State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 20, 2002
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
May 20, 2002
1-4 Senator Danforth’s Report to the President on Peace Process
East Timor: Full Diplomatic Relations
4 Albania: Death of U.S. Ambassador Limprecht
4-5 Former Secretary Albright’s Speech on Foreign Policy
5-11 Tensions / US Contacts and Meetings with Officials / Upcoming Travel
9 Secretary Powell’s Meeting with Foreign Minister
11 Slain Journalist Daniel Pearl
11-12 US Civil Society Initiative
12-13 Meetings with Officials This
13-14 Surrender of Indictee to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia / Certification
14-15 Terrorist Bombings /
Security Issues / US Travel
15 Chairman Arafat’s Calls to Cease Violence
16-18 US Compliance Report on Palestine Liberation Organization
19 International Aid Workers
15 Car Explosion
18 Sanctions Imposed under Nonproliferation Sanctions Act
19 Discussion on Whales Issue
19 US-Sri Lanka Relationship
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I brought with me today Assistant Secretary Walter Kansteiner of the Bureau of African Affairs to tell you a little bit about next steps on Sudan and where we are going now that Senator Danforth had his meeting this morning at the White House. So we will let him do Sudan, and then when he is done I will come back and answer your questions on other things, unless I decide to slip out the door and leave him hanging.
So Walter, go ahead.
MR. KANSTEINER: You better not. Thanks, Richard.
President Bush met with former Senator Danforth today at the White House and thanked him for his hard work that he has done on Sudan, and acknowledged and thanked him for the progress that he has already made in the Sudan and on the peace process.
Senator Danforth's report to the President, which was submitted a couple weeks ago, recommends that the US engage energetically in efforts to end the conflict in Sudan, a conflict that has left nearly 2 million dead and uprooted another 4 million.
The next steps for the Administration are focused on means for achieving a just and viable peace in Sudan, and we intend to actively support the efforts of the international community in doing that. In particular, we are looking to assist the Kenyans as they lead the IGAD process. We will also be working with other key international players, in particular Great Britain and Norway, to ensure that this effort succeeds and the conflict in Sudan comes to an end. We will also be working with regional neighbors, particularly Egypt, as we pull together a peace process.
A just and viable peace depends first and foremost on the cooperation and support of the warring parties, and the parties must be prepared to fully comply with all agreements reached. We have already had some of these agreements; some of the building blocks that Senator Danforth has put in place in fact are the building blocks for a larger and more comprehensive peace process, which we will now be encouraging and pursuing.
Questions, or should I dart out?
QUESTION: Two things. One, you're looking to assist the Kenyans in IGAD. Does that mean more cash for Kenya?
MR. KANSTEINER: It means resources, both financial resources but also human resources.
QUESTION: Okay. So --
MR. KANSTEINER: So sending people down, assisting in the process, assisting on some financial side, too.
QUESTION: Another part of Senator Danforth's report was he recommended looking into boosting your diplomatic presence in Sudan itself, and the Sudanese for some time now have been claiming that you guys have agreed to upgrade the presence there. What's the status of that?
MR. KANSTEINER: Well, we do have a presence in Khartoum, and our Embassy has been open. We have some normal rotational shifts coming up because it's summertime. We're also looking at additional administration support. As this peace process hopefully becomes more intense and more sophisticated, we will need perhaps some additional administrative folks on the ground.
QUESTION: And you're not looking at having a chargé there permanently?
MR. KANSTEINER: We're looking at it. We're not there yet.
QUESTION: Are you going to have an actual assigned envoy to the peace process, and who will it be?
MR. KANSTEINER: Senator Danforth has agreed to stay on as the Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan. He will be looking at how that strategy unfolds, and the State Department and the interagency policy folks will be assisting in actually that implementation.
QUESTION: Assistant Secretary, tomorrow as you know, the terrorism report comes out. Sudan has -- previous reports have said that Sudan has been making great progress in getting off that list. Could you maybe update us at this point in terms of where they are in getting off the list?
MR. KANSTEINER: Well, there are actually a number of lists that Sudan has sanctions against them concerning bilateral issues, trade. There is the state-sponsored terrorist list that Sudan is still on. All of those, of course, are looked at and reviewed in their own cycles. And so I don't think I would want to predict or guesstimate when those are going to be changing.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more very briefly? You mentioned helping regional neighbors such as Egypt. As I recall, and unless I'm mistaken, Egypt actually has a partner in its peace proposal. Are you just hoping that the Libyans will go away? Or are you ready to work with them as well?
