State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for January 14
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC January 14, 2003
IRAQ 1-4 Deadline for Inspections / January 27 Report to the Security Council 4 UN Weapons Inspectors Findings 4-6 Intelligence Sharing with UN Inspectors 8 Exile Option for Saddam Hussein
HUMAN RIGHTS 6 Release of Annual Report of Human Rights Watch 6,8 Treatment of Detainees in Guantanamo Bay
MIDDLE EAST 6-7 Middle East Partnership Initiative
ISRAEL/PALESTNIANS 7 Travel Advisory Regarding Concerns for Palestinian-Americans 25 Palestinian Reform Meeting in London
VENEZUELA 8-9,25 Deputy Assistant Secretary Shannon s Meeting with Opposition Officials 9 Establish of a Group of Friends of Secretary General Gaviria 9-10 Inclusion of Brazil in Group of Friends 10 Planned Meetings with President Chavez
COLOMBIA 10-13 De-Certification of Air Combat Unit / Assistance to Colombian Air Force
NORTH KOREA 13-15 Food Aid Delivery / Comments by USAID Administrator Natsios 14 World Food Program Monitoring of Food Aid 15-16,19-20,22 Possible Talks on De-Nuclearization with North Koreans 20,22 Discussions with Other Nations About North Korea 20 Assistant Secretary Kelly Visit to China 20-21 Under Secretary Bolton Travel to Asia and Europe 21-22 Meaning of No Quid Pro Quo Statement 22-23 Light Water Reactors 24 Discussions in Davos
TURKEY/IRAQ/IRAN 16-17 United States-Turkey Discussions Concerning Iraq, Aid Package 16-17 Turkish Contact with Iraqi Government 19 Turkish Visit to Iran
JORDAN 17 Proposed Aid Package
KURDISTAN 17 Salahadin Meeting
CYPRUS 17-18 UN Peace Plan
SWITZERLAND 23-24 Secretary of State Powell to Attend World Economic Forum
RUSSIA 24 Deputy Secretary Armitage Travel for Counterterrorism Working Group
JAPAN 25 Visit by Prime Minister to Yasukuni Shrine
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements. I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Let's try something on Iraq and inspections if we could. On Friday the Secretary was quite clear that January 27th is a very big day. And now the inspectors are talking about needing more time, and that day of January 27th will only be an interim report.
What is -- apart from what is the situation, what is the US's view of the situation?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the US view is the one that the President just stated a few minutes ago. So if I can start by quoting him, you know, so far we haven't seen any evidence that Saddam Hussein is disarming. Time is running out. The President said he's sick and tired of games and deception. That's my view of timetables, so we stand with the President.
We, I think, have repeatedly stressed that January 27th is the first formal report we're getting from the inspectors. We had a discussion on January 9th. We've had plenty of conversations with them as Security Council members. But the first time they formally report is January 27th. It's not the end of an inspection process. It's not -- the Secretary said it's not a D-date, but at the same time, it's a very important date.
We have made clear all along, I think the Secretary's phrase early on was, "This can't go on forever," that the issue is cooperation, the issue is disarmament, the issue is whether Iraq is disarming peacefully.
The international community was looking for signs of Iraq's cooperation. The inspectors, when they talked to the Council on January 9th, said they were seeing superficial cooperation, but inadequate disclosures. In other words, Iraq is not coming clean. So the point that we're looking for is cooperation.
Now, at some point in time, we will have to determine whether Iraq is cooperating or not, whether Iraq is disarming or not. And that will be based on what the inspectors report, what we know from intelligence, but also the obvious signs of whether Iraq is cooperating or not. Unfortunately, what we've seen so far is continued defiance.
We've seen a declaration that leaves out numerous questions from the past, numerous issues of, you know, everything to mustard gas shells to rocket tests that they've done. We've seen a list of scientists that's deficient, at best. And we've seen some open doors. But we haven't seen the kind of disclosure, the kind of "Here's what I've got, let's get rid of it," attitude that the Security Council was looking for when they asked -- when they said Iraq has a final opportunity.
QUESTION: This will be harder to answer, I think, but isn't there a risk that the coalition the US had, which wasn't, you know, universal is hard -- it will be hard to keep it together? The British, for instance, now, are speaking of the need to have the Council look at things again. Are you losing ground by the constant pushing of the -- kicking the deadline down the road?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think one way or the other has been decided at this point. We will have to see what the inspectors report January 27th. We'll have to consult with other governments about what the next steps should be, and we'll have to decide on what the next steps should be. It's not foreordained that we will do one thing or another when we next hear a report or at any given moment in time because, as I've said, at some point we have to make a judgment on whether Iraq is cooperating or not, whether or not Iraq is complying or not, whether Iraq is peacefully disarming or not. And we'll -- that will be a subject of continuing conversation with our friends and allies.
QUESTION: But January 27th is not the day to make that decision?
MR. BOUCHER: It's --
QUESTION: It'll help, but --
MR. BOUCHER: It's not a date where we have to make that decision. It's a date that the inspectors report to the Council. When we and others decide to make that decision, when we and others decide to draw that conclusion, will be up to the members of the Council.
QUESTION: I'm just a little confused as to how effective you think a threat or a warning to Iraq and to Saddam Hussein, personally, that time is running out, how effective that kind of thing is if there isn't -- if it's not -- if the time is indefinite? How can time be running out if there is no time to -- time for action?
MR. BOUCHER: I read that article last week about the discovery of gravity waves, as well, and the speed of gravity. I think we're starting to get into those kind of questions.
QUESTION: Are we getting into Newtonian physics?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is a Newtonian question which is beyond my competence. But, the, you know, in simple English, he doesn't have forever. The fact is, the President has said today as we -- the Secretary has before, that this is not going to go on forever, that at some point we will have to decide and make our determination as to whether we have that kind of cooperation or not that was required in the Security Council resolution.
