State Dept. Daily Press Briefing - June 4, 2001
Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, June 4, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN
1,4 Whereabouts of Ambassador William Burns
1-3,6 Arafat's Call for a Ceasefire / Need for Reduction of
2,3 Secretary Powell's Diplomatic Efforts
2,3 Possible Visit by Mr. Tenet
2-3,7 Israeli Response to Tel Aviv Bombing / Israeli Use of
3-6 Implementation of the Mitchell Commission Report /
4-6 US-Facilitated Peace Talks
4-6 International Support for Palestinian Ceasefire
6-7 Terrorist Threats to US Interests
7 Donors Conference
8 Elections Results
8 Death of Nepalese Royal Family / Ground Situation
9 Warning to American Travelers
9 Church Bombings
9-10 Peace Accord / Exchange of Prisoners
10 US-Mexico Immigration Talks
13 Mexican Immigration Safety Update / Border Patrol
10-11 Arms Sales from to Croatia
11 Foreign Minister Tanaka's Remarks Re: Missile Defense
11,12 U.S.S. Cole Attack: Trial Update
11-12 Reported Abrogation of Long-Range Missile Moratorium
12 Military Exchanges With U
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 76
MONDAY, JUNE 4,
2001 12:50 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.
Q: Sorry, I didn't get a call. But I wondered if you could tell us what Mr. Burns was up to.
MR. BOUCHER: We practiced this in advance, I have to tell you. (Laughter.)
Q: He's still back in Jordan and he was supposed to come home. Any new instructions for him?
MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point. He's in Jordan. He's obviously monitoring the situation very closely. He's staying in very close touch with the Secretary of State, and we will obviously use him as one of our diplomatic assets in the region as events develop. But at this point, what point he will travel or might resume his meetings, we have yet to decide.
Q: Can I ask you one other thing? I know what you want, so I mean whatever you say is up to you, of course. I know you want an unconditional cease-fire, but did you hear in Arafat's words a call for an unconditional cease-fire?
MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary mentioned over the weekend, we feel that we have seen statements that are encouraging; we've seen instructions that are encouraging; we've seen statements in both the Arabic media and the international media from Chairman Arafat. We have also seen some reduction in the level of violence.
The goal has been and must be that Chairman Arafat, and both sides really, do everything they can to reduce the violence. So we need to see further steps, we need to see further efforts, and we need to see a further reduction in the violence to make it a real cease-fire and to make it last.
Q: How troubling is it to you that Arafat has thus far refused to arrest or re-arrest Hamas members? And could you tell us whether there are plans yet for Mr. Tenet to travel to the region?
MR. BOUCHER: On the question of arrests or re-arrests, I think the emphasis that we would put on is that if there are active -- people planning, people undertaking, people looking at terrorist activities, we do think it's very, very important that the Palestinian security forces take action to arrest them, to prevent these activities, and that they be seen as doing everything they can to prevent acts such as the horrible acts like the one that took place on the beach last Friday.
As far as Mr. Tenet's travel, no change on that. It's under consideration, and that's where it is for the moment.
Q: How soon do you expect a decision to be made?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't predict when senior people make their decisions, but I'll tell you when they do -- maybe.
Q: If I could follow up, you said the emphasis would be on people planning or looking at terrorist activities, but I mean when Arafat released these folks from jail they were in jail because Arafat and the Israelis had agreed that they were, in fact, terrorists. I mean, why aren't you just calling directly for him to re-arrest people he let out of jail?
MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said over the weekend, people clearly that are wanted on charges that have not been brought to justice should be arrested and brought to justice. That remains fundamental to any system of justice. But at the same time, we want to put some emphasis on the need to prevent future acts of terrorism; that we see the need to make sure that the kind of bombings that were carried out last week, and before that, are not allowed to be repeated, and we think there is action that the Palestinian security forces can take to prevent those things from occurring.
Q: Richard, if the best security force in the Middle East can't prevent a terrorist bombing in part of Tel Aviv, how are the Palestinians supposed to do it?
MR. BOUCHER: As we've said, Norm, there is a lot of things that different parties can do. We're looking for all the parties to take steps within their jurisdiction, within their abilities, to try to prevent these acts. We recognize that terrorism is horrible for everybody that experiences it and that's it very difficult to prevent at times. We want to see that people are doing everything they can to prevent it.
