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Last Updated:8/16/02
Excerpt from State Department Daily Briefing, August 15, 2002

Daily Press Briefing
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 15, 2002

...

QUESTION: Colombia's Article 98 agreement?

MR. REEKER: Yes, Colombia. As you know, Under Secretary Grossman was in Colombia. He, I believe, is back. He was returning to Washington today and expected him here in the Department sometime this afternoon. As he indicated in his press conference down there, the US is actively seeking to conclude an Article 98 agreement. As we've said, we are seeking to conclude these agreements with many, many countries. These are the agreements that cover US nationals, including US officials and US military personnel.

In terms of Colombia, I would just refer you to the remarks that Under Secretary Grossman himself made in his press availability down there. It's something we raise with them and we look to conclude with them.

I think I would just reiterate what Secretary Powell said on Tuesday, I think, when he spoke to you, that we're not bludgeoning or threatening any country; we're discussing with them our concerns about the International Criminal Court in order to find practical means to deal with those concerns, and pursuing bilateral agreements under Article 98 is, in fact, what many countries recommended we pursue because the Rome Treaty itself that created the ICC anticipated this need. That's why they wrote into it an Article 98 that made quite clear the opportunity for countries to negotiate these types of agreements.

QUESTION: I think you may have said this before, but at what level are we holding those discussions with other countries? Is it ambassadors in the countries or is it at an under secretary level?

MR. REEKER: A variety of levels in many countries. I think we have talked to most countries -- we sent messages out to our embassies, as you will, recall, shortly after the ICC came into being some weeks ago. We had a lengthy discussion at the UN Security Council about this. That was the time when many countries pointed to Article 98 as the path forward to address our concerns. So all of our embassies have been pursuing this with host countries. We've had ambassadors in here in Washington to brief them fully on our concerns about the Criminal Court and about our desire to negotiate these treaties, these agreements, under Article 98 of the Rome statute. And as you know, we have signed two of them. I believe that Under Secretary Bolton was present in Romania and in Israel when we signed those. Other levels have been dealing with this in a variety of things. As you noted, Under Secretary Grossman raised this in Colombia.

QUESTION: Why do you think only two countries have been able to answer so far?

MR. REEKER: I don't know that only two countries have been able to answer. Only two countries have actually signed agreements. I mean, this is something that's just begun that we're pursuing with many countries around the world, so we'll continue to pursue that because it's in our interest, it's important to us, and it clearly respects other countries' rights to make their own sovereign decisions about signing up to the Rome Treaty and to the ICC, and we're asking them to respect our rights to make our decision not to participate with that.

As of August 16, 2002, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2002/12725.htm
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