State Dept. Daily Press Briefing January 23, 2002
Daily Press Briefing Index Wednesday, January 23, 2002 12:55 p.m. EST
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
INDIA 1 Attack on Calcutta American Center
LIBYA 1-3 No Change in US Policy Toward Libya 2 Plan for Next Round of US-UK-Libya Talks 2-3 Status of US Assessment of German Court Verdict on Disco Bombing
ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 3-4 Continuing Violence/US Diplomatic Efforts 4,5,9 Secretary Powell's Call to Chairman Arafat 4-6,8-9 Chairman Arafat's Role/Authority/Actions 5 Assistant Secretary Burns and General Zinni's Whereabouts 6-7 Actions by Israel
DEPARTMENT 8 Secretary's Open Forum / Criticism of Speaker Invited
BURMA 10 Burma's Plans to Build Nuclear Power Plant
UZBEKISTAN 10 Referendum to Extend Presidential Rule 10-11 Friendship Bridge Open/ Movement of Aid
YEMEN 11 Explosion in Saada
IRAN/IRAQ 11 Reported Decision by Iran to Resume Flights to Ira
qVENEZUELA 11-12 Planned Demonstrations
AFGHANISTAN/CUBA 12-15 Treatment of Detainees at Guantanamo
MACEDONIA 15 Agreement on Law on Local Self-Government
UKRAINE 15 Passage of Intellectual Property Law
AFGHANISTAN 15-16 Visit to Washington by Interim Authority Foreign Minister
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2002 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:55 p.m. EST
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Could you take another swing at the cultural center attack. In this respect, reports from India have gone up and down on terrorism. At the moment, they seem to be easing away from terrorism accusations, and as you will recall, of course, what you said yesterday, do you have anything?
MR. BOUCHER: No, and I think that's probably a reflection of the fact that the investigation is continuing. The Indian authorities are continuing to investigate this attack yesterday on the American Center in Calcutta. Four Calcutta policemen were indeed murdered, and we want to cooperate fully with the investigation.
But at this point, it has not been established who is responsible or what the motives were. It's clear that four men have been murdered, others wounded, in what was a cold-blooded attack. We would hope that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice.
QUESTION: New subject? Can you respond to reports that the US and Libya are close to a deal on paving the way for Libya to get off the terrorism list?
MR. BOUCHER: What I need to do, I think, is make clear that people understand where we have been with Libya, and where we remain with Libya. And that is to say there has been no change in our policy towards Libya. The United States and the UK have conducted a dialogue with Libya. It doesn't represent any kind of new initiative or shift in our relationship. Libya remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Our April 2001 edition of Patterns of Global Terrorism sets out our views, and as that report explains, Libya is working to improve its public image. But it can best demonstrate its commitment to any change by complying with the remaining UN Security Council requirements related to Pan Am 103. And as we all know, Libya has not done that yet.
This has been the focus of our discussions with Libya, and it will remain our focus. Regardless of the channel or the interlocutor, Libya must comply with its UN Security Council obligations, and it must put its terrorist past behind it. There can be no shortcuts around those obligations, and we continue to call upon Libya to fulfill it. That's our goal, is to change Libyan behavior, and this is the principal -- how do we say -- the first and foremost condition is to comply with the UN Security Council requirements, but once they do that, then we would address other issues involved with their being on the terrorism list.
QUESTION: Can you tell us when the next round of talks is scheduled to take place?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that there is any particular round scheduled. I'll have to double-check on that, though.
QUESTION: Is a different format being considered, other than the one in London? Or would it be in the same kind of --
MR. BOUCHER: We have said that we would continue those kinds of conversations, such as we have in London. So I'm not aware of anything different. But let me double-check to see if there is anything scheduled at this point.