MR. KANSTEINER: We are willing to work with all of the immediate neighbors. Kenya has the lead in the IGAD process, and President Moi has asked Lazarus Sumbeiywo, who is actually the former army chief of staff and a very capable negotiator, to take that lead in IGAD. So that's who we are really backing up and focusing on, particularly the Troika -- the Norwegians, the Brits and the Americans -- we are going to go and support that process. We recognize that other neighbors clearly have an interest there, and the Egyptians being one, the Ugandans of course, Eritrea, Ethiopia -- all of the neighbors have a real interest in what's going on in Sudan.
QUESTION: Does this mean that you're not going to do anything to follow up on the Egyptian-Libyan idea, that you're only going to work through IGAD and the Kenyans?
MR. KANSTEINER: We don't want to be so categorical about it, but IGAD definitely has the lead.
QUESTION: Another question. Can you give us an update in your assessment right now of the Sudanese Government's living up to the agreements that -- the interim agreements that Danforth set, specifically the Nuba cease-fire, bringing in the international commission to look at slavery? And finally, do we have our monitors on the ground yet for the overall cease-fire?
MR. KANSTEINER: Right. Remember, there are four -- as you mentioned, three of them. The Nuba Mountain cease-fire, in fact, is going quite well. It is continuing to hold, and the food delivery system has become very effective because of its holding. We are supporting that cease-fire monitoring, both financially, and also with advisors and consultants on the ground. The Norwegians are playing a very important role in that, as are a number of other international agencies and groups.
The monitors that will look at civilian targets, that right now is being pulled together. There are some folks that have just arrived on the ground in Khartoum and elsewhere, and so that's still, quite frankly, got a little ways to go before we get that up and running. But it's happening and we're working on it.
QUESTION: Are those American, and can you tell us how many?
MR. KANSTEINER: They are -- right now, I don't believe any Americans are there yet, but we will have some outside contractors and advisors coming at some point.
QUESTION: There was also something in the report that he suggested that the US tie its involvement in the peace process and what it's willing to do going forward to Sudan's sticking to its agreements on those four parts. Is this going to be performance-based? If there's another bombing of a food site, for instance, are you going to withdraw US participation?
MR. KANSTEINER: No, I think very much it has to be performance-based, and the performance thus far on those four markers has been relatively good. It's been, in fact, quite good considering 18 years or 19 years of war. So we're reasonably optimistic. But indeed, the performance is what counts, and it will all be based on not so much the talk-talk at the table, but the actions on the ground.
Thank you all very much.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you very much, Walter. Okay, ladies and gentlemen, if I might at the beginning of the second half -- we don't need an intermission, do we? -- let me say a little bit about East Timor, and then second of all about the US Ambassador to Albania who has died over the weekend.
In East Timor we are pleased to announce the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Democratic Republic of East Timor. We have opened an Embassy in the capital, Dili, effective May 20th, 2002. The Embassy will be headed by a chargé d'affaires until such time as the President nominates and the Senate confirms an ambassador. The current chargé is Shari Villarosa.
The United States looks forward to working with the people and government of the Democratic Republic of East Timor to foster the growth of democracy and prosperity in the first nation of the new millennium. So that's where we stand on East Timor.
Sad news for you, and we have a statement by the Secretary of State that will go out after the briefing. The US Ambassador to Albania, Joseph Limrecht, died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday, May 19th, while hiking with his wife and colleagues in northern Albania. All of us here at the State Department are deeply saddened by his untimely death, and we extend our sincere condolences to his family, his wife Nancy and daughters Alma and Eleanor, as well as to his friends and colleagues.
Ambassador Limprecht was a career Foreign Service Officer who assumed his duties in September of 1999, and was in the final weeks of a very successful three-year tour. After a ceremony in Toronto this week, his wife will accompany his remains to the United States and there will be memorial services, we believe, later in the week. So our hearts go out to his family on that sad occasion.
And with those announcements, I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, there are several things that have built up. One is Secretary Albright making a commencement speech sharply critical of the Administration's foreign policy. On the off chance the State Department, where she used to work, might want to respond -- if you're not going to respond I won't even, you know, particularize some things, but there were a couple of things she said: the Administration seems to like to opt out of treaties. I guess she means the war crimes tribunal. And she said that on the Middle East conflicting signals are sent out, and that is not very helpful.
Is there anything the State Department wants to say about these things?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm going to get into a back-and-forth with former Secretaries of State and bosses. I think it' is better for us just to say we've explained our policies on the situations, and I think our record, the record of this Administration, is very clear on all these matters.
