State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for November 4
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC November 4, 2002
EAST ASIA 1-3 Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Convention 9 Travel Plans of Jim Kelly 18 Secretary Powell s Trip to the Community of Democracies 18-19 Warden Message / Public Announcement
MIDDLE EAST 3-4 Public Announcement
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 4-5 Jerusalem Bombing
YEMEN 5 Explosion
IRAQ 5-8,19-20 UN Security Council Resolution 6 Information Collection Program 7 Potential Use of Anthrax 8 Business Fair
TURKEY 8-9 Election Results 13 Secretary Powell s Meeting with Turkish General Staff
LEBANON 10-11 Terrorist Activities of Hezbollah 10,12 Extension of Lebanese Authority
LEBANON/ISRAEL 11 Water Rights Dispute
MEXICO 12 Sentencing of Mexican Generals for Involvement in Drug Cartel
ZIMBABWE 12-13 Food Distribution
CANADA 13-14 New Immigration Service Regulations 15 Article 98 Agreement
EGYPT 14 Documentary Series
DEPARTMENT 14 Maura Harty s Nomination
SAUDI ARABIA 15-17 US Use of Bases
UKRAINE 17 Experts Team Report
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, this isn't the biggest item of the day, but it would certainly help clear up things. This business of population conferences, the thing in Thailand -- evidently, that's not the end of it, is it? Is there a follow-up conference?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a -- how can I say it? This was a preparatory conference for a conference to be held in December. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Where?
MR. BOUCHER: The conference -- the preparatory conference was in Bangkok. The conference to be held in December is -- I don't know.
QUESTION: All right. That's all right. I couldn't find it over the weekend.
MR. BOUCHER: All right? At the preparatory conference in Bangkok, there were a number of documents presented. These documents are under discussion in preparation for a meeting that will be held in December.
We didn't take a position. The subject of abortion didn't come up. There were six documents on -- there was a document on six prior conferences that was left for later consideration, and that will be considered as we prepare our position for the conference itself.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a real question?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Yeah.
QUESTION: Can we continue on this? So let's get this straight. Does the United States want to change any of the language in the Cairo plan of action on reproductive health?
MR. BOUCHER: The United States -- the position that we have taken at other similar conferences -- and we've done this during this administration -- is not to change the language, but, rather, to put down a footnote that says, in our view, reproductive health does not include support for abortion. And that's what we've done in most of these cases that have come up in the past.
And as I said, we didn't take a decision like that or any other way on these documents because these documents were presented without time to consider them at the preparatory meeting. We'll consider them as we go towards the meeting itself.
QUESTION: Can you tell me what the footnote says, or does the footnote say we disagree with these two sentences, which can be interpreted as supporting abortion?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the language itself. It depends on what it says in the particular document at the particular time. We'll look at these particular documents as we approach a particular time, which is several months down the road.
QUESTION: And I think you'll understand the next question because we have a parallel to last summer. Does the Secretary of State approve of the negotiating position taken by the US Government? He had some views about the last time you did this thing.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think -- the Secretary, at this stage in the process, has not been asked to approve the negotiating instructions. I would expect that as we approach the actual conference and the United States actually taking a position on this, on these documents, if there is one to be taken, that the Secretary of State would approve the instructions.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I realize you haven't fully decided on taking your position, but do you envision the United States continuing with the practice of adding footnotes to documents?
MR. BOUCHER: It depends what the documents say in the particular circumstances in the particular meeting, and that is something we have to go over as we prepare for the next meeting.
We have not -- we have said -- and we have not tried to reopen these understandings that were made in Cairo. Our goal has been to work within these frameworks and within our policy to reduce poverty in the Asia Pacific region through the use of the mechanisms that are available at these conferences and through the use of our own funding. There were goals that were set out that we provide assistance for: to make reproductive healthcare accessible to individuals of appropriate ages, to significantly reduce maternal mortality and to ensure universal access to primary education. Those basic goals of these meetings, these conferences, are things the United States supports, has supported and will continue to support.
QUESTION: Can I just -- I mean, it took me by surprise. You said that the subject of abortion did not come up and you said that there were six somethings that were left on the table. Was abortion one of those?
MR. BOUCHER: No, the -- only by inference. The meeting, the preparatory meeting in Bangkok was talking about a document that will be issued at the further conference in December. That document, that whole discussion, is ongoing.
