State Department Noon Briefing, February 4, 2004
|Wednesday February 4,
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2004
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry, sorry I'm two minutes late today, but I'll try harder tomorrow.
Anyway, I don't have any statements or announcements and I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, perhaps we can revisit what we went through at length yesterday, whether the Administration would approve of Israel giving up most of its settlements in Gaza. I bring it up again because Annan says he's for it, and Israel is saying that, "We're going to do it." So could you have another swat at that pleasure?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure. I have the same racket I had yesterday.
QUESTION: Okay, well --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll be glad to take a swat at it.
QUESTION: I'll take notes this time.
QUESTION: An amazing admission.
MR. BOUCHER: (Laughter.) It's a real challenge.
As we all know, the issue of settlements has been a complicated one and a difficult for both parties for many, many years. And it's one of the issues that has to be dealt with if we're to arrive at the President's visions of two states that can live side by side in peace and harmony.
It's an issue that's been addressed in the roadmap, because it's important that we start to make progress in resolving this issue and removing it as a difficulty between the two parties, setting up a situation where Israelis and Palestinians can both have stable lives.
So it's addressed in the roadmap. I was address in the Mitchell Commission Report that there should be a freeze on settlement, including natural growth of settlements. That translated in terms of getting started into an Israeli Government commitment to dismantle outposts and to, in accepting the roadmap, freeze settlement activities. But we all know that in the longer run, other steps are going to have to be taken on settlements in order to resolve the issues and get to that point where two states can live peacefully, side by side.
So our view of this particular statement has to be in that context, that action on settlements, action to remove settlements as a source of tension and a source of difficulty is good, but we're looking for action on settlements that moves us in the direction of the President's vision, that moves us forward towards achieving the kind of outcome that all the parties are looking for, the kind of negotiated settlement that the parties have been committed to.
And so those actions immediately could take the form of the things that have been committed to, and that's moving down the roadmap by ending the outposts and freezing the activity.
Other steps on settlements, again, would be good if they move us forward on achieving the President's vision of a negotiated settlement where two states can live peacefully, side by side.
QUESTION: Just so we both can be clear about this, okay, when you say "other steps," we both know the roadmap does not speak of ending settlements. We do know it speaks of not expanding them and of removing outposts.
So when you say "other steps," I think you mean not steps other than Sharon is announcing, but steps other than proscribed in the roadmap. Because otherwise, you're saying even Sharon's willingness to remove virtually all settlements isn't in good enough; he's got to do more than that on settlements. I know you're saying there's more to a settlement, an agreement, than settlements.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. So no, you're not saying, "Do more than you stay you're doing, Sharon, do more than the roadmap."
MR. BOUCHER: I -- no, and what I'm is saying steps such as those he's announced, or particularly, the specific steps that he's committed to already in terms of outposts and settlement activity are good things. They move us down the road.
MR. BOUCHER: And any steps that are taken that move us closer to resolving the issues, to reaching a negotiated outcome, is good.
The bigger issue of settlements and removing settlements or the status of settlements, as we all know, is wrapped up in the territorial issues that have to be negotiated as part of a negotiated solution. And so steps that move us down the roadmap, steps that make it easier to achieve a negotiated solution, steps that make it easier to achieve the President's vision -- the specific ones that they're committed to or some other steps that they might take -- are good as long as they move us forward towards the kind of negotiated solution the parties are pledged to and that we're pledged to.
QUESTION: Or maybe that last phrase puts a special light on this. Because the concern within the Administration, certainly among all the people that want to push Israel all the way back to God knows where, is that Sharon will do something unilateral and then, you know, say, "That's it. It's all over. There's your agreement."
Are you still concerned that this type of unilateralism might -- for this Prime Minister -- mean that's all he's going to do, basically?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on this Prime Minister and what he may or may not do, and what context he may or may not do it in. I do know that this Prime Minister, this Israeli Government, is committed to the roadmap and to moving forward in that way. And certainly we've been looking not only for action by Israel to meet its obligations under the roadmap, but particularly for action by the Palestinians to meet their obligations on the roadmap so that we can move forward.
But the -- as a general matter, we've always been concerned about any steps that could unilaterally -- attempt to unilaterally end the process or unilaterally impose a settlement.