QUESTION: In Assistant Secretary Burns' recent visits -- recent discussions, though, this month, was -- did the State Department detect any new change in attitude from the Libyans that would lead you to think that in any way you would be closer to that kind of deal?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can characterize the Libyan position. I'm not a spokesman for the Libyans here. And I don't want to try to characterize Libyan positions. What we are looking for is action. We are looking for action to comply with the UN resolutions, to pay appropriate compensation, to accept responsibility, and then after they comply with the international sanctions requirements, then we would discuss -- then we could look at other things they might have to do to get off the US terrorism list. So we are looking for actions on these things. At this point, we haven't seen it.
QUESTION: I don't know if you'll have anything on this, so if you could take --
QUESTION: Could we stay on Libya?
QUESTION: Yes, this is what this is. So if you don't, can you just take the question, which is back in -- and I think it was in October, the German court verdict, they found a bunch of people guilty for the LaBelle Disco bombing. In the verdict, the judge found that there was significant -- he was convinced that the Libyan Government was behind the attack. At the time, you welcomed the verdict but you said you wanted to study it as related to Libyan involvement. What have you come up with in that? And if you haven't, is this something, when you say that just resolving the Lockerbie things may not be enough to get Libya off the list, is this the kind of thing -- when you say renouncing their terrorist past, is that the kind of thing that they need to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a complete list of other things at this point, but I'll check on that German verdict and see if we have anything more on those issues.
QUESTION: But is this the kind of thing that you're talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to start talking about kinds of things, because if you only cite one kind of thing it somehow emerges in stories as if it were more definitive.
QUESTION: Others. I'm leaving it open for you to say that there are others.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to list the others and I don't want to list any particular one at this point. There are other things that Libya needs to deal with beyond the UN requirements, but first and foremost we want to see Libya comply with the UN requirements.
QUESTION: But Assistant Secretary Burns and other US officials have made clear to Libya what those other things are. You're not just -- they're not just implying --
MR. BOUCHER: At this stage, our talks have really focused on compliance with UN requirements because that, first and foremost, is the issue of international compliance.
QUESTION: Well, what I'm trying to get at is have you -- I mean, if you haven't told the Libyans what else they need to do to get off the list, isn't that a little unfair on them?
MR. BOUCHER: First things first. Put it that way.
QUESTION: That was my question.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I don't know to what extent we have gone into other things, but I think this, first and foremost, remains our issue. And I don't consider it unfair not to have come out with a full list at this point. This is the major and the principal requirement, and this is the one they need to comply with first.
QUESTION: Yes, but -- all right.
QUESTION: Yesterday when you were asked, you said that the plan would be for Arafat to rein in the violence. Do you have any sort of broader plan that would address Israel as well as the Palestinians, or do you have any idea of any movement that you're planning to make to try to stop the cycle of violence right now, any intervention?
MR. BOUCHER: You make it sound like we don't have a plan. We have a plan. We've had a plan all along, and that is the Mitchell Plan and the Tenet security steps. The goal is to get the parties to carry through those steps, and that is the way -- the only way -- that we think right now we can rebuild some kind of confidence and get back to talks.
The vision remains that expressed by the Secretary and the President in their statements last fall. The plan to get there is to work through the Tenet steps and the Mitchell steps to get back to political discussions. And the way to get started is for Chairman Arafat to rein in the violence and to take steps to account for the arms smuggling and take steps to dismantle the organizations that have been carrying out the violence.
It is quite clear that that is what we intend to do. Our representatives have remained in touch with both sides. The Secretary spoke to Chairman Arafat this morning on the telephone and used the call to make clear once again to him the need for accountability over the Karine A affair and the need to take steps to rein in the groups that perpetrate violence.
QUESTION: The US Ambassador in Israel, Kurzner --
MR. BOUCHER: Kurtzer.
QUESTION: Kurtzer -- spoke yesterday, and he gave -- he said that basically it's up to the two sides to make peace. Is that the view of the State Department, that it's not up to the United States to be deeply involved, but it's rather for the two sides to make peace?