I think it's obvious from the military deployments and obvious from the President's own statements that he's prepared to go the alternate course if we determine that Iraq is not complying. The message to Iraq should be, "The sooner the better, to demonstrate real compliance. And if you don't do it soon, we're going to have to make other decisions."
QUESTION: But your argument has always been, and, at least it was when you were pushing the resolution that was, in the end, eventually adopted unanimously in the Security Council, that Iraq complies only when it's faced with strong threat and with deadlines -- specific deadlines.
And in fact, you guys pressed very, very hard to get those deadlines, the ones that exist now, into that resolution. So I guess I'm just confused as to where -- how effective can you be? How effective can this warning to Iraq be if you're not prepared to even go back to what you were saying you were going to do before when you were negotiating the resolution, which is to set out strict and strong deadlines that must be adhered to?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a deadline. This is a moment in which Iraq's cooperation, or lack there of --
QUESTION: The 27th?
MR. BOUCHER: -- the 27th -- will be reported to the Security Council. But we have always said right from the start, that the job of the inspectors is to inspect, to verify, to audit, to report, to destroy equipment. It's not to decide the policy issues. So they will report to the Council and we and other members of the Council will consider what we believe to be the next steps. That's what happens. That may be why the difference between reporting on a certain deadline that we wanted in the resolution. But the policy makers have their right to decide when they decide to decide.
QUESTION: Right. But I just recall that you did give -- Iraq has faced deadlines before. I mean, the first thing in the -- the first two components of the resolution were the seven days to accept the resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. But Iraq has to be aware that any time that the inspectors are reporting lack of cooperation or, as they indicated to the Council, superficial cooperation but inadequate disclosures, Iraq faces the prospect that that will result in further decisions by members of the Council.
QUESTION: But Richard, (inaudible) if the inspectors are at the end and they're trying to tell you that this is not an adequate enough time for them to tell you whether to make a judgment on the cooperation?
MR. BOUCHER: There are different views that are being raised about that. I think our view is well known. But we have not said that we do or do not think at this point that, that, you know, what should happen after January 27th.
January 27th we'll look at the report. It's an important report. It's an important date for the report, but we and other members of the Council have to consider next steps at that point. And we'll see what is reported at that point -- what information is available at that point.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say or have you been in touch with people on the inspectors' team about the source of smuggling detected?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a subject that has been discussed with them, but has been discussed in public. I think if you look back at some of the things that Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei said when they briefed the Security Council, you'll see that the inspectors have encountered places where the equipment, materials, things that Iraq had been buying, I mean, we've always talked about the black markets purchases that Iraq was making, the fact that they were smuggling in weapons and equipment -- and so the inspectors have, I guess, found some of that material that we always knew Iraq was acquiring. And that's been a subject of discussion.
QUESTION: But --
MR. BOUCHER: But it'll be for them to report what they've found and whether it was related to the weapons of mass destruction program.
QUESTION: But you haven't -- you don't know that yet?
MR. BOUCHER: It'll be for them to report.
QUESTION: Richard, has the United States given the inspectors all the intelligence that it plans to give them on alleged sites of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not -- it doesn't work that way. We have given them as good a quality of information as we have. We have been in a dialogue with them about what they are able to do and what they are able to use, and we're making sure that they are getting all that they need at this stage, given their capabilities.
Have we given them all that we are going to give them? No. This is an ongoing issue, an ongoing provision of information, it's an ongoing effort. As they build their capabilities, as they get interested in other things, we try to provide them with the information that can support those capabilities and that can help them understand the areas which they have identified for inspection.
QUESTION: Well, how do you explain the apparent discrepancy between your allegations that Iraq has these things and the fact that they haven't found them after receiving your intelligence?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's obvious to everybody that many of the initial inspections that the Iraq, that the inspectors conducted in Iraq, were sort of going back to places to see what had happened with old equipment, checking out sites where people had been before. I think you've seen a noticeable gain of momentum by the inspectors in the last week or so and that the inspections at that stepped-up pace have led to, indeed, some consternation by the Iraqi Government over how the inspectors were going out to do more than they had before.
So I think, I think we've seen a stepped-up level of inspections that is different than we've seen before.
QUESTION: All right. Can I just follow up on that? Do you mean that they haven't -- the inspectors have not gone to the places identified by the United States intelligence?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not about to indicate whether or not the places they've gone to were identified by US intelligence.
QUESTION: You seem to be implying that.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not about to indicate one way or the other whether places they've gone to have been part of US intelligence reports.
QUESTION: Did you mean, by saying that you've given them all they need given their capabilities?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's an ongoing process with the inspectors that, you know, places they can reach, things they are interested in, things they want to do -- we try to provide the information to support that. We try to provide information that can indicate to them what they might consider doing were they able to. It doesn't do any good to say, "such and such was at 'X' place last week," when they had no ability to go out there.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) because the implication is they are not being as intensive as the US would like.
MR. BOUCHER: No, as I said, they're gaining momentum. I mean, last week they started flying helicopters. They're doing other things now to enhance their capabilities.
QUESTION: Yeah, but they're saying they may be through in about 200 years. They are gaining momentum --
MR. BOUCHER: It's an ongoing effort. They're gaining momentum. They've stepped up the investigations. I think we -- and we've supported them in every way we can to do that.
QUESTION: So, you don't want to be asked again whether you wish they stepped it up still further and went to more places that you (inaudible) have suspicions stuff is stuffed away at?
MR. BOUCHER: It's an ongoing effort and we'll continue to support them. We've supported them more and more as they've gone forward, as they've built their capabilities.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) If I can jump for a second to the Annual Report of Human Rights Watch. The group released its annual report today, and two questions on that. First of all, as part of the war on terrorism, the United States cooperates with regimes that are generally undemocratic, many of them in the Middle East. The gamut runs from Yemen to Saudi Arabia to Libya to whatever. Two things on that. Does -- is it afraid of its image abroad when it does that? And second of all, is it afraid of encouraging those regimes in continuing in their undemocratic ways? And second of all, assuming that the United States accepts the fact that it --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't accept the premise of the question, but I -- as a single factor. Many other factors are involved, but maybe I should answer them separately.