The section of the document that was to address six prior conferences was left for later consideration. So what was put down on that has not really been discussed at this point. We will consider and discuss it then.
QUESTION: But, so the only reason it didn't come up in Cairo is because it didn't come up? I mean, it's in there. It could have been brought up. I mean, isn't that -- isn't abortion part of what the six other -- is abortion in the bit that was not taken up?
MR. BOUCHER: Two of the six prior conferences -- the one in Cairo and the one held five years after the one in Cairo, the International Conference on Population Development it was called, in Cairo -- they dealt with reproductive health issues. This whole process has something to do with that. And the United States supports reproductive health. We support reducing mortality among mothers and infants. We support education. All these things that these conferences are dealing with, we support it with real money and real effort.
How we do that in particular cases of these documents, we'll have to decide as we approach the actual discussion of these documents.
QUESTION: Those documents don't speak of abortion.
MR. BOUCHER: No, they talk about reproductive health, I think.
QUESTION: Right. And this administration fears that talking about reproductive health somehow is a channel to abortion.
MR. BOUCHER: I can't tell you exactly what it says in the documents and exactly what position we'll take because we have to review them and then we have to take a position. And when we take a position, let's discuss it then, not before we actually take a position on something that hasn't been discussed. Okay?
QUESTION: Can you please tell us what prompted the Middle East warning, the Middle East warning that just came out moments ago, and whether it has anything to do with the latest bomb blast in Jerusalem, any comment on it?
MR. BOUCHER: The Middle East warning that just went out moments ago was a six-month update. We're sure, it was a six-month update.
QUESTION: In fact, Richard, the previous one wasn't due to expire until November 20th and it's now only November 4th. And this warning also makes reference to the murder of the diplomat in Jordan.
So I'm wondering if you guys have come to the conclusion that that was, in fact, some kind of a terrorist attack.
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any conclusions yet. As you know, the matter is being investigated. We're participating, or supporting the Jordanians in their investigation. But I'm not in a position at this point to share any conclusions.
But certainly that kind of action, whatever its source, is something for people to be concerned about in their behavior.
QUESTION: All right. Can you explain exactly, then, why it was -- why you decided to renew this 16 days before the old one was due to expire?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we're more efficient than we usually are. No, I can't explain why 16 days before. But there have been a number of incidents, many of which are noted in here, there have been a number of incidents in the past month or so which we have been concerned about, and I think it's just we just felt it was appropriate to do it.
QUESTION: I think you added the kidnapping warnings to that, as well.
MR. BOUCHER: We added -- we added kidnapping to this? We added kidnapping to an Iraq one. I haven't read this one as carefully because it was really just an update, taking into account the things that have happened recently. But obviously, there have been a lot of things of concern that have happened recently.
QUESTION: Okay. Any comment on the bombing blast?
QUESTION: Well, in Jerusalem. How about that?
MR. BOUCHER: You mean the most recent bombing? It just happened. We don't have a lot. Islamic Jihad, I'm told, has accepted the blame or claim of responsibility for this.
I would just say, first of all, we obviously condemn these kinds of activities in the strongest possible terms. We have been very concerned about the upsurge in violence and terrorist actions in the recent weeks, including shootings and bombings in the West Bank and Israel.
We have urged both sides to take steps to ease the situation, and particularly we've made clear to the Palestinians that they need to do all they can to immediately end the terror and the violence. Assistant Secretary Burns pressed them on this subject during his visit to the region.
QUESTION: And Yemen? There was an explosion that I don't think was spontaneous combustion.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Do you know if known terrorists were extinguished that way?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. I don't know. You'd have to ask the Yemenis. It happened in their country.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the UN Iraq resolution, please, and what the Secretary might have done on this over the weekend?
MR. BOUCHER: Worked very hard. He was -- well, I'll leave that out. He was taking phone calls all weekend on this. He has kept in touch with Foreign Secretary Straw -- the Secretary has. The Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Villepin on Saturday and again on Sunday. He talked to Foreign Secretary Castaneda of Mexico on Saturday. This morning, he has talked to Foreign Secretary Straw again.
