US State dept Daily Press Briefing
US State dept Daily Press Briefing
Monday, February 5, 2001
Argentina . Nato . Montenegro . Chechnya . Switzerland . Libya . China . Israel . Middle East Peace Negotiation .
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
(pp. 1) Readout of Secretary Powell's Meeting With Argentine
(pp. 2-5) Comments on the status of the European Union Rapid
Reaction Force and the US National Missile Defense System
(pp. 5-6) Comments on Montenegro Independence and Recent Comments
by Minister Djukanovic
(pp. 6) Update on the Release of Kidnapped American
(pp. 6-7) Comments on the Swiss Request for Borodin Extradition
(pp. 7) Discussion of Qadhafi Interview and Remarks on Lockerbie
(pp. 7-8) Comments on Short-Range Missile Buildup and Support of
Russian Weapons Technology
(pp. 8) Situation Update on American Citizen Killed in China
(pp. 8-9) Comments on Israeli Elections / US concerns of Arab
Backlash Against Sharon Victory
MIDDLE EAST PEACE NEGOTIATION
(pp. 9) Update on Vacant Special Middle East Peace Coordinator
(pp. 9) Update Secretary Powell's Communication with World
(pp. 9-10) Discussion of Changes to Mexico City Language and Family
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 18
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2001 12:35
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
BOUCHER: I don't have any statements or announcements,
gentlemen, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
Q: Well, let's just start with what the
Secretary has done this
morning. Can you give us a rundown on what he talked about with the
MR. BOUCHER: The discussion with the
Argentine Foreign Minister this
morning was centered on the issues of democracy and economic freedom.
They talked about democracy and economic freedom, and our support for
democracy and economic freedom in Argentina, obviously, and the
excellent relationship that we have.
We have had, I think, a lot of success with our
recently, and the Secretary asked and got a briefing on the recent
return to growth of the Argentine economy. And then they talked about
how we can cooperate on democracy and economic freedom in the
On the economic side, Argentina has been
conducting, as chairman, the
negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, so the
Secretary heard from them on the progress that they've been making.
There will be another meeting of trade ministers in Buenos Aires before
the Quebec Summit of the Americas, so that will be another occasion
when trade ministers will focus on this.
And then they talked about democracy
in the hemisphere and how to
strengthen our work, together with other countries in the hemisphere,
to support democracy. Both ministers noting that Cuba is the distinct
exception to democracy in the hemisphere, and both ministers having
recently been denounced by Fidel Castro. They shared a certain honor
in that and talked about the situation of the Czechs who are in jail in
Cuba for the mere fact of meeting with some dissidents.
Finally, I guess, they discussed, sort of more
generally, how the
issues of economic and political freedom will be central to the policy
of this Administration and central to the policies of the hemisphere as
a whole, especially as we head into the Quebec Summit.
Q: Was there anything more specific on the
Well, actually, both on that, as I seem to recall, there was something
about an Open Skies Agreement that was being held up when we were in BA
last year. And also, the former Secretary also offered to look into
some documents so that --
Yes. On the Open Skies Agreement, some things have been
done. I know there were more liberal air arrangements for some
carriers. I will have to check and see how exactly to describe that
agreement, how that was reached and how that was done.
On the documents, that really
didn't come up this morning. That is a
process that is under way within the US Government to look at documents
from the military period of Argentina to see if we have any information
that can help them in their search, especially for missing people.
That is a process that is under way that should result in something
sometime this spring.
Q: Javier Solana, now with the impossible title
from the European
Union, will be seeing -- oh, go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: Argentina question.
Q: Given this
Administration's desire to regionalize Plan Colombia,
did anything on this topic come up? And what did -- what was the --
MR. BOUCHER: No, that didn't -- I'm trying to
think -- that didn't
really come up in any specific terms today. I think there was some
discussion of the drug problems and the need to deal with them, but not
the sort of Andean aspects of the problem didn't really come up in the
Q: Mr. Solana will not be
seeing the Secretary till the mid-afternoon,
but we know the issues. In fact, there was just a two-day conference
in Munich. I'm interested in the -- Donald Rumsfeld was there -- but
I'm particularly interested in the Secretary's views, particularly on
this notion of this European rapid-reaction force. A lot of press
reports. They're speaking of divisions now, the Europeans and the US
sort of parting.
