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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 8

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 8, 2002

INDEX:

CENTRAL AMERICA
1 Prospects for Secretary Powell s Travel to the Region

KUWAIT
1-2 US Marine Shooting Incident

MALAYSIA
2 Suspect in Buffalo Arrests

IRAQ
2-3 International Reaction to President's Speech
3 Secretary Powell's Phone Calls to Foreign Ministers
3-4 Secretary Powell's Contacts with Members of the Security
Council
5 Update on UN Resolution
6-7 US Efforts to Inform Foreign/Domestic Audiences
6-8 Overseas Transmission of President's Speech

JAPAN
5 American Activities/Travel

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
8 Secretary Powell's Video Message to Bosnia Before
Elections

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
8 Update on Situation and Continuing Violence
8 Possible Travel by Assistant Secretary Burns
10 Secretary Powell's Meeting with Palestinian Finance
Minister

ISRAEL/LEBANON
9 US Water Expert to Visit the Region

THE GAMBIA
9 13 Countries Have Concluded Article 98 Agreements

LIBYA
9 US View of Libya as Chair of UN Human Rights Commission


TRANSCRIPT:


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: Why is the Secretary not planning to take his unplanned trip to Central America?

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: Since we never announced any trip, obviously there's no trip to cancel. The Secretary was considering going to Central America this week, and I think given the need to stay in Washington and work with the Congress on the resolution and continue the work that he's doing with the United Nations Security Council members on getting an Iraq resolution, he's unfortunately had to postpone that trip.

QUESTION: Can I ask about something else, something that actually did happen?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Can you -- or maybe you don't know exactly what happened. Can you bring us up to date -- I realize this is mainly a Pentagon issue, but can you tell us what you know from this building about what happened in Kuwait this morning?

MR. BOUCHER: I can, but I think I'd preface that by saying I think what I know all comes from the Pentagon. But just to the extent that we know something.

There was a shooting incident in which two gunmen opened fire on US Marines conducting military operations in Faylaka Island in Kuwait. We understand one Marine has been killed and the two assailants injured and taken into custody. The Pentagon should have further details on that.

I would just point out that we are working with Kuwaiti authorities to investigate the incident but we don't have any further details at this point.

QUESTION: Then moving in the same region, what's the latest on your -- or is there anything new from your end on the tanker explosion?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new from our end on the tanker explosion. We have some investigators, some experts, who are out in Yemen, available to work with the French and the Yemenis who are investigating the situation. But I don't have any new conclusions or results at this point.

QUESTION: You said that they're willing to? Do you know if they actually are?

MR. BOUCHER: I think they are providing support and expertise.

Betsy.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the arrest in Malaysia of the suspect in the Buffalo arrests?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, maybe. Do I have that piece of paper? It's on the table back there, huh? All right. Not right now, but maybe in a little while. I'm sorry. No, I'll have to get you something on that and make sure I get it right on what the status is.

QUESTION: What are people overseas or here by phone hearing about reaction to the President's speech of last night?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an extensive rundown yet. We normally do that sort of in the overnights or 24 hours later. We probably missed a lot of the newspaper deadlines, for example, last night in Europe or the Arab world.

The bit of reaction that we've seen so far is pretty positive. People are -- we've seen some praise in Britain and Australia and various other places in Europe. I think the President laid out the case quite extensively. People using words like "measured" to show that he really did cover all aspects, covered all the main questions that people are asking at this point, and we think gave solid answers to those; and that people more and more, as you see from the effort in the Security Council and the way things are progressing there, that there's more and more understanding that we need a new resolution that will lay out for Iraq some tough conditions exactly what it has to do to comply with the resolutions, to comply with the demands of the international community, and that we make clear at the same time that the international community intends to act if Iraq doesn't comply.

QUESTION: What about any Arab -- have you heard anything?

MR. BOUCHER: I, again, don't have an extensive reaction yet in those places in terms of the press reporting. I think we missed most of the -- what would have been the morning newspapers. So embassies, I'm sure, are in touch with people. We just don't have that kind of extensive rundown yet.

QUESTION: What phone calls has he made, the Secretary?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary made -- I forget how many phone calls we talked about yesterday. Yesterday he talked to Foreign Secretary Straw a couple times, actually. He talked to Foreign Minister Villepin twice, talked to European High Representative Solana, and today he's talking to the -- he's talked to the Mauritanian Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: No conversations concerning the President's speech in terms of today? This morning? Any follow-up like that in the newspapers?

MR. BOUCHER: No particular follow-up. I mean, everybody who we're talking to has heard this President's speech and I'm sure our embassies overseas are following up. The Secretary -- it has come -- will come up in the Secretary's conversations because people are paying attention to it.

But just because of the timing of the speech and this briefing, I'm not able to give you a comprehensive, worldwide rundown at this point. We've seen bits and pieces of commentary. We've seen some statements by some governments that are generally positive. And as I said, what we've heard is that there is an appreciation that the President laid out the case, answered many of the questions that people are asking, and made quite clear why we all need to work together to ensure compliance by Iraq one way or the other.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any other personal either phone calls or meetings between the Secretary and non-permanent members of the Security Council other than Mauritania and Mexico?

MR. BOUCHER: I would point out that the day after the President's speech he had meetings with the elected ten, and then furthermore in New York during the course of his meetings there he met with a number of other elected members of the Security Council. Our Assistant Secretaries, as they've been traveling in various parts of the world, have also had a chance to talk to important players and elected members of the Council as well.

QUESTION: But I mean, in the last couple of the days, because let's remember --

MR. BOUCHER: I mean, again, if you ask the question in a various --

QUESTION: -- the speech was given was given on September 12th. It's now August -- I mean October the 8th. You're four days away from a month. Everything was lined up in terms of weeks, not months. You're about to hit the one-month line and I was just wondering --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, ask me that question when we hit the two-month mark.

QUESTION: Well, okay, but I mean --

MR. BOUCHER: Because "not months" is still applicable. (Laughter.) Let me just say you're putting in an unfair test, I'll have to say.

QUESTION: No, no, no, I'm just trying to find out how many how many of the elected ---

MR. BOUCHER: We had -- I know, but you're putting in an unfair test. It doesn't necessarily require the Secretary of State to talk on the phone at every stage with every member. The fact is, our mission in New York is working this very actively --

QUESTION: Richard, you're being defensive about something -- I'm only asking you -- the question was, if you remember, are you aware of any other phone calls or meetings between the Secretary and his colleagues from elected members of the Security Council other than Mexico and Mauritania in the last couple -- in the last week or so. And the answer is obviously no, you're not aware of them; is that right?

MR. BOUCHER: No, the answer is not obviously no. The answer is, you know, if you want to stand up here and watch me flip the little thing, I'll probably find something. Let's see. Fischer, that doesn't count.

QUESTION: Not yet.

MR. BOUCHER: Not yet, huh?

QUESTION: Soon.

MR. BOUCHER: But soon to be a member. How about ask me if I'm aware of any contacts between the Secretary and recently elected members of the future Security Council? I mean, it's just if you want to slice it that thin, you know, after I answer this question, we'll answer -- we'll do some more. He's talked to so many people. I'm trying to find an elected member. All right, I'll check on it later.

Look, the answer is, you know, we do things diplomatically that are not done on the telephone by the Secretary of State. Obviously that's one of our key assets in terms of how we work an issue. But I would point out that we have consistently worked with the elected members of the Council. The Secretary himself has been in touch with certain individual ones. There is a lunch today with the Secretary General and all the members of the Security Council where we'll be talking to all the members up there. A lot of this work with the Perm 5 is going on in New York. A lot of the work with the other members of the Council is going on in New York. We are at different levels of detail with different ones, but we do keep in touch with the elected members. That's all I'm saying.

QUESTION: You're assuming that I'm trying to dig up something negative. I'm not. I'm just trying -- I'm not saying that you're not consulting with them. I just wanted to know if the Secretary -- anyway, never mind, forget about it.

MR. BOUCHER: If you slice it thin enough, you can see through the salami, but this one's, you know, pretty good. We're doing something here.

Mark.

QUESTION: How close is the United States to putting forward a draft resolution? And do you have any outlook for -- I think there's a P-5 meeting today. Do you have any outlook for that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular outlook for that session. Our desire is to keep working this with the other members of the Council. I think I said yesterday there's some convergence on the concepts. We're progressing in terms of our work there. Dr. Blix has pointed out there needs to be -- that he would welcome -- Dr. Blix and Dr. Baradei have pointed out that they would welcome a new resolution that sets clear terms and conditions for their inspectors to use. They pointed out constant pressure is needed, and we think that's best achieved in one resolution that sets forth not only what Iraq has to do but the consequences of Iraq not doing that.

So there's a certain, I'd say, movement and convergence on the concepts. There is still work to do on the text, quite a bit of work to do on the text, so I'm not able at this time to predict when we might have a text that can be, you know, formally put on the table. But we are discussing the resolution and its elements in various levels of detail with various members of the UN at this point.

QUESTION: Did you want a consensus among the P-5 before you put forward a text?

MR. BOUCHER: I think generally that's what we work for, as well as a certain amount of consultation with other members of the Council. The goal is not to slap something down and say take it or leave it; the President, from the start, has said we want to talk to these other governments; we think the United Nations needs to act, the Security Council needs to act as a body. And we've always said we want a resolution that not only is tough and clear but that also can garner the support of other Council members.

Okay, the gentleman there.

QUESTION: I asked this yesterday, but I was wondering if I -- if I could get a different response I'd be in your debt. Some of the families of the victims of September 11th attacks are in Japan and they don't believe that we should solve our problems through war. Now, I'm just wondering, and basically anti-war protestors, I was wondering what your take is on that.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid we don't change policy every day, so the thought is the same as the one yesterday; that we don't track the comings and goings of American citizens, they're free to go and express themselves as they wish. It's the only thought that we have.

QUESTION: Back on the Iraq resolution, what's the level of concern with the latest comment from the Russian Foreign Ministry saying that the proposed US resolution is disingenuous and contains demands that Washington is well aware cannot be met?

MR. BOUCHER: This is Feda --

QUESTION: This was Yuri Fedatov.

MR. BOUCHER: Fedatov. I didn't see that particular quote. I think what I saw him actually when he actually said something specific it was still over this question of automaticity, of automatic movement from violations to all necessary means. And that has been the issue, we know, with the French and Russians all along. That's the issue that the Secretary is concentrating on in his discussions with the French and Russian Foreign Ministers as well as in his discussions with the British. And then they are having contacts with the French and Russians as well.

So that's the issue under discussion -- how to work out proposals that would keep the Security Council in the driver's seat and at the same time make clear to Iraq that there are consequences for violating the agreement.

QUESTION: How immovable are the Russians?

MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask them.

Betsy.

QUESTION: Richard, you all are having trouble not only in this country getting out the message of why this is necessary to attack Iraq, but you're also having some trouble overseas and I wondered -- with the public at large. And I was wondering if you -- if there is an effort to sort of address people's concerns overseas, as well. Are you sending out talking points to ambassadors? Are you encouraging people to talk to groups? Are you -- is there any kind of --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me -- I think I reject the characterization of having trouble, but yes, we are getting the message out domestically as well as overseas and the President's speech last night was an important element in doing that. We are taking opportunities to do interviews and get the message out through various mechanisms. I would point out the Secretary, himself, has been doing regular interviews with foreign media outlets and did another one today.

The President's speech we sent out last night to our embassies to use and for foreign broadcasters to use. I think we sent it out in six languages, two of them simultaneous and four of them soon after. And it continues to be made available through our various mechanisms today, both web, translations, and other ways that our embassies have of providing things to foreign journalists, foreign broadcasters as well as foreign individuals who want to read the actual full text.

So we're doing, I think, a pretty consistent effort, particularly using the President's speech last night because, as I said, it is a vehicle that we can use that answers, I think, some of the questions that people have raised around the world about why this issue is coming up now and why we have to ask -- act.

QUESTION: Do you happen to know which languages were simultaneous and which ones --

MR. BOUCHER: It was not a question of politics, it was a question of --

QUESTION: Oh. (Laughter.) Richard, every --

MR. BOUCHER: Let me give the whole answer, okay? Yes, I do happen to know the languages that it went out in. It went out in Mandarin and French* simultaneous. And then the others: Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish**. I can't remember the last one. I will check on that for you. Russian probably. Yeah. Or later. It was a matter of the time zones, that we could hit those time zones. There was no point in doing simultaneous into Arabic at 3:00 in the morning their time.

QUESTION: So this was done on the web?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it was done by live broadcast to the American embassy. We have a satellite television video transmission and we did that live for a couple of language -- well, English as well, and then live translations.

QUESTION: -- embassy, or was this just for them to look at?

MR. BOUCHER: It's sent to embassies. Some broadcasters pick it up automatically if they follow our satellite transmissions. And we certainly do -- embassies do a lot in advance to tell local broadcasters where to point the satellite and what time. And then embassies take the tapes of it and retransmit and pass it on to foreign broadcasters and others who might be interested. Some embassies may invite local journalists or officials to come down and watch it live.

Terri.

QUESTION: This is not Iraq.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, okay.

QUESTION: I have an Iraq-related "getting the message out" question. Has someone like Chris Ross or others done any broadcasting in the Arab world specifically, or done interviews?

* Correction: French should be Spanish for live time zones.

** Correction: Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and French for later broadcasts.

MR. BOUCHER: Not specifically that I'm aware of, although our embassies are under regular instructions or supported when our ambassadors or people from our embassies want to do that. So I imagine you would find that some various American ambassadors overseas have done local TV and other type interviews to keep the message going.

Terri.

QUESTION: I read that Secretary Powell was on a video -- kind of like a public service announcement -- in Bosnia, for Bosnian elections --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- urging them not to turn back to nationalism. Can you tell us more about that, and is this common? I hadn't heard of it before.

MR. BOUCHER: We've done it from time to time, sort of "turn out the vote" and, you know, "vote your future" kind of things. I am trying to think of where else we've done it. It seems to me we've done it once or twice in the past year. But yes, he did a video in Bosnia. We care a lot about Bosnia and the process of free elections, and he did a video before the elections there.

QUESTION: What do you think about the results, then?

MR. BOUCHER: We think the results are still being tabulated. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And you hope there was no errors?

MR. BOUCHER: That's what we think.

Okay, Matt, you had another one.

QUESTION: Middle East. The Israelis don't seem to have taken too well to your message from yesterday. I'm wondering if you have heard back from them on your request for an investigation into what they are doing in Gaza, and also if there's anything new to say about Burns.

MR. BOUCHER: There's nothing new to say about Burns' travel, still. He's still looking at the possibility of travel later this month. We have been in close touch with both sides through our missions in the region. Our Ambassador to Israel has been in close touch with the Israelis on the issues that we have raised. But no, I don't have any news for you on our call for an investigation and our call for them to exercise the utmost care in the manner in which -- to act in a manner that avoids harm to civilians.

We remain deeply troubled about the violence, violence that we know today includes the shooting of four Israeli family members by Palestinian gunmen earlier today, as well as the violence yesterday in Gaza that we talked about.

QUESTION: And sliding up a bit north, there was the number two, I think, at the embassy in Tel Aviv went up to tour the border with Lebanon about the water dispute. Where are you guys -- I think this was a day or so ago?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about that. I think that is something they do from time to time. We have, again, sent a water expert out to the region from our Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, this person who went before. So he's visiting again to follow up on his visit of last month.

As you know, water usage is a complex and highly sensitive issue, made more so by the prolonged drought and the absence of any bilateral agreement between Lebanon and Israel. We want to make clear that it's not in the interest of either for this to become a source of escalation or provocation or for an issue like basic water needs to be politicized.

We continue to urge both sides to proceed in a constructive and cooperative manner and to avoid unilateral steps and we will remain deeply engaged with both sides to try to calm the situation, help them reach a solution that reconciles legitimate Israeli concerns with Lebanon's humanitarian needs. So we have our expert back out in the region to work on that.

QUESTION: For how long?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know exactly. I guess I'll just check and see if I can get that.

QUESTION: I've got two very brief ones. One is we were just talking about this morning. Are you still at 12 on the Article 98 agreements?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we're way above that now.

QUESTION: Way above that?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, depending on how you want to count. Thirteen. (Laughter.) On Saturday we concluded a bilateral Article 98 agreement with Gambia in Banjul. These agreements consistent with the Rome statute and we'll seek to conclude these agreements with as many countries as possible. Today we've got 13 agreements.

QUESTION: Is Gambia a signatory to the Treaty of Rome?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I haven't checked that.

QUESTION: Okay. And the last one is, is there anything new to report on your campaign to keep Libya from taking over the chairmanship of the UN Commission on Human Rights?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to see if we have anything to say about that prospect. I'm not sure we've confirmed that there is any kind of campaign so I don't know if I can say "new."

We've got some gentlemen in the back that have further questions.

Mr. Witt.

QUESTION: Yes, on the Palestinian meeting yesterday, can you tell us what transpired?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary and the Palestinian Finance Minister, Mr. Fayyad, had a good discussion of the state of reform in the Palestinian community. We heard a strong commitment to transparency and accountability in the way the Palestinian budget and funds and tax revenues were to be used. They discussed sort of how that process works. They discussed US encouragement for the continued turnover of tax revenues from the Israelis to the Palestinians, and we'll continue to encourage that process with both sides.

QUESTION: A couple follow-ups. Is it correct that the Israelis, in fact, have not turned over any of those revenues yet?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I think they've turned over some. They've certainly made a series of announcements, including one quite recently. I think you'd have to check with them or the Palestinians on exactly how much money has been transferred.

QUESTION: But the US is going to be pressuring Israel to turn over more of those funds?

MR. BOUCHER: Certainly we think the whole process needs to be continued, needs to be put on a regular basis, and that's what we've been talking to the Israelis about and to the Palestinians to make sure that it's transparent, that it's properly accounted for and used for purposes that are appropriate.

QUESTION: Was there a discussion about the timing of the Palestinian elections?

MR. BOUCHER: No, not yesterday.

Thank you.

[End]


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