State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 11, 2001
Daily Press Briefing Index Monday, June 11, 2001
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
MACEDONIA 1 Statement: National Liberation Army Escalates Conflict 1-3 Situation on the Ground / Ceasefire 2 Travel Advisory 2 Placement of NATO Forces 3 Refugee Flows
SINGAPORE 3-4 Visit by the Singapore Foreign Minister 4 Possible Visit by Secretary Powell to Singapore
CHINA 4 Influence in Region 4 Ascension to the WTO 4,13-14 Human Rights Issues
ISRAEL / PA 4-9 DCI Tenet's Role in Unconditional Cessation of Violence 5,7-9 Ambassador William Burns Role in Implementation of Mitchell Commission Report 5-7 Ceasefire Update 6-6,8 Mitchell Commission Report/ Confidence Building Measures 9 Secretary Powell's / President Bush's Involvement in the Peace Process
IRAQ 9-11 Oil Cutoff to Syria / Syrian Oil Pipeline 20 Audit of Funds for Iraqi National Congress
JAPAN 11 Possible Visit by Japanese Foreign Minister
HIV / AIDS 11-13 AIDS Prevention / Policy Overview 12-13 Care and Support for Current Victims and Families
YEMEN 13 Embassy Closing / Cole Investigation
EUROPEAN TOUR 13-14 US- Europe Discussions on Afghanistan and China Re: Human Rights
NEPAL 14 Situation Update / Arrest of Journalists
IRAN 14-15 Elections Update 15-16,18 Iran / Libya Sanctions Act
DEATH PENALTY 16-17 Former State Department Officials' Statements 17 International Reaction Re: Timothy McVeigh
STATE 18 Departure of Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
ENVIRONMENT 18-19 Global Warming 19 Kyoto Protocol
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing
DPB # 81
Monday, June 11, 2001 1:20 P.M. (On the Record Unless Otherwise Noted)
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, if I can, I would like to start out with a statement about the situation in Macedonia, and then I would be glad to take your questions on this or any other topic.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the extremist actions of the so-called National Liberation Army. We oppose their violent tactics which aim to undermine Macedonian democracy and threaten regional stability.
We call for an end to the violence and for the National Liberation Army to withdraw immediately, beginning with Aracinovo. With the occupation of Aracinovo, the extremists have escalated the conflict and pose a potential threat to NATO supply lines. The National Liberation Army actions run directly counter to political reform efforts, harming the true interests of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and throughout the region.
Let me expand on that last part. The United States welcomes President Trajkovsky's June 8th speech and strongly supports his initiative to advance the political reform dialogue and provide opportunities for those who turn their backs on extremism to reintegrate into Macedonian society. We welcome the Macedonian Government's declaration today of a cease-fire as another strong indication of the courageous restraint in face of extremist provocations.
We continue to urge the Government of Macedonia to act with restraint in response to the extremist provocations, to use only that force which is necessary and proportionate, and to take steps to avoid endangering civilians.
QUESTION: It sounds like you're not too optimistic the cease-fire can hold if the extremists are carrying on like that, correct?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Are they a threat? Obviously.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I said one way or the other. I think I said, first of all, the actions of the extremists, particularly in occupying this town, constitute an escalation; second of all, the actions of the government in exercising restraint remain the appropriate way for them to go. We think that's still the best course, and added to that, the offer of a cease-fire today. We think it's imperative that the warring factions, that the extremists, abide by that and that they take this offer, and that Albanians as a whole in Macedonia take advantage of these opportunities that the government is creating in order to resolve this peacefully.
QUESTION: Has the situation on the ground reached a point where you are considering or getting ready to expand on your weekend Travel Warning with perhaps an authorized or ordered departure of diplomats?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the Travel Warning was June 9th. It replaced and updated the previous security situation information. At this point, that was just done two days ago. I think that's where we want to be for the moment.
QUESTION: So this new activity doesn't change -- it's not enough yet to make you -- have you change your --
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't changed anything since Saturday.
QUESTION: Excuse me? Who is answering the questions?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm answering the question. We haven't changed anything since Saturday. We'll stick there for the moment.
QUESTION: The State Department has been very clear about the placement of NATO forces in Macedonia proper, but do you have an opinion on forces from, I guess, the coalition of Southeastern European countries and whether they should be able to go in there and stabilize the region?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any proposals to that effect that we've been asked to deal with, so I don't know that we have taken a position on something like that. That would be speculative at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea if the US Government is communicating with elements of NLA or the Albanian Government to accept the kind of pressure not to continue to fight against Skopje?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have talks with the extremists. We don't think they deserve or have a seat at the table. As far as other governments in the area, like the Albanians, I am sure we are in touch with them. We are in touch with the Albanian political leadership inside Macedonia, as well.
And I think generally our view as expressed here is the same one we have expressed to them, and that is we should encourage Albanians in Macedonia to take advantage of the opportunities of the political system to work out their difficulties. And we have put a lot of emphasis on the leadership, including the government coalition which now involves all the parties, in actually opening up those avenues and providing ways for them to resolve their grievances.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea who is arming the insurgents?
MR. BOUCHER: I will see if I can get you something on that. I don't have anything here on it.
QUESTION: One more on this. What is your assessment of the level of popular support for the NLA at this stage? And do you think -- does it seem to be increasing?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our view remains more or less the same, that there is not widespread popular support for this; that the Albanian political leadership in Macedonia, the leaders of the political parties enjoy the broadest possible support.
If you look at some of the actions that the extremists have taken, including trying to cut off water supplies to the town of Komanovo, you have seen the actions that they have taken in terms of keeping civilians forcefully bottled up inside some of these cities and now allowing them to leave, you have to assume that, on one hand, their actions alienate the local population and, on the other hand, that they don't consider -- they don't think they do have the support of the local population because they have to keep them locked up at gunpoint sometimes in some of these towns they are in.
QUESTION: Have you reached any assessments as to why this latest series of attacks has erupted? Do you think it was because the rebels saw that there was a coalition government starting to start political negotiations, or do you think that they were just retreating and waiting for a better opportunity?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't speculate on their kind of activities. They do a lot of things that don't seem to make sense, so I wouldn't want to try.
QUESTION: Do you have anything in here specifically about the refugee flow into Kosovo? Or was what you said pretty much it?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I have too much. We know that they have pushed even, I think, Albanians out of some of the areas that they have gone into. In other places, they haven't allowed them to leave. And we know that they have denied access to Red Cross officials to go into these areas as well.
So there is a lot of concern about what they are doing with regards to the local population, and that in turn is causing some people to go into Kosovo. But I don't have any numbers for you at this point.
QUESTION: The Singapore Foreign Minister saw the President and saw the Secretary. A lot of words coming out of the White House. Any special emphasis in this meeting with Secretary Powell? The trade agreement, perhaps?
MR. BOUCHER: They talked about a whole number of issues, both the bilateral ones like the trade agreement, the fact that a US aircraft carrier has recently made a major port call there, and then talked about a lot of regional issues involving ASEAN and the situation in Indonesia.
On the trade agreement, they look forward to the continued consultations between our two governments and to moving forward with what we both see as a very important project.
QUESTION: Did the Prime Minister tried to push a little bit for travel to the -- to his part of the world by the Secretary, more than already known?
MR. BOUCHER: He encouraged the Secretary to work with ASEAN and to attend the ASEAN meeting that takes place in Hanoi this summer, and the Secretary said at this point he looks forward to doing that. We will obviously have more information as the date approaches.
QUESTION: Was that it on Singapore -- trade agreement, carrier visit, Indonesia?
MR. BOUCHER: And regional issues.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) is not that big, so I can't imagine there's huge issues. What about -- specifically, I'm asking about China because the people have influence in Singapore, notably the senior minister, have made some comments about China's increasing role in the region.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess what I would say is that the overall situation in Asia came up with regard to various countries and the role of the United States. Singapore has welcomed and supported the United States role in the region for stability, and so they talked about that. They talked about working with ASEAN and working with other players in the region. Generally, the approach to China -- I think both he and the Secretary described it as looking for China to play by international standards, and how to work that process and how that process would continue, including in our relationship with China in the coming weeks and months.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject? How did the United States vote in the IMF on the standby arrangement for Yugoslavia this morning?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. Treasury, I think, sits in our chair, but I'll see if I can get you the information.
QUESTION: Can I change the topic again? Can you update us on Director Tenet's peace plan? Anything you can say about that? There have been some press reports, obviously from the region.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I know there are a lot of press reports, but you won't be surprised if I decline to go into details of the specifics that Director Tenet might be discussing. He is out there. He is continuing his work. He looks forward today to having a meeting in Ramallah with both Israeli and Palestinian security officials.
His goal is part of the ongoing effort to foster an environment to end the violence, and so he has been focused on the security situation and steps that the parties can take to make the cease-fire endure.
QUESTION: I may have missed this over the weekend, but has Ambassador Burns left the region, or Israel and the Palestinian territories?
MR. BOUCHER: Those are two different things. He is in the region. He has actually been between Israel and the territories and Amman, where he lives.
QUESTION: Do you know where he is now?
MR. BOUCHER: At this precise moment, no, I don't. He is somewhere around there. He has been continuing discussions, and he will have more meetings in Israel and the West Bank or wherever as we proceed.
Over the weekend, he had meetings in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres. He met with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah. He has met with other senior Palestinian officials, as well as senior Israeli officials. So he has been continuing his meetings over the weekend. But, yes, occasionally he hops back to Amman for a few hours or a night.
QUESTION: But he hasn't -- he stayed in those three -- that triangle?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he stayed in that region.
QUESTION: If I could return to Tenet's trip -- and I understand that you're not going to go into details -- but if he is trying to get both sides to take certain steps towards what I guess would sort of solidify a cease-fire, how is that not bleeding into the realm of diplomacy, which I understand this Administration specifically did not want the CIA to do this time around?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't see a contradiction in what we've said we're doing. We've said quite clearly what we're doing. We're trying to support the implementation of the Mitchell recommendations in all its aspects. That Report, as you know, looks for an unconditional cessation of violence, a cooling-off period, confidence-building measures, and a return to negotiations. That's the process that we're trying to get under way.
We have said that Director Tenet's role is clearly to establish the environment -- to help establish the environment of ending the violence so that we can get on with the other discussions. Ambassador Burns' role is to talk about the timeline for the process and how it can all proceed so that we do implement the Mitchell Report in all its aspects.
That has been quite clearly the goal of our diplomacy. You know the goals, you know the agents, and you know what they're out there doing every day. So it shouldn't be any surprise to you that Director Tenet is working to find steps that the parties can take to stabilize the security situation, to make that unconditional cessation of violence effective.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, he has a point, and that's your answer. And the parallel --
MR. BOUCHER: I have a point, too. Give me at least that credit.
QUESTION: You have a point, too. But there's a credibility issue --
MR. BOUCHER: He has a question I haven't answered.
QUESTION: No, there's a credibility issue.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there is.
QUESTION: Sure. The Secretary of State said that unconditional cease- fire -- that's number one. We've got to have a cease-fire, we've got to have the level of violence on the down escalator or something, before we move into confidence-building measures.
Now, unless I can't understand, you are in confidence-building measures, you're negotiating. And what that means, if you don't mind the inference, is that --
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me, but no.
QUESTION: You want Yasser -- theoretically, and now it becomes theoretical -- it used to be a fact -- that the United States wants Yasser Arafat to agree to a cease-fire unconditionally, and then we will talk about a freeze on settlements and his other demands or his other goals.
But you are doing both simultaneously now. So you've got -- you are leaving the impression that you are mixing the two together, that a cease-fire is being dangled along with other things, as coincident to each other.
MR. BOUCHER: All right, Barry, let's straighten you out here.
QUESTION: Sure. And it is bleeding into issues.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's, first of all, get away from metaphors that involve blood. But second of all --
QUESTION: Well, then -- no, bleeding in the sense that --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go after this one more time, and let me remind you what you are apparently forgetting. The Secretary of State came down here himself to talk to you and to explain to you that our goal, at this current juncture, with a policy that we have talked about forever, is to see the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects. The Secretary of State came down here himself to say that that begins with the unconditional cessation of violence, and that that would be our primary focus.
Since then, we have described to you the efforts that Director Tenet is making working with the parties, that Ambassador Indyk and Consul General Schlicher have made working with the parties, to see an end to the violence, so that we start with that unconditional cessation of violence. That has been the thrust of our efforts.
That doesn't mean that we don't talk about the Mitchell Committee recommendations. The Mitchell Committee recommendations is the goal of policy, and that is what Bill Burns is talking about.
But just look at the way things have happened. You have seen Director Tenet out there three or four days before Burns went back to the region to talk about the timeline. I think it is quite clear that the unconditional cessation of violence, as stated in the Mitchell Report, is where this all starts and where in fact we are starting.
But that doesn't mean that we have abandoned the other -- that the goal of the -- it is the Mitchell Committee in all its aspects. That is what the Secretary has said we were doing, starting with the cessation of violence. I think it is quite clear that has been the policy. It is quite clear that is what we are doing.
QUESTION: Unconditional cessation of violence?
MR. BOUCHER: Mitchell Committee in all its aspects. Mitchell Committee says unconditional cessation of violence.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. BOUCHER: And that is why we are doing what the Mitchell Committee Report recommends.
QUESTION: Let me try -- and maybe we can -- I understand what you are saying. Let me try this. Has the violence subsided sufficiently that the Administration is ready now to move to step two on the timeline?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, we think there are still steps that the parties need to take to continue this effort to stop the violence and to make cessation of violence endure. And that is why Director Tenet is still out there. That is why he is still working with the parties on security steps.
Second of all, as we have described, the effort that Ambassador Burns is beginning or has under way, and that is to set out the timeline through which this process of implementation of Mitchell Committee recommendations in all their aspects can be followed.
QUESTION: Are there steps in the area of cooperation -- the two sides restoring some --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, look at the Mitchell Committee recommendations. There's confidence-building measures that have to be done in the course of the implementation, which is --
QUESTION: Yes, but two different things.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the steps that Tenet has proposed?
QUESTION: You're saying there have to be more steps taken on cessation of violence. I'm trying to draw you out a little bit on that. You mean they have to work closer together or --
MR. BOUCHER: On what those are? Well, I am not going to get into details, but I would say all along clearly we have thought that there were steps that the parties had to take with regard to their rhetoric, to the incitement, to arresting people on the Palestinian side especially who might be involved in terrorist acts. With the Israelis, we have encouraged a variety of steps as well, including the easing of closures and restoring normal life. Things like that that can calm the situation.
