State Department Noon Briefing, September 5, 2003
|Friday September 5, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2003
1:25 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Do I have anything to say? No. Got any questions?
QUESTION: I have a question about the speech, actually. You have a question?
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead. No I haven't got an easy question.
QUESTION: Yes. The Secretary, in his major foreign policy address at George Washington University said that you guys were -- that the United States was willing to listen and possibly adapt the resolution on Iraq to meet concerns that have been expressed by various people.
Exactly how far are you willing to adapt this resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a question you can't answer at this stage. It depends on what people propose. We'll see what they propose. We'll see what is doable.
The point, I think, is one that the Secretary made in his speech -- one we've made here before -- the point is that we share a goal of working with the Iraqis to help them establish a secure and democratic Iraq as soon as possible. If there are helpful suggestions that go to that end, I'm sure we'll be able to try to work with them. But I can't tell you how far -- what suggestions we might accept until people make some suggestions. And that process continues.
There have been active discussions in New York. They've just had informal meetings at the ambassadorial level at the UK mission up in New York. There was a Permanent-5 member meeting, informal, yesterday afternoon. I understand some of the other members of the Security Council had meetings as well.
Ambassador Negroponte and his staff have shared the text -- our draft text -- of the resolution with every other delegation in the Security Council and gone through it with them. So -- and the Secretary continues his contacts. The Secretary, this morning, talked to Foreign Minister Li of China and to Secretary General Kofi Annan. So we are open to their suggestions on ideas for improving the text and we would expect the next few days and onward to be in active discussion, and we'll work intensively with others to try to get a resolution.
QUESTION: Right. But -- okay -- but I guess then, the point is that despite your insistence that this does, in fact, that your draft does, in fact, give the UN a broader say or role in Iraqi reconstruction and on the political development, there are those out there in the great beyond who don't agree, who don't think it does enough of that.
So are you willing to consider amending the draft to give the United Nations a greater role --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have --
QUESTION: -- than what you have --
MR. BOUCHER: We have pointed out that this gives a vital role with a lot of specifics to the UN. Again, we'll see what people propose. If they propose other specific activities where the UN can make a further contribution, I'm sure we'll consider them. We've heard from a lot of countries so far on initial views, some initial suggestions. We don't have a full list yet.
But I'd continue to say what the Secretary said yesterday. The reaction has been generally positive. There are many countries that have been very receptive. Everybody, I think, takes this as a step in the right direction and one that merits serious study. I note that there is a statement from the German Government where they talk about this being a step in the right direction and a good basis for a resolution, so we'll work with them as well, if they have specifics to propose.
So I think you'll find that many members of the council will be engaged -- are engaged in this process -- will be engaged in this process, as we try to move forward and to bring it together.
QUESTION: Can I ask another -- follow that up please?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Richard, without getting into any of the names of countries, have any governments actually told you, "Yes, this is what we have been waiting for, and now we will -- we are now ready to go ahead with making contributions of troops and cash?"
MR. BOUCHER: That's not the stage we're at, at this point. There are many who have made contributions of troops and cash, including those on the Security Council and many not on the Security Council, already. So that's already occurred in many of these cases. But the others, who said they were waiting for a UN resolution, are going to be waiting -- are waiting for a UN resolution.
QUESTION: I was going to ask you of this willingness to listen to others, which isn't surprising, I think that's what you do all the time. But will this delay the timetable for getting a resolution ready? Then, he used the word "aggressively," I think it was the Secretary spoke of --
MR. BOUCHER: He also used the word "next week."
QUESTION: And he also -- that was my next point -- and he also said, "next week." It sounded like things were full steam ahead. Is this going to slow it down a little bit, so you can --
MR. BOUCHER: No, this is exactly the process the Secretary described the other day. He said, "We'll consult with people.
QUESTION: All right. Fine.
MR. BOUCHER: We'll start to hear their views. I'll make the phone calls. Negroponte will have his discussions, and we should have this bring -- be able to bring these views together by sometime next week, at which point we can put the resolution together and push aggressively on it."
QUESTION: And you said -- no, one last thing. "Generally positive" was your description of reaction to that. Does that include the Chinese?
