FILE ID:97062606.txt

(China/Wei, Egypt/female mutilation, Mexico/visas)  (590)

There was no regular briefing, but Acting State Department Spokesman
John Dinger did speak on-the-record with reporters. No transcript is
available of this briefing.

CHINA/WEI -- Dinger was asked to comment on reports that imprisoned
democracy advocate Wei Jingsheng has been severely beaten by fellow
inmates in an effort to get their own sentences reduced.

"We are gravely concerned, and we are seeking additional information"
from the Chinese authorities," Dinger said. "We again call on China to
release Wei Jingsheng and all others who have been imprisoned or
detained for the peaceful expression of their political and religious

Wei was sentenced to 15 years in prison after taking part in Beijing's
1979 "Democracy Wall" movement. He was released briefly in 1993 and
then was re-arrested and given his current sentence of 14 years.

Dinger noted that the U.S. relationship with China "cannot reach its
full potential until China improves its human rights performance."

EGYPT/FEMALE MUTILATION -- The United States government is
disappointed by the administrative court decision striking down the
Egyptian government's ban on female genital mutilation, Dinger said.

"The United States strongly supported the decision by the Minister of
Health and Population in July 1996 to ban this abhorrent practice,"
Dinger said. "The U.S. government will continue to urge an end to this
form of violence against women. It has been widely condemned by
international experts as damaging to both the physical and
psychological health of women."

Dinger emphasized that the United States is not singling out Egypt for
criticism. "Our position is worldwide on this issue," he said.

The practice of female genital mutilation is found among Muslims as
well as some Christians in African, Middle Eastern and Asian

MEXICO/VISAS -- Dinger was asked about reports that U.S. diplomats in
Mexico have rejected a proposal to revoke the American visa of Manlio
Fabio Beltrones, Governor of the Mexican state of Sonora, who
reputedly is linked to major drug traffickers. (The New York Times
international edition, June 26, "U.S. Officials Divided Over Mexican
Governor Who's Reportedly Linked to Drug Trade," by Tim Golden and
Julia Preston)

"It is no secret that Governor Beltrones' visa eligibility is under
review in relation to allegations of connection to drug traffickers,"
Dinger said, but added that "We have not revoked Governor Beltrones'
visa. Cases involving allegations like these are continually

Dinger also addressed allegations made in the press that U.S.
Ambassador to Mexico James R. Jones rejected reports from law
enforcement and intelligence analysts that linked Beltrones to drug
lords. The Ambassador is reported to be leaving his post this week to
head the international division of Warnaco Group, Inc., a large
multinational apparel company that has extensive operations in Mexico,
including a brassiere manufacturing plant in Sonora.

"I want to make very clear," Dinger said, "that Ambassador Jones has
done an outstanding job representing U.S. interests in Mexico --
that's one of our most important bilateral relationships."

Dinger pointed out that it is U.S. consular officers at U.S. posts
overseas who have the sole authority to approve visa requests. "The
consular officer has all matter of information available to him or her
upon which to make the decision," Dinger said. The consular officer
has not revoked the American visa of Beltrones, Dinger said, but added
that "in any case like this, it is under continuous review depending
on what new information may become available."