State Department Daily Press Briefing, June 6
|Friday June 6, 2003
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC June 6, 2003 INDEX: ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS -- Reports of Funding for Palestinian Security Chief Dahlan -- Roadmap Status and Reactions of Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas -- Support from Other Arab Governments and Peace Efforts -- Hamas and Tangible Efforts to Move Peace Process Forward IRAQ -- Attacks on U.S. Troops INDIA -- U.S.- India/Pakistan Relations, Ambassador, Kashmir and Regional Violence TURKEY -- Bilateral Relations Coordinating Efforts in Iraq IRAN -- IAEA Report on Iran Nuclear Program NEPAL -- Deportation of Tibetan Refugees to China BURMA -- Government Crackdown on Opposition -- Tribunal Agreement NORTH KOREA -- Drug Trafficking and Denuclearization CHINA/HONG KONG -- Article 23 CHINA -- Status of Charles Lee Hunger Strike -- Cooperation on North Korea Nuclear Issues -- SARS and Crackdown on Falun Gong -- Detention of Yang Jianli ZIMBABWE -- Crackdown on Opposition and Arrests CHILE/SOUTH AMERICA -- Free Trade Agreement and U.S. Relations in Hemisphere LIBERIA/GHANA -- Peace Talks, Continuing Unrest and Reports of Coup MIDDLE EAST -- Efforts at Public Diplomacy CARIBBEAN -- Resignation of Ambassador TONGA -- Deputy Secretary Meeting with Tongan Prime Minister TRANSCRIPT: MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Someone in the front row -- wires first -- sorry. QUESTION: There are reports that the U.S. is providing Mohammed Dahlan, the Palestinian Security Chief, with funds to buy arms from members of Palestinian groups. Do you have anything to say about that? MR. BOUCHER: We have always said that we will support the process of reestablishing the Palestinian Security Services and helping the Palestinians get to the point where they can indeed control the security issues on their side and provide security to their own people, as well as to prevent violence against Israelis and others in the area. As far as that specific report, I just remind you that at Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba, we, the parties and the regional Arab leaders stood together to reaffirm our commitment to achieving the President's June 24th vision. We also expressed our commitment to practical actions to use all means to cut off assistance, including arms and financing, to any terror group, and to aid the Palestinian Authority in its own fight against terrorists. So we will be working on specifics of how to do that. I don't have any more details for you at this moment. QUESTION: Well, is it something that's being considered? MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into the possibilities. We will look at all these things and try to cut off assistance, including arms and financing, that goes to any terror group. QUESTION: Including buying them from them? MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I'm not in a position to describe how we're going to prevent the terrorist groups from acquiring arms and financing, but that is something that we will do, and we will support the Palestinian Security Services as they move to prevent the groups from carrying out violence. QUESTION: So does that mean that there could be a possible change in the way the U.S. deals with the Palestinian Authority? Until this point, you have never given money directly to the Palestinian Authority, but always through NGOs. Is there direct funding for anything other than -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position yet to describe something that hasn't been decided. You're asking me to describe a program of funding and purpose and things that I just -- all I can tell you at this point is we are committed, Arab leaders are committed, others are committed to helping the Palestinians establish a security service that can deal with the violent groups, that can prevent them from carrying out violence, can prevent them from acquiring arms and financing, and that as we go about that we'll answer these specific questions as specific decisions are made. QUESTION: (Inaudible) back to the region? MR. BOUCHER: In the near future. That's about all I can say at the point -- don't have an exact date. QUESTION: Okay. It doesn't -- it looks like some of the momentum has already gone out of this process in the last couple of days. I mean, nobody has actually done anything on the ground. As far as I know, none of these outposts have been removed, and no particular steps seem to have been taken. So -- MR. BOUCHER: You guys are amazing, huh? We had two days of success in the Middle East, and now we have got to resign ourselves to the daily failure for -- in your stories for the next 365. God forbid, we should get two and a half days of success before somebody declares it all over and failed. But we're working on it, Jonathan. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: We're moving forward. We're pressing forward. We've got a very positive start through the efforts of the President. We've got a very strong support from the Arab leaders. People are doing things. People are setting up the groups that have to go out. People are setting up the mechanisms to control the finance. People are setting up the plans to control security. You know, just because you didn't see it this morning doesn't mean it's a failure yet. So let's not get too fast. QUESTION: I said you might have lost momentum. So what are you -- MR. BOUCHER: That's one step before you write the failure story, I know, but still I could tell where it was headed. QUESTION: On the outposts, did you -- do you have any assurances on the timing of this? It's the kind of thing that could be done in days, I think. MR. BOUCHER: We are in touch with the Israeli Government about this. We heard a very strong commitment from Prime Minister Sharon, said Israel is a country of the rule of law, and that he intends to remove the unauthorized settlement outposts. So we're in touch, close consultation with the Israeli Government on the issue, but it would be up to them to describe how they're going to move forward on that pledge. Terri. QUESTION: You said that Arab countries are doing things, as well. And what kind of things did you come away -- what kind of commitments did you come away from the summit with from the Arab nations, and how optimistic are you that these are going to get off the ground this time? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, from what you saw them say at the Red Sea summits, the Arab nations are committed to supporting this process, firmly committed to supporting this process, firmly committed to supporting the new governing structures of the Palestinian Authority, and also committed to make sure that their money goes only to the Palestinian Authority, to make sure that money, private money, is channeled for the causes for which it's intended. So those are the kinds of things that they are doing. But we also have Arab governments, like Egypt and Jordan, that are committed and are helping the Palestinians establish and reconstitute a security service that can keep calm and end the violence coming from Palestinian areas. QUESTION: Can you give a couple of tangible examples that are likely to be the first things we see them doing? Besides just saying they have a commitment, what are some of the practical steps they are going to take? MR. BOUCHER: They have been supporting this process. They have been working with the Palestinians on constitutional issues. They have been working with the Palestinians on governing issues. They have been working and supporting the Palestinians to establish security. We're going to see them channeling their money, as they have told us, to the Palestinian Authority. We're going to see them putting in more mechanisms, as they have taken steps over the past, to channel money to worthwhile private money, make sure it goes to worthwhile causes and not to possible groups with terrorists associations. So there is a lot of things they're doing. They're going to be involved -- or more involved -- as they have in the past, in, specifically, the areas that they indicated they would be. Sir. QUESTION: Yes, Nayyar Zaidi from Daily Jang. I noted in the photograph on the summit that it was -- the Red Sea was in the background with the two leaders. I suppose it was the Red Sea. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, and it's kind of hard to put it in the foreground because you'd have to stand in the water to do that. (Laughter.) QUESTION: On the other end, it might have been the foreground. MR. BOUCHER: Well, the photographer -- MR. BOUCHER: But my question is: Do you think President Bush will be able to part the Red Sea? And, if so, who will sink and who will pass through? MR. BOUCHER: I see. We're going for the big metaphor, huh? (Laughter.) QUESTION: That's why I wanted -- MR. BOUCHER: It's a great question, but I'm afraid I'm not going to find those analogies. I think we would all appreciate divine intervention to make this happen, but in the meantime the human beings involved in this process are going to have to commit them to doing it the hard way, and we're going to keep at it. QUESTION: (Inaudible) to ask before we move to other areas. I'm wondering if you can take it. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, go ahead. QUESTION: Can you? There is a story on the front page today about one American soldier being killed in a terrorist attack or whatever, and one was injured, I think. Do you have any intelligence or information on maybe we are focusing too much on al-Qaida, everything is being attributed to al-Qaida? Do you think that might be indigenous groups or -- MR. BOUCHER: I think you better -- QUESTION: -- or just because they are occupied by a foreign country? MR. BOUCHER: No, I think you better check with the Pentagon on this. They have talked about this. I think some of the attacks in recent days they said, you know, they're Baath Party elements, they're, you know, disgruntled officials who lose their jobs and don't get to perpetrate violence against their own people anymore, and therefore are taking it out on the United States. So I don't think we've tried to say it's all al-Qaida related. There are certainly other reasons why there remain violent elements in Iraq. There were, unfortunately, a variety of nasty people there in positions of power and we don't think that they've really changed their nastiness because they're not in positions of power. So we're going to have to deal with them. Matt. QUESTION: Can I go back to the Israelis and Palestinians for a second? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: I'm a little -- I don't understand how exactly you can dismiss out of hand Jonathan's question that you may have lost some momentum and then -- but not be able to give us -- or not be able to say, even on this one question, the first one of the day, that anything has been decided on any of these steps. I mean, didn't the President go into the -- was the only thing that he went into this with the idea that he was going to announce that John Wolf was going to head a team that we'd all heard about a week and a half before? Weren't there any steps that were already ready to be -- you know, to be put in place? MR. BOUCHER: Matt, there are a ton and a half things that we're doing. I mean, we've been out there working with the Palestinians Security Services before. To say we're going to continue to work with the Palestinian Security Services may not be exciting news to you, but the fact is it's part of the whole package that we put together in working with the parties. And we are working with the parties. That's the way you actually get things done on the ground. Okay? We have a very strong commitment in very specific areas from the Arab leaders, from the Israelis, from the Palestinians, from the United States, and we intend to carry those out. And part of that is to work in the areas that we've identified before, and second of all is to work in areas that were identified during the course of the summit. So they weren't -- leaders don't go out there to announce another, you know, 25 people going into a training course. They go out there to set the agenda and to make sure we're carrying it out. And I think we're confident we are. QUESTION: Well, yeah, except for if you look at what the President said on Air Force One flying from Aqaba to Doha, he said, in fact, told a group of reporters that the news today was that John Wolf -- at least that's -- MR. BOUCHER: That may be the news that day. The news that day is not the only thing that we're doing. QUESTION: Well, no, I understand. MR. BOUCHER: And the question you have today is not the only thing we're not doing. I don't know how to say -- if you want to say you're not doing anything because you couldn't answer this particular question, that's wrong. We are doing a whole lot of things. It's just that's one particular aspect that I can't inform you on yet. QUESTION: Richard, isn't another sign of the loss of momentum, though, the fact that the talks between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas appear to have broken down? MR. BOUCHER: No. The issue of Hamas -- I mean, let's remember, Hamas, in our view, is a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It perpetrates violence. It's responsible for violent killings of civilians, for murders, including numerous American citizens. We heard at the Red Sea summits that King Abdallah, President Mubarak, Crown Prince Abdullah, King Hamad of Bahrain, Prime Minister Abbas all stood together in Sharm el-Sheikh to reaffirm their commitment to the President's vision and to declare their firm rejection of terror, regardless of justification or motive, and committed themselves to practical actions to cut off assistance. We will work closely with them to ensure that groups like Hamas cannot conduct terrorist and violent action. We have always said it's not just a matter of what they say they -- say or don't say, it's not a matter of what they promise or don't promise, it's not a matter of what they say they will or they won't do; it's a matter of what they can and cannot do. And we all need to make sure that they cannot carry out this kind of violent action that they've taken in the past. QUESTION: Richard, is it your assessment that under present conditions Prime Minister Abu Mazen could, in fact, take any decisive action to disarm and disband Hamas and Islamic Jihad? MR. BOUCHER: I would say that he and his security people themselves have said that they think there are actions that they can take to help quell the violence, that they are committed to those actions. You heard him explain not just for the sake of the peace process, but also for the sake of establishing a single Palestinian Authority that actually had authority and didn't have to fight rivaled armed groups in order to maintain its status as a government, in order to build the Palestinian state the Palestinians want. So are they in full capability and control? No. If they were, we wouldn't have to help them. But we are going to help them expand their capabilities. But at this moment, they have certain capabilities and they have certain plans, and I think we welcome the fact that they're committed to taking what action they can. QUESTION: Has the State Department or the U.S. in general gotten any assurances from Morocco that they, in fact, do sign on to the Sharm -- to the principles that were outlined at Sharm, despite the fact that the King decided that he couldn't go? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we focused on any particular government like that. We certainly know that there are a large number of governments in the region who are sympathetic and supportive to the aims and the kind of actions that were described in the Red Sea summits. QUESTION: But not specifically Morocco? MR. BOUCHER: Ask Morocco if they sign on or not. It's up to them to decide what to say in public. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, in recent weeks there have been many high-level visits, triangle visits from the U.S. to India and Pakistan, from Pakistan and India to the United States, including now this week Deputy Prime Minister of India, Mr. Advani, is coming, and I am sure he is going to meet some officials here. And then later on this month, General Musharraf is also coming. So -- and Mr. Armitage just came back from the region. So where do you stand on this issue of Kashmir or this triangle? Where is it going to lead now after 50 years of terrorist violence in the region, as far as terrorism is concerned? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have anything brand new right now. This is an issue of importance to us. It's an issue that we have pursued with each of the parties as we have pursued a better relationship ourselves with each of the parties. We have welcomed many of the recent steps that have taken place since the Indian Prime Minister's trip to the area and his speech, and we certainly continue to support those kinds of steps. We have welcomed steps that they've taken with each other in terms of opening up, in terms of opening up communications routes and sending representatives back. And we'll continue to work with them to try to work towards a way that they can talk to each other, that they can deal with all these issues, including Kashmir. QUESTION: Just to follow up, today, after the political ups and downs in Afghanistan, Iraq war and all that, where do you put relations between United States and India? And also, any successor to Ambassador Blackwell and why he resigned and -- MR. BOUCHER: First, why he resigned was amply explained by Ambassador Blackwell and the White House and us at the time that he announced that he was going back to the university. QUESTION: (Inaudible.) MR. BOUCHER: Second of all -- no. That's been dealt with. That's over. It's been explained. There should be no question left in your mind about that. As far as successors, the White House will announce one at the appropriate time. QUESTION: And the relations within the United States and India? MR. BOUCHER: Great. QUESTION: You can point to (inaudible)? MR. BOUCHER: Really, we have a very active and positive relationship with India. As you pointed out, we see each other all the time at high levels. We have a very expanded -- very large embassy working on a wide range of issues out there with the Indian Government. I think those of you who have been watching this for a while know that, really, relations have reached a point and touched on a number of areas that hadn't been touched on for a lot of time, for quite a long time. So we intend to continue to pursue all those areas in our conversations at high levels with the Indian Government to develop and expand a relationship that's been very important to us and to India as well. And there are always a lot of new things that we're working on. Sir. QUESTION: Yes. In the context of Kashmir, we always hear of the existing terrorism, cross-border terrorism, and the need to end that. Suppose that is true. What is your view of the fact that, you know, the terrorism that India talks about is about a decade old? But what is the U.S. view, and are you going to discuss it with Mr. Advani and other Indian officials, that from 1949 on, up to '89, there was no cross-border terrorism that anybody complained of, and yet the Government of India didn't do much to improve the economic and social welfare of the people that -- MR. BOUCHER: You know, first of all, let's not turn this into a historic debate. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: The fact that there is terrorism, that people -- innocent people -- are being killed is obvious, and that needs to be stopped. And we have looked at the ways that that can be stopped. We have head from the Pakistani Prime Minister that he wants to stop the cross-border activity because he considers that one way that he can contribute to stopping the murder of innocent people. And that's an important thing that he is going to do, committed to do, and we expect him to do it. QUESTION: And what is the next step if it doesn't stop? I mean, there has to be some insurance. You're talking -- MR. BOUCHER: No, there doesn't have to be -- to stop murdering innocent people doesn't require some insurance. QUESTION: Fine, fine. MR. BOUCHER: What the next step is, is to work on what we've been working on; that is, to try to get the parties to talk to each other, to try to get some peaceful resolution of the serious issues that are at stake. And we know how important these issues are to both governments. We know how important they are to the people in Kashmir. And therefore, it's important for us to look for ways to solve -- to deal with the issues between the two governments and also to deal with the issues for the people of Kashmir. So that process is certainly made more likely, more positive and more successful by an end to the violence, and that's what we're trying to work on, both. QUESTION: Just one clarification because I was using the Middle East example where the U.S. says that if the violence stops by Palestinians that there is a Palestinian state to be discussed, and the negotiations that are taking place there, which is also an historic dispute, by the way, that in that Palestinians are having some representation. So on the same side, in Kashmir, if the violence stops, are we talking of any kind of separate entity of Kashmir and would the people of Kashmir be participating? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to prejudge the outcome at this point, and I don't want to draw a simple analogy between two situations that do not have that many similarities and don't need to be solved in the same manner. The fact is that we've always said a settlement needs to be reached between the parties, meaning India and Pakistan, and needs to take into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir. That remains our view. But they'll have to figure out how to do it, in the end. Adi? QUESTION: Getting back to Hamas for a second, are you concerned that their move today to end the ceasefire talks with Abbas, that it could prompt other organizations, other sort of groups, that Abbas needs to sort of keep in line for the roadmap to move forward? Are you concerned that these groups would also sort of follow Hamas' lead and break off negotiations as a way to reject the negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how to answer that. That asks me for a political prediction on the activities of violent terrorist groups and the attitudes that they might adopt. But it goes back, it really makes the same point, the fact that there is that question out there. It's