State Department Briefing, October 9, 2003
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Richard, what's your understanding about the date for the Madrid Donors' Conference? There's been some suggestions from the Germans, the Russians, others, that it should be postponed until after there's a UN resolution -- and this gets to my second part, which is about the resolution -- but that there should be a resolution first. I notice that the Europeans, the EC and the Spanish, have both said that the resolution isn't a prerequisite for the conference to happen and that there aren't any other dates other than the 23rd and 24th on the cards.
What's your understanding?
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding is pretty much the latter part of your question, the things you describe. First of all, there are countries involved in Iraq financially and militarily without a resolution, without a Donors' Conference, and we appreciate that and we'll continue to work with all those countries and continue to work with the donors' groups that have been preparing for the conference and further pledges.
Spain is the host of the conference and it would be up to Spain to really address questions of timing, but to the best of our knowledge, no government is suggesting that the Donors' Conference be postponed.
As far as the resolution, we have said before there's no specific timetable on it, but we've, I think, also made clear we'd like to see one before the Donors' Conference if we have a resolution that can really encourage and support further international contributions.
As far as movement towards the conference, the meeting was -- there was a meeting last week in Madrid, the October 2nd meeting where the core group got together and talked about planning for the conference. You have in the core group the European Union, the United States, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, World Bank, UN and International Monetary Fund, so a very broad and I think important constituency that's preparing for this conference and preparing for the contributions they can make to the reconstruction of Iraq.
They looked at a variety of needs assessments, and I think some of that information is actually being made public, and they also looked at how to help Iraq enhance its absorptive capacity, as it is called, their ability to use money. Are there projects, systems and organizational things you can do to help the Iraqis get started more quickly?
So we are, indeed, preparing for a conference in Madrid on the 23rd and 24th of this month, and planning on it.
QUESTION: But when you say, though, to the best of your knowledge no government is suggesting that it be postponed, you are aware of the comments from the German and -- the German --
MR. BOUCHER: I realize --
QUESTION: You don't think that they're --
MR. BOUCHER: I realize there have been some comments out there in the press, but in terms of the coordination groups, the people who are actually working on this conference, nobody has come in there and said, "Hey, let's postpone." Okay?
QUESTION: Can I ask you a couple of things that rise from that? The first is, before there was work on a resolution, you know, you were speaking and others were speaking of the gradual increase in peacekeeping contributions, that a couple, three, four, five countries were just about ready to weigh in. Where does that stand now? And, in fact, the resolution is not the only way to get peacekeeping troops. You've had your own campaign for a long time to induce other countries to join. Are the prospects good, resolution or not? Do you see any candidates up there?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the process has continued. I don't have a day-to-day list -- or count. But I think you've seen in the press, Turkey has just made the decision that they can come in and help. And we're working that one with them, and, as we said, as well as with the Iraqis.
So there are other governments that our military people are in close touch with about making the final arrangements for, you know, logistics, for transfer, for stationing and deployment, for what kind of capabilities people might bring forward. So that -- yes, that process does continue. I will see if there is an updated count at this moment.
QUESTION: Okay. Yeah, a number would be terrific.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: And the other thing is a number that I know is almost impossible to extract from Mr. Larson and his people. But do you have any notion -- he doesn't like to do numbers.
MR. BOUCHER: He does them very well.
QUESTION: He probably knows them very clearly, but he doesn't like to impart any information on that front.
Do you have any round or not-so-round estimate as to what you can expect -- I guess the resolution's an issue -- but what you can expect to get in Madrid, any figure?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, I know --
MR. BOUCHER: I know it would be easy to write a story and a headline if we did, but we don't, because that's not our approach to the conference itself. The goal of the conference to mobilize support, some which is already mobilized, more that needs to be mobilized, to have people start matching up the needs and -- the needs that are identified with their capabilities. Some of the contributions will be monetary, some in-kind.
That obviously can all be evaluated eventually, but we're not going into this with, you know, as I said before, a thermometer on the wall and a campaign goal. We're going into this to say we're trying to mobilize the international community so that the Iraqis leave the conference knowing, confident that there is a commitment, that it's for the short term and the medium term to help them with their needs to reconstruct the country, and that there will be some pledges right away; there will be others forthcoming.
I think if you look back at the conference, as it was done for Afghanistan in Japan, there was a lot made of numbers, and we sliced them and diced them and looked at them in different ways. But in the end, what's been done for Afghanistan and what hasn't been done for Afghanistan was not really counted in Japan at that one moment. That moment served to bring together some of the resources, create a momentum. Some, like us, have done much more than we were able to talk about at that moment. Some countries were able to talk about one year, some were able to talk about five years. And yes, there had been a problem also with some talked about things that have happened more slowly than they expected.
So I think the point is really to create the momentum, to get the people together, to create the process, the mechanisms, things like, you know, the trust fund that people can contribute to, and then to make the Iraqis understand with great confidence that people are going to be helping them in various ways in the short and near future.
QUESTION: I have one more, but I better pass -- a technical question.
QUESTION: Well, a couple of quick ones. First of all, have you actually asked the Germans for a clarification of the various remarks to which --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we've done anything specific. I'd have to check and see if it's been a subject of discussion between --
QUESTION: I know you don't like to talk (inaudible). But the Europeans did offer 200 million Euros. Is that -- have you told them you don't think that's enough and you'd like more?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have encouraged everyone to be generous, even people who have listed amounts already. I think I saw Commissioner Patten say that was a one-year number, and since we're dealing with not only the first year, but the medium term also at the conference, and in terms of our own planning, we would obviously want them to continue planning for more broadly than that.
But it's also a number from the European Union itself. It doesn't account for all the money that other European nations might -- that European nations might give bilaterally. So there is still an effort underway, and even an intensifying effort underway, to identify with all the various donors what they might be able to contribute.
QUESTION: And a closely related one. You will remember the International Advisory Monitoring Group, which was supposed to be set up under the May resolution to monitor the Iraqi funds. That has still not been set up, I understand. Why not, and is there a campaign afoot to get that set up quickly?
MR. BOUCHER: It's -- I know it's still being worked on, but didn't we put up an answer a week or two ago giving the status of that?
All right. I'll double-check and see if there's anything new on that.
QUESTION: Although nobody has asked to delay, you said, have any -- have any countries indicated that they wouldn't come unless the resolution were completed?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen anybody say that in public. I'm not aware of anybody saying that in private.
QUESTION: And --
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, this really significant group of countries and organizations is working at it -- working intensely to plan for the meeting in Madrid on the date that it was set.
QUESTION: And just a technical question. Of the countries that were invited by the steering group, or the group that met --
MR. BOUCHER: Core group. Yes.
QUESTION: Core group. Do they have to RSVP or do you just expect them to show up?
MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask the Spanish that one. I didn't write the invitations.
QUESTION: Okay. I just wondered if you knew how many were definitely coming. I mean, have they been communicating to the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: We're still a couple of weeks away anyway. But I don't know if there was, you know, regrets or a dress code or anything on the invitation.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I know you don't want to put a dollar figure on what you would consider a success or anything. But the World Bank is now saying, and some of its economists are now saying, that they don't think Iraq will be able to absorb more than about $6 billion in the first year.
Do you think that's a realistic expectation for this conference to take care of Iraq for the next year?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not a figure that easily transfers to the conference. First of all, the conference is looking at the needs for 2004, the priorities for 2004, and over the medium term. Okay. So it's not a conference about 2004; it's a conference about Iraq's needs over the medium term, including 2004.
