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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 18, 2001

Daily Press Briefing Index


Monday, June 18, 2001

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

JAPAN 1-6 Meeting with Foreign Minister Tanaka/ Kyoto Protocol/ US Troops/ Missile Defense/ North Korea/China/Whaling/Peacekeeping 11 Discussion about President Bush's Trip to Europe

MEXICO 6 Illegal Immigration/Migration/Border Issues 7 Visas for temporary workers/Drug Trafficking 14,15 Juan Garza Execution/DOJ Involvement/Letter to OAS/Mexican Involvement

LATIN AMERICA 7 US Foreign Policy

YEMEN 7,8 Threats to US Embassy/Travel Warning/Withdrawal of FBI Teams

INDIA 9 Security of US Embassy

LIBERIA 9 Shooting of US Embassy Official

MISCELLANEOUS 9,10 Minors' Passports

SYRIA/LEBANON 10 Troop Withdrawals

PHILIPPINES 10,11 Report of American Hostage Killed

MACEDONIA 11-13 Ceasefire/Trajkovski Plan/ NATO Role

JORDAN 12 Report of Jordanian National Held in Amman

NORTH KOREA 13 Framework Agreement

AFGHANISTAN 13,14 World Food Program Bakeries Reopen/Women Surveyors

COLOMBIA 15 Prisoner Exchange

U.S. Department Of State Daily Press Briefing DPB # 85

Monday, June 18, 2001 1:10 P.M. (On The Record Unless Otherwise Noted)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry I'm a little late today. I have been trying to catch up. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the meeting between Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Tanaka?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure. I think the best summary of the meeting is the one that the Secretary gave to Ms. Tanaka at the end of the meeting. He said, "We'll be watching with interest. We offer this new government our best wishes in terms of their achieving the goals for structural reform in Japan that they have committed themselves to," and said, "You should always remember that the best friend of Japan is the United States."

They talked in general terms, I think, about improving the relationships and the cooperation between the United States and Japan, both of them noting that the alliance between Japan and the United States has played a key role in the prosperity and the security of both our countries.

They talked specifically about missile defense, talked about the Kyoto Protocol, talked about the situation of US troops in Okinawa, Futenma Air Base, and other locations in Japan, and as I said, about the structural reform plans of the government in terms of reinvigorating the Japanese economy through structural reform, which the Secretary emphasized was very, very important to us.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate on what they talked about in terms of missile defense?

MR. BOUCHER: In terms of missile defense, I think Ms. Tanaka said she understood the need for the United States to pursue this area, to conduct the research. And the Secretary made clear that we would be going forward, we would be going forward with a system when we felt it was feasible. And then they discussed kind of the issues of timing and how it affects the ABM Treaty and other things.

QUESTION: On the question of timing, did Secretary Powell say that he was uncertain about the time frame for deploying the eventual missile defense system?

MR. BOUCHER: He said that was in the hands of Mr. Rumsfeld, who is working on the technology.

QUESTION: He did not say he was uncertain of the timing, because she --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the question is. He's not the one that knows --

QUESTION: Well, she said that she asked how long it was going to take to deploy, and apparently --

MR. BOUCHER: He responded that that's --

QUESTION: -- Powell said, "I'm uncertain. I don't know."

MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not what he said. He said something else.

QUESTION: What was it that he said?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to tell you.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. My real question is did the Secretary ask her to clarify some of the recent reports of her remarks, or does he not pay attention to that kind of thing and just go straight from the horse's mouth?

MR. BOUCHER: He thought it was more important to talk directly to her about her views and to hear directly from her about her views. So she didn't refer to press. They don't sit up there and talk about press; they talk about what they think. And so it was a direct discussion between the two of them about the issues.

QUESTION: Okay. And so there was no talk about her -- any controversial remarks she may or may not have made?

MR. BOUCHER: No. We heard directly from her what her views were.

