State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 30
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC September 30, 2002
RWANDA 1-2 Arrest of War Crimes Suspect Tharcisse Renzaho
IRAQ 2-3, 5 Undersecretary Grossman s Travels 2-8 UN Security Council Resolution/Iraqi Disarmament 13-14 Financial Links to Terrorists in the West Bank
DEPARTMENT 8, 14 Cable Detailing Emergency Procedures 8-12 Foreign Relations Authorization Act
GEORGIA 13 Terrorists in the Pankisi Gorge
EUROPEAN UNION 14 International Criminal Court/Article 98 Agreements
ZIMBABWE 14-15 Elections
MOROCCO 15-16 Elections
COTE d IVOIRE 15-16 Situation Update
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. If I can, I would like to start off by giving you a statement on the arrest of a, or the apprehension and transfer of a, Rwandan war crimes suspect. The United States welcomes the recent apprehension and transfer by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Tharcisse Renzaho to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Renzaho, the former prefect of Kigali is alleged to be one of the masterminds of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The arrest of Renzaho is part of a commitment that President Joseph Kabila made to President George W. Bush during the General Assembly in New York.
We urge President Kabila and the members of his government, as well as all states in the region, to continue down this path and arrest all persons indicted for genocide, who remain at large. I have a slightly more complete statement that I can give to you on that.
QUESTION: Can I maybe just ask one question? Are you saying that Kabila told the President that he would, this, specifically, arrest this guy, or just broader I will cooperate with the --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure if a specific individual was mentioned, but we -- there's a commitment to arrest war crimes suspects and people wanted by the tribunal and we so welcome development in that regard.
QUESTION: Do you happen to know how many Rwandans have been indicted?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have a full list of the indictees. You'd have to check with the tribunal on that. This is the third arrest of an alleged leader of the Rwandan genocide since the beginning of the campaign that we undertook with the announcement of the rewards for justice, actually, so that several months ago--
QUESTION: Well, how much money is President Kabila going to get from you?
MR. BOUCHER: No this is, that doesn't apply in this situation because the, he's not yet been indicted by the tribunal. The prosecutors of the tribunal are currently preparing an indictment, and in any case it was an arrest by a government, not by information, not by an individual.
QUESTION: Well how do you know that? I mean, what if someone called the Rwandan Police and the DRCongo Police?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I suppose that would remain to be seen, but at this point, they got him into custody.
QUESTION: In other words, rewards for justice does not apply in this case.
MR. BOUCHER: Rewards for justice doesn't apply to governments.
QUESTION: Was he on your list?
MR. BOUCHER: He wasn't one of the specific individuals named on our list because our list contained names of people who were already indicted. But this is a major figure. He is a former prefect of Kigali. He's accused of being one of the masterminds of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which killed approximately 800,000 people. He's believed to have played a leading role in fomenting the conflicts that have besieged the Congo for the past decade. He is also believed to be a leader of the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda, a group that is linked to the killing of American and British citizens in Bwindi, Uganda, in 1999. So that's, you know, it's a major figure and it's an important development.
QUESTION: Well, the obvious. Under Secretary Grossman's travels and the Secretary's telephone diplomacy -- anything to add to either?
MR. BOUCHER: Under Secretary Grossman is back. He's out in Chicago giving a speech today. But he's been back.
QUESTION: -- his recent trip to Paris and Moscow?
MR. BOUCHER: No, actually it's about NATO and NATO-enlargement. It was long-scheduled and we'll try to get you a transcript because that is another important issue for the world that we are doing, that we are working on right now. And maybe the commentators on the future and status of NATO should read Marc's speech. I would urge you all to read it before you write such stories.
QUESTION: Is there Q & A there at his speech?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Probably. But I'm not sure.
QUESTION: Do you know the audience by chance? Council on Foreign Relations, I think.
QUESTION: Oh yeah. Chicago council is --
QUESTION: Do you know when it is?
MR. BOUCHER: Today.
QUESTION: Yeah, but, what time?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: They are an hour behind us, so maybe there's time.
MR. BOUCHER: He left about 10:00, so -- airport, probably lunchtime or late lunchtime.
MR. BOUCHER: Anyway, back to having identified the whereabouts of Marc Grossman, let me tell you what we've been up to. We are continuing to consult with our Security Council partners on the text of a draft resolution, both in New York, and in Security Council capitals. As you know, Under Secretary Grossman traveled to Paris and Moscow over the weekend to continue our consultations on a new resolution. These discussions were constructive, they were helpful, Under Secretary Grossman briefed the Secretary fully, this morning.
The Secretary, himself, has been conducting part of our diplomacy on these issues over the course -- well, on Sunday on both the issues of Iraq and the question of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation at the Muqatta he talked to foreign secretary Straw, Secretary General Annan, Foreign Minister Maher of Egypt, Foreign Minister Ivanov of Russia, Foreign Minister Saud al Faysal of Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Muasher of Jordan, European High Representative Solana, Danish Foreign Minister Moeller, and today, on Monday, he's already talked to French Foreign Minister Villepin and Foreign Secretary Straw. So both from the discussions that Under Secretary Grossman had and from his own conversations, I would say the Secretary is encouraged by the way things are going at this point. We continue to work on a resolution for the UN Security Council to pass.
QUESTION: When he testified before the Senate Thursday, he implied the obvious that there's disagreement, he said, "others have views." He used the word views. There are other views out there. Are the views of others as, have they eased back? You did say progress, but are there still strong views contrary to the US approach -- The US/British approach?
MR. BOUCHER: We have entered into this as a consultation with other governments on a resolution. They are talking to us about the resolution and the elements of it and how it would work. And we're talking to them. We're hearing from them, we're talking to them. As you know, we have everybody has seen the views of various parties that talked about one resolution or two resolutions. We've thought this one through, and have come down on the side of one resolution. We firmly believe that's the best way to go for a variety of --
MR. BOUCHER: We, the United States. So we're putting that case to the other governments and discussing it with them, but we're also hearing from them on their views and we will continue to pursue these issues with them.
QUESTION: I know you're reluctant to get into the, even though everybody by now has pretty much reported what the resolution, the US/ Anglo resolution would say. Can you tell us in his conversation with Kofi Annan, though, whether there was discussion of whether the palaces would be open to inspection? And you know why I ask, because Annan, in a memorandum of understanding had given Saddam Hussein some confidence that he could keep those --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Well, years ago. Right?
QUESTION: Well, but the delicate way to put it is, I understand the resolution would supersede that understanding.
MR. BOUCHER: Those understandings date back some years -- well before 1998 when the inspectors were thwarted by Iraq and unable to do their job. I think the news, if that's the business that you're in is that everybody is now using terms like unrestricted, unfettered, without restriction. We've heard those words form the Secretary General, we've heard them from Dr. Hans Blix who is talking to the Iraqis today in Vienna, and we support the positions he's taken because we all recognize at this point that Iraq has had four years to try to hide things, four years to try to carry out their plans of deceit and deception as they tried to before, even under the pressure of inspections. And the only way that this is going to succeed is, first and foremost, if Iraq makes the decision to open up and to disarm.
If Iraq doesn't make the decision to open up and disarm, we're always going to have cheat and retreat. We're always going to have inspections that are more like pulling teeth. But if Iraq makes the decision to disarm, then the inspectors, by going everywhere, could verify that and Iraq would want them to, if that's truly a decision they've made, so the point, I think, is first of all, the Council needs to set forth in clear terms what Iraq has to do to demonstrate its desire to disarm. And that is what we have put in this resolution. If Iraq is truly interested in doing that, these tools and mechanisms that we're putting in the resolution could be used to demonstrate that it was doing that. But we need to be able to go anywhere, we need to make sure this is not a continuing pattern of deceit. I would have to say that given what Iraq has been saying over the weekend, at some points they talk about unfettered access, at other points they are rejecting in advance a resolution that would do that. So I think it's quite clear that Iraqi officials still don't understand. They just don't get it in terms of what they have to do and what this is all about. This is about Iraq's disarmament inconsistent with UN resolutions, and if Iraq wants to demonstrate that, this is a way of their doing that.
QUESTION: What is the usefulness of Blix having these talks with the Iraqis given two things that you've said. One is that you want the Security Council to lay out again what Iraq needs to do and he seems to be talking about and two is, what is there to talk about if you expect this unfettered access from the Iraqis? I mean. You know?
MR. BOUCHER: There, I'm sure there are all kinds of technical aspects to arrangements; cars, license plates, landing sites, airplanes, storage facilities, whatever else they may need. And he needs to lay out those kind of arrangements of what he needs. And he, himself, has said, I think, if he gets further instructions from the council he may have further arrangements to specify. And I think that's the context for these discussions. He's had regular and routine contacts in the past along these lines. They are normal in the context of inspections. But that doesn't take from the council its responsibility to give the inspectors the authority and instructions to do a thorough job.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on just one thing? Would you say, isn't it a little confusing that you have one guy negotiating with the Iraqis, terms for inspections under previous UN resolutions and you, yourself are work -- meeting and you're working with the Security Council to come up with a new one. I mean, you know, because suddenly the goalposts may change, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say two or three things. One, it's not necessarily, because some of these questions, technical questions apply whatever the full scope and targets of the inspection.
Second of all, Dr. Blix, himself has made clear his expectations of unlimited access and we strongly support his doing that. To be able to do the job that he has to do, which is to verify Iraqi disarmament, the Iraqis have to make the decision, and then he needs to be able to go anywhere to do that. So in addition to the questions of the Council taking back its authority and giving the inspectors the authority and the instructions. The inspectors are also out there and they need, they understand, he understands, as he has said, that they need unlimited access in order to do the basic job that they are being assigned by the previous resolutions, and, we hope, by the new one.
QUESTION: Richard, with all due respect to what the Department considers the news of the day to be -- that everyone is talking about "unfettered" and "unrestricted" access -- other people might think that the news is still that the French are saying that they're not going to go for one resolution, and that they're wanting two. And you seemed to have come out and said that -- you know, you've firmly come down on the side of one. Does that mean that the previous statements from the Secretary, yourself, others, that two was still a possibility and we're willing to work -- is that now off the table? You're only going to go for one?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not off the table. We're going to hear from people about two. We know that. I'm not claiming to speak for others, or to claim that others have changed their positions at this point.
But we are discussing a resolution. In that context, some people say that parts of it should be in a second resolution. But we have, we think, worked this one through fairly carefully and come down that we strongly favor having one resolution. And we were making that case to them.
QUESTION: Have diplomats from the US and Britain started contingency work on a second resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of -- I don't know that I would talk about any contingency work if there were some. But I'm not, don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: And just one last one. Did the French tell Under Secretary Grossman over the weekend that they would veto a one-resolution solution?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to brief on behalf of other governments. I'm not going to get into what the French may or may not have said in particular meetings. We are discussing these issues with them, and I think that's important. We continue to work this. We continue to work it both in capitals and in New York. And at this point, we're -- you know, the Secretary has gotten a full brief, he's made a lot of calls himself, and we're encouraged by the way things are going. They're not wrapped up yet, but we continue to work this in a positive manner.
QUESTION: May I, just to follow up on that, you are essentially negotiating with the other people in the Security Council. Have you made any changes to the draft resolution which you agreed last week so far? And are you prepared to at some -- somewhere or other?
MR. BOUCHER: Since I haven't laid out what's in the resolution, I'm not prepared to lay out whether anything in the resolution is changing or not.
We'll continue to work this. We expect to hear from others. And we'll continue to work on a text that we think can garner significant support in the Council.
QUESTION: How much time does the UN actually have before it's categorically established whether the Iraqis have allowed "unfettered access" or not? And in the scenario where the Iraqis have said, okay, unfettered access, is the military option still on -- would the military option still be on the table then?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to lay out specific deadlines. But I think we've made quite clear that the United States believes that there need to be deadlines in the resolution.
Iraq can demonstrate a desire for disarmament any day and every day, before the inspectors get there and while the inspectors are there. The question comes up every day, in terms of their cooperation, in terms of their disclosures, in terms of their willingness to cooperate. So it's not -- it's not that we all sit back and relax and forget about it for six months until an inspector comes back and gives us a report. We will be following all these developments closely. And it's important for Iraq -- if they truly have a desire to disarm and to demonstrate that -- that Iraq cooperate with the inspectors and the UN Security Council requirements all the way.
QUESTION: And if they did disarm, the military option would be off the table, is that what you're saying?
MR. BOUCHER: If -- well, that's one of the things we intend to deal with in resolution, in the resolution -- or resolutions, I should say.
QUESTION: You've used the word "desire" several times today, which I don't remember before. Does Iraq actually have to show that it really wants to disarm? I mean, I can't think of a single country that's ever voluntarily --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I can think of half a dozen, frankly.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. Next question. Judy.
QUESTION: I -- give it a --
QUESTION: That's a reasonable question.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's start out with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
QUESTION: You have to -- no, but we can talk about Brazil and South Africa and stuff like that.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, you just named two. I can add one or two more.
QUESTION: Yes, but you're asking -- you're saying --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure they're public. You can talk about the breakup of the Soviet Union and the nations that had nuclear weapons on their soil, who decided to get rid of them.
QUESTION: But you seem to be setting, now, a kind of new standard, that Saddam, or the Iraqi leadership, needs to show that they're thrilled about the prospect of --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- no. No, no, no.
QUESTION: -- something that --
MR. BOUCHER: Wait, wait, stop. I never used the word "thrilled."
QUESTION: Well, no, but you said they have to show their "desire."
MR. BOUCHER: Let's -- let's deal with this in practical and plain English. If Iraq wants to disarm -- for whatever reason, whether they're happy about it or not -- if Iraq intends to disarm -- for whatever reason, whether they're happy about it or not -- the United Nations can be, through verification, through disclosures, through other mechanisms, can demonstrate whether or not they've done that, can help them demonstrate whether or not they've done that.
But we've always said it comes down to disarmament.
QUESTION: I'm not quite sure what you mean. You're saying, "if they want" -- but clearly they don't want to disarm. I mean, I --
MR. BOUCHER: If Iraq doesn't want to disarm, but for whatever reason has decided that it will go -- that it will disarm --
QUESTION: Is that okay, too?
MR. BOUCHER: That's okay, too, as long as we get rid of the weapons of mass destruction capability.
QUESTION: All right, all right. I just wanted to make sure that "desire" wasn't --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- I'm just using the language the way ordinary people do. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: But Richard, the question keeps coming up from people who would favor a two-step resolution, or a less tough first resolution, that -- is this resolution that you're trying to pass with the British to have Iraq disarm? Or are you trying to prove that Iraq isn't capable of disarming, by putting these strict requirements in the resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: The UN requirement has been, and remains, that Iraq disarm, that Iraq end its programs of weapons of mass destruction. And the UN has put in place over the years a variety of mechanisms -- inspections, disclosures, monitoring, exchanges of information -- to try to determine whether or not Iraq was carrying out those UN resolutions.
Those requirements remain the same. And that's what this resolution is intended to do.
QUESTION: Can we change the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Judy I think had one.
QUESTION: One more. Is the State Department preparing a worldwide cable saying, "In preparation for military action in Iraq, you should review all your emergency reaction and procedures"?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know, I'll have to check. I'm not sure we talk about a cable before it had gone out, anyway.
QUESTION: I'm sure you've seen the Jerusalem provisions in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act passed by Congress last April. What does -- first of all, are you willing to go along with these? And if so, how are we going to reconcile this with current policy?
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of the specific legislation, I think the State Department authorization -- I believe it needs to be signed or not by the President today, as the last day of the fiscal year. So you'd have to ask the White House about that, what the President intends to do, and what they might say at the time.
QUESTION: Well, will it happen?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on that.
QUESTION: No, but I mean just in terms of -- if you said it had to be signed by today because it's the last day of the fiscal year, what happens if it's not signed?
MR. BOUCHER: I take it it doesn't go into effect. I'm not, frankly, sure. I'd have to go re-read my ninth grade civics book to figure that one out. But this is on the agenda right now. The White House is considering the legislation and what to do with it, how to handle it, including the provisions on Jerusalem that we're aware of. And we're discussing with them and other agencies how those could be handled, but I'd leave it to the White House to make any final announcements on the legislation and what they intend to do about it.
I would say that our view on Jerusalem has not changed. Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be negotiated between the parties.
QUESTION: -- Richard, that you don't think that this language is a good idea?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always opposed legislative action that hinders the President's prerogatives on advancing our interests in the region and promoting a just and lasting peace. And our view of Jerusalem has always been that it is a permanent status issue that needs to be part of a negotiated peace.
QUESTION: But these things are kind of -- they're kind of technical in nature. But you believe that these provisions do harm the President's ability to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'd leave it for the White House to give a final analysis of these provisions.
QUESTION: Glenn Kessler in The Washington Post on Saturday reported that there were -- he quoted aides in Congress saying that it was the view of the administration to treat this as a sense of the Congress resolution, which means it would just be simply the advice of Congress, but it would be something that you wouldn't necessarily have to enforce. Is that the view of the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: I would leave it to the White House to give the view of the administration on this legislation --
QUESTION: Okay, fair enough.
MR. BOUCHER: -- since the White House currently has the legislation. And they will decide how to -- they will announce how we intend to handle it.
QUESTION: He also reported in that article that senior State Department officials had said that they were not approached when this language was being crafted. And usually there's a lot of back-and-forth between the Hill and the State Department on something like this. Is that -- can you comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: There were a variety of provisions in this bill, I think some of which have been there from the beginning. And the State Department made consistently clear that it was opposed to those provisions. We also have made consistently clear to everybody on the Hill that we oppose legislation that hinders the President's ability to advance our interests in pursuing a negotiated settlement.
The gentleman back here had a question.
QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on that.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's let somebody beyond the first row, if there are still questions back there.
QUESTION: Yes, my question isn't on this.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Nicholas, you had one.
QUESTION: You must be pleased by the EU position on the ICC.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's finish this, then.
QUESTION: Oh, sorry.
QUESTION: When you said the White House made it clear it was opposed to those provisions, you mean specifically the Jerusalem provisions?
MR. BOUCHER: The State Department has made clear all along -- we have made clear all along, I think I said --
MR. BOUCHER: -- that we are opposed to the various provisions in the bill as they emerge about Jerusalem. And I think some were in at the beginning -- I'm not sure of the exact history of when various pieces got in.
QUESTION: Okay --
MR. BOUCHER: But we've also made the more general view clear all along. Nobody should be in doubt about that.
QUESTION: And there are also provisions on Lebanon. Did you take a view on the provisions on aid to Lebanon?
MR. BOUCHER: We're quite aware of those, discussing those with the White House as well. But again, they're in the legislation, the White House is going to say how we intend to handle the legislation.
QUESTION: Okay. But did you make clear you were opposed to those provisions during this process?
MR. BOUCHER: I think as a general rule we made clear all along that those kinds of provisions are not helpful. And I would -- I'm not quite sure if I can -- well, let me go back and make sure I can say we specifically objected to those provisions on Lebanon. But certainly I would say, again, everybody -- the people on the Hill are quite aware of our position on this kind of legislation.
QUESTION: How about the --
MR. BOUCHER: We have long been opposed to legislative action which hinders the President in his ability to advance US interests in the region, promote a just, lasting, comprehensive peace in the region. This includes our view of the provisions in the State authorization bill regarding US assistance to Lebanon. So we made that clear on the Hill as well.
QUESTION: How about the provisions in the bill about Tibet and Taiwan? Anything to say about those?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have anything particular to say about those. There's a lot of different things in the bill; each of them is handled in the legislation, crafted in somewhat of a different way. The White House has to review all those as they decide what to do about the legislation as a whole.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one more on this? This spring, the Secretary went to top lawmakers on the Hill and said any of these Middle East provisions would be hindering, potentially, the process of trying to get back to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Is it your view that now that you've got this bill out there, and that there were these kinds of provisions in there that are generally considered to be favoring Israel, that there will be ramifications in the region at this point? I understand you can't talk about what the White House is going to do, but you could maybe talk about, as the experts on the world --
MR. BOUCHER: That depends on what, how the White House decides to handle the legislation. So I'm not going to predict ramifications until we know it's ramifying from what.
QUESTION: Right. But there seemed to be a sense before that the Secretary was saying, when you guys --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has made clear his opposition to legislation that hampers the President's ability to do this through a negotiation. The Deputy Secretary has made that clear. Our congressional people have made it clear in regard to specific provisions.
We now have a bill -- the Secretary made clear the other day in front of the committee that he was quite pleased that the House and the Senate had produced a State Department authorization bill. There were many things in that we thought positive. At the same time, the White House now has to consider how to handle this particular legislation. I'm sure they'll make their views known at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: -- on Lebanon; I don't want to trump Nicholas. There are reports out of the region that the State Department has quietly suspended aid for fiscal 2002.
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's somehow based on this. We've authorized $32 million in fiscal year 2002 funds. There's been no shortfall in our funding for US Agency for International Development projects in Lebanon. Our assistance is concentrated on creating economic opportunities, strengthening municipalities' managing water resources more efficiently, and promoting democracy.
So I think we -- I mean, we always have to note that allocations of US assistance are not always guaranteed. We have to work with the Congress to ensure our assistance programs are fully supportive of our foreign policy goals. But we have that $32 million for Lebanon, and there has been no shortfall in our assistance.
QUESTION: Richard, I was going to ask -- Secretary Armitage and some of the Lebanese people are saying.
MR. BOUCHER: The money's there, and being used.
QUESTION: Speaking of water resources and Lebanon, did your experts ever decide, make a judgment as to who was in the right and who was in the wrong in the great Israeli-Lebanon water dispute?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, this is a highly complex and sensitive issue -- (laughter) -- made all the more so by the prolonged drought and the absence of any bilateral agreement between Lebanon and Israel. We have been and will remain deeply engaged with both sides in an effort to calm the situation, to urge both sides to avoid unilateral steps, and to help reach a solution that reflects the genuine water needs and concerns of both Israel and Lebanon.
It was in that spirit that we sent a water expert from our Near Eastern Affairs bureau to the region over the past two weeks. We felt the visit was very constructive, provided a clearer view of the situation and the concerns of both sides. We remain closely engaged with both sides and urge both sides to proceed in a constructive and cooperative manner. It's not in the interests of either side for this to become a source of escalation or provocation, or for an issue like basic water needs to become politicized.
So we're working it, we've had our expert out there, and we'll continue to stay in touch with both sides.
QUESTION: But as far as you know, there hasn't been -- you haven't come down with a Solomonaic judgment on who is right and who is wrong?
MR. BOUCHER: We're continuing to try to work with both sides to get them to resolve the issue.
QUESTION: But is that still the goal? I mean, when the Secretary talked about this, I believe in New York, he said that you guys were going to be making -- you guys were going to be deciding who was in breach of --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he quite put it that way. It was send an expert out to gather views, to look at the situation from an expert level, and we will use that expertise and those observations to try to help the parties work out the water usage questions.
QUESTION: I'll drop it after this. But do you expect to make recommendations to the two sides as to --
MR. BOUCHER: We're in touch with both sides, and obviously interested in seeing them resolve it. So any help we can provide in that regard, we will.
All done? Terry.
QUESTION: Georgia apparently says it has gotten rid of all the rebels in the disputed area, in the Gorge area anyway, and has invited Russians to send a team to verify this. Since we've been somewhat involved in training some of Georgia's forces, what do we think about -- what do you think about it?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, certainly we welcome their military efforts in the area of the Pankisi Gorge to rid the area of terrorists. We think this is an important initiative by the Government of Georgia, an important operation that they've carried out.
We have also been in regular contact with both Russian and Georgian officials. We've encouraged them to work together to try to build a stable and peaceful relationship in this area, and we continue to do that. So we hope that they can find ways to cooperate on this issue.
QUESTION: Do you think the Russians should go ahead and send a team in?
MR. BOUCHER: We think they should find ways to cooperate on the issue.
QUESTION: Did you get a chance to see the 60 Minutes piece on Sunday that disclosed what looked like new information from the Israelis showing that there was not only a financial link between Iraq and some of the terrorists in the West Bank, but there was also a significant amount of training? And I was wondering if the State Department had -- I understand that there was an Israeli delegation that may have presented some of this information last week here to the State Department -- what you thought of some of these things that were put out on 60 Minutes?
MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, I didn't see the show; I'm not sure if others did. But I don't have any particular comment on somebody else's television show.
QUESTION: Is there anything you can say on the record about something more than financial links between Iraq and some of the terror groups operating in the West Bank?
MR. BOUCHER: We talked about that on various occasions in the past, but I don't have anything new right now.
QUESTION: It's in the terror book.
QUESTION: It's not in the terror report. This is training; it's a totally new thing.
QUESTION: It's a totally new thing. It's not in the terror report.
QUESTION: There is a position of the European Union on the ICC. How pleased are you? And do these conditions that they attach to it make sense to you?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, at this point I can't give you a definitive opinion. We've been in close touch with the Europeans all along; the Secretary himself has raised this in various conversations, our embassies have raised it. We've been pursuing this issue avidly with the European Union. And in some of those phone calls over the weekend, he also discussed the Article 98 issues.
But we've just received a report on their discussions regarding the possibility of negotiating Article 98 agreements with non-members of the Court such as the United States. We think our ability to reach agreements is important, and we have made that clear in Europe and elsewhere.
So we'll study the details of the European Union's decision very closely, and we'll look forward to discussing it in more detail with member states.
QUESTION: On that point, any new ICC deals, Article 98 agreements, since? Are you still at 12, or have you managed to get another one?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any new ones today, but there are always numerous negotiations underway.
QUESTION: No, no, I've got a couple. I've got two election questions. You didn't seem to think that Zimbabwe was going to have a very decent local election. You said the prospects for it being free and fair were "dismal" on Friday. I'm wondering if that is still -- were they "dismal" elections? And yes, I'm going to ask about Morocco.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've not yet seen definitive results for the weekend's election. But we note a number of incidents -- Sunday, a member of Parliament from the opposition was arrested for refusing to vacate his farm; he remains in detention. Last Thursday, five opposition youth leaders were arrested; they remain in detention, although no charges have been filed.
We think there is a continuing pattern of harassment by Zimbabwe authorities against political opposition and its leadership. These incidents increased in frequency leading up to the elections on the 28th and 29th of September. They appear to be further attempts at violence and unlawful intimidation of members of the opposition party.
If the reports of the beating and torture of the youth leaders are true, that would constitute a serious human rights violation, and another indication of the continuing degradation of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
As I noted, the Government of Zimbabwe, we think, did not take the necessary steps to ensure conditions for a fair and credible democratic election, and failed to ensure that all parties and candidates were able to participate; to condemn and punish election-related violence; and to follow transparent and equitable registration procedures for all candidates. So that's the way it turned out.
QUESTION: Anything to say about Morocco's elections?
MR. BOUCHER: The Moroccan election -- I don't think we actually have a final conclusion to the process. But I would say that we welcome the way the parliamentary elections were conducted. Morocco is a close friend and a regional partner of the United States. We support efforts to promote democratization in Morocco.
We note that Morocco established a number of measures to improve the transparency of elections. We welcome reports from independent sources that efforts were made to conduct these elections in a fair and open manner, and we look forward to assessing the information after the final conclusion of the process.
QUESTION: Okay. Very briefly, two other things. Anything new in the Ivory Coast to report? Are there any Americans left, other than the -- have they all been taken -- has everyone that wanted to leave left, that you know of?
MR. BOUCHER: I think what we've been able to do is to remove Americans from particular concentrations and areas. There may be some other Americans around the country, and we'll look to help anybody in any way we can.
We are coordinating very closely with the French for expatriates who remain in these affected areas who wish to depart Cote d'Ivoire. The extraction of expatriates who wanted to leave Korhogo and Ferkessedougou is complete. Forty-eight US citizens have been flown to Accra, in Ghana. Ten traveled by car to Abidjan, arriving before the curfew. US embassy officials in Accra met and will assist those US citizens who traveled to Ghana for onward travel.
So we're continuing to work with the French in the country, but we've managed to get Americans out of another couple places.
QUESTION: Right. And then, just --
QUESTION: Does that 48 Americans include family members and the non-emergency personnel? Or is that -- do you --
MR. BOUCHER: I think these are people that we had brought to Yamassoutro, largely from the Christian Academy and maybe from the other parts of the country.
QUESTION: And Foreign Minister Fischer keeps trying to wangle an invitation over here. Is there anything new on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, nothing new on that.
QUESTION: So, in other words, there's no -- you are unaware of any travel?
MR. BOUCHER: No meetings scheduled at this point.
MR. BOUCHER: One more in here.
QUESTION: Yes, just one more about Morocco, actually. The moderate Islamists, who have actually consolidated their presence in Parliament three-fold, have already come out in support of, publicly, establishing a Sharia State in Morocco. Do you have a reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a particular reaction to that. Our interests at this point is in the conduct of elections to make sure that they are free, fair and open. Obviously, Morocco's growth as a democratic society is important to us and we would hope that that process would continue in the future. Thank you.