U.S. Dept of State March 30, 2001
U.S. Dept of State
Daily Press Briefing Friday, March 30, 2001
Colombia – Belarus – Cyprus - Iraq Sanctions Policy – Turkey – Egypt – Macedonia – Balkans – Serbia – China - North Korea - Middle East.
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
1 Colombia: Transit Visas Required
1 Belarus: Freedom Day Prosecutions
1 Special Cyprus Coordinator
Discussions with Foreign Minister Cem:
1, 3 Iraq Sanctions Policy
1 Greek - Turkish Relations
1 European Union
2 Economic Reform
3 Middle East Peace Efforts / Need for Restraint
Discussions with Foreign Minister Moussa:
4 Middle East Peace Efforts / Need for Restraint
4, 5-6 Arab League Summit
4 Iraq Policy
4, 5 Sudan
4 Bilateral Relationship
4 Trade Issues
5 Need for Return of Egyptian Ambassador to Israel
6 Israeli-Palestinian Issues
6 US Policy
6, 7 Investigation into Mortar Attack Killing Two People
6 Contact Group Meeting in Paris on April 11
8, 9 News Reports of Milosevic House Surrounded by Police
8, 9-10 Certification
10-11 Detention of Hong Kong-based American Citizen
11, 15 Gao Zhan Detention
11 Other American Citizens in Prisons
11 Health of the Foreign Minister
12-14 Assistant Secretary Walker's Comments Regarding UN Vote
14 Support for Plan Colombia
14 Transit Visas
15, 16 Efforts for Peace in the Region
16 Secretary Powell's Contacts with Chairman Arafat
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 41
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2001 1:50
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. A couple
off the top. I think you've seen our statement on Colombian transit
visas. We had a statement this morning on Belarus. And to add to my
remarks yesterday, I sighted Tom Weston in the cafeteria and saw him
again today, so our Special Cyprus Coordinator is on the job, lest
there be any doubts.
With that, I'll be glad to take your questions.
Q: Could you talk about what the Secretary
and the Turkish Foreign
Minister may have said about Iraq and how his ideas, the Secretary's
ideas, might help the Turkish economy?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there was a
general discussion of the Iraq policy
and how we would move forward. The Secretary explained our ideas and
how we wanted to move forward now to put them into effect, working with
the Europeans, working with the Perm Five, working with the frontline
states. The Turks expressed general support for the direction and
appreciation for the way we were working with them and they look
forward to working out the final details with us.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure. I think the Secretary
covered most everything
else, but I'll take your question.
Q: Can you be more specific on the context of
the discussion on Cyprus
between the Secretary and --
MR. BOUCHER: The context of the discussion was the UN
process and the
UN talks and the importance that the United States attaches to
continuing that process and moving it forward. I think I'll leave it
Did they discuss the Aegean Sea issue, and specifically the
MR. BOUCHER: They discussed in general
the state of Greek-Turkish
relations as well as broader issues with Turkey and the European Union,
but not specifics like you mentioned.
Q: Nothing on the Aegean?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the Aegean being a
component of Greek-Turkish
relations, the general topic came up.
Q: Can you elaborate a little more --
BOUCHER: No, I can't because there was nothing specific on
or a particular body of water.
Q: How about
economic matters that were mentioned? What exactly did
the Secretary say with respect to the IMF and other multilaterals and
the state of Turkey's economy?
BOUCHER: He asked Foreign Minister Cem sort of for a
the state of play and the state of reform in Turkey. The Foreign
Minister ran through some of the issues and the state of affairs in
Turkey, the commitment to reform. I think he cited in doing so some of
the remarks he had made during the course of the week in public, in
Washington. So you will find him on the record, I think, on those kind
of subjects. The Secretary appreciated the explanation, expressed our
support for the continuation of that process, the process of reform,
and working with the IMF as it goes forward.
I think there's also -- I didn't have time to get
it, but there is a
Presidential letter to, what is it, the American Turkish Business
Council that was meeting that expresses our support in those terms as
Expresses support for reform, or expresses support for the
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it is all
worked up together in working with the
IMF on the reform process, and then that is where we are.
