention briefly that the M-11 issue did come up, at least in the meeting with the Secretary. I know that the intention was to discuss this more fully in the meeting with Under Secretary Davis. These talks will certainly, in discussions of this, form part of our on-going dialogue on the issue.
Q Just one more question. Over the past few weeks, there have been several Congressmen who have written the President, as well as the Secretary, talking about recent reports on Pakistani support for terrorism in Kashmir and calling on the State Department to put them back on the "watch list". Is there any consideration of this? Is there any discussion of it, especially since a lot of Congressmen have written both the President and the Secretary on this calling on Pakistan to be put back on the "watch list"?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any details about that correspondence. So on that particular question, I think I'll take it and see what we might say on that later this afternoon.
Q If I can put that question a little differently. We had advised the Pakistanis -- and it was announced publicly by the U.S. Government -- that we were watching their behavior with the possibility of seeing whether or not they should be placed on the aiding-terrorism list. Is that policy still in effect?
MS. SHELLY: I'm not aware of there being any change in our policy on that. But as to the specific issue, I'm going to check and take the question.
Q Many people in this area especially consider this question to be of national importance. What is the Administration's feelings on Gus Frerotte?
MS. SHELLY: Give me a hint.
Q Well, some people say that if he performs well this Sunday, he can become the most important person in Washington. (Laughter)
MS. SHELLY: Are you asking me a question about our hometown football team?
Q Yes, I am.
MS. SHELLY: Okay. Do you think there's a direct tie-in here to foreign policy issues?
MS. SHELLY: None. Should I do this off the cuff? (Laughter) This could be dangerous territory out here.
Q Take the question.
MS. SHELLY: If Barry Schweid were here, he would say, "Answer that question and name your successor." (Laughter) Off the cuff -- and even though we have lights and action, I probably should do this OFF THE RECORD as well. Am I allowed to do that during the briefing? (Laughter)
The season is not over, I'm told, and I'm also told that it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Redskins could win every remaining game that they are scheduled to play. I'm told that by my very high-level sources. Even though I know that the world works in many mysterious ways -- and here I think I can make a tie-in to foreign policy -- as it does in the world of foreign policy, I think that at the State Department we do have a policy that we don't -- even though it certainly is the hometown team, I think we try to be very evenhanded and not to favor one team over another, although if we're going to look at the list of cities that have taken recent actions in standing up against people like Saddam Husayn or cities which have helped to restore democracy to Haiti or things like that, then perhaps we might be able to give a kind of wink and a nod on behalf of this one.
But I'm not sure I have anything more prophetic on this one.
Q Go back to Pakistan for a minute. You said that the M-11 thing was discussed in the discussions with the Secretary. So as of now there is no case of sanctions being lifted against Pakistan?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have anything more to say on it at this point.
Q Something on it a little later in the afternoon?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to check. I have to make sure that what we say here reflects the actual meetings as they take place and not just what we have cooked up to say in advance.
Q According to a Hungarian news report, thirty-four --
MS. SHELLY: Wait, wait. Sorry. There's one more on Pakistan.
Q Follow-up on that. Is it our understanding that the Foreign Secretary was coming in with the kind of information we wanted from him to allow us to lift the sanctions?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, I don't know if we had an inside track on exactly what he was coming in with specifically in the way of information; but we will work up an answer on this. It may not respond in the degree of detail which you'd like to see, but that will also be factored in in our efforts to work up an answer for this afternoon.
Q According to a Hungarian news report there has been an unusually long delay in providing the necessary agreement for the Hungarian Ambassador-designate to Washington. His papers were submitted in the first week of September, but he still doesn't have the permission yet.
Do you agree that it's indeed an unusually long period, and if yes, is there any special reason for the delay?
MS. SHELLY: On this, I understand that the Hungarian Embassy requested agreement in the mid-September time frame, and there is a standard process that we have to go through on such requests that involve both the State Department and the White House.
There isn't any set period of time for this process to take place. Some applications require a little bit longer than others to process. In this case, the length of time required to process the application fell within what we would consider to be the normal timeframe.
In any event, however, I am pleased to note that there is no problem with the request for agreement, that the process was actually completed yesterday, and that agreement has now been issued.
