State Dept. May 16, 2002 Daily Press Briefing
State Dept. May 16, 2002 Daily Press Briefing
Thursday, May 16, 2002 12:30 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
~DEPARTMENT ~ 1-2 Secretary Powell's Telephone Call to Director Tenet
~ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS ~ 1-2 Director Tenet's Future Travel Plans 2-4 Reform of the Palestinian Authority 3-4 Status of Thirteen Militants in Cyprus 4-5 Meetings of State Department Officials and Israeli and Palestinian Security 5 Role of Senior Palestinian Advisor Mohamed Rashid/ Dismantling Terrorist Groups 6 Arrest of Fourteen Activists
~IRAN/MOLDOVA/CHINA/ARMENIA ~ 6-8 Iran Nonproliferation Sanctions/ Notice in the Federal Register
~TERRORISM ~ 8 Warnings of Terrorist Reports Prior to September 11 18-19 Reports of Possible al-Qaida-affiliated Hijackings
~CUBA ~ 8-10 Biological Weapons Inspections/ Briefing of Former President Carter
~IRAQ ~ 10-11 Ambassador Cunningham's Comments on Inspections
~PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ~ 11-13 Efforts to Counteract Propaganda out of the Middle East
~IRAN ~ 13 Iranian Missile Developments
~INDIA/PAKISTAN~ 13, 15-17 Status of Ambassador Blackwill/ Inspector General's Report 14 Assistant Secretary Rocca's Visit to Indian and Pakistan 19-20 Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh's Concerns about Lawmakers
~EAST TIMOR ~ 17-18 Whether U.S. is Seeking Immunity for Peacekeepers/ Independence
~CYPRUS ~ 19 U.N. Secretary General Annan's Visit to Cyprus
~MALI ~ 20 Elections
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2002 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:40 p.m. EDT
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. Mr. Schweid.
QUESTION: Well, first off, just to clarify, evidently the Secretary isn't seeing Tenet today; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary and Director Tenet have already spoken on the phone. They'll probably speak again and continue to be in touch as they look forward to a trip by -- consultations by Director Tenet with the two parties, and he looks forward to his trip.
QUESTION: You said a trip?
QUESTION: You said consultations.
MR. BOUCHER: I said both, trip and consultations.
QUESTION: Well, it is a question whether he's going to take a trip.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I know. I guess that question has been raised. We're still -- the Secretary has talked to him about travel to the region in -- next week or so.
QUESTION: Well, can I follow up? Can I stay with it? The word -- the word is --
MR. BOUCHER: They started talking today. They will continue to discuss this issue as we prepare for those --
QUESTION: Well, I thought the Secretary said yesterday that he'd been talking to him for a while. I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. He talked to him again today about it.
QUESTION: Okay, that's just what I --
MR. BOUCHER: And will probably talk to him tomorrow. There's no --
QUESTION: This is getting confusing.
MR. BOUCHER: There's no particular big event planned between the two of them. They talk and see each other all the time. This is one of the issues they're discussing.
QUESTION: All right. Now, the word is that the Secretary -- I mean, that the CIA Director is trying to decide whether to go to the region, which we understand the State Department suggests is preferable, or have the Israeli and Palestinian security people come here, which the Israelis seem to prefer.
Is it true the Secretary thinks he ought to go to the region? And you're sort of suggesting that he is going to the region.
MR. BOUCHER: We have already -- we have always talked about it in those terms. The President said last week that he remains interested in sending Director of Central Intelligence Tenet to the region. We continue to believe his involvement can advance our efforts to end the violence and resume security cooperation as part of this broader process.
The Secretary spoke of it yesterday in his briefings on the airplane, talked about Director of Central Intelligence's travel to the region. So that's -- those are the terms we've always talked about it in.
QUESTION: Follow-up? Ha'aretz today has a very interesting article quoting the incoming head of the IDF as saying he doesn't want Tenet to go to the region, suggesting that any attempt to rebuild Palestinian security services while Arafat is around is a mistake. And this is a gentleman who apparently met with Condi Rice and others in the administration here yesterday.
I'm wondering whether this is something that you're taking into consideration and whether it might affect your ideas about how to reform the Palestinian Authority.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we need to define the question in terms of where United States policy and the President and others have said we need to be. And that is to go to a situation where there can be real security for Israelis and Palestinians, where that security can be achieved by security cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, where the Palestinians have a security service that can exercise authority, that can end the violence, that can cooperate to establish the kind of life that Israelis and Palestinians both want.
If you're going to do that, you've got to get on the ground, you've got to work with him, and you've got to rebuild an institution that's, as the President just said, that's clean, that has no corruption, that is transparent and as open as possible, that has no ties to terrorism. That's the kind of effort that we think underway.