QUESTION: Okay. And another one is, the Geneva Convention has as a signatory, the United States. How does it reconcile its being a signatory to Geneva Conventions and the conditions that -- in Guantanamo Bay? This is one of the issues that was in the report.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me ask the second part -- answer the second part first. The United States made very clear that we will treat detainees, Guantanamo or elsewhere, in a manner that's consistent with the Geneva Convention even though we don't necessarily agree with all these groups over precisely how they're covered. So, we have pledged that and we have committed to that and we will try to -- we will ensure that we do that, that we do treat detainees consistent with the Geneva Convention.
The bigger issue that you raised is one that we have spoken about many times. The Secretary of State, a month or so ago, gave a big speech at the Heritage Foundation about democracy, transparency, reform in the Middle East. Democracy has been a hallmark of our policy around the world that we have made very clear on the war on terrorism. We think one of the best defenses against terrorism is to have the kind of society that is able to sustain itself, have a kind of society that's based on economic and political freedom, where terrorism has a harder problem growing and a harder problem existing. And therefore, we have made no changes to our policy of promoting democracy and freedom around the world. In fact, it's been an integral part of helping strengthen societies in the fight against terrorism.
And in the Middle East, the Secretary of State has made quite clear that our goal is to support the efforts to reform, to support the calls by Arab leaders and Arab scholars for reform and more openness in the Arab world. We're going to put money behind that. We've put some money already this year, but I think if you look to the budget that we're coming up on, you'll see additional funding being provided for the Middle East partnership initiatives so that we can support reform, so that we can support more democracy, more openness and more transparency in that part of the world as we do elsewhere.
The picture in the Middle East is not all one way. There are regimes that have moved pretty far down this road already. There are nations, Morocco -- from Morocco to Bahrain, that have moved pretty far down the road of instituting more democracy and the Secretary mentioned many of those. And there's also a very significant Arab development report that was done last fall about how Arab countries can develop more quickly and give a better life to their people if they embrace some of these principles and how it is consistent with the nature of those societies and that's what we want to support.
QUESTION: I refer to the State Department's recent travel advisory regarding Israel in which some quarters of the Arab-American community charged that it conveyed understanding of discriminatory policy and makes Arab-Americans who feel reduced to second-class of US citizenship. What's your reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: The travel announcement is not a policy document. The travel announcement is to tell people what to expect should they wish to go there so that they don't get caught up in this limbo of being of being able to -- not being able to cross the bridge or get out to the airport. And we have, at the same time, we've made representations to the Israeli Government, we raised it to very high levels, our concerns about the impact that some of these regulations have on Americans who might travel out there and on the legitimate desires of Americans to travel there to see their families, to be able to come back to America. So this is an issue that we have pursued on a political level with the Israeli Government and we certainly don't think that our citizens are second class in any way.
QUESTION: Will you show same understanding if the people subject to the Israeli procedures of Jewish-Americans?
MR. BOUCHER: I just rejected your contention that we saw understanding of this. We have criticized this measure in terms of our representations to the Israeli Government and made clear that we don't think it should be used.
QUESTION: Richard, do you think it's right that the United States should give large sums of money to a government which discriminates against a significant group of American citizens?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, in this case, we have problems with some specific relations -- regulations that have been applied. We've always tried to tell our citizens what those problems were. And at the same time, that doesn't detract from our overall support for Israel as a democracy in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Richard, can I go back to the Guantanamo question for just a second? Do you know -- are the ICRC visits that occurred back last year and I guess even beyond that, are they continuing? And have groups like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, have they also been given access to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to check with the Pentagon on who's visiting down there.
QUESTION: Aren't you -- okay, I will. But, you guys are the point of contact, right, for arranging -- for at least arranging with the Pentagon these days? I know for the ICRC you are. They don't go to the Pentagon, they come here.
MR. BOUCHER: No, they come here and then we pass it on and the Pentagon, I think, makes the arrangements. We have an ongoing dialogue with the ICRC about prisoners that are in American custody and we do arrange for visits, consular representative visits, I just don't know when we might have done ICRC ones. But I think the Pentagon's reported on that before.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq just a moment and ask the -- a redundant question whether the US is interested in or considering or doing anything about exile for Saddam Hussein?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a question that does come up and has come up from time to time. I think you're aware of our basic answer that it'd be a good idea if he took the opportunity to leave. It would save all of us a lot of trouble if he could be replaced by a regime that was willing to treat its people decently and not threaten its neighbors with weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, I don't think we're counting on it. We're not engaged in any deep or serious discussions on the subject at this point since he's indicated no particular willingness to do that. So, it'd be a good idea if he did, but I think we have to be prepared to resolve this in other ways.
Let's go to the back and then come forward again. Yeah.
QUESTION: Can we jump to Venezuela?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you. There was a meeting yesterday and today between some opposition leaders and some members of the State Department. I just want to know, there was any agreement on the issues concerning the role of Brazil, the end of the strike, or the electoral solution? And can we expect any announcement in Ecuador concerning the club of "Friends of Gaviria" and the way out to the Venezuelan crisis?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, that's about five questions. I'll try to remember most of them. First of all, there was a meeting. Our Deputy Assistant Secretary in Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon met with the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers' President Carlos Ortega and the opposition dialogue participant Timoteo Zambrano.
At that -- in that meeting, we reviewed the current state of the dialogue, made clear our point of view, which is to emphasize the efforts of the OAS Secretary General, made clear we were looking for his efforts to result in a peaceful, constitutional, democratic and electoral resolution of the issues and we urged them to remain engaged in the dialogue.
We're not here to substitute ourselves for anyone in the negotiation. The results that you're imagining or hoping for need to be achieved through the parties. And we've urged both parties, both in our contacts with the government, but also in our contacts with the opposition, to cooperate, to work in that process to achieve a peaceful result that benefits the people of Venezuela.
In terms of what may be discussed, may be announced in Quito, no particular prediction right now, but we are working with Brazil, we're working with other hemispheric partners to establish a "Friends of the Secretary General" group that can support the organization's mission to try to achieve resolution of the crisis. That's something we have worked on .
The Secretary has discussed that with various people in his conversations and we'll continue to work on it to try to make sure that the international community, and particularly the people in this hemisphere, are doing everything they can to support the efforts of the OAS Secretary General.
QUESTION: This is now the name of it? It's going to be called, "The Friends of the Secretary General," not "The Friends of Venezuela?" Doesn't the Secretary General have his own friends that he doesn't really need to have a new group of them?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, this is --
QUESTION: Is that -- I mean, is this --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't settle any name in stone until it's --
QUESTION: All right. And you're saying you have no --
MR. BOUCHER: -- until it's announced.
QUESTION: And you have no position on opposition to Brazil being a member of the group? Is that what you're saying?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've pointed out before that Brazil has been one of the participants in this discussion. Certainly the Secretary has discussed this idea with the Brazilian foreign minister when he talked to him a week or so ago, and this -- the earlier idea that did come out of meetings in Brazil was not one we supported because it wasn't directed at supporting the Secretary General, and this one is.
QUESTION: But you think that the inclusion of Brazil would be a good idea?
MR. BOUCHER: We would expect that anybody who would participate in a group designed to support the Secretary General would be there to support the Secretary General. So --
QUESTION: Yeah. That didn't answer the question. You, you think that Brazil should be a member of --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not naming any particular country. I'm just saying who we're working with. I'm trying to avoid endorsing any particular country for the group.
QUESTION: And one more thing on this. These two opposition guys were also -- they either have or are about to meet with Kofi Annan at the UN. President Chavez is going to be up there this week meeting with Secretary General Annan. Are there any plans for any US officials to see President Chavez?
MR. BOUCHER: No. He's -- it's a multilateral meeting in New York to transfer the Presidency of the G77 from Venezuela to Morocco, and we have no bilateral activities scheduled.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. None at all?
MR. BOUCHER: Nor have we had any requests.
QUESTION: Colombia. The de-certification of the first Air Combat Command unit -- can you tell us whether this unit has been receiving any US assistance in recent years, months? You'd say what?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the answer is, I don't know for sure.
MR. BOUCHER: The implication is yes, but I'd better double-check on the answer because we talked about suspending the assistance, so there must be some assistance to suspend, but what, exactly, it was, I don't know.
We talked about this when we were down in Colombia. The question of this -- it's a question of this unit's involvement in the events that took place on December 19th, 1998, in Santo Domingo in the Department of Antiochia, Colombia.
We discussed this, the Secretary discussed this when he was down in Colombia in December -- made clear that this was a definite possibility. And on January 3rd, 2003, our Embassy in Bogotá informed the Colombian Government that the US had decided to suspend assistance to the Colombian Air Force's Combat Command due to lack of effective, transparent investigation into the incident of 1998.
The Santo Domingo tragedy occurred over four years ago. The prolonged investigation has raised questions about the Colombian Air Force's commitment to determine the facts, and we think it damages the reputation of Colombia's Air Force.
We have not prejudiced the criminal responsibility of the Colombian Air Force members currently under investigation in this case. We support due process and we expect a just ruling based on objective facts.
Well, the unit is not currently receiving US assistance --
QUESTION: Ah. Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: -- it says, as Phil points out to me.
QUESTION: So what --
MR. BOUCHER: It may impact the unit's future involvement in counternarcotics activities.
Let's go over here.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, then, given the fact that it's not getting any money now and the suspension would seem to be nothing, and also given the fact that you're saying that this, that this one unit's sins raise questions about the entire Air Force's commitment to this investigation and damages the credibility of the Air Force, itself, and you weren't limiting it to just this unit, why are you suspending -- why aren't you decertifying the entire Air Force?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that the point is that this is the unit that was involved in this incident and that, therefore, we want to make sure that we're not providing any kind of assistance now or until these things are rectified.
To this particular unit, that doesn't mean that counternarcotics is any less important in terms of our cooperation with the Colombian authorities. But I think it's clear to take a stand and I don't think it will be seen as a light measure when it's looked at down in Colombia, frankly.
QUESTION: Well, how can it not be seen as a light measure if there's nothing affected by it?
MR. BOUCHER: I would gauge that based on the reaction we've seen in Colombia to our discussion of these issues.
QUESTION: Richard, on the level of assistance. It's kind of obvious that it's not currently receiving US assistance because you took this decision last month on suspending any assistance. Can you take a question on how much assistance it has received in the whole of, say, 2002?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I will look back a little bit and get the details there.
QUESTION: Does the US support individual units in Colombia? Or does it support, I mean, I'm just curious as to how that would work. Because wouldn't the Colombian Government just transfer money that it would have spent anyway just to this unit?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The US assistance to Colombia has been because of the various aspects of the law, and counternarcotics has been directed at specific units.
MR. BOUCHER: And that's been the way it's worked in the past.
QUESTION: Presumably it's much more of a symbolic move because there's not much money, you know, it's not receiving. So what message --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's a serious move. I mean, the message is that we want to see these issues investigated and resolved, that we think that a professional military in Colombia needs to be transparent, open and just.
We had a very detailed discussion of these issues when the Secretary was down in Colombia talking to the minister of defense and the senior commanders. And I think they understood as well as the Secretary did in his discussion that -- one of them used the phrase that, "We need an army that's supported by the people." And that the question of whether these kinds of incidents were going to be investigated and resolved was one that affected their relations with the people of Colombia and affected their ability to do their jobs.