MR. BOUCHER: It has always been our view that it's for the two parties to make peace, that they need to do this, they need to be able to deal with each other. Ultimately, they have to live together in a very small space, and they need to be able to work with each other. It's always been our view that the security that comes from cooperation between the two sides is much better than anything that one side could hope to achieve on its own. And it has always been our view that the US has a very important role that we will continue to exercise to try to help the parties deal with each other, and try to help the parties achieve what they can together to achieve better lives for both Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: Just maybe a couple of weeks ago, there were some arrests by Arafat, or two or three, I believe. Is that the last progress that we've actually seen? Is that the last time that we've seen Arafat name names and actually carry out actions that could be identified as taking responsibility?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite have an assessment on an ongoing basis. We're not playing this one in innings or anything like that. We are trying to see effective and sustained action that ends the violence. Since there have been arrests, there also have been very serious matters come up, like the arms smuggling incident, where we know that there was involvement of Palestinian officials. And there needs to be accountability for that as well.
QUESTION: I'm talking about arrests, particularly on the arms smuggling.
MR. BOUCHER: On the arms smuggling?
QUESTION: Yes. Arafat arrested two or three people after that who were actually --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we saw those reports. I'm not sure if I can give you absolute confirmation of any particular arrest, frankly.
QUESTION: Or any since then?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. As I said, I'm not trying to score this one inning by inning. We're trying to see some real action that stops the violence and accounts for what happened in the arms smuggling, and make sure it won't happen again.
QUESTION: Richard, given the cycle of reciprocal violence, and the sort of tit-for-tat response that we seem to be back into now, how possible is it for Arafat to have any room to reign in the violence? How possible is it for him to have 24 hours to actually do anything to his own people before matters are taken out of his hands by the Israelis?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have had various periods of 24 hours, 48 hours, whatever. The point, I think, that we have always made is that these actions that we think Chairman Arafat needs to take are not only -- not for the sake of the Israelis; they are for the Palestinians, and for the sake of the authority, the Palestinians' authority. The groups that are challenging him, that are contradicting orders and instructions, statements that he has made, need to be held to account. And it's not a matter, as I said yesterday, of whether they will or they won't engage in violence at any particular moment. We need to ensure that they can't. And that's the kind of expectation that we have.
QUESTION: Do you have any other information on what the Secretary and Arafat spoke about today, and what Arafat's response was?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to characterize his response, and I characterized the Secretary's side of the conversation the way I did. That's about as far as I want to go.
QUESTION: Anything else discussed?
QUESTION: Did the Secretary speak with Mr. Sharon as well?
MR. BOUCHER: Not today.
QUESTION: He didn't say anything about General Zinni going out?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new on General Zinni.
QUESTION: Secretary Burns is back?
MR. BOUCHER: Secretary Burns is back. Nothing new on Zinni.
QUESTION: So I just want to make sure I got this clear. You, even despite what you just said, the groups that are renouncing Arafat and his cease-fire, you still believe that he has the authority, the necessary authority, and is able to rein in the violence; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: We believe that as the leader of the Palestinian Authority he needs to exercise leadership and needs to exercise his authority, yes.
QUESTION: But you don't see that people disobeying his orders as an indication that he has lost any leadership authority?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have always known that there were groups that were intent upon violence and that, as the Secretary has said before, that violence threatens not only the Israelis or the victims of these attacks, but it threatens the Palestinian Authority itself. That remains the situation now.
QUESTION: I guess what I'm asking is if these groups have renounced his directives and are doing the opposite of what he has said, how can you hold him responsible if he -- I mean, if they're not obeying him, I mean that's -- is that his fault?
MR. BOUCHER: It is inherent in the situation that if he is going to be the leader of the Palestinian Authority he needs to lead and exercise authority. It is by definition almost. That is the responsibility that he has, and we want to see him take that kind of action.
QUESTION: Haven't you seen him try to exercise his authority over the past couple of weeks?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't seen the kind of sustained, full and effective effort that we all know is necessary to stop the violence.
QUESTION: You have not seen -- okay, well, have you seen any steps on his --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we have talked about steps when they have occurred.