QUESTION: All right. The violence of course is --
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
QUESTION: Sure, please.
QUESTION: You don't want to confirm or deny that the Administration has bipolar disorder?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into specific phrases. I think people give speeches, and we obviously listen to them and pay close attention to what they say. But this Administration has explained its policies very clearly, and anybody who wants to know those policies can just check with us.
QUESTION: Do you know if someone did listen to the speech or, you know, read the reports on it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think people have read reports of the speech, yes.
QUESTION: And you don't want to characterize their reaction to it?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Well, that is an answer, because she says the Administration is not clear on its Middle East policy; it says one thing one day and one thing another day. And when you say the US is clear on its policy, do you mean on the Middle East as well as other policies?
MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely.
QUESTION: Now can we move on --
MR. BOUCHER: The President's address of April 4th has the clear and complete statement of the policy.
QUESTION: Okay. Violence. We can start with Kashmir and then go to the Middle East, if you want. A couple of Indian soldiers --
MR. BOUCHER: Are you going to lead us on the around-the-world tour, Barry?
QUESTION: Well, it's all bad news stuff. There's probably a theme here, but I won't try to --
MR. BOUCHER: Please, don't.
QUESTION: No, I won't. But it seems to be -- as the AP says -- suspected Islamic militants have killed now two Indian soldiers in Kashmir. There's a flare-up. Is there anything the US intends to do or can do to ameliorate the situation?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that we have made clear what our strong concerns are about potential for conflict between India and Pakistan. We have been working with both those governments to try to see if we can't use the excellent relations that they each have with the United States to contribute in some way to an easing of the tensions. We think the surest way to lower tensions and resolve disputes between the neighbors is through more dialogue between them, not less. That makes it important to keep their channels of direct communication open.
We remain deeply engaged with Indian and Pakistani leaders. Over the weekend, the Secretary spoke with President Musharraf on Sunday, further continuing his involvement. We have had regular high-level visits and visitors with people from these two countries. We do expect that Deputy Secretary Armitage will travel to the region in the near future. I don't have details or dates for you at this point.
So the United States is involved, has been involved, will remain involved in doing whatever we can to help these two governments lessen the tension.
QUESTION: Travel to the region, you mean go to the obvious places?
MR. BOUCHER: India and Pakistan, yes.
QUESTION: Do you have -- your line about "keep channels of direct communication open," should we assume that relates directly to the Indian decision to expel the Pakistani Ambassador?
MR. BOUCHER: That relates to any steps that make it more difficult to have that dialogue. We would in fact encourage them to continue a dialogue, not to cut off channels.
QUESTION: Which means that this is -- well, what is your reaction to the expulsion of the Ambassador?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we encourage them to use their channels to have more dialogue, not less. That's where we'll stop.
QUESTION: And on Deputy Secretary Armitage -- I realize you say you don't have dates or times, but would the first week of June, which is what apparently the Pakistanis and others are saying, is about the time frame?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite ready yet to speculate on the time frame, but that would qualify as being in the near future, yes. Which is what I said.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary's talk with General Musharraf included -- I guess this talk took place after India announced the expulsion of Pakistani Ambassador from India. Did this --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember the exact timing of the announcement. I'm really not at this point prepared to go into specific details of their discussion, other than to say that whenever he talks to his counterparts in the region, whether it is Foreign Minister Singh, or in the case of Pakistan he talks frequently with President Musharraf, he's always looking for what the United States can do and how we can help ease the tensions between them. And that's the context for the phone call.
QUESTION: Richard, how do you compare the tension this time with the last time, when the Indian parliament was attacked and to blame --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we compare the tensions. These attacks have been awful and caused terrible loss of life and damage, as well as make it more difficult for two neighbors to live peacefully together. And that's our goal.
QUESTION: Isn't the Administration worried about what is happening between India and Pakistan at this time?
MR. BOUCHER: I just said we're strongly concerned about it. I'll stay with that.
QUESTION: Richard, you just had a senior Indian defense official in the building today meeting with Deputy Secretary Armitage. Did you look for and receive any kind of assurances from the Indian Government that they would refrain from taking any kind of retaliatory action?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't -- was that meeting this morning? I didn't realize the meeting was over. I don't have a specific readout of that particular meeting. But put it in the same context: we always look for what we can do to try to help them ease tensions.
QUESTION: How concerned is the US that -- there are apparently some reports of movements, or at least steps that are being taken -- to take some sort of military action. How concerned is the US that --
MR. BOUCHER: Strongly concerned.
