State Department Noon Briefing, April 27, 2004


Tuesday April 27, 2004

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Washington DC
April 27, 2004

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

-- Secretary Powell's Travel to Germany and Denmark
-- Secretary Powell's Participation in Israeli National Day Reception

-- U.S. Relationship with Qatar/Strategic Dialogue
-- Concerns with Al Jazeera's Broadcasts/U.S. Complaints
-- Pattern of Inflammatory Reporting/Standards of Professional Journalism
-- Complaints by other Governments Against Al Jazeera
-- U.S. Monitoring of Arabic Language Channels

-- Ambassador Brahimi's Comments/Importance of the Work of the UN
-- June 30 Handover of Autonomy/Unified Military Command
-- Coordination of Private Development Contracts

-- Letter from British Ambassadors/U.S. Dialogue with Britain

-- Next Steps

-- U.S.-Libya Relations

-- Comments by Saudi Foreign Minister

-- U.S. Assistance for Railyard Explosion Aftermath
-- Explosion Investigation
-- U.S.-North Korea Contacts

-- U.S. Representation at Inauguration
-- Assistant Secretary Kelly's Meetings



MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. One announcement to mention to you. On this next trip, this upcoming trip, the Secretary leaves tonight for Berlin for the Anti-Semitism Conference.

On Thursday, when he leaves Berlin, he'll be going to Denmark and will make a stop in Denmark for meetings there and a short visit, and then he'll return to Washington Thursday evening.

So we look forward to those meetings. As you know, we've just had a series of very successful, good meetings with the Danish Foreign Minister. He suggested that we stop by and the Secretary said, well, why don't we do it now? So the Secretary will be doing that.

QUESTION: So that would be yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. And we'll see him day after tomorrow in Denmark.

QUESTION: Interesting. Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: A good friend, always.

QUESTION: Can you repeat the purpose of the meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: Continue our discussions with a good partner and coalition ally. Also to see a few more people than you can see during their visits to Washington.

QUESTION: The Foreign Minister of Jordan was here last week and you decided to go to Jordan the next day. The Foreign Minister of Qatar is here today and --

MR. BOUCHER: All right. From now on, every time a foreign minister comes, we'll go to their country the day after.

QUESTION: Okay. (Laughter.) Can I ask about --

MR. BOUCHER: These are places that the Secretary has visited, and he hadn't had the opportunity to visit Denmark yet, and saw the moment -- thought we would seize it.

QUESTION: Right. Can I ask about Qatar?


QUESTION: The Secretary, this morning, said that -- well, he was pretty critical, or suggested that he was very critical of Al-Jazeera's coverage in his discussions this morning with the Foreign Minister.

He did not elaborate, however, and the Foreign Minister kind of blew off the question. What, exactly, are you looking for the Government of Qatar to do about the -- about your concerns of Al-Jazeera and have they agreed to do anything about it?

MR. BOUCHER: The -- that'll be a question -- have they agreed to do anything about it -- for the Government of Qatar to answer at the appropriate time. I think the Foreign Minister has, indeed, talked about this subject quite a bit in other appearances that he's made during his visit to the States.

I'm not in a position to go into any more detail of our discussions -- the talks, the discussions we are having. Let me try to explain the context of the problem though. First of all, let's remember that Qatar is a very good friend and partner in the region. We consult with them on everything involving bilateral regional issues -- an example of the Strategic Dialogue Discussion that we're having today is most prominent in our minds as far as the number of different ways that we cooperate with Qatar.

As far as Al-Jazeera goes, it's not a question for us of freedom of the press and free speech. We obviously support those values around the world, and especially in the Arab world. We have very deep concerns about Al-Jazeera's broadcasts because again and again we find inaccurate, false, wrong reports that are, we think, designed to be inflammatory that appear on this network and that make life, make the situation, more tense, more inflamed and even more dangerous for Americans, for Iraqis, for Arabs and other people who are involved, particularly in Iraq.

Our people in Baghdad have monitored these networks, especially Al-Jazeera, very closely. They come after case after case after case of false information being put on the air, whether it's old footage being reported as if it just happened again today or accusations totally unsubstantiated which, in fact, are wrong, being put on the air.

And I think in these kind of circumstances we have to raise our concerns. The Secretary has raised our concerns. We have very serious concerns about some of this, about this broadcasting and the effects of this broadcasting on the situation for Americans and others in the region.