So we have been working with them on some of the key issues. Our mission at the United Nations kept in touch with other delegations. We have -- as you know, since we put down a copy of -- or put down a text of a resolution last week, we've been having consultations with all the Council members, an extensive process that's gone on in New York as well as through the Secretary's phone calls.
We have been now reviewing the comments that we heard from our partners in the Security Council. This is a normal part of Security Council deliberations, and I would expect that we would submit an updated text to the Council very soon.
QUESTION: Very soon, meaning --
MR. BOUCHER: Very soon.
QUESTION: A couple days? Weeks?
MR. BOUCHER: Very soon.
QUESTION: This week?
QUESTION: This week?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, days.
QUESTION: Are all the US players, at least the key players, all together on what this revised proposed resolution should say, or they need the meeting today to discuss it?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't talk about any particular meetings, especially White House ones, if it were at that level. But I guess I would just say that they have been in close touch. They have talked to each other frequently over the course of the last several weeks. But they keep in very close touch as we hear comments and consider comments and consider making any proposals that we might make to other countries.
QUESTION: And to touch the usual bases, or at least one of them, would you say today what Phil was saying Friday, that revisions aside, or whatever the revisions may be, that the US bottom line has not changed?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We think there's general agreement that there needs to be a strong resolution. We adhere to our core position that there must be a clear statement of Iraq's failure to comply with its obligations, there has to be a tough inspection regime, and there have to be serious consequences in the event of new Iraqi violations. We want to achieve those in a new resolution and we think that the stronger the resolution, the more likely it is that we might have some hope of Iraqi compliance and cooperation.
QUESTION: Richard, there are reports that your new resolution is likely to refer to material breach only in reference to possible future violations. Can you confirm that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not going to get into any particular language that may or may not appear in a future text. We have looked at the text. We have heard the comments that others have made and we will be considering those as we decide what to put in a revised version and when to put forward a revised text.
QUESTION: Richard, a slightly new topic but same country. Last week, there were a number of reports that said that the State Department would ask Congress not to fund, or place a hold on funding, for something called the Information Collection Program run by the Iraqi National Congress.
Can you comment on this? Are these allegations true?
MR. BOUCHER: I can, but I can't get it right now. I'll give you the facts on where we stand in terms of the negotiations, but I don't have them with me. I'll have to get it for you afterwards.
QUESTION: Okay, and I've got another based on similar -- well, it's the same country. Can I just ask another question?
MR. BOUCHER: Ask another question.
QUESTION: In The Washington Post yesterday, Jim Hoagland had a column that said that the State Department had been passed messages indirectly by a European country that -- regarding anthrax, and particularly potential use of -- the Iraqis potentially using anthrax.
Can you confirm that this message was passed along about --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I don't have anything on that. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Could you talk about --
QUESTION: Wait, wait. Can we stay on Iraq?
QUESTION: I have an Iraq question.
MR. BOUCHER: Betsy has an Iraq question.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about whether your latest revision is going to solve the concerns and problems that other countries have had with this resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: We think that the effort that we have made in terms of considering the points raised by other governments has gone a long way to taking into account those points, taking into account the positions that other governments have held in a way that still satisfies the bottom line, that the stronger the resolution, the more likely we are to get cooperation.
And so we have taken into account the views that we've heard. We think this effort has led to a narrowing of differences among Council members. But we also think it's time to decide, it's time to pass a resolution, it's time to get the views of the Council out there and it's time to tell Iraq that it needs to comply.
QUESTION: On the resolution, what do you make, if anything, of what Saddam Hussein said -- reported to have said today in his meeting with Jorg Haiter, and do you have any comment on that particular interlocutor from this?
MR. BOUCHER: Birds of a feather? No, I don't have any particular comment on what he is reported to have said. It seems to be different than what he was reported to have said yesterday. It's probably different than what he will be reported to have said tomorrow.
And it just reminds us once again that the Security Council needs to go on the record on this. The Security Council needs to set the rules. The Security Council needs to say what inspections are and what compliance is.
QUESTION: And your position on political figures from democratic countries going to chat with Saddam remains unchanged?
MR. BOUCHER: I won't take any new position on that at this point.
QUESTION: Last week I asked Phil about this, but he didn't have anything about the business fair that was in Iraq, a very large presence of countries like Germany, Italy, Russia. Do you have anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I'm afraid we don't.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the US thinks about the Turkish elections?
