State Department Noon Briefing, May 24
|Monday May 24,
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
MONDAY, MAY 24, 2004
12:55 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin, if I can, to tell you about $100 million that we've got for Haiti. I think all of you remember from the Secretary, said, we had identified an additional $40 million for Haiti, when Prime Minister Latortue was here, and said we were looking for more. We've brought that total up to 100 million, so the U.S. commitment to Haiti this year will total $160 million.
So we're pleased to announce the availability of the additional $100 million for Haiti. As I said, these funds were in addition to the $55 million in humanitarian aid, and the 5 million that we've allocated for the OAS special mission that have been allocated so far this year.
The additional assistance will allow us to provide advisors to Haiti's government ministries, training for the Haitian National Police, and funding to help cover the budget gap that Haiti's government has inherited. But funding will also support electricity generation, jobs programs, humanitarian assistance and economic development for the Haitian people.
I would point out that the United States will greatly assist in rebuilding Haiti. We remain the principal and largest donor. We also look to our international partners and friends of Haiti to continue to provide the country with both funding and assistance.
QUESTION: Is there a little mistrust that, in Haiti's case, for instance, the government has to be democratically inclined to receive this assistance? Or do you not make necessarily a judgment on that front?
MR. BOUCHER: The United States has basic assistance, humanitarian assistance and development programs around the world, who are not conditioned to that extent. Of course, the Millennium Challenge Corporation money is heavily conditioned and precisely conditioned on democracy, anti-corruption, economic openness, and things like that.
But in Haiti, we have a government that is democratically inclined; that is, in fact, very committed to the process of returning full democracy to Haiti, returning government to the people through elections. And a lot of this money is going to be devoted to that. And one of the things we will be helping with is to establish judicial and police mechanisms that respond to democratic government.
We'll be helping with elections themselves. We'll be helping with advisors for ministries. And so, in a lot of different ways I think this money will contribute to the full return of democracy in Haiti.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, if you say the government is democratically inclined, why is Haiti ineligible for MCA money? Is it simply because this is an interim government and you need a full on -- or a commitment?
MR. BOUCHER: The choice of Millennium Challenge Corporation money was made by looking at a large number of criteria which are public, and a number of countries were chosen. Not every country quite meets those criteria yet, and so there is, in addition, other parts of our aid program that will be used to help countries meet the criteria. So even those who didn't qualify this year may qualify in further years if they make progress along the criteria.
QUESTION: And just one other on this. Where did this money come from?
MR. BOUCHER: It came from money that was available in various accounts at the State Department, money that we didn't we would otherwise be spending this year.
QUESTION: But from --
QUESTION: There's talk of an international donors conference in June for Haiti. Where's that stand?
MR. BOUCHER: July.
MR. BOUCHER: There is a multi-donor needs assessment that was just completed last week, and there will be a formal donors conference pledging session to take place in Ottawa by July 15th.
QUESTION: So -- but what the U.S. is now contributing, does that take care of the U.S. contribution, or might more money be pledged?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is a major and substantial contribution. I don't know if the donors conference will address out years, but I think as far as this year goes, this is the money we've been able to find for this year. It's almost three times the amount that we originally allocated at the beginning of the year, so it's a very substantial contribution we'll be making this year to the needs of Haiti, $160 million.
QUESTION: You don't know where specifically the money came from then?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
Okay, other questions?
QUESTION: Well, the U.S. -- if I may go to the resolution, or the prospective resolution. It's circulating. I wondered if the State Department thinks this would, among other things, entice other countries to contribute peacekeeping forces. There was a lot of that a long while ago. There was talk of talks going on with a dozen or so countries. I don't know that any of them actually came forward. But will this make it more acceptable for other countries to contribute?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you ask me that question every couple weeks and I give you the same answer because we're not quite --
QUESTION: -- with a new resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have a new resolution.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, you've got --
MR. BOUCHER: We've always said that we looked for other countries to try to make a contribution and support the multinational force. As we proceed down this path of having a new resolution, having a sovereign Iraqi interim government, and as we move forward beyond the transfer, we do expect there will be countries that will want to consider this more.
But I think I have told you regularly that we don't think we're in a position to provide any particular accounting until some of those things start to gel. This is just the beginning of that process.
I would note that the resolution, among other things, provides for the continuation of the multinational force in partnership with the Iraqi government and also encourages countries to contribute to the force and also defines a distinct portion of that force that would be specifically for the purpose of providing security for the United Nations presence in Iraq.
QUESTION: But already the Foreign Minister of Pakistan told CNN during the weekend that, in fact, Pakistan will be considering sending troops if a UN resolution is in -- you know, in the process --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that'll be fine.
QUESTION: Okay, so that's a beginning. So definitely you have a concrete evidence that one country, at least, says that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we know there are a number of countries that will consider sending troops, but it's really too early to start looking for specific commitments or confirmation.
QUESTION: Lakhdar Brahimi is still in Iraq talking with the Iraqis about -- not only about the new interim government, but supposedly about some of the things that they'd like to see in the resolution. Do you think that, perhaps, that you should have waited until those discussions were complete so as not to give Iraqis -- do you think this gives Iraqis the signal that you're not taking their concerns into consideration?
MR. BOUCHER: No, quite the contrary. We know from the Iraqis, we know a lot of the issues that have been raised in Iraq in terms of our ongoing discussions with the Iraqis and the ongoing work that Ambassador Brahimi is doing.
We would not expect to finalize this resolution until Ambassador Brahimi finishes his efforts to help form the sovereign interim Iraqi government. But we want to be able to move quickly once that process, once the new government is announced. And that's why we're presenting -- circulating a text for discussion with other members at this time.
But we are in touch with Iraqis. Ambassador Bremer previewed this with Foreign Minister Zebari, I think, today or yesterday. So we are in touch with the Iraqis, will be in touch with the Iraqis, especially the people who are selected or who emerge from Ambassador Brahimi's consultation process as the Iraqi interim government.
QUESTION: So you do expect that this text will be amended to reflect some of those discussions and what you hear on the --
MR. BOUCHER: If that's necessary. I think it already reflects a wide variety of views among members of the Council, members of the coalition, and people in Iraq because we have come into this having such a broad and concerted effort to consult, not just with members of the Council or the P5, as we do with some resolutions, but rather, talk to a much broader group of interested countries and parties about this resolution.
So we think the text we've been able to come forward with represents a substantial convergence of views on the essentials, the essentials being to transfer authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; to welcome the end of occupation; to provide for the continuation of a multinational force in partnership with the Iraqi people; to give the Iraqis control over their assets and their resources; and to encourage countries to contribute to this multinational effort and to support the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: Richard, two things: One, just on the distinct entity within the multinational force, have other -- have more than the initial -- there was talk several months ago about you guys approaching a variety of countries. I think it was, like, five or six that were actually named. Do you know, have there been other -- have there been approaches to other countries beyond those, that handful, for specifically this distinct entity?
MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is: I don't know because I don't remember the list, and I don't know the list of people we've approached. So I think the general answer would be that it has been a subject of discussion. It's something that many countries are aware of. It's something we've encouraged countries to do and will be specifically something that people will look at in this resolution. We would hope they would take to heart whatever the Security Council ultimately passes on this subject and look at this possibility.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the second thing: On the -- this letter that's to be dated XX/XX/2004, to the president of the Council, which I understand there's going to be actually an exchange of letters between the interim government and the multinational force. Can you explain what, exactly, that is? Or what it will -- what it is supposed to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't -- no, I don't think I'm in a position at this point to try to go into the legal details --
QUESTION: I don't want to know specifically, but what is it supposed to -- what's the point of it? What does it do?
QUESTION: What's the idea?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the point is to establish the willingness of the multinational forces to help the Iraqis in partnership with the sovereign Iraqi government to provide security. And the precise terms of that relationship will have to be worked out with the Iraqis as they form an interim government.
QUESTION: So those precise terms would be laid out in this letter?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- where's my copy of the resolution? That particular letter is referred to -- you know, that particular letter describes the efforts to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq and support a political transition, especially for upcoming elections and to provide security for the UN presence in Iraq. So that's what would be dealt with in that particular letter.
QUESTION: Okay, and then just -- just a technical thing on this. If this is to be -- you want this resolution to be passed before June 30th -- that's correct?
MR. BOUCHER: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Okay. How exactly is there going to be an exchange of letters between the interim government and the multinational force -- this letter you're talking about -- before the government actually takes power? Can that be done? I mean, is --
MR. BOUCHER: Those -- as I said, the details of that exchange are being worked out. I don't have them for you now.
QUESTION: But you would not expect, then, anything in -- you would expect that everything that is mentioned in this, in the draft, unless it's obviously totally taken out or something, would be done? I mean, I notice there's a couple places where it says XX/XX/2004. That -- you would expect those -- those X's to be filled in before it's passed?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, because we want to -- as Ambassador Brahimi finishes his work, we would look to move very quickly in the Council to finalize the resolution and to pass it, so as to give maximum possible support and the earliest possible support to the Iraqi interim government. And that's one of the reasons why we're presenting a text at this stage, so that people can have a discussion about all its aspects before we need to move into the final moments of it.
But, as Ambassador Brahimi is proceeding down his road, we want to be keyed up and ready to support his results, to support his -- in a sense, to support directly the interim government that he comes up with.
QUESTION: Do you feel that -- it says that you'll -- in the resolution, that you'll review the multinational force at the end of a year's time. Do you interpret that as the mandate for the force, expiring and needing to be renewed by the Council, or do you just think that you'll talk about it?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we interpret that to mean that the mandate for the force will be reviewed after 12 months. I'm not able to --
QUESTION: So, then, this is an -- so just to be clear, that this is an open-ended mandate for the force?
MR. BOUCHER: We looked at it as the review of the mandate in 12 months because that's what it says and that's the way we wrote it.
QUESTION: But there's no definite end to it; I mean, it's open-ended?
MR. BOUCHER: I can give you the language that it says. That's the intention. I'm not going to try to elaborate on it at this point.
QUESTION: Does this satisfy those countries that want a date certain by which these forces should be withdrawn?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.
QUESTION: But is it unfair to describe it as open-ended because there's no explicit end to it?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's not open-ended because it recognized that there will be a review by the Council after one year.
QUESTION: But a review --
MR. BOUCHER: What the Council would decide to do at that point we'll have to see. But it's not an open-ended mandate, no.
QUESTION: I'm not trying to play games with words. It just seems to me that a review doesn't imply that it ends or it continues. It seems to me a review just means you review it, but it chugs on whether you --
MR. BOUCHER: Resolution 1511 already provides for an end to the mandate at the end of the political process so that mandate is -- that part is maintained, so it's not an open-ended force. We don't think the departure -- the end to the mandate should be tied to some earlier event, like elections or that a government should be forced to take a decision at some earlier point. But the goal of having a review after 12 months is to make clear that this mandate that expires with the political process will be looked at regularly to see whether it's time for the Council to make some decision.
QUESTION: But it does not end in a year, as you appeared to be suggesting earlier?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I was suggesting that earlier, but it's not an open-ended mandate. It doesn't end in a year. It ends when the political process is over, but it is reviewed in a year and could end whenever the Council or the government decides it's time.
QUESTION: Right. And on that specific point, there's a provision for the transitional government to bring it before -- to ask that it be referred for review to the Council before the year is over.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, earlier if the transitional government should --
QUESTION: Is that something that you -- that you could veto, that you could say no, as a permanent --
MR. BOUCHER: You're in the wildest of hypothetical and speculative things at this point.
QUESTION: I think, actually, that that's going to be a big point --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, you're discussing whether a government that has not yet been formed could make a request that it's not yet made and what we would do if such an item were brought before the Council without prior -- without agreement of all the parties.
QUESTION: With all due respect, Richard, this draft right here contains a lot of stuff in it that hasn't happened yet and isn't going to happen -- I mean, this isn't going to happen for a while.
MR. BOUCHER: It's attempting to say that we will deal with those circumstances as they occur. It provides, because this is a sovereign Iraqi interim government, this government is able to bring before the Council issues such as the mandate for the multinational force --
QUESTION: Which the Council can decide not to review, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't want to speculate at this point what the Council would decide.
QUESTION: All right. And do you -- it mentions the transitional government, it can do this. What about the interim government, if, in the next -- after it's created on July 1st until January, is the interim government able to bring it before --
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to look at the language on that.
QUESTION: There was talk early on of more than one resolution. Was there anything that you know of that was left out of this resolution that you know is going to need to be brought back in another resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we decided after -- together and as part of our consultations with many of the governments that we've talked to, this issue of whether there should be one or two was discussed. And while there were some who thought maybe two resolutions would be good, I think the consensus or the convergence of views was that one resolution made the most sense.
All the issues that need to be addressed prior to June 30th, particularly, security, the Development Fund, things like that, are addressed in this resolution, and therefore we think there's not really time to go through an elaborate process of two resolutions between now and June 30th, but rather the Council should just bring forward its views and make its decisions on the basis of a single resolution.
QUESTION: So that was unanimous in the end?
MR. BOUCHER: Unanimous we'll see when we get to the vote. I think there was a lot of support for the -- of a single resolution, and that's what the British and we have decided to co-sponsor.
QUESTION: In the preamble itself, the point Matt was talking about on the letter, it says that the resolution, the letter, will recognize the importance of the consent of the sovereign government of Iraq for the presence of a multinational force, but the resolution itself says that it decides the multinational force shall have authority to take all necessary measures when it comes to security in the country.
Can you describe what the interplay between those two different, seemingly, very different provisions will be on the ground in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I think -- I mean, those two provisions, plus many others in this resolution, describe a circumstance under which the multinational force is there acting with the consent of the Iraqi government, acting in partnership with the Iraqi government, coordinating closely with Iraqi security forces who are under the control of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense or Interior, and providing security for the Iraqis, as we have promised. It's a scenario that we have discussed many times here. It's been put in writing.
QUESTION: But the second provision seems to indicate that the consent doesn't matter and that the coordination isn't necessary --
MR. BOUCHER: I think all these things have to be read in cooperation. It refers repeatedly in the resolution to questions of cooperation and partnership, to consent. And under those arrangements, this force, this overall structure of security forces, would take action to provide security for Iraq.
QUESTION: There is already some criticism of this new resolution, at least in the British press.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, but those are people who haven't seen it yet.
QUESTION: Well, hold on a second.
MR. BOUCHER: There's already some praise for this resolution among people who have seen it.
QUESTION: Well, I'll tell you why they're criticizing it, basically, because they're saying that the coalition forces, the American and the British soldiers, will be immune from prosecution; and therefore this new government does not have full sovereignty. And that was the deal, to be able for this resolution to pass, that the Americans needed a condition that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think, frankly, it sounds -- I have not seen the language of what people have written like that, but that strikes me as a very false premise; that there are many places around the world where we have agreements and understandings on how American forces are to be held responsible for any crimes they might commit, and those kind of arrangements are done in places that are fully and completely sovereign and have long histories of exercising their own sovereignty in a democratic manner.
The fact that the United States military has a responsibility within our own system should be abundantly clear in the court martials that are now going on for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
QUESTION: But can this new government -- does it have the legal ability to prosecute any American soldiers should it wish to?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, those kind of arrangements are worked out around the world with a variety of governments. It doesn't, in any way, detract from their sovereignty.
QUESTION: Are you going to ask the new government to sign an Article 98 agreement, or are you going to spell this out in this letter, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, some of the provisions, as she noted, will be dealt with in the resolution, as they were dealt with in Resolution 1511. Others will be the subject of precise military -- others will be the subject of further military arrangements that will be made with the government in these various letters.
QUESTION: Does all this mean that UN approval is required if -- even if the -- for the U.S.-led or a U.S.-alone security force to be in Iraq, one that the Iraqi government might want to have there? What a poorly phrased question that is.
Suppose -- let me start all over again. Suppose the U.S. and the Iraqi government conclude that Iraq, whatever the reasons, that it would be wise to keep U.S. peacekeeping troops in Iraq, or the U.S. and likeminded countries, to keep peacekeeping troops in Iraq. Can the UN stop that?
MR. BOUCHER: The intention of the resolution is to have the UN support that.
MR. BOUCHER: And to support it in terms of the arrangements that are being made in the way the force is described in the resolution.
If there was not a UN resolution, then there would be -- and there was consent of the Iraqis and Americans or others, that would be a different arrangement. This resolution describes a particular set of arrangements that will have UN endorsement. And I have to say that based on the wide consultations we've done so far, the continuation of a multinational force is one of the areas that seems to be generally agreed upon.
QUESTION: No, I realize that, but I -- I still -- it's not clear to me. If the UN, you know, the Administration has gradually enhanced the role of the UN, and I wonder if you've reached the point now where you need UN approval to maintain a force in Iraq even if you already have the approval of the Iraqi government.
MR. BOUCHER: Rather than speculate on other arrangements, I think it's important to look at what this resolution actually does. And that's why I think I find some of these questions difficult to deal with.
This resolution describes a particular transfer of sovereignty, a particular leading role for the United Nations, a particular endorsement of a political process that's underway, a particular endorsement of arrangements between the international community and the Iraqis to provide security.
It enables all those things in a way that we think is best able to provide security for the Iraqi people and to allow them to build their democracy. Whether other things could happen in other circumstances is not really the subject at hand. The subject at hand is what does this resolution do? And the answer is it transfers sovereignty, ends the occupation, and moves forward into a new phase of relations between the Iraqis and world.
QUESTION: On another related thing, but also on Iraq, the Iraq -- the Iranian foreign ministry says it has sent a warning through the Swiss to the U.S. about damaging holy places in Iraq in skirmishes. Can you verify there's been such a message?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into any particular messages any more today than I do in the past. As you know, we've had various exchanges with the Iranians about the situation in Iraq. You're aware that there was an Iranian delegation that traveled not too long ago to Baghdad and met with British and American officials there. So we're aware of areas of concern that they might have, like the holy sites.
And, in fact, we also know that they're very aware of areas of concern that we might have in terms of activities in Iraq, so we do try to maintain a dialogue with Iran on these subjects -- at least we exchange messages on these subjects, so that we're each aware of the concerns and we hope that's a constructive process.
QUESTION: But according to The Wall Street Journal, a fear exists for the partition of Iraq, and based on that, Ankara raised its concern that creating a Kurdish autonomy of 3.5 million Kurds in northern Iraq would (inaudible) the stabilized model for Turkey's own ethnic Kurds as well as for those in Iran and Syria. Any comments since this new development of partition of Iraq, according to the newspaper, is the first step for the creation of Kurdistan? Could you please clarify the U.S. position?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think the U.S. position is invoked in your question, but I'm glad to explain the U.S. position, which is that we have always supported the territorial integrity of Iraq. It's for the Iraqis to work out their system of government, but I think we, and all the neighbors, have emphasized right from the beginning the importance of maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq.
Yeah. Okay, Matt.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the resolution for just one second? I want to tell you -- the money here -- the Development Fund for Iraq, the money in that gets transferred to the interim government, the sovereign government, but yet the IAMB still exists and can still -- I'm not sure I understand if -- does -- is the government, the interim government going to have the full authority over how to spend that money?
MR. BOUCHER: They have authority over the money, and they have authority to put a representative on the international body and to maintain the auditing arrangement.
QUESTION: So, in other words, they don't really have that -- I mean, the international body, or the international community is represented on the IAMB, which, yes, will have or may have an Iraqi member, still can audit and go over the books of --
MR. BOUCHER: At the request, because it's being done with request of the sovereign Iraqi government. It's not unlike arrangements you have in other places where countries may bring in outside auditors or other boards to reassure everybody that the money is being spent in an open and transparent manner.
QUESTION: But it --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I have a hole in my copy that says, "shall continue to," I think.
QUESTION: Does it say somewhere in here that -- it doesn't say, "at the request of."
MR. BOUCHER: "It shall --," well, it's in the middle of paragraph 15. I'll leave you to read it in whatever copy you have because I can't give you a copy.
QUESTION: All right. Well, I've got a pretty --
MR. BOUCHER: Arshad.
QUESTION: Wait, wait. I have another money question, though. You believe, though, that this, that the IAMB will continue to exist at the request of the interim government?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. And then on --
MR. BOUCHER: And at the request of the international -- authorization of the international community.
QUESTION: All right. And then on the other thing, on the -- number 20, where it talks about staying for another, a year -- all legal proceedings against the previous Iraqi government -- I presume that would include the compensation claims from the first Gulf war?
MR. BOUCHER: The -- yeah, I'm not sure if it's that paragraph or not, frankly. But as far as the compensation goes, the five percent deduction that was in Resolution 15111 would continue.
QUESTION: Richard, what --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me make sure I have the exact language on that.
I don't have it with me, but that's the gist.
QUESTION: Should the Secretary -- a letter under the Secretary's name is published in a Danish newspaper today in which he restates some of the things he has said many, many times in the last couple of weeks, the apology that he made for the abuses at , at the Dead Sea, and his vow that justice would be done. And I wonder why the Secretary felt it necessary to write such a letter to a Danish newspaper and whether it has anything to do with the Danish parliament's vote, I think later this week, on whether to extend the presence of their forces in Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that and find out what particularly that might have been.
QUESTION: Okay. And can you tell us what he's doing today? He doesn't have any scheduled appointments --
MR. BOUCHER: He's having meetings with people in the building and with other members of the Administration, so there's just in-house meetings today as opposed to outside ones.
QUESTION: Any calls for a resolution on anything else or --
MR. BOUCHER: He's had a couple of phone calls today. I mean, he made a lot of phone calls yesterday on the resolution. Today he talked to the new Indian Foreign Minister, his new counterpart, Mr. Singh -- welcomed him, look forward to working with him to pursuing developments in our relationship as well as continuing our cooperation more broadly.
I think that's it for phone calls so far today.
QUESTION: Is he working at all on the Secretary's speech -- on the President's speech?
MR. BOUCHER: On the President's speech?
QUESTION: Is he working on the President's speech itself?
MR. BOUCHER: He's aware of what's in the speech. I don't know how much he's working on it, to what extent he's making comments.
QUESTION: Can you give us (inaudible) on the resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: Yesterday, I think it's important to start on Saturday night, that he talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Li on Saturday night. He had talked to Foreign Minister Kawaguchi earlier in the day on Saturday, but that was about Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to North Korea.
And then, so on the resolution he talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Li on Saturday night. He talked to the -- Secretary General Annan on Sunday, and we've shared a copy of the resolution with him. And then he talked to the French, German and Russian Foreign Ministers also on Sunday.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary or the State Department involved in any way with this Chalabi situation? Or is it something you're --
MR. BOUCHER: No, you have an Iraqi, an Iraqi police investigation going on of some people. I'm not sure it's Mr. Chalabi directly. So that's, that's what there is. It doesn't involve State Department.
QUESTION: Richard, just back on the phone calls. I noticed you didn't mention Jack Straw. Is that because they're basically communicating telepathically these days?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, yes. It's telepathically or it's speed-dial. It -- any time I say he's talked to any foreign minister, you have to assume he probably talked to Jack Straw along the way as well. They talk very frequently without our making precise notations every single time, frankly.
QUESTION: Involving the big Arab brothers of the Iraqis at your consultation about the resolution could help eliminate lots of the reservations, maybe, among some Iraqis about the resolutions later, what -- do you have any elaboration on your consultation with the Arab neighbors or the other Arabs on the resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me start by saying that the whole goal of this is so that Iraqis don't have to respond to any big brothers -- Arab or others. The goal is for the Iraqis to stand up, take their rightful place, run their own country. And that's what's going to happen by June 30th according to this resolution and the work that Ambassador Brahimi is doing.
We certainly do want Iraq to have good relations with its neighbors and think it will be appropriate for the Iraqi government to pursue those relationships with its neighbors. As far as consultations on the resolution, I would point to the number of meetings that the Secretary had during the course of his visit to Jordan last weekend -- or weekend before last.
When he talked to his host government, obviously, the Jordanians, but also other Arab governments like the Egyptians, some of the people from the Gulf who were there, in large meetings and small ones, about the process of transition, and gave -- shared with them and heard from them thoughts about the UN resolution and what it should do. So they have been part of this consultation process even though most of them are not directly members of the Council at this stage.
QUESTION: What about Turkey and Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I don't know what specifically we've talked about with either of them. Turkey, as a NATO partner and ally, I expect we've talked with, but I don't know specifically how.
Okay, let me go down here. We're changing the subject, maybe? No? Okay, keep going.
QUESTION: Also related Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: A U.S. Congressman introduced a resolution last Friday in House calling for Bush Administration to seek for help from Taiwan to send our marine troops to Iraq to join the multinational forces. Any comment on that? And has there been any discussion between Washington and Taipei on this issue?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think this a proposal from Congressman Rohrabacher and Ryun; that would be a Sense of Congress resolution calling on the President to request Taiwan to deploy marines to Iraq. We also understand that the proposed resolution has been referred to the House International Relations Committee for its consideration.
I would point out Taiwan has not offered the dispatch of troops and we're not seeking such a contribution. We do value the contributions that Taiwan is making. Taiwan has contributed 4.4 million in humanitarian assistance to Iraq after major combat operations ended last year in April, and we thank Taiwan for their support.
Taiwan's humanitarian assistance consisted of medicines, blanket and food. They have also offered to donate computers to the new Iraqi Ministry of Education. And so I'll refer you to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representation Office for more information on that.
QUESTION: Richard, on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Taiwan is not a UN member, and as far as I can tell from this, you're inviting only -- or asking only member-states. So doesn't that kind of disqual -- I mean, is there -- wouldn't that disqualify Taiwan from participating?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's really a moot point. Taiwan has not offered, nor have we asked.
QUESTION: Could we do North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, ma'am. Something else?
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the Secretary's consultation with China's Foreign Minister -- I mean, the UN resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: When he talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Li on Saturday night -- Saturday night Washington time, Sunday in Beijing -- they talked principally about the UN resolution. Foreign Minister Li also raised some points regarding Taiwan.
QUESTION: Since you mentioned that, so how the Secretary respond to China's comments, which we know very different from U.S. views?
MR. BOUCHER: As we all do, as we always do, we emphasize our "One China" policy, the three communiqués, the one Act and the continuation of that policy.
QUESTION: In light of the fall of Ahmed Chalabi, does the U.S. still thinks it's a good idea to have his nephew trying Saddam Hussein?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not a decision for us to make.
QUESTION: Who makes the decision?
MR. BOUCHER: The Iraqi government will make that decision.
QUESTION: Will you be happy if they stick with Salem Chalabi?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll be happy for the Iraqi government to make that decision at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: Yeah. Can you highlight, if you could, the speech tomorrow at USIP that the Secretary is supposed to make? Is he making a speech tomorrow at USIP?
MR. BOUCHER: He's having a meeting and making remarks with members of the U.S. Institute for Peace. That is tomorrow, right, Tom?
MR. CASEY: Yeah, it's tomorrow evening.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, tomorrow evening.
I won't -- I don't want to get out ahead of the Secretary's speech, especially when it comes after the President's speech tonight. So --
QUESTION: Will it follow on the President's speech?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it will hit a number of themes regarding Iraq, including --
QUESTION: It won't contradict it, though?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it won't. (Laughter.) I think you'll find it is consistent with the President's speech tonight.
Okay, let's keep going back. Sir.
QUESTION: It's about still resolution issue.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I'm still a little confused, otherwise I might have missed your points. So the wording to ensure coordination between the two, so this wording, based on your interpretation, new Iraqi army, they don't have any veto, or what's your interpretation on this?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, that's not the exact wording of the resolution. I have to say that was my paraphrase. But, second of all, the precise military arrangements are to be worked out in discussion between multinational force and the Iraqi interim authority. Those will be worked out in the coming time period, in the coming weeks. They will be referred to in the resolution, as your colleague has pointed out. And I'm not able to go into any more detail now than we have already.
But I would make clear, as we have before, that Iraqi forces will respond to Iraqi authority and have their responsibility to Iraqi authority. It is a decision for the Iraqi government whether to allow them to be under the operational control of a multinational commander. We would expect that to take place so that they can work under a unified command, as do all the various nationalities who are in Iraq. They won't be that much different than the other nationalities who are in Iraq where, for military and security purposes, it is important to maintain a unified command.
That being said, none of the individual nationalities, Iraqi or others, who participate in a multinational force lose their national identity or their national responsibility to their commanders-in-chief. And so if there are differences or questions where they want to opt out or change an operation, those will certainly be listened to.
In fact, already in the present circumstances, you can see in Fallujah, for example, that the multinational force, the American force, has listened a lot to prominent Iraqis, Iraqi leaders, Iraqi Governing Council members, in terms of how we've approached the situation and the kind of political and diplomatic tools that we've used to resolve the situation, rather than just military operations.
So I think we already have a record of listening to the Iraqis in those circumstances and that those -- that ability will not be diminished in any way for the Iraqis; in fact, it will be enhanced as they take over responsibility for their country.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have anything to say about the Tunis summit or Arab gathering, whether reaction, assessment, whatever?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't at -- let me give you something, though. It's difficult at this point to give you a complete reaction because the communiqué, I don't think, is out yet. I don't think that the actual statement has been released yet, at least not as of a few minutes before I came out to brief. And we do expect those documents to be posted shortly.
From what we've heard and the people we've talked to, we have found it looks like they had a very interesting discussion, a very positive discussion of reform and democracy, as they predicted to us, and we expect to see that reflected in their final statements. We look forward to discussing that and other issues further with the participants in the summit as we go ahead.
They also were strongly in support of the transition process in Iraq, support for the UN role and Ambassador Brahimi's role. That's something we agree on.
They are looking for a peaceful solution, obviously, the Israeli-Palestinian issues and reiterated their Beirut declaration, the Arab League declaration in Beirut, which we felt was a very positive contribution to the process. And they made very clear their opposition to terrorism and their opposition to terrorism being linked to Islam.