QUESTION: You have, right. Okay, but now when people say no -- when his -- when Palestinian groups say that they are not going to respect those steps, you seem to be suggesting that he has control; he can force them to --
MR. BOUCHER: We continue to believe that there is more he can do to make his steps effective and to effectively stop this violence.
QUESTION: In the last two weeks, with this latest tit-for-tat cycle, does the US perceive no provocation on the part of the Israelis, such as taking out some of the militant leaders?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, some of those things -- targeted killings, incursions -- we have made quite clear what our views are in the past, and the Israelis are quite aware of our views. Furthermore, all along we have urged both sides to avoid actions that can inflame tensions. We have urged both sides to consider the consequences of their action and to take decisions that can facilitate progress. But we have also made clear at this juncture we think that steps by Chairman Arafat to end the violence and to account for the arms smuggling and end the arms smuggling are what's important.
QUESTION: It's just that the perception, though, that you seem to give day after day is that the balance of responsibility is on the Palestinian side, not on the Israeli side; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I think both sides always have a responsibility to act wisely in these situations. We have tried to make that clear all along. But, yes, we have tried to put the emphasis where we think it belongs right now.
QUESTION: Is there any particular step or steps that you think the Israelis should be taking, could be taking, in this particular period of heightened tension that they are not taking?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just leave it to the general statement that we think both sides should look for actions that can improve the situation and should think about the consequences of anything that they do.
QUESTION: Richard, how come on a daily basis, though, the Department sees it necessary to remind Arafat that he needs to take steps, but that when it comes time to something as an Israeli incursion or a targeted killing, you don't find the need to make a daily reminder of Israel of what your position is because you say they know your position? But, I mean, Arafat knows your position that he needs to take more steps.
MR. BOUCHER: I think that there is not necessarily a virtue in repetition, although I have often said that there is.
QUESTION: There's not necessarily a virtue in repetition.
QUESTION: What? You --
MR. BOUCHER: Repetition is the soul of wit, Matt. All right, let me deal seriously with Elise's question.
First of all, we have channels to both parties. What I try to reflect here is what we are telling the parties, and we do tell the parties, we do tell the Israelis to consider the consequences of their actions. We do tell the Israelis to avoid steps that inflame the situation. But if our primary focus on any given day, as it has been for many days now, is to convey the message to Chairman Arafat that he needs to take steps to effectively curb the violence, then I try to make sure that we reflect that for you so that we give you an accurate picture of the situation.
QUESTION: Can you say that these targeted killings by the Israelis and the incursions are only leading to further retaliatory attacks by the Palestinians, which are further exacerbating the situation?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there is -- we don't consider that there is any excuse for the kind of terrorism that has existed, nor is there any excuse for any -- for not taking effective steps to stop that terrorism. That remains, I think, foremost in our minds on these things. Yes, we agree that any steps that Israel takes, whether it's incursions, targeted killings or other steps, should be carefully considered. The Secretary has made that clear in his conversations in private, as well as his public statements.
QUESTION: This is not in the region, but Mid-East related.
MR. BOUCHER: Am I overcompensating?
QUESTION: The President of the Zionist Organization is criticizing the State Department for inviting Salam Al-Marayati to speak next week. Are you aware --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think the State Department invited him. I think it's --
QUESTION: A forum held at the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's the Open Forum, which gets a variety of speakers without any policy coordination or consultation. They are sort of the independent freedom of speech arm of the State Department.
QUESTION: Really? Even though it's called the Secretary's Open Forum?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Because Secretaries of State -- it's open. Secretaries of State established this many, many years ago. I once saw Colin Powell speak at the Open Forum. That was 10 years ago. But he wasn't taken to be a dissident at that point. He was National Security Advisor.
But the answer is, nobody quite remembers, but the Open Forum has been around for a long, long time. They invite a wide variety of speakers. Their goal, with a mandate from the Secretary, is to encourage a variety of discussion, and there is no -- as far as I know, there is no policy approval of who speaks and who doesn't.