So the US being unwilling to provide this kind of support to a particular unit, I think, sends a very clear message that the United States expects these issues to be resolved, resolved in a transparent manner, and resolved in a way that we think, by resolving it can benefit the Colombian Armed Forces and the Colombian people.
QUESTION: But Minister of Defense Martha Lucia Ramirez said that it's not correct that the State Department took this decision when the investigation goes on.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I didn't see her exact statement. I would have to say that one of the reasons we took this decision is because the investigation has dragged on, and we believe it's time to reach a resolution of these issues, but to do so in a way that's transparent and open that brings to light all the facts and then clears the air about what happened in 1998.
QUESTION: The Secretary also in Bogotá announced an increase in the amount of military aid for Colombia, presumably. Any decision on this doesn't affect that contention and --
MR. BOUCHER: No, we can spend it elsewhere. As we pointed out, remember the US assistance to Colombia has been directed at specific units, often units that were vetted and trained and designed to do particular functions in the fight against narcotics. Now with a legal authority we'll be supporting units that do particular things against the fight against terrorism. Remember, security for the pipeline has been one of the issues that we were most concerned about. But because of ongoing concerns about human rights conditions, about the status of the military, about the status of rebel groups and paramilitaries and their contacts with people, we have been very specific in our assistance to Colombia to make sure it went to the places and the units and the functions that we, in the United States, the government and the Congress, to go to those points that we thought were most appropriate.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject to North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Change the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: And I hate to do this because I keep asking about it but there continue to be reports about it and I don't know what's going on and perhaps you can clear the air, and I want to ask a very specific question. Has the United States cancelled, halted, arrested, interrupted, suspended, frozen, or in any other way stopped supplying food aid to North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Then what's going on? Why do these reports continually surface, the latest one is quoting USAID Director by name?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to say -- I know. But he didn't say what he's supposed to have said. He didn't say we'd cut off, interrupted, halted, arrested, or anything else, suspended, our food assistance to North Korea. I have a transcript of what he said. These are the facts and these are the facts that he pointed out.
Last June, we announced our program for last year, made clear at that time our concerns about monitoring. Other donors have made clear their concerns about monitoring. The World Food Program has made clear its concerns about monitoring. And we've been working with those people, with other donors and the World Food Program. We'll continue to work with them to try to get these concerns resolved.
The deliveries for last year, I think the last one finished up as recently as last month. We have not announced any new pledges or deliveries for this year yet because we don't have the funding. We, on a continuing resolution, we don't have our new funding. But as I said, some of the deliveries for last years' tranches arrived last month, so it's not like there hasn't been food going in there since our announcement in June.
And now, we will look at, as we get the money, as get the budget from our Congress, we will look at what we can provide this year. We will continue to work on the issues of monitoring, and we will expect -- we intend to be, continue to be a significant donor to the North Korean food programs.
QUESTION: You don't want to say, "We will be a --"
MR. BOUCHER: We will be a significant donor to North Korean food aid programs.
QUESTION: We just linked it to the -- to improve the access for the World Food Program monitors. Suppose they stonewall as they have been?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we've tried, and we and other donors have tried very hard to take into account to resolve these problems on monitoring and we will continue to do that. Our expectation is that we will be able to do that. That is a concern, though, that's not something particular to the United States. That's something that is widely shared in the donor community and that the donors together, with whatever resources we and others decide to provide, will address with the North Koreans.
QUESTION: But so far as I know the North Koreans are showing no receptivity at all. You contacted them last August and you still have not heard from them.
MR. BOUCHER: That's true. But, as I said, it's not just the United States at this point. It's the United States, it's other donors, it's NGOs, it's European Union, it's World Food Program. We'll all want to see these issues resolved and I hope we will be able to do so. Remember, the bottom line is we want to give food to needy North Koreans. The President referred to this again today. As I've said, we were quite prepared to talk to him about food among other things. But, the point is we need to make sure it gets to the people who need it and that will be an ongoing issue, I'd say.
QUESTION: But the President's remarks indicated that food and energy were part of the bold initiative of last fall which didn't go forward for reasons that we all are aware of. I didn't think that food was part of the package that he alluded to.
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, food, the continuing supply of food was one of the things we're happy to mention to North Korea whenever we discuss moving forward in our relationship. But we have also made clear that the continuing the supply of food from the United States is based on the needs of people in North Korea, the situation that they face and our desire to help the people of North Korea with food. It's not conditioned on any political factors, nor is it part of a political package that was suspended or the other moves that were not possible because of the nuclear programs.
QUESTION: Well, the President seemed to make a link. Whether he intended to or not, that's the way it came out.
MR. BOUCHER: I -- no. I think the President's been clear on this at different times, and that the fact that food was one of the topics of discussion as we discussed that package doesn't mean, quite obviously, as we've said, that it's suspended like the other parts of the package.
QUESTION: Well, since the President mentioned the bold initiative, are you prepared to say in even in at least in general terms what the administration has in mind if they do dismantle?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's time at this point to go trying to describe it in any great detail.
QUESTION: No, I said in general terms.
MR. BOUCHER: Or even in specifics of generalities. (Laughter). I don't want to start naming areas beyond the ones the President named is what I'm trying to say.
QUESTION: You can't even say trade?
MR. BOUCHER: Generally we know that North Korea has been interested in recognition, respect, economic relations with the world. But what North Korea is finding from us and other people in the world is they're not getting those things because they've embarked on these nuclear programs.
Assistant Secretary Kelly, when he was in North Korea, as we've said, and I think we described it a little more at the time, said that we were prepared to take a bold approach to the relationship and we were prepared to do things as they did things on the issues of concern to us, to resolve some of the other issues in the relationship. But that was made impossible because we found they weren't meeting commitments they'd already made. And we have made clear at this point that they need to meet those commitments in the nuclear area and then we'll see. As the President said, we'll have to reconsider how we can precede on those other matters.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Chinese Foreign Ministry asking for -- saying it would be a good idea for the US to have talks and offering to host them in Beijing. Do you have any statement as to whether you would be open to such talks and if so, at what level? And I have a follow-up.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on talks beyond what we've said in the trilateral communiqué with the Japanese and the Koreans. We're willing to talk to North Korea. The President said that again this morning. We need to talk about how it's going to resolve the concerns that shared widely in the international community about the nuclearization of the peninsula, about these uranium enrichment programs, about North Korea breaking its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency on denuclearization, and also on cameras, seals, monitors and things like that. We need North Korea to address those issues. We need North Korea to promptly and verifiably end its nuclearization program.
The question of having talks in Beijing or New York or elsewhere really doesn't arise at this point. We have said we are willing to have talks. I think the Chinese were actually asked, "Would you be willing to do it here?" And they said, "Yeah, sure," or words to that effect. But that's not the issue now. The issue is whether North Korea is willing to address the concerns of the international community and promptly and verifiably end these programs that are such an affront to the agreements that it signed before and to the international community.
QUESTION: So my follow-up is, would you explain why this does not represent a changed position by the administration?
MR. BOUCHER: Because it's what we've said from the start. I can't change something I've said all along by saying it again.
QUESTION: Ambassador Pearson, today, when he was at the Turkish Business Association, he said that United States prepare one flexible package for the compensation events of the Iraqi operations. What he means is the flexible package? Can you give us some information about the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Good for him, but I don't think I have anything beyond what he said. I don't have any announcements to make.
QUESTION: And also, Prime Minister of Turkey, he visit, he completed his trip to Middle East. And he said that several neighbor countries, they have a plan for the Iraq. Did they communicate their plan with you or do you have any idea about what their plan?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's for me to divulge their plan, nor for me to discuss what the Prime Minister of Turkey may have had in terms of his discussions with other Arab leaders. I think we have had conversations with other governments about how, you know, Saddam Hussein might leave, people have mentioned this to us. I think you've seen some public statements in the Arab world about various leaders that wanted to make sure that Iraq complied. So which of these various elements they might be talking about, I don't know. But I think if anybody's got a plan, it's for them to talk about it, not us.
QUESTION: Are you happy with the Turkish Government's contact with the Iraqi Government?
MR. BOUCHER: As we've said before, we think anybody who has contact with the Iraqi Government needs to make the point to the Iraqi regime that they need to comply with UN resolutions, they need to stop threatening the region and their own people with weapons of mass destruction, and we think the people who do have contact should make that point.
QUESTION: How about economic relations?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I --
QUESTION: Did they sign a $700,000 million economic --
MR. BOUCHER: A lot of this is future speculation. I'm not informed of the details of that agreement, but I don't have anything to say on it now.
QUESTION: Have you talked to the Turks, though, about their contacts with the Iraqi Government? I mean, do you know that they conveyed this message to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'll have to ask the Turks exactly what they said when they were there. We're certainly keeping in touch with all the governments who may or may not be having contact.
QUESTION: Have you asked them?
MR. BOUCHER: We generally have asked all the governments that may contact with Iraq to make clear that they, Iraq, needs to comply. So without focusing on any particular government or not, we know that people have discussions with the Iraqis and that's the message that we encourage them to make.
QUESTION: On Iraq and neighbors and so on.
MR. BOUCHER: What are we discussing before we decide if we can finish it off? Iraq and neighbors and so on?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about a proposed, large aid package for Jordan, allegedly up to $1 billion which is under discussion?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing more than I told him about a package allegedly under discussion with Turkey.
QUESTION: And on a related matter, is the State Department sending somebody to the Salahadin Meeting in Kurdistan next week? And --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, I will have to check. We were looking at that and I'm not sure it's been decided. Let me check.
QUESTION: Richard, on Turkey and its neighbors, and I realize you don't like to involve yourself in domestic politics. This may be one of those rare exceptions. There are large -- tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots demonstrating in favor of the EU plan -- I mean, the UN plan and against Mr. Denktash. Do you have any reaction to that? Are you happy to see that there's a -- at least that it looks like there's a popular move afoot on the Turkish Cypriot side?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't want to get involved in anybody's politics. But I think I do want to get involved in the cause of peace. And we have made clear our support for the Secretary General, Secretary General of the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan, for a special Cyprus advisor, Alvaro DeSoto, and for the UN Good Offices Mission on Cyprus to reach a just and durable settlement in a way that addresses the legitimate interests of both sides and of Greece and Turkey.
There are very large demonstrations in Cyprus today that show that Turkish Cypriots understand the significant benefits of achieving that kind of comprehensive settlement and achieving it now. Obviously we couldn't agree more.
The UN's revised settlement plan currently on the table provides a basis for such a settlement, and we believe a settlement in Cyprus can and should be achieved by February 28th. Both sides need to work with urgency on the areas requiring immediate attention that were identified by the Secretary General in his recent communications with the parties.
QUESTION: So you almost seem to be saying that the demonstrations are a good thing.
MR. BOUCHER: That peace is a good thing, and people demonstrating in support of this opportunity to achieve to peace, they are supporting the right thing.
QUESTION: Should this not be seen by supporters of Mr. Denktash as a kind of slap in the face since attendant along with their sentiment, the protestors' sentiment, is the idea of "dump Denktash?"
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it'll come as any surprise to Mr. Denktash that the United States supports peace and that we support a settlement. That's what we're saying here.
QUESTION: What are the (inaudible) dates (inaudible) the very active --
MR. BOUCHER: Actually, Steve was going to change the subject first if we change.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. I'm just following up of questions of my colleagues.
MR. BOUCHER: All right. Well, finish following up.
QUESTION: The last few days, Tehran, the capital of Iran, witnessed very active diplomatic movement, the Kuwaitis, the Turks visit Iran. And the Iranians say they were talking to their visitors and guests on the subject of Iraq. My question is, are you coordinating or are the Iranians coordinating something on Iraq with you?