Second of all, the number, that particular number, is an illustrative figure based on experience in other countries. And there are two aspects to that: one, recognizing that there may be Iraq-specific factors that can and should be taken into account -- that analysis needs to be worked on; and, second of all, the fact that some of the effort that the donors are now making is to increase the ability of Iraq to use the money well in the early stage of this, so that people can see visible progress, so we can get employment benefits from having projects underway, so we can have, you know, the internal trading benefits of having roads built faster, so we can have the commerce and even the external trade benefits of having these projects underway with neighbors who might be selling things. So they are looking at how to increase the ability of Iraq to use this money well.
So $6 billion is an estimate done by, you know, very competent people, but it may not even be a good -- the estimate of how much money can and should be used for 2004. But in any case, the conference goes beyond that, and we need -- we want donors to look beyond that, and we want donors to look generously beyond that at what they can do.
QUESTION: It could, in fact, be much more that -- do you think that Iraq could, in fact, absorb much more than $6 billion in the next year?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you any better estimate than that at this moment, and I can't tell you more, much more, or some different number, or that number may turn out to be confirmed in the end. But I just -- it's not a definitive amount yet.
QUESTION: Thank you. A Spanish diplomat was gunned down in front of his home in Baghdad today. In the wake of the attacks on the UN in Iraq, does the Department now believe it's open season on all Arabs, all non-Muslims -- all non-Arabs and all non-Muslims? If so, what can be done to protect foreign diplomats in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there are a couple of things to say about this. First, we absolutely condemn the attack on the Spanish diplomat in Baghdad. Second, let me make clear our very deep condolences go to the Spanish Government and the family and the loved ones of Sergeant Jose Antonio Bernal. The Secretary hasn't connected yet, but I think he will be talking to Foreign Minister Palacio today.
Our security officials in Baghdad are working closely with Iraqi officials and the Spanish Government to investigate the terrorist attack fully, and bring those responsible to justice as quickly as possible. The issue of security in Baghdad for diplomats, UN personnel, NGOs is obviously one of the priorities for all of us that we have been working on.
We know that there are dangers there. We know that there are people who want to attack any foreign presence -- leftovers from the previous administration who don't like being sent packing, knocked out of power, and who are going to challenge anybody who is trying to go there and help rebuild Iraq, help the Iraqi people rebuild Iraq.
That security situation exists. I think you're quite aware of all of the various efforts being made by U.S. forces, or by the Iraqi police, or training more Iraqi police, or creating more of an Iraqi army, to get that security situation under control. But we all recognize there are still dangers there, and I'm sure the Spanish diplomats do as well.
QUESTION: On Turkey. I know -- we all know -- the American Ambassador is talking to Turkish officials now about Turkish contributions, the terms, et cetera. The Iraqis having raised objections to Turkish peacekeepers going into Iraq -- is that manageable, or do you have a serious problem? Apparently, the Turks feel they can, you know, get by it. And the corollary: If the Turks move peacekeepers in, will there be any restrictions placed on where they may operate, particularly in Kurdish areas?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we talked about this quite a bit yesterday. The short answers to your questions are that we're in touch with the Turks. The operational details -- the questions of how they go, where they go, what they do -- those need to be worked out with the Turkish Government and the Turkish military. So that process will be starting, if not started already.
Second of all, Ambassador Bremer met yesterday with the Governing Council to talk to them about the idea of Turkish deployments, of Turkish help with stability in Iraq, and Ambassador Bremer is continuing to meet with various members of the Governing Council and security officials on the Iraqi side to try to keep -- and to try to work this through and come up with an arrangement that everybody can live with or can be comfortable with.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any progress that's been made at all in getting the -- convincing the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's anything particular to say at this point. Those discussions are continuing.
QUESTION: Okay. And then how about, is there anything new to report on the status of the resolution at the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: Not --
QUESTION: Can we go back now on Turkish troops?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, if I remember correctly, your colleague actually asked me a while back on the status of the resolution, and I got distracted.
QUESTION: You ignored it.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I got distracted. I'm sorry, I really meant to.
