AWI9801003

    Algeria Watch International
    
    Statement Release AWI9801003
    
    Tel: (414) 543-6534
    email: awi@afn.org
    URL:
    http://members.tripod.com/~AlgeriaWatch/index.html
    
    January 12, 1998
    
    Dear Friends:
    
    Attached below are excerpts from the past 3 press briefings of the
    US State Department. Only the parts related to Algeria are included.
    The full transcripts are available at:
    http://www.state.gov/www/outreach.html
    
    Karim Diff
    President
    Algeria Watch International Inc.
    
    ===============================================================
    
    
                            U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                               DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
                                       DPB # 6
                        MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 1998, 1:30 P.M.
                   (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
    
    [...]
    QUESTION: One on Algerian massacres. This I take from a Reuters wire
    this morning. Mr.Abdelkader Hachani, one of the spokesmen for the
    Islamic Salvation Front, the FIS, says, and I quote, "Only a political
     dynamic which opens perspectives to the Islamic movement could
    marginalize these extremists." He says in the opening paragraph that
    the massacres in Algeria can be stopped if the West persuades the
    government of Algeria to talk to its Islamic fundamentalist opponents.
    Does the US agree with this approach? And is the US going to be active,
    as a member of the West, in trying to get all parties to talk in
    Algeria?
    
    MR. RUBIN: Our position on dialogue is well-known there,
    and I have nothing to add to that. I can say that we have been seeking
    to encourage a fact-finding effort to make sure that the basic facts
    in this area are as well-known as they can be, including a UN special
    rapporteur, including NGOs, including the media, to try to encourage
    the Algerian Government to that effect. But as far as our views on
    dialogue, they are well-known, and they have not changed.
    
    QUESTION: Mr. Hachani seems to be saying that it's the Moslem
    fundamentalists that are, in fact, to blame for the atrocities.
    Can you comment at all about that?
    
    MR. RUBIN: Well, again, there have been various reports about
    who's been responsible for this. Several Algerian policemen who were
    seeking asylum in Britain claimed they were involved in violence
    against civilians under orders from their government.
    I cannot confirm the validity of the report, and thus cannot
    comment on its specifics.
    
    As for the general question of responsibility for the atrocities
    which the Algerian people are suffering, we believe that the Islamic
    extremist organization, the GIA, is responsible for the great
    majority of these atrocities, and we condemn these terrorist
    atrocities in the strongest possible terms. Some personnel in
    local government guard groups may also be involved to some extent.
    
    The situation is complex, and that is why we've encouraged groups
    like fact-finding missions to go in and try to clarify what's
    going on. But let me emphasize that we condemn these atrocities,
    that the Algerian Government should do all it can to protect
    civilians and bring the perpetrators to justice, while meeting
    the standards of the rule of law that we have long sought.
    [...]
    
    =================================================================================
                            U.S. Department of State
    
                             Daily Press Briefing
    
                                       INDEX
                              FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 1998
    
    [...]
    QUESTION: Can I ask a question of clarification on Algeria?
    
    MR. FOLEY: Sure.
    
    QUESTION: Does the United States still want to see an international
    inquiry into the human rights situation in Algeria?
    
    MR. FOLEY: Well, we've said that we have been encouraging the Algerian
    Government to allow outside observers to view and study the human
    rights situation. We had a semantic discussion - Jamie Rubin did
    yesterday - on this subject.
    
    Algerian authorities have told us that they would accept a visit by
    a UN human rights rapporteur. We encouraged this step. We note the
    press reports that the EU is planning to send a delegation to
    Algeria, I believe, before the end of the month. We share the
    concerns of the EU and other nations in the international community
    with regard to the massacres in Algeria, and the need to gain a
    clearer picture of what is happening in Algeria. So we support the
    EU efforts in this direction.
    
    QUESTION: The reason I'm asking the question, Jim, is because
    the Algerian Government specifically does not want to have an
    inquiry, an investigation. And you're not using those terms.
    So I assume - although it's willing to discuss and hold talks on --
    
    MR. FOLEY: Well, again, there was a spirited, semantic exchange
    yesterday; and it's probably not fruitful to go over it. But what
    we have said is that we encourage the visit by the UN rapporteur,
    but we're not seeking an international commission of inquiry.
    So I can make that distinction for you.
    
    QUESTION: -- said it's going to send a delegation to Algeria and
    the (inaudible) foreign minister's comment on that reaction was
    not very encouraging. Do you have any comment on the European
    decision?
    
    MR. FOLEY: I just commented on the European decision. I welcomed it.
    
    QUESTION: You said you support the UN, but you don't support
    a European?
    
    MR. FOLEY: I said we support EU efforts in this direction.
    Check the transcript.
    [...]
    
    ========================================================================
    
                            U.S. Department of State
                             Daily Press Briefing
    
                                       INDEX
                            THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 1998
                               Briefer: JAMES P. RUBIN
    
    [...]
    QUESTION: Algeria -- I don't want to belabor it, if there's
    nothing to say, but I mean your - the US's account of what the
    Algerians were willing to do differed, of course, from what
    their state agency news service or whatever was saying.
    You had them open to a UN human rights specialist --
    
    MR. RUBIN: Special rapporteur.
    
    QUESTION: I don't speak in foreign tongues.
    
    MR. RUBIN: Algerian authorities have told us they would accept
    a visit by a UN human rights rapporteur.
    
    QUESTION: A special rapporteur.
    
    MR. RUBIN: Special rapporteur. We encourage this step,
    and we have no reason to believe the Algerian Government's
    position has changed overnight.
    
    QUESTION: Jamie, what exactly does a "rapporteur" do?
    
    QUESTION: He reports.
    
    MR. RUBIN: He reports. That's what you do.
    
    QUESTION: He doesn't investigate?
    
    MR. RUBIN: Well, again, I don't want to get too deeply into the
    - I've been in New York, and I know what sweat and blood goes
    into the distinctions between different UN organizations and their
    mandates and what titles people get and all that goes with that.
    A UN special rapporteur, I can say with confidence, is a
    UN special rapporteur.
    
    (Laughter.)
    
    [...]
    ============================================================================
    
    
    





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