MR. BOUCHER: What? (Laughter.) The bearded gentleman said yes. Not the other one.
The -- let me get back to you and see if there's anything I can say. I'm not going to comment on other people's visits. Certainly we -- our position on Iraq is well known, and I'm sure the Iranians know it. As neighbors, the Iranians have much to fear should Iraq develop weapons of mass destruction.
But in terms of any contact we may or may not have had, I would have to double-check and see if there's been anything like that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Ma'am.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little about the nomination of (inaudible) tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me get back to that. But in terms of real changes of subject, Steve deserved the first right to do that, I think.
QUESTION: Thank you. Coming back to what you said a moment ago when asked about whether Russia, Chinese, the United Nations or another site might be a venue for talks with North Korea, you said that the question really didn't arise at this point. I wonder if you could clarify the reason for that given the statement last week that you were willing to talk to them about this subject. Have you learned any -- is that because the criteria laid out last week had not yet been met, based on what you've heard from various intermediaries?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. The issue is not whether we talk. The issue is not when we talk. The issue is not where we talk. The issue is really what we talk about. And we have made clear we're willing to talk to the North Koreans about how they can come into compliance with their international obligations.
Unfortunately, -- you know, there were discussions with Governor Richardson late last week, over the weekend. Unfortunately the North Koreans did not indicate, did not address the issues that the international community is concerned about. And unfortunately, at the same time, they kept taking steps in the opposite direction by withdrawing from the NPT.
MR. BOUCHER: So the issue is really can we talk about the things that need to be discussed which are the steps that North Korea has taken that go against its own commitments, that go against its own obligations under a number of agreements and international commitments?
QUESTION: So, presumably, have you, other than Governor Richardson, what you've heard from any other intermediaries who've been in touch with the North Koreans reinforced that impression that you've just articulated?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think we've said, what they said to Governor Richardson was more or less, was consistent and more or less contained what they said in public, as well. You're familiar with the press conference in New York and public statements and things like that. There are a number of people talking to the North Koreans and we have coordinated in Pacific fora like Japan-Korea-China discussions, or the discussions among 35 Board Member Countries of the IAEA, or in terms of our bilateral discussions with people like the Russians and the Chinese.
Assistant Secretary Kelly is in China today. And that those, in coordinating with those discussions, we have made clear to others our view and they share our view, I'd say, generally, that North Korea has to understand that its relations with the rest of the world depend on its abandoning these nuclear ambitions. And that point is being made again and again. You're familiar with the Australians, who are on their way to Pyongyang to visit and Jim Kelly has talked to Murray McLean, the leader of the Australian delegation. I think I may have been wrong when I mentioned Seoul because Jim was in Seoul and Murray was in Beijing, but they've talked on the phone.
We've kept in touch with the Australians. The Deputy Secretary was down there. The Secretary discussed this possibility with Foreign Minister Downer. I think the Russians have announced they're sending somebody. There's a UN envoy on its way. So there's plenty of visitors in Pyongyang, and I think all these various parties who are undertaking these visits have made clear in their own public statements, together and separately at times, that North Korea needed to eliminate these nuclear programs for there to be any progress in these relationships. And that's the first message.
The second message is we're willing to talk about how North Korea can do that and that has been made clear, I think very clear, in our public statements.
QUESTION: Richard, on the idea of talks, is it correct that Under Secretary Bolton's second trip to Asia this month is not, in fact, beginning with a transpacific flight, but rather a transatlantic flight?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: It is not?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: He's not going to London to meet with the --
MR. BOUCHER: He is going to London, but he's coming back here before he departs for Asia.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. Well then, you want to explain what he's going to London for?
MR. BOUCHER: You asked me a question. I gave you a specific answer. If you wanted to ask me if he was going to London, I would have had to tell you.
QUESTION: Well, this is a new trip, right? This one hadn't been announced before?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Under Secretary Bolton is going to head to London, or is on his way, I think, to London today for talks tomorrow in London on security issues with a couple other members of the Security Council, the French and the British, to discuss security issues before the -- in the context of the Security Council, particularly to talk about North Korea.
QUESTION: And possibly bringing the North Korea issue to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: That's obviously one of the issues that has to be considered and discussed with others. Right now, it's with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Board there. And we'll see what they decide.
QUESTION: And these talks are being hosted by the foreign office?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Inaudible). Okay, can I ask another travel-related --
QUESTION: Can I ask North Korea, still?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, North Korea, still.
QUESTION: Do you mind?
MR. BOUCHER: No, you -- I guess others have North Korea questions, too, so we'll head back on North Korea.
QUESTION: Yeah, would you clarify the impression of some that there is a contradiction between saying no quid pro quos and yet, increasingly in the last day or two, discussing the economic benefits of what would be down the road if these discussions led in the right direction?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I don't think it's really increasingly discussing. When he was in Seoul, Assistant Secretary Kelly was asked specifically about a particular private sector project, a Sakhalin gas pipeline, that may or may not cross or involve North Korea. He gave the general answer that we'd always given -- that we had been prepared to take a bold approach, but that that was impossible because of North Korea's nuclear developments; applied it to the case of energy as the President did today.
But I think, as the President made clear, we haven't -- that we were prepared to take that bold initiative and we have to reconsider where we go. But first and foremost, the North Koreans need to resolve the question of their nuclear activities. And that was made clear by Assistant Secretary Kelly. It's been made clear by the President and the rest of us. There is a key difference to saying that where we had been prepared to go is, generally, I can't say precisely, but is, you know, was there and would be there and we'd have -- we could reconsider it. But first, they have to resolve these issues. And the first -- they have to verifiably and promptly dismantle these nuclear programs and return to compliance with their International Atomic Energy Agency obligations for there to be any progress on those other matters and any real reconsideration of those other matters.
