State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 6, 2002
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
June 6, 2002
1-3 Assistant Secretary
Burns’ Meeting with Libyan and British Officials
1-2 Libyan Offer of Compensation to the Lockerbie Families
2-3 Bilateral- and United Nations-Imposed Sanctions
3 Weapons of Mass Destruction
4 Deputy Secretary Armitage’s Meetings with Senior
Indian and Pakistani Officials
5 U.S. Travel Warnings for India and Pakistan
5-6 Line of Control Border Security
6-7 Mexican Water Debt
7-9 OAS Support for Venezuelan National Dialogue
11 U.S. Engagement with Israeli and Palestinian Officials
12 U.S. Response to Recent Suicide Bombing Attacks
16 Palestinian Security Reform
18 Whether Israel Should Negotiate with Chairman Arafat
20 U.S. Position on Settlements
13 Visit of Syrian Foreign Minister
Nationality of Suspected Mastermind of September 11 Attacks
14 Fingerprinting of Foreign Nationals
15-16 Secretary Powell’s Planned Speech to the Asia Society
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT
16 Reaction of Russia and Turkey
17 Allegations Against Research by U.S. Universities
17 Secretary Powell’s Meeting with Croatian Prime Minister
Department Role in Immigration Issues
19 Visa Issuance Requirements
19-20 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Meetings with Greek and Turkish Officials
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements today, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
Gentleman in the plaid shirt.
QUESTION: Could we go to the meeting in London with Secretary Burns and the Libyans and the British, which I assume has taken place by now?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that's why you can't go there. But I can tell you about it. Officials from the United States and the United Kingdom, including our Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Mr. Bill Burns, held discussions with a group of Libyan officials in London today, Thursday, June 6th.
This is a continuation of a series of meetings; the last one was held on January 10th. The United States and the United Kingdom have held a number of meetings with Libya since the Lockerbie incident. In these meetings, as we did today, we discussed the Libyan response to the requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions on Lockerbie, and the constructive atmosphere of previous meetings was continued in the meeting today.
As in the previous trilateral meetings, Assistant Secretary Burns pressed Libya to comply with UN Security Council resolution requirements related to Pan Am 103. Payment of appropriate compensation is one of these requirements. Libya must also comply with the other requirements, including accepting responsibility before UN sanctions can be lifted.
QUESTION: Is that it?
MR. BOUCHER: Elise.
QUESTION: Does this offer about paying compensation that the Libyans reportedly made comply with the requirement?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, that -- at present, whatever offer there may be from the Libyan side is in the hands of the lawyers and the families. They'll have to determine whether it's acceptable to them, whether it satisfies their concerns. They, we also know, are concerned about the broader picture and some of the other issues that we're working on more directly right now.
Their acceptance of some offer of compensation would be a significant factor in our consideration of whether Libya had met that requirement. But at this point it's in their hands first to decide for themselves whether this is acceptable and satisfactory to them.
QUESTION: Is that at least confirmation that the Libyans did make this offer, which was somewhat under question?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it is somewhat in question. I believe there have been lawyers that have said it was made. So at this point I'd leave it to the lawyers to describe any offer, if there is a --
QUESTION: Is that not something Secretary Burns would have discussed with them, though? And you just can't tell us? Or is he even interested in firming that up?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm not interested and I'm not able to go into any more detail on these particular discussions, except to say that in these discussions, we made quite clear to the Libyans that they need to satisfy all the requirements of the United Nations; compensation is one of them. So it is logical that we do therefore make sure that they understand the need to satisfy the needs on compensation.
QUESTION: Just two quick questions. If you could run down, considering that UN sanctions aren't really in effect, what would the lifting of those sanctions mean for US policy, and did you discuss also things that Libya would need to do to get off of our list of state sponsors and sanctions against them?
MR. BOUCHER: These meetings are about satisfying the UN requirements. So what we discussed in these meetings was satisfying the UN requirements in the resolution, and I'd have to go back to the resolution to tell you exactly which sanctions there are in there, and then you know that, I think, after cooperation with the trial started, that those revisions were suspended.
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of our own bilateral sanctions on Libya, we made clear a number of things, first of all that these lifting -- satisfaction of the UN requirements is necessary before we can consider what we might do about our own sanctions. But meeting the UN requirements is not sufficient to demonstrate that Libya has ended any connection or support for terrorism.
Second of all, we have also made clear that Libya needs first and foremost to satisfy the UN requirements before any kind of detailed discussion of bilateral issues could ensue.
QUESTION: So when you -- there's no deep discussion of bilateral issues, because they haven't dealt with the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. They have to satisfy the UN requirements first before we could even get into any detailed discussion of our bilateral issues, although clearly they know from our publications, from our statements and elsewhere, and we do make clear in private what we've said in public, which is you need to end support for terrorism. And we've described, as you know, in the Terrorism Report and elsewhere the kind of things that we've seen them doing that we think they should stop, or the kind of remnants of support that we think should stop.
QUESTION: Just one more. I'm sorry. Does the weapons of mass destruction issue enter into this?
MR. BOUCHER: Weapons of mass destruction is one of our serious concerns with regard to Libya. It's a concern that we've made clear in public, that Libya's attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and missile capabilities, what they're doing in this regard is well documented in the various CIA reports, the 721 Report that they send periodically to the Congress. And so, as I said, we reiterate in private the same kind of concerns on these issues that we've said in public. But these discussions in London are about the UN -- satisfying the UN requirements.
Now it's Elaine's turn for her six questions.
QUESTION: I have two. The first one is, Secretary Powell said that he was waiting to see more details before he could draw any more conclusions about the offer. Has he?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't think we have any more conclusions about the offer because -- well, we'll see if Assistant Secretary Burns has more to say when he comes back, but at this point I think we're leaving it in the hands of the lawyers and the families.
QUESTION: Okay. On another point, your British counterpart used the dangerous "progress" word in his remarks, and I just wondered, could you say at least whether you're farther -- you're closer to the Libyans making some kind of public renunciation of terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: I think ultimately one needs to ask that question of the Libyans, about when and how they would satisfy these conditions. We described the meeting as constructive. I think we feel that these kind of meetings, clarifying the needs and clarifying what they need to do and what they might do, are important. But ultimately they have to do it, and so what we're looking for is for Libya to satisfy these requirements. I'll just leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: Richard, is Secretary Burns going to meet with the families tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard of any meetings set up, although we frequently do meet with the families, particularly after these consultations. So I'll double-check for you to see if there is any meeting.
QUESTION: Yes. I was just going to follow up, but there's probably no point.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Sir?
QUESTION: Richard, yesterday you issued and the State Department issued new warning on India and Pakistan, but on one side you are discussing or Mr. Armitage in the region, and on the other hand you are asking Americans to leave -- a strong warning and leave gently the area. That means you feel that after these two great leaders come back from the region, you think war is imminent between the two countries?
MR. BOUCHER: No. We made quite clear, I think, in our statements, and the Secretary made quite clear in his statement yesterday when he was asked about this on Capitol Hill, that the situation does remain very tense, that there are elements of progress, some marginal progress that can be recorded. And I think today that is described by Mr. Armitage after his meetings in Pakistan, that he says he's got a very good basis to go work in India now on the issues. So he is trying to move forward, trying to take steps to ease the tension.
As you know, President Musharraf has indicated he is stopping all activity across the line of control, all infiltration across the line of control, and he has reiterated to us that he intends to do that on a permanent basis. So that is important, and we will continue to work on this and on the verifying, confirming that that's taking place, and then looking for the reciprocal actions. So we are indeed working, and Deputy Secretary Armitage is right in the center of this right now, working to defuse the tensions, working to ease the tensions.
But even while that is going on, the tensions continue. It's still at -- the Deputy Secretary described it as quite a complicated and quite volatile situation. So even as that is going on, the situation remains volatile, the danger continues, and our advice to Americans continues. And we are indeed strongly encouraging our own people to take advantage of the opportunities created by the voluntary departure in India.
So on the one hand you have a very tense situation that means that we strongly urge our own people and other Americans to depart; at the same time, we are in there, Deputy Secretary Armitage is in there trying to make it better.
QUESTION: Home Minister of India Mr. Advani said that if the international community, including the US, fails to stop terrorism from Pakistan, or General Musharraf doesn't stop, then India will not leave it any option but a military option. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a comment on everything that's said. I would say that what we're working on with President Musharraf, and then tomorrow with the meetings that the Deputy Secretary will have in India, is to confirm that cessation, permanent cessation of activity across the line of control that President Musharraf has talked about and that he has pledged; and that in that case, we look to India to take reciprocal steps.
So we think it's important for both sides to look at how to do that, how to deescalate the tensions, how to ease off the confrontation rather than starting to plan for other alternatives, which are not in anyone's interest.
QUESTION: I'm sorry, one more. Last night Jim Lehrer show --
MR. BOUCHER: I guess we can go individual by individual and let everybody ask all their questions.
QUESTION: Last night on Jim Lehrer show, both ambassadors from India and Pakistan appeared, and she said that Pakistan is fighting terrorism, and is with the United States. But the Indian ambassador said that there is no proof, and that terrorism is still continuing, and there are about 75 terrorist camps inside Kashmir -- Pakistan's Kashmir -- and 3,000 to 4,000 terrorists, al-Qaidas are still under training going in Pakistan.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you for the comment. Elise?
QUESTION: Do you have any comments on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: I have --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's let somebody else --
QUESTION: I mean, same subject.
QUESTION: I have two questions on India and Pakistan. If you're strongly urging US personnel to depart, and you think it's such a good idea that they leave, why are you not telling them or doing an ordered departure, if the advice that you're giving them is that they should leave, rather than make it voluntary?
And also, on the -- there's been a lot of talk about possible joint patrols on the line of control with India and Pakistan. Is this something that the US is advocating, and do you think it's a good idea?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as the second part of that, the suggestion of joint patrols, I don't really have anything to say at this moment. As you know, we have not gone into much detail about the various ideas and subjects under discussion. And in order to let the Deputy Secretary do his work, I don't expect to go beyond what he feels comfortable saying himself, and he hasn't talked about it.
As far as the issue of when do you strongly urge and encourage, and when do you actually order people out, at this stage, we give our advice and encouragements to our employees and to others. We feel that people have to know what our basic view is of the situation, but leave some room for them to make their own decisions based on their own circumstances. If the situation were to become so critical that we don't want individuals to make their own decisions, then we would step up our category -- our status to ordering the people to leave that we felt had to leave.
QUESTION: Well, does the difference boil down to the fact that Americans were specifically targeted in Pakistan, and that hasn't yet happened in India?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, the ordered departure from Pakistan came because of the terrorist attacks, the attack at the church. And yes, that is one difference between the two circumstances. So in Pakistan you have the additional danger of the terrorism that's been there, in addition to the tensions that exist between India and Pakistan.
QUESTION: If I could dig in a little more, please, on when the time is right to ask India for reciprocity. You said you have to confirm that the infiltration has stopped. Now, the Secretary has also said he doesn't want to see a stop-and-go situation. So is one stop enough?
And what about my good friend's question there about other extremist actions: Must they cease those too, or is it sufficient to -- it sounds like we're talking about the Middle East, doesn't it? -- is it sufficient to stop terrorist activities for a few hours to tell India to pull thousands of troops from the border? Or do you need to see more things from Pakistan, and have you seen them yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made absolutely clear -- I did today, the Secretary did late last week, and President Musharraf has made clear -- that ceasing infiltration across the line of control needs to be an action that is permanent, that his basic policy decision that there won't be this kind of support and activity. He has made clear repeatedly that there won't be any support from Pakistani-controlled territory for terrorist activity. And so what we're talking to him about is how to make that effective, and in some ways how to make that evident to all of us that that kind of activity has ceased.
As far as what specific steps might be necessary to achieve that objective, I think that's where I'll kind of cut off and say I leave that to the Deputy Secretary and others to discuss at the appropriate time and President Musharraf to discuss at the appropriate time what he might be doing specifically to achieve his objective.
But the goal, and the goal that affects the relationship and the situation in Kashmir, is to stop that infiltration across the line on a permanent basis. And as that becomes clear, as that becomes evident, we would look to the Indians to reciprocate.
Different topic? No. Elaine?
QUESTION: Also on the question of patrols, I know you don't want to talk about it, but could you address a London independent article which specifically states that you are you are putting a UK-US patrol in Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't address that sort of question at this stage.
More on this, or can he change? Okay, go ahead and change.
QUESTION: The water dispute with Mexico. There are meetings happening today at this building. Can you tell us what is the situation of these meetings? There is obviously a lot of disagreements within the Mexican Government if they need to pay or not the US water that is needed in Texas, for example.
MR. BOUCHER: The first thing I think, to remind you, is this remains a very important issue for both countries and for people along the border in both countries, and it's something that we regularly discuss at the highest levels. If I remember correctly, in the meeting that the Secretary had in Barbados with the Mexican Foreign Minister, the first words said from our side were, "Water, water, water," and the first words said from his side were, "Water, water, water."
QUESTION: Agua, agua, agua?
MR. BOUCHER: Agua, agua, agua. Yes. So it's an important issue for both of us, and one that the two governments are trying to work with to satisfy the needs that we have of both sides, and especially the needs of the people who live in these areas of our countries.
Today we have a Mexican delegation headed by President Fox's Chief of Public Policy Dr.
Eduardo Sojo and Deputy Foreign Minister Enrique Berruga meeting at the State Department with Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich and representatives from a variety of US Government agencies. This meeting continues discussions between both countries in recent weeks over Mexico's intentions to begin water deliveries to the United States under the terms of the 1944 Waters Treaty. This is a high priority for the United States, and we will continue to work with Mexico to develop an acceptable solution to the outstanding water debt.
So that's where I would leave it for the moment. These meetings are happening today.
QUESTION: The US Government is confident that the Mexican authorities are going to pay? There are Members of Congress on this side of the border saying that the Mexican authorities in the border states are protecting their own people who works in agricultural camps, and they are hiding water, according to some US congressmen -- (laughter) -- I know, it is so funny, but it is a dispute of water, of agua, as you said.
But are you confident that President Fox is going to fulfill with the treaty, pay the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: I think as we have these meetings today, as we try to work out the solutions to make sure that we do resolve the issue of Mexico's debt, water debt, you'll have to first ask the Mexicans what their intentions are. But more than that, let's let these meetings happen. We're trying to find a solution to this issue. To us it remains a very important issue that this water debt be paid, that we work out a formula for doing that, and that's what we're trying to do.
QUESTION: In Venezuela, the government there is asking President Carter to come down and help mediate a dispute, and I remember in a backgrounder we were told that the OAS was going to very strongly urge the Venezuelans to accept OAS help in easing the turmoil that's down there right now.
Can you give us any update on whether that went anywhere at the OAS summit, and what you think of Carter going down to do it?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard about the request for President Carter. The Venezuelans have talked about a national dialogue at the OAS with the other members, I think. I don't remember the exact language in the statement, but that's publicly available. We made clear that the OAS members were ready to help with that national dialogue. Of course Venezuela has to decide to go ahead with that to make it productive and to use the services of the OAS to try to make that happen.
But at this point, I think it's up to the Venezuelans how they proceed on that. Of course, as I mentioned, the OAS thinks -- has said before the national dialogue is important, and second of all, that the OAS members were ready to help with it.
QUESTION: So it went nowhere, basically?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know, that's where we stand. You'd have to ask the Venezuelans what their reaction will be.
QUESTION: At Barbados, have you given any evaluation of that conference in terms of the acceptance of the Democratic Charter? I ask this because the Venezuelans are claiming that the fact that they failed to qualify what happened down there in April as a golpe de estado, in other words an illegal uprising, means that somehow they came out ahead on this. I thought quite the contrary would be true.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to handicap the Venezuelan language without pointing you to exactly what the OAS has said on the subject, and I think that remains the best description of the events and of the willingness of the OAS to try to help with the problems of democracy in Venezuela. Overall we felt it was a very important and productive conference. We had 30 of the 34 members of the Organization be able to sign right away the Convention Against Terrorism and pledge themselves to making the region inhospitable to terrorists and their finances. The other countries joined the consensus in support of it, so it's just procedural that they didn't sign.
We had serious discussion with other members of the OAS about democracy in the hemisphere, including what we can do with Haiti, what the OAS is trying to do with Haiti to further democracy there, and what the OAS can do elsewhere in the hemisphere to support democracy.
So I think the support for democracy and the fight against terrorism were quite evident, and made very meaningful through the efforts of the conference.
QUESTION: May I ask you -- you may say thanks for the information, but there is an underground bulletin going around claiming to be for numerous members of the armed forces calling for an uprising as of this weekend, and for civil disobedience. Is the US Government aware of this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've seen that particular rumor, underground publication, letter or whatever it might be. What I would say is what we have said before, we have made clear publicly and privately that our support is for democracy and constitutional order, that we think the problems with Venezuelan democracy need to be fixed democratically. As I just said, I supported the idea of national dialogue. But we support democracy. And whichever side it may be under threat from we oppose.
QUESTION: Can we move on to the Middle East perhaps? I have several questions, since we're doing it person by person --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's try not to.
QUESTION: -- so I'll have my four questions. First of all, what is the current State Department view of the status of Chairman Arafat? Is he the elected leader of the Palestinian people?
MR. BOUCHER: Are you going to ask this question every day?
QUESTION: Well, we haven't asked it for about two weeks.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I have answered it every day, but yes, Chairman Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people. And we have made clear he needs to take the responsibilities of leadership, made clear -- continue to signal clearly that violence and terror are not the way the Palestinians can achieve their national aspirations. We look to Chairman Arafat and to other Palestinian leaders to do that on a continuing basis, and to make every effort to stop the violence.
QUESTION: Now, do you -- how do you see at the moment the correct phasing of reform of the Palestinian Authority and institutions, and --
MR. BOUCHER: If we're going to have to do a litany every day, I'll just reel off the numbers. One, two, three, four -- none of those policies have changed.
QUESTION: No, because -- since these things -- these questions have arisen again over the last 24 hours, and we -- sometimes we get different answers from different places.
MR. BOUCHER: You never get different answers from me, do you?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Okay, well, what's your line on this?
MR. BOUCHER: Jonathan, again, if we're doing the recitation here, I'll be glad to. But our view has been that reform of Palestinian institutions is an essential part of moving forward. It's an essential part of all areas -- security, economic rebuilding, reconstruction of Palestinian institutions in order to prepare for a Palestinian state, and even moving forward on the political process, and that these things reinforce each other and need to all proceed together.
QUESTION: Okay. Have you heard a proposal to hold a preliminary meeting of eminent persons in advance of the Middle East meeting, which the Quartet proposed?
MR. BOUCHER: The proposal -- where's this proposal supposedly come from?
QUESTION: I don't know -- it's coming around, it's floating around --
MR. BOUCHER: I personally hadn't heard about it, or had the chance to check on anything like that. So I don't have a response.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) this morning, the Spanish Foreign Minister said that there could be a Quartet meeting next week in Canada.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's different than what he just asked about.
QUESTION: Besides the G-8 meeting.
MR. BOUCHER: Three of the four members of the Quartet go to G-8 meetings. But I don't know of any specific plan. I'll have to check and see if there's any attempt to somehow organize the other quarter.
QUESTION: You haven't heard of a --
MR. BOUCHER: I personally had not heard of this, so I haven't asked any questions.
QUESTION: -- because the Quartet meeting, we know about that. But you haven't heard of this other proposal for an eminent persons meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment on it. I hadn't heard about it in advance, didn't have a chance to see if anybody around here has thought about it.
QUESTION: And what is the current status of preparations for the Middle East meeting proper?
MR. BOUCHER: Ministerial meeting this summer? No decisions about time, place, venue, agenda.
QUESTION: Do you share Mr. Solana's optimism, hopefulness --
MR. BOUCHER: Can everybody draw a number? And we'll just --
QUESTION: That it could take place in July? He says he was hopeful it could take place in July. Are you --
MR. BOUCHER: That's nice. We have made no decisions about time or venue.
MR. BOUCHER: Summer.
QUESTION: Also on the Middle East, did the Secretary talk to Prime Minister Sharon or Chairman Arafat last night? And did Chairman Arafat talk to any American officials as he was under attack?
MR. BOUCHER: We were in touch last night with both Israelis and Palestinians as this operation unfolded. Our Ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Kurtzer, and our Consul General, Consul General Schlicher, were in touch with both sides. Frankly, I don't know if Consul General Schlicher spoke directly to Chairman Arafat, but he certainly was in touch with Palestinian leaders and other people about the situation out there.
The Secretary himself was following it through our Bureau and through our representatives in the region, so he wasn't in direct contact himself with leaders out there.
QUESTION: What was the American message to the Israeli Government as this operation was unfolding?
MR. BOUCHER: The American message was what it's been in public, and that is that you need to think carefully about the consequences of this action; that's the message we've said to both sides, that it's essential that they consider the consequences of any actions that they might take, that you need to do all you can to create and sustain an environment in which progress can be made in restoring calm and avoiding further escalation.
As you know, Israel had previously made clear that it was not their intention to harm Chairman Arafat or to go after him directly. As we were in touch with them during the operation, we reconfirmed, or they reconfirmed to us that that remained their intention, not to harm Chairman Arafat directly. And indeed that's what happened.
QUESTION: Just to follow up, do you have any reaction to reports that in fact there was damage to Chairman Arafat's compound right in the vicinity of his bedroom?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- we're not in a position to either confirm or comment on some particular shell.
QUESTION: Yesterday's suicide bombing and last night's incursion, does that raise the stakes again? Do you feel as if you're -- this window that might have partially been opened is now slamming shut again, and the moment is in jeopardy to try to find a diplomatic solution?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the violence, particularly the horrible bombings, is deeply troubling, and that we have been very troubled by the continuation of the violence and the acts of terror in the region. That's why we have kept in touch with the parties; that's why we have asked the parties to do everything possible to stop the violence, particularly Chairman Arafat, to continue to speak out clearly and take steps. He and other Palestinian leaders have a responsibility for leadership, and we expect to see them exercise that.
But also, I would say it's our view that it's now as clear as ever that progress needs to be made on all three aspects of the strategy that we have described: progress needs to be made on the security reforms so that there can be a responsible Palestinian partner on the security side; progress needs to be made on serious political negotiations; and progress needs to be made on the reform of Palestinian institutions in anticipation of future statehood.
So really, getting a lasting end to the violence, getting a lasting end to -- lasting progress to establishing two states living side by side, that requires progress on all these fronts, and that remains our intention.
QUESTION: Today, Foreign Minister Peres said that -- and it was reported in a lot of Israeli newspapers and on television -- that the US is shaping up a diplomatic initiative to include a tradeoff of Israelis will give up all settlements in exchange for the Palestinians giving up the right of return for refugees.
Has the US notified Foreign Minister Peres of such an initiative? Are you putting together ideas for a final status deal?
And also, in terms of the reform of the security service that you just said is needed, do you think that there needs to be a change on the ground for Palestinians before any kind of meaningful change can happen with security services and stopping the violence?
MR. BOUCHER: All right, I'll pick the -- there are three parts of that. I'll pick the one I want to answer.
The issue of reform of the Palestinian security services, I think we've made clear that there needs to be, as I said, a responsible Palestinian security service, a service that can control terrorism in Palestinian areas, that can take the responsibility there for stopping the violence, and that can cooperate with the Israelis to achieve better security for both parties. That's what Director of Central Intelligence Tenet was just out there to talk about.
And I think at this point I'll say he was out there, we're working on it, but he just got back and he will -- of course he and Assistant Secretary Burns, having completed their mission, will come back, will be back here for the discussions with President Mubarak over the weekend. And we all look forward to having a chance to hear from them about the results of their visit.
As far as stories out there or quotes out there from any particular person about what the United States might be planning or have in mind, at this point I'd just have to say we're listening, we're sharing ideas, we are discussing with others and look forward to our discussions this weekend with President Mubarak and Prime Minister Sharon on Monday about how we can proceed.
QUESTION: I mean, it's one thing to not comment on what someone says, but he's putting out -- he's putting a name to a US initiative.
MR. BOUCHER: I have plenty of people that have said what our initiative is, but until we say it I wouldn't take it to the bank.
QUESTION: He's the foreign minister of one of the countries involved.
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: Well, I'm just saying he's a pretty good source.
MR. BOUCHER: Good observation. Well, as I said, you know, when you hear it from me, you'll know it's for sure.
QUESTION: Do you have an answer yet on my question about the Syrian Foreign Minister visiting?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing is scheduled at this point.
QUESTION: In fact, we understand that Mr. Arafat's bedroom was quite seriously damaged. Why were you so confident that they weren't going to kill him?
MR. BOUCHER: I said that the Israelis reconfirmed to us that they didn't intend to harm him. We obviously watch the particulars of the situation closely, but as I said to your colleague, I'm not exactly in a position to confirm the whereabouts of a specific shell.
QUESTION: Do you think they might be (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: You can do that. You can speculate. I'm not a journalist.
QUESTION: The US press and media have alleged that the master -- the suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is a Kuwaiti national. It has been splattered all over the media and press. And while the Kuwaitis have been pretty clear on this, the Information Minister has issued a statement saying that he's not a Kuwaiti national, he was a Kuwaiti- born, he lived in Kuwait, but he left years ago. What is the US official position on the Khalid Mohammed?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- first of all, I don't have anything to say about the investigation and the information we may have. And second of all, I don't think the US Government is in a position to say who is a national --
QUESTION: -- his nationality --
MR. BOUCHER: I would leave it to the Kuwaiti Government to describe whether or not any given person is a Kuwaiti citizen. That's normally how it works.
QUESTION: Justice Department announcement yesterday on the fingerprint and polygraphs for some foreign nationals getting to the border. Secretary Ashcroft said that no country is totally exempt. Does this building agree with him?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: And are you happy that that might be applied to what you call friends and allies?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's try to do this carefully. First of all, there is legislation that requires the Immigration Service to set up an entry and exit program. So essentially we, like many countries, want to know who's coming in, whether they're going to do what they said they intended to do, and when they leave. And the Congress has required us to set up a program like that.
As you are familiar with traveling around the world, in many countries you have to register with the immigration authorities very frequently or periodically; you have to carry passports. There's more careful tracking, in fact, than there is in the United States. And for the sake of the security of Americans, we believe it's important for the United States to have some kind of system that tracks the entry and exits of people, whatever their nationality.
In terms of this initial program, the people will be identified on the basis of a number of characteristics that will be modified over time, depending on law enforcement or other information, and we will seek to register those individuals. The indicators will come from our knowledge of law enforcement and intelligence to determine who is subject to this process.
But yes, there is a law, in fact, that says that eventually all visitors need to be tracked coming in and going out and having some idea of where they go. And how we do that is still the subject of discussion.
QUESTION: What do you say about allegations that that is specifically targeting people from Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, there are a number of parameters that will have to be used. We have not, in fact, worked out all the details of the procedures, and there are certain aspects of the system that are still under discussion between us in our visa function and the Immigration Service in their function of domestic aspects.
But certainly there is no nationality that is exempt, and we will look for various kinds of indicators and use different parameters to try to ascertain who needs to be subject to this particular program.
QUESTION: Same subject? Do you know what these indicators are?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, to a great extent they will come from law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But second of all, not everything is worked out yet.
QUESTION: Back to the Middle East. Does the Secretary -- has the Secretary scheduled a public speech on Middle East policy for anytime in the next two weeks?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have announced. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I know, that's why I'm asking. If you had announced it, I wouldn't be asking, would I?
MR. BOUCHER: You might. You've asked me four things already that I have announced ten times. You never know, Jonathan.
QUESTION: Is there --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you want me to repeat something I've said before? I'm glad to. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Is there a speech to the Asia Society?
MR. BOUCHER: He has a speech on Monday to the Asia Society in New York.
QUESTION: What will the subject of that be?
MR. BOUCHER: Asia. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, Asia includes -- Asia's a big place; it includes large parts of --
MR. BOUCHER: It is. It's a very big place. This is a speech that the Secretary wanted to do actually last fall, that we were going to do while we were at the United Nations. But given the events of September 11th --
MR. BOUCHER: There were three or four, two or three we were going to do that week.
QUESTION: What's it about?
MR. BOUCHER: It's about our -- I would say it's a comprehensive look at our policy in Asia.
QUESTION: Asia meaning?
MR. BOUCHER: Would be the way I describe it.
QUESTION: East Asia? Or --
QUESTION: South Asia?
MR. BOUCHER: The lands west of California. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Richard, can I go back to the issue of Palestinian security reform for a sec? Arafat made a bunch of proposals, ideas, whatever you want to call them, to Tenet. I'm just wondering whether the US Government thinks those are useful, the kind of thing that you would like to see. Because there's some reporting that they're really halfhearted kind of reforms.
MR. BOUCHER: I really have to say that the Director of Central Intelligence is back from his trip. The President and Secretary Powell I'm sure will talk to him about his visit and about what he discussed and accomplished, and as they consider how to move forward further. I don't have any assessments at this point of specific ideas or programs that might be used.
QUESTION: I have a question on the reaction to the trafficking report yesterday. Russia has said that the information about it is untrue, complains that there is no figures given. And Turkey says it will protest formally. Can you tell me if they've done that?
And also, do you know if included in the report, or at least in the gathering, were complaints that US military soldiers have been caught on tape, even by local television, contributing to prostitution of South Korean women? I believe there's a letter written by some lawmakers at least to Rumsfeld about this. I don't (inaudible) had gone to Powell.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of -- I mean, I think the first answer is that every piece of information is considered, and by no means do we countenance trafficking or any involvement by any Americans. That's why, as we described yesterday, we have new laws, we have new efforts, we have the new reporting on it. Whether this particular instance was part of the mix I'll just have to check. I don't know if we mentioned it or not.
In terms of the reaction, I guess I'd say a couple things. First, we're always looking for more information, and any more factual information, better information the governments can provide to us is always welcome. As I think we noted, we worked with many people last year through the course of the report to receive more information on their efforts and what they intended to do, and then confirmation that they had done it. So we'll look for that kind of information this year as well.
QUESTION: Any demarches following the release --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if the Turks approached us on this, but I guess I'd have to check. But you might check with them as well.
QUESTION: Richard, on the report, a lot of activists that follow this and try to help trafficking victims say that the system is skewed, that some of the countries that have the worst trafficking problems -- they single out India and Thailand as having the worst problems -- but yet again they're not a Tier 3 country, and have no incentive really to try and improve their problem, because the US isn't imposing any kind of --
MR. BOUCHER: I have to say that's the same question that you asked yesterday to the experts, and the experts told you in quite a lot of detail exactly why they were in Tier 2, and exactly what these governments have been doing. Standards in law are quite clear, and I think the facts as we presented them yesterday are clear as well.
QUESTION: I have two quick ones. First, do you have any comment on a piece on the International Herald Tribune regarding research being done by American universities on Romanian children?
MR. BOUCHER: Do I? No, I don't -- yes, I do. How about that. Okay, this is Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.
MR. BOUCHER: That very same. So we've seen these public statements by Baroness Nicholson, and we're puzzled by them. The Baroness was in Washington on May 29th for meetings with the Department and US Government officials regarding child welfare and adoption issues in Romania. She never raised this matter with us.
Three reputable American universities -- Tulane, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota -- are leading the research being conducted in Romania, with support from the MacArthur Foundation. In addition to the vetting and pier review process of these institutions, the research in question was also reviewed and approved by the Romanian Government. For further information about the studies, obviously the University researchers can -- and the MacArthur Foundation can help you, and I think it's described on their respective websites, if you want to get it there.
QUESTION: Quickly on Croatia, do you have anything, apart from how nice he's here, to say about the Prime Minister's visit?
MR. BOUCHER: The meeting with the Croatian Prime Minister is this afternoon. We expect, first of all, to thank the Prime Minister of Croatia's support on the war against terrorism. We will welcome Croatia's aspiration to NATO membership and Croatia's participation in NATO's Membership Action Plan. We also would expect to note the Croatian Government's progress on resolving post-war issues and express support for Croatia's continued progress in cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. And finally, we encourage the Prime Minister to pursue vigorously refugee returns, as well as the full normalization of relations with Croatia's neighbors.
So that's generally what we expect to come up. If you're interested, we can get you a more complete readout afterwards.
QUESTION: Two questions following up on my colleagues. First, on -- would you like them all at once or --
MR. BOUCHER: On what?
QUESTION: Two questions; would you like them one at a time?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Either that, or I'll pick which one I like best.
QUESTION: On Arafat, the White House Spokesman said yesterday that Arafat had never shown himself to be someone who could be trusted or who is reliable. Given that as an expression of American policy, how can the United States ask the Government of Israel to negotiate with Arafat?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we have repeatedly called on Chairman Arafat, and other Palestinian leaders, to stand up and take their responsibility and exercise their authority. So while we've expressed frequently our disappointment in the past with their failure to do these things, and particularly Chairman Arafat's failure to do these things, that doesn't make it any less necessary that he step up to the plate and carry out his responsibility.
And second of all, we have made quite clear that we do believe that these processes need to proceed together, reform and more responsible Palestinian institutions as part of moving forward. So we think we can move forward on these things if the Palestinian leaders and particularly Chairman Arafat are prepared to do so.
QUESTION: Should Israel negotiate?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have ever actually quite phrased it that way. We know that Palestinians and Israelis need to negotiate with each other to solve these questions. We know that Chairman Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian Authority. But you're kind of asking a question about the guest list for a meeting or a negotiation, and at this point we haven't tried to specify individual participants.
But I don't want to detract in any way from our sense that Chairman Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people, and he and other leaders need to lead.
QUESTION: He was asking should they negotiate with Arafat as the leader of the Palestinian -- that's not a guest list question; that's US policy, right? Israel should negotiate with Yasser Arafat?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, you're asking a particular individual at a particular negotiation. I mean, it's just -- does Israel need to deal with the leaders of the Palestinian Authority? Yes. Is Chairman Arafat the leader of the Palestinian Authority? Yes. What format, what level, what personnel will be at any negotiation that may happen, that's not a question I can answer at this point.
QUESTION: With changes apparently coming tonight with a new cabinet post for Homeland Security, will there be any changes with respect to either the State Department vis-à-vis what goes on overseas in monitoring people coming into the country?
And secondly, what about some of the students that were, let's say, in one country, yet are nationals of another country, decide to come here? Many people through the year had sort of used German -- what used to be East Germany, let's say, as a stop-off point, or other locales in Europe.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Two different questions. First of all, in terms of protecting the homeland and carrying out the needs for homeland security, I think I made clear on the new rules on registration of entry and exit, as well as on the new -- I want to say the new Department at this moment, in a day -- I think Ari did, right? We are fully prepared to do our part and to carry out what's necessary -- our necessary function in terms of protecting Americans. That's part of our visa function; it always has been, and we have made a lot of changes and improvements in doing that. So that remains a key part of our goal.
As far as the specifics of that, I'll leave it to the President tonight, and then we'll -- any follow-ups we'll deal with tomorrow.
As far as students going from one country to another, in the end they have to be qualified to enter into the United States, and they carry a passport and they're evaluated on the basis of visa regulations that are at once applied to all students, and second of all, that may apply to their specific nationality.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, in regard to that, it necessarily wouldn't be students, but once a third-party national is living in another country, they've been there a good length of time, is there going to be more -- let's say they wanted to come here, either business or whatever, is there going to be more of a -- without looking specifically at Islamic nationals --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't answer your question because frankly each visa request is evaluated on an individual basis, and all those factors come into play -- where do you live, what kind of residence do you have, what kind of ties do you have, or where are you from, where were you born -- a lot of things like that. And those factors will be considered; both already are considered as we do visas, but also be part of the decision on this initial registration program -- factors of gender or birth, of residence all come into play in deciding how to proceed with these programs.
QUESTION: Since the deadline of June 30th is approaching for a solution to the Cyprus problem, and what do you have, if anything, to report on the progress in the talks at this point, due to the fact that the Greece Government is very much involved in this process?
MR. BOUCHER: I think rather than comment on each particular day's discussions, I want to say that we do believe there's a real opportunity here to resolve this longstanding conflict to the benefit of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. We also agree with Secretary General Annan's statement during his visit to Cyprus 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.
We stand ready to continue our assistance to the UN Secretary General and his special advisor in this effort to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue.
Mark had a second question that he previewed, but I never answered. I'll let him do that.
QUESTION: Back in Jerusalem, the Secretary referred to the -- he spoke of the destructive impact of settlements. Earlier this week, the new settlements going up in Jerusalem were described as "not helpful," which seemed to be a far less --
MR. BOUCHER: That's been our position for quite a while.
QUESTION: It has? Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: So we stand by both of those statements.
Released on June 6, 2002