State Dept Daily Press Briefing for August 29 (1)
State Dept Daily Press Briefing for August 29 (1)
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
August 29, 2002
/ SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
1-2 US Participation in the World Summit on Sustainable
Development: Signature Partnerships and US Initiatives
2-4 US Development Assistance Aid Figures
4-5 UN Inspections
5-7, 10 Secretary Powell s Conversations with Foreign Leaders
8-9 Iraqi Opposition Conferences
8-9 Project on the Future of Iraq
9-11 General Zinni s Comments on Iraq
11-12 Discussions on Possible Regime Changes
12-13 Role of Weapons Inspections
14 United Nations Report on Freezing Al-Qaida Assets
14 Submission of additional names to United Nations List
15 Attacks on Local Journalists
15 Media Training and Outlets
15-16 November 17/ Meetings with FM Papandreou and Secretary
16-17 Release of Detainees
17 Union Carbide Incident
17 Bombing of Independent Radio Operation
17-18 Increasing Violence
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. If I can, I'd like to start off by highlighting some of the -- one of the things we're doing today in Johannesburg, and we'll get you more information in the forms of fact sheets and speeches that are made out there. But I think it's a fairly significant development in terms of our participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as an example of a kind of very practical, focused work the United States is doing to work with governments, to work with countries that are trying to develop, and with companies and partners in the NGO community to really attack the practical problems of development.
And we have announced today in Johannesburg what are called signature partnerships in four areas of water, energy, agriculture and forests. The Water for the Poor Initiative expands access to clean water and sanitation services, improves watershed management, increases the efficiency of water in industrial and agricultural activities. Under this initiative, we will invest $970 million over three years, which can leverage private resources to generate more than 1.6 billion for these activities worldwide.
The Clean Energy Initiative seeks to provide millions of people with new access to energy services, increase the efficiency of energy use, and significantly reduce readily preventable deaths and respiratory illnesses associated with motor vehicle and indoor air pollution. Under this initiative, we propose to invest some $43 million in 2003, to leverage about 400 million in investments from the US and other governments from the private sector and from development organizations.
An initiative to cut hunger in Africa, to spur technology-sharing for small-scale farmers, strengthen agricultural policy development, further higher education and regional technology collaboration, and expand resources for local infrastructure and transportation marketing and communications related to agriculture. The United States will invest $90 million in 2003, including 53 million to harness science and technology for African farmers, and $37 million to unleash the power of markets for smallholder agriculture.
Our "Congo Basin Forest Partnership" will promote economic development, alleviate poverty, improve governance and conserve natural resources in six Central African countries. That's Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo. We intend to invest up to $53 million over the next four years to support sustainable forest management and a network of national parks and protected areas, to assist local governments, matched by contributions from international environmental organizations, host governments, G-8 nations and the European Union and the private sector.
Once again, we are reaffirming the commitment of President Bush to help fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through financial and technical support for the Global Fund and the International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative. Our bilateral programs and research will contribute to this effort and the President has requested $1.2 billion in 2003 to combat these diseases internationally.
These partnerships are key elements in the new approach to development that President Bush has embraced with other leaders at the Monterrey conference in March, an approach based on shared accountability among developed and developing countries. They draw on the combined expertise, energy and enterprise of governments in developing and developed countries, of civil society, of business, of international organizations and others.
The United States is the world's leader in sustainable development. No nation has made a greater and more concrete contribution to sustainable development, and these initiatives today continue that. We'll give you a fact sheet on these initiatives, as well as some of the speeches out there. These are also available at our website on email@example.com/g/oes/sus/wssd.
So that's what is going on out in Johannesburg. This is a fairly significant day for us in terms of these announcements to really further the practical work of the conference.
QUESTION: A quick calculation shows that the numbers you gave us add up to, I think $1.19 billion, and then you also mentioned $1.2 billion. What's new money in this?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the numbers don't add up -- I mean, the numbers do add up, but you wouldn't be correct in just adding them up. Some of that is one-year money and some of it is three-year money. Remember, some of those things as I went through as an amount in 2003 that will have other amounts later. Some of it was an amount that we already know what we're going to spend over three years.
I think, you know, the only way I can approach this is to say that the President has already announced very significant increases in our official development assistance. As we went to Monterrey, he said that in addition to continuing the $10 billion or so that we spend on official development assistance, we would add $5 billion a year, building up to it over three years, in the form of the Millennium Challenge Account. So these are monies that will be within that budget that we have. These are monies that will be allocated to specific projects.
What's important about these projects is not just the specific amounts spent on an individual initiative, but the fact that they're designed and organized to work with companies, to work with NGOs, to work with the developing countries, and to work with other developed countries so that we leverage that whole thing and we get a big bang for the buck based on a contribution the US Government can make, but even more than that, the organization of partnerships that can really do something practical for people.
QUESTION: Richard, does this package require any changes in the 2003 budget request which already has been prepared?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: So there's basically no extra money in 2003?
MR. BOUCHER: If I can, I'll give you the same answer I just gave to him. It's a point that needs to be understood. We're going to commit money to important causes. That's a change. Allocating money to things that are important to do is a change from generally having money to do things.
Second of all, the ability to leverage all these other resources makes this a much bigger and more important step than just trying to add up numbers.
QUESTION: And another follow-up. Does any of this money come from the MCA and is it tied to good governance in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check on that.
QUESTION: Last week when these programs were outlined to us in some, but not as much, detail, there was a report at the time of that briefing by some senior officials, there was a report out there that emanated from the Hill as saying that the programs announced, to be announced in Johannesburg, would come close to about $4.5 billion. And these officials last week were asked if that figure was correct, and they said it was close to that.
Now, what you've just outlined is something significantly less. Can you explain why are the -- what's the --
MR. BOUCHER: Because there is more to say. These are sort of three or four of the key initiatives in key areas. If you look on the website, you'll find much more information on many other programs as well.
QUESTION: Well, are more initiatives like this going to be announced in the coming days in Johannesburg?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure they'll be talked about. I'm not sure if we have the same kind of announcements pending. But there is already a lot of information on other, 15 at least, other partnerships on the website.
QUESTION: Okay. And so what you're saying is that if we take all that stuff, then what you've just said --
MR. BOUCHER: No, what you're saying they said was if we take all that stuff it'll come close to $4.5 Billion. I haven't done the math myself. I have to check.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Iraq. Is the administration considering, even though it might not work, another effort through the United Nations to get inspectors admitted, as sort of an example of US interest and resolve?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have anything one way or the other on that at this moment. What I would say is we all need to be quite clear that Iraq is under very clear obligations from the UN Security Council. The Security Council has made clear repeatedly that Iraq needs to live up to those obligations. And that continues to be the case. If the Security Council decided to make that clear again at some point, it would be consistent with what we've done in the past. But I don't have any prediction one way or the other.
QUESTION: No, whether the US is actively trying to persuade the Security Council to make another effort, a renewed effort --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've proposed anything in the form of a resolution of anything like that up there now.
QUESTION: But you said the other day you're doing your utmost to get inspectors back, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's to make clear to Iraq they need to allow inspectors in and make sure that other members of the Security Council do so as well.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, what do you make, if anything, of the suggestion from Britain that perhaps a deadline should be given to Saddam for the return of inspectors? Would you be prepared to support such an initiative?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's first let the British Government decide. There was a statement from the Foreign Office, I think, that said that what I said first of all, that Iraq is already under UN Security Council obligations that they've accepted and have failed to implement; and second of all, they said that there was, I think, an MP's report suggesting a deadline be set, and they would consider that. So let's see what the British Government decides, if they want to go forward or not.
QUESTION: So you're not -- you don't -- you know, so they put this out there into play. You have no comment on it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the MPs have put it into play.
QUESTION: The British Government didn't put it into play --
MR. BOUCHER: The British Government said they would consider it.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay?
QUESTION: So you don't want to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to start commenting at this point. If the British Government has a proposal to make, I'm sure we'll hear from them.
QUESTION: You're worried that perhaps if you say something about it that might sway the Brits one way or another?
MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me on the idea, and I'm saying we haven't taken a position at this point on the idea of going back to the UN. And then you're asking me, well, what do you think about the British idea of going back to the UN, and I'm saying we haven't taken a position one way or the other on it. Let's see what the British do.
QUESTION: I sort of asked this type of question yesterday, but I just want to make sure. Inspectors or no inspectors, the policy of the United States is still to seek a regime -- so should the Iraqis allow inspectors in? The United States would still seek to end Saddam's reign of terror.
MR. BOUCHER: The only way to fundamentally solve the problem is through regime change. Inspectors can have a role in helping find things. Would there be, should there be, a regime in Iraq that's not trying to cheat and hide, but rather intends to come clean with the international community, inspectors would be more useful. But, you know, inspectors have a role either way, but the only way to really solve the problem is through regime change.
QUESTION: Richard, foreign governments continue to be alarmed, obviously with no good reason at all, including the French and others, the Saudis again in the last 24 hours. Has the Secretary been in touch with any of these governments to explain, reassure, calm them down?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has been in touch with five European foreign ministers that I can think of over the last 24 hours or so, talking about a number of issues. As you know, the Europeans have their own informal discussions scheduled over the weekend. We've been talking to them about issues like the International Criminal Court, assistance to Southern Africa, the rebuilding of Afghanistan, questions like that. Iraq comes up in most of those conversations. I know he's talked to Foreign Minister Straw, he's talked to the Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, he's talked to High Representative Solana. Foreign ministers, I'm trying to think. He's talked to Foreign Minister Fischer. I'm not completely sure whether he connected with Foreign Minister Villepin but they were trying to get in touch with each other.
QUESTION: And this is all in the last 24 hours?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't remember exactly when the Spanish Foreign Minister was. That may have been 36 hours or so. It was yesterday? Okay, we'll put that in the last 24 hours. The Spanish Foreign Minister, the British Foreign Secretary, the German Foreign Minister. I really apologize for not writing these down. I was thinking I would remember them. And he's trying to connect with the French Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: And Solana, that was two days ago?
MR. BOUCHER: Solana was two days ago, yes.
QUESTION: And that was part of the Solana, Patten --
MR. BOUCHER: Solana, Patten and Danish Foreign Minister Stig Moller.
QUESTION: Could you give us what the United States is asking? You know, when we spoke the other day about -- let's call it beating the war drums, you made the point there's no point in asking other countries to support a decision that hasn't been taken yet, so far as using force. It hasn't been taken, so we don't ask them to support something we haven't decided on.
But here's Armitage in Japan and he's on a campaign. And he won't give you a laundry list -- that's a phrase I never heard before -- of the countries that may have subscribed. But what are you asking countries, or are you simply laying out the problem? What is it you take up? What is it he and the Secretary are taking up with these countries so far as Iraq is concerned?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say it's taking up the fact that Iraq's defiance of the Security Council and development of weapons of mass destruction constitutes a danger that we have to deal with, and discussing with these countries how to deal with that.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just go back to the conversations with the foreign ministers? Also, the report this morning, which I'm sure you guys were all heartened by, the French were going to be mute and they weren't going to make any criticism of US policy towards Iraq. Within, you know, hours of the New York Times hitting the street this morning, President Chirac had told French ambassadors that this was -- that a unilateral and preemptive strike on Iraq would be a big mistake and it was hugely worrying to the French.
What do you make of that? Is that just, you know, well, a sovereign country can say what -- or an elected, democratically elected leader can say whatever they want? Is that -- does that concern you at all?
MR. BOUCHER: It's democracy.
QUESTION: Does that concern you at all?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we like democracy.
QUESTION: But it sure makes it harder to get a laundry list of countries that --
QUESTION: You like democracy, obviously, but what do you --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, do I have any comment on the fact that the French may have gone back on commitments they made to the New York Times? Is that what you're asking?
QUESTION: Well, yes. Do you have any comment on that? Because you won't comment on anything else. Maybe you can do that.
MR. BOUCHER: The fact that there is a lot of discussion and that there are a lot of questions that 10 to 15 minutes of every press conference in the world now seems to be devoted to the question of military action against Iraq is not a big surprise to us. As you know, this administration, the President, has said that these issues do need to be discussed. We intend to discuss them inside our own country, but as well with others, and that democratic governments around the world are having discussion and debate on these issues.
Is there a definitive moment of consultation and decision? No. But there's plenty of discussion around and there are plenty of questions and answers around. Does that surprise us? No.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I have one last one, then I'll be quiet on this? Does it signify anything that while the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, the Defense Secretary, the President himself, the Deputy Secretary of State, have all been making public comments about Iraq that Secretary Powell himself has not said anything about it, publicly at least? Does that mean anything?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, if it were true it probably wouldn't mean anything, but it doesn't mean anything. The fact is that the most of the interviews the Secretary has been doing recently have been about September 11th and won't air until around that date, but he has said plenty of comments. I can say that he's said to various people exactly what I've been saying to you, is Iraq is a danger that has to be dealt with. And there's no question of that.
But I would say, at the same time, the Secretary has been in close touch with the President, with his other colleagues in this administration, as they continue to discuss these issues, and the Secretary certainly is working with them on how to proceed.
QUESTION: Do you have anything yet on the possibility of an Iraqi opposition conference being held the 3rd and 4th?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I owe you an answer, and we are behind it.
QUESTION: Are you hosting it? Are you the sponsor? Are you setting it up?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, let me see how to describe it, if I can. A group of Iraqi oppositionists, intellectuals and independents will convene outside London on September 4th and 5th. This is the first meeting of the "Democratic Principles" Working Group and it's the fourth working group that we have convened as part of the first series of the working groups on the Future of Iraq project. There is intended to be six working groups in all to discuss the future of Iraq to bring together academics, intellectuals, representatives of various organizations to talk about how they can organize, how Iraq can be organized in the future in a post-Saddam future.
And this is the fourth in a series of six conferences and this one is being held in London and we are convening it.
QUESTION: Okay. A follow-up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: There's also a report out today saying the Iraqi opposition says it has support from the United States to form a government-in-exile and that there will be a conference, another conference in September, aimed at that that's already scheduled to be held in the Netherlands.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll check on the Netherlands. I'm trying to see if I have the next two.
QUESTION: But what about the point of the US Government supporting the formation of a true government-in-exile?
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly we're looking at regime change. We're looking at opportunities for representatives of the opposition in Iraq, for academics, for Iraqi exiles, individuals and others, to discuss the future of Iraq and how Iraq can be organized and operate as an independent country in the future. But let me just say that's the subject of the conferences that we're sponsoring. That's the subject of this project.
QUESTION: -- about specific backing at that meeting that was held with the six groups here at the State Department a couple weeks ago.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on it, if the Amsterdam meeting is part of this series and whether there is a specific agenda for that at this point.
QUESTION: Well, can you just answer, is the State Department willing to support the constellation of Iraqi opposition figures as a government-in-exile?
MR. BOUCHER: This project, this Future of Iraq project, is not designed to do that. It's not designed to select, either by us or by others, some government-in-exile. It's designed to give free Iraqis a voice in their future, to talk about their future and talk -- help organize their future. We certainly look forward to a day that Iraq has a new government that can live in peace with its neighbors and respect its own people. There are a large number of Iraqis outside Iraq and they need to discuss these issues. But I think just that's what we're doing now. That's the point we're at now. I wouldn't go farther than that right now.
QUESTION: Putting aside the Future of Iraq project, as I understand it, and I could be wrong, there is a separate process, which are these six opposition groups that you invited on August 9th to meet with Feith and Grossman. They are then discussing among themselves how to have a larger opposition conference outside of the Future of Iraq project, and as I understand it, not funded by the US Government.
Now, the report says that whatever they come up with in this conference would then be, or they have word from the US Government that they would then be supported as a government-in-exile. So my question to you is: Would you even consider supporting a group of opposition people outside of the Future of Iraq project as any kind of government-in-exile, as this report on the wire suggests?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not at that point now. We're not at the point in the terms of the Future of Iraq generally to say that it's time to create a government-in-exile.
QUESTION: Richard, I think I heard you say it's fourth in a series of six?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I only recall one previous conference, which was the --
MR. BOUCHER: Transitional Justice, July 9 and 10; Public Finance Working Group on August 7th and 8th; Public Outreach, the media training, right now, 27 to 30; the remaining two working groups are Public Health and Humanitarian Concern and Water, Agriculture and Environment. Now, there may be others in the future after that.
QUESTION: By any chance, did someone here take note of General Zinni's remarks? And I wondered if there is any --
MR. BOUCHER: I think everybody in this room did, and we talked about it yesterday. Maybe even the day before. I can't remember.
QUESTION: Is he still in the -- he's not really in the employ of the US Government, is he?
MR. BOUCHER: He's an unpaid senior advisor that we've used for security issues and Israeli-Palestinian things.
QUESTION: Was there a discussion yesterday of his notion that you shouldn't get the Arabs mad at you; you should do the Israeli-Palestinian thing first?
MR. BOUCHER: If a discussion is people asking all these same questions and my saying Zinni is a private citizen and he can say what he wants, then that's a discussion, yes.
QUESTION: Now, this may be the wrong place to ask, but that other place is sort of in motion. Is there anything State wants to say about consulting Congress, dealing with Congress on Iraq? Rumsfeld -- Senator Warner wants him to appear. There are efforts -- there is a move afoot to have hearings after Congress comes back.
Does Secretary Powell have a view that you could give us on to what extent and when Congress should be brought into play on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the White House has already given the administration's view. I'm sure that's Secretary Powell's view as well.
QUESTION: Because I'm a little confused about the view with -- I mean, it's coming from --
MR. BOUCHER: Then your reporters can ask at the White House.
QUESTION: -- the public affairs people, traveling public affairs people --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's not denigrate the credibility of public affairs people.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, that's true. Some are very good. But we get a chance every now and then to talk to the top person -- not lately -- so I thought maybe, you know, if this whole thing is part of this notion that Mr. Powell, with all due respect, is the voice that hasn't been heard much on this whole matter, I just can't help but feeling that --
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, I don't know, you may not have heard some things because you were on vacation. You may not have heard from him because he took a little bit of vacation, too. But the fact is he's been in touch, as I've said, with European colleagues, foreign ministers around the world. You know he talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov last weekend. When he takes some time off, he's on the phone all the time with people here, as well as with foreign minister colleagues.
He has made clear on Iraq in those conversations, as he has throughout the administration, but throughout the summer, that Iraq is a danger we have to deal with. That's as simply and succinctly as I can put it.
Second of all, he's been in close touch, as I've just mentioned, with the President, with other colleagues in the administration on a very regular basis, and they are continuing their discussion of these issues and how to go forward.
And as I mentioned, third of all, he has expressed his view publicly, but for people who won't air it until early September, and that just happens to be what he's been doing these last few days.
QUESTION: Well, no one, I don't think, in high places thinks Iraq is something you don't have to deal with. The question is how does the Secretary of State, who has a long military background and great experience in that field, we don't hear his position. We hear Vice President Cheney, here we go with beating the drums again, and Mr. Powell's relative silence suggests maybe he doesn't agree with the hawkish views that are coming from other people in the administration. Is that unfair?
MR. BOUCHER: Three times I've said there's no relative silence from Powell, from the Secretary, but I would say he owes his views, first and foremost, to the President. And you can be assured that the President and the other colleagues in the administration are discussing, Secretary Powell is discussing, all these things with them as we go forward.
QUESTION: Back on the post-Saddam planning. I'm not understanding why the time is not ripe now for you to be more specific about what's supposed to happen the day after Saddam is toppled. I mean, if you're lucky, there will be a coup and next week you might be looking at creating a new government there. Why isn't it time for you to move beyond the general discussions about these general topics into the specifics about how that's going to work?
MR. BOUCHER: Because that's what they are discussing. It's for Iraqis to discuss. And what we've done with these projects over the course of the summer and into the next few conferences is to give Iraqis, to give Iraqi opposition figures, Iraqi representatives, Iraqi groups, Iraqi academics, free Iraqis a chance to talk about these issues and an opportunity to talk together about how they intend to run Iraq. Because in the long term it's not the United States that's going to decide how Iraq is run; it's Iraqis that are going to have to decide.
QUESTION: Do you envision a process similar to what happened in Afghanistan? I mean, do you see some kind of international meeting of the powers, interested powers, to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. It's just premature to start speculating on how those things might unfold. I mean, first and foremost we've made clear the President hasn't decided on options when it comes to regime change.
QUESTION: No, but like I say, your fondest hopes would be --
MR. BOUCHER: You're talking about steps after that, and I don't know how to say.
QUESTION: Does the US believe or does the administration believe that by toppling Saddam Hussein's regime that it will, in effect, diminish Islamic extremism throughout the region? I mean, I guess it would be in light of the war on terrorism.
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. I think the administration's conclusion has been that you need regime change in Iraq for the neighborhood to be safe, for the world to be safe, from the threats that Iraq poses.
QUESTION: But in reference to al-Qaida or the war on terrorism, what is the goal with the ousting or the regime change?
MR. BOUCHER: The goal with the regime change in Iraq is to eliminate the danger that Iraq poses to us all, and continues to pose as long as this regime pursues programs of weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Richard, you said the only way to take care of the problem fundamentally in Iraq is regime change, but you also said that the inspectors have a role to play either way. In the absence of regime change, what can the inspectors accomplish in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's look at is this way. If an Iraqi regime wants to come clean and get right with the world, inspections can help demonstrate that they've done that. If an Iraqi regime like the one we've got continues to try to cheat and hide, inspections have shown in the past the ability to find some things the Iraqis were trying to cheat and hide on, and destroy some things that they might have admitted.
But you'll never have, as the Vice President said the other day, you'll never have that assurance that they have eliminated all the programs because they're still trying to cheat and hide, and you have to face the fact it's possible to cheat and hide on some of these things.
So either way, there's a role for inspectors. It's obviously different. And either way, the only way to fundamentally solve the problem is to have regime change and have a regime that's not trying to cheat on its international obligations, but rather wants to get right with the world and its neighbors.
QUESTION: Given the strong possibility that they would cheat and hide, why does the United States invest time and effort in trying to get the inspectors back?
MR. BOUCHER: Because there is some value to inspections. The President has made that clear.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject?
QUESTION: Can I have one more on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's let him change the subject. Okay, fair is fair.
QUESTION: Okay, it's a philosophical question.
QUESTION: No, no, it's a very good question, I think. Is regime change just another way of saying war?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: It's not another way of saying war?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Seeking to change a regime is not another way -- I mean, isn't that what people go to war to do? I mean, I'm saying --
MR. BOUCHER: There are other ways that regimes change. You can go to a history professor for that one. I'm not going to pretend to be the -- anyway.
QUESTION: Have you guys yet looked at or take a position, and if you have, do you have anything to say about the EU plan that -- for the Middle East, the one that Moller is presenting in Elsinore tomorrow and is then going to bring to the UN for whenever the Quartet meets? Have you taken a look at that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, frankly. I would have to see if that was discussed with us or our representatives who have been out in Europe or the Secretary. I'll check.
QUESTION: Has notice been taken of a Saudi announcement that they're going to free a bunch of suspects, al-Qaida suspects, including Rashid, a fellow that the FBI thought might be linked to the hijackers?
MR. BOUCHER: News to me as well. I have to see what they said and if we have any thoughts on it.
QUESTION: If the building does, could we get them?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: George.
QUESTION: Did you see, first of all, the UN report on how the attempts to curb financial dealings of terrorist groups has not been going too well lately?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's do a couple of things. I mean, we participate in this group in the United Nations. The Monitoring Group includes five members chaired by Michael Chandler of the UK. Other members are from the US, Jordan, Nepal and France. So this is important to us. I'm not going to try to comment on a specific draft report at this point. We'll obviously look very carefully at the final report. We'll look at any recommendations that they can make about how to improve international efforts to choke off terrorism financing.
The Monitoring Group preparing the report was created precisely for this reason, to review and recommend ways to improve this process, and is part of an extensive international effort that we and others are working on to clamp down on terrorist financing. We welcome any ideas that anybody has on how that can be improved.
I would not characterize the situation as stalled, though. There are vigorous efforts going on internationally in a variety of channels, a variety of ways, to increase the effectiveness. You might note that the United States and Italy are submitting a new list of 25 names to the United Nations for freezing of assets today. So this is an ongoing effort where, as we learn more, we do more and we can stop more.
The nature of the thing is when you first impose these things, you tend to find money in banks. As time goes on, those that want to move money don't use those systems because those systems are denied to them. So the first thing you do is you deny access to the facilities of the international banking system to them. But we've gone much farther than that.
Around the world with various partners, we're going after these barter arrangements, these hawalas, with partners and law enforcement officials around the world. I think if you look at groups being shut down and organizations being shut down, you find that not only the formal banking facilities, but a lot of the informal facilities are being denied to terrorists as well.
And then I would say it's also moving increasingly into the law enforcement area where if we find people who are acting as middlemen or financiers around the world for al-Qaida or organizations like that, they are being arrested as well. So there's a lot of other things going on to stop the financing of terrorism besides seizure of assets that happen to be sitting in banks at the moment when you can get them.
That said, I want to make clear, we're under no illusions. Al-Qaida is still capable, still has money, still has operatives, had an extensive network around the world, and remains a danger. And we need to keep this up for years to come, I'm sure.
Okay. Sir, who has been waiting patiently.
QUESTION: On Kazakhstan, last night permanent Kazakh journalist was attacked in Almaty, Mr. Sergei Duvanov. Mr. Duvanov is writing extensively about personal accounts of president of Kazakhstan, which are frozen in Switzerland as a result of US Department of Justice investigation. Also, Mr. Duvanov was scheduled to speak at this conference, OSCE conference in Warsaw on this conference of human dimensions.
What does US Government do to stop this crackdown on independent journalists? It's probably third or fourth case only in the past two months when journalists are being beaten, newspaper is being fire-bombed, and it's all connected to President Nazarbayev's corruption and all this crackdown. Are you doing anything to stop that?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, let me make clear we condemn the attack on Mr. Duvanov. He was beaten by three unknown men outside his apartment in Almaty on August 28th. Our embassy officials have visited Mr. Duvanov in the hospital on August 29th and we've also raised this issue with Kazakhstani Government officials.
At this point, I'm not able to say what the motives of the attackers might have been. It appears, though, that this attack fits a pattern of harassment of Kazakhstan's independent media, which you've talked about. Mr. Duvanov is a well-established journalist. He's filed stories critical of official corruption. He is under investigation for "insulting the honor and dignity of the president," although criminal charges haven't been filed for that.
We have raised, and we continue to raise our concerns about what appears to be a distinct and ongoing pattern of human rights abuses and violations of fundamental civil liberties in Kazakhstan. These include issues like this -- repeated harassment of the mass media, but also corruption trials against opposition leaders, and the narrowing of the field of legitimate political expression. So this has been and continues to be a very important issue for the United States.
QUESTION: Isn't it quite obvious that whatever was done before is not working? Are you planning on, for example, to open Voice of America broadcast to Kazakhstan? That's something that was suggested by many people in US Congress.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new news on that. You can check with Voice of America in terms of what their broadcasts are. As we all know, a lot of people in that region speak Russian and receive the broadcasts that go out in the Russian language. So the activities of the United States, I think we have been very active in building civil society.