QUESTION: We're still on Iraq.
QUESTION: Well, all right.
MR. BOUCHER: Iraq?
QUESTION: Sorry I have so many questions, but what do you say on the timing today of a resolution? Are you still get it through this week?
QUESTION: We already did that.
QUESTION: No, he didn't say that.
MR. BOUCHER: He asked a variation on the same question. I was asked as putting it down, but putting forth a revised text very soon mean this week. And I said yes, putting forth a revised text, we would expect to do that this week.
Now you're asking me when do we expect a vote or a conclusion to this. We would hope to see that happen shortly after we put down a revised text. It probably takes a couple days after that.
Okay. You were going to ask?
QUESTION: I was going to ask how the State Department feels about the elections in Turkey, and does it help you get likeminded states to support use of force against Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: So, after all, there is only one topic. I thought you were asking about something else.
Let's not speculate on the future of the Turkish Government, but let us at this point congratulate the Justice and Development Party on its electoral success in yesterday's parliamentary elections. We also congratulate the Turkish people in demonstrating through their conduct of the election the vibrancy of Turkey's democracy.
We await the formation of a new government in Turkey. We look forward to working closely and constructively with the new government.
We note that the parties represented in the new parliament reflect the aspirations for the Turkish people for continued progress on the path towards European Union membership and for the implementation of political and economic reforms. We will work with the government on these issues, as well as on reaching a settlement in Cyprus.
QUESTION: I noticed that Marc Grossman is in Athens, or was in Athens. I don't know if he's still there. Does he have any plans to hop over to see any of the new political leaders of --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on his travel. He's in Athens today for consultations with senior Greek officials. He'll also be giving a speech to the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce. He continues on this week to Tunis, Algiers and Rabat, returning to Washington on Friday.
So, at this point, no plans to go to Turkey. But as we noted, the election just happened and the Turks have not yet formed a government, in any case.
QUESTION: Can we talk about any travel plans of Jim Kelly?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on travel plans of Jim Kelly.
QUESTION: On the Turkish -- on the Justice and Development Party, as you know, there is the lawsuit hanging over their heads despite their electoral victory. Did you have any views on whether the courts should play a part in deciding who rules Turkey?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'll leave --
QUESTION: You're not still opposed, as you were on Thursday?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on that and see.
QUESTION: Now that they've won, it's rather different?
MR. BOUCHER: What did we say on Thursday?
QUESTION: Well, you did say --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll double-check and see.
QUESTION: You said you opposed trying to outlaw them because you didn't think they were doing anything illegal on Thursday.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check and see.
QUESTION: The Lebanese President is here, and I'm sure you noticed late last week, Friday maybe, the Justice Department cautioned that there's more activity by Hezbollah and other terror groups. They didn't say they're targeting Americans, but you know what Hezbollah has been able to accomplish over the year in killing Americans.
I wondered if the Secretary -- it sounds like something I've been asking for 17 years, at least -- is the Secretary going to try to lean on Lebanon to lean on Hezbollah, or is that something that other folks have to --
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, we've been answering the question for 17 years, too. I've been answering it for at least 12. And every time you've asked, I've said that the United States always uses -- always raises the issue of Israel's northern border with people who have influence over the groups that are there, we have always supported the extension of the authority of the Lebanese state, and we will continue to make clear that we believe that everyone who has influence on the activity there should use it.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, now the issue also is Americans here in this country. Hezbollah is hanging around town. Maybe not this town, but they're big in the US, according to the Justice Department. And I don't know who you would go to besides Lebanon and Syria and Iran, and you don't talk to Iran so --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made very clear that the activities of Hezbollah as a terrorist group, wherever they occur, are a matter of grave concern to us, should be of concern to others. The President has been quite clear that all nations should oppose terrorism in whatever form it appears.
And so yes, we would expect people with influence to use their influence to get these organizations to stop engaging in terrorism, as well as attacks.
Okay, go on to the back.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Lebanon?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we'll stay on Lebanon for a while.
QUESTION: Are you going to be also asking about the whereabouts of one master terrorist, Imad Murghniyeh, who's also a perennial concern in US --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position yet to go through all the specifics of the meeting. We'll be talking -- the Secretary is going to talk to the Lebanese Prime Minister primarily for discussions of an upcoming Paris conference of the international donor community. The conference is going to be convened by President Jacques Chirac on November 23rd. At this meeting, the international donor community will be asked to consider measures to alleviate Lebanon's debt burden as an _expression of support for that country's economic reform program.