QUESTION: Does that mean, then, that the United States -- or does the removal of settlements from Gaza make it easier to get to a negotiated agreement? Does --
MR. BOUCHER: Action on that or action on --
QUESTION: Does it fit in with the roadmap?
MR. BOUCHER: -- action on settlements in other ways would make it easier to resolve the issue in the long run, yes.
QUESTION: So this is -- okay. So that we're -- you're no longer regarding -- you don't -- or maybe not no longer -- you don't have a problem with the plan that he has said that he is working on to withdraw the settlements from Gaza?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can endorse an entire plan that's not really a commitment yet. I mean we've heard some discussion of this prospect.
QUESTION: Yeah, but the disc-- what all you've heard, you're not opposed?
MR. BOUCHER: No. We've said action on settlements is good as long as it's part of moving us forward down towards the vision and --
QUESTION: But you're not ready to say that this is -- this would be moving you down the road to the vision?
MR. BOUCHER: Removing settlements removes them as -- removing settlements can help us move down the road towards the vision, but it can't be seen in isolation, and it can't be seen in isolation from other steps on settlements and other steps needed to take to -- that both parties need to take to achieve a negotiated solution.
QUESTION: With your architecture -- can I say that? Your approach, the U.S.'s approach is based on reciprocity. So do you care to venture beyond what you've said and tell us whether you think the Palestinians ought to do something to reciprocate for Sharon removing Israeli Jews from Gaza?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that he's done that.
QUESTION: I mean, if he goes ahead and does that.
MR. BOUCHER: I think -- the approach is that we're looking for the parties, both parties, to take steps that move us in the direction of a negotiated settlement. We have been very, very explicit and very clear, and I will be again today: the Palestinians need to take action against terror, against the groups that foment terror, against the climate of violence; they need to organize their security situation so that they can take control of the security situation, their security services, so they can take control of the security situation and really act responsibly, as a state will have to act when one is created.
And so we've been very explicit that both parties have obligations that they need to meet. There are immediate obligations in the roadmap, and we hold both parties to those.
QUESTION: Okay. Change of subjects. Is the United States absolutely committed to the July 1 date for the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis?
MR. BOUCHER: We are committed to the November 15th plan that was adopted by the Iraqi Governing Council. That plan includes transfer of sovereignty on June 30th date. We think that's an important element. We have said that we will look forward to hearing from the United Nations as they go out and explore the situation and see what they can do to help achieve the transfer of sovereignty and to help implement that plan, but we're looking for refinements. And that's the plan and that's what we're all working to achieve.
QUESTION: "An important element." Does that mean non-negotiable, immutable element or not?
MR. BOUCHER: I really -- everybody is working to make this work. Our actions, our planning is all designed to make this transfer of power work on June 30th, as planned. Beyond that, I can't speculate, or I'm not going to adopt somebody else's adjectives on this.
But what -- everybody understands that there are a number of factors in play here, and that the early transfer of sovereignty, as promised by the Governing Council and the Coalition Authority, is an important, very important element of meeting our commitments and in moving forward. So as the UN looks at this situation, they understand that that's a goal that we all want to achieve.
QUESTION: There are Administration officials quoted in The New York Times today as saying that they might consider extending that transfer of sovereignty, but only as a last resort.
QUESTION: Postponing it.
QUESTION: Postponing it.
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't speculate.
QUESTION: Is, but that's not wrong?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't speculate. We're -- it's not policy. We're looking at how to achieve that goal. We'll see what the UN comes back and says, as far as refinements. I know the Secretary General, himself, indicated yesterday that he might have some ideas on the June 30th date, so we'll have to see what they are. We have said we'd consider seriously whatever the UN says, but I think they understand that it's important to all of us to try to meet that goal. It's an important goal of the November 15th plan.
QUESTION: Do you think the word "refinements" is broad enough to accommodate the possibly of changing those dates?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to speculate or open up the possibilities here. Let's just see what happens.
QUESTION: Well, can you --
QUESTION: Richard, there has been some discussion about handing over sovereignty to an expanded Council and preparing the countries for elections at a later date than January -- than July 1st. So would that change the calculus in terms of, perhaps, you could hand over power earlier to --
MR. BOUCHER: I think there is probably, you know, a dozen or more formulas for refinements, or different people have different ideas about an approach. We went through this thoroughly in coming up with our ideas as we talked to the Iraqi Governing Council and they adopted the plan that had caucuses in it. We, and they, felt that was the best way to achieve an early transfer of sovereignty that had legitimacy and that was rooted in the desires of the Iraqi people.
I think there are certainly other ideas out there. At this point, I'm not going to adopt or speculate on which one might be viable or what refinements might work. We're looking forward to hearing from the UN team. When they get a chance to go out there and come back with their ideas, we'll see what they say.
QUESTION: Since the November 15th Accord, a lot of time has been used up in exploring the refinements, and more time is still going to be used up now in seeing what refinements can be done. Has all that time lost made it more difficult to keep the transfer on the schedule?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't call it time lost. It's been time that the parties in Iraq have been working with each other that we've been talking to the different parties, that we've been trying to work out talking to them about how this can work.
There are a lot of issues that need to be decided in this planning. The Iraqis, as you know, are already working on the transitional administrative law. Discussions have already started in the Governing Council and elsewhere, and so that process is -- this process of discussion about how to implement it feeds into that, and that sometime, we hope by the end of this month, according to the plan, they'll be able to factor all these things in and come up with that transitional law and schedule that will embody a lot of these concepts.
QUESTION: This is a somewhat different version of that question. I haven't heard lately Administration officials saying there isn't enough time to have a direct election by July 1st.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's been our opinion. That's the opinion that some of the UN experts have said as well.
QUESTION: And remains your opinion, doesn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: And remains our opinion, but we're willing to listen to ideas that -- when the UN team comes back to see what they might say.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject? Late yesterday, you all released the list of countries who will be eligible to receive the Millennium Challenge Account money. And among the, unless I'm mistaken, among the 63 countries that are eligible, there is only one country that is in the Middle East -- that would be Yemen. I believe that's correct. If it's not you can correct me.
And I'm just wondering why that is. Is it because other countries in -- that are covered by NEA don't meet the standard for commitment to democratic and free market reforms? Or is it -- or do they not meet the income standard, or are they covered under -- are they getting -- going to get money under MEPI or what, the, just so they don't --
MR. BOUCHER: The criteria on democratic and economic reforms haven't really been applied to this list yet. This is the list that takes the income standard -- meaning that they are countries in the world that are recipients of concessional loans from the World Bank, loans from the International Development Association, the IDA facility. There are 75 of those. And then it takes out, I think, a dozen countries that, in terms of various statutes that we have, we're not able to lend money anyway to the government, and you're left with, I think, 63.
So it's really more a matter of income levels for the first year, the first year of this program. That's where the bar was set. And then now we have to go through this, and these candidate-countries get evaluated by the Millennium Challenge Corporation Board to determine whether they'll be able to submit proposals for funding based on a commitment that they have to development and democracy.
QUESTION: So this was just basically a technical cut?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: And not --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. This was the first cut of countries that might be eligible to compete that we'll have to take a look at and see whether they --
QUESTION: Okay. Now --
MR. BOUCHER: -- qualify on the other grounds and the purposes of the program.
QUESTION: Will you make that cut yourself, or will you wait until, say, Country X applies, and at that point you'll tell them, "Sorry, you don't meet the democracy commitment?" Or will you take that list and cut it down yourself so that people don't needlessly submit applications for this?
MR. BOUCHER: The Millennium Challenge Corporation Board will establish criteria, which will determine which countries we might be willing to enter into agreements with and, therefore, consider funding. So that's a process that we'll be going through. It is a -- I guess if you -- we're doing the first cut.
QUESTION: You just did the first cut.
MR. BOUCHER: The Millennium -- this is a --
MR. BOUCHER: -- a technical cut, based on the law. Then they'll establish the criteria, and then they'll go through the list of countries to decide what countries meet those criteria. So there is a -- there will be a process followed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation that will result in the end of approaching a certain number of countries, a smaller number of countries, and saying, "We'd be interested in funding projects. Let's talk about what you want to do and what we might do here." And then they will decide at that point which of those recipients or countries --
QUESTION: All right. Well do you have any idea how long, or when that might happen? Or will you really just wait for people to come to you and say, "We'd like to be in this?"
MR. BOUCHER: No, that's a process that the Board has already started in terms of --
QUESTION: So we can expect a new --
MR. BOUCHER: -- defining the criteria. That's a process that will be unfolding over the coming months of the Board itself determining who they want to give money to.
QUESTION: And then you will come out and announce the subset of these 63 who meet the criteria?
MR. BOUCHER: I would expect there will be a series of announcements along the way, yeah.
QUESTION: Just to follow on that, Richard. Have extra staff been added here, or at Treasury or other government agencies for the Millennium Challenge Accounts or --
MR. BOUCHER: The Millennium Challenge Corporation itself is -- well, they have an acting CEO now, Under Secretary Alan Larson, and they're pulling staff together from different government departments, I think, is the best way to say it. I'm not sure if it's extra staff. I think it's actually transferring people who -- from other parts of the government, different parts of the government, to get them together to work on this. I'll have to check. I can call them and see if they've had new hires.
QUESTION: Can I just ask one more technical thing on this? Who is going to be speaking for the Corporation -- You, Treasury, or will they have their own?
MR. BOUCHER: As you saw in the statement that was issued yesterday, it was issued in the name of the Corporation. We will be helping them put out information, but especially once they have a director that's nominated and approved by Congress, I'm sure the Corporation itself will take more and more of a role of explaining what they're doing.
QUESTION: Okay and then will that -- but where will it come from? What -- its own office in this building or its own office in Treasury or --
MR. BOUCHER: It may come from right here.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can we switch to Pakistan?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Pakistani scientist AQ. Khan issued a public apology today in which it -- in which he admitted to providing nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya, but he said that the Pakistani Government was not complicit in this.
Is that something that -- do you find that credible, given the use of government aircraft in some of these transfers?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- the Pakistani Government is investigating this. We've said this is a matter of importance to us, but it's a matter that the Pakistani Government is taking very seriously. And as you know, they have been investigating and they will be addressing the issue. We think they are addressing the issue in a serious manner and we've been following this closely. We'll see how they -- what they decide to do at this point.
QUESTION: Their Ambassador here said two weeks ago at the Middle East Institute that there is absolutely no evidence that that scientist or anybody else in Pakistan provided, you know, this kind of technology to any other country.
In light of that, the State Department feels that they're doing a serious investigation and leaving no stone unturned, et cetera?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to comment on something said two weeks ago when something quite different was said by one of the people themselves this morning. The --
QUESTION: I mean, you take them at face value this morning?
MR. BOUCHER: The point is that we think that the process of investigation that's been undertaken by the Pakistani Government does, indeed, demonstrate that President Musharraf and the Government of Pakistan take seriously their commitments, their assurances that they were not going to allow their technology to be used to help other nations that might be trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. That is a matter that we have said we value those assurances and we think this is -- the way this has been proceeding is evidence that Pakistan, too, is determined to meet those commitments.
QUESTION: Do you think this might be posturing?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not for us to make those judgments.
QUESTION: Richard, you've focused a lot of efforts on nonproliferation methods, the PSI, things like that. But traditionally, it's been kind of country-to-country, and this revelation of Mr. Khan's activities, supposedly outside the purview of the government, kind of sheds a light on a lot more of a black market -- a lot more black market operations.
Are you giving any thought to new initiatives or new ways to try and deal with the whole issue of the black market, especially considering Libya also said it didn't explore --
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, I guess I'd have to differ with the premise. It hasn't just been country-to-country. For years --
QUESTION: I said it's primarily been focused on that.
MR. BOUCHER: For years, a major focus of the nonproliferation efforts has been private sales, transfer of equipment from companies, transfer of expertise. We've had massive programs in the former Soviet Union to try to make sure that scientists there that had nuclear expertise were not recruited and didn't go elsewhere.
So we have, indeed, focused on these problems of equipment being made and sold and transferred, or of scientists with expertise lending their expertise to places it shouldn't go. That, obviously, is an effort that needs to be broadened, and that we have sought to enlist other governments in broadening; and so you have a number of initiatives the United States has taken to improve the kind of controls that are applied in various countries.
The President, last year, announced that we would be seeking a UN resolution to try to get more cooperation by countries in themselves policing or controlling potential sources of proliferation, and we have the Proliferation Security Initiative that says that wherever we know that things are being shipped, whether if by governments or individuals or others, that we should have the legal and other tools to interdict that.
So yes, it does require more effort, but it's not -- it's not a brand new aspect of the problem.
QUESTION: Right. But when you have a country like Libya that you, yourself, say, look at -- you know, it's extraordinary what they're disarming and what they're letting you take out of the country, and they say they got a lot of that stuff off the black market. So have you come to any conclusion that, you know, new efforts -- or there needs to be redoubling of efforts?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's obviously an area where many of the things that we've proposed, many of the things that we've been doing, really need to be brought to bear. And I'm sure we will be doing more. The more we find out about how this trade occurred or how the people involved did their business, then the more we can focus our efforts to stop that kind of activity.
QUESTION: Are they sharing -- have they really been sharing that type of information with you? I mean, I know that they've, you know, kind of let you do an inventory of what they have, but are they implicating, without mention -- I don't know if you want to mention --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to talk about Libya or any specific country. The Libyans have made a decision not to do -- not to develop these weapons and to get rid of it, and we're helping to get rid of it, along with other international bodies and the Government of the United Kingdom.
There's also information coming, as we know, from the International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran and what Iran was achieving. So there are a number of examples right now of this kind of trade of expertise and equipment, and I'm sure that as we study those we'll look for ways to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future.
QUESTION: I don't know if this came across anyone's desk here, but a top security advisor to Arafat is accusing the U.S. of blackmailing the Palestinians. Jibril Rajoub said the Americans have threatened to disengage from the peace process unless the Palestinians arrest those responsible for an October bomb blast in Gaza that killed three Americans traveling in diplomatic convoy.
You know, the U.S. has said there hasn't been enough action. Maybe it's been embroidered a little bit, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, comments like that are ridiculous. The United States has made very clear how seriously we take the matter of the killing of our people. Everybody should take it that seriously. And we've been very clear with the Palestinian Authority on our expectations.
Our position is that there needs to be a resolution of the security situation in Gaza, including apprehension of those who are responsible for the killing of U.S. officials there. We have seen some cooperation, but we think that cooperation needs to be further increased. And that's something we do talk to the Palestinians about on a regular basis.
QUESTION: But what do you think of this --
MR. BOUCHER: But as far as our --
MR. BOUCHER: -- engagement in the peace process,
MR. BOUCHER: -- we're still involved, as evidenced by the travel of our officials and the kind of conversations we continue to have with the parties.
And second of all, as far as our assistance programs, whether it's through the UN or in terms of our assistance to Palestinians through other nongovernmental and other organizations, that kind of assistance continues. USAID programs for the Palestinians continue.
QUESTION: You've had people there. You know, Satterfield, others.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Was this said, that you know of, to any of the U.S. envoys or any --
MR. BOUCHER: Did they say it to us?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know. I think our people do regularly raise, though, with the Palestinian side, the need to get to the bottom of this matter and find those who are responsible for the killing of American officials.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: In an extensive interview that the Syrian Foreign Minister Mr. Al-Shara has given last night, he asked for a more active role, American role, in peace talks with -- between Syria and Israel. And he said that while the Mr. Sharon government -- Mr. Sharon is denying knowing -- knowledge of the details of the previous talks, peace talks, that the American Government does maintain a full record of the previous peace talks between Syria and Israel.
What's your reaction? Do you have any positive response other than what we've been hearing recently from this podium?
MR. BOUCHER: I did not see the interview. I don't think we've focused, quite focused on it yet.
What I would say, as the Secretary has said, we have a new Ambassador who has gone to Syria who is conducting discussions with the Syrian Government. There are a great many elements involved. We are committed to try to move forward on all aspects of the peace process, and we will look for ways to do that. But we also need to look for ways to end Syria's support for violent groups that oppose the peace process.
We also need to look for ways to -- for Syria to answer some of the concerns that we and others in the international community have about things that Syria is doing that make it harder to achieve peace in the Middle East. So our Ambassador will be taking up all those issues and hope to make progress with the Syrian Government.
QUESTION: Richard, very briefly, do you -- are you in a position yet to confirm that Assistant Secretary Kelly will be heading the delegation, then?
MR. BOUCHER: Assistant Secretary Kelly will lead our delegation at the six-party talks.
QUESTION: And will it be -- so, basically, the same team as August?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll have an interagency group, an interagency team will go out, and I can't specify all the members yet.
QUESTION: Do you know if the new Pritchard -- Mr. Detrani?
