State Dept. Daily Press Briefing March 19
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC March 19, 2003
CUBA 1 Statement on Arrest of Opposition Members 2, 3 U.S. Interests Section Activities and Mission
LIBYA 1-3 Libya as Chair of UNHRC 4 Statements Regarding Iraq 3 US-UK-Libya Talks on Pan Am 103
RUSSIA 4-5 Deferment of Arms Control Treaty Vote
IRAQ 5-6,12 Humanitarian Aid to Iraqi People 6-8,18 New Resolution for Oil for Food Program 8-9 Legal Responsibility for Aiding Iraq 9 Exile for Saddam Hussein 9-10 Other Countries Aid Discussions 11,13-14,17 Countries Named/Unnamed as a Coalition for Immediate Disarmament 15 Security Council Meeting and Participation for Meeting 16-17 Oil for Food Program and Money in Escrow 19 Frozen Funds 22-23 Diplomatic Efforts
TURKEY 10,11,12-13 Cooperation in Alliance/Aid 10-11,12 Troops in Northern Ira
q ANGOLA 12,14 Secretary of State s Meeting with Foreign Minister
ISRAEL 12 US Aid
EUROPEAN UNION 18 Reported Bugging of EU Buildings
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 19,21 Nomination of Prime Minister /Status of the Roadmap 20-21 Death of US Citizen Rachel Corrie/Investigation
BURMA 19 Internal Dialogue
BELGIUM 22 US Ambassador s Comments
DEPARTMENT 23 Secretary Powell s Phone Calls
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I might, I would like to make a statement about some of the things that are happening in Cuba right now and then we can go on to your questions about this and other things.
The United States is outraged by the Cuban Government's announced arrest of dozens of opposition members yesterday. This is an appalling act of intimidation against those who seek freedom and democratic change in Cuba. These people have been arrested simply for speaking out, one of the basic and most recognized international human rights.
We call on the Cuban Government to release them immediately and for the international community to join us in demanding their release. The announcement of these arrests followed a government radio broadcast attacking the head of our Interests Section and the outreach efforts of our diplomats in Cuba.
The Cuban Government suggested that many of the detainees were arrested for meeting with our diplomats. We also note that these events coincide with the opening in Geneva of the UN Human Rights Commission of which Cuba is a member, and we call on the Commission to condemn this action in the strongest terms. Cuba has again demonstrated that it is not fit to sit on this Commission.
While these arrests are directed against the opposition movement, they will not quell the Cuban people's desire for freedom and they only serve to expose the weakness and the desperation of a regime as it realizes it has no basis.
QUESTION: Richard, would your message be more effective if the U.S. had dialogue with Cuba? China does things like this and you take it up with the Chinese every chance you get -- the U.S. does. And is this the Commission that Libya is the chair of?
MR. BOUCHER: This is the Commission that Libya is the chair of.
QUESTION: Do they belong in that spot?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: And we made clear they didn't.
QUESTION: Okay, but I mean, isn't --
MR. BOUCHER: We made very clear our opposition and I think I remember we pushed for a vote and we made people stand up and be counted and we are pleased that at least some countries agreed with us. So it not a question of Libya, it is a question of Cuba.
QUESTION: But if we had dialogue with Cuba wouldn't the U.S. possibly have more influence with the Cubans?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, I would have to say, Barry, there's been no sign of that. There's been no sign of a willingness to change. There has been no sign in Cuba of a willingness to adopt reforms. There has been no sign of Cuba -- of the willingness of the government to listen to Cuban citizens. And there is -- as I have pointed out -- every sign the Cuban Government is cracking down on people for speaking and perhaps even for meeting with diplomats, which, around the world, is something that people of all nations are allowed to do.
QUESTION: Do you have anything more about the Cuban allegation in the official statement that the United States or, I guess more specifically, the U.S. Interests Section, is a center for subverting the constitutional order?
MR. BOUCHER: The activities of our diplomats in Cuba are similar to the activities that we carry out around the world. We think that this response by Cuba is a response to the growing opposition movement on the island and the increasing desire of change among the population.
Our Chief of Mission, Jim Cason, has traveled around the island. He has visited with Cuban people in their homes. He has visited independent libraries. He has visited other independent voices. There are also a lot of indications, although we don't know exactly who was arrested nor how many, that these arrests are directed at independent journalists, people attempting to exercise your craft in Cuba.
QUESTION: Richard, does this affect your plans for resolutions at the meeting of the Commission, the Human Rights Commission? I seem to recall in the past that you found it hard to get a resolution on Cuba?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that is true. I think every year there have been proposals, usually by others, for resolutions on Cuba, and we have always supported them and we would expect that to happen again this year.
QUESTION: How are you able to deal with Libya in terms of them being the chair and your taking up your agenda at the Commission? Does the fact that you don't think that Libya should be the chair of the Commission affect how you are able to carry out your agenda there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if it complicates it or not; the meeting just started. I will have to tell you in practice. Obviously, we think the symbolism, we think the image of the Commission, the image of the United Nations that this conveys is the wrong one, the fact that Libya is in the chair of the Human Rights Commission.
At the same time, the United States intends to pursue its agenda, intends to pursue a thorough examination of human rights around the world and scrutiny of the countries that deserve the most scrutiny. So we will go to the Commission -- we have gone to the Commission now with a forceful delegation being led by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and they will carry out our activities there as we usually do. Whether the Libyan chair operates as it is required and should do, in an objective and impartial manner, to allow discussion and debate, or whether it sometimes tries to use its influence in inappropriate ways, we will have to see what happens.