Q: So the program
is good. You guys think that what they have got --
what they are planning to do is okay?
MR. BOUCHER: We think
that the way they are working on reform, in
conjunction with the IMF, is okay. And we want them to continue doing
Q: So that they haven't done it? They haven't
done enough yet? You
want them to keep doing more?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- that's as far as I'm going to go, I'm sorry.
Q: Can you go a little further than you did about
how the revised
sanctions program the Secretary has been talking about would benefit
Clearly, there are opportunities in the process of
targeting the sanctions and focusing the sanctions for neighboring
states to benefit from trade in civilian goods. At the same time, the
important thing about the cross-border trade, about the smuggling of
oil and diesel fuel, for us is our concern about the revenue, the
Baghdad regime's access to uncontrolled revenue, or perhaps the
smuggling of items that could rebuild its military capacity or weapons
of mass destruction programs.
So that's why we are working with Turkey on the
implementation of this approach to sanctions, the strengthening of
controls over weapons of mass destruction, while protecting the
economic interests of those regional economies like Turkey that do have
economic relations with the civilian population of Iraq. Turkey has a
long history, I think, of working with the international community
relating to Iraq. They have implemented the sanctions after the Gulf
War, despite a considerable economic cost at some points, and obviously
we expressed appreciation again today for the way we worked together on
the northern no-fly zones.
So we think that this export of Iraqi oil can take
place and should
take place under the Oil-for-Food program, and as you say, that will
then, as we revise the process, that may open up some opportunities for
normal trade with the civilian population.
Foreign Minister said the other day -- the Foreign Minister
Turkey, that is -- that it is unrealistic of the US and Israel to
assume that negotiations or further talks with the Palestinians
couldn't take place unless the violence stops. He said that there is
no way the violence is going to stop unless they start coming to the
Did he share that view with Secretary Powell
today and try to urge the
United States to get more involved?
MR. BOUCHER: They didn't talk extensively about
the Middle East in the
parts of the meeting that I was in. I think our views on these
subjects are well known. The Secretary did talk this morning also for
about one hour with Foreign Minister Amre Moussa of Egypt, and that was
essentially the subject of their discussion as well.
The Secretary made clear, as the President did
yesterday, that we felt
it was very, very important for the violence to stop and very, very
important for Mr. Arafat, for Chairman Arafat to speak out publicly, to
call for an end for the violence, so that we could see the kind of
actions, the rebuilding of trust, the direct dialogue, the easing of
the economic restrictions that would, in fact, provide a basis or a
foundation for renewed talks.
As the President said yesterday, we don't
see meaningful progress in
peace talks being able to occur unless the violence is ended.
Q: -- move on to a new subject?
MR. BOUCHER: It depends what subject we're on
now. I'm not quite sure
if we're on Turkey or the Middle East.
Q: I was going to move on to the Balkans, but --
Q: Egypt, well, just what else did -- was that the
extent of the
conversation between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Moussa?
MR. BOUCHER: No, there was a very
considerable conversation on the
situation in the Middle East. I think the basic approach that the
President outlined yesterday and that we have outlined today is the one
that we discussed with the Egyptians, which the Egyptians I would say
in general terms supported, that there does need to be an end to the
violence, there does need to be an end to terrorism, there needs to be
restraint on the other side.
We have made clear as
well the Israelis need to avoid actions that can
be seen as provocative. They need to avoid over-reaction and we
encourage the Israelis to continue to move on things like easing the
closures, restoring normalcy, removing checkpoints.
But, first and foremost, we all agree the
violence needs to stop, and
we made quite clear we think there needs to be, by Chairman Arafat,
very clear and public call against violence and terrorism, and there
are other actions we think the Palestinian Authority needs to take.
Q: But all that was --
MR. BOUCHER: So
that was the general sort of approach that was being
Q: Did the Secretary not bring up the US
disappointment or objection
to what the final communiqué --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me get back to your question now,
having said that
was the -- there was a longer discussion of Middle East peace than I
described before. I'll try to describe that for you now.