Q: This is kind of a two-fold question. Could you talk about the meetings this morning at the White House? Did the Secretary attend, or the Deputy?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary went over for meetings at the White House, along with various experts.
Q: And also, have you instructed the Israelis in terms of the cease- fire not to take any planned assassinations of Palestinian officials?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, our view on targeted killings is well known, so that has not changed in any way. I would say that we are in touch with the Israelis. We have said very clearly, the Secretary said very clearly, he appreciates the measured response that they've taken so far. We do think that the continuation of that response is important to the situation and that we need to see steps from both sides, as I said, to maintain the lower levels of violence and to hopefully make this continue.
Q: As to Tenet's possible plans, you said no change is under consideration? What do you mean, no change is under consideration?
MR. BOUCHER: No, there has been no change in the situation, period. The potential for a visit by the Director of Central Intelligence remains under consideration.
Q: Can you say if the Secretary talked to anyone in the region today?
MR. BOUCHER: Not today. Over the weekend, I think you know he talked to Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat on Saturday. He talked to them again on Sunday. He was in close touch with German Foreign Minister Fischer several times over the weekend and talked to Javier Solana several times over the weekend and various others, including the Costa Rican Foreign Minister to express his regret at not being able to make the meeting in Costa Rica today.
Today, he has talked to Foreign Minister Cook. I think that's the only one so far, but clearly the potential exists for more phone calls.
Q: Arafat said over the weekend that he was looking to create the conditions for a cease-fire, which would include obviously what the Mitchell Report recommends, which would be a cease -- a stopping of all settlement activity from the Israelis.
The US position so far has been that that would be something that would be discussed once a cease-fire occurred in security-level talks. Is there any -- can you give us any kind of response to Arafat's formulation there -- I mean, sort of rephrasing Barry's question?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really think our role and our desire is to be analysts of language. We're not here to try to parse everything that everybody says. We are here to try to encourage the parties and continue the process of lowering the rate of violence. And what matters in the end is whether people die or not, is whether there are attacks or not, is whether there is terrorism or not, is whether people have a chance to start normal lives again.
So we are watching the level of violence very, very closely. We're looking to the parties to make the statements, but to issue the instructions and carry out every step they can to see that the violence is reduced, and reduced on a long-term basis.
Q: Well, can I just follow up? Then so it's the US position still that settlement talk will occur once a cease-fire has happened?
MR. BOUCHER: Our position remains that the parties should carry out the steps called for in the Mitchell Report, that they should implement the unconditional cessation of violence, the unconditional cease-fire; that that should be followed, as we know, by a cooling-off period, confidence-building measures, and a return to negotiations. The precise timelines for doing that will be a subject of discussion, or are a subject of discussion, in various contacts between the parties and with the parties.
Q: So you said the parties should carry out the steps in the Mitchell Report. One of the steps was the freeze on settlement. But what the Secretary seems to be saying is that they should just discuss this at some later stage.
Can you try and reconcile these two completely contradictory positions?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. If I implied anything different than the Secretary has, then I didn't mean to. No, we've always said that --
Q: So there's really no need to carry out -- they just need to talk about possibly doing it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to argue this one again. We've made quite clear that the Mitchell Report forms a foundation for going forward. This was done by an eminent panel of international representatives. We think it forms a solid basis for the parties to go forward. We want to see the parties implement its recommendations, get together to implement its recommendations. And the question of settlement is one where the US Government position is well known, but we do consider that this issue needs to be taken up as part of the confidence-building measures that are looked at in the Mitchell Committee's recommendations.
Q: Well, you're saying both things again, both that they should carry out the recommendations and they should talk about what they might do about this. I mean, that's not the same thing at all. Which is your position?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to cut a too-fine line here. They need to get together and talk about how to carry out these recommendations. That will be something for discussion by the two sides and as confidence-building measures. The first and foremost emphasis is on achieving the unconditional cessation of violence.
Q: Is the US continuing to push for US-brokered talks under the -- you know, on the same arrangement that they have been doing for the last month, two months -- security talks and then talks among other people in the area with US officials?
