US State Department Wednesday, January 31, 2001
US State Department Wednesday, January 31, 2001
Daily Press briefing (# 15)
Libya – Greece – Colombia – Russia – Israel – Consular – Spain – Turkey – Mexico
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
(On The Record Unless Otherwise Noted)
(pp. 1) 8TH Anniversary of Missionaries' Kidnapping by FARC
(pp. 1) Afghanistan: Assistance to Refugees
Libya Pan Am 103 Lockerbie
(pp. 1-2) US Views
(pp. 2,5,6,7-8,11) UN Sanctions - US Sanctions
(pp. 2-4,5,8-9,9-11) Responsibilities of Libyan Government
(pp.6) Contacts with Families
(pp.7) Discussions with Libyans
(pp.7) Discussions with British Government and Other Governments
(pp.9) Involvement with Terrorism
(pp.11) Acquittal of Second Hijacker
(pp.12-13) Secretary Powell's Attendance at National Prayer Breakfast
(pp.13-14) Reported Denial of Visa to Greek Editor
(pp.14-15) US-Greek Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
(pp.15-16) Status of Peace Process
(pp.16-17) Reported Defection of Russian Diplomat
(pp.17) Upcoming Israeli Election
(pp. 17-18) Outcome of Election and Middle East Peace Negotiations
(pp.18) Marc Rich Citizenship Status
(pp.18) Prospects for Secretary Powell Meeting with Spanish Officials
(pp. 18-19) US Ambassador's Statement on Armenian Genocide
(pp.19) Drug Certification Process
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me get some of my
background material here. I will start off mentioning a couple statements
that we are going to put out, then I will run through some of Lockerbie off
the top, and then we can go on to questions about these or other subjects.
We have a
statement coming out because today is the eighth anniversary
kidnapping of our fellow US citizens Dave Mankins, Mark Rich and Rick
Tenenoff, members of the New Tribes Mission. They were kidnapped in Panama
members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on January 31, 1993.
They were then taken to Colombia. The return of these men remains a high
priority for the US Government and we will work with the families, the
and the Colombian Government to resolve that kidnapping. More details in
Second of all, we are announcing that we are providing 75,200 metric tons of
wheat as emergency food
aid for Afghans inside Afghanistan. We will
to monitor the situation there and consider additional assistance, if
Our donation is worth $34 million, plus an estimated ocean transportation
of $5 million, and the food is distributed by the World Food Program in
Why don't I move on to
Lockerbie and tell you a little more about what is
going on and what we have to say on the subject at this point. First of
we want to again express our deepest sympathy to the families of those lost
the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. We also offer our thanks and our respect
for all the work that they have done to keep this issue moving and to pursue
justice in this situation.
Obviously nothing could undo the suffering that
they have undergone because of this act of terrorism.
certainly welcome the decision of the court that found
Al-Megrahi guilty of murder. The verdict is based on the court's finding
the defendant, a high-ranking agent of Libya's Jamahiriya Security
Organization, that he caused an explosive device to detonate on board Pan Am
Flight 103, thereby
murdering the flight's 259 passengers and crew, as
11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland.
their written opinion, the judges stated that they accepted
that Al-Megrahi was a member of the Jamahiriya Security Organization, that
occupied posts of fairly high rank. The judges further stated that there is
nothing in the evidence which leaves them with
any reasonable doubt as to
guilt of Al-Megrahi.
This conviction was by a unanimous decision of
the three judges of the
This verdict is a victory for the international effort that resulted in the
indictment of a member of the Libyan intelligence services, and the
of Libya must take responsibility.
The verdict confirms the results of the
joint investigation that was
undertaken by Scottish police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
decision vindicates the extraordinary efforts of the international
and of the families of the victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing, to achieve
justice for the victims of the crime. Thanks go also the British and the
Dutch Government and others who assisted in making the trial possible.
The United States has made clear to
the Government of Libya that the
issuance of a verdict against the two suspects of the Pan Am 103 trial does
not in itself signify an end to UN sanctions against Libya. The UN Security
Council resolutions call on Libya
to satisfy specific outstanding
before the sanctions can be lifted. Those elements include ending support
all terrorist activities, acknowledging responsibility for the actions of
officials, disclosing all it knows of the crime, and paying appropriate
As we have said all along, the
Government of Libya must take
responsibility for the actions of Libyan officials. That means revealing
everything they know about the Lockerbie bombing, paying reparations, a
declaration acknowledging responsibility for the actions of the Libyan
officials, and clear unambiguous actions which demonstrate the Libyan
Government understands this responsibility.
note also that the United States maintains unilateral
on Libya that predate the bombing of Pan Am 103. The sanctions will remain
effect, even if UN sanctions were lifted and/or reviewed. Our sanctions are
reviewed as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.