not a matter of what they decide to do today or do tomorrow or declare today or declare tomorrow; it's what they can do. And, eventually, we have to find a process that's going to eliminate their ability to carry out violent acts, because otherwise we're going to have to deal with this on a day-to-day basis how they feel when they wake up in the morning. The goal is to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, and that has to remain our goal. That's what we will help the Palestinian Authority to do and that's what we'll keep pushing for. I think our overall view is that there were significant achievements at these Red Sea summits, that the prospects for the Palestinians, the prospects for Israelis of seeing an end to violence and the easing of the conditions of life for the Palestinians, have improved quite a bit; and that there are steps the parties are committed to, and that we're working with the parties to implement, to make sure that the lives of Israelis become safer, and the lives of Palestinians become easier and more normal. So that's really what we want to produce out of this and we will be working to that effect. QUESTION: But given that Hamas, even though it's a Foreign Terrorist Organization, does have some influence in the Palestinian territories, are you concerned that their repudiation of these summits, the negotiations that took place, are you concerned that their -- are you concerned that that represents a major block to the roadmap, a major challenge? MR. BOUCHER: The challenge to the roadmap is the challenge that people who are committed to the roadmap to carry out the actions that they're committed to. And we'll be working with the parties to make sure they do. The fact that Hamas says today they feel violent, and tomorrow they feel less violent, we know that they are a violent organization. And I don't think that peace -- the whole idea of progress is based on the idea that they would suddenly, you know, feel nonviolent. The idea of progress is based on the fact that we can get the parties to take actions that provide more security, that eliminate the terrorist infrastructure, and that improve the lives of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians alike. Sir. QUESTION: Yes, the next week is the Turkish Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Ziyal, is coming to town, and he will meet several high-ranking officials. What is the agenda and who will accept him? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get you something on that. I don't have anything on that yet. QUESTION: If I'm correct, is lately the Turkish and the American side, they are discussing about the Turkish forces in the Northern Iraq. Is it finished, these discussions? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there has been any new discussion of that, frankly. But it's something that we have -- you know, when the Secretary was in Turkey, we set up a basic framework for looking at it, and the war came after -- yeah, it came after that. But it was still the same basic framework of how we would operate together and coordinate together. We're using that kind of coordination on an ongoing basis to cooperate. QUESTION: Mr. Ziyal is also bringing some message from the Prime Minister of Turkey, let's -- you know, is the war -- MR. BOUCHER: Have you read it yet? QUESTION: Excuse me? MR. BOUCHER: Have you read it yet? QUESTION: No, they already announced it in Turkey. MR. BOUCHER: I see. QUESTION: And he is asking to warm up the U.S.-Turkish relationship. How is your idea? MR. BOUCHER: We have always been very positive on the U.S.-Turkish relationship, and we'll see what we can do together. Okay, sir. QUESTION: Reports are beginning to leak out in Vienna of the IAEA report on Iran. Have you seen the report? What does it say, and what do you think of it? MR. BOUCHER: We have the report. It's been given out, I think, to members. And so we are studying the report. It's not going to be for us to describe what's in it, or to quote it, or to otherwise leak it. But what I would say is we have known for some time that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. We have said that. We've said that publicly. We have brought our concerns to the international community. We have brought our concerns to the attention of other governments. So we think this report can provide important insights into the nature of the Iranian nuclear program and the problems that exist concerning Iran's safeguard obligations. We strongly support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Director General in Iran. We call on Iran to disclose all aspects of its nuclear program and, particularly, note that if Iran's program were indeed peaceful, it should be no problem for Iran to disclose all aspects of its program. We look forward to close consultations with other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors. We think the report and Iran's programs themselves are deeply troubling and need to be studied carefully by all members, and that we need to look at it seriously together. Iran's clandestine nuclear program represents a serious challenge to regional stability, the entire international community and to the global nonproliferation regime. And we'll work with other members of the agency board, as we move forward. QUESTION: Judging by what you have seen in the report, are you inclined to take this up to a high level like the Security Council? MR. BOUCHER: I am not predicting any specific action at this point. We will look at the report together with other members of the Board of Governors. We'll study it carefully, we'll discuss it with them, and we hope that everyone will take it seriously and then we'll decide together what might be appropriate at that time when we get together. I think the meeting is still scheduled for June 16th. QUESTION: You said that it's not up to you to leak what the report says, but right after you said that you said we've known for some time that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and then you think the report strongly -- QUESTION: Deeply troubling. QUESTION: Yes, is deeply troubling. So aren't you, in fact, suggesting that the report does say, comes to the conclusion, that Iran is hiding a secret nuclear weapons program? MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to describe the report inasmuch as I'm trying to describe reality. We consider it important for the -- we know what the facts are and we consider it important for the report to reflect the facts. So any serious report would reflect the facts as we know them. QUESTION: And you believe that this report, from what you've seen, reflects the facts? MR. BOUCHER: It's hard to write a report about something deeply troubling without the report itself becoming deeply troubling, isn't it? I have to leave it at that, really. I can't start quoting or describing the report in more detail. Sir. QUESTION: Sir, I have a question on Burma and Nepal. I have the statement from the State Department on Nepal, the deportation of the refugees, take the refugees back to China. Have you in between have spoken to anybody in Nepal why they did it, and also is it because of pressure from the Chinese that their not countrymen support of Maoists against Nepal? And what's the -- MR. BOUCHER: I think -- well, first of all, as far as why they did it, you'll have to check with the Nepalese Government on that. We have certainly been in close touch with them from the very night, or day -- I can't remember what time of day it was. But from the very day that these events began, our Embassy in Nepal was in very close touch with Nepalese Government authorities, making very clear our views, and we have subsequently been in to them several times to explain why this -- why these events are of such concern to us. QUESTION: And on Burma, does the Burmese leader (inaudible) that you're not paying, it look like, much attention to them because of the other issues like Iraq or Middle East and all -- MR. BOUCHER: You are not. You may not be. We have paid a lot of attention to Burma throughout. This has been an important issue to us. We have, I think, frequently issued statements. We have frequently taken diplomatic steps. We have frequently taken other steps to support the efforts of -- towards democracy in Burma. We have taken other steps to support the UN negotiator, Mr. Razali, who is headed out there again, I think right now. So you may not -- yes, it's true, you haven't been paying attention to Burma, but I can assure you that we have. QUESTION: This negotiator, really, he feels that there is not much pressure from international community so he can gather and continue to -- to press all the other peace-loving and democratic -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, that may be true. I think the United States has certainly been at the forefront of efforts to support democracy in Burma. The United States has certainly been very active in that regard. And the continued detention and isolation of Aung San Suu Kyi is a matter that we condemn. It's a matter that we have raised and will continue to raise with other governments. We think she needs to be released immediately. We think those who have been injured need to be provided with all possible medical attention, including assistance from international doctors. We have called on the State Peace and Development Council for a full accounting of those who are dead, missing or injured from the ambush on Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade and we have said that ambush on May 30th was premeditated, as far as we can tell. The explanations that they have made of the violence and subsequent events lacks credibility. Moreover, these actions have to be interpreted as suggesting that they have decided to end efforts at national reconciliation. And that, too, would be a very regrettable turn of events. We have been actively reviewing our Burma policy in light of the current situation. We have expanded existing visa restrictions to include additional members of the State Peace and Development Council-affiliated union, Solidarity and Development Association. The administration now is reviewing the draft legislation that is before our House and Senate. We're looking at it very carefully. We believe it does contain many useful measures and we're working with the sponsors to ensure passage of appropriate legislation. As I pointed out before, U.S. -- United Nations Special Envoy Razali Ismail has arrived in Rangoon to continue his efforts to promote national reconciliation. He's begun meetings with government officials and we feel he absolutely must be allowed to visit Aung San Suu Kyi. QUESTION: She has called on the United States that please use your liberty to promote her liberty. That's what she had been saying for the last 12 years. MR. BOUCHER: And I think that is what we have been doing. We've been among her -- as I said, among her foremost supporters, and supporters of the cause of democracy in Burma. QUESTION: Richard, a couple of points on that. How many additional members have you added to that visa list? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check. I don't have the full details with me here. QUESTION: And on the legislation, can you say which measures you find useful? MR. BOUCHER: I can't, at this point. We're looking at it very carefully, and we'll also look at it as events unfold on the ground. QUESTION: Are there any elements in it which you would prefer to see changed, for one reason or another? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I can't get into any precise details. We're looking at it. We see some useful things, but we'll work with the sponsors and come up with what we think is appropriate legislation, if we can. QUESTION: Can I jump one country -- jump from Burma over Thailand to Cambodia for a second? MR. BOUCHER: You can ask a question about Cambodia if you like, yeah. QUESTION: Yeah. Today they signed with the UN the Khmer Rouge tribunal deal. And given the fact that you had some reservations about this in the past, and there has been some outspoken criticism of it up on the Hill, I am wondering what you make of the signing. MR. BOUCHER: Well, we welcome the signing. We think the agreement today between the UN and the Royal Government of Cambodia is important. It establishes a credible tribunal with UN participation to bring justice to senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and others responsible for the atrocities committed onto the Khmer Rouge regime. The establishment of a credible tribunal within Cambodia is a key step towards eliminating the climate of impunity in the country. Achieving a credible process, however, will not be easy given the state of the judiciary in Cambodia today. MR. BOUCHER: We are committed to supporting efforts to establish a credible tribunal, but believe it would have been better to delay consideration in signing of this agreement until after the Cambodian elections in July. After the elections, we'll be joining other UN member-states in seeking strong international support to ensure the tribunal will be able to carry out its mandate in accordance with international standards of justice, fairness and due process. QUESTION: Richard, can you refresh my memory? After you guys disassociated yourself from the consensus on this in the ECOSOC, I believe it was, how would you -- how did the U.S. vote in the General Assembly? MR. BOUCHER: I'm going to have to check on that one, too. I don't -- I don't frankly remember. QUESTION: Okay. Because I'm just still a little bit confused as to how you can -- how, after disassociating yourself from a consensus, and then saying you believe it would have been better to wait -- to have waited until after the election, you still want to welcome this. MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we have been concerned about a variety of things, including the fact that the whole state of rule of law is weak, and that it will be very hard to carry this out. But now that they have, it offers the prospect of trial, of bringing people to justice. And, at this point, we welcome the fact it's been signed and we look forward to helping implement it after the election. Sir. I'll come up there in a minute. QUESTION: Finished with Cambodia? North Korea? Following up on Under Secretary Bolton's testimony yesterday, what practical steps can the United States take to interdict shipments to North Korea or interfere with drug trafficking? MR. BOUCHER: I think, you know, at this point, you have seen some steps around the world. Certainly, all of us around the world are interested in controlling drug trafficking, whether it's by North Korea or any other government. You have seen seizures of ships off Australia. I think there has been some also in South Korea carrying drugs that are reported to have originated in North Korea. So the matter on drug shipments, or, you know, other illegal shipments is a matter of great concern to the international community, and it has been and continues to be on an ongoing basis. I think you have to read the whole testimony from Under Secretary Bolton yesterday, at least that's what I am told, because I haven't read the whole testimony either, not yet. But he did go through the -- you know, the whole -- all the aspects of policy, in terms of achieving our nonproliferation goals in a way that I think emphasizes that we are pursuing peaceful and diplomatic measures to try to get in North Korean compliance with its previous commitments, North Korean compliance with its commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Sir. QUESTION: We have the Hong Kong delegation here to lobby the Congress regarding the Article 23. What is our general impression -- I guess -- response to that? MR. BOUCHER: We put out a statement yesterday, right, after our Deputy Secretary met with, I think, Martin Lee, who is the delegation chief. We have expressed our concerns about how the Article 23 matter was being handled. We have emphasized the need for a full public consultation. We have emphasized the need to look at this legislation in the concept of the fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong. And so we have followed this very closely throughout the years and certainly welcome the delegation the opportunity to talk to people who are very knowledgeable about these matters. QUESTION: What if it did get passed? What would be our response? MR. BOUCHER: Well, it depends what gets passed, whether it's something that is consistent with the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, as guaranteed in the basic law. It would depend on whether it's something that really reflected their desires to the kind of society they want to live in. QUESTION: Another issue is about Charles Lee in China. We know he has recently staged a hunger strike in protest of the persecution against himself, and also Falun Gong group as a whole. Is there anything in the specific measure that we're taking to guarantee his well-being? MR. BOUCHER: We have certainly been in close touch, as we could with him, following the events of his trial. I don't know if there are any new developments. Did you have something in the last few days? Yeah, I'll see if there is anything new in that regard, but our -- QUESTION: (Inaudible) that he is pretty much kept in isolation. Has there been any improvement? Is he able to -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have any recent reports. We have certainly paid attention to this and tried to be involved and meet with him as often as we could. QUESTION: Is it possible that officials, they are still denied of -- MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- let me check. I think we have -- what was the most recent thing you had, Phil? MR. REEKER: June 4th. MR. BOUCHER: Oh. Well, that's two days ago. So basically that's the last time we saw him.* Well, on June 4th, our information was that he ended his hunger strike on June 3rd and has been eating regularly since then. QUESTION: Was that the force-feeding? MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't know. QUESTION: Are you aware that he was -- MR. BOUCHER: Slow down, slow down. Okay? Let me tell you what I do know. I just can't confirm facts that are 12,000 miles away, you know, on an instant basis. I can't give you all of the details. But what we -- we have been told by Chinese prison officials that he ended his hunger strike on June 3rd and has been eating regularly ever since then. He has passed 94 pages of correspondence to a consular officer. The consular officer was able to send the entire text back to his fiancÚ in the United States. Consular officers at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai discussed his temporary hunger strike with Chinese officials, making clear that they are responsible for his health and welfare. Consular officers have had five lengthy telephone conversations with Mr. Lee in the past 24 days. Each of those has been 35 minutes to an hour each, so that they are able to do that. They have not been able to carry out an in-person interview since he was moved to Nanjing Prison on May 12th, but they continue to seek in-person visits on a regular basis. The last time they saw him in person was March 27th. So that's what we know at this point. QUESTION: I think they are using the SARS spread as an excuse. MR. BOUCHER: Well, again, we have been continuing to push for in-person visits, and we'll continue to talk to him as much as we can. QUESTION: I'm sorry. You mentioned the 94-page document that he wrote. I'm aware that eight pages out of these 94 were confiscated earlier, somehow was returned back to -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not able to confirm that aspect of the story. I'm sorry. QUESTION: Okay. We don't have any detail -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. QUESTION: -- of the content regarding these -- MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. That would be up for him and his associates to talk about if they wanted to. Okay? Sir. QUESTION: No, no. MR. BOUCHER: We have a gentleman in the back, who has been waiting. Go ahead, Mr. -- QUESTION: Oh, thank you, sir. Yes, I just want to maybe follow up on the issue of North Korea and the -- MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: We have a very interesting -- we had a very interesting meeting between President Hu of China and President Bush on (inaudible) in France, and I think a kind of debate about the format of meeting back and forth. And maybe Mr. Hu is going to -- Chinese side is going to turn the contents of the report to North Korea. And could you tell me any progress since then between China and your country, and also United States and the North Korea toward the future meeting of the -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any news on that. I think you know from the meeting of the President and President Hu of China -- it was in St. Petersburg, wasn't it? QUESTION: No. MR. BOUCHER: I can't remember. Was it in Evian? QUESTION: Evian. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. QUESTION: I was there. MR. BOUCHER: During the trip, let me put it that way. Again, U.S. and China are working very closely together. U.S. and China both believe very strongly in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And so we have been cooperating in this regard and working together. But I don't have any new news as regards a prospect for further discussions of any kind. QUESTION: Let me follow up. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. QUESTION: We have a kind of a meeting between -- among the United States and the South Korea and with Japan next week in Honolulu. Could you tell me any prospect on the meeting? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that and see what there is. Okay, let's continue to do the back row. QUESTION: Back on Burma real quick. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: The legislation up on the Hill is proposing sanctions on Burmese imports. Does that fall under the useful? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I don't think I am quite at a position in this point to describe what aspects we might work out into what we would consider, and the Congress would consider, appropriate legislation. I think the point to be made now is that there are a number of things going on in Burma that we have asked the government to correct. There is a visit of the UN Special Envoy right now going on, and we would hope that he would be able to see Aung San Suu Kyi and would get some clarity on these positions and on these policy steps during that visit. And, third, we are also now working with the Congress to try to come up with what we consider and they consider to be appropriate legislation based on the useful things we see in their draft so far. I don't think I can quite, at this point, tell you what will be in the final legislation because we have to look at how events evolve, look at how they work with or don't work with Mr. Razali, and then work with the Congress on the contents of legislation. Okay. And then we'll go there next. QUESTION: There were reports that there was a big crackdown on Falun Gong people, 180 detained, for spreading false reports on SARS. Do you have any comment on that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I am aware of those reports. We'll have to check on them and see. Okay? QUESTION: In that case, how about Zimbabwe? Yes? I think Mr. Tsvangirai has really been arrested this time, rather than merely detained. Do you know? MR. BOUCHER: That's what we believe, he was arrested Friday afternoon in Harare at his home, reportedly on charges of inciting public violence in regard to this week's mass action. We strongly condemn this arrest. The heightened climate of confrontation and violence in Zimbabwe this week, we think, heightens the urgent need for a dialogue between the government and the opposition. The government's continued intimidation and repression of the opposition, its violent oppression of peaceful public protest, are not conducive to beginning such a dialogue. We call on the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party and the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change to commence talks on an urgent basis to seek solutions to Zimbabwe's worsening political and economic crisis. The United States, in addition, continues to urge the international community, and African states in particular, to help foster such a dialogue between the government and the opposition, and to promote political change and economic recovery in Zimbabwe. Countries in the region must facilitate this dialogue between Mugabe and the opposition, the people of Zimbabwe, and the stability and prosperity of the region cannot afford further delays. Zimbabwe and its broad adherence to the week's opposition called "work stayaway," reflects a pervasive frustration with the government's ruinous economic policies. Inflation is at 269 percent and rising. It's outpacing the government's ability to print currency, and there is a rampant black market that reflects widespread shortages. So the situation is getting worse and worse, unfortunately, through the actions of the government. We think it's time for the government not to be arresting people, not to be putting the opposition into further confrontation, but rather for both the government and the opposition to sit down together and try to do what's good for the people of the country. Sir. QUESTION: Which countries, in particular, do you want to see facilitate the dialogue? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the neighboring countries of Africa and the neighboring countries. QUESTION: Yeah. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: Do you want to be specific? MR. BOUCHER: No, I'll leave it at that. We know that some of them have been involved already. QUESTION: Not to the extent that you wanted them to be. I'm just wondering if you want to -- I mean, if you want to put pressure on them, it might be nice to use their names. MR. BOUCHER: I think I'll leave it the way I did right now. QUESTION: So the situation isn't -- isn't -- for the people of Zimbabwe, isn't yet bad enough to start naming names? MR. BOUCHER: I think we already named the names of the people that have to solve this. The fact is that anybody in the region -- it is bad enough that anybody in the region who can help out ought to be helping out. It's not a matter of -- QUESTION: Okay, I'm sorry. I didn't hear you say Mugabe's name, though. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I did say Mugabe's name. But it's not a matter of picking one or two governments and say, "You go do it," and everybody else is off the hook. It's a matter of saying everybody ought to step up to the plate and realize that this is a very serious situation that requires some effort by Mugabe and the opposition parties, and that countries in the region should be -- everybody in the region should be telling him that, too, in the international community, as well as in -- especially Africans -- to tell the government and the opposition it's time for them to sit down and resolve this for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe. Okay, David. QUESTION: Would you discuss some of the Secretary's expectations for the South America visit that he begins Sunday? MR. BOUCHER: The first thing I think that's worth noting and emphasize the importance of, is that we are signing today the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. And that's a very positive development. And coming on that basis, it's a chance to talk to the hemisphere at the OAS meeting in Chile about the state of democracy, the state of economics, the state of progress in the region, based on the President's overall vision of free trade and democracy in this hemisphere. So we are very pleased that the agreement is being signed today. I think it will be taken up in Congress soon. It's good for both the U.S. and Chile, but it's also good for the hemisphere. So, as we go to these meetings down there, we'll have a talk. I am sure we'll talk about relations between our governments, issues of democracy, issues of free trade, issues of progress in the hemisphere. Okay, down here and over there. QUESTION: Can I go back to Africa? MR. BOUCHER: You can go anywhere you want. QUESTION: Liberia. Does the increased fighting in Monrovia sort of jeopardize the talks that are taking place in Ghana? MR. BOUCHER: We are calling for an end to the hostilities, and we expect the group that calls itself the Movement for Democracy in Liberia also to attend immediately the peace conference in Liberia -- in Ghana -- sorry . Through the continued active participation of its delegation in Ghana, the United States remains committed to the ongoing reconciliation and ceasefire talks. We expect no less of a commitment from the government and the rebels. Both parties, all of these parties have committed themselves to approaching the talks without preconditions. We expect them to do so in good faith. We have seen excerpts of the Liberian President's speech on June 4th in Monrovia, in which he claims to have put down an attempted coup d'etat, but we have no information that confirms an attempted coup or coup plot. In recent days, he announced that, as President, he was willing to make sacrifices for peace, and Taylor told the June 4th Accra Peace Conference that he will step down at the end of his term in January of 2004. We think it's now important, therefore, for Liberians to create an effective ceasefire, in conjunction with the early departure of President Taylor, and the creation of a transitional government in preparations for elections. QUESTION: Richard, what do you think about the indictment? MR. BOUCHER: As far as the indictment, you'll have to go to the special court. We have always said that he was a destructive force. President Taylor had been a destructive force in the region. He had been a catalyst for much of the violence in Liberia. He has been effectively a warlord, and the court in Sierra Leone has looked at that and decided these constitute war crimes. But we certainly support the work of the court and we support their decisions. But they'll have to explain it more to you, in terms -- legal terms. QUESTION: Do you think he should surrender to the -- to the court by going to -- MR. BOUCHER: We think anybody who has been indicted should face justice. QUESTION: So he should go to Freetown? He should voluntarily -- MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it at, we think that anybody who has been indicated should face justice. QUESTION: Well, this is -- you know, the first time that a UN special tribunal indicted a sitting head of state, I think you were pretty much demanding that he present himself instantly. That would be Milosevic that I'm referring to. Is there -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's for the court to explain whatever procedures there are, in terms of their expectations of governments and people in the region. I am just not able to explain what their mechanisms and expectations are. Okay. We did have one over there. QUESTION: Yeah, I was just wondering what the public diplomacy outlook is for the Middle East with yesterday's announcement of former ambassador to Syria being appointed, I think, as a special advisor to that effort. And I was just wondering if you could give a quick run-up of what his duties might be in regard to that. Would it be more like Charlotte Beers, or would it be something like Christopher Ross? MR. BOUCHER: No, it's neither. QUESTION: Neither. MR. REEKER: (Inaudible.) MR. BOUCHER: I was getting there, Phil. I was figuring it out on my own. MR. BOUCHER: Did we issue a statement on Djerejian? I think we tried to describe it in there, if I remember, what I read in draft. I think the point is that this is a very important part of our public diplomacy efforts now, and we want to make sure that we -- whatever we do in the Middle East region, in Islamic countries, is based on as much knowledge as we can garnish -- garner together -- QUESTION: Oh, brother. (Laughter.) MR. BOUCHER: -- as much knowledge as we can bring together to inform our programs, to target our programs and make sure that they deal with the real needs of the region, in terms of how we need to portray ourselves and how we need to explain our policies. And so having experts helping us in that regard, like Ambassador Djerejian is certainly something that we hope we can use to make our programs even better, more targeted and have more impact. QUESTION: Is this part of a new initiative possibly, something even down line, down the line? MR. BOUCHER: I think it's been part of an ever-expanding initiative. You have seen it over the last year or two. We have done a lot more and more in the region and in the Islamic world to explain U.S. policies, to explain U.S. values, to create the kind of dialogue or conversation we need with people to start talking about the future. It's a difficult and long-term effort. But it's something that has expanded quite a bit over the last year or two, and will continue to expand. And we'll find new ways of doing that and, hopefully, we'll use the expertise that Ambassador Djerejian and others have to better inform those programs. QUESTION: Is there any -- any specific country being approached or looked at for expanding? MR. BOUCHER: There are a lot of different places we're looking at. No, it's not targeted on one specific country. It's targeted on a number of issues -- some of those issues more important in some places than others. Issues involving the rebuilding of Afghanistan may be more important in parts of the world than others; whereas, Middle East peace or rebuilding of Iraq -- these are all things where we want U.S. policy to be understood in the Islamic world, and we'll be having different activities, finding different ways of conveying our policy message, hopefully, using experts such as Ambassador Djerejian and others, who can help tell us how to do that in the best possible way. QUESTION: Richard, back in this hemisphere, your ambassadors in the Caribbean seem to be dropping like flies these days. Two resigned in the last week, or at least announced that they are going to be. One left and one has announced leaving. Is there some problem down there? MR. BOUCHER: No. QUESTION: Then can you explain, if so? MR. BOUCHER: I think -- no, I can't deal with every one because some of these are for the -- for the President -- you know, the President to consider first. I think you mentioned the ambassador to Barbados. He submitted his letter of resignation on April 17th. The President accepted it. He said he wanted to depart back to his home state of North Carolina, pursue his interests in higher education. So the President expressed his appreciation for his work and for the improvements in many areas, including banking and other areas that he brought to our relationships during his tenure. Ambassadors change, and that happens in different parts of the world. I think we're what -- three years into an administration just about, and sometimes people change at that point. QUESTION: Anyone else beyond -- that you're aware of -- Barbados, Bahamas, any other? MR. BOUCHER: No. QUESTION: No, okay. MR. BOUCHER: No, I mean, there are others, but none that I have to -- QUESTION: I have got one more island question, Richard. MR. BOUCHER: One more island question? QUESTION: Yes. MR. BOUCHER: Okay. QUESTION: Well, yesterday -- this is for Charlie, the Deputy Secretary met with the Prime Minister of Tonga. QUESTION: (Inaudible.) QUESTION: I will try not to mispronounce his name, I'm sure. And I don't expect you to try to, either. But I'm just wondering if, in the course of that conversation, there seems to be quite a big controversy going on between the King and the Supreme Court on the island. Did this come up at all in the Deputy Secretary's conversation? MR. BOUCHER: They discussed, I think, the general issue of democracy, the general issue of democracy and modernization, and certainly that was part of the discussion. The concentration -- I think they talked a lot about the close bilateral relationship between Tonga and the United States. Our Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for Tonga's support for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Tongan Prime Minister also had other meetings here in Washington, particularly to discuss aviation issues because he's here for a meeting on the International Summit on Aviation Safety and Security. QUESTION: I assume that the Tongan support for Operation Iraqi Freedom came in the moral support and -- they were a member of the coalition, I know, but -- MR. BOUCHER: And coalition members supported the operation in a variety of different ways. Thank you. One more? QUESTION: I meant to ask you about Chinese dissident Yang Jianli. Do you have anything on him, and whether or not the State Department is prepared to compel the Chinese Government to release him? MR. BOUCHER: There was a UN report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that found that the non these are their words -- "the nonobservance of Mr. Yang Jianli's right to a fair trial is of such gravity as to give his deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character." The Working Group then finds that this arrest and detention contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are particularly disturbed now by China's public rejection of an accepted international process and the findings of the independent and impartial panel of jurists, so we are urging China to comply fully with international obligations that is has assumed, and we urge that Dr. Yang be released and allowed to return to his wife and children in Boston. Thank you.
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