QUESTION: Can I ask you, did you -- did the issue of whales come up?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it didn't.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, did the Secretary accept what she had to say about missile defense? And any controversy that might have been brought up from previous comments, was the Secretary satisfied with her explanation?

MR. BOUCHER: I just told you this was not discussed or explained, so I don't think you can ask if we are satisfied with a discussion and the explanation. I'm sorry, but it didn't happen in that way.

QUESTION: Was there any reason why there was not a joint news conference? It seems as though a country of the level of Japan would sort of rate --

MR. BOUCHER: If we have to explain every time we don't do a joint news conference why we are not doing joint news conferences, then we will either have to do them all the time or never. I'm afraid sometimes there are and sometimes there aren't. And this time there wasn't; it wasn't planned, it wasn't expected. The Secretary has been doing press appearances regularly in the last few days, and we didn't feel it was necessary for him to be out in a joint news conference again today.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary make any kind of commitments at all regarding the level of American troops, or specifically, I guess, the marine training grounds in Okinawa?

MR. BOUCHER: They discussed the strains that are created by some of the accidents, the incidents and whatever, that occur with regard to troops and the presence of troops in any location, including Japan.

And the Secretary made quite clear that our goal is to have the smallest footprint possible that was consistent with a need to achieve the mission, a mission that has brought security and prosperity to both Japan and the United States and created stability in the region, and which was consistent with the need for the troops to keep up their training, which is an essential element of being able to achieve the mission.

QUESTION: Can I follow up? Did he at any point call the -- did he describe the US troops in Okinawa as a headache or a source of headache?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know where you are writing his script for the meeting, but don't write this -- don't put words in people's mouths.

QUESTION: I'm not trying to write. That's why I'm asking the question.

MR. BOUCHER: No, there are a million things that he didn't say. I am telling you what he did say and what they talked about, and I'll just stick with that.

QUESTION: Well, did he say -- did he ever say it was a source of a headache, or did he agree that she said it was a headache, and he said, yeah, it's a source of --

MR. BOUCHER: No, and he didn't say my foot hurts, and he didn't call it a barnacle, a bunion or anything else. (Laughter.) There are a million things he didn't say, Eli. You can't ask me if he used every word in the dictionary. I told you what he said.

QUESTION: I'm asking you how it was described.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary indicate that the Administration is open to, in the very near future, reducing its presence in Okinawa?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that the Secretary said we will talk about this, and that we are also interested in achieving as small a footprint as possible that is consistent with the mission and consistent with the need to keep up training for the mission.

QUESTION: Did he discuss any sort of time frame or --

MR. BOUCHER: They didn't discuss time frames, numbers, or anything at this point. In the end, those details are in the hands of the Defense Department. And the defense chief from Japan is coming, the Prime Minister is coming, so we have regular contacts and discussions with our Japanese allies at all levels on a very frequent basis.

QUESTION: Did Tanaka say that was the theatre missile defense or the national, because the Japanese Defense Minister said they're going to study the theatre missile defense but they are not going to join the US in a new missile defense initiative.

MR. BOUCHER: They didn't differentiate between the two. I think the discussion was what has been previously been called national missile defense, and part of the discussion was about the implications for the ABM Treaty, other things that we have talked about quite a bit with you. So it wasn't a distinction that was made, but clearly we are discussing the whole issue of missile defense and how it fits in strategic stability, along with offensive reductions and nonproliferation. Nonproliferation was also very important to both sides, to both of us.

QUESTION: Did the issue of North Korea come up, and particularly the meeting last week?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me double- check. You know, frankly it did come up once or twice in passing, but it wasn't a major issue of discussion.

QUESTION: What about China?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, just sort of in passing, because part of the discussion of the US-Japan alliance foundation of not only prosperity for all of us but also the regional stability, so Korea and China mentioned in that context. But, really there was not a particular discussion of relationships with those two countries.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate more on the Kyoto treaty?

MR. BOUCHER: On the Kyoto treaty, first of all, Foreign Minister Tanaka expressed Japan's position that they agreed that they supported the Kyoto Protocol and intended to go forward. At the same time, she said she understood what the US was saying on the issue and looked forward to hearing from the United States more and continuing the discussions with the United States about where we were headed on this issue, both in terms of, you might say, finding a better way to deal with this serious issue.

And the Secretary said, as he said several times, that we intended to work within the Kyoto process, although we didn't support the Kyoto Protocol, we are looking for a technologically oriented, market-driven way to move forward in dealing with the problem.

QUESTION: Did they talk anything about June 30th summit, the two leaders going to talk about Kyoto?

MR. BOUCHER: They didn't talk about it specifically in terms of the summit, but they talked about all these issues, which of course you know will be discussed by our heads of state and government, the President and Prime Minister, when they meet on June 30th.

QUESTION: Richard, I'm just curious. You say that they talked about a broad range of issues, but they seem to be mostly bilateral. I'm kind of surprised that the two main topics that the US and Japan have been discussing, or the two biggest topics, North Korea and China, were only mentioned in passing.

So is it safe to assume from that that we were mainly seeking some kind of reassurance from the new Japanese Government that they were on the same page as regarding the US and the alliance as previous Japanese governments have?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess you and Eli can write the whole meeting out, and the script. No, we didn't ask for reassurance.

QUESTION: And, Richard, as you know, I haven't talked to anyone else about this meeting. I just got off a plane so --

MR. BOUCHER: All right, Matt. We did not ask for reassurance. The meeting was as I described it. Both of them recognize the importance of the alliance to both our countries. Both of them talked about a number of issues that affect us. As you know, we have very close coordination with the Japanese on the issues of Korea and other regional issues. The role of our alliance and as a cornerstone of stability not only for our two countries but in Japan, but in the region as well, was recognized. And so I think the discussion was concentrating on some of the issues that we need to discuss at this juncture. There is not a particular problem with the US and Japan in terms of coordination on Korea.

QUESTION: Okay. Can I ask an easy question? I want to just go back to whaling for a second. This is still an issue of concern for the Administration; the fact that it wasn't raised here doesn't mean that you've suddenly decided that the renewed Japanese whaling is okay?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it doesn't. And I can get you an update on that, if you need it.

QUESTION: Was there any discussion on the Secretary's part about the possibility of an expanded role for Japan internationally, as in international peacekeeping operations?

MR. BOUCHER: He welcomed the role that Japan has taken in international peacekeeping, and then she discussed in terms of the debate or consideration being given inside Japan to what their future role should be.

QUESTION: But he didn't seek to encourage --

MR. BOUCHER: I would say he welcomed their role in peacekeeping and encouraged them to take on whatever role they were prepared to assume in international affairs.

QUESTION: When you use the phrase "the smallest footprint," I take it you're referring not to a smaller number of troops, but to a smaller impact from the troops who are there.

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I think that is right. The actual numbers of troops would be decided in terms of the mission and in terms of the Defense Department evaluation, working with the Japanese.

QUESTION: The Secretary of Interior of Mexico, to one of the newspapers in Washington, presented a new plan of Mexico to reinforce the crackdown of the illegal immigration in the south border of Mexico. Do you have any comments, reactions about it?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me check on that. You didn't write that report, did you?

QUESTION: No.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I think the report says that they have shared with us information about their strategies, and at this point they haven't shared any new information on strategies regarding the southern border. On the other hand, we have talked with the Mexicans about migration and border safety many times. That continues to be an issue of important consultation and coordination.

So we certainly welcome any actions that they can take against alien smugglers. We are going to continue to work closely with them to try to achieve safe and orderly migration between the US and Mexico. And I think both of us recognize this is a shared responsibility, and we want to keep cooperating.