So we've raised our concerns. We've talked about this with the Government of Qatar, which has a financial stake in Al-Jazeera as well as other places on the board and things like that.

I would say they understand our concerns, but how we proceed, how they proceed, these are questions that will be answered in the future.

QUESTION: All right. Well --

QUESTION: Excuse me. Aside from the -- aside -- you don't want to get into what specifically you may or may not have asked them, but can you say if you have asked them, as you have in the past, to -- not much -- with not much success, to do anything about this?

MR. BOUCHER: I just say we've talked to them about the situation, we've talked to them about the problems that we see across the board with this network, and we've discussed with them ways of dealing with it.

QUESTION: Just one question on the question of accuracy/inaccuracy versus the question of inflammatory. Is it fair to say you are more concerned about your belief that what they broadcast is inflammatory; it's not simply that there are things that are inaccurate or false accusations, but that it's in the context of inflammatory reporting?

MR. BOUCHER: I suppose that's right because we have seen, for example, we've criticized their broadcasted tapes of terrorists in the past when they gave long and extended coverage to, a platform, for terrorists to spew forth invective and threats. I wouldn't -- the statements were false, but the reporting of this is what the guy said was not.

So it's the inflammatory nature of much of their reporting, particularly when much of that inflammatory material coming out of Iraq these days is not only designed to inflame the situation but is, in fact, totally false, and they do this without seeking clarification or substantiation.

QUESTION: One follow-up. U.S. networks have aired portions of tapes from bin Laden that cannot, I think, be described other than this -- inflammatory, inciting attacks against Americans -- but I don't believe the Administration has ever sought to take action or encourage anybody else to take action against American news networks for airing inflammatory material from people the United States regards as terrorists.

Why should the Qataris do anything about these guys when you guys haven't sought to do anything to American networks broadcasting bin Laden?

MR. BOUCHER: I think there's several things. One is that those particular broadcasts, I think we explained at the time, that there was a difference between reporting news value with some excerpts rather than rebroadcasting again and again the whole tapes.

But in the Iraq situation, you have a repeated pattern, an endemic pattern in this network of reporting false information and using it to try to inflame the situation. There's a point at which you cross from, you know, reporting on what's going on to, you know, screaming fire in a crowded theater. And that point, I think, is recognized in professional news organizations around the world as being the responsibility of the news organization to get it right and to behave responsibly. This is -- we've seen instance after instance where we don't think Al-Jazeera has done that.

QUESTION: Two questions.


QUESTION: What did you specifically ask the government to do?

MR. BOUCHER: That's where we started this round of questioning.

QUESTION: I mean, you criticized Al-Jazeera in a pretty detailed way.

MR. BOUCHER: I think I told your colleague ten minutes ago I wasn't going to get into the specifics of what they might do about this or what we've discussed with them, so I'm not going to do that any more now than I did ten minutes ago.

QUESTION: If I left the government out of the question, does the U.S. Government believe this network should be shut down?

And secondly, you --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into any prescriptions. I'm going to say that we have discussed this, we are discussing it. We think the Government of Qatar understands the problem. But how we deal with it is something I'll have to leave for later.

QUESTION: And the other thing is, not too long ago -- the other question will be, not too long ago, the State Department saw this -- saw Al-Jazeera as a useful tool for getting its message across.

MR. BOUCHER: They definitely have an audience and we've done --

QUESTION: I mean, I think Secretary Powell gave them an interview, didn't he?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yeah. Yeah, all of us have done interviews with them.

QUESTION: So you've changed your mind about them, or they've gotten -- or they've changed their style? What's happened since you, at one point --

MR. BOUCHER: No, not really one or the other. In Iraq, certainly, as events have unfolded, they've established a very clear pattern of false and inflammatory reporting. But as we've watched this network, as our concerns about their reporting have grown, we have, in fact, continued to do interviews with them. We still believe it's important to put our views in front of their audience. But we're fighting against a tendentious kind of reporting that means that it's very hard for our views to be seen in any context or fairly, but that doesn't mean we're not going to keep trying to make our case.


QUESTION: As they continue along this pattern of inflammatory reporting, is there likely to be any kind of curtailing of their activities here in Washington --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on what kind of outcome there may be.

QUESTION: But is that an issue that was raised?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on what kind of outcome there might be.