QUESTION: Richard, just to get back to the point of this, I think which was Cuba, right? Are you at all concerned that the Cubans are personalizing this and putting it all on Mr. Cason and not really -- I guess I don't really know what my question is. Are you at all concerned that they have made this a personal -- what appears to be a personal vendetta against Mr. Cason, who was carrying out the foreign policy wishes of the President?
MR. BOUCHER: I think first of all, we do need to make clear that our representatives in Cuba are carrying out our policy, are carrying out not just the foreign policy of the President but carrying forth the values of the American people. And this should not be personalized in any way to them.
I thing our main concern, however, is that the Cuban Government seems to be taking the failures of its regime and blaming these on people who point out those failures, who might have independent voices in talking about what is going on in Cuba. The fact that those people -- we are interested in those people, are interested in those voices, is not something to use against them but rather to show that there are those of us on the outside who are interested in these points of view.
QUESTION: Are you at all concerned that there has been a large spike since Mr. Cason arrived -- in the invective being hurled by the Cubans since Mr. Cason arrived in September?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, there is a higher degree of invective. But even more than that, people are being arrested who shouldn't be arrested. But I don't want either of us to leave any implication that it is because of his arrival that this has happened; it is happening because of the failures of the Cuban Government, because there are Cubans who are concerned about those failures, concerned about the situation in Cuba, who want a chance to analyze it, want a chance to speak about it, and want a chance to write stories about it. And that is what the Cuban Government is going after, not anything else.
QUESTION: Can we switch --
QUESTION: Can I ask about Libya? You've been asked about it before, but did you guys have any reaction to the fact that the Libyan chair of the Commission chose to open her -- chose to open the meeting with a long speech about Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Speech, yes. Yes, we did. We felt that that was inappropriate for the chairman -- chairwoman -- chairperson, sorry, of the meeting, and that that was the kind of activity in the chair that we would hope not to see repeated.
QUESTION: In other words, she opened her mouth and immediately confirmed all your suspicions and fears about what -- about what they might do. Yes?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Can you say that? The minute she opened her mouth --
MR. BOUCHER: I think right from the start of the meeting, we have seen ample demonstration of why Libya should not be the chair of the UN Human Rights Commission, both for the situation in Libya and for the failure to take the issue of human rights seriously. Would that somebody in that position who wanted to talk about Iraq would talk about the rapes, tortures and murders that go on in Iraq on a daily basis in violation of the human rights of the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: -- about the compensation for Pan Am, or --
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new since the last meeting that we talked about last week. Last week? Yes.
QUESTION: The lower house of the Russian State Duma has deferred action on the weapons reduction agreement with the U.S., which was unanimously or at least -- 95, I think, to zero by the Senate. Just yesterday Secretary Powell cited the mutual interest the two countries have in reducing weapons as an example of how differences with Russia over Iraq will be eventually overcome by what they had in common. Has anybody made that point to Moscow? And what is your -- what is the State Department's view of what's going on in the Duma?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the point has been made to Moscow that we remain interested in ratification of the treaty. In fact, the U.S. Senate has given its consent to ratification of the Moscow Treaty. The treaty was signed May 24th and the Senate has now given its advice and consent. We continue to believe the treaty is in the interests of both the United States and Russia. We look forward to the Russian Duma and the Federation Council's consent to ratification at the earliest opportunity. And we continue to hope that President Bush and Putin will be able to exchange instruments of ratification shortly after this ratification so the that the treaty can enter into force. So we continue to look for this treaty. We continue to hope the Duma and the Federation Council will ratify it and we continue to discuss with the Russian Government how to bring that about.
But really, I would have to say all along in this, Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Ivanov have repeated compared notes on how things were going, but each one was in charge of his own parliamentary procedures and so we will see what the Russian Government does to get ratification of this treaty that we signed with them.
QUESTION: Richard, I would like to go to Iraq, please and -- not literally --
MR. BOUCHER: Defer all travel, please.
QUESTION: And talk about food. Could you give us sort of an overview of what the U.S. is doing to plan for post-Iraq in terms of feeding its people?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there are a number of things that we are doing to get ready for this and I don't think I have all the details with me today, but I will try to make sure I do this.
We have been doing a lot of planning, a lot of work on humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people who have been suffering all too long from the neglect of their own government.
What we have done is we have assembled and trained what is, for us, the largest ever humanitarian rapid-response team and we have a team composed of 60 experts who are going to be working on areas such as health, food, water and shelter. We have been pre-positioning stockpiles of emergency supplies and commodities. That includes food, it includes shelter materials, it includes medicines, water and sanitation and things like that.
We have been coordinating with the United Nations and international humanitarian organizations including U.S. nongovernmental organizations and we have been funding the efforts of international organizations and nongovernmental organizations to get prepared for whatever might happen.
I can give you some rundown of the money involved, but I can't give you a number on the food and where it is and that sort of thing. We have positioned $154 million worth of relief food distribution, reconstruction and transition initiatives -- put forward that money -- have that money available. There's been $35 million for extensive contingency planning with the World Food Program.
QUESTION: In addition to that?
MR. BOUCHER: In addition to that. And in addition to that, we have spent $15.6 million pre-positioning supplies by international organizations, and there is more money in that pipeline.
