State Department Briefing, January 6, 2004


Tuesday January 6, 2004

1:00 p.m. EST
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman


Positive Steps and the Resumption of Talks
Visit by Unofficial U.S. Delegation

Secretary General's Meeting on Iraq

Possible Talks Between Turkey and Syria

Reports of Improving Relations

Syrian Proposal for WMD-Free Middle East

Dialogue Toward Bilateral and Regional Stability

Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Referendum Delegation

Tunisia's Voice for Moderation

Dialogue Between Britain and U.S. on Libya

Visit of Dr. Condolezza Rice at Chief of Mission Conference
U.S. VISIT Program

Fingerprinting U.S. Citizen Travelers

MR. BOUCHER: All right. First, let me wish everybody Happy New Year, since this is my first time back after the turn of the year. And let's see if I remember what we're doing here.

I don't have any statements or announcements today. I think you've all just heard from the Secretary at the C Street entrance so...but I'd be glad to take other questions.

QUESTION: Yeah, I'm just wondering if you could elaborate, Richard, a little bit on what the Secretary meant by saying that he was encouraged with the North Korean statement and that this was a positive step, and what you guys are hoping it could lead to in the way of a resumption of the talks.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure if I can elaborate, because I do think the Secretary addressed it in some detail. He pointed out that the statement refers to the possibility that they would freeze all their programs. Certainly, the verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear programs has been part of our goals for this, and that could be a step in that direction.

At the same time, it's important for North Korea to agree to go back to talks. It's important that we be able to sit down with North Korea and the others and try to achieve some outcomes that move us in the right direction, for us and for the others involved, including North Korea.

So, as the Secretary mentioned, we've been talking to the others involved. Some paper has gone back and forth about possible outcomes for the visit -- for the next round of talks, excuse me. And therefore, that's work that does continue, does continue actively. But we do believe that now, perhaps all the parties want to get back to talks and that would be a positive thing in our mind.

QUESTION: Okay, and when he and you just referred to paper as going back and forth, are you talking about the communiqués that might be issued at the end of a next round, or are you -- is it something else?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it's basically something like that that deals with possible outcomes of meetings that we have going in. We all have some idea of what's going to come out of it. That's something the Chinese have wanted to work on and we've been talking to them and they've been talking to the others as well about that.

QUESTION: Because I thought it was your position earlier that that's -- those are the kinds of things that you wanted to talk about at the meeting, you didn't want to have them all decided before you went in. Am I wrong?

MR. BOUCHER: We -- those are certainly all the things that need to be talked about at the meeting. We've not been opposed to discussing in advance some of those issues and how they might come out. We've been participating in that process, as you know, for a month or more. We've been willing to talk about that. We have not held back on our willingness to go to talks though, as that process continued. And certainly there is plenty to talk about at the talks themselves about how to proceed. That's why you need to have discussions.

QUESTION: He spoke of, the Secretary, that he was hoping that it would be a step forward in this next round (inaudible). The inference is that it will take at least several meetings to achieve your goal. And is he talking about a measure? I mean, I'm trying to imagine something that would be tangible that would be short of a halt to a program with North Korea.

MR. BOUCHER: I think certainly we would welcome an end to North Korea's programs at the earliest possible date --


MR. BOUCHER: -- a verifiable and irreversible end. To make it verifiable and irreversible, there obviously will be verification mechanisms, other steps that would need to be worked out. There's the whole interplay, then, with the kinds of security assurances or other statements that we, and others, might want to make as part of that process, so it's not going forth with simple statements, but rather, starting to make clear positions, and then working those out, and that may take more than one meeting.

I think the point that we've made before is that we're willing to make this part of a process that would evolve and to engage in a process that would be designed to produce results of the kind that we have envisaged.


QUESTION: Well, would it be safe to say, then, that when Secretary Powell said he's encouraged, he wasn't referring just to the North Korean statement, it was also to these back -- these negotiations that have been going on through papers? Because the statement itself, I mean, usually you, you express a good deal of skepticism about what they say through KCNA and today you're treating it more credibly.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we've reacted differently to different kinds of statements that they've made. This is one that we think has some significance. The Secretary said it was interesting and positive. I think encouraged is, to some extent, yeah, an overall observation on where he thinks the parties are, that we do think the parties want to get back to talks, that we have seen a continuation of the discussions of getting there.

