Daily Press Briefing U.S. dept of State
Daily Press Briefing U.S. dept of State
Wednesday February 21, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Powell Meeting with Nabil Shaath - Tax Transfer of Revenues - Secretary's Schedule/Agenda – IRAQ - Reported Chinese Cooperation with Iraqis - A/S Welch Trip - A/S Walker's Meetings - Discussions of US Policy - Secretary's Meeting with Chinese Ambassador - Allegations of Espionage - Russian Involvement - FBI Investigation – ECUADOR - Money for Plan Colombia – RUSSIA, European Missile Defense Secretary's Meeting with Ivanov – JAPAN, Investigation into Submarine Accident, US Relationship with Japan
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 25
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2001 12:40 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good
afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure
to be here. I don't have any statements for you today, so I'd be glad
to take your questions.
Mr. Shaath of the PLO has held forth at CSIS today, and he
did say that he had asked Powell, Secretary Powell, to do what he could
to make sure at least that the Palestinians get the collected taxes,
the duties, that have been withheld. Of course he called it a state of
Can you go into that a little bit? Is that one
of the Secretary's
goals and -- whatever?
That was one of the issues that was discussed. The
Secretary met yesterday with Nabil Shaath to discuss his upcoming trip
and the situation in the region. After the meeting with the Secretary,
Nabil Shaath had further meetings with Assistant Secretary Walker of
the Bureau of Near East Affairs.
The discussion covered a variety of
topics, including the issues of
violence, the need to stop the violence, the need to reestablish trust
and confidence so that people can have confidence as they go about
their daily lives, and the economic situation, as well as the need to
look forward to a path to pursue peace.
Obviously those issues will be discussed further
during the Secretary's
trip, but I think we've made quite clear to you that we do believe that
the economic pressure on the Palestinians needs to be relieved and that
the tax payments in particular need to be made, need to be transferred
over, because the Palestinian Authority needs the money to support its
Q: Can you
just -- was that in both meetings yesterday or was that
just in the Walker meeting? When you said these issues were discussed
MR. BOUCHER: Those discussions --
what I'm describing actually is the
Secretary's discussion. The meeting with Assistant Secretary Walker
covered the same topics but in more detail in some ways.
Q: Does about 50 million sound correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the numbers, actually.
Q: On a larger general
sense, and freely translating here, Mr. Shaath
speaks of -- you know, refers obviously to the Israeli Government not
being formed yet, the US trying to decide on its role. Is the
Secretary -- and maybe you've done this yesterday, I don't know -- but
is the Secretary going there with any large expectations that he can
get the negotiations going again, or is that analysis correct, a few
things have to happen before the situation is clear enough to move?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have said, ever
since the Israeli election,
that it would be hard to talk about next steps until there was an
Israeli Government that was prepared to talk about its next steps. I
would say that the Secretary is going to hear from the parties to talk
to them about immediate issues like violence, like security, like the
economic issues, and to say what he said to you all, and that is that
he intends to remain involved and engaged in this. This
Administration, including the President as necessary, are prepared to
But obviously how we are
engaged and what the next steps are will
depend on what the parties are prepared to do, and what the parties are
prepared to do with each other. And that probably won't be clear until
after the Israelis have a government. So he will discuss those issues
certainly during the trip, but I wouldn't expect him to come out with -
- he is not taking a plan. I wouldn't expect him to come back with a
Q: On the same theme, when was the last time
that the Department
brought up this tax transfer problem with the Israelis? And when you
say you think the Israelis should make the transfer, does this mean you
disagree with the Israeli view that violence should stop first?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I'm not sure that's --
well, I would leave
it to the Israelis to characterize their views, let's put it that way.
This is a point we
have made frequently, and I think fairly often to
the Israelis. The last time we made it could have been today or
yesterday or the day before. It's something that I think is fairly
well known. Certainly the Secretary, when he met with Sharon's
advisors, made the point about the need to transfer tax revenues. Our
Ambassador in Israel has made the point over time as well. So we think
this is an important issue, and one that bears repeating.
Can you give us any rundown on, if you are allowed to, on
program is, who the Secretary is going to be meeting with? And is this
considered a get-acquainted trip, or do you think there will be some
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a full schedule for
you at this point. He
will be meeting with leaders of various kinds in various places. He
will expect to see the top leaders in the places that we are visiting.
We have given you, I think, a list of the locations that the Secretary
will be traveling to. In addition, we have said that he will be seeing
Foreign Minister Ivanov in Cairo, and meeting with allies in Brussels
where Lord Robertson has called and invited NATO foreign ministers to
come to a meeting.
