State Department Noon Briefing, October 1, 2003


Wednesday  October 1, 2003

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
12:40 p.m. EDT

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

-- First Day of Operations of UN Mission
-- U.S. Personnel in Region
-- Interim President Blah
-- Potential Continued Involvement of Charles Taylor

-- Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction/David Kay Report
-- Impact of September 11th
-- New Iraq UN Resolution Text
-- International Contributions/Madrid Donors Conference
-- Iraq Contracts

-- World Food Program

-- Olympic Security

-- Security Fence Decision
-- Assistant Secretary Burns and Ambassador Kurtzer's Contacts
-- Lawsuit Regarding Designation of Jerusalem, Israel in U.S. Passports

-- Ambassador Razali's Meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi
-- Progress in Obtaining Release

-- Troops to Iraq

-- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Comments

-- Status of Religious Freedom Report



12:40 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER: All right, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I'd like to just mention that today is the first day of operations of the UN Mission in Liberia. It was created by Security Council Resolution 1509. We welcome that development. The Mission will monitor and implement the ceasefire and comprehensive peace agreement, help restore peace to Liberia, and eliminate a continuing source of instability in the West African region.

We appreciate the hard work by the UN Secretary General and his Special Representative, Jacques Klein, in ensuring that this operation was up and running by October 1st. We also applaud the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States in their efforts to bring peace to Liberia.

The UN Mission has a one-year mandate. It may comprise a total of up to 15,000 military personnel, including up to 1,115 police officers. We have provided, as you know, considerable support already to the peacekeeping in Liberia. We have provided now nearly 26 million in contracted logistics support and equipment for the West African military forces. In addition, we expect to send nine officers, both headquarters staff and military observers, who will participate directly in the UN peacekeeping operation.

During the transition period, as I mentioned yesterday, we are on the ground working with the parties politically at our Embassy in Liberia. Our Ambassador in Liberia is in touch with the government, with the various rebel groups, as well as with the transition government figures, including Mr. Gyude Bryant, who is working that process now.

In addition, in this interim period, we are continuing to provide a certain amount of medical support and equipment support to the forces that are there. So we are continuing our presence in Liberia and are continuing to work in this transition to UN forces.


QUESTION: Is it also true, however, that all U.S. military forces have been withdrawn?

MR. BOUCHER: No. At this point, there is approximately 100 U.S. military personnel there for either transition purposes or phasing out purposes or for the protection of U.S. personnel and Embassy there. So that number will be changing, obviously, as we move towards the full run-up to the peacekeeping operation. But there's approximately 100 U.S. military personnel in Liberia to help work the transition and protect the Embassy.

QUESTION: Who were not otherwise stationed there before to protect the Embassy?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, some of them, some of the additional protection for the Embassy, I think went in before the West African peacekeepers, if I remember correctly. So, but that's how many U.S. military personnel we've got there now. As I said, they're working the transition, protecting the Embassy. We're continuing to provide support and supplies to the West African military and to work on the political transition as well, and then once the UN fully takes over we'll not only be supporting it with our significant contribution of the expenses because of our UN assessments, but also we'll have some people, nine people, specifically devoted to that mission.

QUESTION: And the U.S. number will go down?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, presumably. Yes, it's going to go down. I don't know exactly how quickly it will go down. Part of it depends on Embassy protection as well.

QUESTION: Richard, are you assured that the interim President Blah, as well as the former President Charles Taylor, are not -- are interceding with either a criminal element and/or are totally out of the involvement with the new formation of the new government?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the interim President, former Vice President Blah, has a role to play in allowing this, supporting this transition to take place. And we have been certainly talking to him as part of that. The transition arrangements were reached in Ghana and all the parties have a requirement to make sure that transition occurs.

As far as Charles Taylor's continued or potential continued involvement, there have, indeed, been reports that he was trying to interfere in various ways. And I think you have also seen statements now from the Nigerian Government making very, very clear what the terms were of his being allowed to go to Nigeria and making very, very clear that he needed to respect those terms.

Ready for other things?