Ultimately, whether this organization is successful in stopping the violence and in cooperating with counterparts to stop the violence depends on those factors, not on others.
QUESTION: Can you clarify whether you see that reform as in context with a final settlement, or should that happen before there is any kind of peace --
MR. BOUCHER: We have always talked about these things as proceeding concurrently. Everything -- we discussed this a week or so ago. If you look at the issues that are on the table right now, the things that need to be done in order to move forward -- to establish a security service, a security cooperation and a security apparatus on the Palestinian side that's capable of controlling the violence so that the security situation is enhanced; to channel money from donors into rebuilding and rehabilitation of the economic side of things; to have a Palestinian side in the negotiation that's starting to move towards the establishment of a Palestinian state that can live side by side with Israel -- all those things require reform. They require reform so you have a non-corrupt, transparent security service that can establish security. They require reform so the donors' money goes to the people in need, those useful projects. They require reform so the Palestinians can start moving towards building a Palestinian state.
In this regard, what we're looking at is really discussion and calls within the Palestinian community. Many of these ideas that are being discussed right now, whether it's a unified security service or some kind of elections or other things, these are all being discussed in terms of inside the Palestinian community. And we intend to work with Palestinians as they develop those ideas and move forward down that path.
QUESTION: What is the status of the Nativity 13 in Cyprus? It seems like the EU is kind of dragging its feet, unless they've done something in the last couple of hours, which I'm not aware of. They haven't; there is no resolution yet to where these people are going to go. Are you at all getting impatient?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that any further details on that need to come from the Europeans themselves. It's a subject that they have been --
QUESTION: Well, I'm not asking for details on it. I'm asking what -- I mean, would you like to see them dispersed as soon as possible?
MR. BOUCHER: I would refer you to the Europeans; they are currently working on it. During the Secretary's meetings in Reykjavik with various European partners, he has thanked them for their efforts, thanked them for considering this further, and really left it to them to decide ultimately how this is -- how these people are placed, dispersed and otherwise taken in.
QUESTION: Okay. So you have no problem with them remaining in Cyprus indefinitely then?
MR. BOUCHER: That's not what I said.
QUESTION: Well, that's kind of what you're refusing to -- I mean, you're not saying the opposite --
MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not what I said, Matt. I'm saying the Europeans are working on it, and the Europeans will figure it out, and we're confident that they will. That's not the same as saying staying somewhere else, anywhere indefinitely --
QUESTION: And you don't care how long it takes them to do that?
MR. BOUCHER: We're confident that they're working this out.
QUESTION: Hanan Ashrawi was discussing some of the reforms that Arafat has talked about, and she says that there is a new plan that's a cabinet that the current government would remain in place for another month and a half, something like that, and then that a new cabinet would be appointed by Arafat.
Do you think that him still controlling that much of the cabinet is a good thing? It's not the same as popular elections, obviously, for government officials --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to deal with every idea. As I said, there are plenty of ideas coming forward from the Palestinian community about reform, about more open institutions, about more credible and better institutions. And that's good. That's what we want to work with as we work on our side of this, whether it's working with their security services or working with other donors on the rebuilding part of it.
But at the same time, you know, we'll make clear what's obvious and what has been evident all along: we don't choose the Palestinian leadership; we don't decide who is or is not the Palestinian leader today, tomorrow, or whichever day it is. What we are interested in is seeing more accountable institutions, more open institutions, and as everywhere else, for Palestinians to be deciding who their leaders are and what their institutions are.
So, you know, that's a fact, I would guess, rather than a policy view. It's just a fact.
QUESTION: The US doesn't have an opinion on whether Arafat himself solely chooses a new government?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we think there should be more open, more accountable, more transparent institutions. That's the way the President described it. We think there should be elections as we head down this path. There needs to be, as part of this process. But how this is done and who ultimately is their leadership, how they organize their cabinets, you know, these are ideas under discussion in the Palestinian community and we look forward to working with them on whatever part of it we end up assisting.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about meetings yesterday or the day before in Washington with State Department officials and Israeli and Palestinian security?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been a number of different people in town. The -- I think first, was it Monday that Armitage had the meetings on the Joint Political-Military Group? Earlier this week. Early this week -- let's do it that way -- Deputy Secretary Armitage had some meetings with the Israeli Chief of Staff of the Ministry of the Defense. They meet twice a year on strategic cooperation issues. That's a regular meeting called the Joint Political-Military Group.
Israeli Defense Force General Moshe Yaalon met with Deputy Secretary Armitage yesterday. Prior to Yaalon's assumption of his new responsibilities as Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff in July, they discussed the situation in the region and our efforts to end the violence and terror, and progress towards the resumption of a political dialogue.