We're evaluating how we want to proceed with the resolution. We're weighing the options. There's no decision at this point. We're looking at suggestions from other delegations, consulting internally. There's no particular consultations scheduled in New York.
The Secretary spoke this morning with Foreign Minister Kofi Annan. He's spoken --
QUESTION: Foreign Minister?
MR. BOUCHER: What did I say? Secretary General Kofi Annan, Italian Foreign Minister Frattini. And so he has continued to keep in touch with other foreign leaders.
And we -- you know, again, pretty much what we said yesterday, that we're looking for a resolution that encourages the international community to step up support for Iraq's stabilization and reconstruction. We think a Security Council resolution is a way to do that. As I said before, there is already considerable foreign -- international support, so a Security Council resolution is not the only way to generate support for this process. Other members will have to make their own judgments when we come forward with a resolution.
QUESTION: What is there to make a decision on? How -- when --
MR. BOUCHER: How we wish to proceed at the UN.
QUESTION: Oh, but there's still a decision to try for a resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we have other options if we decide not to.
QUESTION: Richard, how would you -- compared to yesterday, are you more inclined to abandon today than you were yesterday, or would you --
MR. BOUCHER: I think I'm standing straight up, like I did yesterday. I'm trying not to incline.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MR. BOUCHER: No? Ma'am.
QUESTION: Is there any chance that Turkish troops might not be deployed in Iraq? And --
MR. BOUCHER: The Turkish Government has agreed, the Turkish parliament has agreed. The United States has agreed, thinks it's a good idea. We have to work out the arrangements, obviously, and we have to work it though with the Iraqis. So, you know, everything is pointing straight ahead.
QUESTION: One more. (Inaudible) said today deploying Turkish troops might lead to civil war in the country. Do you have a response for that?
MR. BOUCHER: Not to particular statements, just that we know that there are concerns among some members of the Governing Council. We know there are concerns among some people in the -- some parts of the Iraqi population. And we want to work with the Iraqis, want to work through those concerns and find a way that can be -- where Turkish troops can make a contribution to the future stabilization and the future prosperity of Iraq.
QUESTION: Turkish troops?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Turkish troops.
QUESTION: Richard, there are Turkish press reports that the United States wants them to go west on the Jordanian-Syrian borders, whereas, they would prefer to go north of Baghdad. Is there anything --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular locations at this point. We'll have to discuss those issues in military channels with the Turks.
QUESTION: Yes. The other day, you said that Turkish troops are going to go to south of Iraq. Do you mean like literally south, or like south of northern Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: No -- yes.
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's actually -- it's a good question because somebody else raised that. What I meant was south of northern Iraq. (Laughter.) So again, sort of -- you know, not what's normally known as northern Iraq.
QUESTION: North of southern Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if it's north of southern Iraq, but it's south of northern Iraq. The idea is not in the northern part of the country, the Kurdish areas. I think everybody understands that wouldn't be the case. But where exactly they might go in the rest of Iraq, I really can't say at this point. That's the kind of thing that needs to be worked out.
Okay. Let's see. You were changing the subject? Is that okay?
QUESTION: One more Iraq issue.
MR. BOUCHER: One more Iraq.
QUESTION: President Bush made announcement to tour through Asian countries yesterday, and also Secretary might go there in terms of coordinating, you know, kind of creation, creating of the atmosphere for the reconstruction of Iraq from the Asian countries.
What kind of consultation with, especially, China? You know, South Korea and Japan did show a kind of willingness to do that, but the other countries I am curious about. So what's your strategy on the trip to Asia by President and the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the White House will have to brief on the President's strategy for his trip to Asia. I'm sorry. I can't do that for you here.
QUESTION: How -- Mr. Powell also will be there, so --
MR. BOUCHER: I can put it this way. Generally, worldwide the State Department, first of all, has been working very closely with the core group of countries on the Donors' Conference and on the need to help and support Iraq. There are already a large number of countries -- it's in the mid-forties, maybe higher by now -- that are involved in Iraq, one way or the other, militarily, economically, humanitarian, or other ways.
