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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 21

Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC April 21, 2003

INDEX:

KOREA 1-2 Multilateral Talks on April 23-25 in Beijing 3-6,7, 9-10 Participants and Agenda for Multilateral Talks 6 Envoy to Stop in Tokyo and Seoul

NAURU 7-9 Defection of Top North Korean Nuclear Scientists

AUSTRALIA 9 Alleged Seizure of North Korean Ship

SYRIA 10-11,15-16 Possibility of Iraq Transferring Weapons to Syria 11-12,14 Giving Refuge to Saddam Hussein s Followers 12-13 Iraqi Diplomats Denied Plane Boarding 13 Concerns with Shutting the Pipeline from Ira

q RUSSIA 15 U.S. Russian Relations

IRAQ 15-16, 17-18 UN Resolution / Authority to Lift Sanctions 16, 18-20 Efforts of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance 16-17 Iraqi Representation at OPEC 19 Iraqi Interim Authority Timeframe 20-21 Shiite Clerics Adopting Anti-American Position 21 Formation of Political Parties in Iraq 23 CENTCOM s Efforts to Protect Museums and Antiquities

ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS 23-24 Cabinet Formation Deadline Set for April 23

DEPARTMENT 24 Secretary Powell s Phone Calls

INDIA 25-26 Resignation of Ambassador Blackwell

TRANSCRIPT:

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can, let me talk about Korea off the top, and then we can get on to other things. You might want to ask about this or other areas of the world.

Multilateral talks involving the United States, China and North Korea will take place April 23rd to 25th in Beijing. We intend to conduct serious talks on the situation created by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and, indeed our interagency delegation for those talks has already departed Washington and is on its way to Beijing.

The interagency U.S. delegation will be headed by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs James Kelly. The North Korean delegation will be headed by Deputy Director General Li Gun from the American Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese delegation will be headed by Director General for Asian Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Fu Ying.

North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a matter of great concern to the entire international community and especially to countries in the region, all of whom are interested in participating directly in the talks. We believe that inclusion of others in multilateral talks -- South Korea and Japan above all -- would be essential for reaching agreement on substantive issues.

We appreciate China's efforts to achieve the international community's shared goal of a peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

The United States will remain in close consultation with Japan, Korea, and work with China and with other friends and allies on our diplomatic efforts to resolve the international community's concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

And with that statement, I'd be glad to take your questions on this or any other topic.

George.

QUESTION: Could you clarify the confusion that existed as of Friday as to what the North Koreans really said?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, far be it from me to try to clarify the confusion created by differing North Korean statements in different languages, but I would point out that we did, I think, base our assessment on the Korean text, and the Japanese texts were in conformity. And I understand that North Koreans have now put out another English text as of today that corresponds more accurately to the Korean text that we saw last Friday.

QUESTION: Do you have assurances from North Korea that down the line the Japanese and the South Koreans will be welcome?

MR. BOUCHER: I think as we have mentioned, it's very much in our interests and we are very much interested in seeing the Japanese and the Koreans, South Koreans, participate in these talks. I think it's important to North Korea as well because many of the opportunities that they are looking for in the world, they're missing out on from Japan and South Korea as well as from others. So they have an interest in talking to these people as well, but the broader interests of the international community, I think, are being represented in these talks. We'll keep pushing for inclusion, but at this point I'm not aware of any assurances from the North Korean side. These are initial discussions. We'll see how things evolve. Terri.

QUESTION: What do you say to reports that Secretary Powell sort of arranged this on his own, and especially that it appears it was without the Pentagon backing the idea of having just the three-way talks?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that this is the approach the President has outlined. This is the approach of multilateral negotiations the President has wanted. The Secretary has been in close touch with other members of the cabinet, and particularly with the President and members of the NSC, in carrying out the President's desires on this.

Nicholas.

QUESTION: And was there an attempt by the Pentagon to say this wasn't the right way to go, this report about the memo --

MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask the Pentagon about their own memos. It may or may not be accurately reported in newspapers. All I know is we've been working closely with the -- pursuing the President's policy, and you have the President's statements of yesterday. The President himself was out yesterday making clear that he looked for these discussions to produce the kind of denuclearized peninsula that we want, that the Chinese want, and that others want as well.

Nicholas.

QUESTION: Richard, can you say more about the delegation, how big it is, what agencies are represented, if you can actually say that -- if you have any more names for us? And also, is there a more specific agenda now that we asked about last week, and it was still unclear what exactly --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I have described the talks as best I can at this point. As we have made clear a number of times, these are initial discussions. The issue for us is how to achieve a verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear programs. But each party is going to bring forward whatever they want to put on the table. And we will have views, the North Koreans will have views, the Chinese will have views. They have strong interests in the region, denuclearization of the peninsula, but may have other things to say as well. So each of the participants -- and all three are full participants -- will put forward, put on the table what they want.

As far as who is attending, Assistant Secretary of State Kelly will be joined by a Director for Asian Affairs, Dr. Michael Green of the National Security Council; Brigadier General Gary L. North of Joints Chiefs of Staff; David Straub, Director of the Office of Korean Affairs, Department of State; Jodi Greene, Senior Country Director for North Korea, Office of the Secretary of Defense; an officer from the Department's Korea desk; and an interpreter. That's our delegation.

QUESTION: You know, each participant will have the opportunity to bring up issues. Does that mean as this proceeds there may be a face-to-face, two parties, in other words, the U.S. and North Korea or the U.S. and South Korea? You know what I'm trying to say? Will everything be --

MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't talking about that, if that's -- did that -- did I mean by that this was going to happen?

QUESTION: Well, you know.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't mean by that that this was going to happen. Is it going to happen? I am not able to make a prediction at this point. We have made clear, the Secretary has made clear in his discussions, it was important for these talks to be held in a multilateral setting, it was important to start to multilateral talks, it was important for the interest of others to be represented. Whether alongside of that, or at some point that other things happen, I won't predict at this point.

Arshad.

QUESTION: Richard, you said, if I noted it correctly, that you intended to conduct serious talks on the situation created by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons. In the TRI-COG statement, you had said that you were willing to talk, if I understood it correctly, solely about North Korea coming into compliance and abandoning its nuclear weapons. Did you mean by that formulation the situation created to expand the field of what you are willing to talk about?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's exactly the way we put in trilateral statement, although I would have to get it out. I haven't reread it recently. I would say certainly the item on the agenda for the United States is to achieve a verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, and that -- that is what we are going to be putting forward. That is what we are going to be looking for. And as we have made clear, we are not prepared to offer any inducements to North Korea to try to achieve that.

The situation created by these nuclear weapons programs has meant that North Korea has lost out on many of the benefits it could have expected from the world, lost out on many of the opportunities it could have expected, lost out on the kind of approach that we have been willing to take. So I don't know that that's anything different, but the issue, number one, the issue that we will be addressing is how North Korea can correct that situation, how North Korea can verifiably and irreversibly end its nuclear weapons programs.

QUESTION: And I noticed in your listing of the participants that the North Koreans are at -- it appears to be their representation is a step below yours and the Chinese, that it's a deputy director. Does that trouble you at all? Does that --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not -- this is a name that's familiar to us from previous discussions. I'm not prepared to do the bureaucratic analysis on North Korea's Foreign Ministry. I think I'll leave that to people much more expert than me.

QUESTION: Can I just ask some technical thing? Can you just spell the names of the --

MR. BOUCHER: The North Korean delegation is headed by Li Gun; L-i, and then the first name is G-u-n.

QUESTION: Deputy Director of the Americas?

MR. BOUCHER: Deputy Director General from the American Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese delegation will be headed by Director General for Asian Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Fu Ying; last name is Fu, F-u, first name Y-i-n-g.

QUESTION: And Jodi Greene -- forgive my inter -- is that Jodi, like Jodi, or is it --

MR. BOUCHER: That's like Jodi. Why don't we do those later?

QUESTION: That's fine. And then I just have one other on this. Do you guys actually have indications that the Chinese are prepared to -- that their input into this is going to be anything more than kind of place settings and what the centerpiece is going to look like?

MR. BOUCHER: We have been in discussion with the Chinese all along through our Ambassador in Beijing and in the Secretary's direct discussions with Chinese Foreign Ministers in New York and when he was in Beijing.

It's understood that the Chinese will be full participants in this. This has been an ongoing subject of discussion, and even since last Friday when we talked to the Chinese about their views of the different statements that had been issued, they have made clear to us that they do intend to participate in the talks and not just host them.

QUESTION: Do you know if those were conversations, obviously, over the weekend that you guys and the Chinese --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember the exact day, whether it was today or over the weekend, but our Embassy has been in touch with the Chinese over the last couple days.

QUESTION: And this is something, I'm sure, you're going to direct me to either the North Koreans or the Chinese on. But the same guy that came here, the same North Korean who came here before Secretary Albright went --

MR. BOUCHER: Marshall Jo?

QUESTION: Right. He showed up in Beijing over the weekend. Do you have any idea that he, from what you heard from the Chinese, that he had offered some reassuring comments to the Chinese?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I've heard or seen. Not that I know of.

Okay, start moving back.

QUESTION: North Korea, indeed the upcoming three-party Beijing talks is first step talks. In the meantime, South Korea is defining the talks to be a middle preliminary one. What is your comment on this?

MR. BOUCHER: South Korea is defining them to be what?

QUESTION: Middle preliminary part.

MR. BOUCHER: Preliminary?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, North Korea says first step, South Korea says preliminary, I've said initial. So it's pretty much the same vocabulary. We all recognize that it's important to get started, it's important to start talking about these issues, it's important for us to be able to put on the table the very serious issues that are at stake and to try to address them in a political and diplomatic manner. That's what we've always sought. We've managed to achieve a forum to do that. But actually resolving these issues may take a little more than one meeting or one set of meetings in Beijing, so we describe these as initial talks.

And as I said, we really don't think that without the participation of Japan and South Korea one could expect to achieve a substantive outcome. So these are initial discussions that we will have and then we'll see how those other things are dealt with and where they can lead.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: Would you tell us where exactly that the talk is going to take place?

MR. BOUCHER: No. In Beijing.

QUESTION: Okay. And secondly, do you have any itinerary of the envoy that is out at -- stopping to Seoul and Tokyo?

MR. BOUCHER: They're going directly to Beijing for the discussions --

QUESTION: On their way back?

MR. BOUCHER: -- but on the way back, they will stop in Korea and Japan. Let me see. Seoul and Tokyo, I think, is the order of the stops on the return. Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. And when you say that the Chinese as full participant, do you have any assurance from Chinese that they're not going to -- they stay in a same room all the time? (Laughter.) Not going to let --

MR. BOUCHER: That they won't go out and make a phone call? (Laughter.) I mean, we have talked with the Chinese. The Chinese area going to be participants in these talks, as well as host them. We welcome and appreciate their willingness to host the talks, but also, they're going to be there representing Chinese interests, and the Chinese have a lot of interest in the situation on the peninsula and we are confident that they will be participating and expressing those interests.

QUESTION: So, yes?

MR. BOUCHER: The answer is -- are they going to stay in the same room the entire time? I don't know. Taken care of?

Terri.

QUESTION: How hard did the U.S. side work to get South Korea and Japan included at this -- at these initial meetings? Was that a priority that you had to step back from, then?

MR. BOUCHER: We have always wanted this. We have always, first and foremost, wanted a multilateral forum. When the Secretary talked with the Japanese during his trip, with the Chinese during his trip at the end of February, and with the South Koreans, the emphasis was on the need for a multilateral forum, and during that trip he asked the Chinese if they would be prepared to help put together such a forum and even host the talks in Beijing. And so since then we have worked on these ideas. During that trip, as you remember, contrary to press reports, as I always have to say, the other nations that we talked to agreed on the importance of multilateral framework because they understood that these were issues of concern to the whole region, to the whole world; that it involved some very fundamental issues for all of this of peace and stability, but also nonproliferation.

And, therefore, we heard from the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Chinese their support for the idea of multilateral talks. And actually putting that together with, you know, there had been various proposals voted -- 5 plus 5, 5 without 5, 3 -- the important thing was to make it in the multilateral setting, to make sure that those who had this other interest in some of these broader issues, that those who had other issues, other influences, other opportunities to bring to bear, would be there as well.

And so we are satisfied that this initial formula of U.S.-China-North Korea did provide that sort of atmosphere. But, as I said, it remains important to us to expand it. It wasn't a -- well, obviously, it wasn't an issue that made it impossible to convene multilateral talks, that Japan and Korea were not there -- Japan and South Korea -- but it is one that remains important to us, and one that we have supported all along.