MR. BOUCHER: The Chinese have certainly welcomed the fact that we put forward a draft and are willing to work with us. As I said, many other members of the council have said that. And we'll just -- we'll see where that leads, and we'll see who has specific suggestions that might help strengthen the ability of the international community to work with the Iraqis as they move towards taking their sovereignty, exercising their own sovereignty.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
QUESTION: After his speech, I asked Secretary -- Secretary Powell said that he had seen several Russian reactions. Did any of those come in, come officially? Or is he just talking about press reports?
MR. BOUCHER: He was talking about various public statements that were made.
QUESTION: What's your -- I mean, we have Ivanov, I mean, Ivanov is quoted as saying, "The situation is getting worse day by day in Iraq," and saying that, "This may be a start, but it needs a lot more work." So what is your understanding of their official --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I guess I erred in kind of even giving the basics of what the Chinese have told us, but I'm not about to go through every member of the council and say, "This is what he said, she said."
QUESTION: But has there been official --
QUESTION: Has there been an official response at all from Russia?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been -- in addition to the public statements you've seen from the Russians, and there have been various statements by President Putin, and Minister Ivanov, and Minister Ivanov, perhaps some others as well; we have been in direct contact with the Russians.
The Secretary spoke to Foreign Minister Ivanov yesterday. Our Embassy in Moscow has been talking to the Russians. Ambassador Negroponte, I think, Ambassador Lavrov was one of the first people he met with up in New York to discuss the new resolution. And we expect to work with them, as we expect to work with others on putting together a good resolution.
QUESTION: But you wouldn't characterize the reaction given to Secretary Powell?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm not -- as I said, I don't think, if I do first the Chinese, and then the Russians, then I'll have the characterize the Ghanaian view by the end of the briefing, and I'm not going to get started on that road.
QUESTION: Obviously, as you said, Ambassador Negroponte is talking with his counterparts and Secretary Powell's working the phones, but do you see the benefit of having a ministerial Security Council meeting during the GA so that everybody can kind of discuss it? Do you see that happening in --
MR. BOUCHER: There are any number of different ministerial meetings during the General Assembly; not necessarily a formal Security Council meeting, but there are always meetings between --
QUESTION: They don't have to adopt this resolution. I mean, do you --
MR. BOUCHER: That would involve giving a timetable, and we're not prepared to set a timetable for the resolution at this point.
QUESTION: But don't you think having all the foreign ministers of the council together in one room, discussing the resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: We will keep your suggestion in mind, as we move towards that event.
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you --
QUESTION: Well, that's what a lot -- that's what --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't say when or how, you know, whether that's appropriate.
QUESTION: A lot of diplomats are saying that it's -- that that's what it's going to take.
MR. BOUCHER: What if the resolution is passed by then? Is it still -- do we still need to have a meeting? Let's take this one step at a time, and we'll move forward and set the timetables as we see the views.
QUESTION: Is there any room for giving, spelling out in this resolution any more political control for the Iraqis sooner, for example, giving more political control now to the Iraqi Governing Council?
I know what's been said publicly on it, but as far as the, you know, "Who would you turn it over to," but there is a body there, at this point; the Governing Council.
MR. BOUCHER: Our view has been that the Governing Council needs to do everything it can whenever it can, and that the Governing Council has already appointed ministers. The Governing Council is already governing Iraq in many aspects of Iraq's government, not all of them, and not fully exercising the sovereignty that Iraq needs -- Iraqi people need to exercise. That's our goal.
But the Governing Council is up and running. They're appointing ministers. They're running ministries. They're selling oil. They are running clinics. They're controlling the police and the courts. And Iraq is moving forward with Iraqis in charge. The issue of whether one can sort of allocate them more authorities through a UN resolution -- I don't know that anybody has made a specific proposal in that regard -- but certainly, the key -- one of the two key elements of this resolution is to say, "You, as Iraqis, need to take charge of your own future. So you give us the plan and the timetable. We're not going to design this plan and timetable. It's not a U.S. plan or a UN plan. It's going to be an Iraqi plan."
And they, in describing their plan and their timetable for the constitution and elections, they are the ones who can specify what the Iraqi Governing Council, what the Iraqi people are -- think they can do and at what point.
QUESTION: But, Richard, on that though, you certainly -- although you are not going to devise a timetable, you certainly have some ideas, right, about when would be too soon? For example, if they came back and said, "Well, we want to run the entire country next week," you would not consider it -- you would think that that is not --
MR. BOUCHER: That's purely speculative at this point.