QUESTION: Do you think these kinds of actions will help the Bush Administration to get increase in the number of visas for temporary workers?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate. I think what is important for both of us, in the interest of citizens of both our countries, is that we have an orderly and a safe process of migration; we should not allow alien smuggling to dominate the traffic.

QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: No, still on Latin America, please. After all of Europe and now Japan, is it still the view of the State Department that Mr. Bush's foreign policy priority is Latin America, as he stated in his campaign?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: And if so, what is he going to do about it?

MR. BOUCHER: Keep working it. You saw him go to Mexico, go visit with the Canadians. He has met a number of leaders, then we had the big summit in Quebec, and we have continued to follow up and work together with them. I am sure you will see a continued priority and focus on Mexico and Latin America, and this has been carried out, not only at the beginning of the Administration; I am sure you will see it consistently throughout.

QUESTION: Did you see The Wall Street Journal today, which Mr. Bartley said there is a coming big crisis in Latin America?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I didn't.

QUESTION: Do you think that would be possible, from what you know?

MR. BOUCHER: What, to have a crisis in Latin America? (Laughter.) There has been one before, but I don't have any timing for you on that.

QUESTION: I would like to move on to Yemen. CNN has learned that in recent days the US Embassy came under what was described as sort of an imminent threat, imminent risk of attack by terrorists in Aden, and I'm wondering what you can tell us about that. And also, if you could tell us about the FBI closing its office there.

MR. BOUCHER: "CNN has learned," huh? Right on the edge of the news here.

QUESTION: Gotta get that plug in.

MR. BOUCHER: On June 9th, ten days ago, we put out a statement in Yemen that indicated that we saw an increased threat of terrorism against US citizens and interests in Yemen. This increased threat in Yemen is obviously of concern to us in terms of our official personnel, but also in terms of traveling Americans and others. We continue to recommend, as we have for a long time now, that American citizens defer all travel to Yemen. And we have also put out a broader international announcement -- a Worldwide Caution went out May 29th of this year -- and that continues to be important.

As far as the FBI, the FBI made a decision to leave Yemen based on what they saw as a credible threat to their employees. They made the decision to withdraw their personnel from Yemen on June 17th. Although our Embassy is closed to the public, our Embassy does remain open and our diplomats continue to do their jobs.

QUESTION: How concerned is the State Department about risks to the Embassy itself, and did you believe that this group, I guess that has been arrested, was actually planning an attack against the Embassy?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I can't go into any particular arrests. We have worked very closely, very cooperatively, with the Yemeni Government. Our Diplomatic Security Service, our regional security officers and Embassy personnel have maintained very close liaison with the Yemen Government on security issues, and we work very actively to ensure the security of our personnel.

In light of the heightened threat, the Government of Yemen has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our personnel. The Department has sent additional Diplomatic Security personnel to help the Embassy and to ensure that all personnel receive appropriate protection. But the Ambassador and the Embassy staff have remained in Yemen and they are proceeding with the critical elements of their mission.

QUESTION: Can you say whether the FBI decision was based on the same information that your putting out the warning on June 9th was, or was it additional, subsequent to that? Subsequent information. Obviously it was subsequent time-wise.

MR. BOUCHER: There are obviously things going on all time. The fundamental issue of the increased terrorist threat, I would say, applies to all of us. The FBI made its decision based on its own assessment of the threat. Put it that way.

QUESTION: Okay. So they do their own thing even though the Secretary has told the ambassadors in every place, or the charges, that they are really the managers of everyone that works within that embassy compound?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, and our ambassadors are the managers of everybody, and our Diplomatic Security people are the ones who have responsibility and who do provide the security for all the personnel at the mission, irrespective of agency. But in the end, if somebody doesn't want to be there and feels there is a particular reason not to be there, nobody forces them to stay.

QUESTION: When you said the Embassy itself, the status has remained the same since the 9th?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Closed to the public, but carrying out their jobs.