QUESTION: Well, the Japanese Government is wishing to have a new consultation mechanism about this issues with the P-5 countries in South Korea and Japan. What do you think about this idea? Is it on the table right now?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we've had very close contacts with the Japanese Government. We will have more close contacts with the Japanese Government when Assistant Secretary Kelly gets to Japan after, I think he'll swing down to Singapore and Indonesia. So, I think we continue to consult with the government of Japan in a variety of for a. As to any particular ideas about configurations, don't have anything in particular to say on them today.
QUESTION: Richard, does North Korea have to agree to talk about freezing its nuclear program for the US to sit down, or does it have to agree to freeze it in order for the US to sit down and talk?
MR. BOUCHER: I've got déjà vu all over again. We get this question every day. I give the same answer. It's the answer that we gave in the trilateral communiqué. We're prepared to talk to North Korea about how it will comply with its international obligations. That's what we're looking to do.
QUESTION: Could you update us what Secretary think about the light water reactor? Is that the best way to give North Koreans the energy capability?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you've seen in the Washington -- excuse me, The Wall Street Journal, wash my mouth out with soap. (Laughter). You'll see in The Wall Street Journal interview that Secretary said that we would have to look at the energy questions and that we might have to have a new arrangement. But, at this point we'll just -- if you're asking, sort of, you know, speculative, down the road kind of questions, that's about all that can be said. In terms of the current construction schedule for the light water reactors, that'll be a matter that the Korean Energy Development Organization Board will have to deal with as they meet again early in the year.
QUESTION: Actually, could I just follow-up on my earlier point? You moved on before I had an opportunity to follow.
MR. BOUCHER: Trying to move faster than you.
QUESTION: Yeah. Could you explain, if you say that it was all laid out in the communiqué, why you say, then, that the issue is not whether, where or when, it's what we talk about?
MR. BOUCHER: North Korea --
QUESTION: Isn't it -- I mean, we haven't agreed on where. We haven't agreed on whether and we haven't agreed on when. So --
MR. BOUCHER: But that's -- there are channels of communication open. Those things are relatively easily decided. Our willingness to talk is quite clear. What we have said is at this point, it doesn't look like North Korea is prepared to address those issues that are of concern to the international community. And so it is a question of whether -- of what we can talk about in those discussions, about what those discussions can produce if they're not going to produce some kind of resolution of our concerns that are shared in the international community.
QUESTION: Okay, you just said a resolution of your concerns. But if you're just saying you want to talk about it --
MR. BOUCHER: I said what they might produce being some resolution of our concerns. We're willing to talk to them about how they will comply. The compliance is the resolution. The talk is about how.
QUESTION: I have a question that's not North Korea. Okay?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's celebrate. (Laughter).
QUESTION: The Swiss Government is saying that its Foreign Minister has talks scheduled with Secretary Powell in Davos. Are you prepared to say whether we're going or not? He's going or not? You're going or not? I'm not going to give him a way to say, yeah.
MR. BOUCHER: I am and you're not.
QUESTION: Strike the royal "we."
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is looking to travel to Davos for the World Economic Forum. Everything is not pinned down yet, so I don't really have a formal announcement of any travel at this point. But, I just have to leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: Has there been any discussion of a meeting with North Koreans in Davos?
MR. BOUCHER: With what?
QUESTION: North Koreans?
MR. BOUCHER: She asked about Swiss.
QUESTION: No, I'm quite serious.
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: No, no --
MR. BOUCHER: The answer to your question is no. (Laughter).
QUESTION: There are reports this morning that the North Koreans are actually sending somebody to Davos, surprisingly enough.
MR. BOUCHER: The answer to your question is no.
MR. BOUCHER: Can I answer it again?
QUESTION: On the subject of travel, non-Secretarial, which there seems to be quite a lot of these days, Deputy Secretary Armitage is heading to Moscow next week?
MR. BOUCHER: That he is. That he is.
QUESTION: Can you explain why?
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe. I have some details somewhere. Yeah. Deputy Secretary Armitage will be traveling to Moscow January 22 and 23 to attend the 9th Meeting of the Counterterrorism Working Group which he co-chairs with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov.
The Working Group will discuss the situation in Afghanistan and other regions that are coping with terrorism and instability, such as Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. They'll also discuss counterterrorism efforts worldwide with a particular focus on combating nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism. We had looked to see whether he couldn't make some other stops, particularly Uzbekistan, but looks like he's not going to be able to do that on this trip, so he'll be coming straight back to Washington after his meetings in Moscow.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) play nice with The Wall Street Journal. You're suggesting that their story that saying that he was going to Uzbekistan this morning wasn't necessarily wrong when they wrote it then.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't comment on anybody's particular story, but I've never faulted anyone for writing what may be true at the time.
QUESTION: Fair enough. And one other thing on travel and on London, have you heard back yet from Assistant Secretary Burns on how the Palestinian Reform meeting is going and whether it's a worthwhile meeting even though the Palestinians aren't there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular report from him, but I think Foreign Secretary Straw has been out in public to talk about what they've achieved and as we've said, we've supported the British initiative to hold this conference. We support every effort to contribute to the cause of reform.
QUESTION: The Japanese Prime Minister has just visited the Yasukuni Shrine which is regarded as the symbol of wartime Japan by some of the neighboring countries. I'm wondering what is US position on this issue -- the Japanese Prime Minister visiting this particular shrine?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll double check, but if my memory serves me correctly, we stay out of this every time it occurs.
QUESTION: Going back to Venezuela for a second, what were the conclusions of the meeting between Mr. Shannon and representatives?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- as I described the meeting, I described the things that were discussed. I don't think that this kind of meeting is designed to have a particular conclusion. It's a chance for us to hear from them on the state of affairs, on their views of the situation and a chance for us to encourage them to participate fully in the discussions with the Secretary General and try to achieve a resolution.
QUESTION: And what was their main input?
MR. BOUCHER: What was their main input? They're telling us what's going on down there in their view.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Thank you. [End]