MR. BOUCHER: We have continued to urge the parties to have security discussions, security dialogue, both at the sort of local level and at a higher level. We are continuing to be prepared to facilitate those kinds of discussions. And we have, as you know, engaged in a variety of ways. We have had Ambassador Indyk and Consul General Schlicher meet with the parties. Ambassador Burns was there. So we will be in touch with them, I would consider in a variety of ways this week as we go forward.
Q: Can I follow that up? You expressed some -- irritation maybe is the word -- last week that the senior security Palestinian for Gaza and then the following day for the West Bank, or vice versa, boycotted the talks, didn't attend the talks. Do you have assurance now that those high- level talks that you'd like to host will be well-attended, attended by the right people this time around?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there are any particular talks at that level scheduled at this point, so were that to happen we would want to make sure that people who can exercise authority and take responsibility are there and that they are in a position to do things. I think the Secretary mentioned over the weekend that some of these discussions have sort of turned into mutual accusations and hadn't been terribly productive, but we would hope to be organized and get the people there in such as way that they could start cooperating to achieve security.
Q: Have you heard a sufficient number of echoes of other countries? Have you heard enough echoes among other governments for the US call for a cease-fire? Do you feel -- I mean, I heard Kofi Annan do it. Do you feel that there is a groundswell of support for the Secretary of State in trying to -- insisting on a cease-fire and insisting that Yasser Arafat unconditionally call off the violence? I don't seem to hear a lot of noise out there.
MR. BOUCHER: If you look back in the last week or so, I think you'll find people all over the world -- Europeans, the Russian Foreign Minister at one point, I think some of the Arab foreign ministers -- endorsing the Mitchell Committee's recommendations, endorsing that as a platform for moving forward, to achieving the cease-fire and going forward with confidence-building and then return to a path of discussions. So I would say that the Mitchell Committee's recommendations have gotten a lot of support, yes.
Q: Again, you probably don't want to split this hair. You wouldn't with Jonathan, and I don't know why you would with me. I'm really not asking about the Mitchell Commission Report. It is a delicately even- handed report that asks things of both sides. I'm asking about the Secretary of State's call and the President's call after the bloody incident in Tel Aviv, which was simply a call to the Palestinians -- there was no Israel in it -- cut it out. Now, I haven't heard anybody - - and maybe I'm not reading the fine print -- I haven't heard other governments stand up and cheer and say, "Count me in. We agree."
The Mitchell Commission Report aside, has the US got support in asking Arafat to end the violence unconditionally, and not settlement constructions and half of Jerusalem and the other stuff that he wants?
MR. BOUCHER: If you remember, Barry, the first and foremost recommendation in the Mitchell Committee Report was for an unconditional cessation of violence. Right? That is what the United States has been calling for; that is what certainly the United States has been calling for since the terrible bombing on Friday night. We have made quite clear that we believe it falls to Chairman Arafat over the weekend and now to take steps to bring about that unconditional cessation of violence.
But, in fact, that is what is called for in the Mitchell Committee's recommendations, so people who endorse the Mitchell Committee's recommendations or who, subsequent to the bombing on Friday, have called for an unconditional cessation of violence, we think we're in the same - - on the same direction with those people.
I haven't actually followed all the statements that have been made. We know that, as I said, some of the Europeans have been traveling out there. I am sure if you look at their statements you'll find the same kind of thing, that they're urging an end to the violence. And we understand that's what they're doing in their private contacts, as well as their public statements.
Q: You said that you wanted Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan to attend any security cooperation talks. Are you also seeking assurances from the Israelis that they would be able physically to attend, and have you received any assurances on that yet?
MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me -- Jonathan, you're taking this two steps forward from what I actually said. I didn't mention Mr. Rajoub and Mr. Dahlan. I didn't mention any specific meeting. I didn't mention any need for specific assurances that somebody could get to a specific meeting because there is no specific meeting to get to right now.
Were we to have continued security discussions, we would expect and hope that, first, responsible people from both sides were able to attend; and, second of all, that means both in terms of their willingness to attend and in terms of their ability to get there.
Q: Okay, another one. Do you have any comment on Sheikh Sabah's statement on suicide bombings? And how does the United States feel about what this indicates in the way of disillusion and disaffection of the United States and developments in the Arab-Israeli -- in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among Gulf powers?