QUESTION: One more?
MR. BOUCHER: I've said that before. Let's let somebody else have a question, too.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, at this meeting, was it scheduled because of the current crisis, or did he happen to be here? What was the purpose --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was previously scheduled, but I'll have to double-check on that.
QUESTION: There is a joint meeting at the Pentagon tomorrow, isn't there, involving US --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, let me double-check the exact schedule on these things.
QUESTION: Richard, again Prime Minister of India said that action will be taken, and they will respond, and Pakistani hand is there clearly. And also, yesterday, the Indian general army for the first time said that time has come to punish Pakistan, what he had done, just like Israelis have done against Arafat.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Two statements. Do you want to ask a question?
QUESTION: No -- any Secretary's comments on this?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we're --
QUESTION: That's why you're rushing Deputy Secretary Armitage into the region?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we are rushing Deputy Secretary Armitage out there. He has been involved in this situation in the past. He has gone there before. We have had our Assistant Secretary out there. Our Deputy Secretary has been involved and will remain involved. The Secretary of State himself has been involved. It is just one of the many ways the United States continues to work on this issue to try to see what we can do to help the parties defuse the tension.
QUESTION: That will follow, Secretary's visit, maybe in the near future?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't speculate on that.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's finish with this.
QUESTION: Have you brought in any other country on this? Brits, who have a special --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made clear we have talked repeatedly with other governments about this. When Foreign Secretary Straw was here, both he and the Secretary talked about it, if I remember correctly, at their news conference. It was one of the issues that they have stayed in close touch on, and the British Government as well is doing what it can to try to ease tensions. It is a subject that he has discussed with Foreign Minister Ivanov on several occasions, as well as with other Europeans who were interested and involved in this situation.
QUESTION: What about the alliance in Afghanistan? Does that have --
MR. BOUCHER: Sorry?
QUESTION: What about the alliance group in Afghanistan? Are they being brought into the discussions by the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: The alliance? You mean the --
QUESTION: Whatever you want to call it.
MR. BOUCHER: The government?
QUESTION: No. The alliance --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, you mean the people that are -- many of the governments that are working in Afghanistan together have also been concerned and active in this situation. There's not a formal grouping, no, that gets together for the purposes of diplomacy.
QUESTION: Can I stay in the region? It will be very brief, and then they can pop right back to us, because it's related. I just want to know, these meetings haven't happened yet, but is there anything special on the agenda for the meetings with the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister and the Afghan Interior Minister that are supposed to be here today?
MR. BOUCHER: Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, Manzur Morshed Kahn, the meeting is at 3:00 p.m. to talk about strengthening Bangladesh's democratic institutions, making progress in the shared endeavor to confront terrorism and its supporters. So that's the general context for that.
On the meeting with the Afghan Interior Minister, I don't have anything at this point. We'll get you a readout afterwards.
QUESTION: You mentioned that the Secretary has spoken to President Musharraf. Can you remind us when he last had contact with Foreign Minister Singh?
MR. BOUCHER: Last week, I think it was Thursday. I talked about it at the time. It might have been Wednesday.
QUESTION: I don't know if you can go any further, but you've been saying that you always are looking for what the US can do to help ease tensions. Can you elaborate a little bit more or give any more specifics?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't at this point. Obviously, when we talked to them, we talk about specific things that they could do or that we could help contribute to, but at this point it is really a matter of working with them in some detail but trying to keep the effort underway.
QUESTION: What do you say, though, to countries like India, and in the case of Israel, which says that they're fighting terrorists in their own back yard? Why is it not the same as when the US goes to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban?
MR. BOUCHER: You can't make simple comparisons. You have to deal with each situation. If you want to get at terrorism, you have to get at terrorism. That doesn't always mean using military means. Sometimes it involves calling upon a responsible government, or a government who should be responsible, to work with you in taking care of terrorism.
And indeed, if you look around the world at the way the United States fights terrorism, some places we do it directly with military force, some places we do it through cooperation with other governments. You use whatever the best means is to stop the terrorism. And that is what we are trying to do and that is what we think other governments should try to do, too. Don't immediately resort to military action, and that may not be your most effective means.
QUESTION: Richard, when you said ease tension both sides, why both sides, because India is saying that this is only one-sided story and terrorism from Pakistan. Pakistan is sending those terrorists on infiltration into Kashmir, so that means --
MR. BOUCHER: We want to --
QUESTION: -- Secretary should focus on Pakistan, asking General Musharraf to stop terrorism into India, and then they can have peace in the region.
MR. BOUCHER: We need to work with both sides if you're going to effectively ease tension across an area where both sides are located.
QUESTION: I understand that you said you didn't want to characterize the Secretary's conversation with President Musharraf, but can you tell us, is the State Department satisfied with the Pakistani Government's efforts to crack down on the militant groups that have apparently done these attacks in Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have said quite clearly after the January 12th speech by President Musharraf that we certainly welcomed the speech, we welcomed the announcement, we welcomed since then a number of the steps that he has taken to implement that speech. His speech involved a very broad program of reorienting Pakistani society, as well as cracking down on the groups, and he has taken a number of very specific steps with regard to the groups.
But I think he himself would say that process is by no means over; it is an ongoing process, and there is a lot more to do. So as he proceeds down that road, we remain very interested in the steps that he's taking to carry out the January 12th speech.
QUESTION: Well, the Indians are claiming that since the January 12th speech that there has been virtually no decrease in the infiltration of Pakistani militants along the border. Could you say whether you think that there has been a decrease in infiltration?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm in a position to characterize it because of the kind of information we may or may not have about the situation there.
QUESTION: Before we leave this subject, which I'm sure people are eager to do, lest we forget, did the Secretary and General Musharraf talk about the Daniel Pearl case at all? And do you have any update on the discovery of the body that may or may not be his?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember their discussing this case in any particular detail, but obviously both of them are following it very closely, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had arisen.
As far as where it stands, the identification of the remains that were recovered last week that may be those of Daniel Pearl, the identification is in the hands of Pakistani police. Our understanding is they have not yet completed their forensic tests, and we can't say exactly how long it will take to complete those tests. We do remain in close contact with Pakistani law enforcement officials. Our Consulate in Karachi and the Department also stay in close touch with Mr. Pearl's family to keep them informed of developments.
We remain committed to bringing to justice all those involved in the abduction and murder of Mr. Pearl. If it can be established that Mr. Pearl's remains and the site of his murder have been located, then we hope that these developments could help bring his murderers to justice.
Okay, Betsy was going to change topics.
QUESTION: Please, to Cuba and this shift in policy, US policy. Cuba claims that the dissident movement in Cuba is sort of sponsored and paid for by the US. Couldn't this new policy of giving aid to -- if not directly to the dissidents, then to groups that aid them, undermine the credibility of those very people that we want to help? Some dissidents have said that they don't want money because it would tinge their activities.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we know a great many actions by Cuban dissidents that are in no way connected or associated with the United States, much less financed by us. Second of all, obviously any individual or group that wanted to proceed on its own without any assistance from outside, or from the United States for that matter, would be free to do so, if they're free. The problem is they're not free in Cuban society and Cuban regulations under the Cuban Government to do so.
We run civil society programs around the world. We try to help develop free press. We try to help organizations represent their interests or support their causes or be able to operate as civic groupings around the world, and in many, many places these things are allowed, even when they may or may not be in opposition to the government or may or may not be associated with the government.
So I would say that what we do around the world in terms of civic society is the same thing we'd like to be able to do in Cuba. Ultimately, whether any particular grouping wants to use our support and assistance, or the support and assistance of outside nongovernmental organizations, is up to them.
QUESTION: The Prime Minister of Kosovo is today here, and also Prime Minister of Serbia and Chief of Diplomacy of Yugoslavia are visiting here on working visit, and also High Representative of EU Solana is here. So could you tell us what is the topic of these meetings, and also do you expect some breakthroughs in relations between Yugoslavia and US?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you say, we have a number of meetings this week related to the situation in the Balkans. And yes, when we meet with High Representative Solana we always discuss the Balkans, although I have to say we also discuss a lot of other things with him as well.
The meeting that we have today is this afternoon with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Bajram Rexhepi. The Secretary is going to commend the Prime Minister on his commitment to developing democratic institutions in Kosovo and his strong support for a multiethnic and integrated Kosovo. The two will discuss political, economic and security issues, focusing on regional stabilization and Kosovo's democratic development.
The United States strongly supports the UN Mission in Kosovo benchmarks process that Special Representative Michael Steiner is instituting for Kosovo. These steps can help us evaluate the performance of the new provisional institutions of self-government. The benchmarks process is not linked to the future status of Kosovo. That will be addressed as appropriate -- at the appropriate time as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
QUESTION: What about Serbia? Has the meeting happened? I was off one day. The Serbian meeting --
MR. BOUCHER: Tomorrow.
QUESTION: Oh, that's tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: Tomorrow he meets with Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic, as well as Yugoslav Foreign Minister Svilanovic.
