State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 1
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 1
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC October 1, 2002
IRAQ 1-3,16,19 Procedural Talks in Vienna/ Idea of Two Resolutions 2-4 Need for One Resolution/ Secretary Powell s Telephone Calls 3-5 Further Guidance from Security Council/ Iraqi Offer for Inspections 4 Mission to Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna 5-7 Regime Change/ Full Iraqi Compliance and Disarmament/ Timelines 7 Iraq Liberation Act/ Prime Minister Blair s Position/ Sanctions Relief
EUROPEAN UNION 8-9 European Union Position on Article 98 Deals 10 Negotiating with Individual Countries
NORTH KOREA/JAPAN 10-11 Assistant Secretary Kelly s Travel/ Concerns about Typhoon
UKRAINE/IRAQ 11 Assistant Secretary Jones Meeting with President Kuchma 11-12 Investigation of Sale of Kolchuga Radars to Ira
q WHITE HOUSE 13 Signing of Foreign Relations Authorization Act/ Legislation Implementation 15-16 Mandatory Demands of Foreign Relations Authorization Act
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 14-15 Unchanged Policy on Jerusalem
EAST TIMOR 16 Secretary Powell s Meeting with President Gusmao 16-17 Signing of Status of Forces Agreement/ Article 98 Agreement
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 17 Countries of Concern/ Release of International Religious Freedom Report
REFUGEES 17-19 Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting/ Refugees Admission Policy
SAUDI ARABIA 19-20 Congressional Hearings on Cases of Kidnapped American Children
CONSULAR 20-21 Immigration and Naturalization Service Entry Exit System
GERMANY 21 Contact with Foreign Minister Fischer
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: I hear there's an agreement in Vienna between the Iraqis and UNMOVIC.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've heard that at this point. We obviously look forward to hearing from Dr. Blix once he continues -- finishes this round of consultations with the Iraqis. I think he's due to brief the Security Council on Thursday. And he has made clear, as we have made clear, that these procedural discussions that he's having now are also subject to any further guidance that he might get from the Security Council in the form of a new resolution and new instructions and new authority. So we'll hear from him on Thursday and we continue to work with other members of the Council to come up with a resolution that makes clear the need for thorough and unfettered inspections and the need for consequences if Iraq refuses to cooperate.
QUESTION: Yesterday, officials from this building and elsewhere were saying that there was now some flexibility in terms of the one or two resolution issue because the French were so insistent upon there being two that -- and the context was basically that the people who are actually up there negotiating the resolution or resolutions had come -- were coming to the conclusion that it might be diplomatically impossible to get one. And then the --
MR. BOUCHER: Would you like to name these officials? I don't know of anybody that said that to me, nor did I say that.
QUESTION: No, no, no. Then the Secretary on MacNeil-Lehrer show last night saying that while obviously the US preference was for one, that he had instructed people in New York to look into getting the first two elements of what you would want -- well, you know what he said. Anyway, the White House this morning has come out and said that, you know, no, one is what we want.
So is the idea of two resolutions, which you had never taken off the table before, now off the table entirely?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary of State last night said the United States position is that we believe it would be better to put this in one resolution, but since this is a consultation we want to hear what our friends have to say. That remains our position today. That was our position yesterday. He spoke several times of the need for one resolution. I spoke yesterday of the need for one resolution. We have thought this matter out. We have worked this matter through. We believe that it's important to get Iraq's cooperation, to make clear that there are consequences if they don't cooperate. That is the portion of the resolution, of the resolution, that the Secretary has been discussing with his colleagues and counterparts in other governments.
Today he's talked to Foreign Secretary Straw, he's talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov, and I think right now he's talking to Foreign Minister de Villepin of France. So the Secretary has continued his discussions of those issues at his level. Indeed, our people in New York are working on the other pieces, the question of material breach and the kind of inspections and other requirements that Iraq would have to fulfill. So this process continues, this work continues. We continue to believe that one resolution is the way to go, that it has the maximum chance of getting Iraqi cooperation on disarmament and therefore we should do this in one resolution. We understand there are others that want two and we're hearing from them as we press our case.
QUESTION: Yes, but my question is is it now off the table for the US for two resolutions? I mean, no one -- everyone has said up to this point that it's not -- that it's -- that you're -- that while you would prefer one, and you in fact insist on one, two was not off the table. Is it now off the table?
MR. BOUCHER: We never put it on the table. Others are putting it on the table and we're listening to them. That's all I'm saying.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know. And is it now unacceptable? You will rule -- you will not go along with anything other than one resolution with everything you want in it? Isn't that --
MR. BOUCHER: I will stick exactly where the President and the Secretary have been, and that's we want one resolution and we're listening to others. We know that some others want two.
QUESTION: Yesterday you said that two resolutions are not off the table. Do you stick to that? Are you willing to say the same again?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I used that phrase, but others have put it on the table and we're listening to them. I'm not -- I'm saying the United States wants one resolution. That remains our position.