In terms of characterizing the
trip, it is a substantive trip in that
the discussions will be serious and substantive discussions of policy
issues as we go along. It's not just hi, how are you, good to meet
Q: On Iraq, what can you say about
widespread reports that there were
Chinese in Iraq helping to build an optical fiber system that
apparently was the precipitous for the attack?
MR. BOUCHER: I think
I would say two things. I think the Pentagon has
made clear that the attacks were due to the fact that the Iraqis have
been increasingly and repeatedly conducting -- attempting artillery
missile attacks on coalition aircraft since December 2000, and that our
strikes were in reaction to that. They were in an effort, as we always
do, to protect our aircraft and our airmen in this case.
In terms of the question of Chinese cooperation with
Iraq or Chinese
activities with Iraq, we have raised with China our specific concerns
about reports of fiber optic cables and telecommunications projects in
Iraq. We have these reports about work that was going on, reported to
be going on, outside of the sanctions regime, and we have raised these
with the Chinese, including during an early January trip by David
Welch, our Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs,
who went to Beijing and raised them there.
We have told the
Chinese that we insist on full implementation of all
relevant UN resolutions. Enforcing the sanctions regime and minimizing
Saddam's threat is a vital interest of ours and one which we share with
the other people in the region and the Perm 5. We have committed a lot
of effort to that over the past decade, and we'll continue to raise it.
I think we told you when Secretary Powell met with the
ambassadors in New York he stressed the importance of the integrity of
the sanctions, of upholding the integrity of sanctions and how
important it was for the Perm 5 to do that. And so we have raised
these specific reports with the Chinese, and we would expect a
Q: Well, are you saying -- by
saying that, are you saying that the
Chinese were there? And, if so, were the Chinese breaking the
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not saying the Chinese were there.
Q: You don't know if they were there?
BOUCHER: I'm not saying the Chinese were there. I am saying
-- well, we have reports of Chinese in Iraq working on optical fiber
and telecommunications projects, and we raised those reports with the
Chinese as a matter of compliance with the UN resolutions, and we
stressed again to the Chinese how important maintaining the integrity
of those sanctions is.
Q: You said they were outside the sanctions.
MR. BOUCHER: That's what I said.
Q: So if
the reports are correct, they are a violation of the
sanctions? You're checking a report.
Yeah, we're checking the reports. We've asked the
Chinese about these reports, and we expect a response from them. The
reports are that this activity is --
Q: But it's illegal under the sanctions regime, isn't it, if true?
MR. BOUCHER: The reports we have say that this is
sanctions. I mean --
Q: Richard, can you
say something about what kind of reports you're
talking about? Are you talking about news reports, which you often
deride as notoriously unreliable until you've actually checked them
out, or are you talking about intelligence reports, which we deride as
notoriously unreliable unless we can confirm them? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: I would talk about various reports.
Q: Well, but can you --
MR. BOUCHER: Various kinds of reports.
Q: Are they credible reports?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't go farther than that.
Q: I mean, you can't say credible?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't go farther than that.
Q: Richard, do you know
whether the UN Sanctions Committee ever
authorized any payment to the Chinese, or a Chinese company or the
Chinese Government, in return for these telecommunications -- work on
this telecommunication project?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if the Sanctions
Committee has ever
authorized any work on telecommunications projects, but I do know that
the reports that we have and the reports that we raised were about
activities that were not approved by the UN Sanctions Committee.
Can we let somebody else ask a question?
Q: Okay, a few questions. These reports -- you
said that you've
raised them with the Chinese. Does the US believe that these reports
are credible? Do you believe that there is -- is there any doubt in
your mind that the Chinese have been helping the Iraqis with their
fiber optic cables?
MR. BOUCHER: I am constrained in
what I can say about these reports
and concerns that we have about this because I'm not in a position to
describe them to you in any specificity or detail, as you have found
out through your series of questions. We have various kinds of reports
on these subjects, and I am not in a position to describe them to you.
So I think
all I can say on that is we don't raise these things lightly
with other governments. We raise information that we have good reason
to believe is true, and we ask governments to explain and respond to
those. And in this case, we have done this with the Chinese.
Q: Okay then, to
follow up, yesterday, I believe, the Chinese
Government did respond and denied the fact that they have been helping
the Iraqis. Are you looking for a response beyond that?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say we are still awaiting a
detailed response to
the reports that we raised.
Q: Okay. And then finally, do you think --
MR. BOUCHER: And
actually, the Secretary made that point this morning
to the Chinese Ambassador, who was in to present his credentials. And
it was a normal presentation, discussion of the general relationship,
but the Secretary took the opportunity also to raise our concerns about
Chinese workers in Iraq, and in the context of compliance with the UN
Security Council resolutions. And he mentioned the approach that we
had made in January to raise these specific concerns and said we were
looking for a response.
Q: Finally, do you have any reason to
believe that the Iraqis are
helped -- or excuse me, the Chinese are helping the Iraqis elsewhere in
a manner that would be outside the sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a
pretty broad question that I don't think I can
answer at this point.
Q: How is it broad? I'm just saying, are the --
MR. BOUCHER: Are they doing -- are the Chinese doing
anything else in
Iraq that is not covered by the Sanctions Committee? That is a very
broad question, I'm sorry.
Q: Well, why -- I don't understand --
MR. BOUCHER: I just don't have the answer for you right now.
Q: Are you saying that you don't have the answer
because it doesn't --
you haven't looked at that, or because you don't want to share it?
MR. BOUCHER: Because I
haven't done the comprehensive search on that.
I may be able to, but I'm not sure I can.
Q: Didn't Defense
officials say, though, that we planned the timing of
the air strikes to avoid hitting Chinese workers?
I don't know. There were anonymous officials quoted in
the newspaper. Would you like to identify your sources?
Q: I don't have -- no, I read the same reports.
But I think they
cited Defense officials saying that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, in that case, you can go ask the
if you happen to know who they are; I don't.
Q: I don't. But why would Defense officials have
apparently confirmed, or using these reports to time air strikes if the
BOUCHER: I think you are asking me questions I can't answer
I really don't think I could talk about the sources that reporters
have. That's up to reporters, if they should wish.
Q: Richard, one other on this. With the
understanding that you have
of these reports and the presumption that some aspect of them are true,
these projects, were they understood to be projects to reconstruct --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that some aspects aren't
true. I just said
what we had raised -- what we knew and what we had raised.
Q: Are these projects purported to be
ones to reconstruct the Iraqi
telephone system and communication system, and considered to be dual-
use, that the Iraqis may -- or are also using it for military purposes?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I can't go into any more
detail with you about the
kind of reports we have. But working on telecommunications and fiber
optics projects is because you are constructing a communications system
or reconstructing a communications system. Obviously whatever the
intended recipient of that communication system, having those better
communications in the country, obviously it contributes to their
ability to pass information. I think I have to leave it at that. That
is sort of the obvious, but I can't go beyond the obvious on that.
Q: When you first spoke about this, you
used the qualifier, "reports
of Chinese workers," and then later you said -- and I believe I'm
quoting you directly -- that "Secretary Powell raised concerns about
Chinese workers in Iraq," in effect dropping the qualifier. Which way
do you prefer it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't pretty much care. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, if you don't
-- okay. Can you -- two things. No, I've got
two things on this, if I can, please. One, Mr. Welch's visit was only
on this, or were there other issues that he was going over there to
And, secondly, can you talk a
little bit about the meetings that are
going to go on either today or tomorrow between the US and Britain here
about revised -- well, I don't want to say revised -- but, you know,
reenergizing the sanctions, and if the Secretary is hoping that
something can come out of these meetings that he can bring with him on
his trip to present to whoever he meets?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. The trip
by Assistant Secretary Welch, I would
have to check on the other things. We regularly carry out
consultations with other members of the Security Council, and through
our Assistant Secretary discuss sort of Security Council business.
Q: But you don't know if he was dispatched --
MR. BOUCHER: I would put the trip in that context. I am
that other stuff was discussed. I'll check and see if we want to say
that he was sent -- whether the trip at this time was specifically to
raise these issues or whether it was raised during a consultation on
On the second part, on the meetings
with the British, Assistant
Secretary Walker is meeting today in the Department with his United
Kingdom counterpart, Alan Goulty. The meeting is part of our ongoing
consultations with the British on our policies in the region. That
means Iraq, other issues in the region as well.
Secretary Powell and Foreign Secretary Cook, I
think, discussed this
meeting with you about two weeks ago. So it's not directly related to
the air strikes of February 16th. Certainly this is the opportunity
that they described in their press conference to discuss and to
coordinate our approaches towards Iraq, our effort to make sure that
the UN rules -- that the sanctions achieve their original purpose,
which was to keep Iraq from getting weapons and the money to acquire
them and the means to acquire them. And this is similar to the
discussions that we will have with others during the course of the
So we've been discussing the
issue of Iraq and sanctions and the threat
that Iraq poses to the people of the region with a variety of visitors
to Washington. This is more detailed discussions with the British on
that, and then the Secretary will continue those discussions with
people in the region who are threatened during the course of his trip.
Q: But is
he hoping that out of this meeting -- you said it was just
today, not tomorrow? Whenever it is, but he is hoping that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's just today. I'm not
exactly sure how long
it will last.
Q: Okay. But is
the Secretary hoping that ideas will be raised or
come out of these meetings that he can bring with him then on the trip
to say, here, look, here's something that we think we can work with;
MR. BOUCHER: I think I
would describe it as a process of working with
friends and allies as we develop the policy in more and more detail.
So he has had discussions with a variety of foreign ministers who have
been to Washington. We've seen the Jordanians, the Tunisians, the
British, the Germans, the Canadians. I can't remember them all. I
think it's up to 30 or more already foreign ministers that the
Secretary has talked to. Many of those discussions involve the
approach to Iraq and how we would address the issues involving Iraq.
That is a process of discussion with allies and friends as we develop
the policy in more and more detail.
The Secretary has described to you his
general approach. We'll discuss
it more with the British today in somewhat more detail, and then we'll
continue to proceed in discussions with the people in the region. But
I think the Secretary has made quite clear their role is very, very
important because they are the ones that Iraq is threatening.
Q: I'm not trying to suggest that you're
going to go out there and
dictate and say, look, this is what we're going to do whether you like
it or not. I'm just trying to get --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to suggest that, either.
Q: I know. But is he going to be
going there -- is he hoping to be
going there with some new ideas coming out of these meetings?
MR. BOUCHER: I
wouldn't put it that way, either. I would say that
he's out there to continue the discussions, some of which we've started
already with our friends and allies, about how to make sure the
sanctions achieve that purpose of keeping Iraq from getting weapons and
the means to acquire them.
Q: You seem to be suggesting at least that
you are developing some
details on how you are going to do what you hope to do, which is to
stop military technology imports while easing up on food and medicine.
The Saudis today criticized the raid. Do you think you'll have enough
to persuade them that you do have an Iraq policy that has a chance of
working? I mean, have you got enough detail to at least, you know,
placate them temporarily.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I think we've
made a -- that there was a bit
of a skip in the question there somehow. We were talking about
sanctions regime, and then you said the Saudis criticized the raid?
well, those are part of the same thing. Why are they
MR. BOUCHER: Did they criticize the sanctions regime?
Q: No, they --
MR. BOUCHER: Did they
criticized the effort to keep Iraq from getting
weapons? Okay, I think I'm being asked apples and oranges here.
Okay, let me put it this way. You say you're working on --
now have some details beyond what you've told us in public with the
broad outlines of your Iraq strategy?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that -- not to
announce. Yes, the Secretary
has been discussing these issues, and we're discussing them further
with the British, bringing more definition. I think we've made clear
what the goals are and what the approaches are. But we've also made
clear that the Secretary looks forward to discussing this in more
detail, not only with people who visit Washington but the people that
he will visit as he travels.
Shall we go to China? This gentleman has something.
Q: Following last Friday's air strikes against
Iraq, the Government of
Turkey complained to the United States over what it called a lack of
dialogue on Iraq policies. Any comment on that? And, secondly, are
you disturbed by Turkey's moves for rapprochement with Saddam? Do you
see anything that would be against -- that would be outside the
MR. BOUCHER: I think
we've talked about specifics when asked about
various things that Turkey is doing or not doing in that regard. I
think our cooperation with Turkey remains very, very good vis-à-vis
this. And Turkey is obviously an important partner in this process and
one of the countries that has a reason to be most concerned about
We do regularly consult with
other governments, whether it's Turkey or
the Gulf states or other allies, about Iraq policy. I think I've heard
a number of foreign ministers address various issues as they've been
here. We haven't seen the Turkish foreign minister yet, but I think
most of the people that address the question recognize the right of the
United States to defend its airplanes and its airmen, so I'm not sure
that there's much of a quibble on that point.
So I think I'll leave it at that. We talk to our
allies. We will
continue to talk to our allies.
does that go for -- I mean, this has not just caused
in Turkey but other NATO countries as well. In Italy, the government
has also come out against -- the French obviously have -- so has -- I
mean, it has caused a shake-up in the Polish Government. A senior aide
resigned after supporting them.
Are you at all
concerned, especially with Poland, your newest NATO
ally, that the reaction is coming so fast and furious, with the one
exception of Germany?
MR. BOUCHER: I
would leave you with the characterization the Secretary
gave yesterday to what he had heard from people.
When you were talking about the integrity with the sanctions
the Chinese, why is the (inaudible) way of the United States? If I am
correct, or if I am wrong, I think the United Nations has to give the
permission for attacking Iraq. Why the United States --
MR. BOUCHER: You're wrong.
Q: It's incorrect?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
Can you just tell us a little bit more about the meeting
new Chinese Ambassador this morning? You mentioned they had talked
about broader issues than the Iraq -- the potential Iraq help.
When he left the
building this morning, he gave a big thumbs-up and a
smile and said that everything -- that his meeting went very well, and
they discussed ways to move forward, the Sino-US relationship.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a detailed
readout. The Secretary has been
seeing ambassadors who are presenting their credentials, and for the
most part these are general discussions of relationships and ways of
which we can move forward. My understanding is that is the general
tenor of this discussion with the Chinese this morning.
Q: But did the human rights situation --
MR. BOUCHER: This is not a detailed substantive meeting.
Q: Did the Human Rights Report that will be
coming out either Friday
or Monday come up?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I'll have to double-check.
But, Richard, same subject. The Secretary met with the
Chinese Ambassador about three or four days after he was sworn in, and
the tone of that meeting was decidedly negative. Are you saying the
tone today was different with the incoming Chinese Ambassador?
BOUCHER: I think I am saying that this was a different sort
meeting. The Secretary made clear in his meeting with the outgoing
Chinese Ambassador what were the fundamentals of the relationship; and
used the opportunity to convey that to him, and through him back to
Beijing, because he was returning there.
Today, he had
quite a normal, different kind of meeting that was a
presentation of credentials. But the Secretary also took this occasion
to convey a message, and the message was that we are concerned about
the issue of Chinese workers in Iraq; we see this in the context of
maintaining the integrity of the Security Council resolutions and the
integrity of UN sanctions; and that we expected a response to our
demarche that we had made in January on this subject.
Q: Richard, did Secretary Powell present the
new Chinese Ambassador
with the evidence, or is he just sort of talking about it in general?
MR. BOUCHER: Again,
this was not that kind of meeting. We had a
detailed meeting on this subject in January when David Welch went out,
and the Secretary referred back to that meeting.
Q: And during David Welch's meeting, he brought
photographs, or whatever evidence -- did he present the Chinese with
evidence that they could put in their hands?
MR. BOUCHER: He presented the Chinese with
information that described
our concerns and described the activities about which we had had
reports and about which we were concerned.
Q: In your reports, was there a
time scale for how long these Chinese
workers have been there?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, I can't answer that
question. No, I don't
have an answer for you on that question, is the answer. I can't say
Q: I've got
one more. This morning in their meeting -- first of all,
how long was it? And second of all, did he bring up -- did he use the
opportunity to say whether the United States would be sponsoring or
signing onto a resolution in Geneva?
MR. BOUCHER: There is no decision on that at
this point. Again, the
meeting was not a detailed and substantive meeting.
Q: Right, I know that. Was it 10, 15 minutes?
MR. BOUCHER: It was 10 minutes, probably.
One more on this. In the meeting this morning, did Secretary
Powell suggest to China that it could be violating sanctions in this
respect? Was that an issue?
BOUCHER: I stick with my characterization. I don't think I
anything to add to that.
Q: The Prime Minister
of Turkey -- (inaudible) -- of Turkey, they said
that other than the traditional US way, this time the United States,
they didn't inform us of their attack, which you decided one day before
the President's approval on this subject.
What was the realism? Is that passing through
this information to the
Iraqis, or to -- what would be the reason?
MR. BOUCHER: We obviously keep in close touch.
We have regular
discussions with our allies, with other governments, about the policies
that we maintain with regard to Iraq, particularly an ally as close as
Turkey where we cooperate in so many ways.
As far as any
specific strike, I think as you know, everybody is quite
familiar that we have a policy that when we are threatened, we will
respond at a time and place of our choosing, and that is what occurred
here. So I think they are quite familiar with the policy, the routine,
use of force when we think it is necessary.
As far as
these specific strikes, we did have more discussions with
people after the strikes.
Q: Can you talk about Mr.
Hanssen and his time in the building? I'm
sure you have a lot of details you could give us on that -- what his
specific duties were when he was here, and also --
MR. BOUCHER: Who did he have lunch with the in the
Q: Something like that. And
also, whether or not you can tell us
whether the State Department, DS presumably but maybe the IG's office,
is doing its own investigation.
MR. BOUCHER: Robert Hanssen
was detailed to the Office of Foreign
Missions from February 1995 until January 12th of this year. He worked
in the Office of Foreign Missions as part of the respective
responsibilities that the Department of State and the FBI have under
the Foreign Missions Act of 1982. If you look at the act, you'll see
that we cooperate in these ways, and both of our roles are specified in
In that capacity, he worked on issues relating to
real property and the
travel of foreign diplomats in the United States. In the course of his
duties, he would have had dealings with many bureaus in the Department,
including the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, on matters within
the purview of his role at the Office of Foreign Missions.
For those of you who don't know more
generally, let me go through what
the Office of Foreign Missions does. They ensure equitable treatment
for US diplomatic consular missions abroad and their personnel through
reciprocity, and that was one of the main reasons why this act
established the Office of Foreign Missions in 1982 so that we could
obtain reciprocity for our diplomats overseas.
The Office of Foreign Missions
regulates activities of foreign missions
in the United States, protects the US public from abuses of privileges
and immunities by members of foreign missions, and provides service and
assistance to the foreign mission community in the United States to
assure that appropriate privileges, benefits and services are available
on a reciprocal basis.
What else were you asking? In
terms of our cooperation, our
investigation, I would put it that we are assisting and cooperating
with the FBI in its investigations. I'm not aware that we have
anything separate going ourselves.
Q: Anything on the laptop today or the (inaudible) --
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new on those, no.
Q: He was liaison with INR, according to the affidavit.
MR. BOUCHER: For the matter of pertaining to
his role at Foreign
Q: Only for those matters?
MR. BOUCHER: We have a variety of different liaisons with the FBI.
Q: But you realize that all
departments of the US Government run as a
seamless machine, and I'm just wondering if --
MR. BOUCHER: But are careful not to talk about each other's business.
Exactly. Escaped the notice that the FBI, in particular in
intelligence community in general, has kind of looked down its nose at
the State Department for all these security violations. Does anyone
find it ironic in this building that the FBI deposited here for five
years a guy who turned out to be a spy? Well, allegedly turned out to
be a spy?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's in Annie Hall
where the guy says, "Oh,
irony. We don't have that here." (Laughter.)
No, not at all, Matt. I think we all
are, first of all, dismayed and
disappointed that any American can be alleged to have carried out such
activities, particularly somebody who enjoyed the public's trust, in
the way that all of us who work in government do. We have the
admiration for the people who carried out this investigation and
managed to identify, according to their affidavits -- I guess I have to
put reportedly identify or allegedly identify someone who was spying on
behalf of a foreign power against us. And that's -- so, you know, I
think that's a common feeling to people around here is that these
things are extremely regrettable and very disappointing in terms of
those of us who do the public's business who do enjoy the public's
trust of finding that somebody has not been able to live up to that.
Q: Richard, a question on this as well. The
FBI were not able to
round up any Russians after the deposit of the latest packet of
information that he made. They have said, however, I believe
yesterday, that they believe they have identified several people at the
embassy who had contact with him.
Are you aware of any attempts to PNG any Russian diplomats?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything like that at this time.
Q: Do you know if it's being looked at?
MR. BOUCHER: Obviously that
is something that would be looked at in
due course, but I'll leave that where it is for the moment.
as I understand, there is some senior officials who don't
have access, full access, to the INR Bureau because of a lack of need
to know and so forth. Do you know if Hanssen had full access to that
I guess without trying to get into Mr. Hanssen
particularly since those issues would be under investigation, and I
have to leave any matters under investigation to the FBI at this
moment, I would say that almost nobody would have full access to
everything in INR. The way that security is handled is people who need
to know specific things are allowed to know those things, and the
people who don't need to know are not. So there are very few people
who would have a justified need to know everything that's available in
Is that report that Betsy just mentioned, the FBI saying
believe they've identified a few Chinese diplomats with which Hanssen -
MR. BOUCHER: Russian.
Q: Oh, God, no. Russian diplomats. There I go, starting
scandal. Russian diplomats with which Hanssen had contact. Is that
something about which the State Department is aware of?
MR. BOUCHER: We've read the same affidavits as you have.
Q: Right, but I mean, have you --
MR. BOUCHER: Our security people have been working with
the FBI on
these matters, so I'll just leave it at that.
Q: Do you -- at this point, are you aware of any
link between him and
the bug that was discovered in the 7th floor conference room?
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you saw
what the Director of the FBI said
yesterday, he said that the complaint that they were presenting at this
time does not allege any compromises by him at the State Department.
Obviously the interviews that the FBI is conducting with people in this
building, and I'm sure elsewhere, continue. And if any information is
developed, we probably won't tell you about it. (Laughter.)
But I think that we will defer to the FBI for
anything to say on that
at the appropriate time, but they have said at this stage what their
observation is at this moment.
Q: Is there any link between him and the
lost laptops in this
MR. BOUCHER: Same
answer, whether you ask me about the bug or the
laptops or the man in the tweed coat or any of the other adventures we
have had in the last few years.
Q: I know people
that are here -- the investigators that are here --
are they only from the FBI? Do you know how many there are, and how
long they intend to -- I mean, obviously until they are finished. But
do you expect them to be back again tomorrow or Friday?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how many
people are here. They obviously
conduct their investigation as they decide it best, and we work with
them and help them with that. They, I believe, started their
interviews yesterday; I expect they will continue as long as they deem
necessary. They are interviewing State Department employees who worked
with Mr. Hanssen while he was detailed over here.
Q: When he was shifted --
was it last month that he was shifted? Was
that because of suspicions?
MR. BOUCHER: He was here until January 12th.
Q: And why was he changed?
MR. BOUCHER: That is a question you would have to ask the FBI.
MR. BOUCHER: Another subject?
Q: One more on that. Besides
maybe arcane personnel, but who -- could
you boot this guy out of here if you wanted to? Or is it an FBI -- do
they tell you, this is our guy, we're putting him in, and you don't
have anything to say about it?
MR. BOUCHER: The personnel decisions are in the hands of the FBI.
MR. BOUCHER: Obviously if it was somebody
that for some reason was
unacceptable to us, we could make that known. But it is their
question related to security. When someone like that from
the FBI comes to work here, does DS do its own investigation or does it
just accept FBI security clearance?
MR. BOUCHER: He comes with a full FBI
clearance. So we don't need to
do a separate one.
Richard, can we go back. There is a group of senators in
discussing the government of the country, about the spillover from
Colombia for the border area. My question is, did State Department
have a conversation with those senators before the trip to discuss the
issue with the Ecuadorian authorities? And that country is still
requesting $150 million for the -- to confront what they call the
spillover of Plan Colombia in the border area, and the Foreign Minister
is coming next week. He is going to meet Secretary Powell.
What is the position of
this Government about their request for the --
to confront the spillover of Plan Colombia?
MR. BOUCHER: I
don't -- I will have to check and see if we met with a
group of senators who are down in Ecuador. We frequently do meet with
people before trips like that.
As far as
any specific budgetary requests, I think we would have to
wait for the budget and see how the budget will affect that. As you
know, Plan Colombia has included money for neighboring countries, and
the Secretary has spoken in his confirmation hearings and elsewhere of
the need to emphasize that aspect, to make sure the plan does
adequately cover the whole Andean region.
So we will
see, but I don't have any numbers for you until we get to --
probably until we get to the budget. I'm sure the needs of Ecuador and
our desire to make sure that they are -- that we do cooperate with them
against narcotics, that that will be discussed with the Foreign
Minister when he comes. I don't actually remember the exact date.
I'll have to check.
Q: What is the US view of the Russian
missile defense plan that was
presented? Do we think this is a serious proposal, or is it just
something attempting to block our own --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the US
view of the Russian missile plan is that we
will look at it, that we need to study it in detail, I think, before we
can make a realistic assessment of what Russia has in mind.
We would make two general observations. One is that
we welcome the
fact that Russia recognizes that Europe faces a serious threat from
weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems, and that
Russia believes that defensive systems are necessary for protection and
Obviously we have welcomed questions of
cooperation in general, but I
would also note that the deployment of a missile defense for Europe
would not protect the United States against ballistic missile launches,
and so it would not be a substitute for the deployment of a National
Q: You seem
to -- how much detail have you seen on this? Has
Secretary -- General Robertson got back to you?
BOUCHER: I'm not sure if we actually have a copy of it yet.
I do know is we haven't had a chance to really look at it in any
Q: Will this be discussed in
Cairo in the meeting between Powell and
BOUCHER: I don't know for sure. They will discuss a lot of
things. I'm sure missile defense generally, including Europe, would
probably come up. But whether this specific proposal comes up or not
depends on whether they want to raise it, and after we have looked at
it, if we find anything we need to talk about.
Eighth row back. Back of the bus. On Hanssen, are there
more than one FBI liaison persons in the Foreign Missions Bureau, and
do you have other ones in INR, for example?
MR. BOUCHER: There are various FBI people that
work with us around
this building, so, yes, we have different channels for dealing with the
FBI. I don't know if they have more than one person in the Office of
Foreign Missions. I do note that the FBI has a statutory
responsibility under the Foreign Missions Act to help us carry out the
Q: Do you have -- a couple of other
small questions on this. Does the
Office of Foreign Missions also include contact on UN -- diplomats to
the UN, or is it limited to the embassies?
MR. BOUCHER: I will
have to double-check that because I think there is
a difference in terms of the UN diplomats, in terms of accreditation,
because they are accredited to the United Nations.
MR. BOUCHER: But I think I'm pretty
sure, when it comes to facilities,
that we do that. I will have to double-check on that.
Q: And my final
question on this is, did Hanssen have any foreign
trips or did he have anything to do with liaison with other countries,
and have those countries been notified or discussed -- his arrest been
discussed with any foreign missions at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what
contacts he might have had with foreign
missions directly in the course of his job. I don't know of any
discussions, but as far as what the contacts were and how those were
conducted, that would be in the purview of the FBI investigators. And
I believe the FBI had something to say yesterday in the Director's
statement and the affidavit about the fact that he was not authorized
to have certain kinds of contacts in any way.
may seem sort of off the wall, but is there any reason to
believe that Hanssen may have been spying for other governments beyond
MR. BOUCHER: That is
the kind of question you can ask the FBI, and
they will decide whether it is off the wall or not.
Q: Okay. And
then if you could please just sort of lay out for us
what is on the agenda with the Ivanov meeting, what the US priorities
are to discuss? If you prefer, I can ask this question later in the
MR. BOUCHER: I think
we would prefer to do that later in the week, or
even on the trip.
MR. BOUCHER: Obviously the meeting
with Foreign Minister Ivanov is the
Secretary's first chance to get together with him face to face to
discuss, I think, a broad variety of issues in our relationship of
bilateral issues, and the larger security and cooperation issues like
missile defense in Iraq. And they will be in the Middle East. I am
sure they will want to discuss Middle East peace, the situation in
Russia, and some of the things that we think about that, particularly
with regard to media freedom. Those are the kinds of things that might
come up. But what specific issues will come up, I think we would wait
to do that during the trip.
Q: I'm sorry -- one related question.
Have you made a decision yet on
whether to grant former Taiwanese President Lee a visa? And if you --
even if you haven't made a decision, was this something that came up
during the lightning ten-minute discussion, meeting, whatever, this
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a
full rundown of all the issues that came
up. As far as I know, it was a general discussion. And this one
particular issue -- I didn't have any other issues cited to me when I
asked people about it.
And as far as any
decisions on travel, it would depend if the traveler
intended to come. When I have checked on this in the past, there
hasn't been any request for a visa.
there any plans to send a special envoy to Japan to deal
the Greenville collision?
MR. BOUCHER: That is a
suggestion that we are seriously considering.
We would hope to make a decision soon, but nothing to announce at this
Q: Can you say which kind of special envoy,
and is it soon? Is it
sometime this week or next week? And what kind of message do you bring
to the Japanese?
MR. BOUCHER: Those are all questions that we are
considering, and we will get back to you soon.
Q: Yes, but the message -- which kind of message?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want to elaborate on
that at this point.
Let's wait until we decide whether to do it or not, and then we will
tell you what the message is.
Q: Right. Not really changing here, but from
the beginning you said
the US-Japan relationship has been solid for 50 years, but the way
these things has been developed, or has been moving, is sort of messed
up. Initially, maybe hurt, maybe didn't release the name of the guest,
and then also they didn't tell us that civilian was -- civilians are in
control room, even after they said civilian didn't distract them. But
yesterday they said well, actually, civilian distract them.
So do you -- can you still say this issue itself
discuss really mess up
the US-Japan relationship and the relationship is still solid?
MR. BOUCHER: I would be glad
to say that the US-Japan relationship is
still solid, that we are cooperating very, very closely with the
Japanese on this. They have liaison people in Hawaii. Our people
investigating this are working very closely with them out there, and
these are -- it is very tragic, it is very regrettable. But even in
these terrible circumstances, we work very closely with our Japanese
(The briefing was concluded at 1:40 P.M.)