Okay, that is the basic lay of the land. I am happy
to take your
questions on this or other questions.
QUESTION: Well, would you take one more swing
-- I promise we won't do
longer -- on the Prayer Breakfast, who might be here, what contact those
QUESTION: Let's do Libya.
Lockerbie. I thought -- I didn't think -- all right,
sorry. I thought we had something coming up on Lockerbie later. Go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Let's do Lockerbie for
a while, and then we will come
back to the Prayer Breakfast and all the meetings that are happening this
week, because I know that is of interest, too.
QUESTION: On taking responsibility, could you be --
and for the
Libyan officials -- can you be a little clearer on what exactly this
To what extent do you intend to pursue the superiors of Mr. Megrahi?
MR. BOUCHER: I think first of all, it is
important to remember that we are
five hours from the verdict. The verdict established quite clearly the
responsibility, the personal responsibility of an individual who was a
Government security service agent. The Libyan Government as a whole
bears responsibility for the actions that were taken.
We have said the UN resolution has called on them
to live up to that
responsibility. As I've just said, that means things like revealing
everything they know, paying reparations, clearly declaring and
their responsibility, and taking actions which demonstrate that they
understand this responsibility.
Now, we will be consulting with other governments, particularly I think with
the Government of the United
Kingdom. The Secretary spoke with Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook this morning, about 9 o'clock, about this issue. He
be seeing Foreign Secretary Cook next Tuesday as well, and have a chance to
We will meet with the Libyans, as we did a about a week ago in New York. We
will meet with the Libyans in the near future to
make clear to them the
of steps that we expect them to take.
QUESTION: On revealing everything they know,
this is obviously the
difficult condition to meet. Are you not satisfied so far that they have
revealed everything they know? You've said that they were cooperating in
these procedures, the preparations for the trial, and in fact the Secretary
said the other day that they had satisfied you on that count.
Do you still believe that they have not revealed everything they know?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we will be looking at these
elements; we will be
consulting with others; we will be probably defining them further. But I
think the trial in itself establishes a new level of responsibility because
the facts are well established now by a verdict of the court, and therefore
the requirement for the Libyan Government to satisfy all the conditions of
UN resolution are quite clear.
QUESTION: The idea of responsibility, though, Richard, does the United
States take responsibility for personal actions committed by employees of it
overseas? In other words, if you are a US
Government employee and you're
overseas and you do something, does the US Government take responsibility?
you normally take responsibility for that action?
MR. BOUCHER: If it was an official act.
QUESTION: Okay. So
you're saying now, then, that -- following from
that this was an official order from the Libyan Government to do this in
MR. BOUCHER: We
are saying what we have said before, what the
Security Council has said before, and what is established in the trial, that
the person who
carried out this act was an agent of the Libyan security
services and that the Libyan Government needs to take responsibility for its
QUESTION: What I'm
trying to get, though, is you don't think -- you're
saying that he was acting on orders from the Libyan Government, so why
the Libyan Government take responsibility?
MR. BOUCHER: Because it was one of their
officials who carried out this
QUESTION: But you don't do the same thing in similar cases, and so --
BOUCHER: I don't think you have ever had an American
official bomb an
airplane and kill 259 people.
QUESTION: I'm not talking about bombing. I'm talking about accidents,
crimes that they may have committed overseas.
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is quite clear in the
United Nations resolutions
the international community expects the Libyan Government to take
responsibility for these situations.
but let me just -- give me one more try at this,
you're not saying
-- you can't say -- that this guy was acting on orders from the Libyan
Government, you sure seem to be implying that by saying that they need to
responsibility. And if that's the case, why does the responsibility end
the conviction of this guy? Why doesn't it logically flow that the
responsibility lies with the higher-ranking officials, who you seem to be
implying ordered this?
Okay, let me try to answer this with three or four things
thought were obvious but maybe aren't. First of all, the verdict has said
that this person was an agent of the Libyan Government. That's a level of
responsibility established in fact.
Second of all,
the United Nations resolutions have already established the
responsibility of the Libyan Government and called on the Libyan Government
do a number of things, and we expect the Libyan Government to do those
Third, we have made clear, and others have made clear as
well, that we will
follow this evidence wherever it leads. I'm not trying to go beyond the
verdict in establishing the specific criminal responsibility of people in
Libyan Government or anything like that; I am saying that the Libyan
Government bears a responsibility that has been well established both by the
trial and the international community.
But we have also made clear that
we will follow the evidence wherever it
leads; that this case is open; and that the United States Government, and in
particular the US law enforcement agencies, will pursue
of evidence wherever it leads.