We are also contacting other governments as we approach Madrid to talk to them about potential contributions, talk to them about the needs, encourage them to be generous. And I think you will see over the next few weeks quite a wide variety of contacts by the U.S. Government, as we work toward the Madrid conference.
QUESTION: Do you have anything specific on China?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Okay.
QUESTION: Richard, I have two questions please. One, as the U.S. is trying its best to bring both countries together on the table to solve the problems, India and Pakistan, now this week Pakistan tested again second missile in a week. So where do we stand, as far as U.S. efforts bringing the parties on dialogue, if this arms race will continue or missiles?
MR. BOUCHER: On the missile test, we'll get you something on that. I think -- I don't remember if I said it at the briefing or not, frankly, but I'll get you something.
QUESTION: At the first one.
MR. BOUCHER: At the first one.
QUESTION: The same comments stand?
MR. BOUCHER: It will be probably the same comment, if it was the same missile, but I'll check on that and --
MR. BOUCHER: I see. Well, I'll check on the second missile then.
As far as where we stand on the issue of dialogue and moving forward, as you know, the Deputy Secretary was just in the region. He was just in Islamabad. He had quite extensive discussions with Pakistani leaders of a great number of issues, the bilateral relationship and the work that we're doing together to support Pakistan's goal of developing, as a modern Muslim nation, the issues involving Afghanistan, and particularly the area down by the Pakistani-Afghan border, and also the issues involving Kashmir and the prospects of dialogue with India to deal with that relationship and those problems.
So, as we develop our relationship with Pakistan, as we develop our relationship with India, we will continue to discuss with each of them the prospects for making progress between them on the issues that have divided them in the past.
QUESTION: I understand today, a delegation from India, led by former ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Naresh Chandra, was here meeting with the Secretary. Does this delegation have anything to do with ongoing talks between the U.S. and India? And also, where do you put the relations between this, India, and the United States today?
MR. BOUCHER: I put them where I just put them in my last answer, that as we develop the relations with India, which have developed quite, I think, remarkably, for the last few years, and we look for further ways to develop those relationships. We also look for ways to encourage them to deal with the issues that they have with their neighbors, Pakistan in particular.
And as far as the meeting this morning, I'll have to get you something later.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a Middle East question that I hope doesn't sound entirely academic because it isn't?
In the Secretary's interview with The Washington Post explaining his position on the security barrier, he spoke roughly of having no objections with such arrangements along Israel's border, which he described as the green line.
I don't know if that was figurative, or is there a judgment now by the State Department, at least, that Israel's border is where -- it is the green line? Because my understanding of 242 and 338, or at least the England -- English version thereof, is that's negotiable; it's been U.S. policy that's subject to corrections, to changes.
MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly subject to negotiation. If you want the definitive and precise statement of policy, I think if you look at the Secretary's legal speech, and if I remember correctly, the President's June 24th speech, they used a particular formulation, but that the -- I wouldn't take the Secretary's comments as being a juridical determination. It's kind of a description of the place that people pass across and have to -- you know, where the control of territory or crossing points are located.
MR. BOUCHER: Tammy.
QUESTION: What is the State Department's understanding of the situation with Abu Alaa, of whether he submitted a resignation, didn't?
MR. BOUCHER: We're reading it like you are. We have kept in touch with the parties. Ambassador Kurtzer and our Consul General David Pearce have been in touch with the parties, but these are developing, I guess, politics or developing news out there. We don't have any particular information on, you know, whether it's a formal submission, or what exactly has been done. So we're watching the events very closely.
Fundamentally for us, we're still focused on the big issue, and that's can the Palestinians form a government that is capable, committed, and has the resources to carry out action against terrorism and move forward on the roadmap in order to create a Palestinian state. And that, fundamentally, is the big issue we have stayed focused on all along, as various political maneuvers and events have come and gone.
QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Boucher. Do you have any like informal or formal consultations with the Japanese Government, in terms of the contribution to the Iraqi reconstruction, besides the core group meetings?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we -- yes, we talk to them all the time about these issues. But their participation in the core group for the Donors' Conference, we think is a very important element in our cooperation. We work not only with them, but with the others involved to try to prepare a conference that can really contribute to the future of Iraq.
QUESTION: And also, related to the deployment of the self-defense troops, and do you -- you know, do you have any, like a relationship, between the dollar amount of the contribution and the deployment of the self-defense troops?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not quite sure how to --
QUESTION: I mean, my point is --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean do they get credit for having -- for the cost of deploying troops? That certainly is a contribution to the future stability of Iraq. If -- and I'm sure, yes, they certainly get an appreciation and credit for that.
Does that mean that they don't need to contribute in other ways? No, I think we'd expect others to -- everyone to try to be generous and contribute in a variety of ways.
QUESTION: Richard, yesterday, you made remarks concerning Syria. And they have sort of shot back with other remarks criticizing the proposed legislation in Congress, as well as calling the U.S. ultra-extremists in its attitudes. You, of course, want the 20,000 troops out of Lebanon and terrorist activity to stop and curtailment of WMD. But where do we go from here?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, as before, that depends on Syria. We don't think it's unreasonable or arrogant or -- what else were they calling us? I don't remember.
MR. BOUCHER: Ultra-extremist. Ask people to stop support for terrorism, to stop support for groups whose goal is to kill people and disrupt the process of bringing peace to the region. We don't think it's ultra-extreme to ask people to abide by international standards as regards not developing weapons of mass destruction and threatening neighbors. So I don't -- I think it really is a matter, as it always has been, of what Syria is prepared to do in order to meet these standards, in order to contribute to peace and stability in the region, and not continue to move and continue to support people who are only trying to disrupt the region.
QUESTION: Which neighbors is Syria threatening? I wasn't aware of any.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, having weapons of mass destruction in a volatile region like this obviously is dangerous.
QUESTION: So Israel applies here; it has weapons and therefore is threatening its neighbors?
MR. BOUCHER: We -- I don't have any comment on that, and I know what you're trying to refer to. But Israel has a right to exist, Israel has a right to defend itself, and we continue to view that as the fundamental policy in our relationship.
QUESTION: Syria has the same right, then?
MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Well, so --
MR. BOUCHER: But there are international standards regarding biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, things like that. We've always encouraged everyone in the region to meet those standards, to participate in the NPT and the other control arrangements.
QUESTION: Including Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: Everyone in the region.
QUESTION: Have you had a chance to see King Abdullah's remarks from yesterday about U.S. foreign policy being na´ve and lacking cultural sensitivity?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't. I'm sorry. I'm not sure, if I did, I would have any particular comment anyway. We always listen carefully to what he says, but we don't necessarily respond to everything he says.
QUESTION: Somebody in the Administration apparently briefed some Asian reporters and apparently said that the U.S., at some point, may be ready to take the North Korean issue to the UN Security Council. And it seemed, in the context, to be an option that may be gaining favor in light of the North Korean reluctance to go to a second round of talks.
MR. BOUCHER: As you say, somebody apparently somewhere said something to somebody. (Laughter.) I find it hard to account for all the statements that some official may make on background. I'll tell you what our policy is. Let's deal with the substance of the question.
Our policy is to pursue a peaceful resolution of the issues with North Korea, to get North Korea to agree and to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in a verifiable and irreversible manner. We think the best way to do that, we think the way to do that, at this juncture, is to continue to pursue the six-party talks. That has been what we have done. We have made clear our willingness to go back to the talks to resolve these issues. And that is the path that we continue to pursue.