Obviously, we expect also a discussion of all these issues in the US-Lebanese bilateral relationship, pursuit of comprehensive peace in the region, joint counterterrorism efforts, and the status of international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Lebanese dispute over the Hazbani River and Wazzani Springs.
The Lebanese Government, of course, has provided solid support in our campaign against the al-Qaida network and we, of course, are interested in expanding that cooperation.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just expand it to the general question of will you be discussing the specific issue of Lebanon harboring Hezbollah terrorists, which is apparently a big priority for the President in this new war on terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: We always discuss terrorism with countries in this region, but how exactly in specific terms we might do that today I'm not going to predict since the meeting was supposed to have started 19 minutes ago. And rather than making a prediction about something that's going on outside my sphere, I'd just rather not at this moment.
QUESTION: Richard, Lebanon again. Has your water expert come to any conclusions about the rights and wrongs of the dispute over the Wazzani River, and what will you be telling --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's been a question of rights and wrongs. It's been a question of trying to work out arrangements that are acceptable to all the parties. And we want to see this dispute resolved peacefully, but resolved fairly. We have continued to work with the governments of Israel and Lebanon. Our water expert from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs is visiting the region again this week -- this is the third visit in four weeks -- and he is going to advance those efforts. Assistant Secretary Burns raised these issues when he was in Lebanon two weeks ago, as well.
So it's an ongoing subject that we're working on to try to see if we can't come to a settlement that is acceptable to the governments of Israel and Lebanon in conjunction with the United Nations, the European Union and others who are interested.
QUESTION: Mexico, Latin America?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. One more on Lebanon.
QUESTION: Sorry. When you talk about extension of Lebanese authority over their territory, are you offering any kind of assistance to Lebanon, be it military or further economic assistance, to help them deal with the security measures and things like that to crack down on Hezbollah?
MR. BOUCHER: We have offered a lot of support over the years. That's the position. The position on extension of authority is one we have taken for many years, as well. We have supported the Lebanese effort to rebuild their capabilities over the years, as well.
QUESTION: But will the Secretary be offering any new --
MR. BOUCHER: Will the Secretary have offered by the time the meeting is over, which is ongoing now? Same answer I just gave. It's now 20 minutes after 1:00. The meeting was supposed to start at 1:00. I'm not about to start making predictions at this point.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I will.
QUESTION: How long is it supposed to last?
MR. BOUCHER: Until it's over. I think it's a half hour.
QUESTION: Yes. Last week, three Mexican generals were sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for their dealings with drug cartels, and this is an unprecedented matter because considering all these years of Dupuy they were totally untouchable until Fox came to, you know, power.
Any comments on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me see if we have anything more for you. As I remember, we did have something. But I'll get you something on that. We certainly supported the efforts of the government against corruption and spoken out strongly in that vein before.
QUESTION: A related question --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's deal with some of the people who have other questions and not relate everything to everything else.
QUESTION: On Zimbabwe, Mark Bellamy talks about the possibility of intrusive, interventionist methods of aid delivery. What does he mean, exactly, and are there any plans for food drops or anything along those lines?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, at this point, we're looking at the situation with regard to food distribution in Zimbabwe. You are, I think, referring to things that happened after an incident where the government -- apparently, government troops apparently came in and seized some grain that was being distributed by the World Food Program and distributed it to political supporters. And we think that politicization of food distribution by the ruling party in the face of an urgent need and real human suffering is very cynical, is a very self-serving response to a major humanitarian catastrophe.
Food donations need to be distributed according to need, not by political affiliation. Other than this incident, the monitoring mechanisms of the World Food Program and other donors, the NGO community, which handles our grain, as well as World Food Program, have been fairly successful. But we need to look very carefully at this situation to make sure that we can monitor the use of the food and make sure it goes to the neediest of people, without any political considerations. So we're looking at that now.
QUESTION: But when he talks about bumping up against Zimbabwean sovereignty, what does he mean by that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything more on it right now. We have to look at these matters and make sure that we can get the food to the people who need it.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell will meet with the new Turkish General Staff, Chief of General Staff. And what would be the agenda?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any specifics for you. I'm sure they'll discuss sort of broadly what's going on in the region, US-Turkish cooperation in military areas, which is extensive, upcoming NATO issues, things like that.