But exactly what is in the recommendations that Tenet has put forward at this point, I am not going to get into details of what he has been discussing with the parties. But you know there is both steps the parties need to take and steps that we think they should take together. We have always seen cooperation on security as one of the more important aspects of calming the violence.
QUESTION: We, in the past, have heard about a cooling-off period between the cessation of violence and the restoration of security cooperation and the implementation of these confidence-building measures.
Without going into details, could you say if that is what the US is hoping that the parties will do?
MR. BOUCHER: It is part of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, right? And we want to see the Mitchell Committee recommendations implemented in all their aspects. So that remains one of the aspects to be implemented.
QUESTION: So if Ambassador Burns is in the region trying to set up this timeline, then feasibly this timeline for instituting confidence- building measures will have a cooling period between what Tenet is trying to do now and the timeline that he is sending out later?
MR. BOUCHER: I would not describe it in terms of Tenet. I would describe it in terms of Mitchell Committee recommendations that provide for unconditional cessation of violence, a cooling-off period, confidence-building measure, and return to discussions.
QUESTION: Could you discuss how different -- again without going into the details -- what Director Tenet's recommendations are different than the Mitchell Committee recommendations? I mean, is he taking a copy of the Mitchell Committee Report and just reading from it and telling them to implement it, or are these separate ideas that the US has?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't do a compare and contrast. I think obviously the Mitchell Committee recommendations are the core of what needs to be done. What we're talking to the parties about is how they can most effectively do that.
QUESTION: Richard, could you describe the Secretary's involvement, if any, in the last few days? Any phone calls at his level or, for that matter, the President's, if you know them?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything on the President. That wouldn't be my job anyway. The White House will have to do that. Give me a second here and let me see if I wrote this down correctly. On Friday, I think -- I forget where we got to in reporting to you by briefing time - - Friday he talked to Secretary General Annan, Prime Minister Sharon, Chairman Arafat. Saturday he talked to President Mubarak of Egypt and Chairman Arafat. And I forgot to get Sunday for you. So it's been a pretty regular set of contacts that the Secretary has had.
QUESTION: Saturday was Mubarak and Arafat, you said?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: This is going to sound very minor, but when you say he talked to Kofi Annan, that was the one that you told us about during the briefing after his announcement that he was going to go to the region?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I think I talked to you about that one on Friday. Yes, about Kofi Anna. I'm not sure.
QUESTION: So there weren't two?
MR. BOUCHER: No. As far as I know, one phone call to Kofi Anna.
QUESTION: Richard, to follow up on Elise's question, the Palestinians are saying that Tenet has, in effect, added unilateral steps which he is demanding of them on top of the Mitchell Commission. Could you confirm that? And what is the justification for doing this when the Mitchell Commission, which is the basis for this -- I mean, what's with going around and adding new steps?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to play around with compare-and-contrast kind of questions. I think I said that when Elise asked her question.
The Director is out there. He is working on steps that the parties can take to make the cease-fire endure, to implement the Mitchell Committee recommendations. That, in itself, should be of value to the parties. They should be able to find the virtues of ending the violence. And that's where we'll continue to work.
QUESTION: Same area. Despite Iraq's threats to cut off oil to its neighbors if they supported the US and the British idea of sanctions, apparently they have not cut off oil to Syria. It is still exporting at a higher rate than it can produce, which was one of our concerns when we went to the region. And the Secretary asked Syria about this, and this gets back into the whole pipeline.
Do you have any update yet on what Syria is doing to bring its pipeline under UN control, or at least UN awareness?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have always described that as part of the process of this new resolution and that the new resolution, now that the political direction is set, that some of these things will be worked out and mechanisms will be set up. We're working on that. So, no, I don't have an instant update. I think towards the end of the month, if we've set many of these details of the resolution where the lists have to be done, the mechanisms have to be set up, we'll be able to describe that in somewhat more detail for you then.
QUESTION: So have we been working on it as the process moves, or is it something that we can start working on it once the new measures --
MR. BOUCHER: We have been working with the UN and with the frontline states all along, but exactly what mechanism we come up with and whether it's -- how it's set up, we'll see later in the month.
QUESTION: I think at the time, you said that you had an agreement from Bashar Assad on this, and then the Syrian Information Ministry said they didn't. And you said, no, that's our understanding from the agreement. What has happened? I mean, let me ask you this: Did Bashar Assad back out on a promise?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not going to make an update for you at this point. As you know, the Syrian President told us that he would put this under the UN auspices. We said that that would be done around the time of the resolutions. And exactly how those frontline states' arrangements are worked out is something we're discussing this month in the context of the new resolution, and when we get farther into the month, closer to the new resolution, we'll update you on that.
QUESTION: To follow up on that, what incentives are you offering them for this? Because I think we've discussed many times there is a clear financial incentive for the Syrians and others to do it this way rather than your way. So what are you offering them?
MR. BOUCHER: We're offering them the chance to ensure that Iraq doesn't threaten them any more, that Iraq doesn't redevelop its weapons of mass destruction and its military capabilities which have been used against its neighbors in the past.
QUESTION: What about hard cash, which is a little bit more interesting?
MR. BOUCHER: We are taking care of that aspect, too, to make sure that nobody suffers by implementing these things.
QUESTION: How? How? How?
MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me on June 11th about arrangements that are going to be made in a resolution on July 4th, and I'm not prepared to give you all the details yet. We are in the process of discussing these things.
MR. BOUCHER: It's what it says in the last resolution. Did you read the last resolution? By July 4th, we will have a resolution for 190 days that puts in place the new arrangements. We'll do that.
QUESTION: Well, when you are working on Independence Day, I will be glad to --
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe we'll do it before July 4th.
QUESTION: Exactly, thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: I said by July 4th. Okay?
QUESTION: One more. Richard, as far as this worsening situation in the Middle East is concerned, many Asian nations are affected --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that is the same subject. We will go to that later. Let's go to George.
QUESTION: There are reports in the Japanese press that the Japanese Foreign Minister is coming here on the 18th to see the Secretary. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I realize there are reports like that. We are working with the Japanese Government on setting up a date, but we don't have a date yet.
QUESTION: Okay. Since you were non-responsive on that one, could I ask another unrelated question?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Mr. Natsios over at AID had an interview with The Boston Globe in which he talked about the need to really focus on prevention in terms of the AIDS campaign. Do you subscribe to his thoughts on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me make a couple observations about this, if I can. First of all, in addition to doing an interview with the newspaper, Mr. Natsios testified that day, and there is absolute -- there is quite complete and detailed testimony available for anybody that would like to read his views as expressed on that day.
Second of all, I think it is quite clear from the Secretary's trip to Africa and the AIDS activities that we engaged in -- the people that we saw, the programs that we supported, and the programs that we announced -- that the United States is involved in a great variety of programs to counter this disease and its effect.
Prevention is a major and principal way of doing that, and that is a key part of the goal to save as many lives as possible in the places that are ravaged by these diseases. Taking the focus off prevention could ultimately result in even more people with HIV/AIDS.
We have been a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since 1986, we have provided $1.6 billion to fight the pandemic. Our annual contribution is more than four times greater than the next largest donor. And as I said, this contribution goes to a variety of activities, with prevention being the lead.
We have designed a strategy that is based on public health principles to maximize the impact of the funding that we are providing. Preventing deaths from AIDS through prevention remains number one priority.
Strategy is based on a prevention-to-care continuum, as they call it. Their efforts primarily focus on prevention activities in developing countries. We also work to minimize mother-to-child transmission of HIV. And I think when we were in South Africa and elsewhere, in Uganda, you heard and saw information about the trials we did with drugs -- we are doing with drugs there -- to prevent transmission from the mothers to children.
On the issue of care and support for people with HIV/AIDS, we work with a variety of groups and agencies. And again, many of you saw these with us when we went to places in South Africa or Kenya. We work in a variety of ways to support care and support services for people that are affected by the disease and their families. This includes the treatment of AIDS symptoms and the treatment of opportunistic infections like tuberculosis. In addition, we try to help ensure access to basic needs, such as food for infected persons and their families, and the social support services.
We are using anti-retroviral drugs in part of this process to reduce the transmission rates, and we are establishing sites to provide anti- retroviral drugs as part of the treatment for adults. These sites will help teach valuable lessons about how to deliver the drugs safely and effectively, and how to build the capacity to expand treatment.
So the bottom line is this: We do a lot of handling all the different aspects of this terrible disease. Prevention is the lead. It is the number one priority. But there is also a lot of attention paid to the care of people who have the disease, to getting them the needs, the social services and the drugs that can help them. There is a lot of attention paid to transmission from mothers to children to try to prevent that from happening so that we don't have a new generation of children born with the disease.
And sadly enough, as you saw from some of our announcements in Uganda and elsewhere, there is more money that has to be put in to taking care of the orphans who are caused by the deaths of people from these diseases. So there is a very broad range of activities, and this is part of it.
QUESTION: Going back to George's first question, in this respect, will the Secretary be in the building next Monday? Is he planning to be here? That will be post-trip. He has no side travel at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: We're planning on coming back with the President on Saturday.
QUESTION: I want to ask you if there is anything new to report on the closure of the Embassy in Yemen.
MR. BOUCHER: Anything new to report? No, we put out the statement on Saturday. And I'm afraid that has about as much information as we can give you. The Embassy is -- let me double-check on the status of the Embassy, if I can.
Our Embassy suspended services to the public on June 9th. That remains the situation. They will resume services to the public at the appropriate time. American citizens needing emergency assistance can reach a consular officer by calling the Embassy switchboard in country. We have authorized departure of US Embassy personnel. Some family members have departed at this point.
QUESTION: The Cole investigators who moved from Aden, are they working in the Embassy now or are they working someplace else? Or do you prefer not to say?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know if they are physically located in the Embassy or at some other location. I'll check on that and see, if we can say, what we wish to say.
QUESTION: If the Secretary's visit is concerned you think Afghanistan or China is going to be on the table? Because Amnesty is alleging that human rights situation is worsening in both countries, and Amnesty also said that over 1,500 people have been put to death around the world and more than 1,000 in China, and many have --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, what context are you talking about?
QUESTION: Well, as far as human rights are concerned.
MR. BOUCHER: Do we care about these things? Yes, we care about these things.
QUESTION: Are they going to be discussed during the Secretary's visit - - Afghanistan and human rights -- I mean, China?
MR. BOUCHER: During the Secretary's visit where? You mean the trip with the President to Europe?
MR. BOUCHER: To what extent will Afghanistan and China come up? I imagine they will. I am sure they will since, in various fora, we meet with Europeans and Russians during the course of the trip. As you know, we have worked with Russia, had conversations with Russia about Afghanistan. That could conceivable come up with Russia. And issues involving human rights always come up when we talk to Europeans since we care about human rights, along with Europeans.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, just to follow. If you have any comment on this triangle -- Russia, India and China? There was talk that they are going to hold some kind of a triangle kind of treaty or something.
MR. BOUCHER: It would be wildly speculative for me to create a triangle and then start commenting on it. I'm not going to do that today.
QUESTION: And finally, if the US is ready now to recognize the new King in Nepal or any update on Nepal?
MR. BOUCHER: No updates on Nepal. I think you know what's going on on the ground. We'll just watch those processes unfold, with the investigation another thing. If there is something to say about messages, I think, to kings, those would come out of the White House.
QUESTION: Richard, on Nepal, last week I asked about what you think about the arrest of these newspaper -- the newspaper editor. You didn't have an answer to that and I forgot to ask on Friday. Do you have anything to say about this now?
MR. BOUCHER: We had an answer on Friday. I thought we gave it. I can't remember if I said it or not. But clearly we are concerned about this situation. Their arraignment, we understand, has been postponed until tomorrow, Tuesday, because of an official holiday. The Embassy does intend to send a representative to the arraignment.
We are following this case closely and we have urged the Government of Nepal to free the journalist. We consider free press to be an essential element of a healthy democracy. In recent years, Nepali press has become much more independent in its reporting, and we have seen that independence as a good sign for Nepal's future.
QUESTION: Could you comment, please, on the results of the Iranian elections? And could you say whether -- how you think this affects the -- your attempts to entice the Iranians into a dialogue, government-to- government dialogue?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't tried to entice at this point, I think, from here. Let me just say we have watched the election closely. We saw the very, very large turnout. We think that is an indication that the people of Iran want greater freedom, they want more openness, they want better rule of law, better lives for themselves and their children. It is our hope that their voices will be heard.
QUESTION: Large turnout compared to what?
MR. BOUCHER: Compared to predictions and, to some extent, from previous years, I think.
QUESTION: Wait, wait. You didn't answer the second part of my question.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on policy implications of this. They had an election, we saw a large turnout, and we hope the wishes that were expressed in that election are, in fact, carried out.
QUESTION: Can I sort of follow up?
MR. BOUCHER: Sort of? Yes.
QUESTION: It is a follow-up. On Wednesday, the House International Relations Committee is going to be marking up the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. Is it the position of the Bush Administration and the State Department that you guys are in favor of a two-year extension? I mean, it's been reported that this is the case. I just --
MR. BOUCHER: I know it has been reported that that is the case, but I would say that we are still reviewing the situation. We are still consulting with the Congress on the matter. We are looking at a range of possibilities in connection with our discussions with the Congress, and it would be, I guess, reasonable to conclude that a period of less than five years is among those possibilities, which means that a two- year option would be one option.
But at this point, I just want to say that we're --
MR. BOUCHER: A two-year term would be one option. But at this point I think we are just going to say that we are reviewing all these possibilities and discussing them with people in the Congress.
QUESTION: You only have two more days to consult.
MR. BOUCHER: We've got two more days.
QUESTION: Oh, okay, anything can happen.
MR. BOUCHER: We've got two more days. We have people to do these things.
QUESTION: And you're not even going to be here.
QUESTION: It's a markup (inaudible).
QUESTION: Can I change the subject back to what I think --
MR. BOUCHER: I do think it is Wednesday. I don't want to take me as confirming the mark-up is Wednesday, but there is going to be a mark-up soon.
QUESTION: Can we just follow up on Iran? What are the Administration's intentions with respect to the executive sanctions against Iraq -- Iran, I mean? Do you foresee any change in those in the near future?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new to say on that subject or nothing to announce today.
QUESTION: Richard, what do you make, if anything, of the support by nine former senior State Department officials for a moratorium on the death penalty for people who are mentally retarded?
Is it just wonderful that they are speaking their minds now that they have left the Department, or is there something more that you want to say about that? Mr. Pickering, Mr. Koh --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I know. Steve Bosworth, Eizenstat, Kornblum and Phyllis Oakley, Tom Pickering, Rohatyn, Stape Roy, Frank Wisner.
I mean, first of all, former officials are regular citizens. They can speak out, they can provide their expertise, they can give their opinions. And there's a lot of former officials out there, and they all seem to manage to provide their opinions without any help or amplification from me.
Second of all, I would say that there is no federal law or international treaty that would prevent these executions. But it is a matter of serious concern in the United States. It is a question of due process, and there have been exhausted appeals before this punishment is carried out. So we leave it to the courts to decide and to rule as appropriate on these matters.
QUESTION: But does this building agree with their assessment that these executions, when they do happen, really put a damper on your efforts to bring up human rights, particularly in the case of the Chinese, which is one that was mentioned?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to argue any particular situation. We are aware there are a lot of foreign governments that are interested in these issues, as well as civil society in foreign countries, particularly in democratic countries -- a lot of interested groups and people out there. But in the United States, we believe these matters are best handled carefully through our judicial system, and that's the way we let them be handled.
QUESTION: Could I follow up? You don't want to sign onto their --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
QUESTION: Could I ask you (inaudible) on the death penalty. By any chance, have there been any expressions from other countries on the McVeigh execution that you could tell us about?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: It didn't -- well, it would have come through diplomatic channels if people --
MR. BOUCHER: I assume that a lot of what countries might want to say or have to say on these subjects, they just express publicly. I will double-check if there are any particular diplomatic approaches on this subject, but not that I know of.
QUESTION: Wasn't the State Department given a demarche a few weeks ago from the -- I'm not sure if it was the EU or the Government of Sweden directly -- against the death penalty and urging them to reconsider?
MR. BOUCHER: I will double-check. I don't know.
QUESTION: Richard, you seem to be -- and it's not particularly your Department, but you seem to be saying that this was purely a judicial matter, and there are outside legislative possible -- it's not something that the executive could not influence in any way. Is that your position, that you completely rule out any kind of initiative from the Administration to -- on this question of the execution of mentally retarded people?
MR. BOUCHER: That is a question you would have to ask in other government departments.
QUESTION: Richard, just returning for a minute to Singapore, was there any discussion of the naval facilities for US aircraft carriers in Singapore or increasing US military basing in that country?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think I mentioned, there was a mention of the fact that the Kitty Hawk US aircraft carrier had visited there recently and used the facilities that are available there, and that was seen as a positive development by both of us.
QUESTION: Will there be increasing visits by US ships there?
MR. BOUCHER: That's a question you can ask the Navy.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more on Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: I thought Matt was going to ask it, but he said former officials. I thought he was referring to -- are you familiar with this report issued by a group of former senators, including one on the Mitchell Committee, that urged the Administration and Congress to consider ending the sanctions against Iran completely because they weren't doing any good and it might open up a better relationship with Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not familiar with that particular report. We know that there have been a lot of differing views about the Iran sanctions. There are people that have views on different sides of this issue. As we come up to this issue of renewing, looking at the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, we have heard a lot of different views. We are trying to work with people, especially with people in the Congress, to come out with a solution that is best for all of us.
QUESTION: Same subject. We asked you last week about the -- your -- the suit against you by the National Council of Resistance. You didn't have anything at the time. Have you --
MR. BOUCHER: At the time, I didn't know about it. Now we know about it, but we are still reviewing it. So we don't have an opinion on it at this point.
QUESTION: Is this -- when you say you --
MR. BOUCHER: Because there was a court judgment, right?
QUESTION: Yes, it was, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: There was a judgment. So we are still looking at the judgment.
QUESTION: Are you also looking at the wider implications, the whole of your designation process, which seems to be implicated in the judgment?
MR. BOUCHER: I imagine we would look at anything that is implicated in the judgment, but we will get back to you once we look at it.
QUESTION: Richard, very briefly, did the Secretary or this building have any -- want to say anything about the departure of one of -- of Robin Cook from the position of Foreign Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked to Robin Cook on Saturday. He also talked to the incoming minister, Jack Straw. He told Foreign Minister Cook that he really enjoyed working with him and wished him well in his new endeavors.
QUESTION: Have we gotten any reaction or has Secretary Powell been speaking with European leaders ahead of your trip about the global warming issue? And the President -- have we talked to them about the President's comments this morning? Have we spoken with them in advance about what he was saying and what he hopes to accomplish on the global warming issues on the trip?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell will be back on Monday, right?
MR. BOUCHER: No, the Secretary hasn't made the phone calls. We have had -- people at different levels have been consulting with with the partners that we work with on global warming issues, talking to them about where we were headed. There were a lot of phone calls made this weekend with interested partners and parties.
QUESTION: But, Richard, I mean, in the sense that there is a new American -- there is a new presidential position.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, talking about where the President was going, foreshadowing where the President was -- the decisions the President was making, and what we expected him to say today, and talking about how we can keep working this issue together.
QUESTION: Can I ask you while we're at it, just since you brought it up, NATO expansion into the Baltics. Has there been any pre-consulting going on?
QUESTION: Can we finish with the global warming first?
QUESTION: Oh, you want to finish global warming? I was talking about trip things, but go ahead.
QUESTION: Did pressure from European allies have an influence on this complete reversal in the position of global warming, or was it entirely because of the scientific report?
MR. BOUCHER: How many errors are there in that question? Let's start with the premise. If you remember, when we first discussed the Kyoto Treaty, the President said we didn't support it. The President said we would be working on market-driven, technological-based alternatives.
Today, the President offered an interim report, you might say, that says once again we don't support the Kyoto Protocol; and second of all, pointed out how we are going to work and are working on technological and market-based alternatives.
So how you can do what you said you were going to do and then be accused of reversal is something that we don't do in my profession, but maybe you guys have figured it out.
Second of all, we are quite aware of the international interest and the international reaction on this. We have made quite clear to our partners in this process of dealing with the issue of global warming that we do take it seriously. The President made quite clear this morning that he takes the issue very seriously and that we want to keep working with our international partners on this and will continue to listen to them and talk to them and work with them as we go forward.
QUESTION: If I could just follow up? Was the position of the Administration originally that global warming was not a proven phenomenon, that you did not believe in global warming and that now you do believe that it's a --
MR. BOUCHER: I never heard anybody in the Administration say that.
QUESTION: NATO expansion?
QUESTION: Last Friday, at the Foreign Press Center, Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Jones said that the US and the European Union has the same will on the Cyprus solution. Can you elaborate what is the same will? Can you give us some point?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think our positions and the European positions are well known on this thing. I am not going to try to re-elaborate them for you today.
QUESTION: How about another subject? And some of the news agencies report that the US giving some aid to Iraqi Liberation Front is auditing from the -- for the US the State Department people. Is it true? Can you confirm this subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, let me go through that with you a little bit, if I can, just so people understand.
I mean, the first point to make is we continue to work with, we continue to cooperate closely, with the Iraqi National Congress and other elements of the Iraqi opposition to strengthen their efforts to represent the true voice of the Iraqi people.
The Inspector General's Office won't comment on specific ongoing or planned work, but I would say that in general they routinely conduct audits of grants and contracts that are awarded by the Department. They have recently begun an audit of funds issued by the Department to the Iraqi National Congress, and that audit will conclude when they determine it appropriate.
At the same time, I would point out in this interim period we are working very closely with the Iraqi National Congress on ways to help them implement programs that benefit the Iraqi people. So that work continues with them.
QUESTION: How will they do these audits (inaudible) your grants?
MR. BOUCHER: Some of them are done periodically, some of them are done in relation to particular events or standards.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in reaction to particular events?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't go into any more detail on their behalf for this. I would say that we look to them to come up with recommendations to improve the management of programs and accounts by the Iraqi National Congress, and they --
MR. BOUCHER: We look to the audit to produce recommendations on how to improve the management of the programs and accounts, and we anticipate that the audits will enhance the Iraqi National Congress' ability to receive greater levels of US funding in order to carry out programs within the parameters of US Government rules designed to ensure proper use of the money.
QUESTION: What is wrong with the management of the accounts now, and what improper use of the money has there been?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say either one of those things existed. I said that there was an audit being conducted and we look to the audit to help us further improve the way things are done.
QUESTION: The program goes on as is, even during the auditing?
MR. BOUCHER: Our cooperation continues. I'm not sure about specific funding and specific programs, frankly.
QUESTION: Well, is an audit not being conducted with an eye toward maybe, if they uncover bad things going on there, that cooperation and aid is going to stop? Or is it only to, as you say, further improve --
MR. BOUCHER: To further improve.
QUESTION: But could further improve mean stopping and cutting them totally out of the loop?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll leave it at what I said, Matt, and not re- interpret right now.
QUESTION: Haven't these held up during the review, though?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll see what I can say on that subject.
QUESTION: A quick one. Have you heard from the North Koreans?
MR. BOUCHER: No, nothing new.
QUESTION: Thank you. And quickly, another quick one. I mentioned at the beginning I asked you about the standby arrangement with the IMF and the Yugoslavs. You said you didn't know how they voted. Do you know whether any recommendation -- this Department made any recommendation or took any decision on how it would be a good idea to vote?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't usually talk about our recommendations, and I don't think I'm going to start now since I don't even know what it is.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 p.m.)