QUESTION: We know that, but we want to know your attitude towards two resolutions.
MR. BOUCHER: And I said we're hearing from others about two resolutions. I'm not going to try to -- our response is we think it's better to have one resolution. That's our attitude towards two.
QUESTION: Okay, good enough. And a follow-up --
MR. BOUCHER: Elise.
QUESTION: You said that these procedural talks in Vienna are subject to further guidance from the Security Council. Are you -- when you say that, do you mean that there must be further guidance from the Security Council, or just that there could be further guidance?
MR. BOUCHER: We believe there should be further guidance from the Security Council in the form of a resolution. That's why we have put many of these matters into a resolution. That's what we're discussing with others, and we believe there is considerable support in the Council for the idea of another resolution.
QUESTION: Okay. Can the inspectors move without that further guidance?
MR. BOUCHER: As we've said before, as the Secretary has said before, we don't think the inspectors should go to Iraq without having the further authority and guidance from the Security Council.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I --
MR. BOUCHER: We can do private briefings one by one, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, this is between you and your colleagues. I'm going to answer the questions as they come.
QUESTION: What can you do to prevent them if they decide to move?
MR. BOUCHER: We believe there needs to be a new resolution in the Council. We're pushing for that. We're working to get that done. I'll leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: Even as you push the case for one resolution, isn't it true that the State Department is drafting a second resolution in the -- I don't want to say eventuality, but in the off chance that a first resolution doesn't --
MR. BOUCHER: We are pushing the case for one resolution. We are pursuing one resolution. That remains our focus.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little about the phone calls that he had today and whether he feels that he is sort of moving people to his point of view?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to claim too much at this stage. We're still working this, as we've made clear. The Secretary remains confident that our approach is the right one. He is pleased at the stage we have reached in terms of the seriousness of our consultations and discussions with other governments and we remain determined to continue to pursue this approach and to get a statement from the Security Council in the form of a resolution that makes clear to Iraq that this is different, that it's time to comply, it's time to disarm, and there are consequences if Iraq doesn't do that.
QUESTION: Just a couple questions on Blix. First of all, does the US have somebody there in Vienna or has he communicated what you've told us, which is that certainly any inspections understanding would be subject to further guidance from the Security Council? Has he said that directly to the US?
MR. BOUCHER: He has said that in public. He has said that in private, I think, to various groups and members. We have a mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and our mission there, Ambassador Ken Brill, is out there following the discussions that are being held.
QUESTION: He's following or participating?
MR. BOUCHER: Following. He's not a participant.
QUESTION: And maybe we're going over stuff that went over yesterday, but I just want to make sure. Is your understanding that the Iraqi offer for the inspections, that it's based on the '98 agreement or based on your understanding that there were certain palaces that would not be -- would be immune to inspection?
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding of the Iraqi offer is that they can say anything anytime, as opposed to really promise to let the inspectors go anywhere anytime. Whatever they've said, they've contradicted in other statements. Our understanding today remains what our understanding was yesterday: they really don't understand quite yet that they have to disarm, they have to cooperate.
QUESTION: Well, what is Ken Brill reporting back on the Iraqi offer?
MR. BOUCHER: What is Ken Brill -- he's reporting back what's going on.
QUESTION: Okay. I mean, so whatever this delegation says in Vienna, the Iraqi delegation, you guys are looking at --
MR. BOUCHER: We're looking at the whole picture. We've heard different statements. We've heard, you know, statements of unfettered or without conditions. We've heard them use words like unrestricted or -- and then the same government or even higher level officials the next day or in between those statements are saying they reject in advance any UN resolution that might require that. So you have -- the Iraqis are all over the map on that one.
QUESTION: So you would be suspicious of any agreement reached between this delegation of Iraqis and Blix and his crew?
MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said yesterday, it's not so much what the Iraqis says; it's what the Security Council says. The Security Council needs to take charge of this. Obviously, Dr. Blix and the inspectors will need to have certain procedural understandings and arrangements made so that they can fly in and do their work, but the instructions, the authority and the confidence of the Security Council is what they need most to carry out thorough inspections.
QUESTION: Is the administration's stated objective still regime change in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Our stated objective is to -- yes, is to achieve regime change. The point that we've often made is that the United Nations goal is one of disarmament of Iraq, Iraqi compliance with the resolutions that require disarmament, as well as many other things, an end to the behavior of the Iraqi regime vis-à-vis its own people and accounting for assets and Kuwaiti prisoners and things like that.
The United States Government and Congress reached a conclusion several years ago, four or five years ago, that those things would only actually be achieved with a change of regime in Baghdad. That's a conclusion based on experience. It's a conclusion based on fact. We are pursuing other means to achieve compliance with those resolutions and we'll see how it goes through that process at the United Nations, but one has to be skeptical and remain skeptical about the likelihood of that happening without a change in regime.