Is that a threat to NATO, that Europe would have a force like that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I
think these stories that the US and Europe are
parting have been a perennial favorite of commentators, probably on
both sides of the Atlantic. We seem to be in another period where
people are writing that, and as for the last 50 years, we will probably
get through it with the strong and positive relationship that we
continue to have with Europe.
The Secretary talked about this in his
testimony when he was on the
Hill, that European relations, that NATO is the bedrock of our
relationship with Europe, and that European relations are vital to us
as we go forward. He said that we have welcomed, we do welcome, a more
integrated and more robust, a stronger Europe that we will continue to
support European efforts, such as the European Security and Defense
Policy and their rapid-reaction capability, as long as they strengthen
and complement NATO. He has made clear, and Secretary Rumsfeld made
clear in Munich on Saturday, that we will not act unilaterally with
regard to security issues in Europe and will continue to consult
closely with our allies on a full range of transatlantic security
The Secretary made that clear in his
interview yesterday on television,
Richard, I think you're downplaying the potential for
here. How many countries can you name among the allies which think
that the National Missile Defense idea is a good one?
MR. BOUCHER: All I'm saying, George,
is that at any moment there are
issues that we have under discussion with the allies, some of which we
agree upon and some of which we don't agree upon yet. But we are
committed to a consultative process. We have said, as the Secretary
has said very recently, that we intend to consult with them as we go
forward and that this will be an issue of discussion.
Are we in full agreement on the
missile defense or on the European
security issues? Not yet. But we have made considerable progress, we
have had considerable discussions, and we'll continue to work with
them. And as I said, in the long run, if you look back at the last 50
years of history, we always seem to work these things out and come
together and work together.
Q: (Inaudible) -- full agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't
say that at this point. We've just started -- in
this Administration -- started the consultations.
Q: You just
said, "We have made considerable progress." I just
wondered what the context was.
MR. BOUCHER: I was
referring more to the European security issues that
we've been discussing more intensively for the last six months. But
certainly the commitment to consultations, to working with our allies
as we work through the issues, that's fundamental to the approach of
Q: It is projected by Mr. Solana -- of
course, he's speaking in praise
of this strike force -- that it will spare the US of having to respond
to every crisis in Europe, and he called Bosnia a catastrophe and
suggested this will make such catastrophes less likely. There will be
European commanders, though.
Is this the
kind of arrangement that Secretary Powell finds in the US's
very best interest?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I go
back to what I've just said, that we
support the European capability, including the European rapid-reaction
capability. What's been important to the Secretary -- and you've seen
him address this a number of times -- is that it be a complement to
NATO, that the European governments come up with the investment that's
necessary to create a capability that expands their abilities, and that
this be in addition to the capabilities of NATO, that we not try to
duplicate the capabilities of NATO.
How exactly that will be done in terms of structures is
has been worked on considerably and is continuing to be worked on. I
would expect it to be discussed again today with Javier Solana, the
European High Representative.
But there are other issues as well.
Neither missile defense nor
European security would be expected to dominate the conversation.
There is certainly the European interest, and Javier Solana's personal
interest because he's on the Mitchell Commission, their interest in the
Middle East would be obviously a subject of discussion, and naturally
the Balkans as well. This is the first time Secretary Powell is having
a meeting with a senior official representing the European Union, so
there will be a whole series of issues to discuss.
Q: Again, back to kind of what Barry
was saying, you said, "Have we
reached full agreement on NMD and the European defense plan?" And you
said "not yet." So we know what the Europeans' concerns are about NMD.
What are the US concerns? You seem to imply -- you've been saying over
and over again -- everyone says that as long as it complements NATO,
that's okay, and doesn't try and replace it.
MR. BOUCHER: It's not just okay; it's good.
Q: You say not yet on full agreement. So does that
mean that you
still are worried that they're trying to edge it? What is it that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're
the one putting the edge to this. Let me
just say that there are some things that aren't worked out yet. That's
what I said three minutes ago. That's what I'll say again now.
Q: Right. What are they?
MR. BOUCHER: The
exact structures for how we coordinate with NATO, how
we coordinate with all our allies and various permutations of allies
that are NATO allies but not in the EU, EU members but not in NATO;
those sort of structures for how we work out various elements of
coordination to make sure that, in fact, it's not duplicate but rather
Q: So, in other words, these aren't
really necessarily disagreements
at the moment; they're just areas where you're still negotiating?
MR. BOUCHER: I
think we would call them areas still under discussion
that haven't been fully worked out yet.
on this issue, my understanding is the last time that
there was -- you did try to coordinate some of these structures, the
Turks were resistant to the idea of sharing some of these planning
capabilities between the rapid-reaction force and NATO.
Has there been any progress
in terms of convincing the Turks to play
BOUCHER: I don't think I want to quite describe it that way.
just say that we just haven't reached full agreement within NATO and
between NATO and the European Union on how some of these mechanisms
Q: If I can
move on to the Balkans, perhaps within that context of Mr.
Solana as well.
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
Q: Some of us
heard Montenegrin President Djukanovic this morning talk
about his vision for the referendum and how he sees Montenegro
redefining its relationship with Yugoslavia. I know that the old
administration -- and since the election you have repeated this
position -- always said that you wanted a democratic Montenegro within
a democratic Yugoslavia.
Does that mean that you have any
objection to the idea of his concept
of a divorce and remarriage, where Montenegro breaks its ties following
the referendum but then redefines its relationship? Does that go
against this Administration's position on Montenegro?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our position is the one I
described on Friday,
the one the Secretary described with Mr. Djindjic when he met with him
on Friday. That is, in fact, a democratic Montenegro within a
Toward that end, we support the transparent
between representatives of Montenegro, Serbia, and the Federal
Government of Yugoslavia on the restructuring of the relationship
between Serbia and Montenegro. But, in the end, how exactly that
process should work I think is something that should be the subject of
discussions between Serbia, Montenegro and the Federal Government.
you object, then, to Montenegro calling its own referendum,
and would you recognize the results if it did?
BOUCHER: I think we think that the way to do this is to get
discussions with the other key players here and to work it out with
Q: Do you think it might have
been helpful if Secretary Powell had
seen President Djukanovic to hear firsthand from him his vision of
this? Or is that something --
MR. BOUCHER: I
understand that President Djukanovic had a good set of
meetings around town with Congress, with the NGOs, and also a good
meeting with Assistant Secretary Dobbins. So I think we are pretty
well informed of his views.
Do you have anything about the American who works for
Without Borders who was rescued, released, whatever on Saturday night?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't yet
had a chance to talk to him so we don't
have as much information as we might have after we do talk to him, and
at that point I will have to see if we have a Privacy Act waiver to see
if I can share it with you. But we would expect him to get to Moscow
today or tomorrow, and we would expect to talk to him then.
We have been in touch
with the Russians. Certainly we welcome the news
that Mr. Gluck is now free. We are seeking more information about the
circumstances surrounding his release. We certainly appreciate the
high-level attention that the Russian Government has given to this
We think that Mr.
Gluck and other humanitarian relief workers like him
play a critical role in assisting the victims in this war-torn region.
Obviously, a political settlement in Chechnya would improve the
conditions for humanitarian and relief efforts in order to assist the
war's many victims.
Q: Do you buy the official Russian line on how
his release was
obtained or secured, or does it really even matter? You're just happy
that he is free?
BOUCHER: We're happy that he is out, and I will leave it at
for the moment until we've talked to the Russians. Obviously, we
haven't talked to him, we haven't gotten a full description yet, so as
far as what exactly the circumstances were, I think we will get more
information on that. But, in the end, the bottom line is we are happy
he is free.
Q: Right. But are you going to be actively
looking into exactly the
circumstances of his abduction and his release? Is that something that
matters, or is it just something that -- is this whole incident just
something that you are glad is over?
Well, I think certainly the circumstances of his
abduction should remain an issue of continuing concern. I don't know
exactly what the Russians are doing about that, but obviously that is
something that -- we will remain interested in those things, but the
overriding feeling is that we are glad that he is free.
Q: Can I also
ask another Russian question, also on someone who -- I
just wanted to know -- the Swiss say that they have, in fact, now asked
for the extradition of Mr. Borodin, and I want to know if this request
came through the State Department and whether it has been -- whether it
was given to you, and you passed it to Justice, or how exactly that
MR. BOUCHER: I just saw the press
report. Justice actually handles
the legal process. How the passing goes, I don't know, but I will have
to check on that.
Q: I realize that he is probably still not
finished speaking yet,
probably won't be for another day or so, but you don't have anything to
say about what Colonel Qadhafi is talking about right now?
Well, I guess the first would be to define -- is it
possible to define what he is talking about? We have seen some of it.
It is not clear what his meaning or intent is.
I think what is clear from our side of the
point of view is that Mr.
al-Megrahi was a member of the Libyan intelligence services; he has
been found guilty of murder in the bombing of Pan Am 103. The court
has made its decision, and it is really up to Libya to meet the
requirements of the international community.
been quite clear. The UN resolutions all along have
established the requirements to pay appropriate compensation and accept
responsibility for the actions by the Libyan officials. Unfortunately,
in the remarks we have seen from Mr. Qadhafi today, we don't see him
doing either of those things.
Q: So, basically, he is wasting his voice?
MR. BOUCHER: It is quite clear what he
needs to do, and it is quite
clear that he hasn't yet said he is going to do them.
Q: Do you want to tackle the
-- (inaudible) -- the Pentagon has at
least half the place to go. The Washington Times account that the
Chinese are deploying more and more short-range missiles, threatening
Taiwan. And I guess here would be the issue of Russia providing China
with more technology, dangerous technology.
MR. BOUCHER: There is a
limit to what we can say about matters like
this because we don't comment on intelligence or information that
purports to come from intelligence. We have made quite clear we look
forward to having conversations with Chinese leaders in the near future
about China's policies in this region.
As the Secretary has also made
clear, we are quite aware of China's
military modernization. It is an issue that we follow. But in terms
of our policy, we will continue to assist Taiwan in meeting its
legitimate defensive needs. That is in accordance with our obligations
under the Taiwan Relations Act and consistent with the US-PRC joint
On the issue of Russian sales, again,
quite aware that Russian sales of
various kinds have been reported for several years. We are certainly
aware of these developments. We monitor Russian sales, developments in
the Taiwan Strait and modernization of the Chinese military. So this
is something that we are quite aware of.
Q: Mr. Rumsfeld and the other Ivanov were
in the same room over the
weekend. I guess I could ask at the Pentagon, but do you take
occasions like that to tell the Russians of your concern?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't
know if they discussed this particular issue or
anything at all. You would have to check with the Pentagon.
you have any information about this American teacher who was
MR. BOUCHER: Do I? Yes. Bruce Morrison,
an American teaching English
at the Hubei Institute of Technology, was fatally stabbed at a church
meeting in Wuhan in Hubei Province. The attacker is in police custody
and the local authorities are investigating the tragic incident.
Our Embassy in Beijing is in touch with Mr.
Morrison's wife and
children. Obviously we are extending our deepest condolences to his
family during this difficult time. At this point, we don't have any
more details for you. That's what we know.
Q: Tomorrow, the
elections in Israel will take place. I know
Secretary Powell made some comments yesterday, but there is concern
among many, in the Arab world especially, that if Ariel Sharon is
elected, that the prospects of the violence diminishing are much less,
and that his history is such that it doesn't give them much confidence
that he will be helping matters.
Is there anything --
MR. BOUCHER: Is that a question?
Q: Yes, about to. Is there anything
that Secretary Powell has done,
or that the Bush Administration has done, to try to assuage the fears
of the Arab world?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think the Secretary
has made quite clear, and we
will continue to make clear in various ways, that as we enter this
election period, as we enter the period of time it may take to form a
government, that what is important is for all parties, especially the
parties on both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, to remember that
it is a time to maintain calm and to avoid any sort of provocation. We
all want to go through this period with minimal violence.
Israel is a democracy and they have a right to choose their
own leaders. They will make that choice, and we would expect to be
engaged and involved in the search for peace.
Q: Is that a concern you're registering? It sounds
sort of concerned.
It's a message, but is it also anticipating some -- that the Arabs will
seize on Sharon's victory as an opportunity to revive their Intifada?
Is the Secretary concerned about an Arab outbreak to make -- to drive
home a point to the United States and try to drag the US back into
MR. BOUCHER: I think that the message that
the Secretary has
delivered, that I have delivered, is for both sides, is that people on
all sides of this conflict, all those who are interested in it, should
avoid any kind of provocation, avoid any kind of violence during this
period, so that we can come through it with a minimal amount of
Q: Has Secretary
Powell made any kind of determination as to whether
or not the Special Middle East Coordinator position will be filled, or
if in fact the office is closed as of now, and how the peace process
will be handled from here on out?
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of the organization and the
future of our
efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, I think all we can say at
this moment is that we will make efforts. We will be involved in the
search for peace. But the organization of that, we don't have anything
to announce yet.
Q: By the way, can you tell us if
there was any, in the transition or
since, any consultation with Dennis Ross or others who were part of
that group, by the Secretary, as he tries to --
MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely. The Secretary --
Q: I mean, on the arrangement.
MR. BOUCHER: On the arrangement? Well, the
Secretary talked numerous
times during the transition. And I don't exactly remember what day it
was that he last met with Dennis, whether it was after the inauguration
or not, but the Secretary met a number of times with Ambassador Ross
before Ambassador Ross's departure from the building.
Members of the staff of that office, the
people who have been most
involved in the search for peace, continue to participate fully and
actively in our discussions of the issues and how we handle them. So
the people who have been working on the peace process in this building,
be they in the Near East Bureau or in that office, continue to work
together, continue to advise the Secretary.
But again, how exactly it will be organized
is something we don't have
to announce yet.
Richard, can you bring us up to date on the Secretary's
or other kinds of communications with foreign leaders? And
specifically since we're on the Middle East now, has he spoken with any
leaders in Egypt, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to double-check on
that and get back to you
Q: Yesterday, as he
was talking about the Middle East and Iraq and a
whole plethora of other issues, the Secretary also indicated that he
differed in the opinion of this Administration on the Mexico City
language and abortion in general. And I'm just wondering, was he
involved in this decision at all that was made to re-institute the
Mexico City language?
MR. BOUCHER: I think --
Q: Was he consulted?
BOUCHER: Well, yes, he was obviously involved in this
It was a foreign policy decision of the Administration, of the
President, based on the President's commitments. I thought you were
asking whether he was consulted in the beginning when the President
made the commitments -- frankly, I don't know -- during the campaign.
But certainly, in this current iteration
after the inauguration, the
announcement -- and remember, the announcement was joined also with a
statement that we would continue to support family planning activities
as part of our overall health program; we would continue to uphold the
funding level. So all that was discussed certainly with Secretary
Q: It was, okay. So that he actually
recommended against it and was
basically overruled; is that what you're saying?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say that.
Q: Well, can you tell us exactly what --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. And I probably never will.
Q: Well --
MR. BOUCHER: We're not going to get into -- we're not
going to make it
a habit in this Administration, nor have we in any previous one, of
starting to talk about the Secretary's precise recommendations to the
President and what he --
Q: Perhaps you should mention that to him
before he goes on national
television and says it then, right?
MR. BOUCHER: No, he didn't say that.
Q: Well, he came pretty close.
MR. BOUCHER: He didn't say that, and I'm not going to say it now.
Q: He said he had different
personal views than that of the
Administration, and I'm just curious to know if he expressed those
views when the thinking was going into making that decision. You're
saying yes, he did.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not saying
yes, he did. I'm saying that neither
in this Administration, nor in any previous one, have we tried to talk
about the Secretary of State's advice for the President, and I don't
intend to start today.
Q: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 P.M.)