QUESTION: Could I ask if in the conversation today
there was any
of Britain's removal of its own bilateral sanctions a year or so ago? Does
the US Government wish that Britain review that action?
BOUCHER: I don't know that that came up. They talked about
situation, the verdict, the next steps, the United Nations, questions of
eventual Security Council resolutions --although I think they agree with us
security resolution at this point would be premature. I
that they had any discussion of past actions.
QUESTION: Doesn't that weaken the US's case or
the US's approach if
doesn't stand with the US on imposing its own sanctions against Libya now
you have a verdict and you have all sorts -- it involved another situation,
according to the policemen, but even so, hasn't Libya's record become clear
MR. BOUCHER: I think you will find from what I am saying
and from what the
British have said, and from what we are doing today and throughout this
13-year period, that the United States and Britain have been in lockstep.
QUESTION: Richard, I want to see if I can get
you to the sort of
it seems like an unfinished sentence -- the Libyan Government bears
responsibility for what? For the bombing, or responsibility for telling all
that it knows about the bombing?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first and foremost, its
responsibility is to live up to
United Nations resolutions, and it needs to do that. Those resolutions, if
you look at them, call upon Libya -- I'm trying to read resolutions on the
here, which doesn't work. Let me do the summary. They call upon Libya to
take certain specific actions in order to take responsibility for the
and to take particular responsibility with regard to the families and the
people who were killed. And that involves compensation, it involves
evidence, and other things that are specified, both in the resolutions and
other statements that we have made.
QUESTION: If I could follow
up on Barry's question, the British have
normalized relations with Libya. They have got an embassy there. Why this
gap? You have got two countries, both who were victims of this terrorist
-- the plan actually crashed in Britain -- yet Britain has gone all the way
normalizing relations, and we are still imposing sanctions out into
perpetuity. Why the gap between the US and British positions on Libya?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as
Barry pointed out, on certain matters our policy
towards Libya is not the same. The British sanctions had to do with the
killing of policemen; they wanted to be satisfied on that. We have
sanctions based on Libya's state sponsorship of terrorism, which we continue
to have in place and which are not implicated by this decision.
But I would say on the issue of Pan Am 103, the
pursuit of the Lockerbie
the pursuit of justice in this case, the investigation, the trial, and what
do about the UN resolution, we have been cooperating extremely closely with
the British and expect to continue to do so.
QUESTION: This morning, some members of
the families said that they
asked Secretary Powell to speak with them, and they wanted to know that they
had his support. And I wanted to know if he has plans
to meet with these
family members. And what exactly would State's practical next steps be?
not sure how this agency and the Justice Department share responsibility
MR. BOUCHER: First and
foremost, the fundamental aspect of your question,
yes, we have worked closely with the families, kept in close touch with the
families. The Secretary is indeed concerned about the families and their
welfare, and he does look forward to seeing them, and he will meet with them
soon. Nothing scheduled --
QUESTION: He hasn't talked to them yet?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing scheduled yet. We
are providing information to the
families. There are phone calls being made. There is a letter that is
expected to go from the Secretary to the families, and he will meet with
as well. We have been in close touch with the families all along. We and
Justice share that responsibility for being in touch with them.
Let me see if I have any more details on that at this point. The meeting --
there will be a meeting with the Secretary, but it is not scheduled yet.
We have had phone calls going out
today and tomorrow from the Office of
Counter-Terrorism and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. We have officials
in those bureaus that are making phone calls and meeting with the relatives.
We are also talking to the
Members of Congress about it, and then, as I
we will set up a meeting with the Secretary soon.
QUESTION: What will it take for the United States to lift sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: Full Libyan compliance with the
terms of the United Nations
just those four steps, and then, even though we
that predate --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, for the United States to lift its sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, sorry, wrong answer. The answer to
what will it take
the United States to support the lifting of UN sanctions will be full Libyan
compliance. The answer to what it would take to get
the United States to
our own sanctions, which are imposed because of state support for terrorism,
the standard criteria, which I don't think I have with me,
essentially means ending permanently all support for terrorist activities.
And one of those aspects, we have said in the past, was how well they
cooperated with the trial.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more
about the next step in
with the Libyans in New York? Is that done at ambassadorial level?
BOUCHER: We had a meeting with the Libyans last week in New
our Chargé at the US Mission, and I believe the British Permanent Rep, the
British Ambassador to the UN there. I would expect that an upcoming meeting
take place more or less at the same level. We will
take an opportunity to
tell the Libyans what it takes for them to be in full compliance.
Last week, when we
approached the Libyans, it was essentially to tell them
that the verdict, whatever way it went, was not the condition for lifting
UN sanctions, and that we would expect full and complete compliance with the
resolutions. And we will go into more detail on that when we
But as I said, first we have to review
the verdict carefully; we have to
consider some of the questions that need to be put and decided; we need to
consult with the British and others. And then we will see the Libyans and
tell them the kinds of steps that we think they need to take to bring
themselves in full compliance.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up one more time?
Do you realistically
this to be the first in what amounts to a longer legal process involving
MR. BOUCHER: I think that the question of
other indictments or trials is
that the Justice Department would have to answer. I don't have anything to
predict that at this point.
QUESTION: On the question of UN sanctions -- penalties associated with
suspended currently. And given that your concern that
obviously not complied with the terms of them, would you favor in any way
trying to re-impose them?
MR. BOUCHER: The UN resolutions said quite clearly
what the terms and
conditions were for these various steps, and in Resolution 883 of 1993 the
Council said that they would suspend the measures immediately if the
General reports to the Council that the Libyan Government has ensured the
appearance of those charged with the bombing before the appropriate UK or US
court, and satisfy the French also on the bombing of
UTA 772. So those
conditions were met and resulted in the suspension, but it goes on to say
would lift -- with a view to lifting them immediately when Libya complies
fully with the requests and decisions in Resolution 731 and 748. So the
conditions are quite clear.
engaged in that process of gaining full and complete
with all the terms of the resolutions. They met the term that said they had
cooperate in bringing these people before the courts, and
sanctions were suspended. But in order to get the sanctions actually
they will have to meet the terms that say they have to satisfy fully those
QUESTION: The question was whether you
would consider seeking to
the sanctions which, in effect, are no longer -- no longer have any
MR. BOUCHER: What I tried to
describe in the answer to that was that there
was a process set up; we are at a stage in that process; they met an initial
phase. We're not going backwards, but to go
farther they have to comply
QUESTION: You mean
there is no consideration being given to
MR. BOUCHER: The issue is whether or not --
that's not the issue at this
point. They met the requirement for suspension, so they got the suspension.
The requirements for further steps are what's under discussion.
QUESTION: So why does it matter if
there's no penalty associated with
MR. BOUCHER: No,
I don't think any country wants to be known as a country
that is under UN sanction. That is the issue here.
QUESTION: When you talk about a clear declaration
responsibility, does that declaration have to come from Colonel Qadhafi or
include in it that Colonel Qadhafi was himself in some way involved? And
given the structure of that government, is there any way that such an event
could have taken place without him being involved?
MR. BOUCHER: We have said quite clearly
we think the Libyan Government
to acknowledge its responsibility. I don't think I can go beyond that at
point until we have actually had a chance to consult with others and
the exact kinds of steps that we would expect.
QUESTION: And given the
structure of the Libyan Government, is there
that that would not imply the involvement of Colonel Qadhafi?
MR. BOUCHER: Colonel Qadhafi is obviously the
head of the Libyan
would the US be willing to see that the Libyans
taken responsibility by paying compensation to the victims' families without
having to directly say, "Yes, we did it"? But if they were to say, "We take
responsibility for our employees, this person was an agent of the government
and therefore we'll pay the compensation"? Do they have to say --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to start
playing in public with the terms. I
think the terms are quite clear. I listed several actions, which we would
expect them to take, including revealing everything they know, paying
reparations, a clear declaration acknowledging responsibility, and clear and
actions which demonstrate that they understand this
responsibility. We will obviously go beyond those terms in our
with British and other governments, and we will I think be quite clear as we
approach the Libyans on what steps we think they need to take.
QUESTION: Does this verdict open the door to a
US demand for
Colonel Qadhafi or for others in his government?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we have
said before and will say once again, we
follow the evidence wherever it leads. If there is evidence for that, then
that will happen, but we will follow it wherever it leads.
QUESTION: Are you saying that right now
there is no evidence that
Qadhafi ordered this?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point there are no other
indictments. Put it that
QUESTION: Richard, do you
remember the last time Libya was suspected
involvement in a terrorist act?
MR. BOUCHER: I don 't
think that is the issue. The issue when it comes to
terrorism is Libya's support for terrorism. In our 1999 "Patterns of Global
Terrorism Report," we describe the
situation. I think some of those
statements that we made last year will apply to the end of this year as
We will come out with a new report at the end of April. But there is no
particular schedule for review, there is no particular deadline for review,
and we will make our own determination at the point that we think that Libya
has firmly and permanently ended any support for terrorism.
QUESTION: But that report noted improvements.
MR. BOUCHER: It noted improvements.
QUESTION: And there wasn't anything in
recent history in that report
implicated Libya in a terrorist act.
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're -- the
criteria are not, "Have we been able to
charge you with a specific act in the last year?" The criteria are much
broader than that. And we will consider those things when it is
QUESTION: Richard, again, on
the question of responsibility, you seem
and the other people who are supporting the prosecution in this case seem to
be relying on a flawed syllogism to get to
the point where you say that the
Libyan Government was responsible.
MR. BOUCHER: Nay, I deny. I deny all flawed syllogisms.
QUESTION: By that I mean this trial has come
out and found that this
an agent of the Libyan Government, but that the UN by itself has come out
said that the Libyan Government was responsible. And therefore you are
that this guy, because of these two things, the Libyan Government is
responsible for this bombing. But that doesn't fit legally. You can't --
I don't understand how you can expect the Libyan -- how you are coming out
and saying that the results of this trial mean that the Libyan Government
to take or acknowledge its responsibility, unless there is some legal
somewhere that proves not only that this guy was an agent of the Libyan
Government, that he did it, but that he also did it under orders from the
QUESTION: How do you take responsibility? Do you mean --
them to --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay,
you talk to Matt later. I'll talk to everybody now.
Let's try to go through this. There is a fundamental premise involved here
that I think is not a flawed syllogism; it is a fundamental, logical,
sense assumption that unless it was possible to establish otherwise, I think
most normal people in the world will accept.
And that is, if a Libyan intelligence agent does
something, that the Libyan
Government bears responsibility for what he does. I think that fundamental
I don't think anybody accepts for virtually any country in the world that if
one of your
intelligence agents goes and does something that somehow
acting on his own in a personal capacity entirely divorced from his
government, unless demonstrated otherwise.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not
making a legal case. I was very careful to say I am
not trying to go beyond what the court established in the trial. But you
calling a flawed syllogism what in fact is a common-sense assumption that
been made not only by us, but with the international community throughout
period, and that is that the Libyan Government bears responsibility for
actions that are undertaken by officials of the Libyan Government.
QUESTION: Yes, but legally an assumption doesn't hold up
in a court of
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't make a legal case.
QUESTION: I know, I know. And that's the problem that I find --
MR. BOUCHER: No, that is not the problem.
The problem is that there has
established a sense of responsibility of the Libyan Government by the
international community in the UN resolutions, and we would expect Libya to
live up to those obligations and requirements.
QUESTION: But you say that justice has been
done, but it really
then, because this verdict didn't establish the link that you imply -- and
you've done everything you can to imply but you won't say directly -- that
Libyan Government itself, and not some rogue agent out there, was
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is fair to say that justice was done in this case.
It is not fair to say that
justice has been done, period. We have always
that if there is other responsibility that can be established, we intend to
follow the evidence wherever it leads. So I wouldn't say justice is
QUESTION: Richard, what else does Libya
have to do to end -- to get
terrorism list? It has renounced terrorism formally; Abu Nidal is gone; the
counter-terrorism people say there is no money trail
anymore. What else
it have to do?
I don't think I am in a position to give quite sort of a
specific level of detail. I would say once again that, first of all,
cooperation in this trial and cooperation with the UN resolutions is an
element of Libya effectively distancing itself from any acts of terrorism
have been committed or might be committed.
And second of all, it is really a question of
sort of permanently and
establishing that it has no links and will have no links with terrorism, and
those will be probably a whole number of factors that might be considered at
an appropriate time. It is much too early to consider that now.
QUESTION: Can we go on to
something else, because we are going to run
2 o'clock briefing?
QUESTION: Is there any US Government
view on the acquittal of the
suspect? Was this a disappointment or any indication of --
MR. BOUCHER: I
think the basic thing you have to say on that is we respect
the decision of the court. We pushed for a trial in US or UK courts. We
supported the UN resolutions that called for that, and therefore we accept
decision of the court. As I said, we remain vigilant in the pursuit of
justice. We will follow any other individuals and evidence wherever it
QUESTION: One final
question. Mr. Powell has said that he would like
review sanctions and maybe use less sanctions in this world. Isn't this a
case that sort of flies in the face of that, where sanctions actually forced
the Libyans to
give up these guys, and now we are talking about this
-- we are going to continue sanctions in this case? How does that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you read what Secretary Powell actually said in his
he was quite clear. There is a plethora of sanctions in
many of which -- the number of which and the kinds of which and the various
strictures with which are pretty astounding.
At the same time, he said quite clearly sanctions have their uses. And this
is clearly, as
you point out, a situation where the international community
has acted together, has acted consistently over a number of years, has
sanctions together, and has brought about a result that we wanted, which was
that justice be done.
QUESTION: The Prayer Breakfast. Who is
coming? What might be
Who might see -- I don't know if you want to speak for the President, but
might -- we know so far of only three foreign leaders, but I'm sure there
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go through a couple basics. Prayer Breakfast. It is an
annual event. It is hosted by the US Senate and the
It is an offshoot of a weekly internal event that occurs separately at the
House and the Senate. The first one began in 1942 as a private affair. It
still considered a private event, but it now includes 125 nations.
This year we are
told there are five heads of state, numerous foreign
ministers, and most of the diplomatic corps who will attend. There is not
exact count, but more than 5,000 people are expected to attend. As I said,
the Secretary of State will attend as well. It is an interfaith program
considered an outreach program for people who could make a positive change
of people that the Secretary will be meeting with -- and my
correct me if I get this wrong because I didn't write it all down -- the
Secretary this afternoon will be meeting with President Kagame of Rwanda.
Tomorrow he will be meeting with President Kabila of the Democratic Republic
of the Congo.
QUESTION: The Romanian?
QUESTION: The Macedonian?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Tomorrow afternoon there is a meeting with the Romanian
Minister and the Macedonian President. No meeting with the
Montenegrin President scheduled. On Friday, he is meeting with some Kosovar
representatives, three Kosovar
leaders. On Friday he is meeting with the
Serb Prime Minister, Mr. Djindic. And I forgot one.
QUESTION: And the Indonesian?
MR. BOUCHER: And the Indonesian Trade Minister.
QUESTION: Why is he not meeting with Djukanovic?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a great many people in
town. He is just not having
meeting with him.
QUESTION: The previous Secretary and he were best buddies and --
MR. BOUCHER: I am sure they will see each
other from time to time. They
just not seeing each other this week.
QUESTION: Your count of the five
heads of state, does that include
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Those are five foreign -- is it five foreign heads of state?
BOUCHER: I assume that's five foreign heads of state, but it
President Bush. We know of --
QUESTION: Richard, this meeting with Kabila, is this at
the site of
Prayer Breakfast? Is it in the morning, or do you have any details on it?
MR. BOUCHER: These separate meetings will be here. Obviously, in attending
the Prayer Breakfast, he is likely to see many
of the other foreign
and leaders who are there.
QUESTION: Will there be readouts?
We will do the usual readouts on the meetings as they occur,
QUESTION: No open press on any of them?
MR. BOUCHER: I think photo ops, pictures, cameras.
QUESTION: Will you read out today after 4 p.m. on Kagame?
MR. BOUCHER: We will try to get you some information, yes.
QUESTION: Can I offer -- for later on, can someone
look into this:
does the US place Djukanovic? Is he a head of state, or is he a head of --
president of a republic within a -- and for the purposes of your listing
heads of state, I am assuming that he is not included as a head of state. I
know you don't have the answer now, but if someone could.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I would make the same assumption, but I will try to define
it more clearly for you. President of a
republic within the State of
trying to beat the 2 o'clock deadline. A Greek editor
(inaudible) has been denied a visa, apparently. He is supposed to be a
leftist -- an editor of a leftist magazine.
Are his political views reason to keep him from going to Columbia Journalism
School, which I haven't noticed is a hotbed of subversion? I say that as an
QUESTION: It certainly produced --
QUESTION: All right, watch it.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, with
the hope of concluding in time for you to hear from
Senior State Department official, that is something I will have to look
There are restrictions on what we can say, legal restrictions on what we can
about visa cases, but I will check into that and see if
we can say.
QUESTION: He probably
wouldn't mind if you said why he is persona
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we will look at it.
QUESTION: If we could just go back a minute to the visiting --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go back. We had another Greek question in the back.
QUESTION: When you speak of
the Greek parliament, (inaudible) the
met with an American delegation under Congressman Gilman, and with the
presence of course of Ambassador Nicholas Burns in Athens. Mr. Kaklamanis
stated to the US officials that the US Government is using terrorism against
and specifically against the Olympic Games of 2004, and that
Government is playing the role of DA, having Greece accused in the name of
Do you agree?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we don't. We were, in fact,
surprised and disappointed
Mr. Kaklamanis would mischaracterize US-Greek counter-terrorism cooperation
the way he did. State Department officials met with Greek Ambassador Philon
earlier this week on this issue. I
would point out that we cooperated very
closely with the Simitis government to support counter-terrorism efforts.
respect fully Greek sovereignty and authority, and in fact we have given
to Greece over many years in this area.
We have also given strong
public support for Greece's counter-terrorism
efforts, particularly since the murder last year of a British official. We
have made clear that we fully support a safe and secure Olympics in Athens
2004. We are very close partners, and we believe that Mr. Kaklamanis is
simply out of touch with the excellent relations between our two countries.
QUESTION: What do you expect from the
Greek Government to do on this
with the Speaker of the House? Because it seems to many people in Greece
the US Embassy in Athens has picked a fight with the Speaker of the House
many years, actually now, and this thing continues a lot.
What do you expect to happen there?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to
start specifying conditions for the Greek
Government. As I said, we have excellent counter-terrorism cooperation. I
think the Greek Government will acknowledge that as well. You just had the
remarks quoted to you; I don't think anybody should be surprised that when
are accused of such things that we should reply that that is not the case
it is not the truth.
QUESTION: In the
same meeting that Mr. Kaklamanis stated that they
that the continuing invasion -- the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey using
illegally American weapons, in violation of the US law, and he said that the
US Government did nothing so far to stop this tragedy?
Could you please comment?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm not going to try to remark on every single statement
that the gentleman has made.
There are some that are particularly
and we will jump on those. I think that sort of statement on Cyprus has
made before, and we have responded before. We don't have anything new to
But the kind of conference -- discussion among
US officials with the presence of Ambassador Burns is not the kind of
statement -- (inaudible). So that is why I would like you to comment.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I am not going to try to comment on
every aspect of it.
this charge that somehow we are using terrorism against the Olympics is just
plain wrong, and I'm going to knock that one out. Okay?
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to President Pastrana's decision to
extend FARC (inaudible), as it's called, by four days?
MR. BOUCHER: It wasn't clear to me exactly what period. It is a very brief
period that he has decided to extend this for. And we do understand that he
has extended it for a brief period in order to allow
time to hold a meeting
with the FARC leader, to try to salvage the foundering peace process between
the government and the FARC.
The Government of Colombia, we think, must be free to make its own decisions
on what will
yield progress in the peace process. We have always said
would welcome developments that help Colombia move towards peace, national
reconciliation, and progress against narcotics trafficking.
QUESTION: Did you say foundering or floundering?
MR. BOUCHER: I said foundering.
QUESTION: Yes, but that's the big thing at Columbia Journalism School.
Flounder is a fish.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you, Barry.
QUESTION: Even though the
United States is always saying that they
the peace process mostly, whatever happens after a peace process, if there
a peace process or not, will impact directly on the relations and the work
that the US and Colombia are doing. There is eight years ago Americans
kidnapped by the FARC; they haven't responded. There have been seven
extensions of the DMZ zone by President Pastrana; they haven't responded.
There is also probably many things are going on inside the DMZ.
Is there any way -- space for peace after all these by the FARC?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, it is important
to remember we have
indeed expressed ourselves on the various things that have happened. We
cooperated with the Government of Colombia. We have cooperated with other
governments in terms of, if you will remember not too long ago, the arrests
people that showed the connection between FARC and the narco-traffickers.
our assistance and our support for Colombia, including our endorsement of
their efforts to gain peace, are very broad-ranging and indeed focus
especially on the issue of narcotics trafficking, which has a connection to
But I think in the end, we do need to say that we
leave the government free
make its own decisions on how to proceed on the peace process. We do think
the peace process is important. President Pastrana has pursued this
steadfastly in various ways, and we really leave to him the decisions about
how to proceed because, in the end, the country needs peace.
QUESTION: You've said in
your response that it was a short period to
this by. Do you mean that as an observation, or would you like to have seen
them extend it by a longer period?
MR. BOUCHER: No, that is an observation. My people told
me a week; I saw
another report that said three days; you said four days. I'm just not sure
exactly how long it was, but it wasn't very long.
QUESTION: On Russia.
Yesterday, anonymous sources at the State
leaked to a graduate of Columbia Journalism School about a Russian diplomat
defecting last fall. And now the Russian Foreign Ministry is saying that it
has been denied
consular visits, which would imply that they believe,
that the US is holding him. And they also say that they want immediate
response to their requests.
Do you have any response to that?
MR. BOUCHER: No. It
is a very longstanding practice not to comment on
matters of this kind, and I'm afraid I can't change that at this point.
QUESTION: Sorry, of what kind?
MR. BOUCHER: Of this kind?
QUESTION: What kind would that be?
MR. BOUCHER: The kind that she described. And the kind
described in the
QUESTION: Can you expand a little? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Richard? I
mean, do they have any basis for
claiming they need consular access?
MR. BOUCHER: That requires me to talk
about the whereabouts and status of
individual, which I can't do.
QUESTION: On the Middle East, if the
polls hold true, Ariel Sharon
the next Prime Minister of Israel, will win by a landslide. Is the United
States concerned that given the background of this man and the feelings that
Arab countries have toward him, his
election will effectively bring the
process to a halt in the Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: No, thank you.
That is an invitation to get involved in the
Israeli election and to make predictions about things and how we would deal
with somebody before the election happens. We look to the Israeli public to
decide who their leader will be, and after that we will work with them.