QUESTION: This is on Canada and the US. Last week we were talking about photographing and fingerprinting. There's a new concern now, a new US plan that could require landed immigrants in Canada from 50 commonwealth countries to get visas to travel to the US.
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't think we've announced anything like that. You would have to check with the Immigration Service and see if they have new regulations.
QUESTION: But this is a plan in conjunction with the State Department that's been released in Canada.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't think we've made any announcements. You'd have to check with Immigration Service if they're preparing regulations.
QUESTION: As a follow-up, INS sources say -- and I'm quoting -- Secretary of State Colin Powell as having to do the softtoe dance with the Canadian Foreign Ministry over this.
And I want to know -- we were asking since Thursday, I think -- can we get a specific readout on the status of the talks between the Secretary and the Foreign Minister?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we tried to answer these questions. But first and foremost, the Immigration Service and the Department of Justice have answered the questions in terms of specifying what the rules are. We informed the Canadian Government of the rules regarding Canadian citizens, Canadian passport holders and citizens coming in to our country. And, you know, that is basically been what we, as a Department, have been doing through our Ambassador and in the Secretary's conversations with Foreign Minister Graham. I don't think they've actually talked about this for about a week or so. I think they saw each other in Mexico and talked about it there.
QUESTION: Do you have anything further -- I know you said last week that you took the issue up with the Egyptian Government of this documentary series, the "Elders of Zion." Have you heard anything back? Have they said anything, that they'll consider your request not to air the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've heard anything. I don't have anything new on that.
QUESTION: But you remain in objection to --
MR. BOUCHER: We remain concerned about what we've heard about the series, about the horsemen -- I forget what exactly it was called -- and we'd be very concerned about anything that gave credence to the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
QUESTION: Maura Harty and the 9/11 victims' families. It's in the statement from last Friday in regards to the letter written by the families of the 9/11 victims, it seems that you essentially dismissed the concerns that the families had about Maura Harty's nomination as having been misled by press reports.
Do you think that their concerns are valid, though, as far as her maybe not being necessarily an agent of change, given that she was brought up through the State Department ranks and has only worked at the State Department in her professional career?
MR. BOUCHER: The families themselves, in their letter, said it was all according to press reports was the reason that they were writing the letter. That's where that comes from. That's what they said they were basing it on.
Certainly, any concerns the families have will be answered. We are concerned about the families, want to make sure they understand that we have done a lot, and we put it in our own statement to make sure that people understood that we've done a lot and we're looking to do more.
And no, I have absolutely no doubts that Maura Harty is a strong leader and an agent of change and a firm decision-maker. I've worked for her, I've worked with her. We've seen her in action. The Secretary has seen her in action. The Secretary and the President of the United States decided she was going to be the one they wanted to bring change to this area. She knows it well enough to figure it out and she knows it, and she's a strong enough leader to make the changes that might be necessary.
QUESTION: -- Canada, but it's unrelated to the visa thing there. I noticed that on Friday some people here were saying that you guys were going to get lucky with -- well, not get lucky -- you were about to sign an Article 98 agreement with Kuwait this week. I guess that's true, but the Canadian Foreign Minister said this morning that Canada will not, absolutely not, sign an Article 98 agreement with the United States.
Are you disappointed in that decision at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't aware of that particular decision. I'll have to check and see if we have anything to say about it, if the Canadian Government has communicated that to us.
But as far as others, we continue to work with everyone possible on Article 98 agreements. I can't predict a particular agreement until we actually get it, but we continue to work on this.
QUESTION: You're still at 13?
MR. BOUCHER: For the moment, yeah.
QUESTION: The Saudi Foreign Minister over the weekend on CNN has said that the US cannot use bases inside their country for any attacks on Iraq. Is this consistent with what they are telling you in private, and do you have any --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say, first of all, that we looked at the remarks and we talked to the Saudis about their remarks, and I didn't take them, frankly, to be quite as definitive as the way they've been reported or the way that you're relaying them now.