QUESTION: Both tomorrow separately?
MR. BOUCHER: No, together.
MR. BOUCHER: Together.
QUESTION: Well, Human Rights Watch is on the job already, as you might not be surprised to hear. So could you give us some theme for tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: The theme for tomorrow, I think, is developments in Yugoslavia, and especially cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal. Note that on Saturday another individual surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Dusko Knezevic voluntarily surrendered. We welcome that surrender. We urge all persons indicated for war crimes to follow his example. It's the right decision. It's a helpful step towards Yugoslavia's full cooperation with the Tribunal and integration with the international community.
The individual is wanted for murder, torture, inhumane acts and rape in the Keraterm and Omarska camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two of the three camps where Serb forces collected and confined more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in 1992.
We urge the authorities in Belgrade to continue their efforts to improve cooperation with the Tribunal by taking indictees into custody and transferring them to The Hague as soon as possible. So that will be one of the continuing subjects of discussion tomorrow. We have welcomed the surrender of various people to The Hague, and we will look for -- want to discuss with them continued cooperation, as well as developments in the region. The overall questions of stability and the future of these areas is very important to us, and we discuss the prospects for addressing the questions before them, as well as the further integration of Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro into European institutions.
QUESTION: Under the headline of cooperation with the Tribunal, included the provision of documents and archives, and my understanding is that some people are not too happy with that, the flow of information from archives coming out of Belgrade. What is the Administration's assessment of that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any assessment today on that. Maybe we can get something for you tomorrow.
QUESTION: And nothing new on the frozen aid?
MR. BOUCHER: Certification? No, nothing new today.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I ask one more question? This guy that surrendered on Saturday, you left out a word that you used the last time someone senior surrendered. You called -- you said that that person surrendered, the previous one, was a "courageous act." Is it no longer courageous for war crimes indictees to surrender themselves?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been about five or six now, and I don't think we've said courageous in every case.
QUESTION: Just the one?
MR. BOUCHER: The first one --
MR. BOUCHER: -- who did it --
QUESTION: Okay, so after that they're all --
MR. BOUCHER: -- who led the way for the others exhibited greater courage. Certainly anybody who can stand up and face their charges in a peaceful manner, in a voluntary manner, we think has demonstrated a certain level of courage. But I think we praised it, went out of our way to praise it in the first instance, because he led the way for what now is five or six others who have followed.
QUESTION: You said that there was no movement on the frozen aid today. Do you think that there could be some movement tomorrow? And has Yugoslavia done enough --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to give you an assessment at this point. I know you ask this question every day, and you can ask every day if you want to.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that that the decision will be taken on the basis of the conversation tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't want to pin it to any particular time. It is something we look at, and we will continue to look at based on the facts of the ground. And that is really what matters.
QUESTION: Middle East, inevitably. Rather than get -- if you like, and you want to make the usual statements about being disappointed that there were two terrorist attacks on Israel over the weekend, I thought maybe you could update us on where setting up security talks stand. Anybody -- Zinni -- I almost forgot his -- I mean, Zinni, he's still in town; he hasn't gone anyplace. And is there a decision on whether Tenet goes or does stuff here, et cetera? Where are we on this, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me make clear, first of all, and not in any denigrating manner, but we do condemn in the strongest possible terms the terrorist bombing in Netanya that left three Israelis dead, and another bombing today that killed no one other than the bomber. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims of Sunday's attack.
As far as where we stand on security elements, that remains an important part of the comprehensive strategy of trying to get security cooperation going again, trying to get security steps by Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. We do note that he has condemned the bombing on Sunday and he has issued instructions to his people not to be involved in any violence and to confront terror attacks before they occur. Those have been positive developments, but we continue to look to Chairman Arafat to exercise more leadership and to take further steps to stop the violence from occurring.
In terms of travel by US officials or representatives, I don't have anything new today on that.
QUESTION: I have a couple questions. First of all, do you know if we have extended an invitation to Jabril Rajoub, Mohammed Dahlan, Amin Al-Hindi and other Palestinian security leaders to meet here this week? Can you comment on that at all?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't comment on that. I know there's been stories out there, but if we have something to announce, we will announce it.
QUESTION: And also, what does it mean when Yasser Arafat issues instructions not to be involved in the violence? Did he do that at American request?
MR. BOUCHER: It's something that we have been looking to him to do. If you remember the President's statement on April 4th and subsequent statements by US officials, we have looked for him all along to condemn terrorism, to make clear that his goal was peaceful negotiation and not violence, and then to issue instructions to his organizations, people under his control or authority or influence not to be involved in violence. And he did that I think a week or so ago. We talked about it at the time.
QUESTION: Richard, apparently someone wasn't listening because apparently in the West Bank Israelis have uncovered up to ten tons of explosives that they say were destined to blow up two of their skyscrapers, up to 50 stories. And it's almost like, I guess, moving the shell, so to speak, on a chess board. I don't know whether it's Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Fatah, whatever, but is there any one tactic that can end this all once and for all, where there won't be explosives used or suicide bombings?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I think you are referring to a wire service story this morning, and I can't give you any details on that. That would be for the Israelis to confirm it or explain it as they might.
In terms of your question, is there any one simple solution, is there any one simple tactic to this, I think the answer is clearly no. There needs to be action by the Palestinian Authority. There needs to be action by the Palestinian Authority to use its influence, to use its control, to use its direction, depending on what it can do. There needs to be action by other governments in the region. As the President outlined in his April 4th speech, we look to the Arab countries to take responsibility, to use their influence in this situation and try to stop the violence. And of course, the Israeli Government is going to take whatever steps it feels necessary to stop the violence as well, since it is directed against Israeli citizens. So the answer is there's any number of things that need to be done, and everybody needs to do what they can.
QUESTION: Richard, on the subject of condemning terrorist acts, what do you guys make of the death by car bomb this morning of the son of Ahmad Jabril in Beirut?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there's not too much I can say on it. I understand the Lebanese are conducting an investigation, and I don't really have any other information on it.
QUESTION: Since we're on the topic, and this is something that's maybe related to last week, but it is relevant today, given the recent violence in Israel. But in your PLO compliance report that was released last week, you said that there was no conclusive evidence for the period that was covered that senior Palestinian leadership were involved in plotting directly some of these terrorist attacks.
This appears to contradict directly information that the Government of Israel made available to you recently covering that time period, so I just want to try to square the circle. Is the Government of Israel exaggerating their information? Are they lying?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, once again, remember what it says in this report. This report covers the period up to December 15th. It is prepared on the basis of the information we have when we prepare the report up to December 15th. So as far as responsibility beyond that point and further additional information that might become available beyond that point, we would cover that in future reports.
As far as our view of the situation, I think we have made quite clear that we see a responsibility on the part of Chairman Arafat to exercise leadership. For example, in the Karine A affair, he himself recognized his responsibility as a leader, to stop that sort of importation of arms and to take action against it. We continue to look to him and other leaders of the Palestinian Authority to exercise their leadership, to exercise their authority and stop the violence, and that remains our position.
QUESTION: If I can just follow up on that, though, the report was released last week, some five months after the December 15 period. Are you saying that any information we would have gotten after December 15th was not used in the analysis to prepare this report covering that period?
MR. BOUCHER: Any information on actions that took place after December 15th, like the Karine A --
QUESTION: No, not actions that took place. What I'm saying -- yes.
MR. BOUCHER: -- would be covered in subsequent reports. You mean, if we got information in February of this year that related to something that happened in October of last year --
MR. BOUCHER: -- would we have included it? That really sort of depends on the process of preparation. I suppose if we had information during -- at the proper moment in the process of preparation that related clearly to something that happened before, that would have been used to evaluate what happened before. But I can't tell you the exact timeline of preparation. I don't think -- certainly if you're referring to the information the Israelis might have uncovered during their recent incursions, that wouldn't necessarily have been available in time to relate to events of last year in this report.
QUESTION: The weapons smuggling, by Israeli accounts, had begun before the ship was intercepted; it was an ongoing process. And the State Department has had lots to say about Palestinian complicity --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to get bureaucratic over the drafting of a particular report.
QUESTION: No, I'm just asking about the smuggling.
MR. BOUCHER: We have talked in great abundance about the Karine A affair, about the importance of the affair, about the involvement of Palestinian officials, officials within the Palestinian Authority in that matter, in that attempt to smuggle weapons, and about the need for the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Authority to take concerted action to not only punish those responsible, but to make sure this doesn't occur again.
So I'm not trying to plead some bureaucratic cutoff. The fact is, this report does cover a particular period, but we have made no secret of our views on the importation of weapons in the Karine A.
QUESTION: Richard, is there any procedure to update Congress in the event that new information changes the conclusions drawn in that report?
MR. BOUCHER: There is, first of all, the regular reporting cycle that we can use to update Congress. But since we talk to people on the Hill all the time -- the Secretary himself goes up to testify, is asked questions about responsibility at that moment, and he answers them. So whether it's in our private consultations with Members of Congress, or in public testimony, or in our reporting to Congress, yes, we do update Congress on our current views of these situations.
QUESTION: What is the usefulness of these reports that cover a period of over -- it started about a year -- was it June 15h to December 15th? And, I mean, there are events that have happened more recently, there are events that you're trying to prevent, there are events that you've been calling on the Palestinians to take more action about. Do you think that there should be a more real-time reporting, rather than a six-month --
MR. BOUCHER: There's a real-time reporting here every single day.
QUESTION: Then what's the use -- I'm just -- what's the --
MR. BOUCHER: We are asked by Congress to present a comprehensive report on these time periods, and we do that. The usefulness is to be determined by Congress. They ask us for the report, and we report to the Congress.
We don't put out these reports to make news. We put out these reports because the Congress wants to know. In terms of reporting on the facts of the matter and the situation of responsibility and leadership in the Middle East, we report to you every day, at great length sometimes, on where these things currently stand as of this moment.
QUESTION: So is there anything -- you're dealing with a current situation right now.
MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely.
QUESTION: So what I'm -- my question to you is, is there anything in these reports that you're reporting on a year ago that is going to change how you're dealing with things that are going on on the ground right now?
MR. BOUCHER: We report to the Congress. You guys decide if we've made news or not. I'm not pretending that we're --
QUESTION: I'm not talking about making news or anything like that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, if you want to know what our current policy is, what the current situation is, and what our current evaluation is, you come and ask us questions and we answer them. So that's -- yes, that is more up to date than what's in these reports.
QUESTION: Well, I still have some on the Middle East. Did you see the story in The New York Times over the weekend about new information that Israel has released regarding their crackdown on Jewish militants in the West Bank, and their plans to foil a plot to bomb Palestinian kindergarten? And has this come up in any of the diplomacy on the Israeli side? Because one of these individuals, according to the report, was somebody who was recently let out of jail.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the story. I'll have to check on it.
QUESTION: There was a report this morning in the newspaper that says that the sanctions that were announced or imposed last week with the publication in the Federal Register -- there were 12 entities named in the Federal Register report, but this report this morning says that there were in fact 14 entities -- there were two other ones that were not listed. Can you confirm that?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a report that I read briefly this morning that quoted secret intelligence sources as saying what was in the Federal Register on Friday.
QUESTION: Well, it was Thursday, actually. Maybe it was on Friday --
MR. BOUCHER: Thursday, or whenever it was. I'll get out -- hang on a sec -- do I have that? The total number of entities under sanctions under the act, I think was 14. I don't have a list with me today, but I'll double-check on that. That may be the subject of the confusion.
QUESTION: Can I ask another brief one? I should have asked this last week, and I apologize for forgetting and not doing it. But when the Secretary was in Iceland, did the subject of whales come up with Icelandic officials?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it did.
QUESTION: Okay. And why then -- I was curious to read in the transcript of the remarks of the Secretary and the Icelandic Foreign Minister that they both talked about how wonderful the relationship was and how they were going to -- basically they were very strong and no problems. In fact, it looks like the whale thing is a problem. Did -- what did the Secretary say to the Icelanders about their position on rejoining the IWC?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me get you something in more detail and more precise on that than I can make up off the top of my head.
QUESTION: On Sri Lanka. Richard, the Secretary recommends to President Bush about who
-- which leader should visit the United States or which should not, like we have seen so many prime ministers and presidents, but not the Sri Lankan President (inaudible) New York at the United Nations. And she said that she tried to call the Administration, but she was told twice last year and this year that it was too late. So what I'm asking is that why she has not been here, because the United States is fighting -- Sri Lanka is fighting terrorism along with --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid, given the President's schedule and the many things that he has to do, that any given moment it is not possible to receive all the visitors with whom we may have good and important relationships. So I just can't say that you can take the fact of a particular visitor not as an indicator of the relationship.
QUESTION: International aid workers have been arrested in Area A and brought into Israel, where they were interrogated, held, detained. Incidentally, the Americans are held and detained. There are five of them still in detention, while all of the other nationalities have been released -- the Italian, Norwegian, British. Would you care to comment on that transfer from Area A into Israel, which seems to be a violation of the Geneva Convention; and secondly, your track record, as compared to the British and Italians, in getting them released?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm prepared to comment at this moment. We do whatever we can for the sake of Americans who may be in custody, and we do try to make sure that they're treated fairly. So beyond that I don't think I have anything more to say at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you.
Released on May 20, 2002