In addition, this week Mr. Mohamed Rashid, senior Palestinian advisor, is in Washington on personal business, so while he's in town he's had some meetings with US officials regarding the situation in the region and what steps the Palestinian Authority must take to help end the violence and terror.
QUESTION: Who has he met with?
MR. BOUCHER: So far, I think he's met with people in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
QUESTION: Can you say at what level?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. And I don't -- he'll have meetings all week long, so we'll give you the count at the end of the meetings. He'll meet with various people during the course of the week.
QUESTION: You said he's here on private business, but can you give us a bit more of an idea of what kind of role you see him in? And, I mean, who is speaking for? What's the purpose of your meetings with him?
MR. BOUCHER: He is one of the many different people, many people on the Palestinian side, that we keep in touch with. He has participated in I think all the various discussions that we've had over some time now. He was at Camp David. He was with us in Ramallah at the Muqatta. So he is one of those people that we keep in touch with, a part of the team on the Palestinian side.
QUESTION: Richard, you put Hamas and other terrorist groups on the -- highlight it on the State Department's --
MR. BOUCHER: List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
QUESTION: Exactly. And are you talking to the PA about getting rid of those groups? In other words, making certain that the Palestinian Authority doesn't blend those groups into their new cabinet, as Teri had just mentioned, and other steps down the line?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I mentioned to Teri, we don't choose the leadership, nor do we choose the cabinet. We have made absolutely clear again and again that we look for Chairman Arafat to exercise leadership, to end any cooperation, ties, support for terrorist groups that might exist, and to dismantle the groups that conduct terrorist activities. And so that remains our position.
QUESTION: I also have a follow-up. With respect to some of the arrests that the Israeli IDF have done and their incursions, and they've apparently even this morning rounded up as many as 18 people, is it best to maybe put them -- you mentioned Cyprus earlier -- off the mainland onto that island so that there isn't a revolving door in the PA court system?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're kind of mixing together three separate things, and we take those things separately. There are Israeli arrests, there is resolution of the Church of Nativity situation, and there are people the Palestinians have arrested. They have arrested some 14 activists, in addition to doing the other things we have seen this week -- condemning the attacks, issuing instructions, steps in the right direction. But they need to be followed, on the Palestinian side, with more steps to really take effective control of the security situation. That remains the goal.
QUESTION: Richard, in the meetings this week with the Israelis, did the Israelis press the US side to raise the nuclear issue with -- I'm sorry, raise with Russia about their nuclear transfers to Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, frankly. I don't know if the Israelis did that or not. You could ask the Israelis. We generally don't speak for them.
What I would say, as the Secretary has said, is that he always discusses Russia's nuclear ties, transfers to Iran. The issue of proliferation to Iran is one of serious concern to us that we've dealt with many times, and the Secretary discussed it this week in his meetings with Foreign Minister Ivanov. So it's one of the things that we raised because we care about it.
QUESTION: Richard, can we go back to the sanctions that we talked about last day against the companies of Moldova, China and Armenia for selling items to Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction? There has been reaction, I think, from all three countries. The Chinese called the sanctions unreasonable. Armenian and Moldovan officials basically say they have no idea what you're talking about. And they say they have started the intensive dialogue with the administration to find out what's going on.
Can you tell us anything about that? Did the Armenian or Moldovan Government apply to the State Department at some point to find out about these companies and their --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, a couple things to say about this. First of all, the actual notice is in the Federal Register today. So those who want the list of -- thank you. I should have counted before I walked out here. Those who want the list of entities can get it out of the Federal Register, or the Press Office can give you a copy of the list.
Second of all, we noted at the time and continue to note that the Armenian and Moldovan Governments have been helpful, that what we're dealing with here is action by entities located in those places, and certainly we do cooperate with other governments and intend to cooperate with those governments as much as possible in order to stop any transfers that might violate our law.
So we view the relationship with governments in this matter to be a cooperative one. We're happy to talk to them. We'll continue to work with them as we can. But in this case we have entities that have carried out actions that violate our law, and we've taken appropriate action on that.
QUESTION: Any concern (inaudible) whether those governments started the dialogue with you on that --
MR. BOUCHER: Are stuck with what?
QUESTION: The dialogue with the administration. Because the Armenian President said that we must prove that this is not true, and the Moldavian Premier said he wasn't formally informed of any misleadings involving Moldavian firm. And you mentioned last day that you appreciated efforts of Moldova and Armenia. So they told they started the dialogue with you, too.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know exactly how to characterize the conversations, but we're -- yes, we are in touch with those governments about the situation, and we'll keep talking to them.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on the same subject? Three of the Chinese entities -- three of the eight that are named -- were actually covered already under sanctions that were imposed in January. And I'm just wondering -- this would be Q. C. Chen, who seems to be ubiquitous in these kinds of sanctions, and the -- well, the other two companies. Presumably they're already sanctioned, so does this -- is this just putting them on notice that there was another -- that you think that you'd say that there was another violation of the Nonproliferation Act by these people?