MR. BOUCHER: I believe the Secretary discussed it yesterday. I don't really have anything to add to that. I'll check and see if there is anything more to say today.
Q: I have a question. Even if we're calling this a cease-fire, however delicate it -- I mean, there have still been incidents constantly. And it could be just coincidence that no one has died in these. Isn't that troublesome? I mean, it's not truly a cease-fire at this point.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you have heard me say, I think several times in the last 15 minutes, our effort remains to see that the parties do everything they can to see that the reduction in the violence continues, that it's made more and more effective, that we do get to the unconditional cessation of violence that was called for in the Mitchell Committee recommendations. And that is why it's very important to us that we see people continue to work in that direction.
Whatever the cause is, whether it's a step that people have taken or, as you say, a mere coincidence, it's good that there is less violence and we want that to continue.
Q: Some group I never heard of has been quoted to put US interests in alert that there will be attacks. Is the State Department aware of any new threat from some rogue groups to attack US interests now as well as Israeli?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what you are referring to. I would have to look it up and see.
Q: You apparently are abandoning the caution that you gave to Israel a month ago on excessive and disproportionate use of force. Missiles are on their way south from Tel Aviv. The rumors are that you've told the Israelis straight out, "Don't use F-16s." You can't answer that, I realize, but --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary addressed that over the weekend, as you know, on the question of the use of F-16s.
Q: Are you using -- you're not using the word "excessive and disproportionate use of force," though.
MR. BOUCHER: We don't use every word every day. We'd be here reciting the dictionary all day long if you wanted us to. Yesterday and today the Secretary emphasized that so far what we've seen from the Israelis was a measured response and that we expected and hope that that would continue. That was basically the tenor of our discussions with the Israelis.
Q: Speaking about Peru, could you share with us what is the --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's finish this and then we'll change the subject to Peru and other things if anybody is -- okay, who was going to change the subject first? I can't remember. Nick.
Q: Have you made a decision yet on this Balkan donors or Yugoslavia donors conference, whether you're going to go ahead with it, whether the Yugoslavs have made some progress for it, that sort of thing?
MR. BOUCHER: Not at this moment. The conference, I believe, is expected at the end of the month, so as the time approaches I'm sure we would make our decisions. But at this moment, there hasn't been one.
Okay, talking about Peru --
Q: What were (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: The ones that we announced in March when we talked about it last.
Q: Well, have you refined them a little since then, because they were pretty vague at that stage.
MR. BOUCHER: No. Continued progress and cooperation with the International Tribunal is the fundamental criteria.
Okay, speaking of Peru --
Q: The Peruvian elections. Could you share with us any comments about the last electoral process? MR. BOUCHER: About what?
Q: The electoral process.
MR. BOUCHER: The electoral process?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think first we would congratulate the winner, Alejandro Toledo. We do look forward to working productively with the new administration.
>From all accounts, the elections appear to be transparent and democratic, which is a tribute actually to the Paniagua administration. There was no special US Government observer mission, but as you know there were a number of observers who went down there, including the National Democratic Institute delegation with former Secretary Albright. I am sure each of those will submit their own reports and give us their observations on the election. We look forward to seeing those. But from all accounts, it is probably the cleanest election that Peru has seen in years.
The United States did supply $7 million in assistance for voter education, electoral authorities and election observers, and some of those people were accompanied by US embassy representatives. So that is, I think, where we are on the morning after. We will look forward to the formation of the government and to working with the government as it takes over.
Q: In South Asia. Richard, if you have anything on new -- on the mess of current Nepal? And many Nepalese in the US and in Nepal are calling it as a conspiracy and if US have been asked in any way of any help by the Nepali Government? And also, if anybody represented at the funeral from the US?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first and foremost, President Bush has expressed our shock and our condolences on the June 1 death of King Birendra of Nepal and most of his family. There are conflicting reports about the killings. Some reports allege that there was a role for Crown Prince Dipendra, who has also now died. We don't really have anything to indicate the political motivation or any political motivation for the murders. Once the shock and the mourning have run their course, Nepalese judicial and constitutional processes should determine the responsibility and take appropriate action.
Our Embassy in Kathmandu is monitoring the situation in Nepal. Today there were large crowds of mourners and protesters in the streets of Kathmandu. On several occasions, police or military units and demonstrators clashed, with tear gas and rubber bullets reportedly being used. We have no reports of Americans being injured.
The government has imposed a curfew in Kathmandu area from 3:30 p.m. today until 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Our Embassy is advising Americans to stay indoors, to monitor the situation closely before venturing outdoors after the curfew is lifted.
Vehicular transportation was disrupted all day, making travel between the airport and hotels and guest houses very difficult, if not impossible.
Our Embassy is continuing to urge Americans and be in touch with Americans to exercise caution when traveling, to avoid crowds, be sensitive to Nepali customs during the 45-day period of mourning, and to expect disruptions in transportation and services during that period.
We will issue a Public Announcement probably to suggest that Americans defer all travel to Nepal and advise Americans who are currently in Nepal to remain indoors through Tuesday, June 5. We expect to do that. We are in the process of doing it. I hope it will come out today.
Q: Anybody represented at the funeral?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about that at this point.
Q: And a church bombing in Bangladesh killed ten people. Any contact with the Bangladesh Government?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, we would condemn the bombing of the church. Second, there have been other recent bombings in Bangladesh. This one and the others have taken lives of many innocent Bangladeshis of all faiths. We hope that the Bangladeshi Government is able to bring the perpetrators of these bombings to justice quickly, and of course we would offer our condolences to the families of those deceased.
Q: And finally, despite Indian Government's invitation --
MR. BOUCHER: South Asia roundup here. (Laughter.)
Q: I'm sorry.
MR. BOUCHER: You were saying?
Q: Despite Indian Government's invitation to General Musharaff to India for peace talks regarding the problem in Kashmir, the number of killings in Kashmir still taking -- bombings and killings of innocent civilians. Any comments as far as peace talks between the two countries?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always encouraged it, but I don't have anything new to say today.
Q: I have a question. Do you have any comment regarding to the exchange of prisoners in Colombia between the government and the FARC? And second of all, there is an article from the St. Petersburg Times last Friday talking about the concerns of the US about the stop of the spraying of coca crops in Colombia.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, the St. Petersburg Times I didn't read. I'm not quite sure what you're asking about.
Q: The article says that there are concerns in the US Government about the decision of Colombia to stop the spraying of coca crops, the fumigation.
MR. BOUCHER: That is something I would have to look at. I am not aware of anything new or different in that regard.
In terms of the agreement that was reached over the weekend by the government and the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, this was a humanitarian accord and we would welcome it. It has to do with the exchange of prisoners, many of whom seem to be in precarious health.
We hope that this limited achievement would provide some momentum for the peace talks that can translate into real and substantive achievements that would reduce the level of violence that daily confronts the people of Colombia.
As far as more details about the agreement itself and how it intends to be implemented, that's obviously something that the government of Colombia would deal with, and not us.
Q: The Bush Administration recently sent an initiative to Congress in order to increase the border patrol in about 10 percent. Do you have any information or can you elaborate about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think the Immigration Service would have to get you that, or the Border Patrol. I don't have any information on that.
Q: And also, just to follow up, pretty soon -- I think it starts the 6th of June, if I recall, or this week sometime -- there will be a high- level meeting between the US and the Mexico Government in San Antonio to discuss immigration issues. At this point, do we have any idea who is going to go from representing the United States to this meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to double-check on that. I wasn't aware of the precise meeting. As you know, ever since the meetings with President Fox earlier, we have had an initiation and a number of discussions with the Mexicans about immigration issues. So it is probably a continuation of that, but I'll have to double-check on it and see what we have going in San Antonio.
Q: Former Argentine President Menem gave an interview over the weekend about his linkage to illegal military weapons sales to Croatia and Ecuador during their arms embargo, and he said that the United States was completely aware of the weapons sales and indicated it was done with US approval.
Have you heard about the interview?
MR. BOUCHER: We've heard about this. I've had some people check this, and we don't know of any US Government action that would encourage this -- that would have encouraged the transfer of arms from Argentina to Croatia during the conflict. So it's a question now that's being investigated by the competent legal authorities in Argentina, and I think for the moment we'll leave it with them.