We have certainly been in close touch with the Chinese throughout the last few weeks, and we've been willing to work with the Chinese and hope the North Koreans are, as well, in pulling together another round of six-party talks.

QUESTION: So definitely, then, the Chinese have conveyed to you that even before you heard this statement out of Pyongyang that the North Koreans appear to be willing to come back to talks?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I would not, I would not try to speak on behalf of the Chinese. I would not want to imply that the Chinese -- I don't know how to describe this -- but I don't want to speak on behalf of the Chinese or the North Koreans --

QUESTION: But I'm asking what they've told you.

MR. BOUCHER: -- in that regard. I am not going to tell you what the Chinese have told us. The Chinese -- or the North Koreans can speak on their own. I think the Secretary said that -- I forget exactly how he phrased it -- but it was a belief or an impression that all the parties wanted to get back to talks. I would not go so far as to say we have a commitment at this point.

QUESTION: In that belief or impression (inaudible) with North Korea insisting on preconditions, I'm having trouble squaring the position we're told North Korea takes that the U.S. doesn't find acceptable, and sort of a positive notion that the parties really do want to get back to the table. Can they want to get back to the table and still phrase it in terms that they know are unacceptable? That's a funny way to get back to the table.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess it is. One can want to get back to the table, and want to get something before one goes back to the table.


MR. BOUCHER: At the same time, that's not logically inconsistent.


MR. BOUCHER: But the Chinese are trying to work on this, trying to bring it back together. We have made very clear that we're willing to work with the Chinese on the outcomes. We're willing to work positively to get back to another round of talks that would produce an outcome for us and for the others involved. And we hope the North Koreans are willing to work with the Chinese on that as well.

QUESTION: Richard, yesterday Adam discussed this. There has been an unofficial tour to North Korea comprised of scientists from Los Alamos, a staffer or two from the U.S. Congress and a scholar from Brookings. Are they specifically on their own? Are you hearing back from them? They described it as a Disneyland tour.

MR. BOUCHER: (Laughter.) As you noted, yesterday Adam discussed this, and I think I'd really stick with what he said about this yesterday. Certainly, we're interested in what they see, in their impressions, what they hear. And they're, I'm sure, interested in sharing with us.

We've talked to previous unofficial delegations who have gone out to North Korea, and we're always interested in hearing back what people see and hear. But as far as our policy perspective on this, there is nothing new since Mr. Ereli addressed this yesterday.

QUESTION: But did that make it possible, then, for the North Koreans to change their attitudes to have this conference?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I doubt things happen quite that way in the real world.

QUESTION: So you don't have any reason to believe their presence now in Pyongyang had anything to do with the release of this statement?

MR. BOUCHER: I have nothing to indicate that.

QUESTION: Okay. And just can I go back to -- and is there anything new to report on the status of the talk -- of a new round of talks, or is it still kind of --

MR. BOUCHER: No, discussions continue.


QUESTION: Thank you. Oh, I just want to follow up on the Secretary's comment on the -- you know, North Korean side made the same statement almost a month ago, on December 15th Labor Party's newspaper say they're going to suspend the -- all aspect of a nuclear program including the commercial and peaceful base. And why did Mr. Secretary make a statement today like that?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't done the full comparison of whatever evolution or changes or differences there may or may not have been in their previous statements. Certainly, they have made statements that were somewhat similar. I think it's just the feeling that seeing the statement, seeing the way it's been played and used this time, as well as our general belief that the Chinese are working hard to bring things together, and that we're willing to work with them and others want to as well, that it seems to be interesting and positive, as the Secretary noted.

That's not claiming any particular breakthrough. That's just saying it's an interesting and a positive statement. It doesn't make it unique, even.

Okay. Tammy.

QUESTION: Any plans for Assistant Secretary Kelly or anyone else to travel, more consultations prior to the talks?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of at this point. I'm sure we'll be keeping in touch with Japanese and South Koreans and other countries involved, but I don't know of any specific travel plans at this moment.

QUESTION: Can you say at this point what the U.S. representation will be at the talks Kofi Annan is holding January 7th -- 19th -- on the UN role in Iraq? We know what he wants, but what is the U.S. apt to do?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I can't give you a full rundown of that yet. The Secretary General has announced plans to meet with the Iraqi Governing Council officials on January 19th. We're certainly supportive of such a meeting. We have appreciated the Secretary General's efforts to explore ways to further engage the United Nations in Iraq.

We remain willing to play a supportive role in efforts aimed at fostering dialogue between the UN and Iraqi officials at achieving greater UN participation on the ground in Iraq as soon as possible.

U.S. representatives from Washington and the coalition have been invited to the meeting. We're currently considering appropriate ways to support this meeting and are looking at the issue of our -- Adam, I can't read your -- representation.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: There apparently is an official Syrian trip to Turkey. Does that worry you?


QUESTION: It's been, I think, about a two-year break. They've been supporting the Kurds --

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's been longer than that, but there are many interests that we share in common with Turkey: stability in the region, stability in Iraq, in particular, and for Turkey to discuss those issues with Syria, --


MR. BOUCHER: -- I think we're fairly comfortable that there is a common approach to these issues.

QUESTION: So you think it has nothing to do with the United States. What do you have to say, if anything, about the apparent reconciliation between Iran and Egypt?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, speaking of issues that have nothing to do with the United States, I'd refer you to the Egyptians for any particular comment.

I would note, though, that we do speak regularly to a variety of friends in the region, including the Egyptians, about the ongoing concerns we have with regard to Iran, whether it's their weapons of mass destruction programs, the opposition to the Middle East peace process or Iran's especially poor human rights record.

But as the Secretary has said, we're willing to engage Iran on specific issues of mutual concern if and when the President determines it's in our interest to do so. So as far as how the Egyptians proceed, I think they certainly understand our position on this to the extent that they might be asked, but that it is important, I think, for us and -- all of us who are concerned about Iran's behavior in the region, particularly with regard to weapons of mass destruction and support for violent groups, to make that message clear to Iran.

QUESTION: But you don't have a position pro or con as to what, you know, one of your closest allies in the Middle East -- I mean, it potentially could open up a new way of communicating with --

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's, you know, it's hypothetical at this point. There's talk of it, but it's not a done deal yet. But we do certainly think that governments that meet with Iran, whether it was the Europeans who went there or others who have contacts with Iran, make clear that there is international concern about these things, particularly the nuclear programs, the weapons of mass destruction programs, and their violent opposition to the Middle East peace process.

QUESTION: Do you know, have there been discussions between Washington and Cairo about this specific issue?

MR. BOUCHER: I think they, we have talked to the Egyptians over time about our concerns about Iranian behavior.

QUESTION: No. No, no, no. About, about that policy --

MR. BOUCHER: About the specific issue of relations, no, I don't know if that, specifically, has come up. But as far as the issues that we believe are of concern with Iran in the region, certainly the Egyptians and others in the region are quite aware of the issues that we have pointed out.


QUESTION: Concerning the mass destruction weapons in the Middle East, they say your President has recently, in the last month alone, has been readdressing the subject and Syria seems to announce recently that they're going to maintain their draft resolution concerning the mass destruction weapons in the Middle East to empty, to make the whole Middle East empty of mass destructions.

They are going to maintain that resolution in the United Nations at the Security Council. I wonder, also, what can you tell us about the nuclear stockpile of Israel -- if you have anything to -- in the background that you're planning to pursue in the Middle East concerning the Israeli stockpile. I mean, you're talking about -- we're talking here about several countries in the Middle East, and just, what -- presumed programs. What can you tell us about Israel?

MR. BOUCHER: It has always been the United States' goal that conditions could be created in this part of the world where no nation would have any need for any weapons of mass destruction. We have always supported universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its subsequent documents.

That remains our position with regard to any country in this region.

QUESTION: Including Israel?

MR. BOUCHER: Any country in this region.

QUESTION: So there's nothing active -- you're not actively pushing the Israelis to sign the NPT, are you?

MR. BOUCHER: We have always maintained --

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, but it's not the front --

MR. BOUCHER: -- the importance of universal adherence.

QUESTION: -- it's not your front-burner issue today.

MR. BOUCHER: That remains our position.


MR. BOUCHER: That has been and remains our position.

QUESTION: Well, how big a priority is it to get them to do it?

MR. BOUCHER: I -- 42. I can't --

QUESTION: 42? Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: -- give you any particular range of priorities for an issue that, this has always been our position, and we maintain it.

QUESTION: Yeah, but there's a difference between a position that you constantly reiterate over and over and over again.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm answering your questions. I wasn't the one who brought it up. And so -- about as much as I can tell you on that.

QUESTION: How about when was the last time it was raised with the Israelis at a high level?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know.


QUESTION: Richard, what's your assessment of an apparent rapprochement between India and Pakistan calling for new talks next month?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary spoke to this to some extent already, outside. And I think it's important to remember what he said, that it is a historic development and one that, I think, has been in the works for some time. It's been taken through a series of acts of statesmanship, decisions made by India and Pakistan. We have been very supportive of that process and we look forward to continuing to work with them and help them as they go forward into a dialogue.

It's a goal that we have long supported, long sought. We think it's important for regional stability. It's important for the whole world. I would add to that that there are also ramifications for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. They've had, now, the very successful summit in Islamabad and we congratulate the conferees for that.

They agreed to a framework to develop South Asia Free Trade Association, adopted a plan of action on increasing property alleviation and signed an additional protocol on combating terrorism. So they're, I think, the dialogue, discussions between India and Pakistan also open up opportunities, whether it be in the trade area or the fighting of terrorism for the region as a whole to cooperate even more closely.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that these, these upcoming talks will be any more successful than previous rounds that have failed in the past?

MR. BOUCHER: We certainly have seen the parties announce steps, take steps and really move forward in concrete ways just to get to this point of announcing a dialogue.

We've been very supportive of that process and we continue to support it so that the dialogue on all the issues --


MR. BOUCHER: -- can produce as many results as possible.

QUESTION: Right. But previous dialogue has been, also, anteceded -- or --

MR. BOUCHER: Preceded.

QUESTION: Preceded by similar steps and they haven't worked. It's -- the -- you're not aware of anything that would lead you to be more optimistic that these would, that there would be actual results from this dialogue?

MR. BOUCHER: I -- it's always hard to predict results on a particular issue given the difficulty of these questions. At the same time, we have seen the leaders themselves put a lot of effort into getting to this point. We have seen them take concrete and practical steps. We have seen them create a momentum. We have seen what we would call "acts of statesmanship." And we have also seen supportive roles that we can play, that other countries can play in trying to help them continue to move forward. So we think they have shown, already, a fair amount of determination to move forward and we think that will likely continue.


QUESTION: Yes, Nayyar Zaidi, Daily Jang. There was a very long story in New York Times Sunday about Pakistan's alleged, you know, violation of nonproliferation or getting involved with different other countries and helping them. And there is a spate of stories, you know, in both the electronic and print media about this alleged involvement. So in that context, are you in touch? Are there any formal contacts on this issue or expression of concern? And what is the position of the State Department, I mean, how serious it is?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the position of the State Department is that which the Secretary just expressed outside and which he has expressed many times before; that we have appreciated the commitments made by the Government of Pakistan, President Musharraf specifically; that Pakistan will not be involved in trade involving weapons of mass destruction. President Musharraf made that commitment a little more than a year ago now.

And we also note that Pakistan has begun investigating and debriefing of individuals who may have valuable information on some of the activities that are being reported and discussed. We think that, again, demonstrates that President Musharraf attaches a high priority to meeting his commitment. So we'll continue to discuss this, follow it and work with the Pakistani Government.

QUESTION: What is the -- like, if it is only found that this alleged help was not as a matter of policy at the state level, but an act of individuals, what would be the difference in the U.S. reaction? Obviously, if the state was involved --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to speculate at this point.

QUESTION: No, but there will be legal parameters in which you say if the state did it as a matter of policy, there is a different level of sanctions. If it was done by some misguided individuals for money or whatever, then there is a different level of sanctions.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not prepared to speculate at this point.


QUESTION: Thank you, Charlie.


QUESTION: Yes, Taiwan has announced that it will send delegations to different countries to explain its positions on the referenda, and one of the delegation, a heavyweight one, is coming to the U.S. next week. Do you have a comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, no, I don't have any particular comment on this, these reports of delegations. We certainly do meet with Taiwan representatives from time to time, and any request will be handled in accordance with our usual practice.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask you if you could elaborate a little bit, if at all, on the Secretary's somewhat cryptic comment downstairs a little while ago that Tunisia had played a significant role in bringing, or setting the stage for Libya to renounce its weapons of mass destruction.

MR. BOUCHER: I think you see it in Tunisia's policy that we discussed when the Secretary was out there. The Secretary discussed it today again with the Tunisian Foreign Minister. Tunisia has been a voice for moderation. Tunisia has been a voice for regional harmony. Tunisia has been a voice for putting effort and resources into development rather than wasting them on arms races or conflict or weapons of mass destruction. And that's the kind of role that we think Tunisia has played in discussions with Libyan leaders as well as the kind of role it continues to play in the region.

QUESTION: Are you aware -- did Libya and this whole issue come up when the Secretary was in Tunis, when he met with the President or Foreign Minister there?

MR. BOUCHER: This whole issue.

QUESTION: Well, the issue of Libya.

MR. BOUCHER: The issue, the question of Libya --

QUESTION: The negotiations that you and the British were doing.

MR. BOUCHER: -- Libya's behavior, Libya's weapons of mass destruction program, certainly comes up just about every time we talk to the Tunisians.

QUESTION: Yeah, I know. But at that point --

MR. BOUCHER: In Libya -- not in any of the meetings that I was in, was there any particular discussion of where we stood, where we and the British stood on this particular effort.

QUESTION: Were the Tunisians aware of what was going on?

MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, I just don't know because I wasn't, and I didn't become aware while we were in Tunisia.

QUESTION: And did --

QUESTION: I don't know what the practice has been, but I wonder if there was any special reason that Condoleezza Rice came here to speak to the Chiefs of the U.S. Missions in Europe. I don't know if this happens regularly, or if there was some special problem she could communicate to them better than the State Department people could.

MR. BOUCHER: No, she --

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I can't remember.

MR. BOUCHER: I can remember Chiefs of Mission conferences I've been at, where we've heard from the National Security Advisor.

QUESTION: Oh, all right.

MR. BOUCHER: We heard from Treasury Department officials, Defense Department officials, where it's a chance for Chiefs of Mission from a particular region of the world to get together and talk to each other, talk to their leadership in Washington, but also to talk to a variety of people around town including Congressional representatives often.

I don't have the full program for the European Chiefs of Mission, but it's a chance for everybody to get together and to hear from and talk, really, about policy with any number of people around town on different aspects of U.S. policy. And, certainly, the President's National Security Advisor is one of the most important people to talk to and we're very glad that she was able to come over and spend some time with our Chiefs of Mission.

QUESTION: The Asian mission is in Honolulu. Maybe it would draw people as well.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, some of the bureaus have taken to holding their meetings in Washington rather than the region, just for that purpose, so that they could talk to more people in Washington. When I was in Asia, we did one in Honolulu, I think, but also one in Washington, just for that reason.

QUESTION: Got you.

QUESTION: For those who didn't make it to the stakeout of the Tunisian Foreign Minister, are we going to have a statement or readout of the talks that took place between --

MR. BOUCHER: You'll have the full transcript of what the Secretary just said.

QUESTION: That could be --

MR. BOUCHER: It was wonderful.

QUESTION: Okay, good. Thank you.


QUESTION: Yeah. Brazil. Earlier this week, your deputy said that you guys were monitoring the situation, but that you basically couldn't really complain about their measures to fingerprint and photograph all Americans entering the country because it was their sovereign right.

I'm wondering what exactly happened between then and yesterday afternoon when the Embassy in Brasilia saw fit to issue a rather harsh statement about Brazil's new policy.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think the answer is we've seen the effects of the policy that Brazil implemented. Brazil is requiring photographs and also ten fingerprints done by ink from U.S. citizens. It's not being applied to all people the way our system is. It's not something that was carefully prepared over the course of a year. And it's a policy that's resulted in very lengthy delays, more than a nine-hour delay for some U.S. citizens at Rio's international airport yesterday.

We understand that U.S. passengers arriving in Brazil today are still facing significant delays due to this fingerprinting and photographing procedures. The embassy has recognized, acknowledged Brazil's sovereign right to determine the requirements for entry into Brazil, but said, as we -- and we share their regret -- that we regret the way in which new procedures have suddenly been put into place that single out U.S. citizens for exceptional treatment that has resulted in lengthy delays in processing.

QUESTION: Well, do you think that this -- do you see this as kind of a "sour grapes" move on behalf of the Brazilians? I mean, it seems to -- from what you're saying, it seems designed to punish the United States through American citizens for the new U.S. policy. Is that your taking?

MR. BOUCHER: I would leave it to them to describe why they're doing it, whether it's punishment or reciprocity or what. What we have seen is a program that was quickly instituted, not well prepared and which results in significant delays, which are not in the interest of the United States, of American travelers, or, frankly, in the interests of Brazil, in terms of attracting business and tourism.

QUESTION: Okay. So is it no longer your position that this was a reciprocal step, that reciprocity was -- that this is okay under the --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to describe Brazil's motives. I said, clearly, as the embassy has said, Brazil has a right to decide its entry and exit procedures, as any sovereign nation does. What we're criticizing here is the way in which these regulations were put into place and the effect that they're having on travel between the United States and Brazil, which we think is very much in our interests and the interests of Brazilians as well.

QUESTION: But the Brazilians did this -- when they did this, they said it was being done on the basis of reciprocity.


QUESTION: Okay. You don't buy that anymore? You think that --

MR. BOUCHER: No, you're asking me to say that it was done to punish people.

QUESTION: No, I'm asking --

MR. BOUCHER: I said, I didn't know if it was punishment or reciprocity. You can ask the Brazilians.

QUESTION: Well, are you asking --

MR. BOUCHER: You're now telling me the Brazilians have already answered the question, so there you have it.

QUESTION: But there's a big difference about whether you accept their -- and are you asking them to change this.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't accept or not accept. It's up to them to explain their behavior.

QUESTION: Have you asked the Brazilians to rethink this?

MR. BOUCHER: We have told the Brazilians that we think that these are measures that provide a tremendous inconvenience to travelers and that they need to be changed, yes.

QUESTION: They need to be changed, okay.


QUESTION: Richard, are you considering a consular announcement warning American citizens of potential problems on arriving in Brazil?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. We'll have to see if these measures stay in effect, and whether their effects on travelers continue. But I'm sure we would clarify the situation first, that is, at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Richard, when you have told the Brazilians that you want these to be changed, do you mean that you just want them to be handled more efficiently so that people get processed more quickly and maybe don't have all their fingerprints taken or do you want them dropped?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's up to Brazil to decide their entry and exit procedures. We have certainly made clear our view that these are procedures that were implemented in a way that results in lengthy delays in processing. I suppose one could conceive of a variety of ways of correcting those problems, but it will be up to the Brazilians to decide.

QUESTION: Well, does it not fall -- am I wrong in thinking that it follows from the fact that you've asked them to change it, that you no longer believe that the new measures are honestly reciprocal?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, you are wrong because I'm not speculating on what the motives might have been for introducing them. I'm just telling you about the effects of the measures.

You started off asking why did we say -- why have we gone farther than saying it's up to them to decide what entry and exit procedures. And my first answer, and it will be my last answer maybe on the question, is that because now we have seen the effects of the measures, and the effects of the measures are what concern us.


QUESTION: Following up, I mean, does the United States fingerprint Brazilian businessmen and visitors coming into U.S.? And why is it not an inconvenience to them, and it is an inconvenience to you?

MR. BOUCHER: We have spent over a year developing the U.S.-VISIT program. We have pilot tested it. I think if you look at all the reporting today, reporting I saw is it takes maybe 15 seconds more, in terms of travelers, to go through this procedure. It provides a much greater degree of security, that the people coming are the people who applied for visas, and are the people that they say they are identified in their passports.

It's a way of our implementing entry and exit procedures that are satisfactory to the United States to make sure we know who's coming into the country, and to make everybody safe including visitors who come to the United States. But we have done that in a carefully prepared manner, and in a manner that results in the least possible inconvenience to travelers.

QUESTION: Can the U.S. donate this system and technology to Brazil, in order to facilitate U.S. business trips?


MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if it's a matter of donation. I think it may be a matter of preparation. Okay.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) to the Middle East? Do you know?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see if there is anything.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: One more.

QUESTION: Richard, following -- and we discussed this yesterday -- the impact on British air flights from London, to and fro, is there going to be any change in the way that you're shaping entry to the United States, maybe from Europe, Africa and elsewhere? And also, because of these disruptions, who takes a lead, is it the State Department or Homeland Security?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite understand what you mean by changes in the way that we --

QUESTION: This new policy.

MR. BOUCHER: Slow down. Changes in the way that we handle entry and exit is certainly -- that's what we've been talking about. It does differ between citizens of different countries. Some countries are on the visa waiver program.

But in terms of who takes the lead, the decisions on entry and exit into the United States are made by Homeland Security, and these procedures have been fully briefed and I think explained by Homeland Security. The -- we also work with Homeland Security. They make decisions about transportation and flights and things like that, but we are certainly -- the liaison with foreign governments is handled by the State Department and our embassies overseas. We've worked with other governments in recent cases.

QUESTION: Has there been a reaction by the Canadians and/or the Mexicans concerning these policies?

MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask them. I don't know.

Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)


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