QUESTION: But if the UN at some point down the road gets a clean bill of health, will the administration's stated objective --
MR. BOUCHER: That is what we call a hypothetical, and while all of us would like to see full Iraqi compliance and disarmament, we -- and are willing to pursue it through the United Nations, I'm not going to deal with such a thing because it is truly hypothetical. I would have to say that based on past experience.
QUESTION: Richard, could you talk a minute about timelines and what -- how long you feel it will before the administration can put something on the table at the UN before this discussion will become more public?
MR. BOUCHER: It's already become very public, hasn't it?
QUESTION: But not based on a concrete --
MR. BOUCHER: Our approach to this has been, first of all, for the President to lay out very clearly Iraq's defiance of the United Nations and the need for e United Nations to take action. The Secretary General, in fact on the same day, said that the Security Council needed to face up to its responsibilities. In that regard, we are on the same wavelength.
The President's speech transformed the situation, I think; it made people in the United Nations and the Security Council want to deal with this issue seriously and understand that it was their responsibility to ensure Iraqi compliance. That has proceeded, then led to this discussion that we've had of the new resolution. We are pursing that course. The United States made very clear we expect things to be different.
At that point, I think we said it would probably be a couple weeks of work, that we didn't want this to go on forever, and we're in the middle of a couple weeks of work, maybe moving on to a few or several. But the point is it was a matter of weeks, not months that we were looking to do this resolution.
We have proceeded from a serious textual discussion with the British, who are very interested in this. We're talking about text with the Perm 5. We had Marc Grossman's trip. Yesterday at the United Nations, we had another meeting with the elected ten members, including -- and gave them the text that we've been talking to others about at this point.
But from the beginning, remember, the day after the President's speech, the Secretary met with the Perm 5 and the Secretary General. He met with the ten elected members. And over the course of the last several weeks, he's had a variety of other meetings with UN Security Council members.
The point being -- sorry to come there so late, but the point being that we want to work this carefully. We want to work it gradually. We want to work it so we listen, so it's a real consultation and so that we come up with a resolution that not only accomplishes what it needs to do in terms of sending a tough message to Iraq, but it also can garner the support of Security Council members. And that's what we're in the middle of right now.
QUESTION: So you think that this discussion could go into next week?
MR. BOUCHER: I make no particular predictions on time. I would just caution you that we are going to work this methodically with people before we start doing splashy things on the table.
QUESTION: Richard, a quick question on regime change. Has the US in any capacity asked foreign governments to themselves adopt policies similar to the US as regime change, as the US did in 1998 in the Iraq Liberation Act?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure that's a question I can answer at this point.
QUESTION: If I could just say, I think that Don Rumsfeld said something along these lines about two weeks ago on Radio Sawa.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, then I'll leave it to him. He must know more than I do about it.
QUESTION: Well, I mean the State Department would know, right? I mean, you guys are in charge of diplomacy.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it to him. I believe the Secretary of Defense.
QUESTION: Have you felt any change in Tony Blair's position, given that the Labour Party has been pushing in the opposite direction?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to do political analysis for you. We've cooperated very closely with the British. We're working together with the British Government on these matters. And as you know, we've been pursuing the diplomacy in tandem or together or in parallel, depending on the place. They've been out to talk to the French, as we have, in Paris. We went together to Moscow. They talked to the Chinese in Beijing. We talked to the Chinese here. We're working together up at the United Nations. So I would say that the British are key partners in this effort and we continue to work with them.
QUESTION: Richard, can I follow up on that, please? Yes, but now the British are saying that there won't be -- that British forces would not support an attack on Iraq unless it was backed by UN action. So does this hamper any efforts that have --
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're selectively quoting bits and pieces. I've seen what Tony Blair has said in his various appearances, what Foreign Secretary Straw has said. Prime Minister Blair I think made the point in his speech the other day that one way or the other Iraq had to disarm. That's exactly our view as well.
QUESTION: Richard, there's been some discussion in European capitals about putting some sort of carrot in this resolution along with the big stick, something, some consideration of sanctions relief. Is that something you would oppose?
MR. BOUCHER: We have described in some specificity -- maybe that's not the right word. We've described what we expect to see in a resolution. The UN has numerous resolutions on Iraq, some of which have thrown carrots, some of which have raised sticks. The point is this has to be different. This has to make clear this time that disarmament needs to be achieved, compliance needs to be achieved, Iraq needs to carry out its obligations; that their defiance of the UN, their continued pursuit of these programs, is a threat to us all. And we want to make clear that this resolution needs to be different and the behavior of Iraq needs to be different this time. And that's why we've described the resolution the way we have, as a tough resolution that makes clear there are consequences. That's where we are right now.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Have you managed to read the entire EU -- the report on the EU decision on Article 98 deals, and if you have, are you in a position to give a more definitive assessment of it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll give you somewhat more of an assessment on it. I think the definitive assessment will come in our discussions with individual states. The approach that the ministers took to allow individual members to negotiate these agreements provides a positive and constructive way forward. We'll be discussing these matters with individual member-states in greater detail as we negotiate our proposed bilateral agreements.
As we've said before, our pursuit of bilateral agreements reflects a friendly approach to the treaty. We seek the most effective way to create an environment that respects the rights of parties to the Rome statute to be members of the International Criminal Court and respects our right not to be a party to the Rome statute.
Some elements in the guidelines section of the ministers' decision we do not agree with, and we'll continue to pursue these matters in the bilateral discussions that we expect to have.
QUESTION: Which ones were those?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, for example, there are some statements that characterize our position, our draft, as not being consistent with the treaty. We believe that our draft of the agreement is fully consistent with the parties' obligations under the Rome statute. There are issues like that.
QUESTION: That your draft of -- are all these Article 98 agreements, the 12 that you've signed so far, it's the exact same wording with name of country different? Is that what you mean?
MR. BOUCHER: Close to it.
QUESTION: And that's the draft you're talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's the draft we're talking about. Some of the guidelines and commentary that the ministers put out criticizes various elements of that as somehow inconsistent with the statute. We believe that they are consistent with the statute and we will discuss these in more detail with the individual governments as we start to negotiate.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned at all that the guidelines would be -- the guidelines tell the individual EU members that the agreements can only apply to diplomats and troops and cannot apply to private citizens or ex-officio --
MR. BOUCHER: That is one of the issues involved here. That's one area where we do believe that our draft applying to American nationals is consistent with the statute, and we will continue to press that case in our individual discussions as appropriate.
QUESTION: Okay, and the last one very briefly. You don't have -- do you have a problem with the guideline where it says that you do not -- that EU national -- nationals of EU countries cannot be affected by any Article 98 agreement?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a particular comment on every aspect of this, but as these questions arise in our individual negotiations, I'm sure we'll want to address them.
QUESTION: Could you explain in slightly more detail what your objection is to limiting the exemption to diplomats and troops? It's kind of hard to understand why you think it should go beyond that.
MR. BOUCHER: There are many Americans that are not diplomats and troops.
QUESTION: Sure, but they're not likely to be prosecuted for war crimes, I wouldn't have thought. I mean, they are not in the position to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, again, these are questions that will be addressed as we proceed. Our draft agreements are broader and we'll address these as we proceed with individual governments.
QUESTION: Richard, is this the concern that, like, US contracted groups like DynCorp and so forth might be brought in because --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to do the whole legal explanation at this point. There are questions that we need to address concerning the scope of coverage of these agreements. And we have a draft that we believe is consistent with the Rome statute and we'll be pressing -- we'll be having those more detailed discussions on individual circumstances and definitions with individual countries as we go forward.
QUESTION: But are you basically referring to contractors who perform security or certain --
MR. BOUCHER: You just asked me the same question twice, I will give you the same answer twice, but we'll omit it.
QUESTION: Can I just do one more? Do you think that you can work within these guidelines or are you going to work with individual countries to try and get them to deviate from the EU guidelines?
MR. BOUCHER: We will negotiate with individual countries on agreements that we think meet our needs and their needs.
QUESTION: Okay. So you're not going to change your stock Article 98 agreement with Country X?
MR. BOUCHER: All I can say at this point is all these particular issues will have to be addressed in the negotiations. That's where the next steps belong, and we'll discuss these individual and particular issues with individual countries.
QUESTION: And are you still of the opinion that the EU, as a grouping, is not -- should not be mandating or telling its members what to do, what they can and can't do in a bilateral agreement with yourself?
MR. BOUCHER: We always took the approach that it was important to have bilateral agreements with individual governments, and as I said, we think it's positive and constructive that the EU European ministers decided that that was the way to go.
Now, who's changing the subject? Nicholas?
QUESTION: I suppose Mr. Kelley's trip to North Korea is still -- his schedule is still in the works, but can you tell us whether there is anything certain at this point and whether you know with whom he's going to meet on Friday and Thursday when he -- Thursday and Friday when
MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you what is certain, and that is that he is in Tokyo. He arrived there Tuesday afternoon, that's this afternoon, in Tokyo. In Tokyo today and tomorrow, he'll meet with Japanese officials in advance of his visit to Pyongyang as part of our longstanding practice of close-coordination with our partners, Japan and South Korea. The officials with whom he will meet today include Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Yukio Takeuchi, and Foreign Ministry Director General for Asia Hitoshi Tanaka.
He'll be in Seoul on the 2nd and 3rd, in Pyongyang from the 3rd to the 5th, back in Seoul from the 5th and the 6th, and in Tokyo the 6th and the 7th. As for particular meetings that he may have in North Korea, I don't have that information at this moment.
QUESTION: Do you know if the storm that's occurring down on Japan, the typhoon, is going to at all --
MR. BOUCHER: There was some concern about that, but he's due to be there today and tomorrow. I think the concern was that he get in before the storm hits, which he did.