Q: Is there any attempt by the Japanese Government to clarify the reported remarks of the Foreign Minister concerning missile defense?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Foreign Minister herself has had some comments in public about it, so I think I would leave it at that for the moment. We don't have anything further ourselves on it.
Q: Some people in Yemen are saying that they are preparing for a trial of people accused in the Cole incident. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess we'd call it press speculation at this point. We don't have any confirmed information about trial dates for the suspects in the Cole attack. As you know, the move that was carried out on Friday to Sana'a kept our investigators working with the Yemini Government, and so they continue their efforts. They're interviewing possible witnesses. They're proceeding on all fronts.
We have a commitment from the government of Yemen to work with us, and cooperation is continuing. So at this point, we are continuing the investigative work, working with the Yemeni Government, and don't have specific dates for trial.
Q: To follow up on George's question, these reports that are continuing about what the Foreign Minister Tanaka did or didn't say, I mean, even the North Koreans are getting involved in this now. Are the reports having any effect on missile defense vis-à-vis Japan? And is the Secretary still looking forward to meeting with the Foreign Minister prior to Prime Minister (inaudible) visit?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as meeting with the Foreign Minister prior to the Prime Minister's visit, I don't think we ever said that there was a meeting. I'm not aware that one has been scheduled at this point. In terms of the continuing reports, we said right from the start, you know, reports that somebody said something to somebody else are not halfway as important as the fact that we have ongoing and continuous consultations with our friends and allies, including the Japanese. We've had high- level visitors out there talking directly to the Japanese about the issues involved with missile defense and with strategic thinking, and we expect to continue those discussions with the Japanese.
Q: North Korea questions. There is a Washington Post article saying North Korea high officials (inaudible) mentioned, North Korea may not stick to the moratorium for the missile testing on this -- this Administration hasn't really changed the attitude for North Korea. So I was wondering if you have any comment on this article? And number two is wondering you can say anything about timeline of the policy about North Korea.
MR. BOUCHER: As far as the general topic of comments by the North Koreans to various parties, there have been a number of different ones that have been reported. As you know, Kim Jong-Il was reported in May to have said that he would maintain his long-range missile launch moratorium at least until 2003. Obviously, failure of North Korea to maintain its moratorium on the launch of long-range missiles would block any potential progress.
Our review of North Korea policy is still ongoing, so we have not yet determined when or how we will engage in talks with North Korea. But I don't have a particular timeline for wrapping it up.
Q: (Inaudible) I mean, you would know -- if they tested the missile now, you wouldn't speak to them? Or what exactly does that mean?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we haven't decided at this point when or how we would engage in talks with them, but clearly, failure to observe the moratorium would be a severe block to impede any kind of progress in the relationship or in any discussions that could be decided and eventually held.
Q: I just want to try one. You said long-range missiles. The moratorium is only on launching or test launches of long-range missiles. I mean, this is sort of a -- so if they tested a short-range or medium- range missile, a No-Dong, that would be okay?
MR. BOUCHER: The moratorium that we know of, have seen them pronounce and have seen them maintain, is a moratorium on further testing of long- range missiles.
Q: There was a story, I believe, in the Times this morning about military exchanges with the Chinese. Is that something you want to handle, or the Pentagon?
MR. BOUCHER: I am sure the Pentagon can probably handle it in more detail than I can. As I think we have said from here before, we handle high-level contacts with the Chinese on a case-by-case basis, and those are looked at in each particular instance. And how the Pentagon has handled the ones that fall over there, you'll have to ask over there.
Q: About immigration again, last week, 14 migrants died in the Arizona desert. They were illegal, of course. What is the US Administration doing in order to prevent these kinds of situations and problems to happen in the future? Have anything been done since last week? Any ideas on the table or anything?
MR. BOUCHER: The whole effort that has been underway with Mexico between President Fox and President Bush, and then the subsequent follow-up meetings, is to try to make the process of migration from the -- to the United States from Mexico, and I suppose vice versa, as safe, as legal, and smooth, as possible. And so in these various committees that we have set up they are looking for different ways to do that more effectively so that these kind of tragedies don't occur.
Q: And increasing the Border Patrol will be an alternative?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly what the plans might be in that respect, so you would have to check with the domestic agencies on that one.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 P.M.)