QUESTION: Can you give us some idea of what their ideas are about what is a realistic timeframe?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. Ambassador Bremer has been asked questions like that repeatedly. And to the extent we can answer them, they have already been answered by him.
QUESTION: Well, do you have an idea though, that you are not just wanting to share publicly?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, they need to work out how they want to go about it and how they can do it. Obviously, they need to do that in a realistic way.
MR. BOUCHER: And it says, "In cooperation with the Coalition and
with the Secretary General's representative." That's what we said
in our resolution because we do have some input into that, and we can
help them go about it in a realistic way.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have the idea that they are capable of coming up with a timeframe and a plan to create an Iraqi constitution and have Iraqi elections, and that they, as Iraqis, can help -- can run this process. And that's our idea. And that's what we put in the UN resolution.
QUESTION: But your idea says, "In cooperation with the Council and the UN." So --
MR. BOUCHER: And we have an idea that we can help.
QUESTION: So are you not going to uphold your end of the deal? You're not going to cooperate?
MR. BOUCHER: We're definitely going to uphold our end of the deal.
QUESTION: Well, then, what are you going to tell them about what's a realistic timeframe?
MR. BOUCHER: It depends on what they say -- what they come up with. We'll help.
QUESTION: So if they say, "A month," you'll say, "That's too soon," but you won't say how far?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer if they say, "A month," if they say "37 days," if they say "42 days," if they say "163 days." I don't know what they're going to say yet. Let's see what they say. We will cooperate. If the resolution passes, that's the process we will follow.
The point of the resolution is not for me to stand here and dictate numbers of days or kinds of authorities. The point of the resolution is to say the Iraqi Governing Council is fully capable of doing that. We want to ask them to do that, and we are going to support them doing that.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject or there's more questions on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I think Mark's got one.
MR. BOUCHER: Mark.
QUESTION: Given the security situation in Iraq and the recent reduction of UN staff, is there really much scope at the moment on the ground for greater UN involvement in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there is plenty of scope. Obviously, the security situation will affect that. But as the UN resolution can lay out things that the UN can do, perhaps, they won't do them all right at the beginning. It may not be time yet for some. It may be difficult to do others.
But certainly, as the UN resolution lays out the possibilities for what the UN can do, as the security situation improves, as other -- you know, the political process moves forward, as the Iraqis' police force and militia and military take hold of the security situation, there would be more and more opportunity for the UN to do things.
I think we already believe that Sergio De Mello, as the Secretary General's special representative, demonstrated the important role that the United Nations can play in the political process, and started down that road with a lot of vigor and a lot of -- made a significant contribution.
QUESTION: Would you be prepared for the Secretary General's special representative to have powers equal to those of Ambassador Bremer?
MR. BOUCHER: The resolution says that the Iraqi Governing Council should come up with a plan and a timetable in cooperation with the Coalition and the special representative. That's the way it's stated.
QUESTION: Is that a yes?
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
There are different responsibilities in a broader sense. But in terms of that paragraph, that's the way it's stated.
QUESTION: On the Governing Council, the Arab League now says it may be ready to accept the Governing Council as a member. Do you have any reaction to that, and is that a really important step the U.S. feels will be useful?
MR. BOUCHER: I think they have a meeting next Tuesday in Cairo. We have obviously been talking to them. I have not yet seen an official announcement, so I would withhold comment until I do.
QUESTION: Is it important for the United States as the backer of the Governing Council?
MR. BOUCHER: We think, just as we thought it was important for the Security Council to welcome the formation of the Governing Council, just as we have proposed that the Security Council endorse and support the Governing Council, we think it's important for other nations and other bodies to do so as well.
QUESTION: And this is something that you've made clear to them, as you have -- are you --
MR. BOUCHER: We made that clear in a lot of different fora. Yes.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one -- on the multinational force aspect of this? The Secretary said in his major foreign policy address at George Washington University that this, that the model of a UN force under the command of one participating country had worked before. Can you say where it's worked before?
MR. BOUCHER: Everywhere. I think if you look at --
QUESTION: What was he referring to when he said the model has worked before?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he's looking at really, virtually all the UN operations that have been conducted, with the exception of, perhaps, those that are conducted with NATO itself as the operative -- operational entity.
And I think if you go back to World War II, the Coalition of the Allies --
QUESTION: Oh, I'm sorry. I --
MR. BOUCHER: -- that wasn't a UN operation, Matt, but I think the general standard from then and through the Korean War, through UN operations in East Timor and other places, has been that the nation that takes -- one nation usually takes the lead, contributes the bulk of forces or a large number of the forces, and operates the unified command. That's been the case in numerous operations. He wasn't trying to compare it to a single model.
QUESTION: Have you decided yet on how you're going to deal, or if you're going to deal with the Iraqi Council's opposition to Turkish troops?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've seen a statement from the whole Iraqi Council at this point.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) foreign ministers?
MR. BOUCHER: And I think I said yesterday that we consult and talk to other people involved, and when we come to that point I'm sure this is something that can be worked out.
QUESTION: Yes. In his major foreign policy address, the Secretary also said that the United States must redouble its efforts on Middle East diplomacy. What exactly are you going to do in this redoubling effort?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary has made clear how involved we are. The United States has sent Ambassador Wolf back. He's been there for a week or so. He's heavily involved. Our envoys in the region are heavily involved and we will stay very involved. We'll continue to work with the parties. I think he said we'll continue to pressure both sides to take steps along the roadmap because the roadmap is the only thing there is.
QUESTION: There's the doubling, though. I didn't see any doubling there.
MR. BOUCHER: You want us to add another ambassador?
QUESTION: -- or (inaudible) twice as (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not prepared --
QUESTION: It sounds like more of the same to me. Where is the doubling?
MR. BOUCHER: Jonathan, I don't have any new announcements for you today. I don't know how you're going to measure the doubling when it happens, but I think you'll see a renewed as well as a sustained effort from the United States.
QUESTION: Is Deputy Secretary Armitage going to deal with any of these issues when he is on his trip?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything more about --
QUESTION: If he goes.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything more about his trip today.
QUESTION: Can I ask you -- another subject --
QUESTION: On the second part --
QUESTION: Do you think you might before he --
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe.
QUESTION: The assassination in Nablus today, which also involved the demolition of a seven-story building in which 28 families lived -- do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: We have repeatedly made clear the critical need for Israel to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians and Palestinian property, but we recognize Israel's right to self-defense. We urge the Israelis to consider the consequences of their actions and the effect on innocent Palestinians.
Bringing about an end to terror, violence and the death of innocent people, and making progress towards the President's two-state vision remains the focus of our efforts with the party -- with the parties. The roadmap contains commitments from both sides and it's essential that the Israelis and the Palestinians rededicate themselves to those objectives.
QUESTION: You don't consider the Hamas operative a civilian, do you? Because if you don't, how do you suppose Israel could have gotten him when he was "embedded," which is the current phrase, with civilians? I mean, he didn't stand out in an open road and say, "Come get me, copper."
You know, how would you expect Israel to -- you're conducting a similar war against Usama bin Laden, against Saddam Hussein. You're rocketing all sorts of places to try to get rid of terrorists. What is -- how is Israel supposed to do this and avoid any, because they have done fairly well in avoiding collateral damage. Today may have been an exception. How can they do this? Is it practical?
MR. BOUCHER: In response to your major foreign policy question, the United States has always said that in conducting operations or whatever Israel does to defend itself, they need to keep in mind the need to avoid harm to civilians and property.
That is an important element in the equation because that kind of damage has consequences for the overall process, as well as the immediate and unnecessary, perhaps, harm to individuals and their property.
QUESTION: Richard, does that mean -- does your response mean that you are opposed to this move today?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, our position on targeted killings, on the whole issue, has not changed and that remains.
QUESTION: Yes, well, but --
QUESTION: What is your position on targeted killings?
MR. BOUCHER: What it's always been.
QUESTION: Are you against them?
MR. BOUCHER: It's --
QUESTION: -- I mean, why can't you just say, "We oppose targeted killings," which is what you used to say?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always said Israel has a right to defend itself. We've also pointed out that the parties, including Israel, need to keep in mind the consequences of actions that they take.
QUESTION: But what do you think about targeted killings, then?
MR. BOUCHER: We've always said Israel has a right to defend itself. We have also pointed out the parties, including Israel, need to keep in mind the consequences of actions they might take.
QUESTION: Richard, recognizing --
MR. BOUCHER: Our position on targeted killings has not changed in any aspect.