There were a number
of other subjects that they discussed, which since
my brain may not have them all, let me find my notes. They did talk
about the Arab League meeting. They talked about the Iraq policy
questions and how we intend to go forward, again, same kind of
discussion as with the Turkish Government, working with the Perm Five,
working with the frontline states. Obviously, the specific factors are
different for different governments.
talked about Sudan and the problems there. A couple regional
issues, the bilateral relationship and some of the trade issues with
Egypt and also kind of the strategic picture of the region.
Q: Did the issue of the Egyptian Ambassador come up, in Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that came
up specifically -- no, that
didn't come up specifically during the meeting I was at. It is an
issue we continue to discuss with the Egyptian Government, the need to
return their ambassador to Israel.
Q: As a follow-up,
did anything come up on concerns raised in
Washington and in Congress about state-sponsored Egyptian media
broadcasting or writing a number of anti-Semitic or increasing their
rhetoric against Israel?
Again, that didn't come up today, but that is an issue
that we do raise with the Egyptian Government.
the discussions on the Sudan, is there anything that the
States is looking for Egypt to do that might improve the situation over
MR. BOUCHER: I think
the way I would put it is the issues of the Sudan
are important to both of us, clearly very important to Egypt, very
important to us as well. The Secretary has noted repeatedly, including
today, the complexity, the number of different issues, of humanitarian
tragedy, human rights violations, religious violations, war, factional
fighting, government problems and other things like that that intersect
in the Sudan that make it one of the most difficult situations and one
of the most difficult tragedies in Africa and in the world today.
obviously share a very strong view, so what they basically
did was to compare notes. As the Secretary noted, we are going through
a review process with regard to the Sudan, and what we might be able to
do, what might be the way to do it, and so they discussed, heard from
the Egyptians, some ideas and discussed ways of going about that.
Q: On the Arab League Summit communiqué, what
exactly did Secretary
Powell tell the Foreign Minister?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he expressed in private the
same kind of concerns
that we have expressed in public about some of the language in the
communiqué. He asked and they discussed for a while how the Iraqi
issue had played through at the summit, and I think the Secretary made
clear that we felt that at this stage, particularly the Israeli in the
Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issues, that this was one of a
number of factors that we didn't think were helping to quell the
That would be the disagreements that you have in the summit
communiqué? The boycott, and that kind of thing?
BOUCHER: Yes, some of the things that were mentioned in the
League Summit communiqué.
Q: Richard, do you have
any assessment as to the response in the
region among the Israelis and the Palestinians to the appeals we heard
yesterday from the President?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't
have any broader assessment, other than to say
that in our discussions with the Egyptians, they understood the need
for steps to stop the violence, and to be coupled with steps on the
other side to exercise restraint and to start easing the restrictions.
Q: Can we stay on Israel?
Q: Can we get your comment on a map produced and
published today by
The Washington Post against the territorial integrity of western Greece
in the name of the Albanian nationalism?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know what you're talking about.
Q: It's a full-page story, Mr.
Boucher, and it is very important, and
I would like to hear your comment.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I will be glad to look into it. That might --
Q: So far you did not read the article, you didn't see the map?
MR. BOUCHER: That's my
personal comment, that I did not see it, and I
will be glad to look into it and get our experts to look at it.
But what is the US policy vis-à-vis then for (inaudible)
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite
sure. We have said consistently that we
believe that the ethnic Albanian community needs to be accommodated
within the Macedonian political process, that we see Macedonia as an
example of a successful multi-ethnic state, and we have strongly
encouraged the Macedonian Government to take advantage of the situation
these days in this difficult situation that they face militarily, as
they deal with that, to also move forward on the issues of respecting
the ethnic community of Albanians that lives in Macedonia and providing
them with political options, with political outlets. So we have
supported the ethnic Albanian communities within Macedonia in terms of
our aid programs and other things that help them participate in
Macedonian democratic life, and that remains our --
Q: Could you please clarify about the
autonomy? I'm not talking about
change in borders, cultural activities, language school, et cetera. We
are talking about the autonomy. Do you support Albanian autonomy....