QUESTION: Richard, the Department last week issued revised protocol in the issuance of passports to minors under 14 years of age. Was this --

QUESTION: One more on Yemen here. How many FBI officials --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You would have to check with them.

QUESTION: The same general situation, not Yemen but India. There have been some press reports, which I understand may not be correct. Can you straighten us out whether there was a threat to our Embassy in India?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, in the end, the Indian Government is going to have to give you whatever details they can on this. We are aware of the arrests that have been conducted by the Indian Government. We have actually worked with them over a long period of time on security for US facilities there.

I would say that as a result of the investigation that they have carried out in this matter, we are not aware of any specific information about a current threat to the US Embassy. We have been cooperating closely with them. They have cooperated with us. We are confident that they are doing the utmost to protect the Embassy and other US Government facilities.

QUESTION: Can you tell us if there was a threat to, and in fact possibly an injury to, American personnel in Monrovia?

MR. BOUCHER: There was an American with the Embassy, a defense attaché, or somebody with the defense attaché's office, that was wounded. This incident occurred at a checkpoint early in the morning of June 17th in Monrovia. The individual is an employee assigned to the defense attaché's office at the US Embassy in Monrovia. He was evacuated for further medical treatment in Abidjan. Injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. This appears to be an isolated incident.

The Government of Liberia in this case has been cooperating with us, and an investigation is under way to determine the facts.

QUESTION: Can you give us any other details of how it happened?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. It's being investigated at this point. It took place at a checkpoint.

QUESTION: Do you know if people have been sent there (inaudible)?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Issuance of passports to minors on the 14th. Does this close a major loophole in terms of parents kidnapping their children without the express consent of the other parent?

MR. BOUCHER: That is the goal. This was a law passed by Congress that is intended to lessen the possibility of international child abduction. We share this goal and we certainly hope the new law will prevent these abductions.

The basic thrust of the new law that goes into effect on July 2nd is that both parents would have to consent to a passport application of any minor children under the age of 14; and at the same time, the age at which an individual can apply for their own passport is being raised from the age of 13 to 14. Previously it was necessary that only one parent apply for the minor's passport, while children 13 and over could apply on their own behalf.

QUESTION: Richard, most countries I think universally require this, that both parents give the okay. Has the United States sort of been lax on this and missed the ball on this particular aspect of --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I would put it that way. I am not really sure what the practice is in most countries. But Congress passed this law, and it is one that we fully support because we do believe it can have the effect of decreasing the ease, or decreasing the number of times, that one parent can pull a child away when they are not supposed to.

QUESTION: Do you have any message? Have you contacted Damascus regarding the troop withdrawal in Beirut?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that we have talked to Damascus about it.

QUESTION: I mean, what do you think about it?

MR. BOUCHER: We might have. It's something that we are watching at this point. Let me see what I can get you on the actual situation there. We might be able to get you something on that.

At this point, we are watching the situation closely. We have seen ongoing but incomplete redeployments and we'll continue to follow these matters. I think you are all aware in the Taif accords and the treaty between Syria and Lebanon, these are matters for the Lebanese and the Syrian authorities to decide and coordinate on.

QUESTION: New subject? Do you have anything more than what was said by your Embassy in Manila about the latest report of the death of the American hostage?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I do, if I remember what our Embassy said. We have seen the media reports, but we are not able to confirm them. We have no proof at this point of Mr. Sobero's fate. Investigation continues.

With that said, we are gravely concerned about his fate in view of the repeated claims by the Abu Sayyaf group that they have killed him. Obviously the murder of an individual like this is a cowardly act that we would condemn, and we hold the Abu Sayyaf group responsible for the safety and welfare of all the people that it is holding, and we call for the safe, immediate and unconditional release of these innocent people who are being held.

QUESTION: The Secretary, before meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister, was at the White House, and as I understand it, there was discussion about the meetings with President Putin and the President referred to an "action plan." Can you fill in any of those blanks?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I can. This morning, I think, the President talked to you at that moment. There are obviously a number of things we want to do in terms of continued briefings and discussions with the people we met with during the course of the President's trip to Europe. The President's trip had a broad substantive agenda, which we think we achieved, and that will require follow-up in a whole number of areas.

In terms of the meetings with President Putin, obviously we are going to talk to our allies about those meetings, and the President, I think as you have heard, has already made some phone calls. So I am sure there will be a number of things that have to follow, but I haven't gotten a rundown of requirements from the Secretary since he came back from that meeting.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction on some subgroups attacked a mosque ceremony in Bosnia?

MR. BOUCHER: Some groups that attacked what ceremony?

QUESTION: Mosque ceremony, the mosque opening ceremony. A mosque.

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the mosque.

QUESTION: Today they have violence.

MR. BOUCHER: Today?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I haven't seen that. I'm not aware of that. I will have to check.

QUESTION: Can you say also where we are on the situation in Macedonia?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure. First, I think I will start by saying the President said a few words this morning about where we are with regard to the situation in Macedonia, and that is probably the best summary, but let me add a little more detail of that.

Generally, I think we see the cease-fire appears to be holding, despite some low-level skirmishes. We have strongly supported this cease-fire. We think it is necessary to provide the essential atmosphere for the political dialogue to succeed.

NATO is continuing its deliberations on how to assist the implementation of the Trajkovski plan. Those discussions continue in Brussels today, but there are no decisions yet from NATO.

Political dialogue, similarly, has continued over the weekend, and the parties have met again today. Political leaders representing both the ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians have put on the table very serious concrete proposals, which they are evaluating together.

I think this demonstrates that there is a process, that it is moving constructively forward, and we encourage them to achieve results on a variety of political reforms.

QUESTION: A Jordanian national by the name of Ibrahim Ghowsheh has been denied the right to go back to his own country, Jordan, and he has been stranded in the Amman airport for about four days now, and the relations between Jordan and Qatar has been strained because he came from Qatar.

Now, do you -- and the Arab League has interfered in the -- intervened in the problems between the two countries. Do you have any comment about this national who is being denied the right to go back to his own country?

MR. BOUCHER: What is my angle on this story? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on this?

MR. BOUCHER: You have mentioned just about everybody in the world except for the United States.

QUESTION: Well, he is alleged to be a member of Hamas, so maybe that interests you.

MR. BOUCHER: We are not members of the Hamas either. (Laughter.) Nor are we Qatarese nor are we Jordanians, nor are we other things. I will check and see if we have any particular interest to assert in this matter, but I am not aware of any, certainly none that led me to learn about it much in advance.

QUESTION: Going back to Macedonia. What would the United States think about its European allies, for example, setting up some kind of operation to go into Macedonia to help disarm guerillas, or in some way speed up the end of the conflict?

MR. BOUCHER: I think NATO and NATO countries all along have wanted to be very helpful to President Trajkovski in terms of calming the situation and achieving peace. And reforming the political process is an essential part of that, both through NATO, working with the European Union and as individual governments. We have done a variety of things to try to support those goals.

At this point, President Trajkovski said he was looking for the help of NATO or NATO countries to further assist in this matter, including, as he put it, was the assistance in overseeing the voluntary disarmament of the insurgents.

So that is what we are talking about in NATO. I think no one -- President Trajkovski has not asked for deployments to conduct military operations in Macedonia. It has always been in this context of having NATO or NATO countries assist with the voluntary disarmament part of his overall plan.

So that is what we are looking at. We are discussing it with NATO allies at present, and I am sure we all want to continue to be helpful. No decisions yet on exactly in what way we want to do that.