QUESTION: While you're waiting for another report, maybe a final report, maybe just another report, on the search for weapons, obviously I'm not going to ask you what's in the report going to the Hill tomorrow. Can you tell us what the Secretary's view is at this point as to whether Iraq really did have weapons of mass destruction -- does he still hold to the view that they'll be found, or does he, for instance, think maybe it was precursors, or was it knowledge? I mean, I just -- if I could capsule his latest grasp of what he thought was hidden away by Mr. Saddam Hussein.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think you can capsule his latest grasp any better than he, himself, has a number of times over the last week or so --


MR. BOUCHER: -- when asked the question. The best capsule is the extensive one, it's the February 5th presentation that the Secretary did. Iraq had chemical weapons. The whole world knew that. Iraq failed repeatedly to disclose, to destroy, to account for them. The UN inspectors repeatedly, over the years, made the estimates of the amounts that he was believed to have had or had failed account for. And in addition, we knew certain facts about his continuing programs.

So against that backdrop, I think now we look for the effort being manned by David Kay and his very large teams to define for us even more exactly and even more fully the full extent of Iraq's programs and weaponry.

QUESTION: Richard, just to go back. You remember the famous February 2001 remark when he said Iraq had no significant chemical or biological weapons. What's the difference between saying it had no significant chemical weapons and saying it had chemical weapons? I mean, where does -- when do they become significant? Since the only difference here, the only thing that saves you from a contradiction is the word "significant," and I wondered if you could --

MR. BOUCHER: We're not running around trying to get saved from contradictions. The fact is there is no contradiction to begin with. The Secretary's interview in February of 2001, I think he went on to say that Iraq was not complying with the UN resolution, Iraq needed to let in the inspectors, needed to fully disclose and comply with the requirements of the international community.

We also know that that was before September 11th, and I think we all feel differently after September 11th that, you know, that quibbling about words, about whether it's significant or not significant, mistates the fundamental question that there is a very serious danger out there -- a danger that had been demonstrated on the people of Halabja, a danger that had been demonstrated numerous times through the reports of the UN -- and that I think everybody felt that after September 11th you have to deal with dangers like that sooner or later. You can't just wait around for them to somehow magically disappear, and anybody who believes that they did magically disappear, given the history of Saddam Hussein, we don't think that's realistic.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? Do you mean that September 11th made those insignificant weapons suddenly significant? Is that what you're saying?

MR. BOUCHER: No. September 11th, I think, eliminated any quibbling over significant/insignificant, if you want to quibble over words. September 11th brought us to a new level where you had to look seriously at a problem, that this guy's got chemical weapons, he's used them in the past, he's failed to account for their destruction, and you've got to deal with the problem.

And having tried for 12 years to deal with the problem through United Nations resolutions, I think it became obvious you had to deal with the continued defiance and continued noncompliance in a different way.

QUESTION: Speaking of quibbling over words, how goes the intra-administration debate on the language for the new resolution? And do you still think it's going to -- or do you have a better idea when you'll be able to share it with your Security Council colleagues?

MR. BOUCHER: We're not quibbling with words. The Secretary's --

QUESTION: Well, trying to formulate the right -- and maybe quibble is the wrong word.

MR. BOUCHER: All right, let me tell you where we are in the new resolution.

QUESTION: You're going to quibble over a quibble?

MR. BOUCHER: All right, let's take it -- let's reduce this to a simple question, and I'll give you a simple answer. Where are we on the new resolution? The Secretary has begun to call other foreign ministers and talk to them today about the text of the new resolution, the new text of a resolution. He's connected so far with Foreign Secretary Straw, Foreign Minister Palacio, Foreign Minister Fischer. I expect he'll be connecting with other foreign ministers during the course of the day.

Our mission in New York, Ambassador Negroponte and his team, will be talking to other members of the Security Council during the course of the day about the improvements we've been able to make to the text. We listened very carefully to what we have heard over the last few weeks, from Geneva, and then especially during the President and the Secretary 's meetings last week in New York. We have incorporated, we think, many of the ideas and suggestions that we've heard from others, tried to respond to the kind of issues that we've heard from others.

One of the things that we heard was defining the role of the United Nations, the Secretary General and his special representative. And we think we've moved forward in that direction, particularly, based on the report the Secretary General himself presented in July, which had a number of areas where he thought he could assume the role.

We have tried to respond to the desire to see more of a sense of movement and momentum on the political process, to move more quickly towards a timeline, and then the implementation of a political process. And so we have done that in a variety of ways in the text that others are now starting to look at.

And, finally, I think we made clear that the multinational force is related to the political mission, and that this whole process is going to be fulfilled and then terminated through a transfer of authority and power to an increasingly responsible Iraqi government that will, after constitutional elections, be able to assume full authority there.

QUESTION: Okay. Can I just --


QUESTION: Okay. Just a couple of things. One, very briefly, when you say he's calling around to -- this is to the Security Council foreign ministers?

QUESTION: Or the Germans.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, yes, so far.

QUESTION: So far. But there will be others? I mean, he is not calling up the foreign ministers of countries that aren't in the Security Council, is he?

MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point.

QUESTION: Okay. When he's -- when he -- does he actually have the language in front of him? Is he saying, okay, this is what it's going to say, or is he faxing copies? I mean, I just wonder, is it on paper?

QUESTION: Is he telling what -- the new language, or is he still consulting?

MR. BOUCHER: He's telling them the changes that we are making to our text. As far as the precise status of that text, I don't think I can clarify any more at this point. But the Secretary is describing the changes, talking to them about a new text --

QUESTION: Right. But is it --

MR. BOUCHER: -- about the changes that we are making to the resolution itself, and others will be seeing the text very soon.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you still willing to consider other ideas, or is it pretty much finished?

MR. BOUCHER: Until we go to blue, until we, you know, finalize a text and ask for a vote, we're always interested in hearing the ideas of others. But we think this text goes a long way to providing the kind of momentum, providing the kind of direction, and providing the kind of definition that others have been talking to us about.

QUESTION: Okay. And now the last one, which is a total shot in the dark and I don't really expect an answer, but how does it do that? What does it do? What do you say in terms of defining the role of the UN? What's the change from the earlier resolution? How do you go about giving momentum to the political process in terms of moving towards a timeline?

MR. BOUCHER: You'll see it when it's leaked, but --


MR. BOUCHER: -- we do it very well. We do it -- I think I sort of mentioned in some ways. It defines further the role of the Secretary General's Special Representative based on the report that the Secretary General, himself, provided to the Security Council in July.

It provides a clearer statement of the transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis and how this process will proceed as quickly as practicable and progressively over time so that the constitutional process, as the constitutional process is completed, there's already a significant transfer going on. And it makes clear the tie-in between the multinational force and the political process, so --

QUESTION: What does it define, exactly?

MR. BOUCHER: That the multinational force and the political process are linked in that the completion of the political process will lead to a different status for -- I don't want to get too far into language -- but that these two things are linked, that the Iraqis' assumption of more responsibility for all their affairs, including security, is part of this overall process.

QUESTION: Can I ask you --


QUESTION: (Inaudible) any kind of timetable in here?

MR. BOUCHER: The view is that we need to complete this process and do this process as quickly as possible, but that it is an Iraqi process. It is a process that needs to be designed by the Iraqis in terms of setting the timetable, and therefore, that should not be done in New York, but that should, in fact, be done by the Iraqis.

QUESTION: Could I just --


QUESTION: I was about -- I was going to ask the same question in a slightly different way. I take it the resolution expresses views and expectations and hopes and all that, but doesn't literally speak in terms of timetable? I mean, the stops along the way?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it to the resolution itself, when we can finally make the text available. But as I said, it's -- we've left it -- still leave it to the Iraqis to define the timetable, because it's their process, their timetable and their future that we're talking about.

QUESTION: One other thing, sort of a footnote to one of Matt's questions. As he makes calls and will make further calls, contribution of troops, I suppose, is a subject. But what about the second major U.S. goal, to attract financial contributions? In other words, is he or people in his behalf here, calling around to some of the wealthier countries and saying "Hey, look, you know, we're going to need money, and we've got to -- "

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary's phone calls today are talking about the new resolution, the next text of the resolution, okay?

QUESTION: I gotcha.

MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you separately what we're doing. There is movement, there is work going on on the donors conference.

QUESTION: Excellent.

MR. BOUCHER: As you all know, we're looking to the Iraq donors conference for October 23rd and 24th in Spain. Spain will be the host. We expect about 75 countries and international organizations to attend, and Secretary Powell and Secretary Snow will head the U.S. delegation.

Planning for the Madrid donors conference is still ongoing. There's a second senior officials planning session for the conference to be held tomorrow, October 2nd, in Madrid. That's with all the other major potential donors: people from the Middle East, Japan, European Union, the United States.


MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think that's all 75. That's the donors group that's been working for several months on this. So the planning proceeds.

The other thing that's still ongoing is the needs assessments reports being undertaken jointly by the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Funds. Those will help identify the priorities, and these -- staffs of these organizations have, I think, either completed or nearly completed this work under obviously difficult circumstances, given the bombing in Baghdad.

QUESTION: Are you willing to say that you would hope that the resolution or expect that the resolution will enhance prospects of contributions?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. That's been one of our goals all along, is to, through this resolution, to enhance the prospects of contributions by further countries, whether it be of troops, or particularly of financial support and assistance, to enable other countries to provide more support in cases where their law requires the UN or other resolution, to enable the financial institutions to get more involved, and to make clear to the world and the Iraqi people how this process will unfold and how they're going to take back their future.

QUESTION: Richard, you'll recall that Resolution 1483 set up a monitoring group for the Iraq Development Fund. I understand that group has not -- does not yet exist. Do you intend to make sure that is set up in time for the donors conference?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the exact status of that group, or the timing at this point, I'm sorry.


QUESTION: On the resolution, are you still expecting it by the end of the week?

MR. BOUCHER: We'll be sharing text with other governments very, very soon.

QUESTION: Do you have a -- do you have a thought on when the Security Council will take it up?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have -- we'll be talking to other members of the Security Council and sharing text with them very, very soon. But I don't have a timetable for formally tabling it or going to a vote.

QUESTION: Wait -- very, very? I thought the Secretary was doing that right now.

QUESTION: Yes, but that's not --

MR. BOUCHER: He is --

QUESTION: Well, all right. But he's -- verbally, he's -- isn't he? I mean --

QUESTION: He's reading sections of it.

MR. BOUCHER: He's talking to them about the text. We're starting to share this text, and we'll be sharing it more and more. Very soon.

QUESTION: There is a written document.

MR. BOUCHER: There is a written --

QUESTION: It's in your possession, which he has in front of him, and he's reading sections of it.

MR. BOUCHER: There is a written document, which is in his possession, which --

QUESTION: Is it your hope that they will have all seen it and sort of cleared it before it actually comes up?

MR. BOUCHER: We generally try to talk to people privately and quietly in various groups in order to get their views before things get formally tabled in Council. Yes.

QUESTION: Richard, can we just get back to the links? If you're saying there's not going to be a formal timeline in it, will the multinational force be linked in some way to the performance or the actual completion of things, like a referendum for the constitution or the writing of a constitution and so forth?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to get more into it than I have already. I think that general description will have to stick for the moment, and we need to have a chance to talk with other governments about the details about how we did some of these things, and to talk to other governments about how we think the thing fits together and how it works.

QUESTION: Can I just try it another way?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure. I'll answer the same way, but --

QUESTION: Do certain political developments in Iraq trigger other things that this resolution would be talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not going to try to provide more definition there.

QUESTION: Are you in a position at all to tell us? Presumably, Foreign Secretary Straw was all in favor and --

MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to speak for any other governments, but we do talk to people we have worked very closely with.

QUESTION: The initial reactions you would like to characterize as positive or --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure it will all be positive. But as the Secretary said last week, there is a certain amount of convergence on the ideas. We think we have captured much of that convergence, captured many of those ideas from various parties that we've talked to -- the Secretary did, and the President did last week; and, therefore, that we're providing something that people want and responding to ideas that they wanted to see incorporated.


QUESTION: Richard, in this new resolution, do you think it will give the IGC more responsibilities over the budget and budgetary issues?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I am not in a position to get into more details at this point. I'll just have to stop with that.


QUESTION: Can we change the subject?

MR. BOUCHER: Please.

QUESTION: There are reports coming out actually today about the North Koreans selling food they got through the World Food Program, and we know that part of that food is American. First of all, do you have any comments? And second of all, where do we stand with the second tranche of American food for this year?

MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen those reports. I haven't had any chance to check. I think you'd have to check with the World Food Program on those. Monitoring has been a subject of continuing concern to us. And the second tranche of food for this year, that was contingent upon getting better monitoring arrangements, has not been released at this point.

QUESTION: And the decision-making process, in terms of 2004, has not begun yet?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I think it usually starts with a needs assessment from the international -- from the World Food Program.