QUESTION: Is the one that's committed to NGOs, you said, that's among the money that NGOs can apply for?
MR. BOUCHER: The 154 is for a variety of initiatives to get ready. So we put the money -- we -- how do you say -- at this point, we've got the money to do, to fund the projects, the initiatives that will be taken in the event of need.
MR. BOUCHER: $35 million has been spent on World Food Program planning. In addition, now, the $17.3 million has been spent to pre-position commodities. No, hang on. Let me go back. $154 [million] available for initiatives, $35 [million] of that for the World Food Program, yes, sorry, $15.6 [million] for pre-positioning, okay? Now of these amounts -- now I'm starting to give you a breakdown, a further breakdown.
$17.3 million has been spent to pre-position commodities by the U.S. Agency for International Development. And then there's also $2 million of that that went to UNICEF, $5 million to the World Food Program, $1 million to the UN's Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs.
QUESTION: How about a fact sheet?
MR. BOUCHER: We will give you more of a fact sheet when we can get this. It is hard for me on the fly to do this. But the basic thing is that there is $154 million that is already been made available and much of that money has already gone into supplies and work with international agencies. There is an additional $15.6 [million] that has also gone to international agencies through the refugee pipeline. And then some of that money -- I will get better breakdowns than I have been able to give you here. Some of that money has been spent on food, some of it has been spent on preparations, some of it has already gone to the international agencies for their preparations, some of it has already gone to nongovernmental organizations for preparations.
QUESTION: That's U.S. money?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. That is all U.S. money there.
QUESTION: What about reports that the U.S. and the UK are working on a plan so that you actually could use some of the money from oil -- from Iraqi oil in an escrow account, I guess, is how it would be for humanitarian relief?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, the Oil for Food Program exists already and that involves using revenue from Iraqi oil in an escrow account to be spent for the needs of the Iraqi people. And that is the way it was supposed to have worked for many years. Unfortunately, in the areas controlled by the Iraqi regime, they have repeatedly failed to allocate that money in sufficient amounts to take care of the Iraqi people. But we have been talking with other members of the Council to consider how to go forward with that. We have been working with others and we are prepared to present soon a draft humanitarian resolution that would ensure the continuity of the Oil for Food Program. We want to make sure it is kept running to meet the humanitarian needs of Iraq.
We have been consulting with the United Nations and other Council members on adjustments to the current Oil for Food Program, so we can ensure continued delivery of key humanitarian supplies. And we hope that progress on that resolution will be swift, in order to minimize any interruption to the program.
Security Council discussed the issue yesterday. We look forward to hearing from the UN Secretary General on how to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. As I said, we look for prompt action to modify the Oil for Food Program.
QUESTION: -- money that used to go to the Iraqi government would now be able to be used by the allies to divert to humanitarian --
MR. BOUCHER: The exact structure of how to do that needs to be adjusted and defined through the United Nations. As you know, the Azores statement that the leaders issued proposed giving the Secretary General the authority on an interim basis to ensure the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are met. And so in yesterday's discussion with the Council, they said they looked forward to hearing -- the Council said -- we look forward to hearing from the Secretary General about how that could be done.
QUESTION: Richard, didn't you say all that yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: Most of it. Some of it.
QUESTION: Given that this is not a UN operation, that the resolution -- the second resolution to 1441 did not pass, and there is considerable bulkiness at the UN over this potential operation, are you meeting opposition at the UN to try to get this other resolution through? Are they saying, well, you all are doing this and so it's entirely your responsibility to --
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of. And I have seen some statements by other members of the Council that would indicate that they are interested in providing for ongoing humanitarian relief efforts. And, as you know, we have been working for some time with UN agencies, with international organizations. We have been in touch with the United Nations, been in touch with the European Union, been in touch with nongovernmental organizations to try and ensure an uninterrupted flow of humanitarian goods to the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: Richard, under this draft resolution which you are proposing, what does it say about who would actually be the party selling the oil, writing contracts and that type of thing?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't tell you any more at this point because it is still under consultation, still being discussed.
QUESTION: Do you have any ideas on --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have answers for you yet on those things. Those things need to be defined.
QUESTION: Just for clarification, would this wholly take this out of Iraqi Government hands? It seems implicit in what you're saying.
MR. BOUCHER: It would provide an interim arrangement to continue this program until there is a renewed Iraqi authority.
QUESTION: Like as soon as possible?
MR. BOUCHER: We think the resolution should be passed as soon as possible that provides for arrangements that could apply when necessary.
QUESTION: I'm confused. What exactly of what you said just then was new? Yesterday, as I remember what you said, is that a new resolution was going to be needed for the Oil for Food Program. And --
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, I don't make news; I answer questions, so you can figure out --
QUESTION: I know, but you said -- you said some of it or most of it you said yesterday. So what did you say today that was different? I just want to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not --
QUESTION: You don't know?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not writing a news story; I am just answering the questions that people have. As I have noted from time to time, sometimes the questions one day are the same as the day before. And frequently as you have noted, sometimes my answers one day are the same as the day before.
QUESTION: Can you say whether the State Department believes that legally you are liable or responsible to take care of the Iraqi people after this conflict since it is one of our choosing?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the question has an answer that we have given many times; the Secretary has given it. If there should be conflict, according to the rules of conflict, the occupying power has the responsibility for civilians in the areas that we might or coalition forces might go into. That is well recognized in the extensive planning to take care of the Iraqi people immediately upon any conflict. It is being done with that in mind.
