U.S. State Dept Daily Press Briefing
U.S. State Dept Daily Press
Monday, January 29, 2001
DRC – INDIA – MEXICO – IRAQ - MIDDLE EAST – CHILE – CHECHNYA - SERBIA (FRY) – EU – YEMEN - ISRAEL
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
(pp. 1) President Joseph Kabila Visit to US / National Prayer
(pp. 4-5, 10) Comments on Ceasefire and the Lusaka Accords
(pp. 2-4) Situation Update and Status of US Assistance Efforts
(pp. 5-6) Comments on Secretary Powell's Meetings with Foreign
(pp. 6) Comments on Drug Certification Process
(pp. 6-7) Reactions to the Carlucci Report
(pp. 7-8) Comment on Reports of Reconstruction of Weapons of
Mass Destruction Programs
(pp. 8) Creation of Free Trade Area with Syria and the Oil
for Food Program
(pp. 8) Update on Situation / Comments on Taba Peace Process
(pp. 9-10) Comments Regarding the Pinochet Indictment
(pp. 10) Update on American Citizen Abducted in Chechnya
(pp. 10-11) Update on Earthquake and US Assistance/Welfare of Americans
(pp. 11) EU Funding for the Mexico City Plan
(pp. 11-12) Comments on US Presence at the Trial of Yemeni Hijacker
(pp. 12) Comments on Arrest of American Citizen in Gaza
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2001 1:00
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good morning, good afternoon. That's the
traditional greeting here: good morning, good afternoon. Somewhere in
the world it's still noon. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming.
Good to see you. I will make a short statement and then I'll be glad
to take your questions.
There will be a visit by the South Korean
Minister of Foreign Affairs
and Trade, Lee Joung-binn, on February 6 to 8. Secretary of State
Colin Powell will meet with Foreign Minister Lee on Wednesday, February
7th. They will discuss a range of important issues, including the
unprecedented opportunities for reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
We look forward to
building a close and productive working relationship
with Foreign Minister Lee and to further deepening our vital security
and economic partnership. This partnership has worked to promote
peace, prosperity and democracy in north Asia for over five decades.
And with that statement,
I would be glad to take your questions
on this or other topics.
Q: The Embassy in Kinshasa. Have non-essential
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Some 25
people have left our Embassy in
Kinshasa under the authorized departure. The people who departed were
dependents and non-emergency personnel.
Q: And how
is the situation? Will Mr. Powell be seeing
Kabila, the new -- Joseph Kabila when he comes here this week?
BOUCHER: Well, we understand from Ambassador Swing
Joseph Kabila is going to make a 48-hour visit to Washington to attend
the National Prayer Breakfast and to go to New York to meet with UN
officials on February 1 and 2. President Kabila will have meetings
with Administration officials, but we haven't settled yet on exactly
who and when, so I'm not sure if it will be the Secretary or somebody
else. It depends on schedule.
First of all, I'm not too familiar with the
Breakfast to begin with, and this is a new Administration. Would
Secretary Powell be going to that, or normally does he go to those?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have
to double-check and see. Some
Secretaries have and some haven't. It's at least an annual event and
draws a lot of people from overseas to Washington for the event, so
it's a fairly well-known Washington institution. But if the Secretary
is going or not, I don't know. He may go. We'll see for sure.
Q: The President of Rwanda is also going to be here this week.
Is he coming for the National Prayer
Breakfast? And if so, is he going
to see anybody while he is here?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I think there are a
number of people
who are going to be in town for the National Prayer Breakfast. I don't
know specifically who the Secretary will be meeting with and who others
may have meetings with, but I will try to get you that information
later in the week.
Q: I'm sorry -- I had to
walk out -- but do you -- what were
the dates for Kabila's visit, or did you not have that?
MR. BOUCHER: He
is in Washington for the Prayer Breakfast, and
then in New York to meet with UN officials from February 1 to 2. I
think that actually probably means --
Q: So he is in Washington or in New York?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that is what
I have to double-check. I think
the way it is written, and my recollection of the Prayer Breakfast, is
the -- let me double-check on that, where the 48 hours stand, I think.
Q: Is this a trip -- does it -- obviously he was
by the State Department, but is coming on an invitation of someone
else. But is this something that that the Department encouraged?
MR. BOUCHER: I think a
great many of foreign leaders have
received invitations to the National Prayer Breakfast. We certainly
encourage them all to come. I don't think in this particular instance
that we encouraged it. I think Ambassador Swing was told by President
Kabila that he was coming.
Q: US aid to India, because of the quake?
MR. BOUCHER: First and
foremost, let me tell you that the Agency
for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
produces excellent rundowns of the situation and the assistance, and
they did one yesterday that is available, and I think they will do
another one at 3 o'clock this afternoon. So we will make sure that
that is available to you from here as well.
Let me go through what
we know about the situation in India and
the kind of assistance that we are providing. The most recent official
death count for the Gujarat earthquake is 6,072 people, with 14,512
reported injured. Our consulate in Mumbai reports that estimates of
casualties have now reached 20,000 dead and 50,000 injured. They could
go higher. Aftershocks are continuing, and some of these aftershocks
have caused further damage. So there is a terrible human toll and
human tragedy involved here.
know of two American citizens, a mother and a daughter,
have been confirmed dead. So far, those are the only known American
casualties. We have sent our condolences to this family, and of course
we extend our condolences to all the families, victims of this horrible
US consulate officials and Indian
staff are on the scene
gathering information on the welfare of Americans and of any others who
might be affected. Prime Minister Vajpayee and other senior government
officials have also visited the affected area.
Medical rescue and at least 5,000 military personnel
have come in
to Gujarat State from other parts of India to assist the local
authorities. Relief supplies and funds are flowing in from around
India and from foreign donors. The US Agency for International
Development is prepared to provide $5 million in emergency humanitarian
assistance. There is an airlift of commodities to meet the immediate
needs of 8,000 people that is expected to arrive in New Delhi soon and
will then be sent on to Gujarat State. There are US food commodities
that were already in India that are being provided to this area that
totals 100,000 daily rations, and $75,000 of additional money has been
added to the $25,000 that the Ambassador contributed to the Prime
Minister's national relief fund.
team from the Office of Foreign Disaster
Assistance has been sent to India. The team leader arrived in Gujarat
yesterday, and the remainder of the people are to arrive in India
today. There are other US personnel from our missions in India who
will travel to the disaster area soon, and we continue to coordinate
closely with the Indian officials to assure that assistance is most
effectively provided to the victims.
States has been involved with India on an ongoing
basis for disaster relief preparations. Since 1998, for example, we
have worked with them on a program to enhance emergency response in
which the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department, using funding from the
Agency for International Development, promoted, developed and
strengthened the search-and-rescue training capabilities of India in
this area. So we're seeing some of that training and assistance pay
countries and international organizations have
responded rapidly to help India cope with this disaster. That includes
dog-sniffer teams from the United Kingdom and Switzerland that are
already on the scene.
So there you
have it. We are doing quite a bit. The dollar
amount of US assistance at this point is approaching $1 million but, as
I said, we are prepared to provide as much as $5 million worth of
assistance in this tragedy. And we are coordinating very closely with
the Indian Government, the officials there, to see what they need, what
we can help with, and to get our assistance in there as soon as we can.
Q: Can I go back to Congo for a second?
Q: Can I --
do you have a number of Americans that may be in
MR. BOUCHER: That may be in that region? I don't
have that at
this point. I'll see if we're able to do that.
Q: Richard, the mother and daughter lived there for
time? Were they visiting? Can you tell us anything more about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. We don't have
Privacy Act waivers. I
don't think I can go into any further detail than that.
Q: Had they lived there a long time or were visiting?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if I can say
that. They were in Gujarat,
but I'm not sure exactly where.
Q: Richard, we had a report that Christian
were -- missionary Christians who were trying to help out in the
disaster have been pushed aside by the Hindu nationalists from the RSS
who have taken over the rescue operation, the relief operation, in
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard anything like
that. I'll have to
look into it.
Q: Richard, just to
clarify, no American rescue teams have
been asked to come over; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: You mean the dog and
the search teams, the search-
and-rescue teams? No, not at this point. We're providing other kinds
of assistance. And I think basically people that were closer and could
get there faster have gone in.
Secretary Powell is going to meet with the
Foreign Minister of Mexico.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's do that after --
Nick had the first shot at
changing the subject, so we'll do that second.