QUESTION: So since the Secretary was in Korea in February, and he announced that 100 million and the release of the first tranche, nothing has happened since then, since that first tranche was released?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the first tranche has been delivered.

QUESTION: Right, yes.

MR. BOUCHER: The North Korean people have gotten food from us. That's what happened.

In the back.

QUESTION: Can we go back --

MR. BOUCHER: No, all the way in the back.

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, as you said thus in this room once upon a time that your esteemed Ambassador to Greece Tom Miller is in town for almost ten days, and the only thing we know so far is that tomorrow morning he's going to deliver a major speech for the security of the Olympic Games in Westin Palace's Center of Mr. John Sitilidis. Do you know what is the real purpose of his visit for so many days in Washington, D.C.?


QUESTION: You don't know?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not my brother's keeper. I'm sorry. I haven't been tracking Tom Miller. He comes back from time to time for a variety of reasons. I'm glad he's giving a speech. I'm sure he spent a lot of time consulting with the people in the State Department. But no, I'm afraid I don't keep his schedule. Sorry.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Yes, to go back to the donors conference, is tomorrow's meetings so-called the core group meeting?


QUESTION: And do you have any more such --

MR. BOUCHER: Maybe -- I'm not sure that's what they call it anymore. It's essentially the core group. It may be others, too.

QUESTION: And do you have any more core group such meetings planned before the October 27th --

MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to see. These countries have worked together very well, and I'm sure they'll continue to work together right up to Madrid. I don't know of any specific meetings, though.

QUESTION: And during those kind of meetings, is gonna, you know, for the each country, the amount of the donation going to be decided during those meetings?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that's where it'll be decided. Governments obviously have to decide on their own, based on their own political process and their own budgetary process. Some governments may not have final numbers to announce until they get to Madrid.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) be reported to the core group tomorrow, because they had received some others in the last meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if they're all ready for the core group at this point, but they're -- certainly the core group has been kept apprised of the work that's been going on.

QUESTION: Yes, off of Iraq to the Middle East. Do you have any initial reaction to the Israeli cabinet decision on the fence or barrier, or whatever they call it? I presume you know what I'm talking about -- the going ahead with it --


QUESTION: -- and building a separate one around --

MR. BOUCHER: Just to say that our views on the fence remain unchanged. We'll look carefully at this decision. It remains our longstanding policy to oppose activities by either party in the West Bank and Gaza that prejudge final status negotiations. We are continuing to discuss our concerns with the Government of Israel, and senior U.S. officials have been speaking with senior Israeli officials, both in Israel and in the United States.

QUESTION: Do you regard their decision, the decision this morning, as one which will necessarily prejudge the outcome?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm going to try to deal with each little piece as we go along. We've stated quite clearly --

QUESTION: Well, that's not what you're telling --

MR. BOUCHER: Dr. Rice has stated clearly that there are two primary issues here. We know that the Israelis need to deal with security concerns, but she said it's extremely important, if it is going to be built, that it not intrude on the lives of Palestinians, and most importantly, that it not look as if it's trying to prejudge the outcome of the peace agreement. So we'll evaluate any of these further decisions with that in mind.

QUESTION: So you haven't determined yet whether the decision this morning does do either of those things that Dr. Rice talked about?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I would just say that those are our criteria. We're in touch with the Israelis about this, and we continue to discuss it with them.

Yeah. Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, yesterday the UN Envoy to Bangkok -- to Rangoon, rather, met with Aung San Suu Kyi. Any developments from that, and are you --

MR. BOUCHER: I think it was today. Well --

QUESTION: Today. Yes, it was.

QUESTION: It was still today.

MR. BOUCHER: It was still today. We have seen the press reports that he met -- that Ambassador Razali met with Aung San Suu Kyi. We don't have a readout yet of his visit to Rangoon. We haven't talked to him directly, so we don't have any news to report other than what he might have been able to say himself.

I would say we very much remain concerned about the status of Aung San Suu Kyi and the other political prisoners in detention in Burma. We reiterate our calls that she and her followers be released and be allowed to participate in the political process in Burma.

QUESTION: Is there -- you know, there have been all these niggling little developments for the last year or so, since she was released from house arrest last May, in 19 -- in May of 2002. But is there any real sign of any progress, in this Department's view, there at all?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you've seen our discussion of this over a period of time. But yes, indeed, there was a moment when the Burmese regime was talking about dialogue, was talking about political opening, was talking about making progress. That never fulfilled its promise, in terms of release of her followers or other things, but there was some limited movement in that regard; and then whatever there was came to a crashing halt on the May 30th attack on her convoy.