QUESTION: But can I follow up, because the Jordanian Foreign Minister,
having seen Mr. Powell yesterday, told some of
us who got up a little
today that whoever wins, that the US should immediately get engaged again,
also, of course -- which I don't think displeases the US Government -- that
Europe and the UN are no substitutes for American mediation. With the
Sharon, Barak, whoever wins, the US should immediately get very active. He
says he told this to Secretary Powell, but of course he didn't presume to
speak for the Secretary.
Can you respond to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that, yes, that was
part of the discussion;
that as Secretary Powell said in his hearings, he said again to the
Foreign Minister, that we would be involved in the Middle East peace
that we intended to play an active role. And we have also said, and he has
said, at this point we have not yet defined exactly how that role would be
structured or carried out. But we do intend to play an active role.
QUESTION: And that is irrespective of who might win?
MR. BOUCHER: It has been a longstanding US
policy for many, many years
through successive US Governments, administrations, as well as Israeli ones.
QUESTION: Just to go back quickly to the African
leaders here. Have
heard this morning whether there will be any meeting between Presidents
and Kabila, and does anybody in this Department -- are you playing any role
trying to bring them together?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we are not taking any role, we
are not pushing or
any particular meeting. It is a good idea. We would certainly be happy to
see such a meeting, but we are not in the process of setting one up. We
seen the press reports that there might be one, but frankly we are not aware
at this point of any specific plans for a meeting between the two leaders.
QUESTION: And a separate question. Newspaper
reports today quote
the Department as saying that Marc Rich did not renounce his US citizenship
and is therefore liable to large amounts of back tax. I don't know whether
you have anything on that.
BOUCHER: Well, the only point I think that gets us involved
is on the
citizenship question, and in fact that was the subject of a second circuit
Court of Appeals ruling in December 1991. The court found that Mr. Rich had
failed to show the necessary intent to abandon his US
citizenship, and we
no records or information that would contradict that court's findings.
QUESTION: '91, you said?
MR. BOUCHER: 1991 the court decision was.
QUESTION: Running away in order to avoid criminal
prosecution is not
evidence of that? That's what they found?
MR. BOUCHER: They found no intent to abandon citizenship.
QUESTION: Yes. Does the US Government or the
new Administration have
kind of role, will there be any plans to meet with the Spanish Government
regarding the ETA situation in Spain? Anything new?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we will be seeing our Spanish
friends and allies
There is no particular plan at this point, and the subject of terrorism is
always one on our agenda. But I don't have anything specific, nothing new
American-Armenian organization in Washington, DC --
said that they put pressure on the State Department, and also the US
Ambassador to Turkey, Mr. Pearson, to change his (inaudible) about the
Armenian genocide. And actually Ambassador Pearson released a statement on
this subject, and he said that the Turkish press misquoted his remarks.
Do you have anything on the subject?
BOUCHER: I would reiterate what Ambassador Pearson said in
QUESTION: What does the US Government
think about the bill presented
Senator Dodd and McCain and others about suspending the certification
by two years in order to defer another mechanism for fighting drugs in the
MR. BOUCHER: I think that came up briefly
in the Secretary's press
yesterday in the discussion with Foreign Minister Castaneda. Basically, we
are aware of the proposal; we are aware of the interest of Mexico and people
on the Hill to change the drug certification process. For our part, at this
point, it is
the law of the land, and unless the law is changed, we will
continue to do the certifications, which have proven useful in the past.
There is also the multilateral
certification process being discussed and
getting up and running, but that is something that is just starting.
QUESTION: Well, since it wasn't talked about at
the news conference
yesterday, can you give us a flavor of their discussion on this subject
yesterday -- on drug certification?
MR. BOUCHER: On drug certification? I think
the Secretary and Foreign
Minister Castaneda both mentioned it, but maybe I'm remembering the meeting
instead. But no, the discussion was -- I guess on this particular subject
was somewhat analytical. I think they talked about the overall framework of
trafficking and the process that was going on. They noted
multilateral process was starting. So it was sort of a general and
discussion of how we can handle these subjects and things we need to talk
about, not a decision at this point.
QUESTION: After all the
frictions with other countries, after two or
years of certification being very controversial, it's definitely a relief if
it's being suspended in order to
have a better relation on multilateral
certification or something like that, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: All I would
point out is that counter-narcotics policy and
strategy remain very, very important to us. We continue to work with other
governments. The certification process is a law that requests information
from our Congress, and we comply with that law.
QUESTION: Several Arab newspapers
reported that high-level US
contact with the Iraqi oppositions group in Northern Iraq. Do you have
anything on this subject?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:55 P.M.)