State Department Briefing
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2003 BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman INDEX AFGHANISTAN -- United States Welcomes Afghan Government Agreement on Revenues -- Shooting Incident at US Embassy in Kabul DEPARTMENT -- Secretary Powell's Travel to Paris for a G-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting -- Criteria for Closing Embassies and Consulates -- Editorial on Personnel Decisions IRAN -- Nuclear Weapons Program -- Communication with Iranian Officials -- Requirements for Compliance with U.N. Resolutions; Presence of Al-Qaida Operatives SUDAN -- Cooperation on Counterterrorism -- Peace Process -- Secretary Powell's Meeting with High-Level Sudanese Officials -- Listing as a State Sponsor of Terrorism -- Humanitarian Aid IRAQ -- Study of Trailers Suspected of Producing Biological Agents -- Joint Inspection of Tuwaitha Storage Area with IAEA TERRORISM -- Reaction to Tape of alleged Al-Qaida Senior Operatives POLAND -- NATO Support to Send Stabilization Troops UNITED NATIONS -- Preparations for Vote on New United Nations Resolution BELGIUM -- Status of Complaint Against General Franks ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS -- Discussions with Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian Officials -- Settlement Activity and the Roadmap -- Saudi Arabia's Role in the Peace Process MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. One thing I'd like to note at the top, we're putting out a statement about the Afghan Government agreement on revenues. President Karzai, his government of provincial governors and other regional leaders in Afghanistan have agreed on a mechanism that can centralize Afghanistan's public revenues into an accountable framework established by the central government. This has been a project, an issue that we have been working on for a long time with the Afghan Government. It's very important in terms of consolidating the revenues centrally from things like customs receipts, and they reached some agreements in Kabul yesterday, and we welcome that. So we're putting out a statement on that. I take the occasion to point out the United States Government, the American people, have provided $900 million in assistance to Afghanistan last year, and we expect to match that level this year as well. So that's what I have to say. I'll take questions on this or other topics. QUESTION: On Afghanistan? MR. BOUCHER: Terri. QUESTION: Barry. QUESTION: At least it's on Afghanistan. QUESTION: It is. Can you tell us -- give us details on what happened outside the Embassy today, where I believe four Afghan guards were killed? MR. BOUCHER: I can give you some information on that. I'm not sure we have the full details on everything that was going on at the time. But here is what we know at this point. There was a shooting incident in front of our Embassy in Kabul today at approximately 12:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It was an incident of shooting between U.S. Marines who defend the Embassy and Afghan military forces. Unfortunately, it caused loss of life. We are working closely with the Afghanistan Government on the investigation into this incident. The investigation is ongoing, so I really don't have any further details at this time. I would say we appreciate the Afghanistan Government's resolve in providing a safe environment for us to conduct our diplomacy in Kabul, and we deeply regret any loss of life in the incident. QUESTION: Any Americans lost? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think there were any American loss of life. QUESTION: But as far as you understand, there was not truly a threat to the Embassy? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's not clear. There was some shooting. Our Marines heard shots and fired back in the direction, but exactly what the Afghan military forces were doing and going after, I think all that has to be looked into to put together the whole picture at this point. QUESTION: As far as you know, the shooting incident was just between U.S. Marines and Afghan military? There wasn't a third -- there weren't third parties involved that they were shooting at? MR. BOUCHER: The exchange of fire was between U.S. Marines and Afghan military. Whether there were other people being shot at by the Afghan military, I don't think we're quite sure yet. QUESTION: The Embassy put out a pretty detailed statement about what happened, and unless I'm mistaken, it said that there was no fire coming from the Afghans at all. Are you saying now that that's in question? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to look back at that. Again, we're at a sort of confused state of affairs right now with partial information, so I don't think any of these statements are definitive at this point. QUESTION: Okay. But have you seen that statement from the -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't actually -- I don't have that statement. I can't give you precise details of it. But the whole thing is being looked into. We do think our Marines were responding to what they perceived as a threat; there was firing that they responded to. So we'll just have to see exactly how the whole thing came about. QUESTION: Could you preview a bit the Secretary's trip? Will there be -- I'm sure there will be, I suppose, side talks with the French. Will this help mend relations? For those who have to -- and I'm not one of them, but for those who have to set up the trip, we'd like a few words, if you could. QUESTION: Thank you, Barry. MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary's travel to France tomorrow is for a G-8 foreign ministers meeting. G-8 foreign ministers have the responsibility to help prepare for the leaders meeting which comes ten days or so later in Evian, France. So the G-8 foreign ministers will meet in Paris. I'm sure they'll discuss the full range of topics in the world. We cooperate with many of these countries on things like our efforts in the Middle East. We expect to cooperate with them in terms of, for example, the rebuilding of Iraq. We're already working together in Afghanistan. There are mutual concerns about any number of topics around the world, including things like the situation with Iran and broader questions like nonproliferation. So this is a chance for the Secretary to get together with some of the foreign ministers, with the foreign ministers of the G-8, with some of the foreign ministers that we work most closely with, in order to pursue a full range of issues and see where there are areas for cooperation. In that context, I suppose, it can contribute to overcoming or moving beyond some of the differences that we've had with certain members. As you know, we have cooperated very closely with some members of the G-8 in terms of the action that we took in Iraq. Many are members of the coalition. Many are very supportive on the reconstruction side. For example, the Japanese have now put forward the idea of holding -- organizing a reconstruction donors conference, and that's something that we'll work with them and want to support on. So we have a lot of effort underway with these various countries, but to the extent that we had some differences with some of them, we'll see how much they want to cooperate and move forward with the G-8 in accomplishing some of the goals that we think we still share. QUESTION: Speaking of economics, an economy group, is this an opportunity to make a pitch, a further pitch, for freezing assets of terror groups, tracking them? MR. BOUCHER: Well, the G-8 has a whole economic structure based on the treasury ministers, the finance ministers, and that feeds into the leaders as well. But certainly, where we are with Iraq in terms of looking for passage of the UN resolution, and we expect -- we look for a vote to that tomorrow, so we would hope that countries would vote in favor of it and they would be meeting in Paris after the successful completion of that UN resolution, even though we may be just arriving in Paris at the time. And then at that point, the issue becomes how to implement that, how to move forward on things like reconstruction, where the Japanese have put together some what we think are very good ideas, very timely ideas -- we'll work with them, talk to them about that -- and how to move forward in Iraq to implement the resolution in its various aspects: selling oil, creating the fund, getting the international financial institutions involved, and yes, making sure the assets that need to be frozen are frozen and then transferred into the development fund. QUESTION: Richard, does the Secretary have any bilats there? I've heard that he may have one with the French, but not anybody else. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have a final schedule there, and so normally he would have a bilateral with the host. That's something we do at most every G-8 meeting and meeting like this. But I don't have a final schedule yet. They will be seeing a lot of each other as a group and they always find time to talk in corridors and around the meetings with individuals. QUESTION: If he does meet with de Villepin, that would be part of the normal pattern of meeting with the host, not because he wants to have a particular conversation with the French? MR. BOUCHER: I would say there is all kinds of reason to meet with the French Foreign Minister. QUESTION: Richard, so can we assume, then, that the thrust of this is -- the thrust of what the ministers are going to be talking about is Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, nonproliferation? MR. BOUCHER: As well as others. If you want to talk about the major issues that we want to talk to the other ministers about, it's going to be Iraq reconstruction, stabilization and reconstruction in Iraq; it's going to be pursuing the roadmap process, pursuing peace in the Middle East, how we can all contribute to that; it's going to be nonproliferation issues, including issues like Iran and nuclear developments there; and you can just throw in other regional issues as kind of a grab bag for many other things. I am sure North Korea will come up, for example. QUESTION: Okay. And when you talked about -- when you said -- before, when you said the situation with Iran, you were referring specifically to the nonproliferation, or were you also talking about the alleged al-Qaida or the reports of al-Qaida people -- MR. BOUCHER: In the context, I should have listed the war on terrorism as well among the top three that has now become four. I am sure Iran will come up in different ways. When it comes to nonproliferation, the subject of Iran is important because of the information coming out about nuclear developments there. When it comes to the war on terrorism, the presence of al Qaida and various places is obviously very important right now. QUESTION: Will the Secretary be looking for votes for the IAEA meeting coming up in -- next month regarding the report on Iran's proliferation activities? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific on that meeting yet. We'll have to see -- QUESTION: But will you be expecting some of the G-8 countries -- MR. BOUCHER: We have not said that we are looking for a vote at that meeting. We have said we were looking for a complete and full report from the agency on what they have learned about Iran's programs. I would expect all members of the IAEA would look for a full and complete report at that time. QUESTION: But when they give the full and complete report -- and let's not jump ahead of it -- but if it says -- MR. BOUCHER: So let's not. QUESTION: Okay. But if it says what -- MR. BOUCHER: Great, next question. QUESTION: -- the U.S. intelligence community has been saying it should say, then there would have to be a vote about whether the UN Security Council would -- I mean, that's my understanding. MR. BOUCHER: I agree with you. Let's not jump ahead of it. QUESTION: All right. MR. BOUCHER: We are looking for a full and complete report from the agency on what they have learned about Iran's programs. We have known for a long time a lot of things about Iran programs that have raised very serious concerns for us, and that we have raised with others. And as this information becomes increasingly clear to others, we think there is a basis for other countries to reevaluate some of their cooperation and reevaluate their approach to this issue, and we'll be pushing for that as well. Terri. QUESTION: On the matter of the presence of al-Qaida around the world, the Sudanese Foreign Minister said outside that there was no more al-Qaida presence in Sudan. Does the United States believe that? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check with my experts and see if there is anything residual or anywhere else. What I would say is that we have had very good, and I think increasingly good cooperation with Sudan on issues of counterterrorism, working together. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed that this morning and talked about a desire to keep that going, indeed, to enhance it, and talked about some of the issues that remain with Sudan on the list of terrorism-supporting countries. The Secretary said, you know, it's our hope that these things get remedies, that the changes get made, and that we can take you off the list because of the changes. QUESTION: What they have to do to get off? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go through the whole list now. There are some groups and people present. But the issue is really, at this point, I think, was we have seen a lot of cooperation and we'll continue to look for ways to enhance the work we do with Sudan against terrorism. They also discussed, quite extensively, the peace process for Sudan. I think the fifth round of discussions have just been held, just concluded. There is further efforts that are required, but I think they have appreciated the important role that the Secretary has played, that the United States has played in that process, and that we think there is a real prospect to reach a just and lasting conclusion to the civil war that would resolve many of these longstanding issues. So we'll keep pushing for that as well. Sir. QUESTION: But, Richard, the Foreign Minister of Sudan said the -- moving toward the deadline of June, you know, concluding the peace treaty is unlikely. That's your impression also? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can make a prediction at this point. We do think it requires everybody's best efforts, and a continued and concerted effort, and we'll be working with the parties to see what can be achieved. Ma'am. QUESTION: Hello, Richard. Based on the increase threat of terrorism, do you plan to close more embassies and consulates, even temporarily? If so, where and when? MR. BOUCHER: We, I think, made clear in our travel advisories -- travel warnings -- really going back to September 11th, that, as information appeared, we might find it necessary or appropriate to close embassies and consulates temporarily. Sometimes you have information that you have to take seriously, even though you haven't had time to check it out. And, therefore, in the interest of prudence, posts will close for a day or two while they checked out the information, or while they added additional security measures, or while they worked with local governments to make sure that everything was in tip-top shape, in terms of security. So that will continue to happen from time to time. But because those decisions are made fairly rapidly on the ground by the embassies themselves, I can't predict in advance. You know, we don't have a schedule that we are going to close an embassy on June 14th. But if on June 13th they get some information that they take seriously, an embassy might decide to close the next day. So it's really that's the kind of decision our ambassadors have the responsibility to make on the ground locally. QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: Richard, back on Iran. There were a couple of reports this morning about the administration deciding to take a harder line because of the al-Qaida connection, and one report says that you guys have decided to suspend the -- postpone or cancel talks that were planned for today in Geneva. Are these correct? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to start getting into specific messages or specific discussions. As you know, we have found a variety of ways to communicate with Iran on subjects that are important to us and that are in our interests. We have made clear to Iran, as recently as this week, that we believe that al-Qaida operatives are present in Iran and that Iran needs to meet its international responsibilities. We have called on Iran, as we have called on all countries, to meet their responsibilities under UN Security Council Resolution 1373 to deny safe haven to those who plan, support and commit terrorist acts, and to affirmatively take steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts by providing early warning to other states by exchange of information. So we will continue to pursue those issues in a variety of ways with the Government of Iran and with all governments around the world. QUESTION: Well, can you say if it's correct that you guys have decided to suspend what had been this kind of renewal, at least, that -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not in a position to get into any particular channel or meetings, any particular set of meetings that may or may not have been discussed. The important thing is we do find ways to communicate and we'll continue to find ways to communicate with Iran on subjects that are important to us. QUESTION: Are you suggesting that one way -- you're saying we'll continue to find ways, that one way that may have been going on in the past is no longer there. Is that -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't say that. I would say that we don't use the same way every time. QUESTION: So you don't want to say if there was a meeting scheduled for tonight that's been postponed? MR. BOUCHER: That's a correct conclusion. Yes, sir. QUESTION: Can you say whether you made this clear to the Iranians directly or through intermediaries? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so, no. That eliminates two-thirds of the possibilities. It's a brilliant question. QUESTION: I know you probably can't answer this either -- MR. BOUCHER: -- but an even more brilliant answer. QUESTION: Is it on Iran? QUESTION: It is on Iran. QUESTION: I was going to ask if the meeting has been held already. We were told on the plane there was one more meeting. MR. BOUCHER: No, you weren't. QUESTION: Yes, we were. We were told there had been a few, I think three possible, in Geneva, and there'll be another one pretty soon. MR. BOUCHER: All right, I'm not going to argue about that. To my knowledge, what we have said in our briefings on the airplane, of which there are transcripts, is that we've had meetings in the past and we may have them in the future. QUESTION: All right. Well -- MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't change that today, but I would say that we don't talk about a particular encounter or set of meetings, just because of the nature of this activity. QUESTION: I wonder -- I mean, I don't plan on belaboring it, but I wondered if -- I mean, you don't have to tell us your reasons, but I wondered if there's a feeling in the administration that if you announce these meetings, too much will be made of the U.S. contacts with Iran, that you don't want to over-dramatize the contacts. Otherwise, I can't understand. I mean, the Afghan meetings were announced. You know, if there's a meeting to tell them that they're behaving badly, I don't know why it would be a big secret. MR. BOUCHER: Barry, first of all, we've confirmed the fact of having had meetings in the past. I would say that it's not speculation to say that any time there is such a meeting that comes out in public that yes, a big, big deal is made about it, perhaps more than the meeting itself deserves. But I have to say that our job is to conduct an effective diplomacy for the United States. Our job is not to feed your wire or to get publicity. QUESTION: Is it not, though? QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. BOUCHER: I'll think about that one again, but that at least was the way it was described to me when I came on board. But the bottom line is, if we think it's better for our diplomacy, more effective for our diplomacy, to be able to conduct a quiet meeting from time to time, or to pass a message where people aren't immediately publicly accountable, if we think that's a more effective way of getting them to do what we want, then that's the way we'll try to pursue it. QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. BOUCHER: I think it's been that way for at least a hundred years, perhaps longer. George. QUESTION: Well, I had an Iran question. MR. BOUCHER: Well, George has a question, too. QUESTION: I'd like to make a big deal out of the meeting with the Sudanese this morning. MR. BOUCHER: It was a big deal. It was, I think, one of the highest level meetings we've had in a number of years. QUESTION: Well, that was my question. Isn't it highly unusual for the Secretary of State to receive in his office the foreign minister of a country on the terrorism list? QUESTION: Weren't we just in Syria a couple weeks ago? QUESTION: In his office. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't want to draw that distinction, but I would say that since the beginning of this administration, you remember, the Secretary has focused on Sudan. He went in his first trip to Africa, I think it was, we went to Kenya, we met with various parties involved in the Sudan negotiations. He has kept in close touch with the Kenyan Government as they have tried to pursue these negotiations. We had Senator Danforth involved for us. And we have been able to create a process that has led, I think, to positive movement in two areas especially. One is on the peace process, and that has had a humanitarian effect, for example, the Nuba Mountain agreement that has improved dramatically, I think, the humanitarian situation in some parts of Sudan, but also achieves some progress that, as I said, we're not there yet, but we're going to continue to work it and hope to build on it and work with the parties to see if we can't bring peace to that country. And the second is the effort against terrorism. I think it's safe to say that Sudan is not the kind of haven for terrorists that it used to be and has been quite cooperative in many ways in terms of the work we have been able to do with them since 9/11. And so I think it's important to keep that progress going and to look at a high level between the Secretary and the foreign ministers to how we can keep that progress going. And so that was the subject. That was the subject of the meeting today. QUESTION: Is it still off limits to -- I guess because of the terrorism listing, is it still off limits to American oil companies and other American businesses? MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check the exact details. There's been legislation on that and I'm not sure it passed. There have been legislative proposals on that that I don't think passed. But yes, all the usual terrorism sanctions still apply, and that involves transfer of funds in certain circumstances. QUESTION: How long was this meeting? There are tons of questions on -- MR. BOUCHER: About a half hour. QUESTION: The displacement of people in the south to make way for oil rigs. These are -- MR. BOUCHER: No, they didn't -- it wasn't a long enough meeting to get into every single aspect and detail of this. But they have had detailed discussions with our Ambassador who goes there and with Assistant Secretary Kansteiner, who has been having talks with the Sudanese delegation as well. QUESTION: Did the Secretary outline the steps that Sudan would have to take to get off the terrorism list? MR. BOUCHER: He outlined some of the things, some of the kind of things, that we would look to Sudan to do to get off the terrorism list, and said that we would hope that Sudan would take these kind of steps: continuous cooperation against terrorism and take steps to remove past practices, take steps to -- that would merit getting of the list; that we would like nothing better than to see you carry out these steps and let us take you off the list. Okay, sir. QUESTION: Can I go to Iran? QUESTION: Can we just finish up on Sudan? You said that the principal topic of the meeting was to keep up the forward momentum on counterterrorism. How much time did -- MR. BOUCHER: Like I said, two. They spent -- they really divided the meeting between peace process and counterterrorism, probably equally. QUESTION: And was there any specific push by the Secretary to try -- it seems like the administration, maybe they'd push on the peace process. The President, as you know, is meeting Senator Danforth later today. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. QUESTION: I'm wondering if the Secretary has sought to push for getting it done by the June target. MR. BOUCHER: He has sought to push for making as much progress as we can as soon as we can, getting it done as soon as we can. It wasn't expressed in terms of deadlines, but yes, we want to do everything we can to encourage completion of this process. It has made a lot of progress, but where there's -- we're not there yet. QUESTION: Could I ask one more? I know it's only a half-hour meeting, but humanitarian. Was there any discussion about slavery -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, they didn't get into every single -- QUESTION: That's a big item, though. Is that -- I mean, humanitarian -- when you said there's progress on humanitarian -- on the humanitarian front, can you be a little more explicit? MR. BOUCHER: As I said before, there are aspects of the progress towards peace that have had a beneficial effect in terms of the humanitarian situation. Senator Danforth and our envoys, our Ambassador, our Assistant Secretary in the region, have worked in detail on many of these particular aspects like slavery, like, you know, the situation of food distribution in different parts of the country. But the progress on the peace process has made life better for a lot of Sudanese, made it possible to deliver food to a lot of Sudanese. And particularly in the Nuba Mountain areas, that's been a benefit to people. QUESTION: Can we go back to Iran for a second? QUESTION: I wanted to go back to Iran. QUESTION: Okay. Well, you can go to -- I'm asking -- MR. BOUCHER: We've got one in the back too, you know. There is somebody beyond the front row that wants to ask a question. We'll get back there eventually. QUESTION: When you said that you made it clear to the Iranians as recently as this week that -- about your concerns about al-Qaida being there and that you wanted them to comply with the UN resolutions, did you leave it at that or did you actually say, "We want them expelled," or, "We want them handed over to someone"? Or did you just leave it at "comply with"? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't -- I would say that's a general description of the message, but I wouldn't be in a position to go into any more detail about -- QUESTION: Well, what does this -- you'll probably refer me to the UN, but what that resolution says they have to do what? MR. BOUCHER: Exactly what I read to you. I read you two sentences that describe exactly what the resolution requires. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. QUESTION: In Iran, and before that in Syria, there's been a lot of talk about al-Qaida operatives going into the territory or being in that territory. Does the State Department -- you said this in regard to Iran and that you've mentioned it to the Iranians. Do you have a view that the government was complicitous in either sort of giving these people shelter or allowing them in the country, or did they just sneak in, because it's a very big border over there and it could very well have been that, I mean, you can't account for the flow of people back and forth? So I just wanted to get a clarification on that. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'd be in a position at this point to go into that. QUESTION: Well, can you answer -- I mean, it seems what -- that if you took the view that the Iranians fully knew what they were doing, that they were allowing al-Qaida guys to escape, then they would have been acting in a way that would really raise questions about their commitment to the war on terrorism, so to speak. If you believed, however, that you were making them aware of a problem in their country and that they have not yet gotten back to you, that would then lead us to believe another thing. And I just -- it seems like that's important because all we have is the fact that you believe that there are al-Qaida people in that country, and we should know -- MR. BOUCHER: I would not be in a position to describe to you what we know about who's there, how they got there, where they might be, because of the way we know those kind of things. QUESTION: Right. MR. BOUCHER: Nonetheless, I think it's -- something I can say is to say that the presence of al-Qaida operatives working from Iran is a matter of very serious concern to us, whether they're there with permission, not with permission, or what. It's the responsibility of the government to prevent those kind of people from coming to their country, to take steps against them if they get there, not to allow them to operate, and to prevent the commission of terrorist acts. As I said, that's part of the UN resolution. So whether the answer to your question is yes or no, the fact is governments have a very strong responsibility to make sure it doesn't happen. And that's a responsibility we expect them and other governments to live up to. QUESTION: Can you -- then I will drop it. Can you say whether at this point we are in the phase of, "There are some al-Qaida guys in your territory, could you please get rid of them and give them to us," or are we in the phase of, "What are you doing here?" -- like, you know, "How could you let this happen?" MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't describe the message in any more detailed or colloquial terms than I already have. Terri. QUESTION: Does Ryan have a question? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he does. QUESTION: Could I -- MR. BOUCHER: I was working my way back. QUESTION: Well, I am going to change the subject, because I think he needs to ask. You can come back to me. MR. BOUCHER: Okay, hang on, hang on. Let's ask the most patient person in the room first then. Sir. QUESTION: Just regarding the trailers you found in Iraq, The New York Times reported today a white paper vindicating, apparently so, what Colin Powell said in -- before the UN in February. Is that your sense, that these tractor trailers, according to the white paper, were produced -- were producing germs as the -- for weapons? Is that your sense? MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to brief on any particular intelligence study on this. But, as our experts have gone through these vans more and more, they continue to tell us that these trailers appear to have had no purpose but to produce biological agents, and that they are very similar, almost identical, in some respects, with the biological vans the Secretary described on February 5th to the UN Security Council. And, therefore, it remains important for the experts to study them, to understand them, to talk to people about them, and they'll continue to do that. But I would say, as they look into this more and more, it becomes more and more clear that these -- our experts are more and more convinced that the only purpose of having these vans was to make biological agents. QUESTION: Is it correct that they found no evidence yet that these vans did actually produce such agents? MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be in a position yet to brief on the conclusions that the experts are -- on the evidence that they are finding and the tests that they are doing. I would say I think it's a little premature for that. QUESTION: Richard, on this same thing, the IAEA says that you guys have begun talks with them about getting their inspectors back in; is that correct? And also, is this at all what's going on, and does it have any part to play in the resolution in the UN? MR. BOUCHER: Let me start with that, with the issue of what we are doing. We are making arrangements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct a joint inspection of the safeguarded storage area near Tuwaitha. Details and timing are not set yet, but we are looking to do this as soon as arrangements can be made. The International Atomic Energy Agency's role would be pursuant to the Agency's long-term responsibilities in Iraq under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. These are areas that have been safeguarded, storage sites near Tuwaitha. We want to do a joint inspection, and that's what we are talking to them about. That's what we are making arrangements for. The responsibilities under this long-term safeguards agreement, under the Nonproliferation Treaty, are different than the role that IAEA played under UNMOVIC under Resolution 687, and subsequent ones. And if I remember correctly -- I don't have time to plow through every paragraph, but the UNMOVIC issue is left -- is in the resolution as a subject for further discussion, not this particular issue. QUESTION: But you are -- correct me if I am wrong -- you seem to be desirous to separate the two out, meaning that the IAEA going in with you, with you guys on your joint inspection, would have nothing at all to do with what UNMOVIC was or might do in the future? MR. BOUCHER: It's not the same thing. This is a responsibility that the IAEA has under the Nonproliferation Treaty, and expertise that they have, in terms of the things under seal and safeguards and the material that was there. It's important for all of us that we ascertain what's happened, in terms of the looting and to those materials that was there -- QUESTION: Do you know when these talks began? Because this position seems to be a bit of a switch from what you were saying from the podium on Monday, which was that this is something that -- well, you did say they were two separate issues, but it didn't imply -- seem to indicate that this was -- there was going to be any movement on this any time soon. MR. BOUCHER: I think it did move fairly quickly, actually. QUESTION: Since Monday? MR. BOUCHER: Since Monday. I believe we talked to them overnight, really, the serious discussions. We have been in touch on the issue because Dr. ElBaradei had reminded us of these responsibilities several times in public. But so, we have been in touch with him on the issue, but in terms of actually making the arrangements, I think we got in touch with him yesterday or overnight. QUESTION: Okay. Overnight between today and yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: Between yesterday and this morning. QUESTION: And you don't have, though, any idea when the inspection when the inspection might happen or when you might get, at least an agreement, on when to go? MR. BOUCHER: I would think the arrangements could be made fairly quickly, but we're ready to have them as soon as they are ready to go. Okay, Terri. QUESTION: Can I ask you about this -- does the State Department have any reaction yet? Have you had time to look at the tape that's alleged to be of al-Zawahri? And was your translation the usual? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I don't have any reaction on the authenticity of the tape, at this point. That has to be looked at by the appropriate experts. And whether we will be able to determine authenticity or not, I don't know. What I would say is that the text is inflammatory. We have to question why a network would air this kind of inflammatory rhetoric. It's a series of threats. It's a series of diatribes. It's a series of calls for people to commit horrible acts against innocent people. And so, to that extent, airing this tape is irresponsible in our view. QUESTION: Well -- I'm sorry. MR. BOUCHER: We have made clear this view to the Government of Qatar. We're making it clear in public, as well. I would note in the text, once again, these people threaten just about everybody. They threaten Arab governments -- Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt. I probably can't even remember the whole list. They threaten Western Governments, who have helped the people of Iraq achieve a degree of freedom that they never had before; uncovered the mass graves, the slaughters of a dictator, and start to build their own country back. So I think the use of violence against progress, the use of violence against hope, is unfortunately still out there, and that's what this tape represents. QUESTION: Do you fear that the text could be a trigger for more action, since the threat level is so high? MR. BOUCHER: One never knows. There is, as you know, credible indications of a threat from al-Qaida, another from al-Qaida, and we are acting on that threat in a variety of ways in a variety of places. QUESTION: Richard, is there -- MR. BOUCHER: Let's keep going. QUESTION: I have a follow-up on the last question. MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember what that was but -- QUESTION: On this, a follow-up on -- QUESTION: Yes, that's fine. MR. BOUCHER: All right. Let's -- QUESTION: Richard, either you or the Secretary or any other senior have any plans to go on this network that aired it and rebut the charges, which you have done in the past, after they have aired things that you have also said were irresponsible? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. QUESTION: Is it a possibility? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it's a possibility, but I haven't said yes yet. QUESTION: Is your expression of displeasure limited only to Al Jazeera and the Government of Qatar? Are you also upset or expressing your concerns to U.S. networks who also aired this tape, as well as other international networks? MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, I think what I would say is that the first source of this in the airing of this was Al Jazeera. Others seem to have picked it up as a secondary relationship. We certainly think that people would want to question whether it's in their interest and part of their responsibility to air the full tape to allow the forum for this kind of diatribe. QUESTION: In other words, you don't have a particular problem with secondary -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I think everybody would want to question whether it was something they wanted to do. QUESTION: You have other ways to rebut. Is there any other -- are you using any other mechanisms to -- MR. BOUCHER: Talking to you? QUESTION: Well, the Chris Ross operation, if that's still going. MR. BOUCHER: I am sure we will have others who are out speaking about this. But, again, the rebut -- I mean, what are we rebutting? Are we rebutting an argument? QUESTION: Get the truth out. MR. BOUCHER: Are we responding to -- are we pointing out the truth that a hateful diatribe that threatens half -- most of the Arab world and much of the developed world, that threatens the foundations of civilian and the hopes and aspirations of people around the world, I mean, to rebut that is just to say that that's what it is. It's calling a spade a spade, and that's what we're doing. QUESTION: I just -- because you came out -- you've come out strongly against this. Are you saying that -- I mean, clearly you can understand why news networks would consider a spokesman for al-Qaida, whatever he says, to be news, considering that they're still around and they've just done this horrible thing. I mean, from that perspective, are you sort of -- was your protest based on the fact that this was such a threatening message, or was your protest based on that anything these people say shouldn't be on the air? MR. BOUCHER: I think our protest is based on the fact that we see this as inflammatory, purely inflammatory broadcasting, not a news event per se in that it's not verifiable. It's just screed. QUESTION: Have you taken -- has the administration taken the step this time of asking the networks not to air it? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've asked other networks. We have certainly talked to people in charge of Al Jazeera. QUESTION: But with Al Jazeera, I mean, they've also done you favors in other times by giving the United States advance copies, advance texts of these tapes. I mean, they've worked with you on these tapes before, haven't they? QUESTION: No. QUESTION: Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I'll let you two debate it. I don't think I'm in a position to confirm or deny. Back there. QUESTION: Just last time, the Secretary said that they got in advance this broadcast. I mean, did they do the same thing? I mean, did they give you an advance copy of it? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we had advance information about this. I think they were talking about airing it sometime in advance, but I don't know that we knew what the contents was. QUESTION: Richard, why wouldn't this be a news event? Because the fact that this group has committed these attacks -- MR. BOUCHER: Ultimately -- QUESTION: Let me finish. Committed grievous attacks against the United States and others, now threatening or encouraging further ones. Surely, that is a news event in and of itself, even if it is a hateful screed. MR. BOUCHER: Ultimately, we have to leave it to you people in the news business to decide what the news is and what you're going to report. We would just caution people and question, from our standpoint, whether it's in anybody's interest to give voice, to give time, to give so much time, so much voice, to people who just seem to want to threaten others, who just seem to want to attack others, who just seem to want to incite people and call on them to kill people. I mean, I don't know if you discuss these things in journalism school, but I didn't go there, but if you have a shouting fire in a crowded theater problem, you must have a question of whether one should report that somebody shouted fire in a crowded theater. But I'll leave that one to others to decide. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, in light of this latest round of threats from al-Qaida, if, in fact, Iran is -- has not been as cooperative as they claim to -- on al-Qaida and they haven't been providing the kind of assistance we need there, does that mark a failure in our efforts to engage Iran in recent months? MR. BOUCHER: As the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State and others have said, we think it is important that we be able to make points, that we be able to raise issues, that we be able to press Iran on issues that are important to us, and we have a number of issues of longstanding concern, things like support for terrorism, opposition to the peace process, nuclear developments, human rights situation. But we found in some cases there has been a positive outcome to those discussions. With regard to Afghanistan, for example, there's been a certain level of coordination established with Iran that was useful, we think, in creating the outcome that we've gotten there. We have not seen the kind of changes in Iran's behavior across the board that we would like to see, but we do think it's worthwhile, at least, to keep making the points and keep pressing them. Ultimately, any failure to adjust its policy to the modern world, any failure to adjust its policy to what neighbors and others would like to see, is a failure of Iran, not of the United States. QUESTION: But, Richard, on almost every annual report put out by the State Department on global terrorism, Iran has been named the most active state sponsor of terrorism, something that hasn't changed, including the latest report. At what point do we declare the engagement a failure if the trend keeps going in this direction for, you know, engaging one-half of the remaining "axis of evil"? MR. BOUCHER: Every time we talk about Iran, we talk about Iran's failure, Iran's failure to change its behavior, Iran's failure to adjust its support for terrorism, to stop supporting terrorists. The failure is Iran's. The fact that we keep telling them to do the right thing is not a failure on our part; it's a failure on their part to do the right thing. QUESTION: Can we find something else? Poland, today, took the lead -- I guess this is on the good news department, you would consider. MR. BOUCHER: A lot of good news today. QUESTION: Well, we've been into some not so very good things. But Poland is taking -- MR. BOUCHER: Good news in Afghanistan, Japan, Poland -- QUESTION: -- peacekeeping -- MR. BOUCHER: All right. Poland. Yes. QUESTION: Any -- can you, again, supplement what is coming out of NATO? Nick Burns, of course, said it's good news. The countries that might join in, if it's not too long a list, if you want to try a few. And the financing is an issue. I guess the U.S. is going to bear the brunt of the cost. Could you do anything on those two areas? MR. BOUCHER: Some of your questions are a little too detailed to answer at this point, and I'll explain why. But let me make first clear we welcome and we strongly support the decision today at NATO. The decision was by 19 allies who decided to play a role in Iraq by supporting Poland's efforts to provide stabilization forces in Iraq. As you know, the United States has had a discussion going on at NATO with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, starting last December, and then the Secretary during his visit earlier this year, and then subsequent follow-ups with our Ambassador about how NATO could support stabilization and reconstruction in Afghanistan. This has been one element of the discussions, how we could support allies who wanted to go in and help out, and we're glad that NATO has made a decision to do that. There may be other things coming out of NATO -- there are still items being discussed at NATO. Let's put it that way. We also welcome Poland's leadership in stepping forward to take on this role in Iraq. At NATO's decision today, the allies expressed a common desire that NATO be present in Iraq by assisting Poland. Following NATO's April 16th decision to take the lead and assume full responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, there is no question now that NATO is on the front lines in the global war on terrorism. This is a big step forward for NATO and a sign of the Alliance's new direction and emphasis on confronting new threats to the Alliance. There will be a force generation conference in Warsaw tomorrow and Friday. State Department, Defense Department, military officials from the United States will all be attending, and that's where some of these issues of who will go with them, how do they get organized, how are they financed, where those issues might be discussed. QUESTION: Okay, thank you. QUESTION: Who will represent the U.S.? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a detailed list yet. It will be State Department, Defense Department, military people together. Terri. QUESTION: On the UN resolution, to get back, does that fall in the good news category? You've had a little delay. MR. BOUCHER: No, but we hope it will tomorrow. The United States is now looking for a vote tomorrow morning on the UN resolution that was presented by the United States, the UK and Spain. We made some technical fixes and some adjustments to the text overnight based on what we had heard from people yesterday, what we had heard in the Secretary's discussions with foreign ministers, as well as the more detailed discussions in New York. We think this resolution is now better than ever and that it's a resolution that responds to, first of all, the overall need to help the Iraqi people, and, second of all, many of the issues and questions that have been raised along the way. So we expect to make no more changes to this text. We look for countries now to decide how they intend to vote, and we expect to see a vote tomorrow morning. Our Ambassador -- our mission in New York, including Ambassador Negroponte, have been working hard with others. Our embassies in Security Council capitals have been working with their governments and the Secretary of State has continued to make phone calls today, as he did yesterday, to members of the Security Council, foreign ministers, in order to work with them to achieve maximum possible support for this resolution, maximum possible support for the Iraqi people. This morning, he has already talked to Foreign Secretary Straw, Foreign Minister Fischer, Foreign Minister Ivanov, Foreign Minister Lee of China, Foreign Minister Villepin of France, Foreign Minister Derbez of Mexico. So he has continued to work with other foreign ministers on the Security Council and to say it's time to come to a vote tomorrow morning. QUESTION: Does he expect to make no more changes? I mean, you mean you will not make any more changes? MR. BOUCHER: We always do what we expect. Yes, it means we won't. QUESTION: We will not make any more changes? MR. BOUCHER: We have no intention of making any more changes. We do not expect to make any more changes. QUESTION: You made it better. Did you risk losing votes? MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we risked -- we probably gained votes by making it better. We think it was a very, very good resolution that's been improved slightly by the changes overnight. QUESTION: Richard, the Belgians seem to have heeded your call, at least a little bit, by referring this lawsuit against General Franks to the Embassy. Can you say whether they've actually presented this suit to the Embassy and, if they did, how it was received? And if -- well, I'll stop there and ask a follow-up. MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I think we need to make clear our views on this case have been well known. We -- the Belgian Government is now taking steps to remove this complaint from the Belgian legal system by exercising its option to bring these allegations to the attention of the United States. Our embassy in Belgium has accepted the information concerning this complaint that Belgium wished to pass to the United States. We have not yet received the complaint in Washington, so we have not had a chance to review it yet. QUESTION: Can you offer any assurances since -- well, your public stance -- Phil, last week, said that this lawsuit was ludicrous. MR. BOUCHER: That's what's well known. QUESTION: What assurances -- yes, exactly. So your public opinion of this is quite well known. What -- can you give any assurances at all that -- for the Belgians that you guys are going to take this seriously? MR. BOUCHER: There is still -- there are still legal questions in Belgium. This is a step in the right direction to start handling the case this way. We are not yet satisfied, frankly, with the overall situation. We look for the law to be changed. We will review the complaint in Washington and we'll decide accordingly. I am sure we'll read it very carefully and give it all the attention that it deserves. QUESTION: Okay. And is it going to be sent -- is it going to be sent in a diplomatic pouch or in a garbage bag, or how are they actually going to -- going to send it? As I understand it, you know, when it was presented at the embassy, they basically accepted, kind of holding their nose at the same time; is that correct? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how it will be transmitted, but I am sure it will be transmitted safely and carefully. QUESTION: One last thing maybe on the Middle East. MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have got people beyond the first row, Barry. QUESTION: Yes, go ahead. MR. BOUCHER: Still two hands up there. QUESTION: Yes, okay. MR. BOUCHER: But, go ahead, Barry. QUESTION: It's very quick. It is about Sharon sent his chief of staff here. He is having talks over on Pennsylvania Avenue. Any interaction at State and the Secretary may have done in that subject? He seems to have been very busy on other things. But did he weigh in at all on, you know, talking to Arab governments and to Israel? MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, the President has spoken with Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas. QUESTION: And Mubarak, yes. MR. BOUCHER: And Mubarak, and I think perhaps some others in the region. So, no, the Secretary hasn't had any separate round of phone calls, but he has continued -- QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: -- to work on these issues. Our ambassador in Israel, our Consul -- Acting Consul General in Jerusalem have been in touch with the Israeli and Palestinian sides. We are continuing to urge both sides to take concrete steps to look at practical steps to move forward -- Palestinians, especially -- in the area of security, and Israel in ways that support the new governing arrangements on the Palestinian side, and that would show respect for life and dignity of the Palestinian people, as we said yesterday. QUESTION: And is State part of a -- is State interacting with Mr. Weisglas? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see if there are many meetings like that. QUESTION: Yes, today's Washington Times has an unsigned editorial calling for the White House to get involved in the selection process for the replacement to Policy Director Richard Haass. What role do you believe the White House should have in that personnel decision? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the editorial. I'll have to check and see what the usual role is. QUESTION: Well, one of the things they talked about in the editorial was the situation where North Korea announced on March 31st to State Department officials that it was reprocessing plutonium for the first time. I know we have been through that a few weeks ago. But the question is raised, I guess not directly by the editorial, but was there any punishment for anybody involved who knew of the information, but which was not subsequently passed on elsewhere within the administration? MR. BOUCHER: I find it hard to answer a question that's based on the premise that we should believe what the North Koreans say. We have explained exactly what the North Koreans said at different times, how it was contradictory, discussed what we have done -- we and the White House and others did -- with the intelligence agencies. To assume that we have to punish people because the North Koreans tell another lie or tell something that may or may not be true is kind of extensive step. QUESTION: So it's not true that the White House did not know about North Korea's -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, we have discussed all of that at many junctures here. I'd invite you to read the transcripts. QUESTION: Actually, I have read the transcripts and I haven't seen a direct answer. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry. I am not in a position to go back into that now. We have discussed it before quite often. QUESTION: But not in a direct answer. MR. BOUCHER: Ma'am -- I think we have, actually, very frankly. QUESTION: Regarding the roadmap, which President Bush (inaudible), how can there be peace in the Middle East when Israel's President Sharon refuses to give up or even discuss the settlements? MR. BOUCHER: Settlements is an important issue. We have made clear that settlement activity -- continuation of settlement activity makes it harder to achieve peace. We have made clear from the U.S. Government in the roadmap, the need for settlement activity to stop, and the fact that's an important issue that has to be dealt with as we move forward. So it is one of the things. There are many things. I suppose you could take almost any piece of this puzzle and say, "How do you expect to make progress as long as that still exists, as long as these difficulties exist?" It is difficult. The Secretary has talked about it, the difficulties. We have talked about the difficulties. But, nonetheless, we continue to try to make progress. We continue to push forward. It's important to the United States. It's important to the President of the United States that we move forward, and we'll continue to make all appropriate efforts to try to push for real progress, practical steps that make life safer for Israelis, practical steps that make life easier and more normal for Palestinians, practical steps that can start moving us forward. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, in the Middle East, apparently, Foreign Minister Abbas has said that Chairman Arafat is still in control. And of this morning, he didn't wish to cancel the trip to Northern Gaza. Will the President go to the Middle East to revive the roadmap? MR. BOUCHER: You can ask questions about the President's travel at the White House. I wouldn't deal with that here. Yes. QUESTION: One last question on the roadmap and the Middle East peace process. What role is the Saudi Government playing in bringing the Palestinians? MR. BOUCHER: Again, that's a matter of extensive discussion. You know, the Saudis have played a helpful and positive role. QUESTION: I mean, given the latest rash of bombings and the -- MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the Saudi Government has played a helpful and positive role. The President has worked closely with Crowned Prince and other Saudi officials on this, had them down to the ranch last year, you'll remember. And I think if you look back at our briefings, you will find extensive discussion of the specifics of this role Saudis have played.
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