Q: I didn't get a chance to ask you. When
Kabila visits, is
this going to be an opportunity for him to meet with senior officials
to further press the issue of a ceasefire, or is this not the time for
that? Or are you going to take advantage of his visit to do just that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we will have meetings with US
officials. We have not finalized the arrangements so I can't give you
precisely who and when, but certainly any US officials who have been
meeting with him, whether it's Ambassador Swing in Kinshasa or anybody
he might meet in Washington, would want to make clear our fundamental
view, and that is that the key to reconciliation and peace in this
region is full implementation of the Lusaka Accords. And so that's the
fundamental point we'll be making.
Q: Do you have some comments about it?
MR. BOUCHER: About the meeting with Foreign Minister Castaneda?
Yes. Secretary Powell will meet tomorrow with
Foreign Minister Castaneda in the afternoon in order to prepare
President Bush's announced February 16th visit to Mexico. Certainly
the President's early trip to Mexico is an indication of the authentic
partnership that exists between our two countries. The Secretaries
will be going over the agenda for the trip and review many of the
issues that make up this extremely deep and complex relationship.
In working on some of the details of the
visit, Secretary Powell
looks forward to establishing a good working relationship with Foreign
Secretary Castaneda, and the two would expect to meet frequently as
time goes on.
Q: Just a follow-up on that. Do you
think the discussions are
going to see the legal actions against the ranchers in Arizona for the
Mexican immigrants who were attacked by them?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't
know what subjects will come up in specific
terms, so I think I will just leave it for the meeting for that to
Q: Do you have any comments about the
decision of the judge on
Mr. Pinochet today regarding his arrest and --
MR. BOUCHER: No. The answer is no. We
haven't had comments in
the past, and I am not going to start today.
Q: The Carlucci report --
Q: Wait, can we
go back to Mexico for just a second? Does the
Secretary plan to bring up his ideas about the drug certification
policy at this meeting? Or was this -- were there going to be a
MR. BOUCHER: It is
going to be a visit to talk about the
subjects and the preparations for the President's trip to Mexico. How
broad the discussion will go, how much time they will have to discuss
some of these issues, I don't know yet. We will see. There are, as we
know, a great many issues to be discussed. They will want to
concentrate on preparing for the President's trip, but I think
obviously there are subjects that are of interest to both sides that
may come up as well. But at this point, I don't think we can predict
exactly which ones will get covered in this initial meeting.
Q: Is this going to take the same
format as his earlier
schedule of a working lunch and then --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think it is an afternoon
meeting. I don't
think they are meeting at lunchtime.
Q: On the issue of drug certification, can you
kind of fill us
in on where that process is? In March, the President will have to
make, I guess, a determination.
MR. BOUCHER: The process stands in
preparation so that we can
have the recommendations to the President for issuance in March. I
forget if it is the 1st or the 31st, but it is basically, the process
is under way.
Q: If I can follow up, when would a
recommendation on, I
guess, the major drug producers or anything like that -- when would
Powell have to make that recommendation to the President?
MR. BOUCHER: In time for
the President to announce it in time
for public release.
Q: Do you have any reaction to the Carlucci
mentioned it before, but they are publicizing it today. They call the
Department "mismanaged, dilapidated, insecure, seriously disrepaired."
Can you tell me what your reaction to it is,
what the Departments'
reaction to it is so far, and what the next step will be with regard to
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think first and
foremost we don't consider
all this accusatory in the way that we have been talking about the need
for funding and resources, especially for security, for technology, for
adequate personnel so that we can have time for training. And we have
recognized the need for reform of many things in this building itself
and started to look at issues of hiring, of retention, and there have
been a number of studies on this.
I don't have a detailed
reaction to the report for you. I would
note that Secretary Powell met with Mr. Carlucci last week, among his
first days on the job. I think it was Tuesday, but I would have to
double-check. And the Secretary himself, in his testimony, talked
about the need to look at these studies, to look at the recommendations
of this report and others, and to begin making the decisions that are
necessary to change things, to reform, to fix things, to move forward.
And then he also talked about the need to get the funding from our
Congress and from the budget process to make sure that we had adequate
support for a leadership role by the United States in foreign affairs.
So I think generally on the Carlucci Report, I
would say we welcome the
report. We welcome its ideas, and we look forward to seeing how they
can be implemented in terms of actually getting the sustained support
for foreign affairs that we all think we need.
Q: If I can
follow up on that, what makes this different from
other reports of the same type? There have been, as you say, reports
like this in the past. The task force itself says this is a little bit
more practical; it lays out some steps that could be taken by the
President and the Secretary.
Do you see it as any different than the others
that you have seen? And
why, if there have been studies like this, hasn't the reform been
Well, I don't want to sort of start picking and
choosing among reports. There have been a number of studies. Some of
them cover different aspects; some of them make different kinds of
recommendations. What is clear is the Secretary's determination to
take these reports, take the valuable work that has been done, and the
good ideas inside and outside the building, and begin implementing them
as soon as he can.
A number of thing have been
done over previous years, but I think
the Secretary's determination to take steps as soon as possible, to fix
things and to get the resources we need, was made quite clear in his
Q: There has been a
report that an Iraqi defector reported
that Saddam Hussein has actually built two working atomic bombs, and
that he has reconstructed in the last two years a lot of the factories
that are working on nuclear weapons production. This report came out
in The London Daily Telegraph on Saturday. I'm just wondering whether
you are aware of this defector and whether you have asked to meet with
him, whether you have met with him, whether you can comment on this
MR. BOUCHER: I can't comment on
that report, although it strikes
me as similar to things that have appeared in the past. On the issue
of rebuilding factories, that was a Pentagon report that was released
in January that you can find on their website, their report on
Q: So you won't --
you can't say whether or not you have
interrogated this person or have asked to interrogate this person?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
Q: To meet this person? You can't say that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we can't say that about anybody.
Q: Why? Because of intelligence matters, or --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't ever comment on things that
report to be
Q: (Inaudible) -- think
you don't want to. Can I switch the
subject to the Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: I had another question on that. Eli, go ahead.
Q: On Iraq. It was all on Iraq in general. Do you
comment today on the meeting to create potentially a free trade area
between Syria and Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I have just seen those reports. We will
them. Everybody knows there are clear restrictions on certain economic
activities with Iraq, and then there are clear areas, like food and
medicine, where there is no restriction. So one would want to look
into it and see if it causes difficulty in that regard. We will look
Q: Has Syria responded to your kind offer on the pipeline?
MR. BOUCHER: Not aware of
anything new on the pipeline at this
this means that they haven't responded, and they've
had a week at least. Remember, if it is used for Food-for-Peace, or
whatever it's called.
MR. BOUCHER: Oil-for-Food.
Q: Food-for-Peace. Oil-for-Peace. Food-for-Peace.
MR. BOUCHER: Oil-for-Food.
Oil-for-Food. Oh, God. And have something for
Hussein on the side. But the US made a public as well as a diplomatic
overture to Syria. At that point, you couldn't confirm that the
pipeline is actually operating, although the L.A. Times grandly
reported in great detail that it is up and running.
No response from
them, and no confirmation yet that Iraq is
getting its oil out illegally?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new on the subject.
Q: What do you make up of Prime Minister Barak's
stop the peace process until the Israeli elections, and also what do
you make of Chairman Arafat's comments in Davos that Israeli is guilty
of fascist military aggression?
MR. BOUCHER: All right. On the issue
of the talks, I mean, we
are glad to see that they have reported progress made in their talks,
that there was progress between the parties at Taba. We would look
forward to resumption of these important discussions, these discussions
that they have said were productive. Certainly we have always
maintained that negotiations between the parties are the only way to
resolve differences and to achieve lasting peace.
that context, I would say that we are quite aware of
frustration on both sides and the outrage at the continuing violence.
The conditions on the ground are indeed bad for both sides.
Nonetheless, statements such as those made by Chairman Arafat really
have no place in this process.
Q: In the past, the State Department under
Administration used to have an opinion regarding the Pinochet trial
development in Chile. This State Department doesn't have any opinion
about today's indictment of Pinochet?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have
said much in the past, at
least I don't remember having said anything, but I will look and see if
we want to take a new launch in that regard. But we have said nothing
here, as far as I remember.
Q: But why? Is
because Mr. Pinochet -- I remember the State
Department always has something to say when somebody is arrested or
doing something against human rights. And in this case, you are only
saying, no, no. Why? I mean, what is the difference? Pinochet or
No, I don't think it is any different from so many
cases around the world, where we let the judicial systems handle this
matter, and that is the way we have treated this one.
Q: On that, can you -- (inaudible) -- Chile in general?
Q: At the last time -- (inaudible) -- ask you in
statement. I am asking now if this is a new -- a Bush way to take the
MR. BOUCHER: I will see
if we have anything new that we want to
say today. I will check and see, check with some of my experts, see if
there is a desire to go beyond what we have said before, but certainly
don't have anything right now.
All of the documents that were to be declassified
have been now, right -- declassified or released? Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: My only problem is the word "all." Was it --
Q: Well, I mean, the last tranche.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, the tranche is -- the major
tranche is the
thousands and thousands of documents were indeed released. Whether
there were some withheld, I don't know. A few.
Q: No, no, no. The ones that were going
to be released have
all been released now?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
Q: Do you have any confirmation on reports that the
have made contacts with the captors of Kenny Gluck in Chechnya?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. We continue
to be in touch with the
Russians on the matter. We continue obviously to be very interested in
the welfare of Mr. Gluck, but I don't have any new confirmation.
Q: But there has been any contact --
MR. BOUCHER: We have
seen the stories. Yes, we have seen the
stories, we have heard the stories. But at this point, really no
Q: How about on another
matter of hostages? New information
allegedly coming out about Jeffrey Schilling in the Philippines. Have
you been following that?
MR. BOUCHER: We follow that closely. I
don't have anything new
here. I will check and see if we do in the Bureau.
Q: On the Kabila visit, I don't know if
you were asked this,
but if you weren't, does the US have a view as to the prospects of a
ceasefire? Or, you know, there is a European envoy saying hopeful
things, and then there are other observers saying very pessimistic
things about the country possibly falling apart and the instability
What is the State Department's
feel for the situation now? And
you know what I mean by the ceasefire process --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I don't know
that I can give you a rating of
chances on this, or that we particularly want to express hope or
optimism or pessimism in that regard. I would say that what remains
important to us is that they maintain a commitment to the Lusaka
Accords and that we begin to see the implementation of those Accords.
As I said earlier, we believe that that is the best route to peace and
reconciliation for the Congo.
Q: Over the weekend
the Yugoslav Foreign Minister sent a
letter to Secretary Powell suggesting an emergency UN Security Council
meeting to stop the violence. Has there been any reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm actually not sure that
we have seen the letter,
but I understand the Council is going to meet on the subject, and we
certainly welcome the Security Council further discussing the
situation. The Council has discussed the issue before of what is going
on in the Presevo Valley. We have strongly condemned, and the Council
has strongly condemned, the violent actions by ethnic Albanian
extremist groups in the region.
As you know, the international community is
very involved in
reducing tensions in this area. The NATO-led Kosovo force has
intensified patrols and surveillance along the Kosovo-Serbia border and
is helping to constrict the flow of support from ethnic Albanian
militants into counterparts in the buffer zone.
Q: And also, in that same region, I understand that
Djukanovic is coming also for this Prayer Breakfast. Do you know, does
he have plans to meet with anyone in this building?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we would
expect to meet with him, but I
can't give you an exactly who and when yet.
Q: Will that be -- that will be this week?
MR. BOUCHER: Assume so, yes.
Q: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
Q: The European Union has suggested that
it would be willing
to provide funding to those organizations which will be disqualified
under the reintroduction of the Mexico City wording last week. I was
wondering if the United States has a view of whether it's appropriate
for its closest ally to be apparently rubbing out the very first
foreign policy decision of President Bush.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I would describe
it that way, but I'll
look in to see what the facts might be.
Q: Can I follow up on that, then, and ask how much
decision has created for people in this building? Has there been much
diplomatic dispatch? Have people been coming in and asking what the
decision means? What's been going on?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how many
times we've been called upon
to explain it to various governments, but certainly we have to get
organized to carry out the funding and carry out the restrictions,
contact the organizations, so there's a fair amount to do in order to
implement the policy.
I realize you don't want me to get into this -- I was
wondering -- because it's an internal judicial matter. But the
hijacker of the Yemeni plane has gone on trial now. The prosecutors
are seeking the death penalty. Is there any kind of US presence at the
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check on that. I'm not aware of it.
Q: There is a report that an American citizen was
the Israelis when he landed in Gaza, and is being held without any
information about what he's being held for. Do you have any
information about this case?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not aware of it. I'll have to
that one, too.
Q: Okay, thank.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.