What is clear is that right now we're seeking a United Nations resolution to get Iraqi compliance and cooperation with the requirements of the United Nations Security Council. That effort remains underway. Should we decide on some other course, as the Secretary has said, then we'll be in the closest of consultations with our friends in the region.
But it's premature and hypothetical at this point to posit one or the other scenario for what action might be necessary. But should we head down the road toward military action, we'll be in close touch with our friends, and at that time you can ask them what their position is.
QUESTION: Can you say whether what they seem to say in public, whether that was consistent with what they're saying in private?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, first, you have to see what they did say in public. And as I said, I took it to be less definitive than some of the reports might indicate.
But in any case, I think, you know, as we head down the road, if we get to that road, that's the point at which people would take clear positions. At this point, they're all hypothetical scenarios.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Aside from what has been reported publicly, they are our friend and ally. What concerns have they expressed that have not been reported, I guess, publicly about using their -- you know, their grounds?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speak on their behalf about concerns they may or may not have expressed and they may or may not have made public. If you want to ask them if they have anything to say, you can ask them.
I would say that our view has consistently been and remains that our security cooperation with Iraq -- with Iraq? -- with Saudi Arabia has been excellent. As you know, we are all concerned about Iraq in this region. We are all concerned about Iraq's threat, danger, and the danger of Iraqi rearmament, particularly with weapons of mass destruction, so our cooperation with Saudi Arabia on these matters has been very, very good.
QUESTION: Do you think it's indicative, though, of a worsening relationship with Saudi Arabia that we're having such difficulty with them on this issue?
MR. BOUCHER: No, and we're not. The answer is no, and we're not.
QUESTION: We're not. So even the statements over the weekend, you don't give much credence to?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't read them as a definitive statement. And, in any case, it's such a hypothetical it's hard to answer those questions now for anybody.
QUESTION: It may not be definitive, but it is significant, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I would say that I think there's a lot less there than meets the eye.
QUESTION: What is it in the statement that you found not definitive?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the exact quotes with me, but I think you read them, when we read them and we talked to the Saudis about them, they did not have -- they said that was not a view of what might happen if -- depending on what might happen.
QUESTION: You mean sort of depending upon what happens at the UN, depending upon what their --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, depending on how things worked out, we would see what would -- where that would be then.
QUESTION: So they were leaving the door open to the possibility that --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speak for them one way or the other. It's just I don't think we took the remarks to be quite as definitive as people have reported them.
QUESTION: It is sort of speaking one way or the other when you say that the interpretation of the interview was that the Saudis had said under no conditions could their bases be used. You're saying that's not the impression that you received .
MR. BOUCHER: That's not the impression that we received from the remarks or from our subsequent conversations with the Saudis.
QUESTION: Richard, just a quick question to follow up on that. It seems that I guess you're saying -- correct me if I'm wrong here -- that your judgment about it not being definitive is based, in large part, if not more on conversations after the remarks were made?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's based on both. I just said it was both.
QUESTION: What is the status of your experts' report into President Kuchma's alleged -- well, his -- what you say is this --
MR. BOUCHER: What we heard on the tape?
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. It's not alleged, I guess, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I'll have to double-check. We've checked every couple days. I think by Thursday we said it wasn't done, but I have to check and see where it is now.
QUESTION: Are you aware of any kind of problem -- interagency haggling -- over this report?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: All right. And is the Secretary -- I realized you announced this back in September. Is the Secretary still planning on leading the US delegation to the Community of Democracies meeting in Seoul?
MR. BOUCHER: Community of Democracies?
QUESTION: He is?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. And my last question is what do you -- what are you telling, if any -- maybe you're not telling them anything. But the ASEAN leaders have been having a meeting in Cambodia, a summit, and they have come out very angry about the spate of travel warnings that the US and other countries have put out for their region.
I'm wondering, have you heard any of this bilaterally or multi -- you know, ASEAN people coming to you to complain about this? And if you have, what's your response? Is it the standard, "We are protecting our people, we're warning our people about threats," or are you saying anything else?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have certainly heard bilaterally from countries, including those in ASEAN that are affected by the terrorism and by the public announcements, warnings or statements that we use to tell Americans about the situations with regard to terrorism, and we certainly understand their economic difficulties that result from the terrorism that has occurred in this region. We all have it. These problems have existed throughout the world in many, many countries.