Okay. Charlie.

QUESTION: Would you -- are you saying, in other words, or -- are you saying that their reporting is putting American lives at risk, either in Iraq or elsewhere in the region?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that this kind of inflammatory reporting has made the situation more dangerous for Americans, for Iraqis and for others in the region.

Yeah. Nicholas.

QUESTION: Richard, we can -- you say it's not a free press issue for you. It sounds to me like it's an issue of responsibility of the media or lack of responsibility in this case. One might make the argument that they put on the air what they think the audience expects them to show, just like American networks put Michael Jackson on the air all the time, but at the same time, as you and the President have been talking about freedom and democracy in the Middle East, do you think it's -- that region is not yet ready for really free press when it comes to responsibility of the media?

MR. BOUCHER: No, not at all. But we do think that the same standards of professional journalism that apply internationally and in other parts of the world should apply in this part of the world.

QUESTION: Richard --


QUESTION: Just to follow up on that point. The Qatari Foreign Minister actually did some interviews over the weekend, and when asked about this charge, he said that this network and other networks in the region are reflecting the way that the Arabs are seeing this conflict in the region. And the false accusation -- reporting aside, the idea of inflammatory coverage, I mean, this -- how do you respond to the idea that this is how people view what's going on?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't put the false reporting aside, because I've got page after page --

QUESTION: Okay, but I'm not taking --

MR. BOUCHER: -- after page --

QUESTION: I'm talking about the --

MR. BOUCHER: -- of documented false reports. Okay?

QUESTION: I'm talking about the inflam --

MR. BOUCHER: So you can't set the false reporting aside when the false reporting is reporting that we're using cluster bombs in places where we're not using cluster bombs, that we're attacking mosques in places where we're not attacking mosques, or that we're killing people in places where we didn't kill people. So you can't put the false reporting aside. It's part of the pattern of inflammatory reporting.

Granted, this network may have a point of view that we don't like. But it's not a political point of view that's coming through. It's a dangerous and inflammatory point of view that's coming through and is supposedly substantiated by reports, but those reports themselves are not true.

QUESTION: Could you just give an example of a false report and a date on it? Or just give us the -- or just (inaudible) report.

MR. BOUCHER: I think actually this has been made public in Baghdad. But on the 9th of April, Al-Jazeera reporter named Ahmed Mansur reported that children are being killed and women cut to pieces in Fallujah. It's absolutely wrong. Fallujah.

QUESTION: There was a family --

MR. BOUCHER: That's absolutely wrong. The report on cluster bombs was the 9th of April, Al-Jazeera. Again, cluster bombs are being used in Fallujah and Najaf. Again, totally false. It goes on and on. And I think our folks in Baghdad have made this available out there.

QUESTION: Richard, a follow-up. Is that particular to Iraq or is it in other areas such as the West Bank and Gaza?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we've taken the time to write it down and document it in Iraq because the potential consequences are very, very serious for us.

QUESTION: But there was no mention of --

MR. BOUCHER: But I don't know that we've gone through the -- Al-Jazeera's reporting on the West Bank to find what's true and what's not.


QUESTION: While you focusing now on Al-Jazeera, very often news officials criticize both Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya for their coverage for the same reasons. But I mean, is this, I mean, fair to say because they -- (inaudible) go against, in general?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, as I said, we think that the standards of professional journalism that apply throughout the world, the standards of responsibility, should be applied in this region. That's not just in one network, but in others, as well. And some of these other networks have reported false information as well, and we still have to document that, too.

QUESTION: Richard, are you --

QUESTION: What's wrong with the April 9th reporting that children are being killed and women are cut to pieces? Children in the fighting are being killed and with the weaponry that's used, women can be -- even if it's a graphic way of describing it, that they're cut to pieces.

MR. BOUCHER: The report on that day at that point was, as far as I know, completely wrong.

QUESTION: There were no children or women killed on that date?

MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, that report was wrong. It was at least very biased.

QUESTION: Richard, are you aware of any cases where the U.S. Government has acted against American publications for reporting things that might be regarded as inflammatory?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That's a question of domestic law that I'd have to look at. Certainly it's not wrong for the U.S. Government to raise concerns. It's not wrong for us to raise concerns with people who have financial and other authority over a network, over a news organization.

It's not wrong for us to raise concerns about the standards of journalism that are being applied. And it's particularly not wrong for us to raise concerns about activities that we consider dangerous to Americans and American soldiers.

QUESTION: Have Arab viewers expressed --

QUESTION: Richard, except -- can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: Except if you don't do that in the United States, it leaves you open to the accusation of hypocrisy, of saying and doing one thing vis--vis American publications who have the First Amendment to protect them, but saying and doing another thing vis--vis foreign publications --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we've seen this same kind of pattern of dangerous, false and inflammatory reporting from an organization in the United States. I certainly pointed out the legal authority, the ownership and other things may be different in those cases, but we've -- various administrations have not hesitated to point out reports that they thought were not true.

QUESTION: But pointing out something that you think is not true is very different from raising concerns with a government and apparently somebody with financial influence over it.

I mean, I realize we're at some difficulty here because you won't say what you've asked them to do if, indeed, anything. It may be that you're just, you know, complaining or raising concerns about it in private. But there is a difference between raising concerns and suggesting you want somebody to do something about it.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think all of you probably know that we have, from time to time, called people in various news organizations to say, "We think you got this report wrong." Sometimes it's --

QUESTION: None of us.

MR. BOUCHER: None of you, of course -- (laughter). But people not in the room today might occasionally have reported something that we felt they got wrong. We've often called them. We've sometimes called their organizations. And if -- I don't know if we ever thought there was a pattern developing, but I've known circumstances in the past where we might have called an organization and we say, "This is consistently wrong reporting."

But -- to some extent, that is a debate, but when you can document case after case in a very difficult and dangerous situation, we think that the people in charge of this organization who understand our concerns will want to do something about it.

QUESTION: And just lastly, can you tell us, do you know what is the exact financial relation between the Government of Qatar and Jazeera? Do you know how much they own?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have it with me right now.

QUESTION: Outright?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Teri.

QUESTION: Do representatives of foreign governments, particularly Arab governments, come to you and complain to you about American media coverage, although you don't have the financial support that Qatar may be giving Al-Jazeera? Do they also feel that it's appropriate for them to raise those concerns with you?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we do occasionally get complaints, but frankly, our standard answer is that these are independent organizations. That's not the case in this situation.

QUESTION: Richard, have you -- when you see these inaccurate reports, do you call -- do you start by calling up Al-Jazeera and trying to set the record straight? Because I know one of the complaints of Al-Jazeera and other Arab news organizations is that you only give an interview when it's like, you have something to say, but repeatedly they call, they try to get your point of view on things and it's a little bit difficult for them to get interviews with U.S. officials.

MR. BOUCHER: And that's why they report false information from Iraq?

QUESTION: No. I've said, have you tried to set the record straight before going straight to the Government of Qatar?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I'm sorry.

We have often pointed out to Al-Jazeera and other organizations where we thought they got things wrong.

QUESTION: I wondered if the -- can I ask you about Mr. Brahimi and whether he gets things wrong?

QUESTION: (Chorus of "no's.")

QUESTION: It's on the same subject. I think that there is a definite connection here.

Mr. Brahimi goes on the air, he talks to Al-Hayat, he goes on ABC and he accuses Israel of brutal repression, and he says that this is, essentially, his biggest problem in Iraq, that the U.S. supports Israel, and because the U.S. supports Israel, he's having a heck of a time in Iraq.

The Secretary was asked what he thought about Mr. Brahimi's remarks today and he, you know, straightforwardly reiterated what the President has said about various parts of the problem, about the West Bank and all, but he didn't say what he thinks of what Mr. Brahimi is going around the world saying.

Could you tell us what you folks think about Mr. Brahimi's accusations and whether you think -- and whether you agree with him that America's support of Israel is the biggest reason you're having problems in Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we don't agree. Second of all, we've stated our position on all these issues, as the Secretary did. And third, I would point out once again we appreciate the role that Ambassador Brahimi is playing in Iraq. We pointed out that the Secretary General himself has addressed some of the other remarks that Ambassador Brahimi has made. And that's as much as I have to say.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Back to Jazeera. You question the independence of Jazeera. Just because there's a financial backing for an organization doesn't mean that its editorial line is not independent. But are you making the case that Qatar does influence the editorial line of Jazeera?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm making the case that people who are responsible can take responsibility if they want.

QUESTION: But does that include the Qatari Government?

MR. BOUCHER: They have a role of responsibility in the organization.

QUESTION: And then to clarify, is the editorial line of Jazeera independent of the Qatari Government?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That's a question for them they'll have to answer.

QUESTION: The implication is that these are intense discussions that are going on about what should be done, if anything, and that they'll be going on for the next couple days. Is this in the venue of this new Strategic Dialogue or is it -- is it --

MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not so much in the Strategic Dialogue itself, which is, as I started out saying, we have a very important relationship with Qatar and we are developing security relationships, economic relationships, cooperation on reform agendas, cooperation on international issues. So that's a very important part of our relationship. That's what's going on in the Strategic Dialogue. There are a lot of other meetings being held around this event that the Minister and others will have around town, and we continue our discussion of this.

QUESTION: Do you know if -- was this a topic of conversation when the Deputy Secretary was in Doha recently?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know to what extent. It usually does come up. I don't know to what extent it came up during those visits.


QUESTION: Are you saying that the distortion of the news is a malicious attempt by Al-Jazeera reporters, or is it just bad reporting? What's the State Department's view?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I can ascribe motives. It certainly comes out as a pattern of inflammatory and dangerous reporting that's based on falsities. That's what we see. Why it turns out that way, you can ask the reporters themselves.

QUESTION: You have raised this with the Government of Qatar before, haven't you?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: Why do you feel they're going to do something now to change it or -- and if not, what --

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, they understand our concerns and we're talking about what we can do about -- what can be done about it.

QUESTION: If the reportage doesn't change in any way, do you plan to -- what do you plan to do?

MR. BOUCHER: We'll decide at that point.

QUESTION: Can we move on?

MR. BOUCHER: Can we move on? I can't remember who was going to change the subject first, but --

QUESTION: One more question on Jazeera.


QUESTION: Are you aware of any similar complaint levied by the Israeli Government against Al-Jazeera on their reporting --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what they've said. You can ask them.

QUESTION: And they also have been closed in many Arab countries as well over, you know --

MR. BOUCHER: You can ask other governments what they think. We know other people have raised these issues.

QUESTION: Richard, the Jordanian Government, who has arrested the suspects, aired what I guess you could say was a balanced coverage, saying that they were the bomb plotters. It aired here in the United States over BBC, but at the same time, are you monitoring Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiyya and other networks to see what they're going to do to maybe change that initial coverage from the Jordanians?

MR. BOUCHER: People watch -- yes, the U.S. Government watches these networks in various places at various times. We have it on our internal TV system here so that those who speak Arabic can watch as much as they want. So, yeah, we do watch the coverage.

I don't have any rundown of how they've covered those events, but others can do that.

QUESTION: Yeah. How would Worldnet and perhaps Voice of America and other U.S. type broadcasters change your -- or influence the coverage back to the Middle East? Are you doing anything --

MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask them how they're going to cover these stories.

Yeah, okay. I can't remember who was --

QUESTION: I have one more.

MR. BOUCHER: One more on this? Yeah.

QUESTION: I just wanted -- wondered if you could elaborate a little bit on what the Secretary meant by saying that this is an area where it has intruded on U.S.-Qatar relations. What's the intrusion?

MR. BOUCHER: In the context of a very strong and positive relationship that has a growing strategic dimension, it's an issue that we need to discuss with them.

QUESTION: Yeah, but how has it --

MR. BOUCHER: It's an issue that raises its ugly head and we have to talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you see limits to a relationship with them because of this issue?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd just say it's, like the Secretary said, it's intruded on the other discussions.

Okay, I was trying to remember who was going to change the topic first, but -- who had first dibs.

Okay, let's just go with Nicholas.

QUESTION: I actually want to go back to Mr. Brahimi. Are you saying that you've basically swallowed his remarks last week and that you decided, you know, you're fine with the job he's doing in Iraq, and have you request -- requested any promise from him or Secretary General Annan that he's not going to make any such similar remarks in the future?

MR. BOUCHER: Two things. One, to point out again his job with the UN in this circumstance is to work the situation in Iraq, to contribute to the UN's vital role, especially on the political side, in Iraq. We think that's a job that he's well qualified for. And in terms of that specific job, we appreciate what he's done and what he's doing, and we'll continue to keep in touch with him and discuss those issues with him.

