World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


State Dept. May 17, 2002 Daily Press Briefing

Daily Press Briefing Index Friday, May 17, 2002 1:03 p.m. EDT

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 1,4-5,6 George Tenet's Travel Plans / Meetings 4,5 Senior Palestinian Advisor Mohamed Rashid in Washington / Meetings 5,7-8 Chairman Arafat's Statements on Reform / Remarks Today 6 Israeli Incursions into Jenin and Nablus 13 Church of the Nativity 13 in Cyprus

INDIA/PAKISTAN 1 Situation Update/Increase in Tensions 1 Secretary's Calls to Pakistan President and Indian Foreign Minister 1 Assistant Secretary Rocca's Trip to the Region

PAKISTAN 2-3,4 Discovery of Possible Remains of Danny Pearl

INDIA 3 Ambassador Blackwill

SUDAN 8 Administration Review of Danforth Report and Conclusions

CUBA 8 President Bush's Policy Address on Cuba / Travel to Miami

TERRORISM 9 Date of Issuance of Previous Worldwide Cautions

BURMA 9 Aung San Suu Kyi's Activities

EAST TIMOR 9 Independence and US Delegation

INDONESIA 10 Military Cooperation


DPB # 63


1:03 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements for you right now, but I'll be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Richard, do you have anything on George Tenet's travel plans?

MR. BOUCHER: No, there's nothing new on that.

QUESTION: -- the Daily Times Lahore. Do you apprehend a military conflict between India and Pakistan? If so, what steps have you taken or are you going to take to prevent it?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we are concerned about the situation there about the increase in tensions. And as you know, the United States has been working all along with both of these nations to try to see if we couldn't contribute in some way to an easing of tensions between the two.

The Secretary of State has been in close touch with leaders in India and Pakistan. He spoke by phone last week with President Musharraf and then Foreign Minister Singh, and then again this week he has spoken with President Musharraf and Foreign Minister Singh.

Assistant Secretary Rocca was just out in the region. She had some very detailed, and we think fruitful, discussions with both parties.

And we do have excellent relationships with both India and Pakistan, and we want to make sure that on that basis we do everything we can to any easing of tensions. So we'll continue to be involved. I'm sure we'll continue to be involved at a high level and see what we can do.

QUESTION: Can I follow up, Mr. Boucher?


QUESTION: Is Deputy Secretary Armitage also -- there's some report that he may be going to the region.

MR. BOUCHER: There is no further decisions at this point on travel to the region.

QUESTION: On Pakistan and what you know at the moment about the discovery of this -- of the remains near Karachi that may or may not be Danny Pearl?

MR. BOUCHER: Here is what we know today. We know that Pakistani police have discovered remains that they believe to be those of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The remains were recovered at a location where he might have been held prior to his murder. Further forensic testing, including matching of dental records, will be required to establish the identity of the remains. And we can't say at this point how long that might take.

Officials from the US Consulate General in Karachi were present at the scene when the remains were exhumed, and we remain in close contact with Pakistani law enforcement officials. The Consulate and the Department will also remain in close touch with Mr. Pearl's family to keep them informed of developments as well.

If it can be established that Mr. Pearl's remains and the site of his murder have been located, these developments could help in bringing his murderers to justice.

QUESTION: On the testing, there is some suggestion in Karachi that there may be US experts going to assist, or observe at least. Do you know anything --

MR. BOUCHER: There are certainly US law enforcement experts in Karachi who are working with Pakistani police, as they have throughout this investigation, and of course now the trial that's underway. I haven't been able to pin down whether we're doing any of the forensics or whether we have forensic people involved, but I think it's primarily a Pakistani thing at this point.

QUESTION: Okay. You say that they discovered these remains in a location that might be where he was held prior to his murder.


QUESTION: Can you say -- why do you say -- what leads you or what leads the Pakistanis, or what have they told you, as to why this might be the place or a place that he was held?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that is something I have to leave for the responsible law enforcement people on the Pakistani side to say. They have discussed it at least to this extent, and so we are comfortable doing so, but for any further details it would be up to them to describe.

QUESTION: You're not convinced, though, that this location was where he was being held?

MR. BOUCHER: Until one had done the proper forensics examination to connect --

QUESTION: I'm not talking about the remains --

MR. BOUCHER: No, but if you connect -- if you identify the location, then presumably the identity of the body that was found there has a lot to do with whether that is firmly the location.

QUESTION: Well, not really, because apparently this area is well known for being a kind of criminal hangout and dumping ground, kind of like New Jersey. (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: The two may or may not be related. I think it behooves me to take exception to any comments about New Jersey, if I might. The administration likes New Jersey. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Richard, apparently the travails of Ambassador Blackwill are again front-page news in India this morning at a time of tension obviously there in the region. And Secretary Powell himself is reported himself to be concerned personally about this situation. Is there anything further you can add about that?

MR. BOUCHER: I would only say that, as I said yesterday, he is our Ambassador, he remains our Ambassador, he has not submitted a resignation. You asked me yesterday if I could say anything about the Secretary's confidence in him, and I had an opportunity today to ask the Secretary. I can say very clearly the Secretary retains confidence in Ambassador Blackwill, and told him that himself on the phone when they last talked. I think it was about last weekend.

QUESTION: Richard, you --

QUESTION: Can you --

QUESTION: Hold on, okay? Can we stay on that for one second? You do -- there are shades of The Manchurian Candidate when you say that Ambassador Blackwell is our Ambassador, remains our Ambassador, and has not submitted his -- it sounds an awful lot like Raymond Shaw is the kindest, most gentle person in the world.

Why can't you come out and say that he -- that if there was an Inspector General's report, that it does not find any problem with the Embassy there?

MR. BOUCHER: We're not making a movie here, Matt.

QUESTION: I'm not suggesting you are.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to absolutely cite every line from a movie or deny every line from a movie. The point is we have an Ambassador to India, he continues to be our Ambassador to India. We have confidence in the way he conducts himself as our Ambassador to India, and we expect him to continue in that capacity.

QUESTION: A couple things on Pearl. Does the American Consulate in Karachi have the capability to do the DNA testing? Would it have to be sent somewhere else if the Americans aren't going to take part?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we generally wouldn't have a DNA lab in our Consulate, but I don't know what some of the law enforcement experts might be able to do. So at this point I think I'll leave it to the folks in the field to try to do their work, and as we have further detail we'll provide it.

QUESTION: Can you tell me which location -- we've seen two different places identified as the location, one being Gaddap and one being Gulshan-e-Mamar. Do you have either of those?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't exactly because I do think in some ways we follow behind the Pakistani police who are leading the investigation, so I'm not prepared to put out information that they might not have put out themselves as well. So I have to leave any further detail to them.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the Middle East, which we touched on rather briefly? Does Mr. Mohamed Rashid have any meetings in this building today? I believe he does. And what are they talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I didn't break down meetings today versus others. He's had meetings already with Assistant Secretary Burns and others in this building. He's having more meetings around town in Washington, having a series of meetings over the course of the week with US officials concerning the situation in the region and what steps the Palestinian Authority must take to end violence and terror.

As we've said before, we and others in the international community remain committed to supporting Palestinian efforts to build strong, democratic, transparent and accountable Palestinian institutions in preparation for Palestinian statehood. And Dr. Rashid offered his ideas in this regard as well.

We will continue to explore with a wide array of Palestinians, both inside the Palestinian Authority and outside of it, their ideas on how to support these efforts, but nothing further for you in detail on those particular discussions.

QUESTION: Do you know whether he met with Mr. Tenet while he was here?

MR. BOUCHER: It wouldn't be for me to say, would it?

QUESTION: And also --

QUESTION: It would?

MR. BOUCHER: It wouldn't be right.

QUESTION: Okay. On Tenet's travel plans, what exactly are the factors that will decide this?

MR. BOUCHER: The factors are President Bush, Secretary Powell, Director Tenet, National Security Advisor Rice. And when they decide, we'll be glad to tell you.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, I didn't quite mean that. I mean, what are they -- what are they waiting for? What are they -- what are they -- well, on what -- what are the criteria for deciding when the time is ripe?

MR. BOUCHER: They will decide what the criteria are for deciding when they decide.

QUESTION: What is Dr. Rashid's title?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly, actually. Oh, we call him a senior Palestinian advisor.

QUESTION: Is he still here in Washington today, do you know?

MR. BOUCHER: I think he's still in Washington this week, yes. I mean, he's still in Washington through the end of the week. We're not quite there yet.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Since you talked in that context about reform and so on, does the Department have any views on Mr. Arafat's comments today saying that he didn't envisage any elections until the end of occupation, which could, it later emerged, mean withdrawal to the September 2000 lines?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you yourself point out, I've seen various interpretations of those comments, so I don't think I want to try to offer specific commentary. What we do note -- and I think note positively -- is that there has been a debate and discussion going on within the Palestinian community and ideas coming forth within the Palestinian community about the very kind of things that the President talked about since his April 4th speech: about reform, about transparency, about accountability, and indeed about elections.

And we are working with the international community, with regional leaders and with Palestinians, as I said, both inside and outside the Palestinian Authority, to support Palestinian efforts to build a strong, democratic, transparent and accountable set of Palestinian institutions in preparation for statehood.

Chairman Arafat's remarks were consistent with what the President has said, and we're actively exploring how to move forward towards that objective.

QUESTION: Richard, can I follow up for a second?

MR. BOUCHER: We did have a lady over here that wanted to ask a question.

QUESTION: That was it.


QUESTION: Would it be relevant at all if someone who bore an incredible resemblance to Dr. Tenet, with a cigar that looks a lot like cigars that Director Tenet has in his mouth, was in this building today?

MR. BOUCHER: I frankly didn't check to see if he was in the building today or not. We do see him from time to time.

QUESTION: Well, the reason I ask -- well, I saw him leave the building. I'm just wondering if he met with the Secretary because this had been something that was discussed yesterday about when they would speak, when they would --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I said yesterday by briefing time they had talked on the phone and they would continue their discussions. I don't think every time the Secretary of State talks to the Director of Central Intelligence we have to make a news item out of it. But if he was in the building today, that wouldn't be very surprising.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, but I thought it was directly relevant to the fact of whether he might be going to the Middle East or not. Is that - - can you find out if in fact he was meeting with the Secretary here today, and if they did talk about his possible travel?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see. I'll check and see.

QUESTION: Or, for that matter, with Mr. Rashid or other officials, if he was here today.

MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's not -- I'm not the spokesman for Director Tenet. I'm not trying to divulge all the secrets of the CIA to you. To the extent that his spokesman wants to talk about his activities -- he doesn't put out a daily public schedule, as far as I know. So it's not for me to decide on his behalf what of his activities he wants to have in public and which ones he doesn't.

So if there's anything we have to say further on this, I'll get it to you, but I'm not promising anything.

QUESTION: Do you have any comments on a perhaps brief, I'm not sure if already completed, Israeli incursions into the Jenin camp, and also into Nablus?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. Our position on incursions is well known, and I'll just leave it where it is.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: We have always said that Israel should refrain from incursions, and whenever they've occurred we've urged them to leave as soon as possible.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up to a question that was asked about Arafat's statements today, and then I have another question.

When you were answering the question about if you had a reaction to what he said today, you said the sentences, remarks are consistent with what the President said. Were you referring to those comments of today, or his original speech about reform?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's more the general remarks that he has made for the last several days, including the remarks on Wednesday about reform, remarks he made subsequently about the need for elections. So I think I'd say that we've heard a series of things now from Chairman Arafat that are consistent with the topics that the President has raised, that are being discussed within the Palestinian community.

QUESTION: Including what he said today, that there could not be elections until the occupation was over?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, as your colleague pointed out, there are some questions of interpretation about what those remarks mean. So rather than trying to endorse any particular remarks or somebody's interpretation of them, I would just say in general the topics he has been talking about -- maybe that's a better way to say it -- are the topics that the President himself has been talking about as well.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Mullah Omar's threat to the White House?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I do. I don't remember seeing threats to the White House.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: Oh. I think I'll let the White House deal with that, and the White House and the Pentagon deal with him.

QUESTION: To go back to this question of Arafat and reform, I'm sure this has come up, maybe yesterday but I was away, can you sort of restate for us in general terms how you see the interaction between this reform process and Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations? Do you see any --

MR. BOUCHER: I'll say it the same way I said it yesterday, the day before, last week, the week before. It's all part of a process. It's all part of an attempt to get a responsible Palestinian Authority that can handle its own security problems, that can engage in security cooperation, that can rebuild a clean, transparent structure for opportunity for Palestinians, and that can partake in negotiations and eventually establish a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

QUESTION: Is that -- is either dependent on the other?

MR. BOUCHER: I've never said it that way. We've always said that reform is an essential part of this process. But it's not a precondition.

QUESTION: What's the next step in terms of the Danforth report on Sudan, now that it's been released?

MR. BOUCHER: The administration is reviewing the Danforth report, and his conclusions. As you know, he was asked to look at sort of the basic issue of how should we be involved, how much should we be involved, how to move forward. In the process of preparing the report and his visits out there, he also accomplished some very useful, we think, and specific things, like getting the cease-fire and investigators into the Nuba Mountains, getting investigators in on slavery. So he, in some ways, demonstrated that one could make specific progress in this situation through the involvement of the United States.

And then he has come out with some number of recommendations, not only the big ones that we asked him to look at, but some other things. So we're looking at this whole process and considering now what the role of the United States should be based on the information and conclusions and recommendations that he has provided. So the next step, I guess, will be for us to say that we've finished considering all these various things that he has said in his report and have a plan.

QUESTION: Is there a time frame?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know an exact date, but I would say we're looking at it fairly intensely right now.

QUESTION: The President is due to go to Miami Monday and make a policy speech regarding Cuba. Is the Secretary going to be with him for that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he will, no.

QUESTION: Just Karl Rove?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Domestic travel. Perhaps his domestic advisors would go with him.

QUESTION: It's a foreign country. It's a foreign country.

MR. BOUCHER: We do consider Miami part of the United States -- as well as New Jersey, if I can add that right now.

You're going to ask if the Assistant Secretary is going with him. I think he might. We usually have people like that on the trip.

QUESTION: Could I change the subject, please? Yes? I hope you're aware that I didn't want to ask this question, and I took great efforts since yesterday afternoon not to have to ask this question. But several -- based on that the White House unfortunately appears unwilling or unable to address this.

But based on information that came out of the White House yesterday, many major news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, published today that the Department had released a Worldwide Caution on June 26th of last year. Is that information correct?

MR. BOUCHER: My copy of the Worldwide Caution is dated June 22nd. That's the date we released it. If there is any question or confusion, I'm sure the White House would be happy to provide you copies. There is no debate about it.

QUESTION: There isn't, because they will not, and they have not. So in other words, it was wrong.

MR. BOUCHER: All I can tell you is June 22nd is the date.

QUESTION: Okay. June 26th is not the date?

MR. BOUCHER: June 22nd is the date. As well as all the other ones I talked about yesterday.

QUESTION: Now I've forgotten what --

MR. BOUCHER: Good. Elaine.


QUESTION: I'll give him some time to remember. If you don't have anything new on this, never mind, but Aung San Suu Kyi has ventured out, and I wondered if you had any thoughts on that.

MR. BOUCHER: Aung San Suu Kyi made the trip to the Provincial and National League for Democracy Office, as she planned. She stated that the visit has gone very well. We're encouraged that the regime is living up to its commitment to allow Aung San Suu Kyi freedom of movement.

We urge the regime to continue progress by scheduling substantive talks soon with Aung San Suu Kyi and with the National League for Democracy to move forward in political reform and national reconciliation.

QUESTION: East Timor is going to become an independent country on Monday. Do you have any words of welcome?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything right now. I think we're likely to do it, though, when East Timor becomes an independent country on Monday. This has been a long transition to full independence for East Timor. It's a process that we have worked very closely with them, with the other governments in the area, with the governments in the United Nations, and I think it's an important occasion for all of us. So we'll have something appropriate to say when it happens.

QUESTION: What is the status of possible resumption of US military ties with Indonesia?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll get you an update on that. As you know, we have had discussions with the Indonesians, as well as with the Congress, about what the appropriate kind of military interaction is with Indonesia. I believe Secretary Rumsfeld just had the Indonesian Defense Minister for a visit over at the Pentagon. So it is an issue that we've been looking at. I'll have to check and see if there's anything new in terms of the level or quality of cooperation.

QUESTION: Considering you don't want to talk for Tenet, you might want to mention that he also met with Deputy Secretary Armitage in this building.

MR. BOUCHER: I would be glad to mention that as well, but I didn't read it in the news reports that I read on the subject.

QUESTION: Well, (inaudible) speak for the State Department and not for the Pentagon or the CIA, you might want to --

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. I appreciate your assistance.

QUESTION: Who will represent the United States at the independence celebration?

MR. BOUCHER: The White House has put out the announcement. It went out on May 14th, which is, what, three days ago. Former President Clinton; Richard Holbrooke; James Kelly, our Assistant Secretary of State; Karen Brooks from the National Security Council; Shari Villarosa, our chargé d'affaires out there; and Brigadier General Castellaw, the Deputy Commander of the Marine Forces in the Pacific.

QUESTION: And the question I forgot, which I wanted to ask, was the European Union has still not reached agreement on the fate of the 13 -- the Bethlehem 13. Is the United States contributing in any way at this stage to that? Or is it -- are you leaving it entirely to the Europeans?

MR. BOUCHER: We have kept in touch with them, but they are considering the matter, and I'm sure they'll decide according to their own procedures.

QUESTION: No high-level phone calls or anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any. We have pretty much at this point left it to them to work out exactly the final details of this. As you know, we were very involved with them in working out the overall structure, and very appreciative of the fact that they took on this task of finding places for these people.

QUESTION: So you're still not at the point now -- a week after they were supposed to make up their minds on this, you're not at the point of saying you'd like to see this done sooner rather than later?

MR. BOUCHER: You can check with the Europeans how fast they intend to do it. But no, we're just saying that they will work it out.

The important thing at the moment was to resolve the situation in Bethlehem, and they made a very good contribution to resolving that situation. We're confident that as they continue to work on this, that they'll come up with a place for these people to go.

QUESTION: Well, maybe this is the question then to ask. Does the United States consider that getting them to Cyprus resolved the Bethlehem issue, or is it only kind of half resolved now, and that they still need --

MR. BOUCHER: It resolved the Bethlehem issue; it didn't resolve where these people should end up going. And that issue is still with us because the Europeans are still considering it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:32 p.m. EDT.)

(# # #)

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Deal On Paris Implementation: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>


New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>


Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>


MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC