State Department Noon Briefing


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2000 - 1:30 P.M.

Q: President Chavez of Venezuela says there is an effort being led by
world power centers, or words to that effect, link him to
anti-democratic elements in neighboring countries - Colombia, Bolivia
and Ecuador. Do you have any comment on those?

MR. REEKER: We talked a little about this yesterday. I think
Ambassador Boucher addressed it in light of some press reports, and I
thought addressed it fairly plainly. But I understand that some of the
Latin American press perhaps took even Ambassador Boucher's comments
completely out of context.

Some remarks were quoted in an American newspaper, I believe
yesterday. Those remarks were made informally in response to questions
about reports that are out there, that all of you have probably seen
or are aware of, regarding this issue. And what our official said, as
Ambassador Boucher noted, was that the remarks were referring to
reports from third parties, not reports from the United States

What we said at the time - and I will repeat it again today - is
that we have seen those reports and are looking into them. We cannot
confirm them. They aren't our reports. They were issues, as the
official indicated, that would be of concern to us, but we certainly
couldn't confirm them.

Let me say today that we very much welcome the statements from
Venezuelan Government officials that these reports were not correct.
And I will reiterate also what Ambassador Boucher said yesterday, and
that is that we believe that the types of issues described in these
reports are best dealt with, best handled, bilaterally between the two
countries involved, and we certainly would encourage bilateral
consultations in this case.

But I hope the people are able to listen to what I just said and
understand fully that when an official responds to a question about
reports that we may all be familiar with, and simply says we're
familiar with them, the reports themselves may be of concern to us.
That doesn't mean that they are our reports, because in this case they
are not US Government reports. They are third-party reports, and it
does not mean that we are confirming them. It simply means exactly
what was said, that we look into these things like we do all the time.
Often you are the people that ask us to look into these things.

Again, the Venezuelan Government has said that the reports are not
correct, and we are very pleased to hear that from them and believe
that such issues as described in those reports should be handled
bilaterally and we would certainly encourage them.

Q: Thank you.

MR. REEKER: Thanks. Oh, I'm sorry. Let's just not jump the - yes?

Q: Do you have any reaction about President Pastrana's decision to go
on with the peace talks with FARC? He made the decision last night.

MR. REEKER: Is this the extension of your question from yesterday?

Q: Yes, but - no, no, no.

MR. REEKER: About the demilitarized zone?

Q: Yes.

MR. REEKER: We checked into that, and we do understand that the
Government of Colombia has agreed to extend the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia - that is, the FARC - demilitarized zone, or
despeje until January 31st , 2001. Obviously we think that the
Government of Colombia must be free to make its own decision on what
will yield progress in the peace process, and we welcome developments
that help Colombia move towards peace and national reconciliation.

Q: Even if it is confirmed that the FARC are having kidnapping and all
kinds of things in the area - the despeje area?

MR. REEKER: Again, we think that the Government of Colombia needs to
make its own decisions, and that is what they do in terms of steps
that they think will yield progress in the peace process. And any
developments that help Colombia move toward that, we very much

Q: Thank you.


(The briefing was concluded at 2:35 P.M.)