Second of all, the Secretary General himself pointed out last Friday in relation to these same questions about these same remarks, at least last week's remarks, that he was not speaking on behalf of the Secretary General or the United Nations; these were purely his personal views.

Third of all, in terms of those views, we do definitely disagree with him. We think it's important to value the role that the United States has played in trying to get peace, that it's important for people to understand we take every opportunity to try to move forward as far as progress between Israelis and Palestinians. We do that for the sake of better, safer lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike. So in terms of specific views, we certainly disagree with those, but that's not what Mr. Brahimi's job is for the UN or in terms of the role he's playing in Iraq.

QUESTION: Richard, just to quickly follow up on that, exactly. As you know, many people have said that as a good diplomat, he knows better than to make such remarks, even -- you know, they're not representative of the United Nations' point of view. And some people have suggested in this town that that doesn't really show that he is qualified to do the job.

But you obviously disagree with that. Is that correct?

MR. BOUCHER: I think from what I hear the President say and the Secretary say, there is widespread recognition that he's doing a very important job and he's doing it well.

QUESTION: On the same subject (inaudible).


QUESTION: The Israeli press is citing the Secretary's speech tonight at the Israeli Embassy as being extraordinary as the first high official to speak there. Should we attach any great significance to this?

MR. BOUCHER: You can attach the significance that the United States has always supported the state of Israel --

QUESTION: Wait, wait, but this being the first time --

MR. BOUCHER: Has always believed in the state of Israel and its right to exist and the Secretary will do that, make that clear by representing us at the National Day Reception tonight.

QUESTION: Richard, (inaudible) as was (inaudible).

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Sir.

QUESTION: Fifty British Ambassadors have criticized the policies of the Administration in supporting Sharon Government's plan for Gaza and other places. They have strongly criticized this support, American support for Mr. Sharon. Do you have any reaction to their opinion as 50 ambassadors of Britain who are very experienced in the Middle East?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that letter was addressed to us. I think it was addressed to the British administration, so I'll leave it to the British administration to --

QUESTION: They asked Mr. Blair to play a role in trying to change the American policy that is mentioned in the --

MR. BOUCHER: As far as advice for the British Prime Minister, I'll let the British Prime Minister address whether he takes it or not.

In the back.

QUESTION: It's about the end-up date on the Cyprus issue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) stay on that one?

QUESTION: The diplomats claim that Britain doesn't actually influence U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Do you think Britain does influence U.S. policy?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the record is clear on that and there is plenty of evidence that we have a very productive dialogue with Britain on many of these issues, that, in fact, we work together on many of these issues, and that I'll just leave it at that.

Okay. In the back.

QUESTION: Is the final update on the Cyprus issue today?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't really -- I mean, I can talk about it, but I -- in response to your specific question as far as there is any update, I don't really have any new news for you. I think, in terms of what you're looking for as next steps -- no, I don't have any new news on that. We're reviewing what the European Union has done. We're looking to act in a manner that's consistent with their steps. And we'll look at that more before we announce anything.


QUESTION: Back on Iraq?


MR. BOUCHER: Cyprus. Yeah.

QUESTION: When Secretary Powell was asked in an interview yesterday whether the U.S. Government considering to offer diplomatic recognition of Northern Cyprus, Secretary Powell said, "We haven't gotten to the point of recognition yet." Are you considering the recognition as an option?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go through the list of things that we might be considering as options. As I said, I think you're all aware of what the European Union has done. I would look for the United States to act in a manner that's similar and consistent with what the European Union have done, and that that's the kind of steps that we're looking at.

QUESTION: And anything new on Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Talat's visit to Washington? Is he coming? Is he going to be meeting with Secretary Powell?

MR. BOUCHER: I have nothing at that at this moment.

Okay, George.

QUESTION: The Secretary used new language yesterday concerning the sovereignty issue, saying that he hopes that the Iraqi people will understand that in order for this government to get up and running and be effective, some of its sovereignty will have to be given back. You've been emphasizing all that they will be getting and de-emphasizing the reverse.

Could you elaborate at all?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- first of all, the phrasing may have been new but the concept is something that I think we're all familiar with, that we've explained here, the Secretary has explained many times.

On June 30th, Iraqis will be running Iraq. They'll be responsible for Iraq. They'll be in charge of Iraq. Okay?

