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Last Updated:8/2/00
Excerpt from State Department Daily Briefing, August 1, 2000

U.S. Department of State
Press Briefing
TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2000
Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman

QUESTION: Yes, on Colombia. Yesterday, 30 NGOs in a letter to President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged them not to certify that Colombia may receive military assistance because, in their words, they haven't complied with the conditions that were included in the bill that gave birth to Plan Colombia. They also warn against the use of a waiver to avoid the certification process and decided yesterday to cancel a meeting that they had scheduled today with Peter Romero where they were going to discuss precisely the current situation on human rights in Colombia.

Do you have any comments on that?

MR. REEKER: I think everybody will recall that on July 13th legislation which appropriated about $1.3 billion for Plan Colombia was signed into law by President Clinton, and that law does require that the Administration submit to Congress a number of notifications and reports and certifications. One of those certifications requires that the Secretary of State certify to the appropriate congressional committees and authorities that the Government of Colombia is undertaking certain actions to improve human rights and drug crop eradication to areas that we have highlighted annually in our narcotics report and our human rights report.

The law on Plan Colombia also contains a waiver provision, as you noted, which would enable assistance to be provided for Colombia without regard to the various requirements if the President made a certification that this would be in the national security interest to do so. Right now, the Department of State is working with other agencies in the government to discuss implementing that law and the certification and reporting requirements under that law and how that will go about. So I don't have any specific things for you on that process at this point.

We have held discussions and consultations with human rights groups, certainly over a long period of time, about the situation in Colombia. As I noted, every year we have our human rights report which is based in part on conversations that we hold with groups that monitor human rights in Colombia. The Plan, Plan Colombia, as I said, the law requires that there be some specific consultations with human rights groups on a variety of issues, and in order to meet the requirement we do want to begin to have a regular process of meetings with these groups beyond the periodic meetings that we've had for many years, which I described.

It is unfortunate that the meeting scheduled for today was canceled, since most of the organizations had decided not to participate, but we will issue a new invitation and try to reschedule something in the next several days.

QUESTION: This rescheduling of the meeting would help the process and, as I understand, there is a lot of urgency for the funds to get to Colombia because most of the anti-narcotics programs are almost run out of funds. Do you have any time frame of when this meeting is going to take place?

MR. REEKER: I don't have any specific time frame. As I said, we regretted that the meeting that had been scheduled for today with a number of human rights groups was canceled. We're looking into issuing a new invitation in the next several days. I don't have a specific time table or calendar for that. And as I said, we're also continuing the discussions on implementing the various aspects of the law in terms of the certifications and reporting requirements that are necessary and how we'll go about doing that.

As of August 2, 2000, this document was also available online at http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/0008/000801db.html
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