MR. BOUCHER: This was a violation of the Iran Nonproliferation Act. I can't remember if the previous one was Iran as well. And I think if you deal with these questions, you want to take appropriate action against people, even if they're under some other kind of control -- because some of these things have time periods. So effectively you might end up extending the time period, for example.
QUESTION: Okay. But this is two separate -- these are separate violations?
MR. BOUCHER: These are separate violations, yes. From the --
QUESTION: So they did it again, after they were --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'd have to go back and check. I'm not sure if the previous sanctions were because of transfers like this. But this is -- these are additional actions, because of additional circumstances.
QUESTION: What I was looking for was kind of a general comment on the effectiveness of such sanctions. These people obviously knew that you were unhappy with it, and yet now they've gone ahead and done it again. So --
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is an appropriate action we take under US law, but it's not our sole means of stopping these actions, these transfers.
QUESTION: Was the Secretary informed of intelligence that Usama bin Laden's people, before September 11th of course, might hijack American airplanes?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is generally informed of the same kind of intelligence that the President is. He sees the same information. So first of all, let me start this by saying I associate myself with everything that Ari Fleischer has said over at the White House, and I would be glad to read every word of it to you, but let's just consider that I did and move on from there. (Laughter.)
I think the second thing I want to point out is, as Ari said, this information on possible attacks came in throughout the summer. Much of it was indeed focused overseas. And so in that regard, let's remember that we put out a number of Worldwide Cautions and advisories. We did one on May 11th saying American citizens abroad may be the target of a terrorist threat from extremist groups with links to Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization. We did another one on May 29th with the verdict in New York. We did another one on June 22nd of an increased risk of terrorist action, another one on July 18th for the terrorist -- for the Arabian Peninsula, another one on September 7th that said US citizens and interests abroad may be at increased risk of terrorist action.
A lot of the information we provided at that time just was like the information we were getting, that there were general threats out there; these threats could have involved bombings, could have involved killings, could have involved hijackings and other things. We gave advice to Americans to follow good security procedures, and at the same time we shared it with our security personnel, as the White House did with other agencies, so that anybody who could get anything more specific could try to do so.
QUESTION: Just one last thing on it. Did anybody -- the Secretary travels on government planes. I don't understand what's behind this question, but it's being asked all over town. Did anybody of note change travel plans because of these warnings? Change his mode of transportation or his --
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. I think the questions are being asked because of the notice on the bulletin board in Pan Am 103 where there had been, but since then we've adopted the no-double-standards policy and people around this building in particular are very careful that any time we might give travel advice to our own employees we would provide the same advice to the general public. And that's why we do these repeated warnings.
QUESTION: Can I move on to another subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: On Cuba, is it correct, as one newspaper report today suggests, that the administration would like to get -- actually inspect these biotech or bioweapon facilities in Cuba?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the issue of biological facilities, the inspection of biological facilities, is one you're familiar with because you're familiar with the effort that has been made and will continue to be made to come up with a protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. And inspections in and of themselves, because of the nature of the technology, don't necessarily discover everything you need to know about what may or may not be going on.
At the same time, I think it's important to remember that Cuba could indeed end any illicit activity that it might be engaged in. Cuba could indeed come into full compliance with the Biological Convention and make efforts itself to demonstrate that -- opening laboratories up, allowing having normal exchanges with other scientists and people in the field. I mean, some of this stuff is just the pattern rather than finding a particular time and place where a laboratory may be producing something.
But the dual-use nature of the technology means that a particular inspection at a particular moment at a particular place cannot necessarily prove or demonstrate that people are in compliance.
QUESTION: Have you asked Cuba to open up its laboratories?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know to what extent we've addressed this directly, but that I think would be our general comment on this.
QUESTION: Did you ask President Carter to ask Cuba to open up its laboratories?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I think as he himself has said, this issue was not part of his briefings.
QUESTION: Still on Carter, I think that Secretary Powell addressed this while he was in Reykjavik or Newfoundland. But specifically about Jimmy Carter kind of -- not leaking but, you know, characterizing what he did or did not receive in intelligence briefings to the Cuban people on television, do you think that that's a -- do you think that that's a good idea for a former President to do? If you're courteous enough to give him these briefings, that he should be saying --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's any secret that we brief former Presidents. I don't think it's any secret that we try to keep them informed. He's a man that we -- you know, that was a US President, that had access to the most detailed of American intelligence information. So it should not be a surprise that he knows a lot of things and that we would continue to tell him things. But I don't -- no, I don't have any particular comment.