So, in a number of areas that we've heard about so far, it looks like it was a successful meeting and one where we look forward to working with them and hearing further about their views. I doubt if it coincided in every respect with the positions that we have taken on some of these issues, but certainly it looks like it was a positive outcome.
QUESTION: Can you enlighten me, or enlighten us, about these invitations of different news agencies and different newspapers talk about who is invited or not invited to this G-8 summit? And do you have any -- I mean, I know that you --
MR. BOUCHER: There will be a number of leaders invited from Africa and Middle East and others parts of the world. I don't have a final listing for you now, and I expect that will come out of the G-8 Group or the White House closer to the time of the summit.
QUESTION: Well, the Egyptians are saying -- or Foreign Minister Maher is saying that President Mubarak turned down an invitation. Have the invitations not gone out yet?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a number of invitations that have gone out, but I don't have a final listing of who's coming and who's not.
QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary conveyed an invitation to King Abdullah when he was in Jordan?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into those invitations.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I ask another question about the Arab League summit?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, sure.
QUESTION: Yeah? Well, if anyone else wants to, that's fine.
MR. BOUCHER: The gentleman here might have wanted to do that.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, Richard, you know, we don't have eyes in the back our heads.
MR. BOUCHER: Good.
QUESTION: Your reaction to two particular points in their communiqué: one of them was particularly -- they expressed the resolution that they are totally against the killing of civilians, whether it comes from any organization, Palestinian organization or from the Israelis; the other point they collectively expressed resentment of imposition of sanctions against Syria. So what is your comment on the two points?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll wait to see their final language before we try to go into more detail on our comment. As I said, we do not expect this document to coincide perfectly with our positions.
On the other hand, we see some of the parts of it, indeed, look positive and we'll look at it further as we see the whole thing, and I would expect we'll be in contact with the various governments involved to have a further dialogue and discussion of these issues that they have raised and the points that they make in their declarations.
QUESTION: You describe this as successful meeting. I mean, surely you must be disappointed the fact that none of these countries who attended the meeting agreed to put their signature down when it comes to reform and democracy in the Middle East. I mean, that must be a real disappointment.
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is the foreign ministers signed the -- what's called the Understanding and Solidarity Pact. But we'll see.
QUESTION: Do you have reaction to the walkout from the meeting of your new best pal, Colonel Qadhafi?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've ever described Colonel Qadhafi as our new best pal.
QUESTION: Well, you haven't in so many words --
MR. BOUCHER: He rolled up his tent and departed with his entourage, is our understanding.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave that for him and the other attendees to explain.
QUESTION: And you're not at all concerned about that or his anti-U.S. statements?
MR. BOUCHER: I leave it for others to explain.
QUESTION: Well, he did make some comments that are perhaps apropos of your -- of your policies on reform, on Israeli-Palestinian issues, on Iraq. No, no comment at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we have many areas of disagreement with Colonel Qadhafi. I don't think this is the occasion to review them. But particularly on human rights and reform issues, peace process issues, we have never claimed that his views or his behavior had changed to coincide with ours. The point was that we think it's been very positive the way that they have dismantled their programs for weapons of mass destruction, the way that they have complied with the UN resolutions' requirements on Lockerbie. And as we establish a diplomatic relationship, we will be taking up the many areas where we still have problems with the things he is saying and doing.
QUESTION: Yes, on Cyprus. Ambassador Weston, one of his interview, he said that Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat was the Cypriot Turkish leader we are -- U.S. will recognize him, not the Mr. Denktash as the President as the Turkish leader. Is that the official U.S. view, that one?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on exactly what he said.
QUESTION: And also, you said that before you were reviewing your policies against the Cypriot Turkish group to, you know, help them, assist them. Did you finish your reviewing your policies on the --
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing to announce at this point.
Okay, can we go in the back? In the middle.
QUESTION: Anything about today's meeting between the Greek Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yiannis Valinakis and Under Secretary Marc Grossman for the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the case of Charles Lee, who is jailed, the American who is jailed in China?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any update on his case at this point, no.
Can we work our way forward? Okay. Tammy.
QUESTION: Can I ask a clarification on something that Secretary Armitage said in an interview last week? He said that the Iraqis would have control of prisons in Iraq.
Does this mean that the Iraqi government, interim government, would have control of those people detained by the multinational force as well, and also the high-value detainees?
MR. BOUCHER: The Iraqi interim government will take control of the civilian prison system in Iraq. The status of detention facilities that the multinational force will use in conjunction with its mission is not a question for this resolution. These matters will be worked out between the interim government and the multinational force.
QUESTION: So there's still no decision on how that's going to be?
MR. BOUCHER: The basic construct that they will take charge of all the civilian prisons is clear, but as far as the status of other detainees, that'll have to be worked out between us and -- between the multinational force and the interim government.
Yeah. Okay, Saul.
