State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 10
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC April 10, 2003
CUBA 1 Statement by Secretary Powell on Significant Political Repression
IRELAND 1 Possible Travel by Amb. Haass to Belfast
IRAQ 1-2, 8-9 Planning for an International Donor Conference for Iraq 2 Reconstruction Phase Recently and over 25 Years/UN Appeal 2, 3 U.S. Government Bidding Process for Reconstruction Contracts/WTO 3-5 Inspector Generals Office and Financial Audit of the INC 5,6 U.S. Delegation in Iraq 6 Vice President Cheney s Comments on Dates for Exile Group Mtg 6,7 Future of Iraq Meetings and Representative Government/Shitte Groups 7,8 Death of Shiite Leader Al-Khoei and speculation Surrounding his Murder 11-14 Reports of Kurdish Violence/Terrorist Groups/Communication 15 Expulsion of Iraqi Intelligence Officials and Evidence 16-18 Regime Change and President Bush s Agenda 19 Stash of Weapons-Grade Uranium 22-24 Military Broadcasts in Iraq vs. Voice of America 22,23 Geneva Convention and Photos of Iraqi Prisoners in the Press
SYRIA 9, 10 Statements that the United States is Occupying Iraq 10 Downgrading Diplomatic Relations 11 Secretary Powell s Direct Communication with Syrians 17-19 Consequences if Syria Does not Listen to the United States
TURKEY/IRAQ 11, 13 Sec. Powell Conversation with FM Gul Re: Northern Iraq and Kurds
DEPARTMENT 14 Sec. Powell s Calls with Austrian, UK, Germany, and Albania Foreign Ministers
TERRORISM 15 Escape of Ansar al-Islam Terrorists into Ira
q VENEZUELA 19 Aid to FARC Terrorists on the Border 19,20 Celebrating the First Anniversary of the Coup Last Year
NORTH KOREA 21 UN Security Resolution on the Development of Nuclear Weapons
CHINA 24, 26 Deadline on New Resolutions at the UN Human Rights Commission
FRANCE/RUSSIA/GERMANY 21,22 Talks in St. Petersburg, Russia
INDIA/PAKISTAN 24,25 Comparing Kashmir to Iraq and Diplomatic Efforts
CYPRUS 25 UN Secretary General s Comments on Cyprus
GREECE 25, 26 The New York Times Article on Anti-Americanism
NEW YORK CITY 26 Lawsuits on Missions Who Have Not Paid Property Taxes
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, off the top, I'd like to tell you we'll have a statement for you shortly after the briefing on the repression in Cuba. It's a statement from the Secretary of State, and he wanted to express his concern about the most significant acts of political repression in Cuba in decades. So that will be available for you after the briefing.
And I'd be glad to take your questions about this or any other topic.
QUESTION: Well, is Richard Haas going to Belfast, going back?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure.
QUESTION: We think that he is but --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I haven't had a chance to check. I know he has been very involved in keeping in touch from here with the parties. Whether he is headed out there or not, I don't know. I'll double-check for you.
QUESTION: I have a couple of questions on -- well, I'll just start with one, though.
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Is it correct -- the Poles are under the impression that you guys are organizing a donor conference for Iraq and that you are only inviting them, meaning Poland, the Australians, and the British? Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any specific donor conference. The United States has been in touch with a lot of governments about the reconstruction phase of Iraq, about the need for stability, people that help maintain stability, about reconstruction of not only whatever damage may have been caused in recent weeks, but, more importantly, the damage that's been allowed to accrue over the last 25 years of misrule, when Iraq's money was spent on other things.
I think we have already heard from about 58 countries who are interested in contributing in various ways, whether it's to provide some police or military units to help maintain stability, or to provide medical kits or wheat. You have already seen contributions from the U.S., the UK, the Australians, and many others.
QUESTION: Okay. So you are not aware of any plans right now?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any particular donors conference. I suppose, at some point, something like that might happen.
QUESTION: Right, okay.
MR. BOUCHER: But, for the moment, it's a matter of we have been polling people, we have been talking to people, and looking at what they might have to contribute. Now, of course, the United Nations has also made an appeal for emergency relief.
QUESTION: Okay. And on the reconstruction aspect, do you have any comment on the plans by the European Commission to take your request for proposals, the offer -- the bids that have gone out, or the bids that you have requested right now, to the WTO to ask --
MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen that kind of decision on their part. I haven't seen any statement on their part about that.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, they say that they are planning on taking it to the WTO complaining that it's unfair. Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think you have to remember a couple of things about these request for proposals. First, they were done on an expedited basis. We had to get this up and running. Normally, it can take six months to get a whole bidding process completed. So this was done quickly. It was done as the war was starting or before; and therefore had to be done in terms of the planning with speculation and ideas about what the situation would be, but certainly with a sense of security and privacy involved.
So it was done on a legitimate federal government contracting basis that allowed us to do this quickly and with some degree of confidence as it was proceeding, although all of the results are being posted on the web and you can see them.
Second of all, this is U.S. taxpayer money. I am sure that most of the European governments and others who might be involved in the reconstruction, they have various different programs and ways of contracting, and sometimes the money is for companies of their nationality. That's frequently the case. There are international procedures to try to expand the universe to untied money. But there are still some situations where tied money is okay, and this is one.
Third, these are the major contractors. These are major international companies that are being contracted with because these are big jobs. There is a lot of work to be done under these jobs. There is a lot of money involved. But these companies have offices all over the place. I have seen many situations where American companies are using, you know, Scottish engineers and Belgian equipment to do a job somewhere. So I expect the money will probably end up in a lot of places. And, in addition, the subcontractors can be from anywhere.
And the final thing I would say is there is a lot to be done in Iraq. There will be projects financed with American taxpayer money. There will be projects financed with European taxpayer money. There will be projects financed with Japanese taxpayer money. There is a lot of work to be done. And there will be projects financed by Iraqi money, Iraqi oil revenues, Iraqi peoples' money. And each of us will decide, according to the international procedures and our own procedures, how to spend that money. The goal is for everybody to get together and help rebuild Iraq for the sake of its people.
QUESTION: In other words, you would regard such a move as kind of waste of time and meritless?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate on such a move and I don't want to try to get into legal aspects of WTO procurement codes. But I'd say there is a substantial basis for doing it the way we have done and I don't think that's worth spending one's time challenging it. There's a lot of work to do in Iraq. It's time to get on with that work.
QUESTION: Richard, is there, to your knowledge, a meeting in Washington this week among U.S., British and Spanish officials on the Iraqi petroleum industry?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard of. I will have to double-check and see if there is.
QUESTION: Richard, Dr. Chalabi, obviously, has been in the news. The Wall Street Journal had a story in their editorial page today where they said that they had gotten a hold of minutes of meetings last spring where a NEA staff official said that she would appreciate assistance from the Office of the Inspector General to provide with NEA's desire to shut down the INC. I think that's a quote. Do you have any response to this?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, you should check with the Office of the Inspector General. As you know, they answer directly for their own matters because of their independence, and I'm sure they'll be glad to explain their aspects of this. At the same time, we have, I think, often discussed the grants for the Iraqi National Congress from here, and I'm happy to do that in a general sense, as well, here.
As you know, there was an audit conducted -- a financial audit to ensure that the organization as a grantee for U.S. money was meeting the proper financial standards. After the initial audit was done and there were recommendations made, there was then a follow-up on it later to see that the recommendations were being followed.
Neither the audit or the follow-up work is motivated by any political reasons, nor were they determined to reach any kind of premeditated outcome.
QUESTION: So --
MR. BOUCHER: Let me finish. The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs shared its concerns with the Inspector General's Office that the money needed to be properly accounted for. The Inspector General's audit results have been made public. They are available on the web. You can see that deficiencies were found, remedies were decided, additional controls were put in place so that these concerns had a validity to them, that there did need to be tighter financial controls on this grantee.
That was done. We found ways throughout this process to continue the funding to the Iraqi National Congress, as we continue it to this day, and that that process has gone on, controls were put in place, the procedures were improved and now we think we're on a much more solid basis for saying American taxpayer money is being properly used.
But there were real problems that had to be dealt with. They were dealt with successfully, and we have supported the organization throughout.
QUESTION: Okay. So I just want to make sure, because you said a lot there, that the contention of The Wall Street Journal based on these minutes of meetings is that this was a really politically motivated audit. You're saying that the record is not such that way.
MR. BOUCHER: This was not politically motivated. This was based on whether or not the organization had the appropriate financial controls. That's the issue that the Inspector General addressed. That's the issue that the Inspector General found deficiencies in. It's the issue that the Inspector General recommended remedies for, and that's the issue that was properly corrected, successfully corrected, and we have continued funding for the organization throughout this process.
QUESTION: Can you say what caused the NEA people to be suspicious and to want to take a closer look?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can pinpoint anything precisely. I think there was just the general concern about what the Inspector General actually found, which was that there were monies that were not carefully accounted for. But as I said, that process was looked into, it was improved, remedies were made, and we think the whole process worked successfully to make sure the money was properly accounted for.
QUESTION: Can you tell how much the INC got from the U.S. Department of State?
MR. BOUCHER: Since 1999, they have received $31 million in grants from us. And it's obviously our responsibility to make sure that grantees are in compliance with federal grant regulations. We've done so in a responsible manner in this case.
Okay. Do you want to talk about this or --
MR. BOUCHER: You want to talk about something else, I suspect.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's finish on this.
QUESTION: Is the INC money still going forward in its regular pace and allotments, or was some of the money held up for this -- for next year?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know anything like that. I'll have to double-check and see.
QUESTION: But just to be clear, that your concerns over the financial mismanagement or financial deficiencies of the INC have been alleviated?
MR. BOUCHER: We feel that they have been dealt with successfully and that the organization has put in place the right kind of financial audit and control system.
QUESTION: Richard, on the issue of the INC, Mr. Chalabi, is there anything new to say about this meeting that is or is not happening in the near future or in the medium term future?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think there's anything new to say at this point. The date and place have not been set. As we've described, it's a meeting to bring together people from outside and inside the country, probably one of a series of meetings to be held in different regions of Iraq as the security situation permits in order to start working with local leaders, talk about visions of the future. It's not expected to be at the political leader level. It's expected to be sort of with organizations and local leaders and representatives.
QUESTION: You talked about your -- the delegation that the U.S. would go, headed by the ambassador.
MR. BOUCHER: Ambassador Khalilzad and Ambassador Crocker will be with him.
QUESTION: Right. Do you know -- have they gone out there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I will have to check.
QUESTION: Is it correct to think that they are going to be doing some setting up, some preparation for this meeting in the days before?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I'm sure they'll be out there. I think if you -- I'm not sure how much he's said, himself. But Ambassador Khalilzad, one of his jobs is to get out there and to talk to people and to be in touch with folks; start identifying, start talking to people, identifying the local leaders who can participate.
QUESTION: And just one more thing on this. Yesterday you were asked about the Vice President's comments talking about it being on Saturday. Shortly thereafter, or shortly after he made them, they were clarified apparently by his staff saying that he meant to say "after Saturday."
Can you explain why in the Vice President's remarks he said that the meeting will happen on Saturday, three days from -- just three days from now?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not --
QUESTION: It was -- no, no, I'm not --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not a spokesman for the Vice President or his speeches.
QUESTION: Can you explain it? Was there a plan at some time for there to be -- for there -- this meeting to be held on Saturday?
MR. BOUCHER: I've seen reports in the press and maybe even statements by administration officials, although probably not on the record about, "It's going to be this day, it's going to be that day." There have been various dates under consideration. How this one ended up in the speech, you'll have to ask the Vice President's office. But there have been various dates under consideration after -- starting with Saturday and going after and -- but it's just not set yet. You know, if it was set, I would tell you, but it's not.