QUESTION: He probably can't get out tomorrow.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's tomorrow.
QUESTION: Richard, by the time you brief on Thursday, he will have met or had the first meeting, maybe. Could you take the unusual step of filling us in to the extent you can?
MR. BOUCHER: I know there's a lot of interest, but I fear I'm going to disappoint you in advance by saying I don't think we plan on doing a play-by-play of the meetings. These meetings need to go forward. They need to be serious discussions, as the President was looking for. I think we'll want to conclude the discussions and then have some kind of an assessment that we can provide for you, so depending on the exact timing of briefings and meetings, I would not expect that I will be in a position to give you much more than confirming particular meetings that have taken place.
Who do you we have? Now we had Terri?
QUESTION: The Ukrainian President has now met with Beth Jones and, according to reports from that meeting, is still denying the charges of making a deal with Iraq and inviting investigators in. Can you fill us in on that meeting and whether you've talked to Assistant Secretary Jones and --
MR. BOUCHER: We've gotten some preliminary information from her and from our ambassador in Ukraine. Assistant Secretary Jones pressed the seriousness with which we view these -- this evidence of approval of the sale of Kolchuga radars to Iraq. She made clear the need to get to the bottom of the matter through an open and transparent investigation.
President Kuchma -- I note that his spokesman said that the transfer of the sale didn't occur, that President Kuchma did agree to an investigation by experts and to provide information and to support that investigation. So we will now look at the reports that we get and make our assessment on the next steps.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you have now -- that you believe that it is worthwhile to send people over there to --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you the final call on that.
QUESTION: Because the --
MR. BOUCHER: He did pledge cooperation.
QUESTION: I'm sorry?
MR. BOUCHER: He did pledge cooperation.
QUESTION: Right. So the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is getting a little ahead of it when they say that you guys have agreed to send people to investigate?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I've only had preliminary reports. I want to make sure before I announce any next steps.
QUESTION: I was just going to ask you, and maybe this is a stupid question, but you're sending an investigation -- well, I know you're not saying that, but suppose there was -- no, I don't want to say it like that either. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, next question.
QUESTION: You're not changing? Your assessment stands? Kuchma knew --
MR. BOUCHER: Our assessment of the information on the tape is that he approved a sale.
QUESTION: He approved a sale?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: So what's an investigation going to accomplish?
MR. BOUCHER: It is going to look in to the circumstances of the procurement effort by the Iraqis, the nature of the equipment, what transfers did or did not occur. There's plenty of things that need to be explained about this, besides that one particular moment that we have the videotaped evidence of.
QUESTION: Right, because the Ukrainians seem to be under the impression that the investigation could clear Kuchma.
MR. BOUCHER: I will stick with what I've said so far. These are all matters that need to be looked into thoroughly.
QUESTION: Does it matter to you guys whether the transfer took place or not in terms of your policy review towards Ukraine, the country, and President Kuchma, the person? Or is your review going to be --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it matters to us whether Iraq got this system or not. We said we were following up on some reports that it may be there, but we weren't able to confirm that at this point. So it matters to us whether Iraq was successful in trying to procure this kind of military equipment. That, first and foremost, is something we want to know and we want to know what happened and how it happened.
In terms of our review, obviously we believe the tape to be authentic, and you know what we've seen on the tape. But what also matters to us is the degree of cooperation we get, the degree of transparency we get, and the degree of commitment we get towards avoiding a repetition.
QUESTION: So, in other words, the tape, your authentication of the tape does not forever indelibly taint President Kuchma?
MR. BOUCHER: I leave it exactly where we are for the moment. I'm not going to start using -- throwing around highfalutin' phrases right now. We have preliminary reports from our Assistant Secretary. She had serious discussions. She made quite clear that this was an important matter to us. She did get a pledge of cooperation. And I'll be announcing next steps as soon as I can.
QUESTION: But it sounds like redemption is available for him.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not dealing with transcendental concepts right now.
QUESTION: The signing of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act by President Bush yesterday, where does that leave the State Department now? What's the next step, as far as you're concerned?
MR. BOUCHER: It leaves us exactly where the President said we were. I think you have a copy of the President's signing statement so I won't read you the whole thing right now. But the President made clear that he considers most -- many of the provisions that would hamper his authority to conduct foreign affairs, he considers those provisions Sense of the Congress or advisory in nature. So we always want to hear the Sense of the Congress and the advice that they have to give us. But he also made very clear, for example, that our policy on Jerusalem has not changed. So that's where we are.
QUESTION: This is not a hypothetical question. Can you just tell me what the law actually says if the President decides to go ahead and implement this piece of legislation? Does the State Department have a particular recourse to circumvent implementing it, or not?
MR. BOUCHER: We do what the President decides, but what the President decided in this matter is that our policy on Jerusalem remains the same. We continue to believe it's an issue that needs to be pursued through negotiation. That remains our policy until the President instructs us to do something else, but yesterday he reconfirmed again that that was our policy and that any remarks in the legislation that contradicted that would be taken as advisory and not mandatory.