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I don't really know
what you're talking about
then. I'm not going to start specifying from Washington something
we've -- what we have stressed is that they work these things out
within the coalition, within the government, within the democratic
process. I'm not going to specify a particular outcome from Washington
that I don't even know if it's under discussion out there.
Could we -- I'm at the end of my brief on this one.
MR. BOUCHER: We have
consistently encouraged governments in the region
to be democratic, to respect minority rights, to provide opportunities
for minorities to participate in the political system. That remains
our view in this region as well as elsewhere.
Q: On the Balkans, the Interfax News
Agency is reporting that Foreign
Minister Ivanov is going to a contact group meeting in Paris on April
11. Is Secretary Powell planning to attend any such meeting next
MR. BOUCHER: He is considering it.
Q: He is considering what?
MR. BOUCHER: Attending any such meeting next month.
Q: On what date?
MR. BOUCHER: On April 11,
he is considering attending a contact group
meeting in Paris, but it's not decided yet.
Q: And let me follow up
also on the Balkans, the Macedonians are
denying responsibility for a mortar attack that killed an EPTN
journalist and a civilian yesterday. And they are also saying, I
think, that the offensive against the ethnic Albanian rebels is over.
Are you satisfied that they have
used appropriate force? And are you
satisfied with their denial of the mortar attack?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen
any particular statement or denial by the
Macedonian Government. I do know that the matter remains under
investigation and that the Government of Macedonia is working with the
Kosovo forces, the NATO-led Kosovo forces, on that investigation. So
we're very obviously concerned and have expressed our sympathies to the
families of the deceased. But as far as exactly what happened, we will
await the results of that investigation.
Q: Also, Richard, further north, what is
your understanding of what's
happening in Belgrade right now?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. I don't have any more
information than you
do, I think. We're reading the news reports.
Q: With respect to certification, can you shed some light on timing?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary
told you that he, over the next
days, he will be examining the information, the results, the activity,
what has happened in recent weeks and months with regard to the
criteria in the law for certification. He will be looking at it over
the next couple of days. I don't expect to have any decision to
announce for you until Monday, frankly. Sunday is not a day -- that's
part of it, too. I was thinking more of the fact that we are not going
to obligate any money on Sunday, anyway. We are not going to notify
the Congress on Sunday, anyway. And therefore we don't expect to have
a decision to announce for you until Monday.
Q: Yesterday, you said that it was
basically he was going to do it by
the deadline. He had every intention to do it by the deadline.
MR. BOUCHER: And I talked to him today and this is where we are.
Q: So there has been a change, then.
MR. BOUCHER: No, there
hasn't been a change. If you look back at what
I said --
Q: Can I ask -- can I ask --
MR. BOUCHER: -- it was
till approximate and using words like
Technically then at midnight on Saturday if the Secretary
made a decision, is the money suspended?
BOUCHER: Technically, we wouldn't be able to obligate any
money to Yugoslavia at 12:01 Sunday morning until such time as he were
to make the certification. Now, we are not about to obligate any money
on a Sunday or notify Congress anyway. So --
Q: I'm not suggesting that
you were. But it's technically -- if no
decision has been made by the deadline, it's considered suspended,
until such time as they are --
MR. BOUCHER: I guess my answer to that is, yeah, but big deal.
Q: Well, because --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, if you're going to write a big story
excitement, the United States is not going to spend any money in
Yugoslavia today, we weren't going to spend any money in Yugoslavia
that day either, so big deal. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, that's very witty, Richard, but
I mean, you're blowing off a
congressional deadline. I'm sorry, that's the way it is.
MR. BOUCHER: No, we're not
blowing off a congressional deadline. I'm
sorry, Matt. We're not. We're absolutely not. If you read that law,
you will see the requirement is that we not obligate any money after
March 31 until and unless we have certified to Congress, okay? If
Congress hears from us the next day or the day after or three months
after or six months after, we have met our requirement to Congress.
Q: Right. But -- so --
MR. BOUCHER: As long as we don't obligate any
money. So don't make
this into something between us and Congress.
Q: -- but technically -- but technically it is going to be suspended.
Q: Could I just confirm that you
are saying that this -- the United
States has not been told by Belgrade authorities that an arrest of
Milosevic is imminent?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any information of
our own on that, or any
information other than what we are seeing in the press at this moment.
Q: Is there some
kind of law that says that we can't obligate money on
Sunday? I'm just confused. Or is -- like we can't sell liquor in
Washington on Sundays or something? (Laughter.) I mean, what --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think
there are any blue laws about obligating
money on Sundays. But there is no particular intention to do so. It's
not normally done. We don't come in on Sundays to obligate money. We
generally find a way to get our work done on the work days.
Q: Yeah, but you know you did send
David Sheffer up to the UN to sign
that criminal court treaty on a Saturday. So this whole weekend thing,
I'm not sure --
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, some things happen on
weekends. We work on
weekends. You know the phone calls the Secretary has made on weekends.
You know the number of Security Council meetings we've had on weekends,
you know the number of trips and events that we have been on on
weekends. Obligating money in part of our aid program is not something
that, of necessity, has to be done on weekends and therefore is not
something that is normally done on weekends.
Q: Can I move on to China? Do you have
anything to say about this
Hong Kong-based American professor who is in detention?
MR. BOUCHER: There is not
much I can say because of privacy
considerations, but I can give you a general statement that there is a
case of an American in custody in China that we have been working on
since late February. I would note that in this case, in accordance
with our bilateral consular convention, the Chinese Government notified
us of the detention within four days, as required.
We are working with the family,
we are in close touch with the family
in this case. We have had a consular visit, and we would expect
another consular visit to occur within the next week. Our consular
agreement with China provides for such visits to occur at least once a
Q: Is there anything more you can do for us?
MR. BOUCHER: Her? Are you changing the name?
Q: I might have been changing -- I'm talking about --
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're changing the case.
MR. BOUCHER: But there is nothing more I can say
about the first case
that I was asked about that I can't even confirm the identity of the
individual because of Privacy Act considerations, but the case that I
was just describing in general terms, we have been working closely with
the family, we will be seeing the person again soon.
Q: Okay. But I wanted to ask about Ms. Gao then, now that she --
Q: Well, can we stay on this one and then go to --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's stay on this one.
you asked for more consular visits and have been denied more
than the one per month?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we
expect a second visit to occur within the
next week. That is what we are looking at.
Q: -- during the visit of (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to double-check on that.
We talked about some
specific cases during the course of those visits and discussions, and I
frankly don't know if this might have been one of them.
Q: Do you know where he is being held?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not able to say. We do,
because we visited him, but
I can't say.
you've been talking -- when we've been asking questions
this woman over the last few days, and you've been talking about how
the general issue of consular access has been raised with the Chinese,
were you including this case as well? And is there a reason why you
decided not to mention the fact that, look, there are actually two
cases now, not just -- I mean, I know the woman is not an American
citizen, but --
MR. BOUCHER: There are a
number of Americans in jail in China on
various places, various charges, some of them criminal, et cetera.
There are something like 20 Americans now in prison for various crimes
in China, and obviously every time an American gets arrested, we expect
the Chinese to meet the obligations of the consular convention.
There is no
particular connection between these cases, not that we are
aware of, and what I would say is in the case of Ms. Gao, the issue was
a minor, an American citizen, the child, who was held in what we view
as detention for a long period without consular notification. In this
case that I just described to you but didn't talk about specifics of,
we did get consular notice within the required time period.
Q: Since you told me that you are not in a
position to explain about
the autonomy, the legal terminology or the diplomatic one, how do you
explain that your Government, in the same token, is supporting an
autonomous Kurdish entity in northern Iraq?
BOUCHER: No, I'm sorry, I'm not here to argue with your
ideas of a
situation. I will explain the United States' views on matters that are
real and that are occurring, and that is where I will stay. I'm sorry,
I'm just not going to entertain hypothetical questions and comparisons.
Q: I have two questions. The first one is, do
you have anything about
the North Korean Foreign Minister's health?
MR. BOUCHER: No, and I don't expect that we would.
Q: And the other one, Colombia. Can you
tell us what actions exactly
the United States plans to take against Colombia for working against
you in the UN this week?
Q: And on top of that, when was the decision on
the visas that I asked
about yesterday, that you released the statement on today -- when was
that decision actually made? I realize it was published in the Federal
Register today, but when was that decided?
BOUCHER: Let's do one question at a time, okay? On the issue
Colombia and the statements by Assistant Secretary Walker yesterday, to
amplify what he said, the US at the highest levels is disappointed by
Colombia's decision to sponsor and subsequently vote in favor with the
UN resolution on the observer force. We will be discussing our views
with the Government of Colombia and reviewing that action in the
context of our relations with Colombia, both bilateral and
I would like to
emphasize, however, that we continue to support the
Government of Colombia's efforts to combat narcotics trafficking, and
specifically, we remain committed to the full implementation and US
assistance to Plan Colombia.
Q: Richard, will there be consequences?
BOUCHER: As I said, we are disappointed with the decision
will be raising it with the Government of Colombia.
Q: Yes, but Mr. Walker yesterday spoke about
consequences. What kind
of consequences are --
BOUCHER: As I said, we are disappointed in the situation and
will be raising it with the Government of Colombia.
Q: Maybe commercial sanctions, or --
BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate at this point. We are
disappointed with the action, and we will be raising it with the
Government of Colombia. That is the immediate consequence; any
subsequent consequences we will tell you about later.
Q: Why are you disappointed, since this
is a free decision from a free
country that belongs to the UN? And also, why -- consequences means
that something bad is going to happen, that's what they feel.
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we're disappointed by the decision.
MR. BOUCHER: Because we don't think it is the right decision.
MR. BOUCHER: We don't
think it is a helpful decision. We don't think
it helps the situation, we don't think it responds to Colombia's
interests, and we certainly don't think it responds to our interests or
the interests of peace in the region. And we will be making that clear
to the Government of Colombia.
Q: So what does it change, the fact that they
made the decision and
you don't like it?
MR. BOUCHER: We are going to go talk to them about it.
Well, does it -- is it going to change? Something is going
MR. BOUCHER: When we decide to -- I'm
sorry, you guys are getting way
ahead of me now. I'm going to tell you what I can say right now, and
when we have more to tell you, we will.
Q: Yes, but I mean,
certainly it is a free decision from a free member
state to make. I mean, there are plenty of decisions that the United
States makes that a lot of other countries in the --
MR. BOUCHER: And we usually hear from them, and they
can expect to
hear from us.
Q: But they don't say that there are going to be serious --
MR. BOUCHER: That's the way it works.
Q: But they don't say that there are going
to be consequences to the
relationship. I mean, don't you think that's a little harsh?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, you
can judge that if you want. But we are going
to raise it with them.
Q: Were you expecting a different way to do the
things from Colombia,
or something like that?
BOUCHER: Well, I think we would hope that they would take a
broader view of their interests and a broader view of some of these
questions, and that is why we want to raise it with them.
Q: Is one of the reasons why there may
be consequences to this vote is
because we are financing so much of the rebuilding of the country
through Plan Colombia, and we have been so generous with them?
BOUCHER: I don't want to try to provide that linkage. I
just explicitly said that we definitely support Plan Colombia and we
will continue our support for Plan Colombia. But in terms of the
broader relationship that we have with Colombia, in terms of the issues
that we try to discuss and work on together, this is one where we are
disappointed and disagree with the position the Government of Colombia
has taken, and we will raise it with them, and we will talk to you
about it more if there are other consequences.
Q: But don't you think that
it might end up being intimidation for a
country next time it is going to vote on something that you might not
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we would hope they would vote
Q: That is not good.
BOUCHER: We would hope that they would vote differently next
That's the whole point of this.
All right, you
can talk to him about Albanian autonomy, and we'll go on
to something else. (Laughter.)
Q: -- visa. And just to
clarify, that the visa was not a consequence
that Mr. Walker was --
MR. BOUCHER: No, the visa decision was not
a consequence. The visa
decision was made before --
Q: When was this? Do you know when it was actually?