Now, Elaine, back to the region-region.
QUESTION: Thank you. The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade have said that they are finished retaliating for the killing of one of their senior people. Do you take that as evidence of Arafat doing what you're asking him to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know. And the issue -- I don't want to become trite, but we have always said they need to dismantle the infrastructure that people use to carry out these attacks. Without that, to have a terrorist wake up one morning and saying, "I think I'll attack today or maybe I won't," doesn't really do a lot of good in the long-term situation of getting back on track to pursue the Tenet plan, to pursue the Mitchell Plan, and to get back on track with the achievement of some kind of vision of a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: Is that something that the Secretary discussed with Arafat yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: The al-Aqsa statement?
QUESTION: Yes, I mean, they have been the ones who have been active recently.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know whether he did or not, but as I said, the issue is dismantling the capability of organizations like this.
QUESTION: But is the State Department still of the view that Arafat should not visit European capitals and stay on the ground, and are you still applying diplomatic pressure on European countries not to invite him?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have anything new on that at this point.
QUESTION: Did you have anything old on it?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't.
QUESTION: Another region?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Haaretz newspaper is reporting that they have some sources that say there is a new level of attacks that has begun on Israel which would involve a lot of attacks on civilians inside Israel, such as the shooting that we saw yesterday in Jerusalem. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything about it, and I wouldn't have any comment about other people's information anyway.
QUESTION: It's a new subject.
QUESTION: But it's still the Middle East.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: For obvious reasons, I missed what you said about the call, but the report from out there, the Palestinian report, is that Arafat asked the Secretary to send Zinni back. Have you dealt with that?
MR. BOUCHER: Dealt with that.
QUESTION: You said he's not going back, I believe, though, didn't you?
MR. BOUCHER: I said there is nothing new on the subject, and I'll say it again.
QUESTION: The nuclear power plant that the Burma Government has said it is going to build, does the State Department have any concerns either about safety standards or about the purposes that plant might be put to?
MR. BOUCHER: Did we get something up yesterday that I missed? Do we have it? Okay, we'll tell you later. We have something around which I don't remember, but we'll get it to you.
QUESTION: One of our allies in Central Asia, Uzbekistan's President Islom Karimov, is having a referendum this weekend to extend his presidential rule, and I wondered if the State Department has anything to say about that, since we have criticized others in the region for doing the same.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I have had anything particular to say. I'll see if we want to address that particular issue, but I would remind you that we have been quite clear on the importance of human rights, the importance of respect for human rights, in Uzbekistan and elsewhere. We see it as an essential part of the fight against terrorism.
QUESTION: Excuse me. Tell us something about the Secretary's meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergeyev?
MR. BOUCHER: No, because -- oh, the Deputy Secretary? It wasn't the defense minister. It was --
QUESTION: Former defense minister.
MR. BOUCHER: The former defense minister, who is now a presidential advisor, right?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have a rundown of that one for you either. Sorry. Uzbekistan, Charlie?
QUESTION: To follow up on that, I haven't paid attention, I confess, to the Friendship Bridge lately. Is it open or closed?
MR. BOUCHER: It's open, but in the end there wasn't a particularly large quantity of food that moved over it. I think of the 200-some thousand tons of food that moved during the course of the three months in the fourth quarter of last year, that maybe 5 to 10 percent might have finally moved across the bridge. But it was important and useful at the time, and now there's, I am sure, many other routes, and perhaps even more efficient ones.
But we have wanted that bridge to be open. We have wanted a variety of routes to be available. There is food that was purchased up in Central Asia that needed to be moved down. So I leave it to the aid officials to decide at any given moment what the best route is.
QUESTION: But it is open?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, there is still stuff going across, although in what volumes I don't know.