And we have made clear, though, that we have an obligation to tell Americans about the situation there. We do that in our travel warnings and announcements and deal with the security situation around the world as it affects Americans.
We have issued a Travel Warning for Indonesia now, a Public Announcement now recommending that Americans avoid travel to certain parts of the Philippines, and then we have also issued a general announcement on Southeast Asia. We have a Worldwide Caution that calls attention to Americans of the need to remain vigilant around the world. So these things are not unique.
We have discussed these matters with countries around the world. We have discussed the fight against terrorism, what we can all do against terrorism -- with the ASEAN governments during the Secretary's trip there, with the APEC countries during the APEC meetings in Mexico -- and it's an ongoing question of cooperation, how we can all work together to make travel safer, to get rid of terrorism, and so that Americans and other travelers don't have to worry about these things.
QUESTION: But your point, then, is that it's actual terrorism itself that is hurting them economically, not the warnings?
MR. BOUCHER: It's terrorist action and the threat of terrorist action that is of concern to the travelers. We try to tell travelers what they can do to remain vigilant and avoid that.
QUESTION: Well, so then how do you look at this? When you obviously see a threat there and these people, these leaders of countries that are allies with you get up and say well, you're hurting us, you're hurting our tourism business because people aren't coming, are they just -- you know, is that disingenuous on their part?
MR. BOUCHER: We've said there as we have said elsewhere, that we have an obligation to tell Americans about the security situation.
QUESTION: Can I ask you quickly -- back to the resolution -- is that new draft going to be, again, a US-British-sponsored draft? And do you feel this final, or this new text as compromise of some sort?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't tell you exactly who the sponsors will be on the new draft. I think the first draft that we put forth was a joint product of the United States and the United Kingdom. The second one, I think, we tabled and the British indicated their support. So how exactly we will go for it this time, I don't know.
I would say that it will be an updated or revised, slightly revised, text that will take into account many of the things that we have heard from other governments and the discussions that we've had at various levels with other governments, but reiterate again what I said before -- it meets
levels with other governments, but reiterate again what I said before -- it meets our core goals, it deals with Iraq's failure to comply, it puts in place a tough, new inspections regime, it makes clear there will be serious consequences if Iraq fails to comply again.
We have one more.
QUESTION: Richard, why is it taking so long for the United States to convince your allies that it's a wise -- I mean, for example, in the case of Mexico, it's obvious that they want an immigration agreement for an exchange of their vote. Has there been any progress in some way that has been --
MR. BOUCHER: Would that life were that simple.
QUESTION: You mentioned that the Secretary Powell spoke with Mr. Castaneda on Saturday.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, what do they talk about? Do they go back and forth how this works? I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: They talk about the status of the resolution. They talk about the kind of concerns that Mexico might have, the kind of things we've done in our text to take into account those concerns, and the need for all of us in the Security Council to take this responsibility very seriously and to move on, move forward on what is a very important issue for the Council, it's to establish the authority of the Security Council, to give the inspectors the instructions of the Security Council, and to make clear to Iraq that this is going to be different next time.
QUESTION: But, excuse me for interrupting --
MR. BOUCHER: And that anybody on the Council that takes this responsibility seriously, we think needs to focus on the need to have a strong resolution because that's the best way to get compliance.
QUESTION: But excuse me for interrupting, and I don't mean to misrespect you or anything like that, but in any case the Mexicans --
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead, everybody else does.
QUESTION: In any case, Mexico brought up the possibility of any sort of agreement on immigration in exchange of their vote -- their position is very delicate right now. I mean, they're in a very particular situation.
MR. BOUCHER: I was not on that particular phone call. And as you know, we have emphasized and discussed with the Mexican Government in recent meetings the questions of migration. I think we all know that after September 11th we did a lot in this country to look at the security of people coming into our borders and we made a lot of changes.
And our commitment -- the President's commitment that he restated to President Fox in Mexico to move forward on migration remains. We want to see how we can do that as we move forward. So that's an issue, certainly, that's important on our agenda and on the Mexican agenda. We recognize that.
But in terms of the actual discussions of the United Nations resolutions, whether it's with Mexico or any others, I'm not aware that there's been any sort of horse trading with other issues; it's all been about the responsibility of the Council, it's all been about the need for the countries on the Security Council to take a serious effort -- to make a serious effort here to get Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions.