State Department Noon Briefing, January 15, 2004
|Thursday January 15,
U.S. Department Of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
THURSDAY, JANUARY 15, 2004
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'd like to just tell you, at the beginning, about a meeting we're having tomorrow, the Bolivia Donors Group. We touched yesterday on the issues of U.S. support for Bolivia, and I think I mentioned that we were coordinating with other governments. And I can tell you what I was referring to, which is that tomorrow the United States will be co-hosting with Mexico, a meeting of the Bolivia support group.
The meeting will be held in the State Department, the State Department's Loy Henderson Auditorium from about 10 to 1 in the afternoon. It's not open to the press, but we will make media arrangements for briefings. Afterwards, we'll get out a notice on that. The Secretary expects to meet briefly with the group at lunch as well.
We've invited representatives from 19 countries and 6 international organizations to attend the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to highlight the international community's support for the Mesa government's efforts to deal with Bolivia's difficult social and economic environment. Bolivia's Ministry -- Minister of the Presidency, Jose Antonio Galindo, and its Minister of Economic Development, Xavier Nogales are expected to give a presentation outlining their government's financial needs for 2004. They'll discuss strategies for strengthening democratic institutions, accelerating economic growth with equity and mitigating social conflict.
So the United States looks forward to having the other governments here for that meeting tomorrow, and we look forward to participating fully in those meetings.
QUESTION: So, admittedly, their situation is awful; doctors drive taxicabs, for instance. But next door in Ecuador, things are bad, too. How does the State Department go about pinpointing which countries? I mean, there are a lot of awful economic situations.
MR. BOUCHER: The plain answer, Barry, is if you look at the money, it's not even by the amount of money. It's by the circumstance, particularly, people who are going through changing circumstances where you may want to retarget the aid funds. You may want to make absolutely sure that all -- that the money is being spent quickly and being spent on projects that make a difference like creating jobs.
So where you have ongoing situations in countries, the Andean Regional Initiative being an example, you don't necessarily need to have a donors group every year. There may be ongoing coordination on the ground to make sure the money is going to the right places. People go through their budget cycles. There is a regular flow of funds.
When you have a change, such as the one you had in Bolivia, or such as we've had in Iraq and other places like that, oftentimes, it's good to get a support group together, a donors group together to make sure that we are doing quickly everything that's necessary to support the emerging government.
QUESTION: So the conference is not to say that Bolivia is in the worst shape, and Ecuador --
MR. BOUCHER: Is necessarily that worst off, it's just that they've been going through some crisis. I mean, Bolivia needs the help of an international support group and there has been one in the past, the probably first meeting like this we've had since the Mesa Government took over. There have been a lot of countries concerned. But it doesn't mean that Bolivia is better off or worse off than neighbors, it's just this, at this time, is an appropriate step.
QUESTION: Less ethereal, can you, pinpointing specifically on this conference, what's the purpose of it? Are you expecting money to -- actually money to be pledged? And you say that 25 entities have been invited. Do you know if all of them are actually going to attend? And if it's possible at some point, can we get a list of who is, or who has been invited and who is attending?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if tomorrow we can get you a list of who attends. But, yes, we expect the 25 to attend -- 19 countries and 6 international organizations.
QUESTION: That includes the U.S.?
MR. BOUCHER: Including the United States, yeah.
QUESTION: And pledges?
QUESTION: And the first comment -- first question?
MR. BOUCHER: There may be some who can identify specific funds, but I think the main point at this -- the main purpose at this level, this point in the meeting is to identify the needs, to hear from Bolivia, talk together, understand the needs together, and then that obviously is part of a process of identifying what people can do to meet those needs and how they can make sure that the money is being applied well.
The United States has, I think, put forward significant assistance to Bolivia in 2003, and we would expect to do the same in 2004. In the 2003 fiscal year, we provided Bolivia with an estimated $154 million in assistance, and we have asked Congress for 150 million for 2004 fiscal year.
QUESTION: And then you would expect in the next budget, which is less than a month away from being presented, that there would be a similar amount for the next fiscal year?
MR. BOUCHER: I will say that we -- I don't want to predict at this point, but we -- our assistance for Bolivia has been ongoing and I would expect it to continue.
QUESTION: Well, you said you expected -- you said the United States has provided significant support before and you would expect to continue to do so next year. But that's the money that you've already asked for. What about, I mean, the money for the next -- for the current fiscal year?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't even have the money for 2004.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not about to start predicting 2005 yet. But we do have to present a budget, and I would expect the United States support for Bolivia to continue in future years.
QUESTION: And is that 154 million, or 150, the two figures, that includes the Andean Regional Initiative monies? Or is that direct bilateral --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that and see.
MR. BOUCHER: Charlie.
QUESTION: Usually in cases like this, the U.S. reaches down into the pockets and announces some extra money. Do you expect to make such an announcement?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we'll have a particular announcement at this meeting. It's not a meeting designed to produce immediate financial commitments. It's -- we are working to identify additional assistance, but I don't know that we'll have them for this meeting. I think that others may be in the same category, but identify, understand clearly from the government the needs. Everybody is looking at what they can do, and then we'll work together to meet those needs in the most efficient fashion.
QUESTION: Richard, an aide to Ayatollah Sistani is quoted as saying that if the United States rejects Sistani's opinion on making the process for going to a transitional Iraqi government more open and democratic, that Sistani would issue a fatwa depriving the resulting government of legitimacy and calling on Iraqis not to recognize it or work with it. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't particularly. I think these issues are still being worked, are being worked in Iraq by Ambassador Bremer and his people, being looked at by us, by the UN and others, to try to implement the November 15th arrangements, working with the Governing Council and working with leaders in Iraq to come up with the best possible arrangements that can balance the different needs and opinions that we hear.