QUESTION: Richard, going back to the Financial Times report, I don't understand your answer. Is it yes, you have asked Cuba to accept inspectors for its biological facilities, or yes, you would like Cuba to allow inspectors in?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not one or the other, Matt. It's what I just said. It's that a particular inspection, or even a particular inspection regime, because of the dual-use nature of the technology, doesn't guarantee compliance with the protocol.
On the other hand, because we see these at least limited research and development efforts and capabilities, we would say that Cuba should be in compliance. Cuba should abide by the Convention. Cuba should stop any illicit activity that it is engaged in. Cuba can, like other pharmaceutical factories around the world, sort of be an open place -- have open relationships with other people in a way that demonstrates that they are not engaged in illicit activities. But we are not asking for a particular inspection regime or a particular inspection, because the nature of the technology is such that you cannot demonstrate through a single inspection, or even a series of inspections, that there is not this kind of activity going on.
QUESTION: So you keep your options open? Even if inspectors do go in and find nothing, you can still come out and say that we strongly suspect you --
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, you asked as many questions and I think understood as well as anyone the very detailed examination that we have done of trying to come up in the Biological Weapons Convention with a protocol that defines how to ensure that countries were in compliance. And that has been a massive international effort. It led to various drafts and various proposals for inspections. But ultimately the experts throughout the United States Government believe that those kinds of inspections just couldn't guarantee that somebody was in compliance.
So it shouldn't be of any surprise to you to believe -- to understand that conducting inspections or other on-site visits can't be much more than of some kind of limited value in resolving compliance concerns. So at this point we really haven't asked specifically for visits to Cuban facilities, because by the nature of the thing, that in and of itself doesn't resolve the concerns.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up briefly?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I'm sorry if it's come up before, but what's the Administration's position on the British idea that only the UN Secretary General should call for particular inspections?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been working with the British and other countries that are party to this to try to come up with different methods, with better methods that can help provide some measure of confidence in compliance. So those are consultations that continue to go on. I can't remember exactly when the next meeting of the people who work on this is, but there have been a series of international discussions, and we continue to consult very closely with friends who are on this -- part of this effort.
QUESTION: On Iraq. Ambassador Cunningham at the UN says that the US now believes that it's quite possible the Iraqis are seriously thinking about letting inspectors in there. Could you tell us more about why he would have that impression and --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, Ambassador Cunningham didn't just say that. He said a variety of other things as well. So let me try to put this all in context.
I would say that, first of all, what I saw him quoted in the wires as saying was "we hear from people that Iraq may be willing" and what I would say is Iraq has talked about fulfilling its obligations rather than actually fulfilling them. Iraq's obligations have not changed. These are Security Council obligations regarding disarmament and weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq has to comply fully, completely and unconditionally with all the Security Council resolutions.
The resolutions mandate that Iraq provide UN weapons inspectors with unrestricted access and cooperation in all respects. As the Secretary has said, and as Ambassador Cunningham also made clear yesterday, there is no need for a long discussion between the UN and the Iraqi Government about this; Iraq's obligations are well known.
So while we continue to hear, as Ambassador Cunningham noted, from a variety of places that Iraq may be willing to do this, the fact is Iraq hasn't done it yet. They have come and gone several times without coming and saying, yes, we accept the obligations without conditions. And that is what we are waiting for.
QUESTION: So you can't say whether you do believe they're seriously thinking about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We think they should. We think it is their obligation. But predicting Iraqi Government behavior has been a very difficult science at best, and I don't think I would start doing it from here.
QUESTION: Different subject?
QUESTION: Can I ask on that? One question. Yesterday, Mr. Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said in Washington that the Iraqi problem and the Palestinian-Israel issues called -- both issues are very much on the front burner. Does the State Department share the same view?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I have a Middle East sort of related question. It has to do with public diplomacy. The emergence of this Daniel Pearl video that's being used as a recruiting tool, it seems, in the Middle East by some factions out there seems to highlight the urgency for you all to deal, to somehow counteract this sort of propaganda that's out there. Could you give us some sort of update on the public diplomacy and what's being done to counteract this, as well as other perceptions erroneously --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have all my numbers with me, so allow me to do this with approximations.
Since September 11th, we have realized that there is a strong need for the United States to get its message out, both in terms of the policy and in terms of the underlying fundamentals of how we are viewed, particularly in the Muslim and the Arab world.
We have done a whole series of things since then to do this. The Secretary himself has been out on several Arabic television stations. He has done interviews with Arabic magazines. We have had a program using people such as Ambassador Chris Ross, who speaks Arabic, to make sure that our views were getting in front of audiences in that part of the world. We've had a variety of programs to enhance our exchanges. We've helped them come to look for themselves. We've had TV productions from various parts of the Arab world -- I think five or six different countries have come, and we have helped them just do stories about the United States so they could understand a little better the United States, who we are, what we stand for, what the situation is for Muslims in the United States, and how important Muslims are as part of US society.
We've had exhibits. We've had the September 11th photo exhibit that has been touring in that part of the world so people can understand and remember how horrible those crimes were that we're responding to. We have just I think recently started the new radio network, the Middle East Radio Network, just to broadcast what we would consider a normal set of programs and news into that part of the world.
In addition, we have been working on more long-term things -- increasing the exchanges, increasing the understanding, ways of portraying the United States the way it really is, so that as we argue the policy developments, these seeds of wisdom fall on perhaps more fertile soil, that there is a willingness to understand and listen to us. This is, I have to say, an ongoing and developing campaign, where we are looking to do more and more as time goes on. It's an important part of the world. It's a part of the world that perhaps we have been underfunded and underrepresented in in the past, through the budget cuts of mostly of the '90s. It's a part of the world that we want to make sure we're out there just so people know who we are and why we do what we do, and not believe some of the wilder rumors, speculation, and really lies, about what we do and why we do it.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Charlotte Beers was at CSIS, and she showed, I think, some PSAs which are going to be shown overseas. Do you know --
MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't there. I was on the airplane, so I haven't had a chance to review the transcript yet.
QUESTION: So was I.
MR. BOUCHER: But yes, she was at CSIS, and I understand she gave a quite brilliant and compelling presentation, which I invite you all to look at, as I will too this afternoon when I get around to it.
QUESTION: I've tried to get a copy of it --
MR. BOUCHER: We will have one soon, I think. The transcript is being done now, I am told.
QUESTION: Richard, tomorrow I believe is the Iranian will test the long-range missile, name is Shahab-4. It can reach the central of the Europe and easily target Turkey, Greece and all the NATO allies and Israel and Saudi Arabia. Do you have any reaction on this subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me see what I am in a position to say about Iranian missile developments. It is a subject that we follow very closely. The question is not whether we know about what's going on; the question is what we can say.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the Turkish Economy Minister, Mr. Dervis, had a dinner with the Ambassador, Mr. Pearson. And according to Turkish press, the subject is mostly the conversation about Turkish Prime Minister's health situation. Do you have any concern about Mr. Ecevit's health situation?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want to go into that at this point. That's for the Turkish Government to talk about if they wish to. And as far as what our Ambassador talked about over dinner, I'd leave that to him to talk about if he wanted to or not.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary mention the Shahab-4 missile in his conversations with Foreign Minister Ivanov?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know.
QUESTION: Richard, another subject. Two nations are at the brink of war, India and Pakistan, and at the same time two nations are about to lose the most important US Ambassadors, Ambassador Blackwill in India and Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin in Pakistan.
MR. BOUCHER: That's an incorrect assumption.
QUESTION: I understand Inspector General's report that he has advised Blackwill to leave India, or the State Department that he is --
MR. BOUCHER: Are these all the same questions you got asked yesterday, Lynn?
MS. CASSEL: Similar.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll stand by her answers of yesterday, first of all. Second of all, don't -- I mean, because people do read this briefing transcript, many of the things that you've just said are wrong, and if you want to go through them one by one I'll tell you which ones they are.
QUESTION: Then Ambassador Blackwill will not leave India soon?
MR. BOUCHER: Ambassador Blackwill is our Ambassador to India. He remains our Ambassador to India, and speculation to the contrary really only hurts our relationship.
QUESTION: And can you sort of highlight on the Christina Rocca's visit to India and Pakistan, if her mission is changed because of the killing of innocent bus passengers in Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly the trip gained importance. The essential mission to go out and see, to keep in touch with two very important friends, remains the same. We have excellent relations with India. We have excellent relations with Pakistan. We are cooperating with each of these countries in a variety of different but very important ways. They have both made important contributions to the fight against terrorism.
So the essential mission that she had to go out there and talk to these two countries about how we could help, to the extent possible, help them defuse the tensions, remained the same. Clearly the terrible attack in Kashmir, which we have condemned thoroughly, added to the importance of the mission, added to the perhaps urgency of the mission. And she has carried it out.
She is now returning to Washington. I will give you the rundown for those who didn't follow it. She met in India with Minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh, National Security Advisor Mishra and other officials, and with the leader of the opposition Congress Party Sonia Gandhi. In Pakistan, she met with President Musharraf and others.