QUESTION: In Vienna, diplomats are saying that Iran has stopped the UN inspectors going into certain military sites. I don't -- the details are obviously a bit sketchy. I don't know if you can confirm that. But is it sort of what you view as more of the same -- them stalling, always reluctant cooperation towards the UN, or is this particularly poor obstructionism?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about this specific event, so I am not in a position to characterize it. I would note that we have believed that Iran still had a lot to do to bring itself into compliance with the requirements of the agency and including its own commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency. They've, you know, failed to declare very significant and troubling aspects of their nuclear activities, including the significant work they'd done on "P2" centrifuges and the production of polonium-210. So this -- they've also submitted, I guess, a new report, which, at this point, they say, again, is supposed to be the full story. We'll have to see.
We'll look forward to any initials comments that Director General ElBaradei can make when he does his next report on Iran for the Board members in anticipation of their June 15th meeting.
QUESTION: Could I ask about North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: We've seen the stories about transfers of uranium and uranium technology from North Korea to Libya. Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I really don't. We have seen the stories. We'll be looking into this matter further. I would note that when the IAEA generally does look for the origin of material that it has responsibility for it, and so they might be doing this as well.
Yeah. Okay, ma'am.
QUESTION: Thank you. My question is on: Sergeant Jenkins remains in North Korea. Japanese Prime Minister is working on some kind of arrangement for a reunion with his wife in Japan in a certain country where doesn't have any extradition arrangement with United States. Have you discussed this particular issue with Japanese Government?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been in touch with the Japanese Government. Our understanding of this situation is that the U.S. Army defector and the husband of abductee, Hitomi Soga, that is, Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins, together with their two daughters, chose not to go back to Japan at this time. However, it was agreed that they'll be able to leave North Korea and likely meet Ms. Soga in China. That's the plan.
QUESTION: Yes, the last week the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis, was in the Washington D.C. and he -- his press conference he said that he discussed with the U.S. officials the Cyprus issue. Did you find any new way to reunited the island -- any -- or a solution?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any way of characterizing his views. I would not say that we found any new ways, though.
QUESTION: Yeah, can we get back on the North Korean issue. And did you see any progress between the bilateral summit meeting between Kim Jong-il and Koizumi, especially on the nuclear issues in terms of solving nuclear issues?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I said, we have certainly welcomed the results of the visit, and we do hope for further progress on the issues of concern to Japan and the United States. We note that Prime Minister Koizumi raised the need for complete denuclearization, accompanied by international verification.
We're also pleased to see that the families of the abductees are able to go back to Japan and be reunited with their loved ones. So it was a significant visit, but in terms of specific progress on the nuclear issue, we'll have to see if the issues that he raised were taken to heart by the North Koreans and if we see any change of attitude on their part at further rounds of talks.
QUESTION: But isn't he at odds with the U.S. view that North Korea shouldn't receive any assistance until they show progress toward CVID? I mean, Japan and the South Koreans seem to be at odds with the U.S. policy on this.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think anybody's at odds. This is something we consult very closely with the Japanese and South Korean friends on. We know that different countries do have different attitudes towards at what point in the process they might provide some assistance or support for North Korea, and we've accepted that, we've understood that all along. We've never been at odds with that.
I think what is clear is that all of us want the complete disarmament of North Korea. We want to see the nuclear disarmament of North Korea and the international verification falling under the general rubric of denuclearization, so that is a goal that we're all pursuing together and as we proceed down that goal, there may be other countries that are prepared to be more forthcoming with things that they might have otherwise done if North Korea had not violated all its previous commitments.
QUESTION: Two very brief Travel Warning questions. One, the Kenyans have been asking for a long time, complaining for a long time about your Travel warnings for Kenya. I noticed the Secretary met today, had a courtesy call with the new Kenyan Ambassador, which was, about what -- three days after you renewed the Kenya Travel warning? I'm just wondering if he was personally taken aback by this or if he repeated --
MR. BOUCHER: If you want to ask him if he was personally taken aback you can do so. I'm not here --
QUESTION: No, did he bring up the same -- the new -- the same objections? You don't know?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Okay. And the second --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it to him to describe what he brought up or didn't. I think it was a courtesy call by a new ambassador.
QUESTION: Yeah, that's what I said in my question.
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not. But anyway, go ahead.
QUESTION: Sorry, I did say that. You can go back to the transcript.
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Indonesia, the Warden Message.
QUESTION: Can I stick on Kenya?
QUESTION: If you don't mind. Friday you put out -- I don't know if it's a warning, but you advised Americans to think carefully about --
MR. BOUCHER: Consider carefully the risks of travel to Kenya at this time.
QUESTION: Right. But what I didn't understand is why you said Kenya because the language of that statement refers to that entire region. So is there a greater alarm over Kenya? Why did you specify Kenya?
MR. BOUCHER: If I remember correctly, there has been a regional travel advisory as well as a worldwide one. I'm not quite sure if the regional one is still in effect. But there is certainly a sense of risks in this region and particular risks with regard to Kenya given the history of what's happened there.
QUESTION: Can I move on to Indonesia?
QUESTION: Yeah, all right.
QUESTION: Friday's -- I believe it was Friday, the Warden Message from Jakarta talked about a convergence of local and international factors that made it riskier and heightened risk in Indonesia. One of those factors was the stirring up by the media of controversy over the situation in Iraq. And I'm just wondering if that referred to Indonesian media or if you're talking about all media.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)
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