QUESTION: Do you expect Mr. Sistaini's views on how to transfer power to a sovereign Iraqi government to be a focus of his talks in Washington tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: Ambassador Bremer's talks, not Ayatollah Sistani's. (Laughter.) I thought you were really making some news.
QUESTION: That would be news. Forgive me.
MR. BOUCHER: I am sure the political transition in Iraq will be a major issue for discussions. It is an issue of discussion already at senior levels of the Administration, as well as with the United Nations. So Ambassador Bremer is coming back. He'll be here for some regular, sort of ongoing consultations in Washington. He'll go to the meeting in New York on Monday and represent the United States there, along with Ambassador Negroponte.
And so the issue of the political transition in Iraq is certainly the topic on the agenda. We'll be looking at how we go forward on the November 15th decisions the Governing Council has made about the process that they wanted to set up of getting to a transitional assembly and a transitional government for Iraq.
We'll be looking as well, as we have fairly intensely in the consultations so far, on the United Nations role and the discussions that have been held in New York and will be held in New York on Monday. We want to encourage this United Nations' role. We want to encourage -- we want to work with them. We want to do what we can to provide help with security for the UN people who might go out. And we're coordinating very closely with the United Nations as well. That will be part of Monday.
At the same time, I'm not predicting any specific decisions or announcements. The foundations of this process take place in Iraq with the Iraqis in the Governing Council. So part of the interest in the discussions on Monday is not the Secretary General talking to us because we talk to him all the time, but the UN as an entity talking to the Iraqis and representatives of the Governing Council about their plans for political transition.
QUESTION: Just one more on this -- or two more. Do you expect the issue of the Kurds to -- and what autonomy they may continue or not continue to enjoy to come up? And can you tell us who Ambassador Bremer is going to meet tomorrow? Will he specifically see Secretary Powell and --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who Ambassador Bremer is going to meet tomorrow in Washington. I expect that, one way or the other, he'll probably end up seeing the Secretary. Whether it's in a group meeting or separately, I don't know yet.
The Kurds -- it's an issue out there. It comes up in discussion. I don't think I can give issues a particular focus of one group or another. The issue is the overall political transition, the implementation of the decisions the Governing Council's already made on how to do the political transition and how we can work with all the different parties in Iraq who do have somewhat differing views at times to implement that in a manner that's fair to all of them.
QUESTION: It's reasonable for us to assume, though, that the Kurds are going to come up. I don't see how you can talk about Iraq's political future without talking about that.
MR. BOUCHER: No, but other groups will as well.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Teri.
QUESTION: Ambassador Bremer has said, and others have said, that it's not possible to hold the kind of elections that Sistani is interested in by the time of the imminent handover. Is there any discussion being given to pushing back the handover, in which case it may be possible to arrange direct elections?
How firm -- you're committed to the November 15th agreement, but how firm is the June 30th deadline?
MR. BOUCHER: It's clear, a very clear part of the November 15th understanding, do everything we can to meet that deadline.
QUESTION: But what if it would satisfy more Iraqis to hold direct elections is a change of date?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in the business of speculating on how things could or could not be changed. I haven't seen any particular proposal in that regard. But, you know, that's -- we have a firm commitment for the November 15th decision the Governing Council made. Our job is to help them achieve those goals. And that's what we're working on.
QUESTION: And that hasn't been a suggestion that you've heard?
MR. BOUCHER: Nowhere else but this room. But who knows?
QUESTION: Do you expect, first of all, does Ambassador Ricciardone have an office yet? Will he be -- do you expect him to have taken up his position in time for the -- by tomorrow? What's his, basically just what his status is -- what is his status?
And also, with Teri's question, when you say that you're firmly committed to the November 15th agreement, you're that -- that would include the June 30th, July 1st handover, correct, or am I missing something?
MR. BOUCHER: It's the whole process. It would include that, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: And I said we're committed to do everything possible to meet those deadlines.
QUESTION: Well, would you mind then just saying --
MR. BOUCHER: Can I --
QUESTION: -- that we're also committed to the June 30th-July 1st handover date that is in the November 15th agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't bring my copy. I can read you the whole document if you want me to. I don't have any problem with that.
QUESTION: All right. Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: I could read it very slowly if you want me to, but we all know what's in it, and endorse the document again.
QUESTION: Could I clarify one thing from what your answer to Teri was?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure. You want to answer his question, too?
QUESTION: No, I want to ask you to clarify something because you're so careful and you seem to --
MR. BOUCHER: He asked me a question about it, but --
QUESTION: I wanted an answer about it, but you can go to Arshad for it.
MR. BOUCHER: You guys can interrupt each other, I don't --
QUESTION: No, no. I'm sorry. I thought you were done.
QUESTION: No, no. I wanted to know about Ricciardone.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just standing here.
QUESTION: Sorry, finish up, Matt.
MR. BOUCHER: Ricciardone, does he have an office?
QUESTION: Well, I mean just what is it? I got a fair --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. He has departed Manila. He is now in Washington. We expect he'll assume his new responsibilities by early next week.
QUESTION: Okay. So he's --
MR. BOUCHER: And his job is to coordinate, particularly the State Department's role, in setting up the political transition.
QUESTION: So he won't necessarily be involved in the meetings with Bremer tomorrow or at the UN on Monday, that you know of?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not necessarily, not necessarily. He does work on the political aspects of the transition, But his primary function is the logistics, the legal aspects, the political aspects of establishing the State Department presence and the embassy structure and the future relationship that we'll have with the new Iraq.
QUESTION: In response to Teri's first question, which was had you heard of any discussion of pushing off the June 30th-July 1 deadline, you said you heard of no such proposal. And I wonder if you've heard of any discussion whatsoever of the matter. You know, I wonder, can you just say no, there's nothing --
MR. BOUCHER: I've now heard it from three of you. I have to answer the question yes. But the Administration policy is that we are committed to the November 15th goals to the formulas that were decided there and to trying to meet those formulas. Obviously, we are going to take into account the views of factions in Iraq, people in Iraq, because it's the Iraqis that have to do this process; it's the Iraqis that have to go through this process. And so, but our job is to support them in meeting the goals that they have set.
QUESTION: You've got 20,000 protestors in Basra. I don't think you can blame that on Saddam Hussein.
MR. BOUCHER: Nobody has tried to.
QUESTION: Well, you could try, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Nobody has tried, Barry.
QUESTION: No, I say, but when there have been attacks on Americans, you know, the explanation is, you know, people let out of jail, Saddam Hussein, freelance --
MR. BOUCHER: You're accusing us of doing something we haven't done, so let's not start questions that way.
QUESTION: Well, what I'm trying -- it's a preface to saying --
MR. BOUCHER: It's a long preface.
QUESTION: No, because everything that the Administration has said about anti-U.S. sentiment in Iraq has been attributed to renegades, to wild men. You've got 20,000 people --
MR. BOUCHER: That's not true.
QUESTION: -- in the street. Who brought/broke them out --
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, first of all, it's not true.
QUESTION: -- the quality Shiites?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been tons of demonstrations in Iraq.
QUESTION: But they're shouting, "Down with the United States." Does that bother anybody?
MR. BOUCHER: Plenty of people have shouted that before. I don't think there's too much --
QUESTION: Not in Canada or in, you know --
MR. BOUCHER: They shout it out in Canada from time to time. This is -- you know, obviously we're concerned about working with the Iraqis, we're concerned about public opinion. We want to satisfy the needs and demands of the Iraqi people. We think we understand the situation very well, in terms of the needs and concerns of the Iraqi people. They need -- I think you've all seen the polls and statements and whatever. They want us to stay, but they don't want us to stay too long. They're concerned about security. They're concerned about jobs. They're concerned about economic opportunity.
One of the best things about Iraq, when you stand back a minute, is to say that people are demonstrating in a way they could never do ever before, or at least for decades of their history. They are not being shot down in the streets and summarily taken off in the middle of the night for organizing demonstrations. There are people from all the ethnic groups demonstrating.
Remember, 10 or 12 years ago, when some of the Shia turned out, they were brutally suppressed. So the fact that there are demonstrations in Iraq is fundamentally a good thing. The fact that they're about us and things that we haven't delivered on yet is something we acknowledge and understand.
But we are certainly working hard on that goal. We're working with Iraqis to achieve those goals. We're working to provide the benefits of democracy, of electricity, of schooling, of health care and many of those things are being delivered. But there's always more that people want and more that we have to do
QUESTION: But the plan does not, you say, have to be adjusted to reflect these public sent -- this public sentiment?
MR. BOUCHER: Again --
MR. BOUCHER: It's the same answer as before.
QUESTION: If you can figure out what is it they want, I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: The Iraqi people have to go through this process. The Iraqi Governing Council made a decision. We're supporting that decision, trying to work with them and help them implement that decision. It needs to be done in a way that does take into account the wishes of the Iraqi people and different groups inside Iraq so that it remains fair to all of them.
QUESTION: Is there a role for the United Nations to play in the process of the organizing committees, the caucuses, and even the meetings of the transitional assembly before June 30th, that, within the parameter of the November 15th plan, that might give that process more legitimacy in the eyes of some who are questioning it?
MR. BOUCHER: The fundamental legitimacy of the process is in the hands of the Iraqis, and the Iraqis who have decided on it and the Iraqis who will participate in the process. We have encouraged a UN role. We look forward to working with the UN in coming months as that process unfolds. I think you'll hear the Secretary General has a special advisor who will be based in New York. We look forward to looking with him, Mr. Brahimi, looking forward to working with him on issues involving Iraq and the overall transition.
So we think there is a vital role, as we've said before, for the United Nations to play in all these processes, and that we think it does -- they bring a unique expertise. They bring a lot of particular assistance and, as you said, to some extent, an outside viewpoint that bolsters the process in terms of its credibility.
QUESTION: Richard, this week, Ted Koppel on Nightline has done a series of programs on Iraq. And they pointed out, there seems to be a bureaucracy there and, with a green zone where everything is behind a wall and it's the functions of the United States Government and the Iraqi council and such. And then there's -- he's interviewed regular townspeople elsewhere. Seems to be a language barrier, and, too, also a slight bureaucratic barrier. Is there any type of call center that can go in to help with some of these day-to-day problems? They say their regional --
MR. BOUCHER: There -- obviously, there are security concerns in Iraq for people who are there and they need to have safe surroundings to work in. At the same time, first of all, look at what the Iraqis are doing. The Iraqis are running the health care system. The Iraqis have got the education system running. The Iraqis have got the oil sector up and running. The Iraqis are putting together police on the streets, judicial systems, an independent judiciary.
Those are the people who are taking care of the ordinary problems that Iraqi people have. There are mayors, town councils, local governing councils throughout Iraq in all the cities -- in all the towns, and I think almost all the cities by now. They're collecting the trash, delivering the services to the citizens. And that's where the demands from the citizens, a lot of the demands from the citizens go, and that's where they're being satisfied.
We also have Americans around the country working on political issues, working with the Governing Council. Some of the military civil affairs people, a lot of State Department people are in different parts of the country, and various people are out working the ministries and working with the ministries, either as advisors or experts. And so, there are people out and about who are working with the Iraqis to deliver the essential services to Iraqi citizens.
QUESTION: Can we move to North Korea, or does anyone have --
QUESTION: Let's let the other side.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you explain a little more about the vital role of the UN? Because before, you said UN was going to help in the election, but obviously there's not going to be an election.
MR. BOUCHER: No, there's going to be an election --
QUESTION: I mean before the --
MR. BOUCHER: -- when it comes to the Constitutional Council, Constitutional Convention, and that's part of the November 15th document, that the whole process, the political transition process in Iraq is one where we do think the United Nations has experience from other places, where they've got credibility, the ability to work with different people.
I mean, so we look forward to their playing a role in that whole process, whether it's the selection -- the caucuses and the formation of the transitional assembly, and then the transitional sovereign -- the government that will take sovereign power, or after that, the elections that need to be held to choose a constitutional assembly and to go for a full-fledged, constitutionally-based, elected government.
QUESTION: Right, and one last thing. Is this meeting on Monday the last one before June 30th, or there might be others afterwards?
MR. BOUCHER: I expect that one way or the other, the Secretary General will play a role through his represents, the Security Council will continue to play a role. So I don't know of any other meetings like this scheduled, and there may not be a meeting exactly like this. But I'm sure there will be continuing and ongoing contact between the Secretary General, his representatives, the Coalition Authority, the Governing Council, other Iraqi representatives and Security Council members as this process unfolds.
QUESTION: What is -- can I ask you what the judgment here is of whether the security situation is good enough now for the UN -- I don't mean just to help on the elections -- for the UN to reposition itself in Iraq? People come in from Cyprus and Jordan, I mean, but you know -- I won't say permanent -- but the, you know, UN presence dissolved under attack. Have there been talks in New York?
MR. BOUCHER: Wiped out considerably. Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you think the --
MR. BOUCHER: We have talked to the UN. They are sending some people out to Baghdad, and we're working with them so that they can look to the security situation. As we've explained before, these decisions on sending people into dangerous places are decisions that each organization, each responsible official, like the Secretary General, has to make. They're not easy decisions.
We believe we can help him by working very closely with the UN on security, by helping to make sure that the UN has the kind of security that they need for their circumstances and their kind of operations in Iraq, and we will work with them on that. But ultimately, they're going to have to decide whether they can create the conditions where they feel comfortable sending their people.
QUESTION: A new subject.
MR. BOUCHER: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Nicholas had a shot at this, huh?
QUESTION: Yeah, Richard, there have been reports that China has not been successful in securing a draft of that joint statement that is supposed to be adopted at this -- the new round of six-party talks, but that despite this, a meeting actually is likely to take place next month. Can you confirm whether that effort on the draft has really failed, and just update us on the general status of it all?
MR. BOUCHER: The Chinese have, as you know, just been visiting us. Fu Ying, Madame Fu Ying was here, along with other senior members of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Government, who work on these issues. There are not dates for the next round, but certainly we're all looking to resume the six-party process at an early date, and we hope the North Koreans would share that goal as well.
We are in discussions with the parties, the Chinese and the others who were there, on the substance of the issues, and that's a process that has been continuing. So no, there's no -- there's nothing new to announce at this point, one way or the other.
QUESTION: But they, they were in Pyongyang, they were here, and they clearly were trying to get the North Koreans to agree to say that they're going to end their program in, as you say, every time, irreversible and in a verifiable manner. And as far as these reports go, the North Koreans have not been --
MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen these reports. I don't know if they're actually quoting Chinese or North Koreans, but I have to let the Chinese or North Koreans speak on their own behalf.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have any comments at all on the departure, rather sudden departure, of Foreign Minister Yoon from his position, and any concerns about the direction South Korean foreign policy might take with respect to the United States?
And as a sideline to that, did this subject -- was this raised at all in the meeting yesterday between Assistant Secretary Kelly and the South Korean Director General, who, I might note, is the -- currently the focus of this grand investigation going on in Seoul into the Foreign Ministry?
MR. BOUCHER: First question. We appreciated very much Foreign Minister Yoon's efforts on behalf of U.S.-Korean relations seeking an end to North Korean nuclear program and working together with us on other issues of common concern. We wish him well in his future endeavors.
As far as the overall picture, I think both countries are clearly committed to working closely together on issues of key concern. We look forward to maintaining and strengthening U.S.-Korean relations.
We note that President Roh praised U.S.-Republic of Korea cooperation and stressed the importance that he attaches to U.S.-Korean relations just yesterday in his New Year's press conference.
Did we get advance word in the meetings yesterday? No.
QUESTION: Okay. So the subject didn't come up?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: It was purely -- Kelly's meetings were purely about six-party talks?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: And so you do not -- are you saying then that you really don't -- you don't have any concerns about the direction that South Korean policy -- with or without the North Korea issue, that South Korean -- that there might be a different direction in South Korea's foreign policy?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been and continue to be very, very close allies. We continue to work together on various issues. And as I pointed out, President Roh, just yesterday, restated his commitment to doing that with us.
QUESTION: Yeah, that's fine. Did you -- have you had any contact with the South Koreans since the sacking of Foreign Minister Yoon?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure our Embassy has been in touch with South Koreans during the course of the day.
QUESTION: And you have assured them that, as far as you're concerned, that you don't see any -- any particular problems, that this is an internal act for them and that you don't mind?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, certainly, appointment of ministers is a matter for the government itself to decide. I don't know that we have to assure them of anything particular at this juncture.
QUESTION: Well, you know, you are at a very critical juncture in a process of trying to get back to the six-party talks that involves the South Koreans, and when a major change is made like this at the head of the North Korean -- I mean, the South Korean diplomatic -- well, their diplomatic efforts, there might be some -- it might be reasonably inferred that the United States might have a question or two, or some concerns, about whether this --
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I'm sure we've talked to them about it. But --
QUESTION: And have you been reassured that --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, have we been? I thought have -- you asked have we assured them of something on our part. I didn't understand what we were supposed to assure them of in these circumstances. But that's for them to -- it's for them to discuss it.
QUESTION: Well, you don't see any change?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not really an issue.
QUESTION: Not an issue.
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: South Asia.
QUESTION: I have one --
QUESTION: Same thing. Same subject. On the Uranium Enrichment Program, Richard, Ambassador Pritchard spoke this morning about his trip last week, and he said that the North Koreans basically said, tell us where it is and we'll, you know, come and we'll let you search whatever you want, which sounds like the Iraqi model before the war. But Mr. Pritchard also said that he thought --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's not the Iraqi model because the Iraqi model was we did tell them where it was and where we had to look for it, and many times they didn't even let us go there for several years at a time.
QUESTION: But --
QUESTION: Although, then you went there and found nothing, right?
MR. BOUCHER: That's not true either.
QUESTION: But he also said that some of the other countries in the group of six are not entirely convinced that actually there is such a program, and he urged the intelligence community to share some of the evidence that they have. Do you think the United States might be willing to share with China or Japan or South Korea some of the evidence that you --
MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't able to hear the speech. So I don't know I can comment on anything particular he said, because I really don't know what he said. But in terms of the fundamental questions involved, we have the information. We presented it. We confronted the North Koreans with it. They admitted to the program when Jim Kelly was first out there in Pyongyang -- was that October of 2001? 2002.
So there's no question in our minds that they have admitted to the program, and I know they have made various statements at various times about we didn't say it, we didn't do it, we -- but it's clear that when presented with the information, the fact of the program, they admitted it.
The second point I would make is that North Korea is going to need to account for its entire scope of nuclear activities. That's what they had been required to do under IAEA guidelines. That's what, at least, they would have been had they adhered to the additional protocol. That's what the international community expects of them. So we still expect them to account for the full scope of their nuclear activities.
The third point that speaks to some of the issues you raised, we have talked with other countries. We have shared with other countries information and conclusions from our intelligence about what the North Koreans have been up to. I think at times other countries have said, well, we don't have information like that ourselves, meaning they don't have any independent sources for it. But I have not really heard anybody say that there's a problem or significant doubts about the American information and conclusions.
Okay. Let's start in the back.
QUESTION: Ambassador Pritchard refused to answer the question about the proof they were shown. They were supposedly shown some proof. But he was here yesterday. I was wondering if you could give some readout on his briefing and whether or not that's influenced what you're looking for.
MR. BOUCHER: Nope. I had promised yesterday that I wouldn't be the vehicle for conveying what they saw in North Korea. We are talking to members of the groups, the groups -- or groups that went to North Korea. I think they -- I'm not sure if they were one or two, but anyway, there were four people -- that we're in contact with them. We've said this week we'd expect to talk to various members later in this week. So we are doing that and we may talk to some of them next week. And we're interested in what they saw, interested in what they heard, interested in what the North Koreans were trying to demonstrate by inviting these groups and showing them what they saw.
At the same time, we, you know, are involved in the process of preparing for another round of talks and we've made quite clear our view that North Korea needs to eliminate all of its nuclear programs, whatever their precise status at any given moment. And we will continue to push for that goal.
But I did mention yesterday that when we talk to these people, it will still be up to them to say what they saw, what they heard, and to talk about their visit as much as or as little as they want to. We're not here to listen to them and pass on everything they say. I'm sorry. But that's not the way we see our role in this.
QUESTION: Right. But has it influenced what you're looking for in the six-party?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll always take into account what we heard. But I think, fundamentally, our goals and our positions on that have been very consistent from the beginning.
QUESTION: General Richard Myers met with Jiang yesterday in Beijing, and they also talk about North Korea issue. Yeah, it seems like they have a lot of agreement except the Taiwan issue. Myers remind China that U.S. will help Taiwan to defend itself according to Taiwan Relations Act and China also opposed arms sale, you know, from United States to Taiwan. However, while President said many times -- I mean, President said that U.S. will oppose any unilateral changes. Would that be a condition Washington put it on the commitment to help Taiwan to defend itself? The unilateral action.
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look in U.S. law and policy over the years that we have been committed to helping the people in Taiwan with their legitimate defensive needs. It's an ongoing obligation. It's an ongoing responsibility that we do take seriously. At the same time, the management of the issue requires that neither party take unilateral moves to try to alter the situation. So one is not a condition for the other. It's -- they're both part of the policy, but it's the only way I can put it. There's no particular contradiction between the two.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Sir.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I just want to go back to North Korean issue (inaudible) related with the six-party questions, and how you and the Secretary always emphasize the next round of talks has to be productive.
On the other side, he always say United States are ready to go without any precondition. And reflecting our last two days' discussion between China and also North Korea and maybe a statement, final statement, solid-type statement, is still not finalized and somebody mentioned the reports say that it's unlikely.
So even without any indication from North Korea to declare the elimination, the irreversible, verifiable nuclear power, elimination of nuclear program, are you still ready to go to Beijing?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the only way I can tell you this is that we are working towards the goal of early discussions, made clear to the Chinese we're willing to go to early discussions. We have also made clear in our discussions with other parties that we think the -- we are prepared to work with others to try to ensure substantive outcomes, that we have been engaged in a discussion with the Chinese and the others about the substantive issues involved in the talks.
So just because we're not actually sitting down in a room together doesn't mean we're not working the issues together. We do believe that that's a useful process and we're willing to work with the Chinese to prepare for a good round of meetings as early as possible.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Different subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. He's been waiting, I think.
QUESTION: That's okay. Richard, as next week, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, our External Affairs Minister of India comes here to the State Department meeting with the Secretary. Before he addresses the U.S. officials on SAARC, do you think the Secretary has any kind of special agenda for him? Or also, who invite -- I mean, who asked for the meeting, U.S. or India, for his arrival here?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that and see.
QUESTION: And if Secretary has any special agenda for him before the meeting on SAARC?
MR. BOUCHER: Our agenda with India is broad and deep. We just, as you know, the White House just made an announcement on how we can enhance a strategic partnership in a number of areas. That's something that the Secretary and the Foreign Secretary, among others, has worked on for some time.
We've welcomed, certainly, the political courage that's been exhibited by leaders on both sides and the actions that they've taken recently to really bring about some remarkable developments in relations between India and Pakistan. We'd welcome the confidence-building steps that are being taken with trainings and sizes of diplomatic missions. We think that resuming transportation links will allow family members to meet and to improve people to people ties and that expanded diplomatic links help the countries address the complex agendas that they face.
So we'll be interested in the overall process that's underway. We'll be interested in further improvements and further steps forward in the U.S.-India strategic relationship. So there's always plenty to talk about with our Indian friends and colleagues.
QUESTION: Sir, one more just to follow. Since he's going to address the SAARC, after the great SAARC summit in Islamabad, and as you said, relations must have improved from this meeting, do you think the U.S. is planning to attend, also, the other side, anybody from the Pakistani side after his visit here?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check.
Yeah. Okay. We've got a couple back there.
QUESTION: Do you have any details or readouts about the Prime Minister Aznar to Washington?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't. It's really a White House meeting. I'd have to leave it to them.
QUESTION: So it was strictly in the White House?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, the Secretary attended the dinner last night with Prime Minister Aznar at the White House.
QUESTION: Did you have any readout of Assistant Secretary Burns' trip, and as well, is -- has Ambassador Oberwetter arrived at his post in Riyadh?
MR. BOUCHER: Did we put up the date that he was arriving? Do I remember?
QUESTION: On or about today.
MR. BOUCHER: On or about today? I'll have to check if he arrived today or not. And as far as Burns's trip, it's ongoing. But, no, I don't have any new daily readout on it.
QUESTION: How about a weekly readout?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll get you one next week.
QUESTION: I've got something on Bremer quickly. Did you say that this trip was just part of the ongoing discussion he has? It was not prompted by any sort of, I don't know, problems over there?
MR. BOUCHER: He comes back. As you'd --
MR. BOUCHER: -- seen in the past, he comes back periodically to talk to people and meet with people. He's doing that, coming back to Washington for that. He's also coming back to attend the meetings in New York.
QUESTION: Wasn't Burns supposed to see him in Baghdad today, I think, or yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe they -- I don't -- again, I don't know if they've met in Baghdad at this point or not.
QUESTION: You don't know if he's done with Cairo do you? Because if he is, then that would --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Yesterday he was in Kuwait.
QUESTION: All right. What I'm going ask you --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know whether he's gone on to Baghdad yet. I don't have for sure.
QUESTION: I hope I have my facts right, I'm attributing this to the right person, but I think -- there's been so much going on -- the Secretary said he looked to the Egyptians to put more pressure -- he may have used another word -- on the Palestinians to stop the violence, and that was why Burns, that's one reason Burns was going to talk to the Egyptians.
Can you verify the message was conveyed and what the response was?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll get you a transcript of what Assistant Secretary Burns said in Cairo. The simple message is, yes, he did talk to the Egyptians about helping the Palestinians stop the violence, getting them to take steps to stop the violence. And that's something that both we and the Egyptians have been active on.
QUESTION: But you know he spoke to them. Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: So there is a lot more violence, the suicide bombing and Israel has re-imposed the embargo on Gaza. Do you see things as getting worse, or is this just one of the periodic spikes that we can get past?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we talked about yesterday's attack and the Hamas attacks yesterday, and made clear our condemnation of that, and called once again on the Palestinians to take steps to end the violence. So unfortunately, this kind of violence has occurred from time to time and it results in the loss of innocent life. We take every step possible to try to work with the parties and get them to take steps to end it.
QUESTION: And the embargo? Do you think the Israelis should lift that embargo as soon as possible, or are they right to (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment at this moment.
QUESTION: Richard, yesterday, in response to the question about Libya signing up to the chemical weapons convention and the CTPT, you put out a -- taking the response of a taken question saying that you welcome these developments.
I'm wondering, does that -- during the course of the months of secret diplomacy that was going on between you, the Brits and the Libyans, was it suggested by your side, meaning you and the British, that one way for Libya to show its commitments would be to sign up to agreements such as these?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a great many mechanisms available to countries that want to disclose their holdings and end their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. These are among them. So I'm not trying to brief in detail on talks that I wasn't party to, but certainly we'd have talked about this whole process of disclosure and verification and elimination of their programs.
QUESTION: But was it -- okay, well --
MR. BOUCHER: And as the President -- I think if you look back at the President's original statement when he talked about Libya taking steps to rejoin the international community that part of that was signing up the international regimes that ensure transparency for these matters.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then my question is: Why is it that the United States feels it necessary to welcome or to suggest to countries that they sign up to treaties, and particularly --particularly, the CTBT, that it itself is not a party to and has no intention of becoming a party to?
MR. BOUCHER: Different clothes fit different people. The circumstances of different countries may be such that it's a good thing for them to sign up to the CTPT, whereas it's not a necessary or appropriate step for the United States to join. If a country wants to make clear that it's not going to pursue weapons of mass destruction, CTBT is one of the ways of signing up to the international norms with that regard.
The United States has nuclear weapons, has certain responsibilities in that regard that we exercise very carefully, very prudently, but it may mean that that treaty is not right for us because we're in a different set of circumstances.
QUESTION: So, in other words, the rest of the world should trust the United States on face value that it is not going to conduct tests just because you say you're not going to, but the United States wants other countries -- does not trust other countries to do the same unless they have actually signed up to an international treaty that would prevent them from doing so?
MR. BOUCHER: The rest of the world knows the United States has nuclear weapons. The rest of the world knows how responsibly we've acted with the regard, knows how many thousands and thousands and thousands we've been destroying and will continue to destroy, knows how responsibly the United States has acted with regard to nuclear weapons for the last 60 years.
It's not the same circumstance as a country that has had a clandestine program, has not had nuclear weapons in the past, in the past, and might have been at some time seeking to introduce them to a region that is in turmoil and with great danger and without the same level of responsibility maybe.
The fact that that government wants to come out in public and make a pledge that they are not going to develop nuclear weapons or chemical or biological, that they are going to get rid of the work that they've done so far, and that they will not pursue this, they will not ever test is quite a different thing.
QUESTION: The rest of the world is fully aware that India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons. In response to my similar questions that I've asked in the past, you have said that the moment that the Administration changed back in January of 2001, that it was no longer a U.S. diplomatic priority at all to convince India and Pakistan to sign up to the CTBT. Is this another case of different clothes for different people?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, nothing is the same. You can't cookie-cut. You know, I don't know what to say. There's too many clichés in this area for me to be able to find a new sentence for you. But it's not one size fits all. The countries are different, circumstances are different. The world is not a single thing out there. They're not just a bunch of foreigners. They're different countries with different circumstances, different places that, to pursue United States interests, we don't necessarily tell everybody to wear the same jacket.
QUESTION: The phrase was, "We don't have a cookie-cutter approach."
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I know, that's the phrase. I was trying to rephrase it, and did so badly.
QUESTION: But it was the phrase of an administration that thought there's a virtue in banning nuclear tests. And nuclear testing and the treaty is not entirely about whether you've got them or don't got them, or whether you're a good guy or a bad guy. It's about not getting more sophisticated nuclear weapons because that tends to engender competition. But I understand this Administration's policy. There's no point in pursuing it, as far as I'm concerned.
MR. BOUCHER: For those who -- I don't -- I disagree with what you said. I'm not going to bother explaining it. I think it's quite clear.
QUESTION: The Deputy Secretary of State told a Pakistani interview the other day, asked about Pakistan's nuclear weapons. He saw it as a response to India's buildup of conventional forces.
I wondered -- you were talking about India. I didn't bring it up before, and I can bring you the quote, but since we're talking about -- I think you have different rules also for India-Pakistan than you might have for Libya. Because, you know, Libya is a new player in this game.
Is that the view? Do you want India to reduce its forces? Is that the way to deal with Pakistan's nuclear -- not only aspirations, nuclear program?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all -- I don't know where to start again.
QUESTION: On the quote.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I know. Let's look up the quote and find out what the Deputy Secretary actually said.
Second of all, what the United States has done to try to help reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, when everybody thought a year and a half, two years ago, they were on the verge of nuclear weapons, is a matter of record. It's a matter we've talked about a lot.
What India and Pakistan have done to reduce tensions, and now to seek some progress in their relationship, is a matter that's deserving of the praise of all of us, and is something that we have commended. And we'll continue to work with them as -- if we can contribute to that process.
QUESTION: Well, would it help to have some reduction? I mean, is that part of the U.S.'s prescription?
MR. BOUCHER: There has been a reduction in tensions. There has been a reduction --
QUESTION: No, I mean in forces, in forces.
MR. BOUCHER: -- in terms of the deployments that they have made, and that has contributed to the easing of tensions.
QUESTION: Can I follow either one quickly, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The kind of role United States played with India and Pakistan, especially during the SAARC and now after the SAARC, some people say that this is a mediation. Would you call this a U.S. mediation role between the two countries?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't put it that way. We've been quite up front that these countries, these leaders of these countries, have taken very bold steps that we have welcomed. They have taken initiatives with each other. They have reciprocated initiatives from each other. They deserve the credit for taking these steps.
To the extent the United States has had good relations with them, has had contacts with them, we have tried to encourage that. We have tried to encourage the kind of dialogue that they now look for between each other. And many others in the international community have encouraged this and applauded when they've taken the bold steps that they have taken.
QUESTION: Returning briefly to Libya. Can you tell us when the first team, or advance elements for a team, is expected to arrive in Tripoli?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll check on that and see.
QUESTION: While you're doing that, can I just footnote it? Because there are supposed to be more discussions with the British. So if you have some, you know, sequence there to tell us about, would you kindly?
There was one meeting in London. There is supposed to be another meeting or two, and then send the teams out. So the question is a little broader than that.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me see if I can ask -- answer her question. If it's not Libya, is it London, is basically what you're saying, and how does it fit together.
QUESTION: Is it both?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Can I have this follow-up on Taiwan? The Taiwanese leader yesterday said he's going to give the draft of the topics on the referendum before the Chinese New Year, which is next week, and he takes United States opinion seriously. Is there going to be any communication from here to Taipei or anybody will take note of the drafted topics?
MR. BOUCHER: The answer is I don't know. If he said he was going to give them to us, we'll see how he gives them to us. Okay?
QUESTION: Since it come backs to Taiwan Strait situation, let me ask you this question. Bear with me for a few seconds because this is kind of a complicated question. I think there is remain some certain kind of ambiguity in defining this unilateral action in this Taiwan Strait situation. I guess it's not just military or political or even economic. It involves more, more fundamental or complicated aspects, for example, cultural, social, ideological and psychological.
As Chinese, actually, I talked with many Taiwanese also. We all recognize we are Chinese because we recognize the traditional Chinese culture. And, you know, communist culture is not from China. And that's why we had the culture revolution, and that's why also we are having the persecution of the traditional Chinese spiritual practice of Falun Gong in China right now.
My question is: Are you taking all this aspect into account when you coming up with the policy on this Taiwan Strait situation?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
Obviously, there's a lot of factors that are in play here. We have had a lot of close relationships on both sides of the straits for many, many years. And how the societies have been evolving has been an important part of the situation there to us in the past and continues to be in the future.
QUESTION: I guess -- I'm sorry. I guess my point is: Who is taking the unilateral action? Maybe there should be a broader spectrum of consideration.
MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been particular things that we were concerned about at this juncture and the President has spoken to those quite clearly.
QUESTION: Richard, there seems to be still some animosity between Brazil and the United States with the detainment and, I guess you could say, misbehavior of American Airline crews there. And also, can you -- any comments on the Sudanese man with ammunition yesterday? British --
MR. BOUCHER: In Brazil?
QUESTION: No, no.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: British are complaining that the airline (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about a Sudanese man. You'd have to check with the aviation authorities or transportation security folks. As far as what went on in Brazil yesterday, the Brazilian Federal Police in São Paulo detained 12 U.S. citizen crew members of an American Airlines flight yesterday. They said it was related to an incident involving disrespect for Brazilian authorities.
Our consular officials from U.S. Consular General in São Paulo and the Embassy in Brasilia were in contact with American Airlines and with the Brazilian Federal Police regarding the matter. Eleven of the members were considered to be ineligible for admission to Brazil. They departed yesterday. The pilot is expected to depart today.
QUESTION: Ineligible because? Any idea?
MR. BOUCHER: It's up to them to determine that, and I think they announced it.
QUESTION: Richard, can you offer or give us any update on Senator Danforth's mission in Kenya about Sudan, without the man in the boat?
MR. BOUCHER: The -- without what?
QUESTION: Without the man in the boat.
MR. BOUCHER: I see. The Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army are still engaged in peace talks in Naivasha, Kenya. There are continuing discussions on the outstanding issues including the status of the three conflict areas, the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and the Southern Blue Nile, as well as the issue of power-sharing.
The President's special envoy for peace in Sudan, former senator Jack Danforth, is in Kenya this week. He is providing whatever assistance he can lend to the parties and the mediators through his meetings, through his phone calls as the talks continue. We have continued to urge the parties to demonstrate the necessary leadership and continue to urge the parties to demonstrate the necessary leadership and to finish the agreement. We understand that both sides are working hard and are focused on reaching resolution on the outstanding issues.
We have also underscored to the parties -- this has come up in recent days here -- that the growing humanitarian problem in Darfur needs to be addressed. That adds urgency to the conclusion of an agreement. We look forward to supporting the implementation of a final and comprehensive peace settlement, and we'll continue to work hard to achieve that goal.
QUESTION: What would you make, in terms of the urgency, what do you make of one sentence -- of one-sentence explanations that say that Danforth is there in order to get the two sides to agree before the President's State of the Union Address?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say the parties had a deadline that they tried to make of December 31st. We have continued to urge them to finish the deal. We are working with other negotiators. It's not just an American effort. The Kenyans are right at the center of it with their mediator. The Norwegians are involved. So many of us are urging them to finish as soon as possible -- today, tomorrow, next week, whatever is the quickest that could be done.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about what is going to be coming up in the Secretary's meeting with Mr. Kellenberger this afternoon?
MR. BOUCHER: It's going to start in 20 minutes.
MR. BOUCHER: So I think the Red Cross, International Committee of the Red Cross, has put out some information on what they expect to discuss. We have been in touch with them on a whole variety of issues for some time. The Secretary, as you know, has met with President Kellenberger a number of times. We have an ongoing regular dialogue. The last time they met was May 2003 in Washington.
It's an opportunity to discuss, really, events all around the world. I think they mentioned Iraq, Guantanamo, things like that.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:40 p.m.)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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