Sir.

QUESTION: Can you comment at all reports in the Australian media that up to 20 top level North Korean officials, including nuclear scientists, have defected?

MR. BOUCHER: This is the Nauru question?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, great reading, but untrue. Let me give you the rundown on Nauru. The story is patently false. So -- (laughter). I'm enjoying this. But it was a great story. I hate to do it.

But the stories talked about a variety of things that we supposedly have done as inducements in Nauru because they were facilitating the defection of top North Korean nuclear scientists and others.

We did not pay for the establishment of any Nauru diplomatic missions. We never promised to provide financial assistance to Nauru or requested their cooperation in any other sphere to enable Nauru to avoid the imposition of financial sanctions against them under the USA Patriot Act.

We and other members of the Financial Action Task Force have been working to get Nauru to abolish its offshore banking sector and to erect a viable anti-money laundering regime that comports with international standards. Indeed, last Thursday, the Treasury Department published proposed regulations to impose the strongest permitted special measures against Nauru under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act, and Treasury Department can give you more information on that.

QUESTION: What about other third party country defections? The articles also named Spain, New Zealand, a few others.

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am never in a position to comment on defections, but allegations that we offered inducements of this kind to others are just not true.

The lady here had something.

QUESTION: Yeah, Marian Wilkenson from the Sydney Morning Herald. The report that was in our competitor's paper, I just wanted to follow up slightly on.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: She is enjoying it more than I am, actually.

QUESTION: But, though they said it was at arm's length, they did say that the alleged father of the North Korean nuclear program had been one of the people brought out by these private institutions. Has any U.S. official, as far as you know, been aware of his defection? Has anyone interview him, and were any funds at all supplied to the individuals from the Hudson Institute working this program supposedly?

MR. BOUCHER: I can talk about one side of this, which is financial institutions or inducements or cooperation with Nauru. I am afraid on individuals who may or may not have defected, I am just never in a position to talk about that. So I can't try to go into the issue of North Koreans who may have left North Korea.

But I could say there was I think one individual -- you talked about the Hudson Institute. There was an individual named Philip Gagner, who was referred to, and we have never used him as any kind of intermediary with Nauru. He hasn't participated in the official meetings that we held with the Nauru delegation that was headed by President Dowiyogo in February. So there are some aspects of that that are alleged that aren't true either.

QUESTION: Can I ask one follow-up?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: There was a seizure over the weekend of a North Korean ship off Australia that allegedly has a large quantity of drugs on it. Do you know whether there was any U.S. assistance to that Australian investigation, and whether you think it will have any impact on current talks?

MR. BOUCHER: I think on any particular seizure, you'd have to go to Australians, if they did it. I leave it to the Australian Government to talk about that. We cooperate very closely with the Australians encountering drugs. But, again, I wouldn't be in a position to talk about whether U.S. law enforcement was working on this specific seizure.

As far as the broader issue of the talks, obviously there is any number of issued that we need to take up in the course of our longer terms discussions with North Korea, if it leads to that. But, as I have made clear, first and foremost, we need to take up the issue of the nuclear weapons programs, and that's what we will be doing in Beijing this week.

Betsy.

QUESTION: Different subject.

QUESTION: Can I ask one more?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, one more. I am not sure what the subject is right now -- but, anyway, North Korea, I guess.

QUESTION: Yeah, North Korea. Is any kind of progress or commitment from North Korea on the nuclear issue a condition for moving from these initial discussions to broader discussions?

MR. BOUCHER: As we have made clear all along, the steps the United States has been prepared to discuss, had been prepared to undertake with regard to North Korea were made impossible because of North Korea's nuclear programs. And they had to verifiably and irreversibly end those programs for anything substantive to happen, for any serious discussions of other aspects of progress in the relationship.

That has proven true for many others as well, and you have seen statements from the European Union, from Australia, from neighboring countries, to the effect that North Korea's nuclear programs were making it impossible to precede down any other real avenues of cooperation. So I think that's just a basic fact of life, as far as what the North Koreans could expect, that these programs have made it impossible to precede to make any progress on other matters.

QUESTION: But, feasibly, you could have several discussions just about the nuclear? You are not saying --

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to speculate at this point on where these talks would lead or what might be discussed beyond this because this is the issue that needs to be discussed, as far as we are concerned.

Okay, North Korea still, or?

QUESTION: Yeah, one more, Richard.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION: In October the United States delegation made up some sort of shopping list, like the missile deportment, human rights issue, in this kind of package. But this time, also the United States will lay down this sort of package with the nuke issues?

MR. BOUCHER: If you remember, it even goes earlier than that to last -- was it the last days of May or early days of June -- when the President issued his statement on his desire for serious talks with North Korea about a number of topics and expressing at that time a willingness to consider what the North Koreans might need, in terms of steps in return. That was called the "bold approach," the bold approach that Jim Kelly had told the North Koreans last October that we had been prepared to take, but that it was impossible as long as they kept up these nuclear weapons programs.

And, therefore, the issue on the agenda for us before we get to any of those other things, before we get to what the other issues are, will be to verifiably and irreversibly get rid of these nuclear weapons programs. What they are going to lay on the table, we'll have to see. But as far as we're concerned, that stuff, as we said in October, was made impossible by the nuclear weapons program.

All right, change of topic. Betsy.

QUESTION: Iraq-Syria. There has been much talk about Iraq having transferred WMD material to Syria from the mid-90s, possibly more recently. Do you all have information about that? Can you confirm that?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information on that that I would be in a position to talk about or to share, so I'm afraid it's just not a topic I can address.

QUESTION: And she left WMD out of it --

MR. BOUCHER: No, she --

QUESTION: No, also conventional transfers. Will you have the same answer?

MR. BOUCHER: As I think we've all mentioned before, and certainly Secretary Rumsfeld, has talked about it, we have been concerned in recent weeks, but we've made clear going back over any number of months, about the fact that conventional equipment, dual-use items, even personnel, had transited through Syria towards -- on its way -- on their way to Iraq. And this was the issue that we've been raising throughout and that's the issue which we think we're seeing some progress, as the President mentioned yesterday, some progress in terms of getting the Syrian Government to take this seriously, getting them to close off the border to everything but humanitarian shipments, getting them to take seriously our concerns about individuals who may have ended up in Syria. And I think you have seen them close the border. You have seen them refuse boarding to people who might be headed that way for refuge or for -- to hide. And so there have been some steps that they have taken and we think they are taking our concerns seriously.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: No, I --

MR. BOUCHER: No? Something more, Betsy?

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I meant things going from Iraq into Syria, not things coming from Syria into Iraq.

MR. BOUCHER: Into Iraq. Again, look back at what Secretary Rumsfeld had said in recent weeks, that there were reports of certainly people and possibly equipment. But no, I don't have anything specific that I could confirm in that regard.

QUESTION: So you all have seen nothing to --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that. I said I had not -- I don't have anything I can confirm for you.

QUESTION: Well --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm just not at liberty to discuss about what information we may or may not have about things that have passed over the border, or certainly about this issue of whether or not weapons of mass destruction have passed over the border.

QUESTION: Examples of progress. You gave one real example -- boarding.

MR. BOUCHER: I thought I gave three. But, hey.

QUESTION: No, no. Well, you gave -- the other two you dealt with it the way the White House dealt with it yesterday, which is they promised and they said they would do this, they would --

MR. BOUCHER: They basically closed the border between Syria and Iraq.

QUESTION: But the Secretary --

MR. BOUCHER: They denied boarding to a number of people that we know of.

QUESTION: That's right.

MR. BOUCHER: And we think they've taken seriously our concerns about individuals that are in Syria. But, obviously, there is more to be done to identify these individuals, where they are there, to make sure the border is properly closed to people who might be trying to hide or hide things in Syria, and we'll keep working on this.

QUESTION: I realize everything can't be done overnight, but he said -- the Secretary did -- about the border, yes, they've said they would but the border is porous, it's hard to know for sure that the border was sealed. And secondly, on --

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, they say they've done this. It's important to make sure it's properly closed.

QUESTION: All right. Now, what of the notion of taking in, giving refuge, haven, et cetera to Saddam Hussein s people? Will they turn them back to us? Will they turn them back to the U.S.? Will they turn them in for prosecution? Or is it too early?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's -- I can't speak on behalf of the Syrian Government on that. You've observed some of the steps that we have observed. This is an issue that we'll continue to take up with the Syrian Government. Our Embassy has been very active in this regard, in working and talking to the Syrian Government. As the President said yesterday, we have seen some indications that they're taking our concerns seriously, and we will continue to pursue these issues, including during an anticipated visit by the Secretary of State.

QUESTION: One last question. One last point on that. Messages going back and forth. Other governments weighing in with the U.S., the latest being the Spanish Foreign Minister having been there carrying a message this weekend. Are there any results you can give us of this intervention?

MR. BOUCHER: Not wishing to speak for other governments, I don't want to speak for anybody in particular, but I would say the Secretary has been in touch with his counterparts, our embassies have been in touch with their counterpart missions. We find that these concerns are widely shared among other nations. And it's not so much carrying a message for the United States, but making clear that these concerns about not allowing members of the Iraqi regime to take refuge or hide in Syria, not allowing equipment or other material to be transferred, these are widely shared among the international community and others that are talking to Syria are raising these issues as well.

QUESTION: Richard, what do you mean by denied boarding?

MR. BOUCHER: The news reports that I saw, and I'll stick to news reports for the moment, say that individuals that wanted to travel to Syria from missions overseas, Iraqi diplomats or officials who had ended up somewhere else, were not being permitted to travel to Syria.

QUESTION: So how is that the Syrians -- how were the Syrians playing an active role in that?

MR. BOUCHER: They're the ones that issue instructions to Syrian airlines on who to let on board and who not to. Okay. And other foreign airlines, I guess.

QUESTION: I'm sorry?

MR. BOUCHER: And other foreign airlines as well who might be flying there.

QUESTION: Mr. Farouk Shara, the Foreign Minister of Syria, has welcomed the comments by President Bush and two congressmen have visited President Assad. They came and they spoke about their Syrian concern about the shutting of the pipeline, Iraqi pipeline with Syria. Is United States in the visit of Colin Powell next -- coming next going to discuss this issue and settle it as well?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we'll discuss all the issues involved in the situation in Iraq, including leadership in Iraq, UN resolutions regarding Iraq. Syria is on the Security Council. And issues like the pipelines or Iraqi control of their oil resources, fundamentally these decisions on who, how to export, what to export, will be made by Iraqis. So there will be a limit to the amount that we are in a position to make any commitments or even discuss the issue, but I'm sure it will come up.

QUESTION: Some describe that shutting off as a use of oil as a weapon. Would the United States refrain from that and reproduce --

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I would not describe it that way. Certainly, I think it may be one of the consequences of what happened, but I'd have to look back exactly on how this happened. I think the Iraqis, in some cases, shut off pipelines before there was any fighting, so it's not clear to what this shutoff might be due. But in the end, it is the Iraqis who need to take possession of their oil resources, the Iraqis who need to decide how to pump it and where to ship it and how to sell it.

QUESTION: On the arrest of Mustafa Abdallah, Jamal Mustafa Abdallah, the son-in-law of President -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Syrians apparently have returned him back something late at night. Do you have any information on this?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I do not have any information on that. You would have to get that from military forces that we have in Iraq who -- and the groups in Iraq, I think, who may have participated in the arrest.

QUESTION: Two brief things on this. One on the pipeline. In the answer to his second question, or the one before the last one, which was using oil as a weapon, you seemed to leave it open as consequence, but is it really? I thought this -- wasn't this pipeline, the operation of this pipeline, in the first place, a violation of UN sanctions, something that you've been trying to -- that should have been shut down, should have never even started?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it was, it was. But I do not want to imply by that that we necessarily went out to shut it down for that reason. We do recognize that now that the regime is gone that we don't need the sanctions, we don't need the same kind of controls, and the Iraqis need to be put in charge of their resources and allowed to do what they want with them. So I don't want to imply that that just -- either because of that we intentionally shut this down. I just don't know how it happened.

QUESTION: And then the second briefing is -- about ten days ago, you had said from here that you guys, presumably through the embassy, through Ambassador Kattouf, had gotten assurances from the Syrians that they had closed the border to all non-humanitarian traffic, yet that -- that was on Thursday or something of the week before last -- and yet, then on that Monday, the Secretary came out and, in response to a question, said you would consider economic and diplomatic sanctions, and the rhetoric kept going up.