QUESTION: Okay. Recognizing --
QUESTION: But it has changed, because you used to say, "We are opposed to targeted killings," immediately.
MR. BOUCHER: No it hasn't. I'm saying that's still the case.
QUESTION: That's still the case? Why don't you say it then? Why don't you say it? Why don't you say it? Why won't you say, "We are against --
MR. BOUCHER: Why do I have to repeat every policy every day?
QUESTION: Because otherwise we don't know what your policy is. It might change.
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing is different. Well, in that case, I'll give you all the transcripts and you can look it up.
QUESTION: Can you say whether you think that targeted killings are an action that has unintended consequences that the Israelis could avoid?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I just said that in some cases that targeted killings and attacks do have consequences that need to be kept in mind because they do affect not only in a tragic manner, individuals who may be innocent, but also the overall process.
QUESTION: But leaving aside, Richard, your longstanding views -- whatever they may be, on targeted killing -- and also your belief that Israel has the right to defend itself but should consider the consequences, do you or do you not think that what they did today in Nablus was a good thing?
MR. BOUCHER: I've already commented on the events today.
QUESTION: No, in fact, you actually haven't commented on Nablus. Specifically you've dealt in -- have you, have you -- you said you have repeatedly made clear to the Israelis the need for -- have you done so in this case, specifically about this case?
MR. BOUCHER: We have done that repeatedly. They're quite aware of our views. I don't know if we've done it today or yesterday or the day before, but they're certainly aware of our views.
QUESTION: So in other words, this -- you're not aware if this, what happened today, has elicited any kind of response, face to face or phone call kind of response from the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: This is normally and usually, regularly and repeatedly the subject of discussion when events such as this occur, and we may -- always make clear what our position is. It's the position I just gave you.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about something else? Nigeria was not in Secretary Powell's speech today, but there seems to be a policy of asking you, actually it's a question, to help Nigeria get its oil out, the use of Coast Guard vessels, and all. Do you have anything on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I think Nigeria was in his speech to the extent that he talked about support for Nigerian troops going into Liberia. I have not heard anything about the Coast Guard -- in Nigeria? I guess you're going to have to check on the Coast Guard.
QUESTION: I thought perhaps --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I think you'll have to check with the Coast Guard. I don't know that one.
QUESTION: You were -- I thought this was the place. It's probably with them.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
We have a question in the back?
QUESTION: On Hong Kong. Yesterday, the Executive Chief in Hong Kong announced that they would withdraw the proposed Article 23 deal? And there's no timetable set for that. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, first general and then specific. The United States has always strongly supported dialogue between the Hong Kong Government and the Hong Kong public on issues of importance, including democracy and national security legislation. We welcome the government's decision to conduct open and public consultations on Article 23 legislation. We also welcome the government's attention to secure the approval of the community before enacting any new security laws.
QUESTION: Still on Hong Kong, another question. A couple of days ago they decided to adopt a Smart ID system, which means that the ID could be scanned from a distance without the person knowing it, and all that personal information would be there.
Some human rights advocates think that it's an erosion into the Hong Kong people's civil rights. And actually, this system is part of the bigger project called "Golden Shield Project" in China. Are you aware of this?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of the reports. I don't know if we've taken a position on it, I'll have to check and see.
QUESTION: The FBI has put out a lookout bulletin for four individuals. Can you say whether any of them has received a U.S. visa, might even be a U.S. resident? Is there anything you can say at the State Department on this issue?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, and I don't think we'd be able to say if I did.
QUESTION: I don't think the Secretary mentioned Latin America today, but he is having a meeting with the Mexican Foreign Minister and it says "media to be determined," and I just wonder whether he's going to come out --
MR. BOUCHER: He'll be coming out to see you after -- with the Mexican Foreign Minister after they meet this afternoon.
MR. BOUCHER: They'll be walking out together.
QUESTION: On Canada, it's also related to that question. Two of the suspected -- two of the advisories are possibly carrying Canadian passports. Also there are new concerns that domestic Canadian flights might be used as weapons on the U.S. soil. Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation you've received from Canada? And also, do you think they're doing enough for security?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the general answer is, we've worked very, very closely with Canada and have taken a lot of steps together to improve security for both of us, for all of us on the North American continent.
As far as the specifics of law enforcement cooperation, though, I really have to leave you with the Department of Homeland Security and the people who have been working directly with the Canadian agencies.
QUESTION: Suspected members of a terrorist ring have been arrested in Ontario about a week and a half ago. Given all of this, do you think that the State Department will issue advisories on travel for Canadians, or it will restrict in any way U.S. visas for Canadians?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate, but I think examples of successful law enforcement cooperation and successful law enforcement action always make us, the rest of us, safer, rather than put us in more jeopardy.
QUESTION: I have just one question on North Korea. Do you have any comments on the U.S. side about North Korea telling South Korea and China about North Korea's participation in the next round of meetings?
MR. BOUCHER: I know we've seen a number of different reports since the talks in Beijing, where the North Koreans have said different, and sometimes contradictory, things. It will be up to the Chinese to put together the next rounds of talks. And, certainly, we look to them to do that.
We would -- we have already said we believe there was a consensus. The Chinese have said and we have said, and we believe there was a consensus to hold more talks, and would reiterate how important it is that all the parties attending adopt the stance that we and others have adopted; that this is a problem that needs to be solved peacefully, diplomatically, the Beijing talks are the opportunity to do that, and it needs to result in a nuclear-free peninsula.
QUESTION: Also on North Korea, a senior official explained to us yesterday that this new approach would mean that North Korea wouldn't have to completely dismantle its programs before the United States talks about what it's willing to do in return. Could you talk about that a little bit more, talk about maybe some of the things that might be among the first that the U.S. would be willing to come back with?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I kind of differ with the characterization of a new approach; that I think if you look at what a senior official said before the talks occurred, that they said very similar things. If you look at what we and Secretary Powell and the President of the United States have actually said in the past, you will find that we have said things that were very consistent with what I will say today.
In January, the President described it, and his -- the way he described it was, we expect them to disarm, we expect them not to develop nuclear weapons, and if they choose to do so, then I will reconsidered whether or not we'll start the bold initiative that I talked to Secretary Powell about. That's always been our position.
So we have made absolutely clear North Korea needs to change its behavior. We are not going to grant inducements to North Korea to change its behavior. North Korea needs to live up to the obligations it's already -- that it had agreed to and it's already violated.
At the same time, we have also made clear that these -- nothing will happen until North Korea changes its behavior and begins to take concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. But as the President said, we are willing to talk about the possibilities if North Korea changes its behavior.
QUESTION: Will the U.S., for example, be willing to help them do that? Would that be one of the things that could be new -- could be new cooperation, if North Korea says it is willing to start dismantling its nuclear program?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, if North Korea is changing its behavior, then we're willing to talk about what's possible. There is a process of verification. There are processes of, you know, verifiable, irreversible end to a nuclear program that do involve discussions. And as I think senior officials have said, that there is an element of sequencing to all this.
We have made clear we're prepared to talk about what's possible. We have made clear that we have certain policies, which we express freely. But, at the same time, we don't intend to offer inducements or rewards for North Korea's developing nuclear weapons, contrary to all its previous understandings.
QUESTION: Richard, when the senior official talked about the sequencing of complementary steps, he was then talking about the bold approach?
MR. BOUCHER: The bold approach itself involved sequencing, but we wouldn't -- we have always said -- no, within the bold approach, there is sequences. But the -- I think we have always made clear, and I think the senior official said this yesterday, that the bold approach doesn't kick in till we have an end to the nuclear programs.
QUESTION: No, but what he said yesterday was that once they started, you could start talking about --
MR. BOUCHER: -- the possibilities.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, and that's what I said today.
QUESTION: You could -- you would start doing the sequencing, but not at the end, at the -- right after the beginning. I mean I'm confused because it seems to me that what he was suggesting yesterday was not actually the bold approach, which is what I think you just suggested it was. It seems like he was talking about something quite specific and --
MR. BOUCHER: Actually, it depends on what the questions are, you know. Can you do this? Can you do that? Can you do this then? Can you get involved in the verification process somehow?
It's hard to speculate on specific possibilities. But, as a general principle, repeat what we've said before. We're not going to offer inducements. We're not going to pay for the horse twice, I think, is the way we put it. And nothing can happen until North Korea changes its behavior and begins to take concrete steps and dismantle its nuclear weapons program. At the same time, we are prepared to talk about what the possibilities are if North Korea should do that.
QUESTION: And are you suggesting that the possibilities are more aspects of "the bold approach," or the possibilities are more help in verification, dismantling, et cetera?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm suggesting neither the one nor the other.
QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "the bold approach," or "bold initiative" as defined months ago, is a broad package of aid, trade and diplomatic relations. Is that still on the horizon?
MR. BOUCHER: As the President said in January, as I think we've said repeatedly here, as the Secretary has said, that if they choose to do so, meaning expect -- if North Korea chooses not to develop nuclear weapons -- then "I, the President will reconsider whether or not we'll start the 'bold initiative.'" So, yes, it's still a possibility. And we're willing to talk about that possibility. But nothing, nothing can happen until North Korea changes its behavior and begins to take concrete steps to dismantle its programs.
QUESTION: Are you at all concerned, Richard, that the bold approach is just an "m" short of almost being an anagram for roadmap? With the Secretary in his --
MR. BOUCHER: That requires a lot more thought for me. I'll figure that out later.
QUESTION: --In his major foreign policy address at George Washington University, the Secretary took issue with some countries or people who he said were espousing a "multi-polar approach" to the world. Can you explain who he was talking about and explain exactly what the U.S. objection is to the multi-polar vision?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary explained why we did not see the world as a multi-polar one, but rather one where nations who share increasingly common goals don't need to oppose each other but rather, should be looking for how they can form partnerships to address the problems of the world and to achieve the goals that they have of expanding democracy, free trade, things like that.
So, that's what he was referring to. And no, I don't think I need to be more specific. There's -- I'm sure people in a variety of places who have espoused multi-polarity, but we just don't think that's what the world is right now.
QUESTION: Okay, well, are you aware of actually any -- other than France, are you aware of any country that has gone and espoused this as vigorously?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to start getting into specific countries. I've sure there are -- I've seen individuals, theoreticians from other places, talk about it as much as some of the French have.
QUESTION: Richard, North Korea again. I don't think anything's been said about food aid for North Korea in months. Do you have anything on that subject?
MR. BOUCHER: There's not really anything new in months. I think earlier this year we announced that there was an initial contribution for the year and that there was another possible contribution.
Certain things have been worked out. We have not moved on the second tranche yet, but the first tranche is, I think, either has been delivered, or is being delivered. That was all underway.
QUESTION: Are you still awaiting -- you still awaiting North Korean movement on access for monitors, is that right?
MR. BOUCHER: It was on the question of making sure it was used well. And I don't know exactly what we're waiting for, but we have not gotten to the point where we can release that second tranche yet.
QUESTION: On North Korea, based on the issue of sequence, which was emphasized by yesterday's senior official on the -- during the Beijing talk this time, say -- North Korea proposed a four-step approach. How can you characterize, you know, this approach in terms of a sequence issue?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want to try to characterize the North Korean approach. North Korea laid out in April a series of steps. No, I'm not in a position to describe or comment on a North Korean proposal at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any updates on Aung San Suu Kyi?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's see what we have. Our concern that was articulated over the weekend remains. As we pointed out yesterday, the junta can easily and unambiguously resolve these concerns by allowing access to Aung San Suu Kyi by members of the international community. She's been held since May 30th without cause. The international community has demanded her release. The junta has promised it, but has not followed through. They should release her immediately, and her followers as well.
QUESTION: And her status, at least, hunger strike or not, is still?
MR. BOUCHER: All I can say is our concern remains.
QUESTION: Richard, has this building given any thought to the -- to how to defend itself from criticism that, basically you can just come out and make pronouncements like this without backing them up at all, and -- as a way to try and force an unfriendly government to do something you've been calling for for a long time; which is to release her? Is there any concern in this building that you've gotten into a spat, a credibility spat with a government that basically doesn't have any credibility? And you've put your own on the line here?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'm not quite sure I see the logic of that, but in any case, no, we don't have any qualms about it. We had credible information.
It reinforces a point that we've made before. It reinforces the need to allow international access and to release her. But we would be making those points anyway. But we do have credible information, and that's the basis on which we issue statements.
We didn't issue a statement a week ago, two weeks ago that said she was on a hunger strike. We did when we had credible information.
We have one more in the back. Sorry.
QUESTION: Sorry. Could you comment on the meeting held today with Mr. Armitage and Vice Foreign Minister of Japan? Did the North Korean issue come up?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure they did. I don't have anything for you yet. We'll get you something later in the day.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
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