We all recognize, as Iraqis, Americans and others, that they're not going to be fully capable in the area of security yet, that they're not going to have the forces and the control of the security situation at that point to ensure the safety and the peace for all the citizens of Iraq, as much as they would like to and as much as that is a very important function of government.

So there's going to have to be a military arrangement with coalition forces, including U.S. forces, that helps them, that helps them fulfill that part of their function, where there would be -- and in order to make that run properly and efficiently, there needs to be a single unified military command, just as in order to make all the international forces run efficiently there needs to be a single unified command for all the international forces.

So I think everybody expects that there would be a coalition commander, a commander of the multinational force, who would be responsible for ensuring security in Iraq for Iraqi citizens, for taking care of that portion of the government's responsibility which involves ensuring security because at this moment, on June 30th, the government won't be in a position to do that all by itself. And that's where you'll get a single command taking that responsibility and exercising it in order to fulfill part of the mandate of that government, which is to run Iraq as completely as they can.


QUESTION: Richard, Muammar Qadhafi has been talking, in a message or an address to the European Union. He's saying one thing to them, saying don't force -- meaning Libya -- back to bombing and terrorist type initiatives. Is he saying anything different to the U.S. versus what he's saying to the Europeans?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't looked at the speech, but I think the Secretary made very clear our views yesterday again that Libya has taken very dramatic and very positive steps in terms of ending its programs for weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear program has been eliminated. The chemical program is in the process of elimination. A lot of missiles have been eliminated and others are being converted.

So there's been very significant progress. That progress has been reciprocated by the United States. We've shown that it's not a matter of forcing Libya back to anything; it's a matter of encouraging Libya's progress, about returning to a more normal relationship with Libya, in a position where we can pursue some of the other issues that we have in a manner that's more regular for the kind of relationship we'd like to have with them.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq?


QUESTION: The Secretary suggested yesterday -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday U.S. forces in Iraq might infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq by necessity. Come June 30th, what kind of relationship would you have between, say, the embassy, the forces and the Iraqi government? Have you worked that out?

MR. BOUCHER: That's --

QUESTION: I'm just following up --

MR. BOUCHER: I think that was basically the same question I just answered. So no, the final answer of have we worked that out, no, we haven't worked that out yet. The embassy will be an embassy of the United States of America that represents the United States of America in Iraq to an Iraqi government that is responsible for Iraq, that's in charge of Iraq, that's responsible for running Iraq.

Our embassy will be larger, more expansive and substantial in many ways than embassies in other places because it is such a big project, it is such a big effort to support them. But will be an embassy that represents the United States to the government of Iraq.

In terms of the precise relationship with the military force that is there, there will be -- as we said, it's necessary to have military arrangements with the government of Iraq and the Iraqi forces so there can be a single command and responsibility for security matters. But the precise nature of that has not been worked out yet.

QUESTION: I guess my question is: Will the forces report directly to the Pentagon or will there be some sort of coordination with the embassy?

MR. BOUCHER: There is always coordination with embassies, but around the world in every country the Chief of Mission is responsible for all U.S. personnel in the country except for those that are under a direct military command. And that is because we have a very strong command chain to our Commander-in-Chief, and that remains the same throughout the world when you have military force, American military forces operating.

QUESTION: Apart from the security arrangement, say, like international organizations that would be working in Iraq, where they will come under? Will it be under the UN, under the U.S. or will they come under the transitional government? I mean, in terms like reconstruction business companies, whatever.

MR. BOUCHER: They'll come under their own authorities.

QUESTION: Who they will be accountable to?

MR. BOUCHER: In a -- well, it's similar to the way it would work in any other country, or even the way it works now. The UN, for example, often has its sort of unified mission in order to bring together all the elements, all the different parts of the UN that might be helping or working in a country. I think they have that in Iraq or may have that in Iraq. And that body, those organizations, work with the local government. So an organization involved in health may be working with the Iraqi Health Ministry but may also report to some higher structure of its own.

But the international organizations, other governments that are giving assistance, our government that's giving assistance, will be working with an Iraqi government that's responsible for the country, that's responsible for development, that's responsible for working with foreign donors to ensure that the aid is put to good use and used properly.

QUESTION: And regarding the reconstruction, like international business companies who will come, they will have to report to the U.S. Government and embassy there? How does it work?

MR. BOUCHER: No. If they want U.S. contracts, they'll have the responsibility for the money we spend.

QUESTION: So they can work independently?