So when the President yesterday speaks about progress, does that mean or does that imply that immediately after the initial Syrian promises to shut down the border that they hadn't, and that it was only in the week, in the ten days since then, that you guys have seen some progress?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: So progress pre-dates, or dates back to, their initial promises to --

MR. BOUCHER: You've got statements and then you've got execution, but you also have other issues. The issue the President specifically referred to was that they should not harbor high-ranking Iraqi officials. I am confident the Syrian Government has heard us. Okay? So closing the border was one of the steps in that direction, but there were other things we were still looking for in order to show that our concerns were being taken seriously. The President has looked at all these things, and particularly the issue of not harboring high-ranking Iraqi officials, and feels comfortable that Syrians are, indeed, taking steps that will prevent that.

QUESTION: Can I assume that since you haven't mentioned it yet there hasn't been any secretarial-level conversations with the Syrians directly about this, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Not in the past few days, no.

QUESTION: How about --

MR. BOUCHER: Let's let some others. Andrea.

QUESTION: Richard, was the President's statement yesterday in any way related to the movement by Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Mr. Al-Trikriti, to turn himself in? Was that at all related?

MR. BOUCHER: That's a great way to ask the question. But it's essentially the same question I was asked before, "Did the Syrians kick him out or not?" And I don't have any information on that. You'd have to get that out in the field.

Terri.

QUESTION: When we say that you are confident Syria is pursuing weapons of mass destruction, which they have denied, what do you think that they have?

MR. BOUCHER: This has been a subject of repeated U.S. Government reports. There is the biannual -- what's called the 721 Report to Congress on the acquisition of technologies relating to weapons of mass destruction and advance *chemical munitions. In those reports for a long time -- they go up every six months -- for a long time -- I haven't gone back to search them all -- we have made clear that Syria's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missiles was a concern. We have carefully monitored Syria's programs for many years, remain highly concern about Syria's continual acquisition of missile-chemical-biological weapons-related technology materials, equipment and expertise.

QUESTION: They have the delivery means and you believe they have -- they are at least at work developing chemical --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I can't -- I'd refer you to the report for exactly where they stand on these things. I am not in a position to expand on it.

QUESTION: Okay. What's the official name again?

MR. BOUCHER: It's called the 721 Report. It's the Central Intelligence Agency's Biannual Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technologies Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced *Chemical Munitions. It takes three pages to print the title, I think.

QUESTION: When you said before we don't need the sanctions, the Russian view, or the view reportedly held by the Russians, by the Foreign Minister, is that weapons of mass destruction should be removed first. Is that something that has come up between the Secretary and the Russian Foreign Minister?

I know you just said that straight out, but is there a timetable for moving in that direction?

_______________ *Note: Report s correct title is The Central Intelligence Agency Biannual Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technologies to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions.

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary spoke this morning with Foreign Minister Ivanov, among others. I, frankly, don't know if this precise issue came up. Certainly, they discussed Iraq. I guess it's our view, as I stated last Thursday, as I will state again today, that the UN Security Council has the authority, has the independent authority to lift sanctions by means of a new resolution whenever it believes it's appropriate to do so.

I think each member of the Council now has a chance to look at the facts, to -- and the responsibility to look clearly at the facts on the ground, make its own decision as to whether sanctions need to be continued or not in these circumstances. In the view of the United States, as the President has said, Iraq is now liberated and the United Nations should lift sanctions. With the demise of the regime, Saddam Hussein's regime, there is no longer any basis for economic sanctions and Iraq should be allowed to resume a normal trading relationship, the Iraqi people should be allowed to pursue opportunities, and the Iraqi people should be allowed to take responsibility for their own resources. That's the point.

Now, we do expect there should be some restrictions on trade in military goods. That might continue to prove necessary, but the fundamental situation is changed. And under those circumstances, the UN Security Council has the authority to do whatever it feels appropriate in these circumstances.

QUESTION: -- to that goal? Do you see a clear way to that? I mean, that's what you think they should do. But do you think they are poised to do that?

MR. BOUCHER: We will be working this and other aspects of the situation with other members of the Security Council, and I think we are confident that people understand the clarity of the situation.