QUESTION: Richard, this morning, or overnight in Yemen, there was an explosion in a town where the US Consul General was, I believe. Do you guys see this as an attempt against --
MR. BOUCHER: Our Deputy Chief of Mission was down there, actually. It was a small explosive device that was detonated next to a Communications Ministry building in Saada in northern Yemen earlier today. The building is near a hotel where a US diplomatic official was staying. There were no casualties and, in our view, at least as far as what we know, the device wasn't directed at US diplomatic personnel.
QUESTION: Do you have any view on Iran's decision to resume flights to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Hadn't seen it. I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Could you take it?
MR. BOUCHER: That was her question. George?
QUESTION: President Pastrana gave a speech yesterday. I haven't read the story, but I understand he was asking for assistance that would put the US more in direct opposition to activities unrelated to the counter-narcotics effort and against the insurgency effort. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Nothing new on that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Venezuela, on this march?
MR. BOUCHER: On the march? Largely on the consular side, just to say that we have, out of concern for the well-being of US citizens, our Consular Information Sheet already warns of sporadic political demonstrations which could at times turn violent. We have urged US citizens all along to monitor local media or call the embassy for information.
On January 22nd, yesterday, we issued a notice to US citizens in Venezuela that says that various political events, including demonstrations and marches, are planned for Wednesday, January 23rd. Because large crowds are predicted for these events, street disturbances are possible, as well as instances of petty crime, US citizens resident in or visiting Caracas should be aware of the situation and may wish to avoid downtown march routes. And then further information is available on the embassy website down there.
QUESTION: You don't have any indication that Chavez is attempting to arm his supporters to create some kind of --
MR. BOUCHER: We were asked that yesterday. We looked into it, but we don't have any information that would confirm that.
QUESTION: Richard, I'm sorry. Was that a Warden Message that was sent out?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Just yesterday? I thought it was sent out last week.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there may have been several. This was yesterday's.
QUESTION: Okay, I have another one. Can you talk about any criticism from US European allies about the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay and whether they should be treated as prisoners of war?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there is anything particular to say about some of the commentary out there. I have seen, frankly, quite a difference between some of the press commentary and some of the public polling; for example, if you look at what the Daily Mirror did over the last couple days.
But I don't think that is really the criteria for US policy. The US policy, as explained by Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday for a considerable length of time, is that these individuals will be treated humanely, are being treated humanely, and are being treated fully in accord with the international conventions. They get three square meals a day that are appropriate to the Muslim diet. They have opportunities to shower, to exercise, to get all appropriate medical attention, and they are being treated humanely within requirements to ensure security down there.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary been getting any specific calls from European leaders to talk about this?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it has come up in his discussions with European leaders, in his discussions or communications with European leaders, and we have conveyed as much information as we can to other governments. As you know, the British had a team down there visiting. I'll leave it for them to characterize their impressions of it, but I think they have talked and have basically confirmed what I have said, that these people are being treated humanely.
QUESTION: Is the US going to be willing to admit teams of any other countries, perhaps the Germans?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that will depend. That will depend on the circumstances. I'm not aware that any other visits have been arranged at this moment, but there may be.
QUESTION: Richard, notwithstanding your defense and Secretary Rumsfeld's defense of the conditions down there, you have in fact received formal complaints about their treatment, haven't you?
MR. BOUCHER: Formal complaints? I don't know. We have heard --
QUESTION: Well, at a level below the Secretary. I mean, you know, a foreign minister bringing it up in a conversation with the Secretary, although it is high level, is a little bit different than a written diplomatic note or something like that.
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check and see if we have gotten any formal diplomatic notes on this. Clearly we have talked to governments, a variety of governments who have nationals who are down there at Guantanamo. We have certainly tried to share information back and forth to find out about these individuals and what they might be involved in in more specificity than what we know already.
So we are in touch with other governments, but whether we have received something formal from somebody other than inquiries, I would have to check.
QUESTION: Do you know what nationalities are represented? What nationalities are represented down at --
MR. BOUCHER: That's not a question I can answer for you.
QUESTION: It's not? Why not?
MR. BOUCHER: We just haven't been putting out lists of the nationalities.
QUESTION: But certainly you would know -- certainly these governments of whom these people are citizens of have been told, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes. So, but you don't want to say for some reason how many or what nationalities they are?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: Can I ask why?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we don't think it would help the situation as regards the security, the pursuit of information and everything else we need to do.
QUESTION: Richard, did the Red Cross issue a report to the United States Government on the basis of its findings?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think the Red Cross team has issued a report, but they were down there. They did meet with the individuals who are down there.
QUESTION: But when they do issue a report, it will be confidential to the government, the United States Government?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that. You would have to ask the Red Cross.
QUESTION: Well, that's their pattern. They visit prisoners and then they report to the host government what their opinion is.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if they are going to prepare a formal report on this.
QUESTION: If they do, will you share that with us?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. It would be speculative at this point. I can't answer it.
QUESTION: But you can confirm that you haven't received any report from the Red Cross yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to double-check that. I am not aware of any. But since a lot of this is in the hands of the Defense Department, I am not sure if the Red Cross did do something where they would -- who they would present it to first. But I am not aware that they are necessarily doing that. You would have to check with them.
QUESTION: Richard, if you can't specifically say what countries there are, can you at least say how many countries are represented by the detainees?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I can. We have left the information on this in the hands of the Defense Department. At this point, I don't think they put out a list or a number.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you are suggesting that foreign governments go through the Pentagon if they want information about these people?
MR. BOUCHER: No, both of us have been in touch. We have had embassies overseas go into governments and say we have, you know, certain of your nationals who are in Guantanamo or are members of al-Qaida or the Taliban, we want to share information with you, we want to talk to you and learn from you about these individuals and about the conditions that might greet them were they to return to your country. Things like that.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, that's State Department employees or Defense Department employees who are posted at these embassies?
MR. BOUCHER: Both are posted at our embassies, but it has been a diplomatic communication.
QUESTION: So it is a diplomatic communication? It is this building that is in charge, and not the Pentagon? Of dealing with foreign governments when it comes to their nationals?
MR. BOUCHER: Generally, yes. We have dealt with the foreign governments and they have taken care of the detainees.
QUESTION: Richard, on Macedonia, the leaders of Macedonia's main political parties have reached agreement on local self-government yesterday, and which this week will go through parliament procedure. And I would appreciate your comment on this.
And also, in addition, also yesterday the Macedonian Government agreed on the changes to the grant on the redeployment of the police in the crisis region. So I would like to --
MR. BOUCHER: Basically, we welcome the action taken yesterday, the agreement within the Macedonian Government on the law of local self- government. We think it's a major step forward in implementing the framework agreement. As you noted, we expect the law to be submitted to the Macedonian parliament for approval this week, and we would encourage its rapid passage. This would help pave the way for a donors conference to facilitate Macedonia's economic and political recovery.
QUESTION: And according to the EU representative in Macedonia, this conference will be held 15 to 20 days after the parliament procedure; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any particular scheduling, but we have always said that passage of these laws and completion of this process would facilitate a donors conference that we would look forward to attending then.
QUESTION: One more brief question. According to the Macedonia media, Mr. Lawrence Butler, former DCM in the US Embassy in Denmark, will be next US Ambassador in Macedonia?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't announce ambassadors, so we'll leave that to the White House. Okay?
MR. BOUCHER: Is he currently chargé? In Skopje. He is currently Chargé d'Affaires in Skopje.
QUESTION: Richard, I've got two extremely brief things. Do you have anything on the passage of an anti-pirating law in Ukraine -- intellectual property?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything fully prepared. Certainly it is something that we have been following and certainly something that we welcome.
QUESTION: Second of all, the interim foreign minister of Afghanistan is going to be in town tomorrow. Does he have any meetings here?
MR. BOUCHER: Foreign Minister Abdullah.
QUESTION: Mr. Abdullah Abdullah.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll double-check and see what meetings he is having.
QUESTION: You'll double-check? That's good.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m. EST.) (###)