MR. BOUCHER: But all the work has to be coordinated with the Iraqi government because it's their country and they'll be responsible for developing it.

QUESTION: Okay. Just can I follow up on something else regarding --


QUESTION: There was some news reports regarding the visit of the Jordanian Foreign Minister here that apparently U.S. officials assured him that Ahmed Chalabi will be distant from any future role-playing in the government.

Is this true?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any such assurances.

QUESTION: What role would you like Ahmed Chalabi to play in a future government?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to define that at this point. That's part of the process that's being worked out by Mr. Brahimi, Ambassador Brahimi. That's part of the process that will emerge from the political arrangements that are being worked on with a lot of consultation with the Iraqis.


QUESTION: These are some comments made by the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia in his speech last night? He said that U.S. criticism of Saudi Arabia is actually undermining its ability to fight terrorism because there's an appearance sometimes of a rift between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and as a result, he says that the U.S. is partially to blame for the rise of Usama bin Laden. What is your response to that?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the comments. I'd have to look at them carefully before I tried to respond.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you -- or the White House announced the $100,000 to the Red Cross, a pledge of $100,000 which appeared to some to be modest, but, in fact, when I looked it seems to be at least similar or even more than comparable donors have given.

But now there's a new appeal for food aid from the UN. Do you intend to respond to this?

MR. BOUCHER: We'll certainly look at the new appeal to see if we have anything available. I think they were looking for 1,000 tons very quickly. So I think we'll have to look at that and I'll have to get back to you to see if we can provide that sort of thing.

I think I've referred several times to the overall amount of U.S. food that has been shipped there. We've, over the years, over ten years, we've shipped over 2 million metric tons of food to North Korea, valued at $683 million. Of the 100,000 metric tons that we have committed for this year, there are --

QUESTION: That's this fiscal year?

MR. BOUCHER: That's 2003 commitments. That was a commitment against the 2003 pledge. We did 40,000 tons at the beginning of the year, 60,000 we announced right at the end of December, or almost the end of December. All but 9,700 metric tons have been delivered and that further amount, 9,700 metric tons, will be shipped soon.

QUESTION: If you -- as you look into whether you're going to respond to this latest appeal, yesterday you made very clear that any assistance you might give in response to the train, you know, explosion would not be subject to the same kind of conditions about monitoring and so on, or at least I think that's how I understood it.

Can you just check to -- can you let us know whether any more food you're going to give in the context of this new appeal will have the same sort of conditions about monitoring and so on that the rest of your food aid does?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I said will not be subject to. We rely, in the case of food, on the World Food Program to monitor the distribution to try to ensure that it gets to the people who need it. And they and we have had problems over time with their ability to do that. We've raised those concerns.

And when we look at a further allocation or a pledge, we always look at to what extent the organization involved has made progress in doing that.

In terms of the money that, in this case, we're going to give through the American Red Cross to the International Federation of Red Crosses, that -- the money, we will rely on those, that organization, ultimately, to make sure it gets to the people who need it.

It's always a factor that has to be taken into consideration as we look at any pledge or donation, and certainly would be taken into consideration along with various other factors as we look at what we might do this year.

QUESTION: With respect to that train explosion coming from, I guess, China into North Korea, are you monitoring what was on that train shipment? In other words, were any of the liquid fuels and such being used for military developments such as rockets and other type military --

MR. BOUCHER: I think you've seen reports. Indeed, the North Koreans have talked a little bit about what they say happened, so I'm not in a position to go beyond what others might have said on this.

Yeah, ma'am.

QUESTION: Just a question on Taiwan. Do you have any information about Mr. William Brown, a member of AIT is going to head delegation to Taiwan next month to join President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration?

And second, are you aware of the Assistant Secretary Kelly's meeting with Chiou, the envoy from Taiwan?

MR. BOUCHER: As far as who might go to the inauguration, no, I don't have any information on that. And I'm not sure if Kelly has met with the envoy from Taiwan, but I'll check on it for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We had one more, or not?

Sir. Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, can I go back to Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: Please.

QUESTION: Was there any diplomatic contact between North Korea and U.S. after the U.S. decided to aid North Korea yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything new. There's certainly no new news on the six-party talks or things like that. Whether there was any contact through the New York Channel, frankly, I don't know.


(The briefing was concluded at 1:28 p.m.)


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