Her visit is part of our continuing talks with India and Pakistan that seek to lower tensions between the two countries and encourage them to engage in dialogue. We have repeatedly stated our strong concerns about the potential for conflict between India and Pakistan. The fact that both countries have a demonstrated nuclear capability only heightens our concern.
I would point out that the Secretary of State is also personally engaged in this effort. He spoke last week with President Musharraf and Foreign Minister Singh, then he spoke again yesterday with President Musharraf and talked today, this morning, with Foreign Minister Singh as well. So he has kept in close touch with his counterparts out there.
QUESTION: Just to follow, Prime Minister Vajpayee said that his patience is running out and there might be bloodshed on the border of India and Pakistan because he's under pressure that India is blaming Pakistan for this attack. And if she's carrying any special message from the Secretary at this time, or carried in Pakistan to give to General Musharraf that stop infiltrations into India?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go into any particular detail on her discussions. As you know, we have always said that both parties need to exercise restraint; they need to take steps to reduce violence. An important concern in the process has always been to end the infiltration into Kashmir, but it is one of those subjects we discuss as we discuss how they can generally reduce tensions and enter into a dialogue.
QUESTION: May I have --
QUESTION: Richard, on the --
QUESTION: On the same subject --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, please.
QUESTION: I don't think your comment on Ambassador Blackwill put to rest anything concerning the reports about his departure over the short to medium term. "He is our Ambassador and he remains our Ambassador" - - that doesn't go beyond midnight.
MR. BOUCHER: What do you want to ask?
QUESTION: Well, could you address more definitively the question of whether he --
MR. BOUCHER: Has he submitted a letter of resignation? No.
QUESTION: Will he be --
MR. BOUCHER: Has he been asked to resign? No.
QUESTION: Do you expect him to be leaving over the short to medium term?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no indication of anything like that.
QUESTION: Is or was there an Inspector General's review of the Embassy in Delhi?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go into any particular investigation that may or may not be underway at this point. I think Lynn was asked that yesterday, and we are just not in a position to --
QUESTION: Well, exactly, but then you offered to go through Goyal's question step by step and outline everything --
MR. BOUCHER: He didn't ask that question.
QUESTION: Well, exactly. But --
QUESTION: I was asking all the questions, including this one, but you said that -- I said if he's about to leave India soon. And I know he is going to leave India soon because that's what the Inspector General has recommended, or because he may have --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, no. I mean, there you go making five assumptions again, and I don't think any of them are true.
QUESTION: Will he be called back to Washington for consultations?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's slow down. Let's slow down a little bit and separate these into individual issues.
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Will he be called back to Washington for consultations?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: But you won't say whether or not there is or was an IG report --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into any particular Inspector General's report at this point. The Inspector General does a variety of reports on a variety of topics. When these are completed and available to talk about in public, we will. But I'm not going to get into any particular report that may or may not be underway.
QUESTION: The IG is in India and Delhi, too --
MR. BOUCHER: I saw him upstairs in the hallway about an hour ago.
QUESTION: Or was in India?
MR. BOUCHER: I saw him upstairs in the hallway about an hour ago. I don't know if he personally has been there or not, frankly.
QUESTION: Can you say what -- sort of typically how often a particular embassy would be looked into by the IG -- in a year, say?
MR. BOUCHER: Would be visited by the --
QUESTION: Looked into.
MR. BOUCHER: Looked into by the Inspector General? Is the cycle three years or five years?
MS. CASSEL: I think it's three or four years.
MR. BOUCHER: There's a regular cycle of inspection of embassies, and then as appropriate from time to time, the Inspector General, for one reason or another, may look into other places as well.
QUESTION: But, I mean, you mean -- you say then that there's a cycle where every embassy comes under review anyway?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. And then there's a regular six-monthly report to Congress as well.
QUESTION: On individual embassies?
MR. BOUCHER: On -- that goes into inspections that they've done.
QUESTION: On your -- you're not going to comment on any Inspector General's report or whether it exists, yet from this very podium it was announced that there was an Inspector General's report going on into the -- what happened at -- what diplomacy was going on in Venezuela.
MR. BOUCHER: And found the actions in Venezuela were consistent with US policies.
MR. BOUCHER: That was requested by Congress, and sometimes when people talk about them we can talk about them, too.
QUESTION: Okay. So, in other words, the reason that you can't talk about whether or not there is or isn't an Inspector General's report into Ambassador Blackwill or the Embassy in Delhi is because it was not publicly requested? Or if it was, it was not publicly requested?
MR. BOUCHER: The reason is that I frankly think that I don't want to contribute to the speculation -- is the only way to put it.
QUESTION: Richard, let me ask you a question. But what do the Inspector Generals review when they go to the embassy? Let's say in Delhi he might have, you know, or will be including corruptions, visa corruptions at the embassies?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go down -- they look at everything. Sometimes they look at specific things. It depends what's going on and what review they may or may not be doing. On the regular cycle of reviews, whether it is a bureau here or an embassy out there -- you know, my bureau was just inspected the last six months or so. Those regular reviews, they do everything.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject? I've got two on East Timor. One, are you guys approaching people at the UN to try and get blanket immunity for peacekeepers there from ICC jurisdiction?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this came up in relation to East Timor --
QUESTION: That's exactly what I said.
MR. BOUCHER: I thought you said blanket.
QUESTION: I said I had two on East Timor.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I see.
QUESTION: Blanket protection for UN peacekeepers in East Timor.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, in that case, it did just come up in relation to East Timor, didn't it? (Laughter.) So I was right.
The simple answer to your question is the question of what specific steps we can take to ensure protection for our forces abroad remains a subject of discussion. In relation to East Timor, I mean, first of all we need to say we strongly support the transition to independence. We continue to be a forceful advocate of accountability for perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
As we've said, we don't support the flawed International Criminal Court. The court system has many significant defects: it threatens principles of national sovereignty with its claim to jurisdiction over nationals, especially service members and officials of states not party to the agreement; the court and prosecutor are not accountable to any democratically elected body or to the UN Security Council, and this can easily lead to politically motivated decisions. This is a fact. This is a fact we talked about when we talked about our action in New York to say that we were not bound by the previous signature.
So the question is now what specific steps can we take because of those difficulties, particularly with this jurisdiction over states that are not party or nationals of states that are not party. And that's a question that is still being looked into.
QUESTION: So you're not proposing that the peacekeepers in East Timor be given immunity from the ICC?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we're still looking into it. It comes up in relation to East Timor as we look at the people that we have out there, but it comes up more generally as well.
QUESTION: So, yes?
MR. BOUCHER: We're still looking into it.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I get an answer to my second question, and then I've got actually another one. On the 20th, East Timor becomes independent, and you guys are going to change the designation of your office there to an embassy. I'm just wondering, is that something that Assistant Secretary Kelly is going to do?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard what the arrangements might be. That's a week away.
QUESTION: Do you have anything else in the way of guidance on the whole issue of the reports of possible al-Qaida-affiliated hijackings dating from last summer?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I'd be very happy to read you everything that Ari Fleischer has said on the subject.
MR. BOUCHER: So if you want to know if I have anything more, yes, I have everything that Ari Fleischer said on the subject, and we could stay here for another half hour, if you want.
QUESTION: Independent of Ari Fleischer?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it is the same issue for all of us. What I've said independent of Ari Fleischer is what we did with the information, how we turned it into warnings for the general public, how we turned it into requests for necessary security people to gather information, and to put it in the context of the information we were receiving all that summer, that al-Qaida was a risk, that there were threats from al-Qaida that could involve a number of possible actions, but not specific threats that would allow us to prevent the kind of thing that occurred on September 11th.
QUESTION: Just one quick one --
MR. BOUCHER: No, one quick one from him.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan, was in the Cyprus. He met with the two sides and he urged the both of them to reach some kind of frame agreement until at the end of June. Are you satisfied? Are you hopeful for that they can reach an agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we strongly support the Secretary General's visit. We strongly support what he said. We do think there is a need for more urgency. That was the position the UN Security Council took on May 2nd. We again in that resolution endorsed the June target date for an agreement.
So we agree with the Secretary General's statement today that the two leaders, between now and the end of June, can resolve all the core issues, provided they go about their task decisively and with the necessary political will.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: One more --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we've got two more. One back there.
QUESTION: The Indian Ambassador for the US, Mr. Lalit Mansingh is kind of quite angry at a number of congressmen, including Towns and Burton and McKinney, and also on the congressman Dan Burton because of their misinformation and inserting on a regular basis in the Congressional Record without any references or proofs, and all that.
Now, he has written to all of them, if State Department received any advance information about his being angry or concerned about what the lawmakers are putting against India? Do you have anything from him or about him, if he's in touch with the State Department on these matters?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if he is in touch with the State Department on the matter. Certainly I don't have any information on his contacts and correspondence with the Congress.
QUESTION: Richard, your poster child for democracy in West Africa has just had an election. What do you -- this morning, the former military ruler was confirmed to have won. This is Mali, not Sierra Leone I'm talking about.
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't actually prepared anything on the Mali elections. As you know, we don't do poster children; we do support for genuine efforts at democracy. We had a very good election in Sierra Leone, as you point out. We have had good democracy in Mali. I will be glad to tell you about either of those, but I will have to get you something later on Mali.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:40 p.m. EDT.)
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