But even more important than that, it is being done with the fact that the United States over many years has demonstrated concern for the Iraqi people. We were the ones that originally proposed the oil-for-food program. We are the ones that have consistently tried to make it work. We have been the ones who have made sure it does work in, for example, the North where nutrition levels and health levels are considerably higher than in the areas controlled by Saddam Hussein.
So we have a continuing humanitarian interest in the welfare of the people of Iraq and the President restated that in his speech Monday night I think very, very clearly.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on Crown Prince Abdallah on offering Saddam Hussein an asylum in his country in Saudi Arabia?
QUESTION: What about Bahrain?
MR. BOUCHER: Both. Of course -- there we go.
No, there have been a couple statements to this effect and we have seen the press reports of the Saudi offer. We have seen the press reports of the Bahraini Government's offer. I just repeat what President Bush said on Monday. In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have delivered messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq so that disarmament can proceed peacefully. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours -- that's from Monday night. Their refusal to do so would result in military conflict.
So this is an option that we have supported in past, we have said we would be willing to work with such proposals were they to be accepted. But at this point, we see no such acceptance. We have seen continued refusal by the Government of Iraq to take any option that provides for a peaceful settlement. And all we can do at this point is say let's hope they take the offer.
QUESTION: If he -- I mean -- accepted the last-minute exile in Saudi Arabia, will he be persecuted for his crimes? Or --
MR. BOUCHER: If there was a proposal to that effect, I suppose that is a question we would be exploring. But at this point, I haven't seen any serious proposals or discussion from the Iraqi side.
QUESTION: Richard, do you think that he would say that he would be accepting it until he receives some public assurances --
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, he has said nothing whatsoever to indicate he is even interested, so it is really a moot point at this point. Let's hope he accepts, let's hope he indicates interest, let's hope he says he -- you know, they realize what is good for Iraq and accept the offers and explore how that might work. But at this point, they don't appear to be doing that.
QUESTION: On assistance, you've given us American figures, you've spoken of an American and British initiative on the oil program. Can you give us any idea, if even briefly, whether other countries are being approached to contribute to the humanitarian cause? And, if so, have you heard any -- you know, any echoes of the U.S.'s charitable ways?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I am going to have any numbers for other countries; I am not sure if they have. But I think the fact is, as we have stated many times, we have been in discussion with a variety of UN agencies about the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people in a post-conflict scenario. We have been in touch with the European Union, which has a considerable assistance budget. We have been in touch with other governments, including European governments. Japan, I think, has indicated already that they would want to be involved in helping the Iraqi people after a conflict. So there is considerable interest and support in the international community to do that.
What the total figures might be, what might in the end be required on a specific basis, I am not sure anyone can estimate at this point. But we have been certainly doing a lot of planning, especially for the immediate need to feed people who have been relying on the Oil for Food Program.
QUESTION: Could you give us an update on what's going on in Turkey, their willingness to cooperate? And is there anything new on the aid package?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been in close touch with the Government of Turkey on a number of issues related to Iraq. In particular, our request for overflight permission. Secretary Powell spoke with Turkey's Foreign Minister Gul several times yesterday, including last night and we understand at this point that our request on overflight will be put to a vote by Turkey's Parliament by Thursday. So we hope we can continue to rely on Turkey's support in the days ahead.
QUESTION: Is it true that the U.S. Government has (inaudible) the $6 billion aid package for Turkey?
MR. BOUCHER: We have said that the package that was developed was based on full participation and involvement of Turkey. At this point, it looks like they are going to Parliament with the overflight request. Overflights are routinely granted by other member nations without any questions of financial assistance or the need for dealing with any economic consequences. So we would expect that to be handled in that manner.
QUESTION: You believe your government is going to allow finally Turkey's military forces to be deployed in the northern Iraq during the coming war?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had a number of discussions with the Turkish Government about the situation in Iraq, particularly with regard to northern Iraq. We have made clear to them, as we have made clear to all others, that we oppose any unilateral moves into northern Iraq. We have been discussing with them the situation there. We have had a delegation out there since Friday. Zal Khalilzad, the President's envoy to the Iraqi opposition, has been out there talking with Turkey, with Turkish officials, also talking with Iraqi opposition people there, and including three-way meetings with the Turkish Government and the Iraqi opposition people. And they, again, have gone over I think the fundamentals of our common viewpoint. Iraq's territorial integrity is important to all of us. We look for a government in Iraq that is truly representative and democratic, that can represent all the people, the people as a whole, of Iraq. We all are interested in seeing the elimination of Turkey's weapons -- of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in full compliance with the UN resolutions and the protection and rights and freedoms of all Iraqis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and others is also paramount in the future of Iraq.
So these discussions, I think, have brought us forward into a considerable amount of understanding of the future of Iraq as we see it together.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: -- the point on the military, I mean, have the Turks agreed not to go in?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not speaking for Turkey. I made clear before that we oppose any unilateral or uncoordinated moves by any forces into Northern Iraq.
QUESTION: I mean, if Turkey just allows overflights, that seems to be far short of what the United States had hoped at the beginning of this process, and I noticed today that Germany had said that they would permit overflights, as well, during this period.