QUESTION: A small follow-up. In one of the newspapers this morning they said six exile or opposition groups could be at that conference whenever it's held, and I think they said 39 Iraqi --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure the final numbers have been set yet. There will be people from various opposition groups, I'm sure people from the Iraqi National Congress. People from other groups have been active overseas. I was asked yesterday, "What about the people from the Future of Iraq projects that we've been working?" And indeed, they will -- we would expect some of them to be there as well, that they'll be part of these discussions inside Iraq because they've been working outside Iraq on how to handle some of these matters in the future.
So yes, there'll be people from a variety of groups. I don't have a definitive number at this point.
QUESTION: Is there any litmus test beyond the fact that they all don't like Saddam Hussein? For instance, the Kurds, they want to have a state of their own, for example.
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose the -- well, I'm not aware that any of the major groups actually preach that, that they have all stood up for Iraq's territorial integrity. Certainly over the course of this project, naturally it will depend on geography and safety and liberation paces and things like that. But over the course of this project, the goal is to get together with people from all the different regions of Iraq, from different ethnic groups in Iraq, to make sure that there is adequate representation of all points of view inside Iraq, all those who are willing to work for a better, democratic, peaceful future for Iraqis.
I suppose that constitutes a sort of litmus test. Certainly we're not looking for Baath Party leaders who have been involved in Saddam Hussein's repression to participate. That's not one group that we would like to see represented there.
QUESTION: This is a change of -- also on Iraq --
MR. BOUCHER: He gets first chance to change.
QUESTION: No, I have a (inaudible) question.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We're still on the same.
QUESTION: The Supreme Council, the Shiite group, when they have better battalion, like 20,000, they are rejecting to sit with others, even with General Franks. They said they will not attend any meeting with the American. They are the biggest Shiite group. Their leader is Ayatollah Hakim in Tehran. They issued just couple of hours. They said, "We reject to sit with General Franks."
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a particular comment on that. As we've made clear, there are people inside the country who we think do want to be involved in local administration, who do want to be involved in the future of Iraq for Iraqis, and I think we're fairly confident that representation of all the different regions in Iraq can be achieved.
QUESTION: A follow-up. But Al-Khoei, he is one of the Shiite leaders in London and he was a couple of months here in the State Department. He was just killed in Najaf. Do you have anything to say about him, you know?
MR. BOUCHER: We are certainly aware of that situation. We've seen the wire reports this morning. I guess I would say we are deeply saddened to see this death. It's a reminder that Iraq is still dangerous in many places and a reminder of how important it is for all of us to work to create a situation where Iraqis can express themselves freely, where all points of view can be expressed freely and without intimidation or violence. And that is what we will continue to work for.
QUESTION: Can you say at this point what role the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq would have by the State Department's -- given the concerns about the Badr Corps that Secretary Rumsfeld's talked about, and --
MR. BOUCHER: And that we've talked about. Any armed groups in that area. Yes.
QUESTION: And you've talked about it in the State Department, I know. So at this point, where do they stand?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular reading on this particular group at this point. I'm sorry. I'm not in a position to do that.
QUESTION: Richard, my question was about the gentleman who was assassinated this morning, as well. And there are -- some people are saying that it's possible he was killed because he had come in with the U.S. Does that concern you that --
MR. BOUCHER: I couldn't speculate at this point. I don't think there's any real information on who did it or why it happened, so I just don't think I can speculate.
QUESTION: But how concerned are you all that people that you bring in might, indeed, become targets because they are affiliated with the U.S.?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't think it's correct to speculate on information that hasn't even been shown to be accurate, so I wouldn't start speculating at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, could we talk about your dealing -- the administration's dealings with this individual?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I haven't had time to look at it. It just broke a couple of hours ago.
QUESTION: Is the United States encouraging other countries in the region to also come up with participants or suggest participants in these conferences in Iraq? And also other countries on the UN Security Council, should they have a role in encouraging Iraqis, either in their countries or the ones that they know in Iraq, to participate?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know quite how to answer it. The answer is sort of yes, but not really. (Laughter.) Let me try to explain that a little better. We are certainly in touch with other governments in the region, particularly those -- I mean, all of those who want to see a future for Iraq that is an integral Iraq that is kept together, one Iraq with a representative government for all kinds of groups and people from all around the country.
Now, we are certainly in touch with governments, particularly in the neighborhood, who are interested in making sure that that really happens. And so to the extent they have suggestions on how to make that happen, to the extent they want to help out this process of finding a representative government for Iraqis and then helping Iraqis be allowed to choose their own future, we are in touch with other governments.
On the other hand, many of the people who have already been participating in this process are well known, whether it's the people who have been working on the Future of Iraq project or the people who got together on the political side in London and then in Sulaimaniya. So, in many ways, a lot of that work is carried forward.
But the final point that I want to make is the one the Secretary made yesterday in the L.A. Times interview, if you've read that. I'm not sure if we've put out the full transcript yet. But -- yes, we have. That the important thing is to get to know the people in Iraq who can manage for the sake of the Iraqi people, who can rebuild and organize the country for the sake of the Iraqi people, and to get those people involved in the process of building a new Iraq.
And a lot of that work just has to be done, by necessity, by the people on the ground, the people who are in these cities, whether it's British or Americans, Australians or other coalition people, who are right there, who are dealing day to day with the problems of distributing food, distributing medicine, bringing security to a city. And in that process of actually doing things for the Iraqi people, we will get to know the local leaders and the others in the country who are in a position to actually carry things forward.
QUESTION: Along those lines, have you got any reaction now to Syria, once again, criticizing the U.S. action as an occupation and also rejecting the latest U.S. comments saying that Syria is cooperating with facilitating the move of people out of Iraq and into Syria? Do you have more evidence that --
MR. BOUCHER: He was going to change the subject first, but let me answer the Syria --
QUESTION: Is that --
MR. BOUCHER: Can I answer the Syria question and then we'll -- well, I mean, Iraq has a lot of neighbors, and he had a question, I think, about one of Iraq's neighbors. All right. If you can, I'll give you a quick answer on Syria and then we'll go of to farther north, I believe. I can read the eyes.
I think the first thing to say is no particular comment on statements that are made, but we do continue to watch the Syria-Iraqi border quite closely. We have made clear repeatedly to the Government of Syria our concern that they not allow entry into Syria of any senior Iraqi regime officials, that is, the people involved in the barbarity and the viciousness of Saddam Hussein's regime, and that they not allow any transit of materials for that regime, to the dying elements of that regime, or that they not allow any forces to move back and forth or material for the Iraqi forces to move back and forth.
We have been in very close touch with the Syrian Government at very high levels. Our Ambassador in Damascus has been in to see the Foreign Minister or the Foreign Ministry just about every day and he has continued to pursue these issues at very high levels.
We now understand that Syria has closed its borders to all but humanitarian traffic. That's what they have told us and we certainly hope that proves to be true.
As the Secretary noted very recently, Syria has a choice to make, and we hope Syria will make the right one.
QUESTION: What about the people that you already believe have crossed the border? Are you saying that you don't believe any of them have?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not saying any of them -- that I don't believe any of them have --
QUESTION: Well, isn't that ignoring the obvious, then, that you just tell them not to do it?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's start with the first thing. We don't want this -- any transits to continue of any kind, one way or the other, so let's stop that first. And then second of all, yes, we do have concerns about what may have crossed in the direction of Iraq already and other possibilities, and I'm sure we'll continue to pursue those as well.
QUESTION: Richard, are you considering at all downgrading U.S. diplomatic relations with Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'd say we have diplomats there to continue to pursue these issues for the United States at senior levels of the Syrian Government, so I'm not aware of any other consideration.
QUESTION: Richard, just a follow-up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: I know the Secretary talked to the Syrian Foreign Minister in New York at the UN weeks ago. Has he had any conversations in light of these recent developments?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there have been any subsequent conversations directly between them, but obviously our Ambassador, when he goes in, goes in with instructions from the Secretary of State and the President.
QUESTION: I understand. But I just wondered since he telephones a lot of people, I just wondered if he --
MR. BOUCHER: We also use our embassies as they should be used and are being used appropriately in this situation.
QUESTION: When you said material into Syria, do you mean chemical weapons? What are you talking about -- material into Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to go through any long list. I think you've seen reports of night vision goggles. You've seen reports perhaps of other material.
QUESTION: Earlier you said going into Syria.
MR. BOUCHER: I thought I referred to material support going into Iraq. But in any case, I don't think I'm in a position to get into any more detail of what may have crossed that border in either direction.
All right, the gentleman in back had a shot at this.
QUESTION: Richard, instead of the U.S. assurance, the Kurdish Peshmerga entered the Turkey and still and there and start destroying the cities land and populations record. They are trying to change the demographic situation in the city. And the Turkish army is start buildup. I believe it already finished in the nearby border.
What can you do right now and what are you doing right now? Because you give assurance --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, let me make clear I don't accept any of the premises of your question, but I accept the question, "What are we doing right now?"
The Secretary spoke this morning with Turkish Foreign Minister Gul. What we're doing right now is exactly what they discussed, and the Secretary discussed with Prime Minister Erdogan and Turkish General staff and other leaders in Turkey when he was there last week, that should a situation arise in Northern Iraq that caused concern on the part of the Turkish Government, that we would immediately consult with the Turkish Government, we would have military liaison arrangements and other arrangements to make sure that there was no cause for undue concern on the part of Turkey.
And, indeed, that's exactly what we're doing now. It's working. It's working successfully. It's exactly what we discussed and agreed upon last week. U.S. forces are expected to go into some of these cities. We have -- our military has offered a possibility of liaison arrangements, liaison officers from Turkey, to be working with Turkish forces.
But I want to reiterate the coalition is in command in Northern Iraq under the direction of the coalition commander. Coalition forces, led by the United States, are working to ensure the safety of all of the people of Northern Iraq. It's the firm U.S. position that no group should control Iraq cities and oil fields. And U.S. forces are on the ground in Kirkuk and will be, as appropriate, in Mosul, and are taking full command in those towns.
So what we agreed upon with the Turks last week was were there to be developments that caused concern, we would immediately talk and figure out how to handle them so that no undue concern had to arise in Turkey. And we think we're doing that successfully in this situation.
QUESTION: But the Kurds, they already arrest 14 Turkomen leaders and they killed seven of them.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure that that's true. I haven't seen any confirmed information to that.
QUESTION: On the Turkish TV today, they show the bodies.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think we'll have to be a little careful on reports like that until we know whether or not they're true. But I do think it is important that U.S. forces will move into these places, and will establish the necessary order so there is no further cause for concern by the Turkish Government.
QUESTION: Do you know how many thousands U.S. troops are right now controlling Kirkuk and Mosul, since you mentioned it?
MR. BOUCHER: That would be a military question. You can ask the military.
QUESTION: Another question. I noticed with events in Kirkuk and Mosul that the U.S. media is talking now about "Turkish Kurdish rebels, who are cooperating with the U.S. forces," and not as "terrorist Turkish Kurdish rebel," as used to describe them prior to the work including your government. I am wondering, as a matter of policy, did you change the status from terrorists to rebels now?
MR. BOUCHER: No, come on. Let's -- let's be serious here. There are many different groups operating in this area. We have never changed our view of the PKK. If that's what you're asking, PKK is a terrorist group. There are other groups of terrorists, and terrorists associated with terrorists, who have operated in Northern Iraq, including Ansar al-Islam.
One of the goals of U.S. policy is to make sure that Northern Iraq, or any part of Iraq, can't be used as a base for terrorism. That said, there are other groups that operate in these areas that have a legitimate function and role, who have provided for the people who live there, who have looked after their welfare for all of these years, who definitely have a role in the future of Iraq. And we're going to work with those groups.
QUESTION: Do you still consider them, these Turkish Kurdish rebels as terrorists?
MR. BOUCHER: We consider the Turkish -- we consider terrorists to be terrorists, and we still consider the terrorists to be terrorists. And we consider those who are not terrorists, not to be terrorists. And we still don't consider them terrorists. That's as clear as I can make it.
QUESTION: What was the understanding between Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Gul on whether the Kurds would move back from Kirkuk, and when?
MR. BOUCHER: The understanding was that our goal in moving into these places was to make sure that there were not situations which would give cause to undue concern on the part of the Turks, and therefore that, as I said before, we do not want to see any armed groups controlling territories, areas or resources in Northern Iraq, and any moving in. The United States military will make sure that's the case.
QUESTION: But the Turks say that it's never going to be okay for the Kurds to control Kirkuk. So you're setting yourself up for an interminable occupation in Kirkuk?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't say that. I would say we're setting ourselves up for the same kind of transition that we'll have to occur throughout Iraq, where representative government is allowed to take hold and where local administration can be handled in the interests of the people of Iraq.
QUESTION: What can you say about the possibility of Turkish monitors being deployed in the --
MR. BOUCHER: As I mentioned, one of the things that had been offered by our military was for the Turkish Government, or Turkish military, to put liaison officers with U.S. forces. That was confirmed briefly in the phone call this morning with the Secretary and the Foreign Minister. But it's an offer that was made by the military, and that the -- part of the arrangements that were discussed -- indeed about a week ago -- when the Secretary was out there was that there should be some mechanism for the militaries to have liaison with each other.
QUESTION: This was supposed to be a three-way early warning system. The Kurds are the third party. Has anybody from the U.S. talked to the Kurds and do you have any kind of assurances from them?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is that there are people from the U.S. who talk to the Kurds all the time. I don't know of specific meetings or discussions. As you know, the U.S. does already have some people up in that region who are in touch with Kurdish groups.
QUESTION: Well, they are kind of set in a celebratory mood. Do you think they are going to quietly melt away and --
MR. BOUCHER: I expect inhabitants of many Iraqi cities to celebrate when they get their freedom and when they know that they are assured of their freedom.
QUESTION: The Kurds don't have a state of their own, and presumably they've seen --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say a state of their own. I said their freedom. The people want freedom.
QUESTION: Freedom as Iraqis.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. People -- they've always said -- all the groups up there have always said they believe in the territorial integrity of Iraq. That has not changed. That is what we have always supported, as well.
QUESTION: Richard, do you know when these liaison officers might be deployed with the --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't know, actually. I'm sure our military is making the appropriate arrangements.
QUESTION: Can you go over the rest of the Secretary's calls over the last --
MR. BOUCHER: Who has he been talking to? He has talked to Foreign Minister Gul, Foreign Secretary Straw, talked to the Austrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Ferrero-Waldner. He's talked to Foreign Minister Fischer of Germany and to Foreign Minister Meta of Albania.
QUESTION: All today?
MR. BOUCHER: Yep. Today.
QUESTION: Can you comment on reports that two senior Ansar al-Islam leaders escaped into Iran and their whereabouts are, as yet, unknown?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I haven't those reports. I haven't seen them and haven't had a chance to check them out.
QUESTION: You can't say anything about -- I mean, they are -- well, it's been out there and people at least in the PUK have been on the record saying that they've -- that these people have escaped into Iranian territory and they don't know where they are and, you know --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I haven't had a chance to check with U.S. sources to see if there's anything we know and, if there's anything we do know, whether it's anything we can share. So I will check on both those questions, and if I have an answer I will get to you.
QUESTION: Richard, last month, first at the beginning of the month and then shortly after the war began, you guys sent out two requests to governments around the world. The first one was about Iraqi intelligence officers posing as diplomats in embassies abroad, and the second one -- asking them to be expelled -- and then the second one was for the closure of embassies, the expulsion of senior, but bona fide diplomats, I guess.
I'm wondering if this -- these things take on new urgency now that the government is no longer in control in Baghdad and if -- Saddam Hussein's government, at least -- and if you have had any more luck in getting -- there was quite some resistance to both, but especially to the first, which was the expulsion to the intelligence agencies. Obviously, some were and --
MR. BOUCHER: No, to the contrary.
QUESTION: Well, I'm asking for an update. The last time we heard, which was the 28th, I think, which is when the two Middle Eastern plots, or whatever, were broken up, it was said that 17 countries --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: -- had expelled diplomats. Now, as I recall, there are 62 -- it went out to 62 countries, this call. So --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think that one went out to 45. Did that one go to 62? I don't think we ever actually gave a number. But it was -- the -- I don't want to play to around with the numbers, but let me say we've had considerable, I think, response on the issue of expelling Iraqi intelligence officers, that after the discovery that Iraqi intelligence was indeed plotting against U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas and we got some more information about that, that we were able to go back to many of the governments involved and got additional response. And I would say in all these cases, governments are sensitive to our concerns and are taking, if not the step of expelling Iraqi intelligence officers, I think they are probably taking appropriate steps to make sure that these activities, activities against the United States, don't occur.
The actual number of countries that have expelled people as intelligence officers is somewhere above 20. I don't have the exact number today. But I think the comparison we made with the first Gulf War was that there were 19 countries at that time that expelled intelligence countries, so we're in the same ballpark as we were last time.
The other effort that we had engaged in and will continue to engage in is to say that it's time to expel senior representatives of Iraqi missions overseas, bilateral missions, and that these leaders of these missions no longer are going to be allowed to pretend to represent the people of Iraq; and therefore, the missions should be closed, the assets should be frozen, so that they can't abscond with the assets that rightfully belong with the Iraqi people.
There has been, I'd say, only a few, or a few countries who have done that. Again, that's something we'll continue to pursue. Some governments wait until a later stage in the conflict and -- to make those kind of decisions.
QUESTION: Do you think now though that, given the situation on the ground in Baghdad and the fact that there is no real functioning -- apparently, no functioning of Saddam, what was his government, that your argument for this closure now has greater weight than it might have had back on the 20th?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say we -- yes, we started at a fairly early stage with that, knowing that some governments would not be willing to take these steps until later. We did feel they were not only appropriate, but necessary for governments to take, the sooner the better. If it happens later, that's the way it is.
But I'd say as the facts on the ground become increasing clear that the government of Saddam Hussein is not operating in Baghdad, is no longer qualified to represent the Iraqi people -- and, certainly, the Iraqi people have made their sentiments quite clear in recent days -- that we would expect to get additional responses.
QUESTION: And a corollary to that. Can I just ask, what is the situation up at the UN now?
MR. BOUCHER: We understand that Ambassador Al Douri is considering leaving the United States. As far as we know, he has not done so yet.
QUESTION: You're not aware though if you've extended this to -- extended your requests for closures of missions and things like that to -- I realize it's done on a completely different thing.
MR. BOUCHER: It's a different -- yes.
QUESTION: But you -- but someone at the UN has to initiate it. It can't -- it doesn't just happen magically.
MR. BOUCHER: No, but it also has to go through committees and General Assembly and things like that.
QUESTION: Exactly. But have you begun to initiate such --
MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point. I don't think there is any formal consideration. As far as I know, this is an individual's decision on whether or not he wants to leave his post at this point.
QUESTION: Well, I'm not talking about him leaving his post. I'm talking about those particular people, their accreditation.
MR. BOUCHER: There are various ways that this happens. And we would expect the new Iraqi authorities would be the ones who would then decide and send an appropriate envoy to the United Nations.
Okay. Now we'll start heading back.
QUESTION: Could you walk us through how these questions of the heads of the diplomatic missions relates to the question of recognition of a government that replaces -- or at least the recognition that the old regime is over -- and what the U.S. is trying to do diplomatically right now, not only with the UN, but these other countries?
I mean, are you working out deals where, okay, you don't have to expel the guy because it's embarrassing, but we want you to, you know, sign a piece of paper saying that, you know, Saddam's regime is no longer, or something like that? I don't know.
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: You're not doing that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to do the walkthrough. A government decides on its own representatives. And so when a government is in place that can effectively represent the Iraqi people, they would decide who to send. If they decided that the person in this post or that post, whether it's a multilateral organization or a bilateral embassy, was not an appropriate representative, then they would have the option of notifying the foreign government saying that's not our man anymore, he is. You know, we got a new guy, or a woman -- let's allow for that possibility too -- we have a representative. And there would be a representative of the new Iraqi government. Obviously, we think it's appropriate, as soon as the new Iraqi authorities are in a position to do so, for them to decide on their diplomatic representation overseas.
QUESTION: If I can go back to Syria, Richard. I know the Secretary said yesterday and this morning again that there is no list of who might be next and that certain countries should just draw their own conclusions and go -- or take the right path or go into the right direction. But there are people who, as you know, who will say that hawks in the administration, they would be very inclined to see some other countries being next, and these are the same people who managed to persuade the President to go to war with Iraq. Is there anything that you can say in response to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a misrepresentation of the administration and of the President, frankly. The President's intention to deal with the matter of Iraq has been quite clear from the beginning of the administration, quite clear from the campaign, for that matter. And when he came in, he gave us all an agenda: first, fixing the sanctions problems, which were not working, which was done over here; second, looking at the no-fly zone, which was done at the Pentagon; and then, third, to look at the issues of regime change. And that was done through a careful and orderly process.
It was done after September 11th, not right away. It was a decision to deal with the problems of Afghanistan first. But it has always been part of the President's agenda throughout the administration. The President has not, on the other hand, been looking willy-nilly, to use U.S. military force. He's made clear again and again in situations that force was never his first option, but that he was prepared to use force when necessary.
We are pursuing other issues in other ways and we will continue to pursue them in other ways.
QUESTION: You and the Secretary have said, though, that Syria has a choice that it faces. And it sort of raises the question, not just in our minds, but in the minds, presumably, of the Syrians and people of the region, if they make what the U.S. seems to think is the wrong choice, what are the consequences? Are you raising the possibility of sanctions or other diplomatic pressure if they -- because --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's remember, Syria is already subject to a variety of restrictions in terms of their ability to trade with the United States, ability to get finance, things like that, because of the fact they are on the terrorism list, so they are already subject -- they are already, in some ways, losing out.
But they are also losing out more broadly in terms of their relations with the international community -- concerns that a lot of people share about their support for terrorism, concerns that a lot of people would share should they be confirmed to have been supporting this dying regime in Baghdad. And so I think there are international implications for any country in terms of what they designed, as well as a variety of steps the United States can bring to bear to make very clear what our views are about these kind of activities.
QUESTION: Can I follow up real quickly on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Whatever happened to the pipeline that went from Iraq into Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know what its current status is. Yes. I just have to leave it at that.
QUESTION: Do you know anything about a finding of a possible new stash of weapons grade plutonium in Iraq, in central Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. You'd have to check with the military on that one.
QUESTION: Can we leave the Middle East for a few minutes?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll come back. Otherwise we get into that confusing situation we had before, so let's just go around.
QUESTION: The Washington Post this morning published a report confirming what many people have observed in Venezuela, that there's a very hot situation on the border, that Venezuela has been given -- has apparently been giving the FARC guerillas leave to camp on its soil and operate from there. My own paper has had eyewitness accounts of the FARC camp in Venezuela, or at least one of them. And what is the -- what is the U.S. comment on this? Does it mean anything?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to check and see if we have any new information on that. I think our policy position has been made clear over the past months, if not year or more, that we don't think there should be any outside support for the FARC, and we've called on all the governments in the region to avoid anything that could provide them with safe haven or support.
QUESTION: May I just ask one more?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: This week the Venezuelan Government is celebrating the first anniversary of the "coup" against it last year, against the Chavez Government, and the Ambassador to the American States Organization proclaimed in a speech at the Council last week that this was the first -- that the failure of the coup was the first application of the Charter of Americas.
Is this the interpretation that the United States agrees with?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I would hesitate to make that kind of interpretation. I've often expressed at the time that our support was for democracy. It was for democracy and to protect democracy from difficulties and attacks from whatever source they might come, whether they came from the right or the left.
And we have expressed our concerns about the situation with democracy in Venezuela and I'm sure our Ambassador at the OAS expressed them appropriately, as well.
QUESTION: You promised to check into the latest on what's happening along the border. Could you add to the question the Post's suggestion that Venezuelan planes are attacking paramilitary camps inside Colombia as part of the question?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: On the FARC's behalf.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I will check on that, too. Happy to.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask a question about North Korea. And the U.S. is proposing, like, a resolution regarding the North Korea's transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan. But China and Russia opposed to have the such resolution. Do you have any, like you've been asked or you want to do? What's your comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: The discussion yesterday among Security Council members we think was important. It was, I believe, the first time they met formally to consider what they should -- how they should deal with the issue. We would expect these discussions in New York to continue among Security Council members. We have made clear we think that members of the Council do, indeed, share a common concern about nuclear developments on the peninsula; they do, indeed, share a common desire to see denuclearization of the peninsula and a common desire to see North Korea abide by all the agreements that it's signed over the years, pledging not to develop nuclear weapons.
We've also said we think it's important for the Council to make that clear. How, exactly, they would make that clear, whether in a statement or some other form, would be a matter of continuing discussion. So at this point, the Council has taken up the issue and we'll continue to discuss it up there in New York with other members.
QUESTION: Do you have a timeframe? Like --
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have a precise timeframe for you, no.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up. Do you have any, like, the further, like, negotiation between, you know, the Japan, North Korea, you know?
MR. BOUCHER: We keep in touch with other countries, continue to work on putting together a multilateral way to address the issues of North Korea. This is -- what North Korea has done has mattered to the whole international community, particularly to people in the neighborhood.
We've kept in close touch with Japan and Korea along the way. We've been working very closely with China since the Secretary's visit out there and continue to work and develop some of the ideas that we discussed during his visit. But I don't really have anything that's come to fruition quite yet and so I'm not in a position to tell you about anything in more detail.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments ahead of the talks in St. Petersburg this weekend with France, Russia and Germany?
MR. BOUCHER: Not particularly. They are getting together, as countries do from time to time. I think our general attitude towards everybody at this point, towards working with everybody at this point, has been pretty much what I said earlier. There's a lot of work to do in Iraq, and as long as we've focused on the future of the Iraqi people and the need to help them and the ways we can help them develop a representative government, develop a peaceful society and peaceful nation, get rid of the weapons of mass destruction and take their place, rightful place, among nations, there's a lot of work the international community can do together, whether it's done bilaterally or through organizations like the European Union and NATO, which the Secretary met, you know, was the focus of the Secretary's visit last week to Brussels. He also had bilateral meetings with a great number of European foreign ministers at the time. And so we have begun to discuss with all of them these issues of how can the international community, either in these groupings or individually, help contribute to a better future for the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: And is it your sense that that's what they're getting together to do, to talk about how to be helpful?
MR. BOUCHER: You will have to ask them what they are getting together to do.
QUESTION: Richard, the White House is using the military broadcast system to put out this -- these messages today and push using Bush and Blair. Don't you really think that VOA should be doing this? I mean, that's sort of what they were designed for. Is it a concern that the military is now putting out the U.S. message instead of the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I am sure VOA's broadcasts into Iraq have continued and continued actively. You can check with them on the kind of programming, the number of hours that they are putting out. But certainly, their broadcasting to Iraq has continued. And there are other international broadcasters that can be seen and heard inside Iraq.
I would say that there are probably only certain parts of the U.S. Government that are equipped to set up a broadcast in a situation of turmoil and difficulty like the one that exists currently in Baghdad. And so I don't see it as strange in any way that the military is in a position to do that; whereas, other broadcasters with fixed transmitters wouldn't do that.
I am not sure, I think part of it is to be -- you have to get in there to be broadcasting a local signal that can be heard on other frequencies. VOA is frequently on shortwave or on repeat broadcasts where there is a local transmitter, which, obviously, doesn't exist in Iraq at this point.
QUESTION: Do you know if there are plans for the civilian information bureaus of this government to take over from the military, to do programming and to --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we actually will. I think what you see is probably a temporary arrangement. The goal would be for the Iraqi people themselves -- have I said that before? -- for the Iraqi people themselves to take charge of this, as so many other areas, so that they can broadcast their own news, their own information, in an open manner consistent with freedom of information and freedom of expression.
QUESTION: Richard, in the opening days --
MR. BOUCHER: I guess I owe the guys in the back, too.
QUESTION: -- of the war, you and others were pretty quick to jump on the -- on various television networks and complain about the violations of prisoner of war rights, violations of the Geneva Conventions by the Iraqis.
It was my understanding that the Department then went to -- that this -- people in this Department went to the Pentagon and asked them to make sure that the embedded -- that reporters embedded with the U.S. military, or that they would totally respect all elements of the Geneva Convention. Is that correct? Is my understanding correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we specifically went to them, or they came to us, or we all got together to clarify the rules to make sure that everybody understood clearly what they were. I know that this was a subject of discussion at one point, just to make sure that we were clear, in terms of any guidance that we could provide to news organizations about how to follow the Geneva Conventions.
QUESTION: Do you know if it was, in fact, then pursued at all? And the reason I ask is --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there has been any follow-up. I certainly do think that from the initial days there has been some -- some change in the way individuals were shown, things like that.
QUESTION: Well, the reason I ask is because one of the things that was a problem, violates the Geneva Convention, is prisoners of war being made a public spectacle of them.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: There is a photograph that appears on the front page of The New York Times here today, and I am not going to try and ask you to comment on it, but showing a half, you know, stripped Iraqi prisoners of war with their hands tied behind their back, full face visible. And it would seem to me that that meets the definition of public spectacle. And I am just wondering if the Department is at all concerned that since the early days of the war, when people were very hot on this subject, mainly because of the treatment of American POWs by the Iraqis, if you are still concerned about the way that Iraqi POWs are being treated.
MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, we do everything possible to make sure that Iraqi prisoners of war are treated in a manner that's consistent with the Geneva Conventions. They are treated in a humane and fair manner. And I think if you do check with the Pentagon, you'll find that's one of their primary concerns as well. They understand. And they are responsible for the training and the procedures and the guidelines to their soldiers to make sure that prisoners are treated in the proper manner. And I know that they have done some briefing out in the theater about how they are indeed treating Iraqi prisoners, and how they are feeding them, taking care of them, giving them the medical attention they need, the right to observe their religion practices, and things like that, which are all part and parcel of this treatment.
Why does the military do this? First, because they are good people. But, second of all, because they want to make sure that no other side has any excuse for mistreating Americans. And so they have a very strong interest in doing that. We keep in touch with them on these issues. But I'm sure the military can tell you, as clearly as anybody, the kind of guidelines that they follow and the kind of guidelines that they provide to news organizations and others who may be with them.
QUESTION: All right. Now I have read the transcript of the interview that was done, the conference call that was done -- that you guys have put on your website now. But, in fact, yes, it does talk about their food and how they're housed and treated generally, but it makes no mention at all about this public spectacle and subjecting people to humiliation.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think for our part we don't do that. We don't do that as a government and we don't do what the Iraqi Government did in the beginning, which was to send government-owned TV down to prisoners who are in very difficult circumstances after capture, and to show the public interrogation of these prisoners.
QUESTION: Right. But your complaint was also not just lodged at the Iraqis, but at television networks and other media, who -- and private -- privately should have been reserving --
MR. BOUCHER: Governments have particular responsibility.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We also felt it necessary and appropriate to provide the kind of guidelines to media organizations of what we thought was appropriate. But, again, the military handled that. They have a very strong interest in this. And I'm sure they'll be glad to talk to you to no end.
QUESTION: Correct me if I'm wrong. Did you not personally go on Al-Jazeera that Sunday and say that they -- what they had shown violated the Geneva Convention?
MR. BOUCHER: I sure did, yes, and I continue to believe that.
QUESTION: The Geneva meeting for the UN Human Rights Commission ended today. Did the U.S. at any point offer a resolution on China?
MR. BOUCHER: It didn't end today.
QUESTION: It did not end today?
MR. BOUCHER: The deadline for presenting new resolutions expires at the end of the day today. At this point, there is no final decision on what to present on China. There are a number of other resolutions currently under discussion out there with us and other people. And I think tomorrow is the best day to give an account of which resolutions were submitted, and which were not, and why.
QUESTION: Richard, most every -- well, okay. Maybe tomorrow we'll talk about it when it's no longer.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. It's a deal. Let's go to the back.
QUESTION: The New York Times yesterday reported that India is threatening preemptive strikes against Pakistan for terrorist attacks by extremists in Pakistan. Can you comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: The same comment that I made about all the speculation that we might go after somewhere else after Iraq --
QUESTION: But this is India.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I know. And the fact is that you can't -- should never consider military force the first option. You should never consider that a situation has to be dealt with militarily. You should always look for other ways of dealing with it.
We think the situation with regard to Kashmir and India-Pakistan tensions is not the same as the situation that we and the international community have faced over these years with Iraq, that there are better and different and other ways to deal with this and to deal with it more successfully than one could with military action; and therefore, we've made quite clear our view that there's no -- that's not the way to handle this, that the way to handle the situation and problems of Kashmir is for both sides to stick by their efforts to reduce tensions, for the Pakistani side to continue its efforts to limit infiltration across the line of control, and for us to continue to work with both sides to eventually get a dialogue going on all the issues involved, including Kashmir.
QUESTION: And this is ongoing?
MR. BOUCHER: And that's been an ongoing effort that we've continued. Yes.
QUESTION: On Cyprus, Mr. Boucher, any comment on the UN Secretary General's report submitted to the Security Council, which is under discussion today in New York City?
MR. BOUCHER: Let the comment come out of New York. I haven't had a chance to check with them. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: And one more question. The New York Times the other day once again said that Greece is anti-American country based on the anti-war demonstration by the Greeks in Athens. What is the position on this matter?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, who said this?
QUESTION: The New York Times.
MR. BOUCHER: The New York Times.
QUESTION: Wrote an article -- and saying Greece is anti-American country based on the demonstration by the Greeks in --
MR. BOUCHER: We do have a list of countries who are part of the coalition. We have a list of countries who are cooperating and supporting this effort. I will leave you to look at that list and decide if any given country is there or not.
We have not made an opposite list of countries who are not supporting or are opposed to this effort. That's something I will leave other people to do if they want to.
But our view has been, it's important for nations to look at the reasons that we're involved in Iraq, at the need for the international community to stand up for its resolutions, and now for nations to look at what they can do to help the Iraqi people achieve a better life. And that will be our view.
QUESTION: Richard, I think I know the answer to this, but the Foreign Secretary, the British Foreign Secretary, has announced today that he's visiting several countries in the Gulf next week or in the next few days. Does Secretary Powell have any plans to visit that region?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have any new travel plans for you at this moment of any kind.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Geneva extremely briefly? I believe that the deadline has actually now passed.
QUESTION: Can you --
MR. BOUCHER: I was told it was the end of the day today, but in any case --
QUESTION: Which is on Swiss time. You know they are very, very careful about their time. I believe that it's actually passed. Can we find out at some point?
QUESTION: It's only 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock in the evening.
QUESTION: Yes, and I believe that the deadline was at close of business.
MR. BOUCHER: All I can tell you is let's let the deadline expire today, let's find out what resolutions were presented and not presented, and we will explain to you tomorrow which ones we support and which ones we didn't present.
QUESTION: I've got one more question. Richard, the City of New York this week filed lawsuits against four countries for nonpayment of property tax on their missions in the city. And they have complained that you guys, the State Department, are unwilling to assist or to intervene to help them in the way that you did with the famous parking ticket imbroglio. Do you know why the State Department is choosing to sit this one out?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure there's a lot of legal opinion on this matter and I will get you what I can on it.
Released on April 10, 2003