And since then, having been under arrest in unknown locations with few, if any, visitors at all, continued arrests of other followers, the situation deteriorated to the point that we supported the Congressional legislation that put further restrictions on Burma.

QUESTION: Are you getting any sort of information from outside Yangon, I mean, how these are up country, or local SPDs, and the local NLD offices or?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is yes, but I am not sure I have information to convey to you.

QUESTION: I need to go back to the Mideast for one second -- the subject changed so quickly. But were the senior officials, the U.S. senior officials, who are in contact with -- that's on the ground, that's not between this building or?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, we have had --

QUESTION: I realize it happens -- this contact -- all the time.

MR. BOUCHER: No, we have had phone calls.

QUESTION: At the Secretary's level or?

MR. BOUCHER: No, not at the Secretary's level. We've had phone calls at Burns' level. I think Ambassador Kurtzer has been in touch with some of his counterparts. I am sure people at the Embassy are.

QUESTION: All right. And one more that has to do with this. Have you -- has the Department responded yet to this latest lawsuit that was filed, I think, earlier this -- or last month -- about the designation of Jerusalem, Israel in U.S. passports?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I have to check.


QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, do you have anything on that Turkish proposal to send troops in northern Iraq, in Iraq actually, via Jordan, since the courts of northern Iraq do not allow this, even for humanitarian purposes, as it was reported in the recent issue of the newspaper, Defense News, and it was expressed specifically also to Secretary Powell by Jalal Talabani in Azerbaijan when they met the other day in the area?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on the prospect of Turkish troops going to Iraq, how they would get there, or what route they might take. This matter is still under consideration by the Turkish Government. We have made them quite aware of our hope that they would be able to provide some forces for Iraq. But the matter is still under discussion within Turkey, as well as with others in the region.

QUESTION: But this rejection is correct, that it was also expressed by Talibani and Barzani to Secretary Powell?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to express their views, sorry.

One, two?

QUESTION: A question, too, on Iraq. There has been a, I guess, civil unrest, a minor riot this morning in the Baghdad area. In the interim, until this particular conference is underway in Madrid, there are two or three American companies that are providing supposedly the transportation and other type of facilities management in the country.

Are you working too, to get some of the Iraqis who are unemployed in working with those groups to get them working on this infrastructure?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a final figure. There are tens and tens of thousands of Iraqis who are being employed by these reconstruction projects. I think the effort to rehabilitate schools, which is over a thousand schools, quite a bit more, involved something like 40,000 Iraqis.

We've got the schools ready for students. We've got student packages. We've got new books, new textbooks for the children of Iraq, and I think they start school officially on Saturday, many of them in new schools with new books, with a new curriculum, with new opportunity.

And that's something that we have been able to achieve in a relatively short time -- not just because we have contractors to do it, but because there are thousands and thousands of Iraqis who have been participating in this, helping with this, working and finding jobs in this manner.

That is amplified throughout the country, particularly in the big projects, like infrastructure projects, road projects, and a lot of money that would be spent through the supplemental that we have been looking for would also contribute even more to the employment situation in Iraq.

QUESTION: Have you been able to look at, or analyze any more the North Korean statements from yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing much more to say than what I did say yesterday. I don't think we have any different conclusions today.

QUESTION: All right. And on -- the Pakistanis have reacted somewhat angrily to Deputy Secretary Armitage's comments yesterday about Musharraf being on board in the battle to keep insurgents going across the border, but that the lower rank, the rank and file, are not so excited, are not so amenable to doing this. Do you stand by what the Deputy Secretary said yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: We always stand by what the Deputy Secretary says. I would just point out that the Pakistani Prime Minister is having meetings at the White House today, so if there's anything more to say, I think that's probably where we'd say it.

QUESTION: Wait, I have one more. By my count, it -- the Annual Report on Religious Freedom should have been out a while ago. Is there anything that's holding this up?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember that one having a specific date as a deadline, but I'll check.

QUESTION: It's always usually come out by the latest --

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, but always usually doesn't mean it has to be at a certain moment.

QUESTION: Well, for the last four years.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on it and see where we are.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:15 p.m.)


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