So could you just clarify what makes Turkey part of the coalition of the willing, whereas Germany is not part of the coalition of the willing, since they seem to be providing the same sort of assistance in the military end?
MR. BOUCHER: Who is to say they are not?
QUESTION: Who is to say that Germany is not part of the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: Did Germany say they are not?
QUESTION: I don't see them on your list. Are they part of --
MR. BOUCHER: We have said there are 45 or more countries. I think we named 30 yesterday. There are probably another three that -- two or three that want to be named today. There is Bulgaria, there is -- I guess I'm not sure if I named Bulgaria yesterday. There is Singapore, there is Portugal, all of whom said in the last 24 hours it is okay to name them. So some countries are named, some are not. I am not going to go into who the unnamed might be. We certainly appreciate support from named or unnamed countries, or countries not on the list, anybody who we think is an ally or a friend or just an interested party who is prepared to cooperate and support in this effort. We think that is an important statement.
QUESTION: I was told that all of the countries in NATO except Turkey before this had granted overflight rights. Is that correct, to your knowledge?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Can we go back --
MR. BOUCHER: I just haven't done the full check on every country to see.
QUESTION: I know you keep telling us that you're against unilateral action, but let me put it this way, and it would be nice if you could give us an answer.
Has the United States made any arrangements with Turkey for a coordinated entrance of Turkish forces into northern Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into speaking for the Turkish Government or talking about future actions. I think I have made clear what our position is. We have been in close conversations with the Turkish Government. We have been working with Turkey to make sure that we keep tensions on its northern border, on Iraq's northern border, at the lowest possible levels, and we expect the Turkish Government, as well as the Iraqi parties, to be responsive to our concerns. For the moment, that is as far as I can go for you.
QUESTION: What is the significance of Secretary Powell's meeting with the Foreign Minister of Angola at the same time when the Security Council is meeting on Iraq, and is there a message that you wanted to send to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: We, as you know, have regular dealings and conversations with foreign ministers whose countries are members of the Security Council. I am sure Angola is probably represented in New York this morning, just as the United States was, by our permanent representative.
The Secretary and the Angolan Foreign Minister had an opportunity today to have a good discussion, a thorough review of the bilateral relationship and the issues involved there, including financial ones, and as well as talk a little bit about coordination and efforts that we have made together in the Security Council.
QUESTION: Just one more time on the Turkey-Kurd question. Can you answer, then, at least, how confident you are that there won't be a war basically breaking out between the Turks and the Kurds?
And secondly, can you update on the -- there were talks a while ago, I thought, between the US and Israel on an aid package, and I haven't heard much about that lately. Can you update on that?
MR. BOUCHER: There is nothing -- we have requests from Israel about assistance, but I don't have anything new on that. That is still under consideration.
As far as Turkey goes, I just have to repeat for you what I just said to your colleague, that we expect the Turkish Government as well as the Iraqi parties to be responsive to our concerns.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just go back to the aid question?
The fact that the 6 billion or even a portion of the package -- should not come as a surprise to the Turks at all, should it? Didn't you, from the podium, say shortly after the vote that the aid package was off the table?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. The Secretary said it and we have made clear from the beginning that the aid package was --
QUESTION: All right. And then --
MR. BOUCHER: -- designed to help them with the economic consequences of full participation.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, can I just ask you, how many of the countries that you have put on your list yesterday, and the unnamed, or do you consider the unnamed 15, or if there are more now, whatever, to be part of the coalition?
I'm just trying out why there seems to be a discrepancy between some people saying that there's 30 members of the coalition and other people saying there's 45. How many do you think -- how many do you believe --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that there are 45 countries who, in one way or the other, are standing with us, cooperating in the effort to disarm Iraq, and who are ready to see that done, whether it is by allowing overflights or actually providing military forces or providing emergency units, such as nuclear, biological, and chemical units.
There may be others outside of this who are not counted, but as allies or friends providing certain facilities, even though they may not agree with the purpose. But I think there are 45 countries that are standing with us on the need to disarm Iraq. That is the way we have defined this, according to people who take actions in that regard.
QUESTION: Do you consider those 45 to be members of your coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes. Okay. And then one other thing. With your adding Portugal and Singapore and Bulgaria today. Does this mean -- were they -- can you say, now that you're naming them, were they part of the 15 --
MR. BOUCHER: I am moving them from one column to another, I am not adding three to the total.
QUESTION: They were the 15, they were part of the 15 that you talked about yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: I am moving them from one column to the other.
QUESTION: Does that mean that now there are only 12 in that unnamed category?
MR. BOUCHER: Approximately, yes.
QUESTION: So, in other words --
MR. BOUCHER: This is not something one can do an accounting every day.
QUESTION: I know, but I just --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not inclined to do a chart or a graph or anything, or, you know, color coded countries.
QUESTION: Okay. So the bottom line is that the 45 figure for the number for the members of the coalition from yesterday, stands?
MR. BOUCHER: More or less, yes.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just clarify something?
I think you said earlier that the 15 could include countries like Germany, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't mention any countries in the unnamed list, because if I did, they would be named.
QUESTION: Did you not say that -- when you were asked about Germany, you said that it was possible that such a country might be on the list?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not any more inclined to say anything more definitive than I did yesterday, I have to say.
QUESTION: Can I go back to --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't name the unnamed countries.
QUESTION: Okay, fine.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I said that yesterday.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the Foreign Minister of Angola? You said especially financial relationship. Could you expand on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, part of what they are here with -- and the Finance Minister was with the Foreign Minister today, as well -- was to talk to the IMF and the World Bank, and we have been, as you know, in discussions with them not only supporting them on the humanitarian and refugee front, which is something we have done for some time and will continue to do, but also encouraging their discussions with the IMF and the World Bank, and encouraging them to increase transparency in their economy.
So the Secretary and the Foreign Minister and the Finance Minister had what I would characterize as a good discussion of those issues this morning.
QUESTION: Along those same lines, along the lines of the earlier question about the UN meeting, is it -- did you guys go around in the past couple days, or yesterday, and suggest to the so-called undecided six that it would be better, or tell -- or ask them not to send their foreign ministers to the meeting today, or suggest to them that, you know, there was really not much of a point and you didn't think --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have made no secret of our view of the subject for the meeting today. You have a work program that itself says this work program will only work if there is full disclosure by Iraq, and a meeting was called to discuss it. Ambassador Negroponte will represent the United States and express our view up there. The Secretary himself has been to New York either three or four times -- let me double check on that -- in the past month or so, and had no plans to go there.
So in his conversations, including, I think, what is probably a record number of 27 phone calls on Monday that he made, this subject did come up from time to time with other ministers about whether they were going or not. The Secretary made clear that he did not intend to go.
QUESTION: Did he also say that, you know, "and we would like you to think twice about any plans you might have to go, because we think that the --
MR. BOUCHER: I would say it depended on the people. People that we have been working with, we often talk to about what each other plans to do, offer each other advice. Some others, he would probably --
QUESTION: All right.
MR. BOUCHER: -- he would just check to see what people were doing.
QUESTION: So the reason I asked is because the Chileans are under the impression that they were asked not to send their Foreign Minister. They're correct in that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we felt that this was, first of all, this was not a meeting at the foreign minister level. It was not a meeting where the President of the Council called for attendance at the ministerial level, and therefore, no country was under a request or an obligation to do that, and each foreign minister was free to make an individual judgment on whether to attend. We did confer with other governments about what they might do.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, just the last one on this. The Guinean Foreign Minister, who his country is the President of the Council, but he was there. Did you have anything, any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Richard, with respect to tonight, 8:00 p.m., which is the 48 hours, are there any last-minute attempts, for instance, to fly a UN plane into Baghdad to request Saddam Hussein and his sons to be flown to Cyprus?
Number two, when does the Iraqi opposition kick in?
And thirdly, is the Ba'ath party then considered null and void at that hour?
MR. BOUCHER: One, I haven't heard of any such plans to ask the UN. Number two, the Iraqi opposition has been opposed to Saddam Hussein for a long time, and I think that will continue after 8:00 p.m. tonight as well. I don't know what you mean by "kick in." If you are asking me when military action starts, there is no way I would know that, nor am I going to tell you if I do. And, number three, I can't remember.
QUESTION: The Ba'ath party.
MR. BOUCHER: The Ba'ath party, I am not going to make a judgment of the existence or not of the Ba'ath party. I think that will depend on the outcome of the conflict and the actions of individuals in that party who may or may not further the crimes of the regime.
QUESTION: How much -- the last time I heard the $1 billion or -- how much in the escrow account?
MR. BOUCHER: The Oil for Food Program generally takes in $17 billion or so -- $16 billion to $18 billion a year, I think. Then Saddam Hussein's government has been siphoning off or grabbing about $2 billion on the side in order to buy its luxuries, build its palaces and pursue its weapons of mass destruction. So it's generally held that the Iraqi people have available to them about $20 billion a year of oil revenue that they can use for their own development. And the goal of all these programs and of the interim arrangements and the future administration is so that the Iraqi people can put this wealth to serve the Iraqi people, to serve their needs for health, for education, for water systems, electricity and for economic development and not see it squandered by a dictator who spends it on weapons.
QUESTION: But how much is left now after --
MR. BOUCHER: The balance comes and goes depending on the price of oil and the amount of sales, I suppose. At any given moment what the cash flow is, I don't know.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that point about the oil money, I think you've said before or maybe others in the Administration have said it but just to make clear, there is no intention to use any Iraqi oil money to pay for the cost of a war, is there?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary has said that the Iraqi -- this is a natural resource that belongs in hand to the Iraqi people that appropriately would be spent on the needs of the Iraqi people for relief, for welfare, for future development. It wouldn't be appropriate to take that for military purposes.
QUESTION: One of the needs of the Iraqi people is liberation --
MR. BOUCHER: I would finish my sentence, if I --
QUESTION: You did finish it.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't. As the Secretary has noted before, this was not an appropriate place to get military expenses.
QUESTION: Can I follow up? Would you consider military expenses, not economic development or any kind of institutional development which didn't exist before Saddam, but the repairing of buildings and any type of damage to infrastructure that was done during the bombing? Who would be paying for that?
MR. BOUCHER: The Oil for Food Program is one to take care of the humanitarian and civilian needs of Iraqi civilians. That is what is has always been designed for. It has been a humanitarian program. It has been an education and welfare program. It has been an infrastructure program.
I don't know if it would be redefined in any manner in the new -- in a new resolution that would provide for its continuation, but certainly the intent and purposes of the resolution would remain.
QUESTION: Can you comment on the fact that in recent days the Government of Greece and Cyprus filed a protest to your Government regarding violations and infringements over the air space (inaudible) over the two countries by US war planes from the area of the eastern Mediterranean?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard about that. I would have to check and see if there is anything I can say.
QUESTION: One more question.
According to yesterday's polls in Sofia, Bulgaria, 64 percent of the Bulgarians disapprove of the war with Iraq and support, as they say, the Bulgarians -- been coordinated by the -- who is with the -- son of the late King Boris, the well-known collaborator of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Any comments, since Bulgaria is in the list of your supporters?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment on particular nations. We all know that opinion in a variety of nations is divided. We know that in some places governments have stood up in a leadership role to do the right thing, to say that a judgment has to be made, an action needs to be taken when you have such absolute defiance of the international community as we have seen in Iraq, and that this is a threat to us all.
So I would leave each government to handle its own political situation, and there is free discussion. These views need to be heard. These views need to be taken into account by other governments, as they are in the United States; but in the end, we also believe that governments have a leadership role and need to make decisions to do what is necessary.
QUESTION: Le Figaro broke a story about bugging in EU buildings, and this article alleges that the bugs are American. It's in the French and German offices --
MR. BOUCHER: I have not any idea what is in Le Figaro, and I wouldn't be in a position to comment on any allegation like that, whether it is true or false.
QUESTION: EU officials have confirmed it already, that bugs were found in those offices.
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't be in any position to talk about it, in any case, whether it is true or false.
QUESTION: You have no comment on it?
QUESTION: Two questions. Food for Oil, is that going to continue?
MR. BOUCHER: It is Oil for Food, and I spent the last 20 minutes talking about it.
QUESTION: Oil for Food. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, same thing.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know when you got here, but we have been on that subject for about 25 minutes, I think.
QUESTION: Yes, I know, but I have a specific question that I don't think you've answered yet.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Are reparations to Kuwait going to end with the --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, without -- we are still in consultation on the -- how the program would go forward, and that would result in a resolution that we would hope would be passed quickly, but I can't answer all the details of a resolution that hasn't been discussed or passed yet.
QUESTION: The second question is, can you assure us that there are no other countries except Turkey and Israel that have applied for aid in connection with the Iraq action?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't assure you of that.
QUESTION: Another part of the world, Myanmar, also known as Burma --
MR. BOUCHER: We've got one more from Betsy.
QUESTION: Sorry. Richard, there was a story the other day that the -- that the U.S. has released some of the frozen Iraqi funds to help refund Americans who were held captive by the Iraqis in the last Gulf War. Do you have any knowledge of how much -- how much money has been --
MR. BOUCHER: I am sorry, it doesn't ring a bell with me. I'm not sure we're the ones in control of those funds, but I'll double check.
QUESTION: But there -- would there be frozen funds that would go to pay for food and rebuilding of Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how much there might be in Iraqi frozen assets. Remember, with the Afghan Government, when they came in, we were able to provide them with frozen Afghan assets on a very expedited basis. I think that was one of the first sources of cash funding for the Afghan regime. And we made quite an effort to make sure that was done as swiftly as possible. Whether there are such Iraqi assets available to a future Iraqi government, I don't know.
QUESTION: Can you get -- could you take --
MR. BOUCHER: I will see if there is anything we have at this point.
QUESTION: In the -- the UN Human Rights Rapporteur for Myanmar, also known as Burma, has caused a bit of a stir by saying that dialogue with the junta was better than trying to isolate them. Have you seen those? Do you have any comment --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those comments. I don't have to read carefully what he said. As you know, we have always supported the efforts of dialogue that have been promoted by the UN Rapporteur.
QUESTION: You would like international dialogue with him, right?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always placed the emphasis on an internal dialogue, because that's where the political troubles of Myanmar need to be resolved.
QUESTION: Different subject. On the Middle East, I just wanted to check and clarify something. With Chairman Arafat's nomination today of Abu Mazen to be Prime Minister, in light of that, I just want to make sure that the U.S. -- the President's policy that he announced last Monday still stands, that as soon as this gentleman and his government are confirmed and under -- with the caveat that he will be -- when he is confirmed, his government -- that will happen at the same time, that the roadmap will be published; that's correct still?
MR. BOUCHER: And we hope that will happen soon. That is what the President said and that is our policy.
QUESTION: The parents of Rachel Corrie are asking that the U.S. Government investigate her death in addition to the Israeli Government, the Israeli Government's investigation. Is any thought being given to that?
MR. BOUCHER: President Bush has talked to Prime Minister Sharon about the death of Rachel Corrie, talked to him on Monday about the situation. Prime Minister Sharon assured the President that the Israeli Government will undertake a thorough, credible and transparent investigation and report those results to the United States. Ambassador Kurtzer has reiterated the President's concern, he has underscored our expectation for a thorough, transparent investigation to Prime Minister Sharon, as well as to the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
I would note as well that Assistant Secretary Burns in Washington has conveyed the message to the Israeli Ambassador. So we are working closely with the Israelis. President Bush has received these assurances that the Israeli Government will undertake a thorough, credible and transparent investigation. So we will look for the results of that.
QUESTION: And that s (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: We will look for the results of that.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that, please? But in addition to the investigation did President Bush or Ambassador Kurtzer or Ambassador Burns say anything about the policy in itself and how the U.S. hopes that Israel will stop this policy of demolitions? Because you have been on the record saying that you --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know in which of these conversations our policy on demolitions was stated. But I think our policy on demolitions has been stated repeatedly and is well known. We have been very clear that we view demolitions as particularly troubling. They deprive a large number of Palestinians of their ability to peacefully earn a livelihood. They exacerbate the humanitarian situation inside Palestinian areas, undermine trust and confidence and make more difficult the critical challenge of bringing about an end to violence and restoring calm. That has been a well known policy of the United States and I am certain that our Ambassador, if not in those meetings, and our Assistant Secretary, if not in his phone calls, has made this clear to the Israeli Government numerous times.
QUESTION: If you disagree fundamentally with the policy, then how come the objectives aren't more to stop the policy rather than to find an investigation of what went wrong? Because you just said yourself that you don't agree with --
MR. BOUCHER: We are not going to -- when we have the death of an American citizen, we want to see it fully investigated. That is one of our key responsibilities overseas, is to look after the welfare of American citizens and to find out what happened in situations like these, but we can do policy and welfare of American citizens at the same time, I guess, is the answer to the question.
QUESTION: To follow on that, under what circumstances would the US decide that it needs to have its own investigation? What would the circumstances --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't speculate at this point. At this point, we are looking for the Israeli Government to do the kind of investigation that we have looked for, that they have promised us, and they promised to get back to us with their results.
So that is where we are now. I am not going to speculate on any other investigation.
QUESTION: To get back to the roadmap, when the President announced last week that it would be released, he indicated that it would be released and there would be comments gathered from the Israelis and the Palestinians and they would discuss it.
A number of the diplomats involved in the formation of the roadmap have been under the impression that when it was released it would actually be a finished document, not a document that would require more discussion and negotiation. Has there been some sort of -- could you just clarify exactly what is expected when the roadmap is released?
MR. BOUCHER: What the President said was that he looks forward to working with the parties on how to implement the roadmap and how to move forward towards the two-state vision that he laid out on June 24th, so it is in that context we would expect and welcome comments by the parties and the active engagement of the parties in implementing the roadmap. That is the topic that will be discussed.
QUESTION: It was my impression, and it's the impression of other diplomats that have been involved on the roadmap, that what the President was suggesting was in fact that when it was released, the Israelis and the Palestinians could make comments about various aspects of the roadmap and the material that was in it.
Are you saying that that is not the case, that actually --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to -- I am sure they will make various comments. The point is that our intention, that this is a Quartet document that has been worked with other members of the Quartet, and we think it is the roadmap, it is the way forward, it is the way to implement the President's vision of June 24th. The President has said that, we have said that.
And so as we release the document and give it to the parties, what we look forward to talking to them about is how to carry out these steps, how to implement this program.
QUESTION: The actual document itself --
MR. BOUCHER: The document will be released --
QUESTION: -- would not be -- would --
MR. BOUCHER: -- as the roadmap. That is the roadmap and that will be the roadmap. We will expect comments, we will expect discussion of how to implement it.
QUESTION: Richard, I think the words the President used were that he expected the parties to make contributions to it, which many people interpreted as something similar to renegotiation of details, or --
MR. BOUCHER: I have to look up the exact text, but I think --
QUESTION: Is that not what he meant, then? I thought you confirmed that the other day.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I would look up the exact text of what the President said. I don't have it with me. But we are looking forward to the comments that the parties have and we are looking forward to discussing with them how to implement the program.
QUESTION: Richard, following on the Secretary's lead yesterday, your Ambassador in Belgium has come out pretty fists flying against the universal competence law which was used to name former President Bush, the current Vice President and the current Secretary of State and Schwarzkopf, and as the Secretary said yesterday, there could be consequences to Belgium's status as an international hub if these suits are allowed to continue.
I am wondering if you are prepared today to say what those consequences might be?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Our Ambassador has been active. Good for him. And we will see what happens in Belgium.
QUESTION: Do you intend at all to, or would you expect the named parties, especially the one who you speak for, to present a defense in these cases?
MR. BOUCHER: Not aware of any plans, but I don't know what the appropriate legal action is.
QUESTION: Richard, in another area, both from Capitol Hill and in some comments on the current state of diplomacy, the Bush Administration has been accused of having a failed diplomacy.
Do you have any comments on those statements, or that view?
MR. BOUCHER: The point of US diplomacy, when the President went to the United Nations, was to ask the United Nations to deal with the issue and to offer an opportunity for peaceful disarmament of Iraq.
The United States successfully established that opportunity, unanimously with the international community, in Resolution 1441 that passed 15 to zero.
The opportunity was there for Iraq to fully declare its programs and to cooperate peacefully in the disarmament that has been demanded by the international community for so many years.
Our diplomacy established that opportunity. We pursued it. The failure here is the failure by Iraq to take advantage of the opportunity, the failure of Iraq to disarm peacefully. That is the singular failure that has brought us to this point, and the reason why we have to now consider military action.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Elise got one more.
QUESTION: Can you just run through the Secretary's calls over the last 24 hours?
MR. BOUCHER: Yesterday, he was talking to Foreign Minister Gul of Turkey; Foreign Secretary Straw; Foreign Minister Palacio. Today, I think it is just Foreign Secretary Straw. He talked to everybody in the world on Monday, I think. Talked to everybody in the world on Monday, I think.
Released on March 19, 2003