QUESTION: What, if anything, do you guys make of the latest blast of invective from the North Koreans on refusing to -- I thought the Secretary said there were no conditions for these talks, but the North Koreans seem to have misunderstood that and believe that there are, and they don't want to talk about conventional forces, saying that --

MR. BOUCHER: We expect to have discussions with the North Koreans. We have seen this statement. At the same time, I would say we would expect our discussions to continue, but details are not set of the next round of talks. Leave it at that.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, on the latest statement, it's just that, "We have seen that"?

MR. BOUCHER: We have seen it, and we expect to have discussions with the North Koreans.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: The North Koreans seem to be accusing the US of reneging on terms of the framework agreement about the reactor. That seemed to be a thrust of their statement.

MR. BOUCHER: Seemed to, yes. (Laughter.) I would think I would just say that we have met and will continue to meet our obligations under the Agreed Framework. The President made that quite clear in his statement on the conclusion of the North Korea policy review. We expect the North Koreans to meet their obligations under the Agreed Framework, including eventually the requirement to abide by IAEA safeguards as that moment approaches.

And we intend to continue to pursue this course. We don't see any particular basis for compensation.

QUESTION: Last week, Phil took a question about Afghanistan and the closure of the bakery, saying how this proves the Taliban were playing politics with food. Now, the bakeries are apparently going to reopen. So would you like to say that you welcome that?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I would. Thank you. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity.

The World Food Program's general bakeries, which feed almost 300,000 people a day, have reopened today in Kabul after two days of being closed. This reopening follows an agreement between the World Food Program and Taliban authorities on mechanisms for conducting a survey of the program's beneficiaries.

The World Food Program needs to conduct these surveys to determine the most needy and to maintain the integrity of its programs in an effort to prevent the diversion of food. In addition, the World Food Program must use women surveyors to interview women recipients.

Under the agreement, the World Food Program will employ women from a list made up by the Ministry of Public Health, but will have control over the training and selection of these people. We are pleased that the World Food Program and the authorities reached an agreement concerning the operation of the bakeries, and we hope the survey will proceed smoothly.

QUESTION: My question is on the Juan Garza execution scheduled for tomorrow. The State Department has been involved to some extent in at least giving opinions on the second appeal, which is still pending before the Supreme Court. And I just wanted to know if you could explain that a little bit more. And are complaints or appeals from President Fox going through this building or straight to the state? Any other involvement of the State Department?

MR. BOUCHER: We have certainly kept in touch with the Mexican Government on these issues and discussed them on several occasions. There was also some communications from the, if I can remember correctly, Inter-American Committee on Human Rights.

QUESTION: The OAS.

MR. BOUCHER: The OAS. Yes, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In that case, when they raise legal issues, our function is really to pass those on to the Justice Department, and then pass the Justice Department's response back. But I think they raised some legal issues, and we passed on the response that we didn't see any basis for those issues.

We think in this case -- our primary role in some of these cases is just to be the liaison between our Justice Department and the legal experts in other places who might want to raise issues.

QUESTION: So when there is something coming from Ambassador Shannon, it is simply relaying the information from DOJ? He sent a letter back to OAS.

MR. BOUCHER: I would presume that is just relaying the information that we got from our Justice Department that responds to any legal concerns that have been raised.

QUESTION: Well, this was just on Friday. So has there been anything today? Any more movement? You said you haven't gotten a response from OAS?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

QUESTION: Just -- President Fox made a call on this execution of Juan Garza, an American citizen?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Or you're talking about the other Mexican who is being --

MR. BOUCHER: There are other issues with Mexico that we have discussed in terms of capital punishment. I am not, frankly, sure if it is the case or others.

QUESTION: The Oklahoma case.

MR. BOUCHER: The Oklahoma case I know we have discussed with the Mexican Government, yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: What is your opinion about the prisoner exchange in Colombia?

MR. BOUCHER: I will do that briefly, if I can, just to tell you that we are pleased to see it is proceeding smoothly. We welcome the return of soldiers and policemen to their families. Very simple. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 P.M.)


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