State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 11
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC March 11, 2003
DEPARTMENT 1 Registration for the Foreign Service Exam Deadline 1-2 Second Employee Submitting Letter of Resignation 12 Secretary Powell s Telephone Calls
LIBYA 2-3, 4 Report on Pan Am 103 Meeting with Libya/UNSC Resolutions 3-4 Await Assistant Secretary Burns Report and Return to the United States 4 Assistant Secretary Burns will Meet with Family Members on March 12
IRAQ 4-5 Operational Issues and U2 Flights over Iraq 7, 10-11 Under Secretary Grossman s Meetings on Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction 7 Process on How Nations are Invited to Various Meetings 8 Finland Support of Humanitarian Meetings 12-13, 20 US Demarche on Expelling Iraqi Intelligence Agents Based on Threat Information 15-16 Future of Iraq and the New Government/Staffing Issues 16-17 Proposal for Goods and Services through USAID Contracting 19-20,21 Department of Defense Comments on U2 Flights
CYPRUS 5 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan s Remarks and Closure of Mr. De Soto s Office 6 Expect a Detailed Report from the United Nation s Special Advisor 6-7 April 6 Referendum/Influence of New Turkish Government
UNITED NATIONS/IRAQ 9 Secretary Powell s Diplomatic Efforts on a Second Resolution and Votes 10 Effort for a Vote This Week in the UN Security Council 11-12 Vote Count and Update on Diplomatic Efforts 13-14 United Kingdom Spearheading Resolution Effort
TURKEY 14 Turkish Newspapers Reporting on Iraqi Kurdish Statement Again Turkey
UZBEKISTAN 14 VOA and RFE Reporters Attacked at anti-Karimov Rally
NORTH KOREA 14 Oral Protest Through New York Channel on Recent Military Action
ISRAEL/PALISTINIANS 15 Iraq Crisis and Distress 21 New Oversight for the Palestinian Council and New Prime Minister
NON-PROLIFERATION 17-19 New Sanctions Imposed in Violation of the Iran-Iraq Nonproliferation Act
COTE D IVOIRE 20-21 Welcoming of New Steps Towards Peace /Condemn Killings in Bangolo
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have one brief announcement. Registration for the 2003 Foreign Service Written Exam will close at midnight on Saturday, March 15th, 2003. So only a few more days for you, you and you to sign up for this opportunity.
QUESTION: I thought there were only two vacancies right now.
MR. BOUCHER: No, there's quite a few.
QUESTION: You need people to replace those who have left in the last couple of weeks?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we are seeking to sustain the Foreign Service for aggressive American diplomacy so that we can be out there all over the world defending American interests and helping people.
QUESTION: Is that the last, last, last chance to take the exam?
MR. BOUCHER: It is the last chance to sign up for this particular exam, but you have to know how to use the web to sign up, Barry.
QUESTION: Would you be willing to extend the deadline for (inaudible) employees beyond that?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Oh, no extending the deadline?
MR. BOUCHER: He asked me a question. I gave him an answer.
QUESTION: How about there's been another State Department person who has said he can't live with the Iraq policy and is going away?
MR. BOUCHER: There is another individual who has submitted a letter of resignation. It was an officer who was with USIA, I think, since 1981. He is currently at Georgetown University and submitted a letter of resignation, which I think he has made available to the public.
QUESTION: He gives the reason, or no?
MR. BOUCHER: I will let his letter explain it for himself.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary happen to see his letter?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't --
QUESTION: I'm remembering the Christopher period when there were about five defectors, and --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, this is the second one that I am aware of in relation to the situation with Iraq. The Secretary saw the first letter I know. He is interested in these sorts of things and is happy to read any views that anybody submits to him. I hadn't been able to confirm that he saw this particular letter, though, at this point. If he hasn't, I am sure he will be happy to read it, interested in what the man has to say.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can you give us an update on what was going on or what happened in London today with Assistant Secretary Burns and whether an agreement has been reached with Libya?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you much of an update on it at this point because we are still looking forward to the return of our Assistant Secretary, who has been in London talking with the Libyans and the United Kingdom. As you know, we have had meetings in London from time to time to talk about Libyan compliance with United Nations resolutions. This meeting was held March 11th, today, in London, to discuss the Lockerbie issues.
We found -- we were told the session was useful. Preliminary reporting indicates that they made some progress, but delegations now will be reporting to their capitals and we look forward to talking to Assistant Secretary Burns when he gets back.
QUESTION: Do you have any explanation for why a supposed source close to the talks say there's been an agreement, if there's been an agreement --
MR. BOUCHER: I've never had explanations as to why anonymous officials say things to wire services.
QUESTION: So the U.S. doesn't agree that there has been a settlement with the Libyans?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I would say we understand there was progress made, that the meetings were useful, but we look forward to talking to Assistant Secretary Burns when he gets back.
QUESTION: Do you know if, Richard, how long it would take, if an agreement had been reached, how long it would -- how long it would take to get it all signed off on? In other words --
MR. BOUCHER: That would be purely speculative at this point. We will look forward to talking Assistant Secretary Burns when he gets back and see where we are.
QUESTION: Well, an agreement -- right, fair enough. Well, I guess what I'm asking for, in terms of the U.S. Government, how -- is this something that the President would have to sign off on, or is this something that can be done at a lower level?
MR. BOUCHER: This is something where the United States has had a longstanding policy about the need for Libya to meet all of the requirements of the UN resolution. Any progress that was made will have to be evaluated against those standards. And I'm sure it will be given the appropriate attention within the U.S. Government. But I don t want to presuppose, at this point, that there is some kind of agreement. I am not in a position to describe it that way today. Whatever progress is made will have to be looked at when Assistant Secretary Burns gets back here. And we will evaluate it carefully, based on the standards of the UN resolution, and decide on next steps.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, what I'm trying to ask basically is there -- is this like it is in many other times, there is no agreement until there is an agreement, until it gets signed off on in the capitals?
MR. BOUCHER: There is no agreement, or presumption of agreement, or use of the word "agreement" until we get a chance to talk to our person who was out there and find out what happened. I am not going to join you in presupposing that there is some kind of --
QUESTION: I am not asking that.
MR. BOUCHER: -- agreement and we're merely hiding about how it happens.
QUESTION: No, I'm not asking you --
MR. BOUCHER: We want to talk to our guy when he gets back and we'll decide what's next.
QUESTION: I'm not asking that. I'm just asking you, you know, if something had been arrived at in London, would it not be final until it was signed off on back here in Washington?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to join you in speculating on this.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have the names of the people with whom Burns met? And do you know when Burns is going to brief the families?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the names of the people that Burns met with. There are, you know, the standard groups that go there, but it is for other countries to account for their delegations. Assistant Secretary Burns will be back for a meeting with the families tomorrow.
QUESTION: Richard, leading up to this meeting, was it still the position of the U.S. that sanctions were not up for bargaining -- if their restitution were paid, that those sanctions could be lifted? I think that's the way it was left last time we talked about it.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the way we left it last time we talked about is that to get UN sanctions lifted, Libya had to meet all of the requirements of the UN resolution; that U.S. sanctions and restrictions were imposed for this and other reasons; and that those -- there are a different set of requirements that would apply to any U.S. sanctions, but to lift those, Libya would have to meet those requirements.
Let's go ahead.
QUESTION: Can we go on to the U-2?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the U-2 affair? Was there an agreement that only one U-2 would fly at a time, and did Iraqi planes scramble to intercept this --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to go into any of the operational aspects of U-2 flights over Iraq. That is really a matter that the Pentagon handles and controls, so I think that is a matter I have to refer to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about the diplomatic side of it, then, and what --
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there is nothing to say on the diplomatic side of things.
QUESTION: Well, Iraq says there was an apology. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there is nothing to say on the diplomatic side.
QUESTION: Maybe if we could just keep -- do you consider that the Iraqis have in any way in this incident violated any agreement that they've made or --
MR. BOUCHER: I think until we get more of the facts -- again, the operational side has to be handled by the Pentagon I am not in a position to make any diplomatic statements at this point on it.
QUESTION: Yes. Yesterday in The Hague, the discussions for Cyprus officially broke down. The UN Secretary General made the statement that he will close the office of Mr. De Soto in Cyprus and it's up to the parties to decide what they want they do from now on, if they will accept the -- his plan -- is ready to come back to it. What's the U.S. reaction to this incident?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first, I need to make clear we are deeply disappointed that the Secretary General's discussions with the two leaders in The Hague did not result in an agreement to put his plan to referenda in both communities. The United States has long supported the efforts of the Secretary General, of his initiative to find a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem.
We applaud the commitment and the creativity, which the Secretary General and his Special Advisor, Mr. Alvaro De Soto, brought to this effort. Despite the setback, we remain committed to seeking a just and a durable settlement to the Cyprus problem.
The Secretary General has asked Mr. De Soto to prepare a detailed report to the Security Council. So the Security Council, we would expect, will address the outcome, consider the Secretary General's recommendations on the conduct of the mission at that time.
QUESTION: One comment. The Secretary General of the UN, in his statement in a way blamed Mr. Denktash for the breakdown. Any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that I think the Secretary General did describe the responses of President Papadopoulos, as well as Mr. Denktash, to the proposals for the referendum and the reasons why his efforts didn't succeed.
We find it very regrettable that Mr. Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own future and to vote on such a fundamental issue.
QUESTION: On the same subject.
MR. BOUCHER: On the same subject. Sir. One, two, either way.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, since from 1974 to 2003, the U.S. Government supported the UN initiative to find a solution to the problem, but finally unsuccessfully. Are you planning to take any U.S. initiatives in order to find a solution to this problem, like, say a Camp David process or any other idea to --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is way premature to start speculating along those lines. As I said, the UN Special Advisor, Mr. De Soto, will be preparing a full report for the Security Council. We and other Security Council members will get a chance to look at that report. The United States commitment to helping to find a solution in Cyprus has been longstanding and, obviously, if there is an opportunity to do that, we would like to see that done. But until we get the report from Mr. De Soto and a chance to consider it with the Security Council, I wouldn't start speculating on something that could be considerably farther down the road.
The parties had this opportunity. The parties had to take this opportunity. And as we say, we are disappointed that they didn't.
QUESTION: I was listening to De Soto's statement on TV live. He said he's not blaming only the Turkish side, he's blaming the Greek side too, because the Papadopoulos doesn't accept the guarantor countries situation, he said that, and the Turkish side doesn't accept the referendum, so both sides has the problem in this agreement.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to argue this with you here. Our view, I think, has been stated. The Secretary General did describe, or his representative, they have described the positions of both sides. You can analyze those for yourself.
Okay. Same thing, or change?
QUESTION: Well, you did specifically criticize Mr. Denktash, but do you have -- you don't have any particular comment on the position of Mr. Papadopoulos?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we think Turkish Cypriots should have gotten the opportunity to decide these issues in a referendum, and leave it at that.
QUESTION: Yes. And Mr. Papadopoulos?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it at that. I said both sides' positions have been laid out and you can analyze those.
QUESTION: Richard, yesterday when you were talking about this, you said that the United States continues to support the Secretary General's initiative and his call for a March 30th referenda, but either shortly after you spoke, or maybe while you were speaking, he had put forward a compromise proposal that would push --
MR. BOUCHER: An April 6th referendum.
QUESTION: Exactly. Did you guys -- were you guys pushing the two sides to -- as you have been, were you signed on to that?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yes, we were definitely signed on to the idea of the referenda. The actual staging and signing and dates for those would have been acceptable to us if the parties agreed. The disappointment is that there wasn't agreement to go forward with this and that people in Cyprus were not given the chance to choose.
QUESTION: Okay. And do you -- does the U.S. feel at all that the Turkish Government, the new Turkish Government, or the kind of trans -- in flux, transition Turkish Government could have done more to push Mr. Denktash to accept this deal?
MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point, that would be a matter of speculation. We will look at the report that the Special Advisor presents to the Security Council -- the Secretary General presents to the Security Council. We will see in there what the various sides have done.
Certainly, the issue of Cyprus has been an issue of close consultation between the United States and Turkey. As you know, the Secretary, in all his meetings with Turkish or Greek, for that matter, diplomats, or European Union diplomats, has emphasized the importance that we attach to reaching an agreement on Cyprus, the importance of taking advantage of this opportunity. So there is a disappointment that that didn't happen.
But I would say we worked very hard on the UN proposal and we think that there were advantages, not only to the people of Cyprus or the security of Turkey, but also, for example, for Turkey's accession to the European Union, of reaching agreement on the Cyprus issue, and that we have often pointed those out.
QUESTION: And have you pointed that out post this -- have there been any contacts that you're aware of with the Turks about the fact that they may have queered the pitch somewhat for the EU?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know specifically. I think the meeting in The Hague that the UN was present, we were present, but also I think the guarantors were going to be present there as well. So I imagine there has been quite a bit of discussion.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure, somebody over there had a first shot at something else.
QUESTION: The Foreign Minister of Finland finds it regrettable that the U.S. State Department is dividing the European Union countries into different groups, as far as giving information about the Iraqi situation goes. Now, he is referring to a set of special briefings that are given here in Washington to foreign governments. Who gets invited to those briefings and on what basis?
MR. BOUCHER: People get invited to briefings on whatever -- I mean, I don't know exactly what you're referring to. There are different meetings that go on there.
QUESTION: Mr. Grossman --
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Grossman has had a couple of meetings. He had a meeting on February 28th, and then a follow-up meeting on March 7th, with other governments, with representatives of other governments, a number of other governments, to come and to talk about developments with regard to Iraq; and, especially, to talk about humanitarian relief and reconstruction issues. And some governments decided to attend those. I'm not sure if every single one that was invited decided to attend, but that's their decision, not ours.
QUESTION: In what aspects of the U.S. policy towards Iraq does the United States consider Finland her ally?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I would talk about any particular country with regard to any particular aspect. But any country that has an interest in current developments, any country that has an interest in humanitarian relief, for example, in the future reconstruction of Iraq should it be necessary to use military force -- we invited a number of countries. Any of those countries, we are happy to see them there.
QUESTION: But so, you don't see Finland as part of a war coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think Finland has described Finland that way, nor have we.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? You didn't answer how you decide which countries you invite. Is it only countries that have not spoken out against the war plans, or is it --
MR. BOUCHER: No, we have -- this is obviously a major issue for our diplomacy, as well as everybody else's diplomacy these days, and I expect everybody in town is clamoring for meetings to find out what we are up to. Maybe they can find sufficient information by reading the newspapers and watching TV. But we have a lot of meetings at different levels, at different times, a briefing for various groups of ambassadors, sometimes at the Assistant Secretary level, sometimes Under Secretary Grossman. Some of the particular meetings that I think we are talking about were to talk especially about humanitarian relief and reconstruction things, as well as sort of the overall situation. So we might invite, say, countries that were more interested in that aspect than others.
QUESTION: Richard, on this --
MR. BOUCHER: Let s go to Betsy.
QUESTION: On Iraq, as well. Can you say exactly what the Secretary is doing to try and get the votes necessary to pass the resolution, and whether the resolution is going to be altered in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: The resolution that we put forward, I think we think is the right formula for increasing the pressure on Iraq, to take a chance, the take the opportunity to resolve this peacefully. We put forward this resolution as a way for the Council members to stand up and support Resolution 1441, which they had all voted for. We are certainly prepared to consider some possible adjustments or modification to the approach, but we think it is basically the right approach, so we have been engaged in intense diplomacy. There is a lot of hard work going on, talking to other governments, both at the Secretary's level as well as conversations that have been held in New York.
I think I ran down the long list of telephone calls the Secretary made yesterday. You're familiar with the White House, of the phone calls over there. Today, the Secretary has already talked to Foreign Secretary Straw, Foreign Minister Palacio, the Israeli Foreign Minister -- that was to congratulate him on his new position and talk about how we can work on issues involving the United States and Israel. He has also talked to Foreign Secretary Derbez of Mexico and will continue to talk, I'm sure, to other Security Council Foreign Ministers during the course of the day.
QUESTION: Richard, what do you think about the proposal by the six undecided to set benchmarks and a much longer timeframe for compliance with those benchmarks?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think the first thing is to say, I am not sure there actually is a proposal by the six undecided. I know there has been discussion of these kinds of ideas by countries that are not yet decided on this. But there is not a proposal per se that we have seen.
We have been in discussions with other members of the Security Council about some of the issues, some of these ideas of a brief delay or something, or some kind of tests or standards have been talked about and floated about. I suppose they are among the possibilities. Nothing is gelled at this point.
QUESTION: Okay, what does that mean?
MR. BOUCHER: So there's no adjustment that's been made to the resolution.
QUESTION: Perhaps if I can rephrase it, then. What do you think about the idea, the abstract idea of establishing benchmarks and establishing -- and setting a timeframe which may be 30 to 45 days?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that -- I think that would be too long, first of all. But about the sort of -- the more generic idea of some sort of modification of the date or some slight modification of the date or some use of tests or tasks, these are things that are being discussed that others have talked about, and we are certainly open to some kind of modifications to the resolution. But as I said, nothing's gelled at this point. There is a lot of diplomacy going on, and we will see where we end up.
QUESTION: Do you think that these discussions might, in fact, delay a vote on a new resolution beyond this week?
MR. BOUCHER: We are still looking for a vote this week. We are still making an effort to reach that goal and think it can be done.
QUESTION: A somewhat different subject if somebody --
QUESTION: Well, I just wondered, you know, obviously, you're free to choose the words you want with a message, but I don't hear the same message I heard the first time you spoke of refinements last week, I guess, that the central message of the resolution would be retained with other changes you make, that Iraq must disarm completely, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Is any of that going to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, lest I leave you with a false impression, we are flexible as long as the new resolution meets our bottom-line goal. It must reinforce the fundamental requirement of 1441 that Iraq comply fully and disarm.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: And that the Security Council stand by its resolution that it passed unanimously and previously. I think I already said that, though.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject?
QUESTION: No. Wait.
MR. BOUCHER: No?
QUESTION: I'm need to go back to Finland for a second, which you neglected to -- this whole situation involving this Grossman briefing has caused quite a stir in domestic Finnish politics, which you may or may not follow carefully, but --
MR. BOUCHER: Not as carefully as I should, I'm sure.
QUESTION: You mentioned that, talking about reconstruction and that kind of thing -- given the fact that Scandinavian countries are traditionally large donors to reconstruction efforts, mightn't it not -- well, was it perhaps in this context that Finland was invited to attend?
MR. BOUCHER: Didn't I say that?
QUESTION: Not that specifically, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me say yes, then, and we'll go on.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) still very interesting, I'm not sure and that Sweden was not invited. And actually, as a follow-up to this question, you know, Finland and Sweden go pretty well, I mean, much together hand-in-hand in as far as humanitarian and all that reconstruction thing goes, so why wasn't Sweden --
MR. BOUCHER: We have numerous meetings at numerous levels with numerous groups. This is a topic of discussion at every level. I am sure we are talking to Sweden. I am sure we are talking to Norway. I am sure we are talking to Finland in any number of possible ways. Whether Finland attends a particular meeting or not -- that's a choice for Finland. And if Finland's interested, we're happy to have them. If they're not, you can ask them why they're not. And that's exactly where I will leave it for the moment.
We try to consult with a variety of governments. There's a lot of things going on right now. Some countries were partners in sponsoring UN resolutions, some countries were working on coalition military efforts, other countries we may be helping to plan a humanitarian future. We are all interested in giving a better future to the people of Iraq. We haven't limited our consultations on that subject to any specific group of countries.
There's going to be a lot of countries who, if it is necessary to use military action, could potentially contribute to a better future for the people of Iraq, and as long as that remains a common goal, we will work with other countries that want to do that.
QUESTION: Can I just go back to the timing of the resolution? Are you flexible about that as well? Do you -- I mean, would it be a, would you consider it a serious delay if a vote was, in fact, delayed until, say --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on that. You know, we have been saying we are running out of ways to say, time is running out, so we have made clear it is time for the Security Council to stand up and decide.
We think that for some countries to take the position, for example, that Iraq is not in compliance but they won't allow any resolution to pass the United Nations is merely giving Iraq the wrong signals, giving Iraq a blank check.
For the Security Council to further delay the requirement that Iraq comply immediately, fully, actively with the requirements to disarm is merely to send the wrong signal to Iraq. And therefore, it is time for the Security Council to stand up and be counted, for members to make some decisions. We are working with other members to try to get a resolution that can enjoy the maximum possible support. And we will see where we get to in the coming days.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Richard, given the myriad of phone calls that the Secretary and the President have made and the meetings that they have had, is it still the Secretary -- at least the Secretary's opinion that you are within striking distance of getting the nine votes that you would need to have a majority on the Council?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: On what resolution, though?
QUESTION: Not on the original resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: On the basic resolution that we have with whatever adjustments might help get others to vote for it.
QUESTION: Richard, a week, or maybe ten days ago, the U.S. sent out cables to some of its embassies around the world asking other government -- asking embassies to inform other governments to PNG certain Iraqi diplomats. Can you again tell us why you did that, and what the results have been? Do you have any update on how many countries, how many people, and, in general, what the results have been?
MR. BOUCHER: I bet I do. I bet I have half of your answer.
MR. BOUCHER: And the "why did we do it" part; and then somewhere in here -- is she faster than I am? Oh, well. Here, Julie has got it. Okay.
Question number one: Why did we do this? We asked host governments in a number of countries to expel Iraqi intelligence agents, some operating under diplomatic cover, who we believe pose a threat to our personnel in installations overseas.
This action is based on threat information the United States has received. And that's as much as I think I can say about what we asked for, and why we asked for things.
As far as what governments have decided to take action, I have to leave that to individual governments to decide whether to talk about it or not talk about it.
QUESTION: Can you give us some general way to characterize what the response has been?
MR. BOUCHER: I would merely say that there are some governments who have taken action, some governments that are further considering it.
QUESTION: One of the governments that furthering -- is further considering it is the Government of Belgium, who have rejected your request to expel some -- to expel one of these people. They have come out and publicly said that they are not going to do it, their foreign ministry has. What do you have to say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything particular to say about any particular government at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. Why don't you check with your -- maybe the Embassy in Brussels or something? They might have something to say about it.
MR. BOUCHER: I hope they don't either.
QUESTION: Was the suggestion that these agents were taking action that compromised U.S. national security, or the national security of the countries in which they were based?
MR. BOUCHER: Our demarche was based on the fact that we had information that Iraqi intelligence agents in these countries might pose a threat to our personnel and our installations overseas in those countries.
QUESTION: Upon revisions and working on the text, Britain is taking the lead; is that right? And if it is, a question comes up: Why is Britain spearheading this diplomatic --
MR. BOUCHER: If you will remember, the way we have worked very closely with Britain all along, Britain put down the resolution, tabled the resolution, tabled the amendments last Friday. And that's the way we have worked it with them. There is incredible coordination.
QUESTION: And it's smooth, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: It's wonderful.
QUESTION: Richard, are you losing patience with the British on this? I mean the British basically keep coming back to you and saying, "We can't -- we need more." Is there a sense of --
MR. BOUCHER: We are working very closely with the British friends.
QUESTION: -- frustration?
MR. BOUCHER: We're working very closely with them.
QUESTION: Yes, several Turkish newspapers report that the latest Iraqi Kurdish statement against Turkey is a result of Turkey -- United States provocation. On this news item, U.S. wants to use this reaction to pass Turkish parliament permission from the parliament. And how do you accept this accusation? Or, if not, are you --
MR. BOUCHER: I have to say, I haven't read this particular accusation. But I think if I am going to have to respond to every false accusation in every Turkish newspaper every day, we could spend a lot of time here. So let me just say there is nothing to it, and have done with it.
QUESTION: Yes, I was wondering, last week shortly after you urged the Uzbek Government to respect journalists, correspondents for Voice of America and for Radio Free Europe covering anti-Karimov rally were attacked, apparently by people on orders of the Interior Ministry, does the State Department have any reaction to this?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to check on that situation and see.
QUESTION: UNICEF is saying that the North Koreans are running out of medicines and they say that there has been a paltry response to its appeal for donations. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. As you know, we have made clear that we will respond to the humanitarian needs in North Korea. We have already responded, in terms of the Secretary's announcement of food aid that he made when he was in Seoul. We have also said that a lot of other donors need to step up to the plate here. And we would hope that others would consider the humanitarian situation, as well.
QUESTION: Something else.
QUESTION: North Korea?
QUESTION: No, go ahead, North Korea.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Just yesterday, the oral protest that you guys delivered to the New York channel, I'm just wondering, was this a phone call? Was it a personal appearance?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: And it happened in the afternoon?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly when it did. It was yesterday.
QUESTION: There were reports in Israeli media that the U.S. Government is distressed by the frequency of Israeli officials speaking --
MR. BOUCHER: We're supposed to be distressed by everything today.
QUESTION: Well, you know, we get all of these requests for U.S. reaction; that U.S. officials are distressed by the frequent statements by Israel officials about the Iraq crisis, and what might happen and when the war might start, and all of the above. Is there any basis for this report?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen any U.S. official express distress for those kinds of things, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
QUESTION: In a briefing today at the Pentagon, it was suggested that -- they were talking about planning for post-war Iraq -- and it was suggested that much of the initial staffing for the new Iraqi government would be culled from some of the people that are working in the Iraq working groups here at the State Department. Is that one of the things that you are talking about with these people, that they -- and is that one of the open goals is to have people that are physically going to go to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean talking about the Future of Iraq Project?
MR. BOUCHER: We have made clear that we attach importance to this effort by Iraqis themselves to start planning their own future, and to talk about how various aspects of Iraq's future can be handled in a post-Saddam Hussein environment -- whether that's some of the political arrangements, constitutional and judicial ones, or down to things like water and electricity and infrastructure. So there has been a lot of work going on, but I'm sure the people involved want to make sure it is contributing to the future of Iraq when we get there.
At the same time, we have also made quite clear that the ultimate future of Iraq, the way Iraq is managed in the long run, is a matter for Iraqis themselves, both inside and outside Iraq, to decide and that our goal in any transition is to stay long enough as necessary to provide security or make sure the appropriate arrangement is in place, but not one day longer. And so this process of transition to Iraqis will proceed, I think, with Iraqis both from inside Iraq and outside Iraq. It's too early to speculate on exactly which group or which individual might play what role.
QUESTION: But is there an implicit or explicit understanding that these working groups would be called upon to staff during the time when the U.S. is there? To be paid by the --
MR. BOUCHER: I would just say that I think the implicit goal of this exercise is so that Iraqis with expertise outside the country will have thought about these issues and therefore be in a position to make a contribution.
But how the arrangements work out in terms of who goes where and does what is a much more -- less predictable thing at this point. I'm sure they are doing this in order to contribute either their expertise or the results of their effort.
QUESTION: Richard, on that similar subject, did you guys ever uncover any answers to the numerous questions that were asked by me and my colleagues yesterday about this -- this secret tender that's gone out from AID?
MR. BOUCHER: There are obviously some things we can say about it and some things we can't. I think I got a little bit more on the limited -- what is it called? -- limited procurement effort or something like that. Let me get it. I'm not doing very well on finding things today.
Julie, help me here.
Where's my tab? We had too many things today.
Here we are. Okay. There were several requests -- you asked, people asked yesterday about the timing and the dates and what was going on here. There were several requests for proposals that were sent to companies starting on January 31st for a variety of goods and services, including seaport and airport projects, education, schools and health services.
There were others that were staggered during the month of February. One of the proposals was awarded to the International Resources Group on February 21st. That was for personnel support, which includes funding for USAID's Asia Near East Bureau staffing needs related to Iraq, as well as a USAID Project Office in Iraq. The other requests for proposals we expect to award during the month of March. As far as payments and what payments might be made absent a reconstruction situation -- with the exception of minor mobilization costs that the contractors may incur -- the payments would be made for work in the future, so there wouldn't be any other payments at this stage.
Minor mobilization costs might include things, for example, like, a one or two-person assessment team that would be an insignificant part of the overall award for the actual work.
QUESTION: So --
MR. BOUCHER: -- which would be paid for if and when it's done.
QUESTION: So how much was the contract that was awarded on the 21st for?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that specific number with me today. I'm not sure I'm allowed to share it, but I will check.
QUESTION: You're not -- okay.
QUESTION: Isn't this taxpayer money? And you can't tell --
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I will double-check and see.
QUESTION: Now, on the subject of secrecy is it, and there's two questions about two Federal Register notices this morning. One, can you go into any more detail about the sanctions that were imposed on the Jordanian man and Indian company this morning and, two, there's a rather interesting notice just above that in the Federal Register which said that Deputy Secretary Armitage had come to a decision regarding some kind of foreign assistance and then it said that for reasons of National Security, we can't say what it is.
So my question is, exactly why did you bother publishing this in the Federal Register if, I mean, all it seems to do is to draw questions, unwanted questions, it seems, like this one to why would such a decision affect national security?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know about that particular decision and as you point out, that kind of thing does appear from time to time and I always know I'm not in a position to talk about them.
The fact is there are certain legal requirements in the Federal Register, certain legal requirements that we need to meet and we need to meet those by publishing things in the Federal Register. And while in most cases the Federal Register is our means to get information out to a very broad public of interested parties, including -- with regard for, say, for the sanctions under the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act, in other cases there may be points where we have to meet our legal obligation to publish but are not able to provide much information.
So, on the matter that you did ask about that I'm very happy to talk about, because it is in the Federal Register today, we imposed penalties on an Indian entity and a Jordanian national pursuant to the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992. These sanctions took effect on February 13, 2003. The determination was published in the Federal Register today. The penalized entities are Protech Consultants Private, Limited, of India and Mohammed Al-Khatib, a Jordanian national.
Penalties were imposed on these entities for knowingly and materially contributing to Iraq's chemical and biological weapons program. The penalties are specific to the named entities. They do not extend to the countries or the governments of India or Jordan.
Penalties apply for a period of two years. These are not entities that we had previously sanctioned, and to make clear, as we always do, that we do not see this issue as having an impact on U.S. relations with India or Jordan because, in fact, we cooperate and work with the Government of India and the Government of Jordan because of our common desire to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Can you just be a little -- okay -- Iran is not involved in all, and this is just Iraq, as you said?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right. As I said, they have contributed to Iraq's biological and chemical weapons program.
QUESTION: Can you say what they exported to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I'm not in a position to do that, Jonathan.
QUESTION: But they actually export something, --
MR. BOUCHER: They contributed to Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs.
QUESTION: Can you spell the Indian's name?
MR. BOUCHER: The name is Mohammed, M-o-h-a-m-m-e-d, al-Khatib; a-l, dash, capital K-h-a-t-i-b.
QUESTION: Richard, could you say what the timeframe of these transfers were, considering that right now your -- the U.S. is before the UN and talking about sanctions -- I'm sorry, talking about Iraq disarming from 12 years ago. Is this since the sanctions, since the inspectors before last left, and you shared this with the inspections committee there?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you any more detail about the actual transactions or assistance that was involved in this situation. I'm afraid we're never in a position to do that.
At the same time, these things are done over a period of months, in general terms, so I don't know when these -- when this might have taken place.
QUESTION: I'm just --
MR. BOUCHER: But I wouldn't tie it to something happening this week or last week. It's a process that takes some months, and the determination was reached February 13th. When the actual assistance occurred, I don't have that and I'm not in a position to provide it.
QUESTION: When the Secretary makes the case at the UN about Iraq disarming, one of the things he often points to is its failure to account for items from several years ago. But here, you have an example of sanctions you just imposed on an entity, an individual, from possibly months ago. So, I mean, it just would be interesting to find out if you could say more about the prospect of Iraq rearming.
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose it would, but let's remember how much we've said already.
MR. BOUCHER: We have talked about Iraq's continuing procurements, whether it is in the nuclear area or other areas. We have recently had a report from the inspectors that they have found a new remotely piloted vehicle that Iraq is developing, which Iraq uses these kinds of vehicles to deliver chemical and biological weapons. That's what their program is intended to do. We know that from all the past, and now we see them developing new ones.
We know that they purchased South African cluster bombs and modified them for delivery of chemical and biological weapons. So there is no lack of evidence that Iraq is continuing its procurements, continuing these programs, and the Secretary has put a lot of that evidence out. The inspectors themselves have put a lot of evidence like that out.
Whether this is a significant contribution or not, or when it happened, is an interesting point, but not necessarily the one that makes the case.
QUESTION: Apparently, Rumsfeld is briefing at the Pentagon.
MR. BOUCHER: Great. Yes. Let's all go watch.
QUESTION: And the question came up there about -- we missed the good part, which is what I'm going to tell you now. Apparently, the question came up about the two U-2s. And I know you didn't have too much on this, but they said that the message -- that they weren't told -- Iraq was saying it wasn't told about the second U-2 plane, but DOD is saying the communication goes from DOD to State, and from State to UNMOVIC, who then should have told Iraq. They're trying to narrow down where the communication broke down about notifying that there should have been a second plane.
Do you know anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I've been here.
QUESTION: Well, it didn't happen -- it didn't happen while we were here.
MR. BOUCHER: I've been here. I haven't had a chance to look into anything since I've been standing at the podium for the last hour.
QUESTION: It's not a new issue. Obviously, this is something that happened --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it is an aspect of this I haven't had any chance to look into because it wasn't -- it's just being raised with me now and I haven't been in a position to go listen to Rumsfeld and make phone calls on what he says.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Richard, regarding the alert to other countries on the Iraqi agents, did that come after any action by any of these folks, or is it just does the U.S. concern grow out of, sort of, suspicions of what might happen?
MR. BOUCHER: It grows out of information that we've had. I think you are aware of the expulsion and the information the Philippine Government has put out, for example. I can't think of anything else that's gone public. But it comes out of information that we've had that would indicate that these Iraqi intelligence officers in various locations overseas posed a potential threat to our mission, our people, our facilities, in those countries. And therefore, we've approached host governments on that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the latest developments in the Ivory Coast?
QUESTION: And Richard, on the Iraqi agents, can you give a brief -- a number of how many --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: You couldn't?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
The United States welcomes the delegation of enhanced powers to Prime Minister Diarra in accordance with the agreement reached in Paris. This builds on the successful formation over the weekend in Accra of a government of national reconciliation for the Cote D'Ivoire.
We congratulate the parties for reaching this crucial step towards peace. We urge the Prime Minister to urgently carry through with the agreement. We caution those who would undermine or oppose this agreement that the world would neither understand nor accept the return to violence in Cote D'Ivoire.
And we condemn in the strongest terms the killing of reportedly more than 200 civilians in the town of Bangolo. This should underscore the imperative of moving forward in the peace process to bring an end to the fighting.
The new Ivoirian Government must give immediate and high priority to investigating this atrocity and bringing those responsible to justice. All parties must work urgently to return stability and law and order to Cote D'Ivoire. All militias should be disbanded and all mercenaries demobilized and repatriated immediately.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the powers that -- the sort of enhanced powers that haven't gone to the Palestinian prime minister? It would appear that this division of powers was a little bit less than what some would think.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the bottom line for us is that there was a significant definition of powers and that we look forward to seeing it work out in practice and seeing how it works out in practice.
But we have emphasized the importance of the Palestinian legislative council creating an empowered prime minister. We are carefully examining the amendments to the basic law adopted by the Palestinian legislative council yesterday. The law provides for significant shift in authorities to the prime minister regarding such important issues as responsibility for public order and security, for oversight of public institutions, appointment of the cabinet, and for legislation.
Obviously, what is most important is what the prime minister will do with the authority given him by the council and what actually takes place on the ground.
We have underscored the importance of full empowerment as the best way to provide leadership able to help move the Palestinian people toward President Bush's vision of a viable, democratic and independent Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security.
QUESTION: Do you have anything specifically you want to say about the fact that it appears that Yasser Arafat would still retain control of the financial aspects of the Palestinian Authority?
MR. BOUCHER: As I have said, the Palestinian prime minister was given very considerable authority over legislation, over his own cabinet and the matters that the cabinet deals with, oversight of public institutions, as well as public order and security. But how those things work out in practice is obviously the next step, and we look forward to the prime minister being able to actually exercise those functions with full empowerment.
QUESTION: But the division of power, though, does not extend to the finances of this new -- or of this revised government. And as I understand it, this was the U.S. position would be that there would be -- that whoever would be in a new leadership position would have control of that.
MR. BOUCHER: Finance has been something very important to us. As you know, there has already been a lot of progress made in that regard in terms of auditable, transparent accounting systems. It is important that the new prime minister have control over the cabinet and over the functions that are part of the cabinet and be able to continue that process. It is sort of hard to speculate exactly on how this is going to work out at this point because there is some ambiguity in some of these areas. But this is why I keep stressing the important thing is to see how it works out.
QUESTION: Thank you.