BOUCHER: The exact time, I don't know. I think the
itself talks about sort of the history of what happened during the
month of March, so it was made recently. I think it was announced down
in Colombia in terms of implementation yesterday. It is going in the
Federal Register; that's why we are doing it here today.
Q: But you don't know exactly when they --
MR. BOUCHER: The exact moment of decision, I don't know. But --
Q: Does it say they haven't been able to read the whole
but does it say who actually made it -- was it the State Department or
MR. BOUCHER: I
suppose it is a joint decision, and in the end, we have
responsibility for visa reciprocity, but obviously the Immigration
Service are the ones who tell us what is going on in terms of the
people that we have been issuing visas to, who might have been
transiting and trying to stay.
Q: Do you know, have you heard any
complaint from the Colombian
Government about this --
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I will have to check on that.
Q: Can I go back to China? Gao Zhan's husband was
citizenship this morning. Does it help the US Government in any way,
to negotiate with China?
BOUCHER: I mean, first of all, on his gaining citizenship,
always pleased, we are always happy to see new US citizens, and we
congratulate him on his swearing-in, if you want to start with that,
point number one.
same time, we will continue to press for the release of his
wife. His wife is in custody in China and, as you know, we have called
for her immediate release, and we will continue to press that. That
was raised during the high-level visits and discussions last week. We
have raised it through our Embassy, and we raised it once again on the
29th, which was yesterday, in Washington with the Chinese Embassy here.
So her detention continues to be a
human rights concern of the United
States. We don't see any reason for her to be detained, and we look
for her to be immediately released.
Q: Going back to Assistant
Secretary Walker for a moment. Does the
Secretary share his views about Chairman Arafat's contribution to the
current violence in the region? He made some extremely harsh comments
yesterday, and I wondered if you could reflect on that.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure what I'm
referring to, or what you're
referring to, in terms of the comments. I don't remember seeing any
Q: -- specifically along the lines that Arafat's
recent actions were
not the actions of somebody who was interested in peace, that they
forced the United States into the veto -- he forced the United States
into a veto at the last minute at the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that is
quite consistent with what we have said,
with what the Secretary has said. In terms of the way the UN action
went, we were looking to work on something that would be acceptable to
the parties, that would indicate that we expected to see the consent
and agreement between the parties, for the UN to be helping out, and
instead, we saw a resolution forced, pushed forward that is, as you
know, we described as unwise, unhelpful, unbalanced.
There are a number of things that the
Secretary has cited in his
conversations. I mentioned the Arab League Summit, the way the
resolution went, some of the statements about continuation of violence,
that go in the other direction, that do not contribute to calming the
situation, that don't constitute what we are looking for, which is a
clear and public statement against violence and concrete actions like
arresting people, bringing people to justice and preempting attacks.
Q: Another thing that Assistant Secretary Walker
said was that there
had been absolutely no response from Arafat to US appeals -- now, he
said it -- for taking steps to ease the violence. Now, since he
testified, the Secretary spoke on the phone with Chairman Arafat.
tell us what was his -- what was Chairman Arafat's response
Secretary Powell's delivery of President Bush's message of "stop the
MR. BOUCHER: I don't
think we have seen a particular response at this
point, or any actions that would go in the direction that we are
Q: So Arafat gave the Secretary no
indication that he might or that he
was considering coming out --
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, I don't think I can go
that far into the phone
call. I don't have that much detail on the actual phone call itself.
But I would say in terms of the kind of actions we are looking to see,
we have not seen those actions, and as I just noted, the Secretary has
noted, that there have been a number of things in recent days that go
in the opposite direction.
Q: In following up on that, I mean, at this
point, is the State
Department -- is the United States -- are we reconsidering the US
relationship with the Palestinian Authority, as some on Capitol Hill
have suggested the State Department should? Is that a process going on
at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: We have continued
to work with people in the region, we
have continued to work with the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately the
decisions that need to be made are in the hands of the Israelis and the
Palestinians, and they need to make the decisions. Our point here is
that the leaders of these people need to make the tough decisions, and
that is what we are looking for.
Okay, thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:30 p.m.)