QUESTION: Are you looking into who might have -- the official -- who might be the official who said this? Or is it kind of a -- just it's not -- the comments --
MR. BOUCHER: I'd certainly like to know, if anybody would like to tell me, but --
QUESTION: Well, but --
MR. BOUCHER: But it's generally not been a very fruitful pursuit.
QUESTION: You are aware -- you've seen -- you've seen the report, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I saw the -- yes, the Kyodo wire service story.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. Those -- the statements are not reflective of --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who it was, and it was certainly not an intentional disclosure on the part of the Administration.
QUESTION: So they -- so that they do not reflect the Administration's current thinking?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I just reflected the Administration's current thinking.
QUESTION: Well, you said that you wanted a peaceful resolution. But these comments specifically say that North Koreans -- we can talk about it at the Security Council --
MR. BOUCHER: I said we're pursuing six-party talks. We're not headed off in another direction at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, that means these are not reflective, not reflective of what your current policy is?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: Okay. You didn't quite answer the specific point about the UN Security Council. I mean, when you say your policy -- you're pursuing six-party talks, and not going off in another direction, you mean you're not thinking about taking this to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not headed in that direction at this point, no.
QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about John Bolton's talks in London -- PSI meeting?
QUESTION: Well, you have (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: Give him a break. He's in London. Okay? (Laughter.)
Under Secretary Bolton is currently in London discussing issues related to the Proliferation Security Initiative. In September, the core group of the Proliferation Security Initiative participants agreed to a statement of interdiction principles. The London meeting now follows on that document as participant countries discuss how to work together to implement those principles.
An essential component of our counter-proliferation strategy is to work with other concerned states to develop new means to disrupt the proliferation trade at sea, in the air and on land. The Proliferation Security Initiative reflects the need for a more dynamic and proactive approach to the global proliferation problem. So they're getting together to continue to move quickly, as this initiative as, on how to implement the principles of interdiction that we have agreed upon.
QUESTION: A potentially related subject. There is a report in a German newspaper this morning quoting a senior State Department official as saying that the United States is getting ready to place defensive missiles throughout Europe by 2006, to protect from a potential threat from Iran. Do you have any idea where this is coming from?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any idea where this is coming from. Obviously, missile defense is important to us. We have been working on it. We have been cooperating with other governments around the world -- Russia, Europeans and others. But where those projects might stand would be a question for our missile defense people and the Europeans, who we are cooperating with.
QUESTION: Okay. So you're not -- but you're not familiar with anything by 2006 --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I really don't have an update on the status of that cooperation. I just know it's ongoing between the people who do that sort of thing.
QUESTION: Mr. Mowbray's hostile attitude towards the Department seems to have escalated somewhat. He is now speaking about getting a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom.
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Mowbray is, or Mr. Robertson?
QUESTION: No -- well, I think both actually, both seem to be in favor. It's rather unclear. Do you -- have you seen this, or do you have any comment on it?
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I lack sufficient capabilities to express my disdain.
QUESTION: Well, do you take this -- what appears to be a threat to blow up the building -- seriously?
QUESTION: Is that what he -- what did he say?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a quote from Mr. Mowbray. I think the very idea of that was despicable.
QUESTION: I know it's kind of a bit outlandish. But, I mean, if he turns up at the building, will you take any precautions?
QUESTION: I ask this out of self-interest.
MR. BOUCHER: Just as you and others who work in the building do, people have badges or go through the magnetometer and the x-ray machine, and I think they're pretty good out there with those devices, to make sure that nobody comes in with any kind of harmful weapon, whatsoever. I think you can rest assured that our guards are doing their job against whatever people might want to bring in here.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Lord Robertson in Colorado, at the NATO meeting, was discussing overall the particular strategies. But are NATO and Russia at odds over nuclear strategies?