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Detrani will be going? Again, I can't specify the members yet. I know Assistant Secretary Kelly will lead it. I don't have the rest of them, no.
QUESTION: Is he back, and the Deputy Secretary, are they back from their Japan jaunt?
MR. BOUCHER: Assistant Secretary Kelly is back, and I think the Deputy Secretary gets back today.
Okay -- let's go to the back for a minute.
QUESTION: China, which is hosting those talks, has asked all the parties to have reasonable and realistic expectations for the outcome of the talks. What, in your view, in the U.S. view, are realistic expectations?
MR. BOUCHER: We discussed our expectations yesterday. We think they're entirely realistic, and above all, reasonable.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, any update on the Cyprus issue since yesterday, whatever you can?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really think there is any update on that issue since the Secretary General and the Secretary talked about it yesterday.
QUESTION: You said yesterday that we have been encouraged by the fact that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul have made clear at their meeting in Washington that there is any willingness on Turkey's part to meet the UN General Secretary's requirement for resuming peace talks immediately. Are you encouraged from the Greek side too?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been looking for a commitment from both sides to the Secretary General, that they would meet his requirements and resume discussions. At this point, I think, we've seen the public statements that the Turkish Government made during discussions here. I, frankly, don't know if the Secretary General has heard that from the other parties, at this point. So I think from here, in terms of actually moving down that road, we'll leave it to the Secretary General to say whether he's gotten what he needs from the parties.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, according to the White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, he told us yesterday that we welcome the sincere willingness to advance the Cyprus settlement on the basis of the Secretary General's formula, underlined formula, that the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan conveyed to us during his visit last week here in Washington, D.C.
I was wondering -- do you know what is there about this formula, since a matter of foreign policy.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the exact quote with me. It sounds like he's saying exactly what I said, that we welcome the fact that the parties are committed to working on the basis of proposals and the requirements that the Secretary General has made. We welcome the fact that Turkey is committed to that. We look for all the parties to commit to that.
QUESTION: My question is, if you see any difference between "formula" and --
MR. BOUCHER: Requirements and proposals? No, I don't.
QUESTION: You don't?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Back to Dr. AQ. Kahn. Some in Pakistan are calling this a cover-up, his televised address. Are you looking for anything from Pakistan beyond an investigation of who did what?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're looking for the government of Pakistan to address this issue seriously and appropriately, and take appropriate action. We have seen and -- them undertake the investigation. We've seen some developments in that regard. We're following the developments closely. But I'll leave it to them to work towards the outcome.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, related to the previous question on Pakistan -- so how concretely United States can assure that Pakistan make -- will not make the same mistake again in the future?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the point is that Pakistan's president has assured the international community that he intends to make sure that Pakistan's nuclear technology, weapons of mass destruction expertise, does not contribute to proliferation, does not contribute to the development of those weapons elsewhere, and that they've taken a number of steps since that pledge was made to try to make it effective. And we consider that this investigation and the seriousness with which they have pursued this matter testifies to the fact that they are serious about meeting their commitments in that regard.
QUESTION: Will it be enough for him to say that he hopes this will -- he will make sure this doesn't happen in the future if it does turn out he knew about the incidents in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on a matter that continues to be under investigation.
QUESTION: Have you heard the suggestions from Khan that this did take place with the President's knowledge, even when he --
MR. BOUCHER: I saw the statement this morning that everybody saw.
MR. BOUCHER: He didn't say that.
QUESTION: He said -- this was yesterday I saw some references to this.
MR. BOUCHER: I saw the statements this morning that he's -- in his own words and in his own voice and his own picture saying, "We'll see." The matter continues to be under investigation in Pakistan. We expect them to conduct a serious investigation and address this issue as they have shown a desire and a commitment to do.
QUESTION: Richard, I'm wondering if the Department shares the sentiment of Congressman Wolf, who, earlier today, said that if a peace deal in Sudan was reached, the President, the Secretary and Special Envoy Danforth should be nominated and win the Nobel Peace Prize -- (laughter) -- and that if a peace deal is reached and they don't win it, that the selection committee would be guilty of serious bias.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we all appreciate the sentiments. Let's try to get the deal. And I don't think we nominate ourselves for peace prizes, so --
QUESTION: And on this general subject, is there anything, you know, I understand that they've set a date now to resume the talks in Naivasha. Has the Secretary -- I mean, he's been quite active. Is there new --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's anything specifically new at this point. Certainly, we remain determined to try to help the parties. We're looking with the Kenyans and the parties themselves to resume those discussions as soon as they're ready. We know that there was going to be a pause during the religious period that we're going through. I don't know if they've set a date, but certainly we were looking to resume as soon as the parties were able to, and to continue our effort to help them reach agreement.