QUESTION: Okay, just one more on the same topic, please. The State Department -- Secretary of State or his Deputy had traditionally urged the Congress not to use or to avoid the kind of language they used in this particular piece of legislation. Why didn't the State Department do --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's kind of a red herring. It was thrown out anonymously in some story over the last few days. The State Department made consistently clear that we opposed this kind of language in legislation. We have always opposed language that would hamper the President's ability to conduct our foreign affairs. We have always opposed language such as this that would interfere in the process of negotiations which remains fundamental to US policy.
QUESTION: Let's get down to the specifics of this. Firstly, the law says that the US Consulate in Jerusalem gets no money unless it reports to the US Ambassador to Israel. Has that happened already? Is he reporting to the US Ambassador to Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: The various statements and elements in Section 214 concerning Jerusalem, the President said need to be treated as advisory rather than mandatory. And he gave his reasons for that, and I think that's among those provisions that we will treat that way.
QUESTION: I understand that. But, okay, is the Consul General reporting to the US Ambassador in Israel today?
MR. BOUCHER: As we've said, the policy on Jerusalem remains unchanged. The Consul General in Jerusalem reports directly to Washington and we consider the language in the bill that would change that to be advisory rather than required, and therefore we continue to keep things the way they are.
QUESTION: Let's follow up on that, the second thing. Have you established whether there are any US Government documents which specify countries and their capitals, like Consular Information Sheets and so on, and have you made any changes in them today?
MR. BOUCHER: As the President said in his statement --
QUESTION: No, no. I understand, I understand --
MR. BOUCHER: -- our policies have not changed. Therefore as you go through your litany of has this changed, has that changed, has this changed, has that changed, I will consistently reply to you our policies have not changed, our sheets have not changed, our papers have not changed, our, you know, whatever it is, has not changed. So now you can ask 23 questions and I will give you the same answer.
QUESTION: Well, I won't. How about this? I'm not going to ask that because I think Jonathan --
QUESTION: No, it's possible --
QUESTION: No, no. Because you're treating this stuff as not mandatory, but rather, advisory, you're not -- you're basically going to ignore them, right? You're not going to implement the changes that the Congress has, in what you see, suggested or recommended to you?
MR. BOUCHER: We're going to follow the President's policy. We're going to consider, I'm sure, the advice of our Congress, as we always do. And we're going to continue with the policy the President lays down for us, which is that our policy on Jerusalem has not changed.
QUESTION: And so these recommendations are not going to be implemented, right?
MR. KUNDER: We will continue to implement the President's policy the way it is until such a time as he should decide to do something different.
QUESTION: Is there some reason why you don't want to say that you're not going to accept the advice of the Congress?
MR. BOUCHER: Because ultimately, over a long period of time, if the President decides to change something, he can. But today, no, this is not changed. We're not implementing these provisions today.
QUESTION: Yesterday, some White House officials said that although the policy remained the same, that this was simply an issue of changing letterhead, meaning that you would go through the motions in following through on these recommendations, but that you would, in your policies and the way that you dealt with the Israeli and the Palestinians, you would continue to treat Jerusalem as a final status issue.
In the administration -- in the State Department administration, in correspondence and things like that, are you going to follow those parts of the legislation?
MR. BOUCHER: That's the same question I was just asked five times.
QUESTION: Okay, but then --
MR. BOUCHER: We have not changed any of those things, and should the President decide that we should, we will. But the President has stated yesterday that our policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed. That's where we are today.
QUESTION: And just to get it absolutely clear. On the passports issue, if somebody turns up today and says they want Israel written on their document, what will the State Department do?
MR. BOUCHER: What we did yesterday.
QUESTION: So you won't write it. And have you prepared for a legal challenge to these apparently mandatory demands?
MR. BOUCHER: The President makes quite clear in his signing statement the legal basis, those constitutional authorities on which these decisions are based.
QUESTION: Do you know of any President declaring --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not a legal scholar. I'm sure there are some, but I don't have those for you, no.
QUESTION: I always pride myself on being able to appreciate nuance and subtlety, but could you explain how the President can sign this legislation into law and say, I won't accept this, that, or the other because Congress doesn't have Constitutional authority to make foreign policy; yet at the same time, he's preparing to send 250,000 of our fellow citizens into war because Congress four years ago declared regime change to be the foreign policy of the United States? I mean it's--
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I don't think there's any logic to the question, frankly, I have to say. The authority of the President to carry out our foreign policy is quite clear in the Constitution. In the case of Iraq and regime change and the need for Iraqi compliance, this is an area where the Congress and the President agree, where in fact the United Nations Security Council has agreed and made these requirements of the President.
As you know, the President is -- the White House is discussing with Congress, the administration is discussing with the Congress, further resolutions that would state quite explicitly that they do agree on the need to take action about Iraq's defiance of the United Nations. So it's something they agree upon and, I think as the White House has made clear, something that will be demonstrated in the new resolution that it is something they agree on quite definitively.
We think that's an important part of our diplomacy to have that backing and to be able to use that as we go forward in the world to make clear that the United States is of one mind about this.
QUESTION: Richard, it looks like they've reached agreement in Vienna and an advanced team of inspectors is due in Iraq in about two weeks.
MR. BOUCHER: I was asked ten minutes ago, 15 minutes ago, if I had that information and I said no. And I have to confirm that I still don't have it now because I don't have anybody walking in and handing me wires.
QUESTION: New subject. Can you explain the signing ceremony with the Timorese? What is this?
MR. BOUCHER: What was it?
QUESTION: Yeah. What does it do -- practical --
MR. BOUCHER: Following the meeting with the President of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, Secretary Powell and East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta signed a Status of Forces Agreement for our military in connection with humanitarian assistance projects, possible ship visits and other agreed activities. These are standard agreements that we have with many countries around the world that provide for appropriate procedures regarding the status of US forces in those countries, in whatever country they happen to be located -- legal procedures, status, ID Cards, any number of things that are provided for in these agreements -- and they make it -- they facilitate our deployments and our activities in country.
In East Timor, we have military people out there working on humanitarian assistance projects, the possibility of ship visits, other things that we might agree with the government to do.
The meeting was a good meeting. They discussed -- I think first of all, the Secretary congratulated the East Timor President on East Timor's admission to the United Nations on September 27th. We expressed our appreciation for East Timor's signing of an International Criminal Court Article 98 agreement, and they talked about areas of cooperation as we go forward, about the prospects for East Timor, about various kinds of cooperation that we might have to try to ensure their success as a new nation.
QUESTION: Does it incorporate any elements of the Article 98 agreement and what is the status of that? Has it been ratified by the East Timorese legislature or --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'm sure he'll be available as we answer those questions if you want but I don't know exactly the status in East Timor of the agreement.
QUESTION: Now what about -- does the SOFA, Status of Forces Agreement, incorporate --
MR. BOUCHER: No. There are different kinds of agreements. We have both now with --
QUESTION: You have both now?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Change of subject. Do you have any reaction to the recommendation from this advisory group on religious freedom that Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan and couple of other countries be added to the list of countries of concern?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we always consider their advice, and we'll be putting out our Religious Freedom Report soon. And in that connection, I think -- I'm not sure I can absolutely promise it'll be the same day, but in that connection we normally will give you the countries that we would designate as of particular concern. So stay tuned.
QUESTION: But you've also gone against their advice on occasion.
MR. BOUCHER: We've always considered their advice very carefully, but we haven't always put out the same list as they have, since always means one time, I think.
QUESTION: Do you have a read-out of the Secretary's meeting today with the Senate Judiciary Committee?
MR. BOUCHER: I could give you a description of it. I can't give you a play-by-play of who said what. But the Refugee Act of 1980 requires that a Cabinet-level official consult with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees prior to establishing the refugee admissions ceiling for the coming fiscal year. So on October -- September 17th, excuse me, and the White House put out a statement, a memorandum to the Secretary of State on September 18th -- in that memorandum, the President authorized Secretary Powell to initiate Fiscal Year 2003 consultations.
Based on this authorization, Secretary Powell is meeting today with members of the Senate and the House Judiciary Committees to discuss the President's proposal for refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2003. This morning he met with Senators Kennedy and Brownback. This afternoon he meets with members of the House. I don't have a list of those individuals at this point.
MR. BOUCHER: The President proposed a ceiling of 70,000 for the refugees this year, allocated among various regions, and that's what the Secretary is consulting with the Members of Congress about.
QUESTION: I thought the Cabinet-level official had to consult prior to -- is this -- is what the President --
MR. BOUCHER: The President has proposed a ceiling of 70,000.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. So it's the Secretary who actually decides on --
MR. BOUCHER: And then -- no, after the consultations, then the President signs a presidential determination outlining the overall ceiling and regional sub-ceilings.
QUESTION: So this isn't set in stone yet?
MR. BOUCHER: So the Secretary has been instructed by the President to consult on these numbers, will consult, and then the Secretary will report back to the President, and the President will decide on the final determinations.
QUESTION: Richard, one hears that quite a few Members of Congress are, in fact, in favor of increasing this allocation to make room for the people who got backlogged this year. Is the administration open to doing that, to expanding it a little?
MR. BOUCHER: This has been a different year, this year because of September 11th, new requirements, security requirements that have slowed processing. We haven't been able to move as quickly as we'd hoped to and we admitted fewer than 30,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2002.
We think we've addressed the processing complexities of the program, laid the groundwork for smoother processing in the future, so we'll see what the Members of Congress say to us during these consultations. But the President's proposal is for a ceiling of 70,000 and that's what the Secretary's consulting about at this point.
QUESTION: On a somewhat similar --
MR. BOUCHER: You want to go back?
QUESTION: I would like to try once more on this Iraq thing. I know that you have no information about what went on in Vienna and what may or may not have come out of that meeting. But if there is such an agreement, if an agreement has been reached with the Iraqis, do you feel that the inspectors can go in without a resolution, or would the US try and delay it until some sort of resolution could be reached?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I answered that question 20 minutes ago. We feel that the inspectors should not go in until there is a resolution that gives them the authority and the instructions of the Security Council. We do understand that these kinds of procedural discussions with the Iraqis are necessary and we appreciate and support the approach that Dr. Blix has taken in terms of saying that he needed to sit down and talk about the arrangements for unlimited access that would need to apply to his activities.
We also feel that it's important in terms of actually going out and starting the inspections process that the inspectors need to go with the full authority and the full instructions of the Security Council, and that's what we're working towards.
QUESTION: New topic? There are some hearings starting on the Hill tomorrow on Americans, American children kidnapped to Saudi Arabia, and some of these parents that are going to be testifying tomorrow, we've heard from them before. They are also starting to put out press releases saying that the State Department has not done enough to help them in their efforts to get their children back, that they've kowtowed, if you will, to the Saudi Government in an effort to maintain the relationship rather than help individual families.
Can you respond to some of these claims?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't respond in particular detail about particular cases. This is one of the most difficult and one of the most important things that we work on. Over the last eight or ten years, we've focused more and more on this issue of divided families and custody questions and children taken overseas. We've negotiated agreements, the international agreements, the Hague convention that governs this. And in many cases, many, many cases, we've been able to get satisfaction for the parents, we've been able to implement US custody decisions, we've been able to return children to the parents who should bring them up.
And in some cases we've been unable to do that. This has been a particular problem in countries that are not party to the Hague convention. It's been a very difficult problem in Saudi Arabia, which has a completely different set of laws on this subject. But we continue to work with the families, we continue to press the cases, we continue to look for the overall interests of the families and the children, and we continue to support the decisions of US courts and the interests of US parents.
QUESTION: If I could follow up, in the particular -- without speaking to any particular family, but in the case of Saudi Arabia, could you expand a little bit on how the laws and the US kind of desire to stay within the law of a host country versus your following the Hague convention, how this complicates matters?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't put it exactly the way you put it. I would say we -- countries that are party to the Hague convention, countries that have custody laws and rights and authorities that are similar to ours, it's easier to achieve the goal of uniting the families. It's not always possible when -- you're familiar, I think, with some very heart-wrenching cases involving children in Germany, children in Austria, that we have raised not only within the framework of the laws that they have, but also on the political level. The Secretary of State raises these issues with the Germans, with the Saudis, with the Austrians, with others.
So it's not just saying well, that's the law, tough luck. It's pursuing not only the legal remedies, the international treaties and the decisions of US courts, but pursuing the interests of US families in any variety of ways. And that's what we continue to do on many of these difficult cases. The cases are more difficult in places that have legal structures that are on these issues that are different than ours.
QUESTION: Your new immigration restrictions came into effect today, correct, for some countries, October 1st, fingerprinting, that kind of stuff?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the -- yes.
QUESTION: Immigration entry requirements.
MR. BOUCHER: It's an entry requirement. It's a matter that the Immigration and Naturalization Service, I think, has put out abundant information on. It is a step towards, as we've described, a step towards actually knowing who's in the country, where they're going and what they're doing, which is a standard practice in many countries around the world and a standard feature even of our law. So the immigration service continues to move in that direction.
And as I think I said when I discussed this a couple weeks ago, as these provisions go into place, wherever possible, we tell people in advance what the procedures will be and what they'll have to do in order -- just keep us informed where they're going and what they're doing when they come into this country.
QUESTION: Has there been any protests or notes verbale or -- or --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've had -- let's call them inquiries from some governments about this and we're coordinating with the Justice Department to make sure that we get complete and good explanations to people and to individuals as well as to governments about what this system is.
QUESTION: I understand that one of the big problems is people who are dual-nationals, say if one of a, say, of a NATO ally of yours, and but that they happened to have been born in Iran or Iraq or --
MR. BOUCHER: I think you'll have to check with Immigration Service on how the program is actually implemented in that regard.
QUESTION: Okay. And my last one is, any joy for Joschka Fischer yet in his quest -- I mean I do believe Germany was just elected to be -- you know, to join the Security Council and, I mean they haven't, they are not on it yet, but, you know, presumably one consults with people who are going to be future members of the Council --
MR. BOUCHER: One always consults with friends and allies and future members of the Security Council. You're asking me every day. I forget to ask upstairs every day. But to my knowledge, nothing has been scheduled this morning.
QUESTION: And you don't know if the Secretary has had any conversation with Foreign Minister Fischer?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new to report at this point. They talked last week, I think it was.
Released on October 1, 2002