If I remember correctly from our trips out there, Kazakhstan is one of the places where we have helped train independent journalists and where we have tried to support the freedom of the press in a very practical way.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, do you have anything on the upcoming meeting between the Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Secretary Colin Powell?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Can you check for me?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll see. Is this New York you're talking about?
QUESTION: Yes, in New York, but --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure they'll see each other again. I'm just not aware of what's, you know, if there's anything --
QUESTION: No, no. But he requested a meeting also in Washington, DC. That's why I'm asking.
MR. BOUCHER: All right. I will double-check. If we have any meetings to announce, we can tell you about them.
QUESTION: One more question: According to press reports in Athens, a disagreement erupted between the Greek Government and your Ambassador Tom Miller on the way dealing with the November 17 terrorist organization investigation, something that prompted the Speaker of the Greek Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis to make some remarks against Mr. Miller and the Foreign Minister George Papandreou to have a special meeting with him on this. Do you have anything on that since it got a lot of publicity in Greece?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that. I think I will leave it to Ambassador Miller. But I would make clear that he and all of us in the US Government have applauded the steps that the Greek Government has taken against November 17 and the progress that they've made in their investigations.
QUESTION: Following up a story I've asked about before regarding the prisoners in Afghanistan. Do you have any update on this? I understand that the Pentagon is now saying that there will be interviews conducted with these prisoners before they are released. But this agreement that you talked about yesterday between Pakistan and Afghanistan, officials on the ground there denied knowledge of this.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what questions were asked, but certainly Pakistani and Afghan officials -- we've seen them comment in public before on these questions and I would expect that they would be available to explain what arrangements they have if they do.
QUESTION: So this is completely out of US hands? It's just --
MR. BOUCHER: We're an interested party. We want to make sure that anybody that might still be dangerous is kept in the proper channels in custody. But it's a matter between the two of them that they worked on and agreed upon before.
QUESTION: There seems to be an effort in India to have the former CEO of Union Carbide extradited for the Bhopal incident. Do you have anything on that or is the State Department --
MR. BOUCHER: We talked about it briefly yesterday. This has been a court case for some time. We have really commented as it's gone its way through the courts, so I don't think I can start that now.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on an explosion in Zimbabwe that destroyed the -- one of the only two independent, I guess, radio broadcasters or stations?
MR. BOUCHER: Here's what we know. In the early morning hours of August 29th, the offices of independent radio operation, The Voice of the People, in Harare were firebombed. No one was injured, but the building was destroyed.
Let me, first of all, make clear that the United States strongly condemns this attack on independent media in Zimbabwe. Responsibility for the bombing has not yet been determined, however I have to say it occurs in the context of the Zimbabwe's Government's assault on the rule of law and repression as a civil society including regular harassment and intimidation of the independent media.
Zimbabwean police have raided the Voice of the People offices in July, 2002. They've seized files. They've seized audio CDs which were returned several days before the bombing occurred. The Government of Zimbabwe has a responsibility to investigate the bombing and to bring to justice those who are responsible for it. And we call on the Government of Zimbabwe more broadly to restore the rule of law and respect of the freedom of the press.
QUESTION: Do you have any hope that they will investigate? I mean, you guys have over the past week, two weeks; months even, become increasingly strident in your criticism of the Mugabe government. You know, does making a call like this really -- do you expect anything to result?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say, unfortunately, over the past weeks and months there have been an increasing number of these kinds of situations that we've had to deal with, and I think we do have a very consistent and clear view and we express it.
QUESTION: No, I'm not -- I'm just wondering, do you think that --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I know. The Government of Zimbabwe really needs to do these things. They needed to do them last month and the month before. Respect for democracy, for freedom of the press needs to be a hallmark of proper good governance and development in the modern world and it's the only way you can get anywhere for your people.
Released on August 29, 2002