You pointed out in the earlier question with Iran, they have been, of course, selling commercial nuclear reactor equipment to Iran and other countries. Is that something that's strictly NATO?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- nuclear strategy, in terms of the defense ministers, would be assessed by defense ministers, include -- in terms of nuclear cooperation with other countries, particularly with regard to Iran.
As you know, this is something we've worked on with the Russians over a long period of time. And I think you've seen the Russians over the last year, or maybe six months or so, taking an increasingly vocal attitude about the need for Iran to comply with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and to answer the questions and meet the requirements that the agency has.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: We've got one or two more in the back. We'll do a few more -- and in the front.
QUESTION: I know it just happened. But was there any readout on the minister -- or the meeting with the Prime Minister of Ukraine this morning from the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: Glad to go through that now. Secretary Powell met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych today. There were a variety of bilateral issues discussed. It was also an opportunity for the Secretary to express thanks for Ukraine's important contribution to the stability effort in Iraq. Ukraine is the fourth largest contributor of troops in Iraq, and we thank them as well for the cooperation we've been able to establish in the war on terrorism.
The Secretary expressed support for Ukraine's effort to draw closer to the Euro-Atlantic and European institutions, as well as for Ukraine's goal of accelerated accession to the WTO. The Secretary also stressed the importance of promotion of democracy and human rights in Ukraine. He made clear that the conduct of open, free and fair presidential election process in 2004, and the strengthening of media and judicial independence are essential and will have a major impact on Ukraine's ability to move forward with its aspirations.
I would note that after the Secretary's meeting, the Prime Minister also met with Under Secretary Larson to discuss Ukraine's WTO accession bid, economic reform and energy issues. And during the course of his visit, he has met with Vice President Cheney, Secretaries Evans and Snow. And he'll meet later today, we understand, with Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz, Secretary of Energy Abraham and Secretary of Agriculture Veneman.
QUESTION: Richard --
MR. BOUCHER: Wait. Hang on. On this?
QUESTION: Yeah, Ukraine.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: It wasn't that long ago that relations between the United States and Ukraine were pretty dismal. And, basically, that all revolved around their alleged approval of the sale of the Kolchuga radar to Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: There were also internal matters that we were very concerned about.
QUESTION: Exactly. But, specifically, with Kolchuga, I haven't heard too much about anything about that since the end of -- since Baghdad fell six months ago. Did you guys ever determine whether it had actually been transferred, or whether the sale had been -- had actually ever been completed?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll check and see if there is any more information. And there was -- as you know, we, even at the time, said we knew the sale had been authorized, but we did not know whether it had been actually -- whether it had actually taken place.
QUESTION: You're not aware if U.S. troops have actually come across -- found any of this stuff?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check. I just haven't heard anything, one way or the other.
QUESTION: Same subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did they talk about a possible increase in the Ukrainian troop contingent in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware the Ukrainians have talked about that. At this point, as I said, they're already the fourth largest contributor of troops in Iraq, and the Secretary expressed appreciation for that. That's where we are.
George had something.
QUESTION: Yeah. The producers of a movie on Ernest Hemingway -- projected movie on Ernest Hemingway -- apparently, had been denied permission to film on location in Cuba. And is that true; and, if so, why the denial?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me check and see. I wasn't aware of that. It may be a Treasury licensing issue, so you might check over there as well.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate on the consultations between the State Department and the Japanese Government, in terms of the contribution?
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Can you elaborate to the consultations between the State Department and the Japanese Government, in terms of contribution to Iraq -- contribution to Iraq reconstruction?
MR. BOUCHER: We work with them, as part of the donors group, see them, talk to them, have phone calls as a group, and we talk to them bilaterally as well. That's about all I can say.
QUESTION: -- Deputy Armitage talked with the Japanese Government, in terms of the --
MR. BOUCHER: Under Secretary Larson has been really working this group for us, on the economic sides of this. I don't know to what extent it has come up with Deputy Secretary Armitage's conversations.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
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