QUESTION: A logistical thing just for Friday. I'm wondering if there's anything --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, Friday. Did I confirm Friday? No.
QUESTION: No, not yet.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, I'll tell you about Friday.
QUESTION: Okay, yeah. Can you tell me --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary will be going to New York this Friday for the Liberia donors conference. It will be day trip. He'll go up early in the morning. The conference starts about 9:00. He'll participate in the conference and speak there. He'll also have an opportunity to meet with various people who are in New York for the conference. The -- one of the -- the only one of those I have firmly pinned down at this point is he'll be having a meeting and lunch with the French Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister de Villepin. He looks forward to the opportunity to continue their regular discussions of international issues.
He will probably have other meetings with individuals who are in New York for the conference, but I don't have the list yet.
QUESTION: And you would expect that this lunch and meeting would cover not just Liberia and African issues, but the whole spectrum and --
MR. BOUCHER: I would expect they would discuss Liberia and African issues, but also, you know, the war on terrorism, Iraq, NATO issues, EU, the kind of the thing they always talk about when they have a chance to sit down together and review the issues that are of concern to both of us that we work together on.
QUESTION: Debt relief, reconstruction, project bidding, anything -- is there anything specific --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't if it will get that specific.
MR. BOUCHER: Might, might not.
QUESTION: Richard, there are those who will say that this meeting and luncheon suggest that relations are on their way back after a rough patch. What would you say to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know how to characterize it. I wouldn't quite characterize it that way since if I remember correctly there were those who said that our last meeting and our trip to Paris and various other things constituted a demonstration that relations were on their way back.
The Secretary has said throughout this process, the French are allies. We work with the French on many, many topics. We work with the French on many of the important issues, for example, that are in front of NATO, as far as the Balkans or Afghanistan or even the prospect that NATO might play a role in Iraq.
We work with the French at the United Nations in the fight against terrorism. We work with the French in West Africa and other parts of Africa, where we're both seeking to help defuse conflicts and bring peace.
So this is part of our regular work with one of our allies with whom we have occasional and acute differences.
QUESTION: On Cyprus, since the Greek Cypriot side stated many, many times that they accept the UN Secretary's plan as a base of negotiation, but the Turkish side as a reference point, even here in Washington, D.C., what do you expect more for Nicosia to do to this effect?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, again, I'll leave the judgments to the Secretary General at this point on who has accepted his requirements and the kind of statements that he is getting from the parties. But certainly we're supporting his efforts and we look for all the parties to make clear statements that they accept his proposals as a basis to -- as a formula for achieving an agreement.
QUESTION: But you guys are the only ones who, on January 26, tend to stated publicly, even Sunday, it was Sunday that you encouraged the Greek Cypriot side to respond. And what type of response do you expect? I would like to understand what is going on.
MR. BOUCHER: As we've said, as I've said here about 12 times today, when the Secretary called President Papadopoulos of Cyprus, he encouraged him, encouraged the Greek Cypriot side, to accept the requirements and proposals of the Secretary General as the way to reach a solution. That's what we've -- that's what we've heard from the Turkish side in their talks here, and we're looking for all the parties to convey that to the Secretary General. Whether he's received that kind of assurance or not, we'll leave it, at this point, for the Secretary General to account for.
QUESTION: Richard, I've got one more on the de Villepin meeting. Is this one of those occasions when the Secretary would expect to annoy the French Foreign Minister and be annoyed in turn?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not -- we're not trying to annoy each other. We don't do that. We're trying to work together.
QUESTION: Well, he was the one that said it.
QUESTION: We're trying to work together on a variety of issues, and I've pointed out many of the issues that we do work very closely with our French allies on, even where we might occasionally have differences on other ones, so it's a working session. It's a chance for two foreign ministers of allied countries to get together and try to move forward on the many common issues that we have.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
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