The Hungarian Embassy and Hungarian officials in Budapest already have been informed of this development, and we look forward to receiving the new Ambassador in Washington in the near future.
Q A question on yet another subject: The Turkish Defense Minister says that the armed forces of his country have been put on high alert and that Turkey is prepared to go to war if Greece extends its territorial waters in the Aegean from the present six miles to 12 miles.
Does the United States take any part in this -- any side in this dispute? Are you playing any role?
MS. SHELLY: As to the most recent piece of news on this, I'm going to have to check and see. As to the general point, we certainly have very close relations with both countries. We're certainly aware of the fact that the issues related to sea's airspace and all of these are very, very complex issues, and they're issues that are very strongly felt in both of the countries.
If we are asked to try to play a useful role to help defuse some of the tensions, I think we certainly do try to respond, if that reflects the desires of both parties. But on the most recent developments I'm going to check and see if we have anything more specific we'd like to say.
Q Specifically, could you ask your people if either Turkey or Greece has asked the United States to intervene?
MS. SHELLY: I'll check on that.
Q Christine, on Hamas, I understand the Israeli Government has asked the United States to see what it can do to stop fund raising for Hamas here. Is the State Department urging the Justice Department to look into some new and innovative ways that they might be able to do that?
MS. SHELLY: Sid, as I think you're probably aware from the times when Hamas has come up in the past from this podium, and particularly the issue relating to Hamas activities in the United States, there's not a lot that I can say on that score.
We certainly have had exchanges with Israel on this issue. I'm not, for obvious reasons, going to get into the details of that. You're certainly correct in pointing toward the Justice Department and the FBI on this, because what happens ultimately for any kind of facilities, offices or activities in the United States, that clearly is a domestic law enforcement issue that either the Justice Department or the FBI would address directly. I'm told that in fact they have specifically asked on that point that we refer all calls to them. So other than simply taking note of the fact that there are activities here and acknowledging that we have had some exchanges with the Israelis on that, I'm afraid I can't take that any further.
Q What about the specific question of whether the Department of State, for which you speak, has asked them to look into it. I mean, you can't ask them to answer that.
MS. SHELLY: We have had discussions with them on the issue, in the context of our discussions with the Israelis. Obviously, in the event that we get new issues or messages or information from the Israelis, it is, I think, certainly to be expected that we would have contacts with the Justice Department. But again I'm not going to provide any details on the nature of our exchanges.
Q What about the host of capitals where you're raising the issue? Any feedback from other countries?
MS. SHELLY: I don't really have anything to add to that beyond what Mike said yesterday, which is simply to underscore the fact that we have in the last 24 hours or so made demarches in several different capitals on this score, and certainly hope that other countries will be sensitive to the concerns that we raise.
Q You've had no responses?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any details on any responses. But I think when we get the responses, it's unlikely we would put out details on them.
Q Christine, in the past you've asked the Saudi Government to stop what they refer to as private individuals donating to Hamas. In fact, as I understand it, it actually goes through Saudi Government administered trusts. Were they one of the governments that you contacted to ask them to see what they could do?
MS. SHELLY: I'm going to decline to name specific governments that we contacted.
Q Would you characterize the way these protests were received in these countries?
MS. SHELLY: The protests?
Q The demarches. You used the word.
MS. SHELLY: Oh, am I not supposed to use the word "demarche"? Is that not one we use?
It's something that we went in and raised with them. Other than acknowledging that we have done that and indicating that there were several governments that we did that with, I just don't have anything further to say on that at this point.
Q Same general issue: Palestinian officials have said that Israel is in essence declaring social and economic war on the Palestinians by closing off the West Bank and Gaza. Does the U.S. have any view of that?
MS. SHELLY: First of all, I think that we are waiting to hear exactly what the Israeli Cabinet decisions on this score were. We know, of course, that for the moment they have taken the decision to close the border. But the details on that, if it relates specifically to those decisions, I think you'd have to address them to the Israeli Government.
A key point for us as this has unfolded in the last day or so is that Israeli officials, of course, have indicated very strongly and certainly publicly that the peace process will go forward and that Hamas will not be allowed to dictate its pace or direction with the type of activity which took place yesterday.
Q Thank you.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:49 p.m.)
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