Jonathan.

QUESTION: When you talk about resuming normal trade, obviously the major element in that is Iraqi sales of oil. So how do you envisage that proceeding? Do you have any clear ideas about what authority would do this and --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any more information for you at this point. As you know, the Garner group, Jay Garner and his team, of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, are now in Iraq. They will be working with Iraqis to assist Iraqis in taking control in management and organizing their nation. They will also be working on the process of discussion that we would hope would lead to a political administration, a post-transition administration, in the form of an Iraqi interim authority. So that's where the issues will be worked and decided, and we'll leave it to them to organize that, help the Iraqis organize that.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Syria and the WMD question?

As you know, last week -- maybe you have said something about this and I missed it. But the Syrian proposal last week for a WMD-free zone, which they put -- they were floating at the United Nations, what is the U.S. position on that proposal?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we addressed that last week. There is nothing new to say today.

QUESTION: I don't know. I don't remember seeing it being reported, but -- what was it?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, you can read the transcripts. You'll find it.

QUESTION: Another issue that came up last week was Iraq's representation at the OPEC meeting this week. Has the United States yet decided who, if anyone, may represent Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: The United States is not going to anoint, or appoint, or decide. The Iraqis have to decide. Whether they will be in a position to decide this by the time the meeting happens or not, I do not know. It may very well be that there will not be an Iraqi representative at this moment. But the Iraqis need to take charge of their oil resources, and our job is to assist them in doing that as soon as they can.

QUESTION: There is a man named Jawdat al-Obeidi, who is the -- who describes himself as the deputy to the self-proclaimed governor -- mayor of Baghdad, who says he is going to go and represent them. Is that acceptable to you?

MR. BOUCHER: As we have said, we have not in any way tried to designate a mayor of Baghdad, nor any subsidiary appointments that derive there from, -- nor anybody else in that -- in any capacity like that at this point. It's the Iraqis who will have to decide who their leaders and representatives are. I'd just leave it at that for the moment.

QUESTION: A guy like this, who just anoints himself --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what happens if you show up at an OPEC meeting and say, "Hi, I'm your man." But I would expect OPEC might consider their position on that, too.

QUESTION: Richard, now that the Garner group is on the ground in Baghdad, is there any update at all on when you expect to have your temporary embassy in the hotel up and running, or any kind of -- in terms of --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I do not have anything for you at this point. It's probably about time that we checked on that, so I will.

Andrea.

QUESTION: Yeah, if I could just follow up on Jonathan's question for a moment. As you know, one of the sticking points within the Security Council for lifting the sanctions on Iraq is that the U.S. would then have control of the oil. Is the U.S. open to the possibility of -- first of all, is it necessary that the U.S. have complete control over this, or would you be open to some other formula like an international -- some or -- you know, or entirely Iraqi controlled?

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the goal is to put Iraq's resources in the hands of Iraqis, entirely Iraqi control, and we will help them achieve that as soon as they can get organized to do that.

I keep being asked how it's going to be done. I am not going to make the decision here. It is going to be worked out on the ground. We have people on the ground now who are working it, and when they are ready to take control of their resources, they will.

I do not see any contradiction in saying that the sanctions need to be lifted. The UN Security Council will find the proper way to do that at the appropriate time, and I am sure the Iraqis will step forward and take control of their resources as soon as they can.

QUESTION: So, in effect, what you are saying is you would like the UN to lift the sanctions before that's all been sorted out?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I said at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: So you don't want them lifted immediately?

MR. BOUCHER: I said at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: What does that mean?

MR. BOUCHER: That means in conjunction with this process of the Iraqis taking over their own resources and taking control of their -- their oil. And so it needs to be worked in some way together.

QUESTION: Simultaneously?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if the word is simultaneously or not at this point. It's something we are working on.

QUESTION: But, basically, you'd like UN control up -- UN authority up until roughly --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not -- I can't give you a before and after, and this first, and this last. These things need to be worked together. That's all -- about all I can say at this point. The Council needs to lift the sanctions. Is there some interim period? We will see if there is or not. But we think all of this needs to be worked together, and that this needs to be done at appropriate times.

Elise..

QUESTION: Do you get the sense that the Security Council wants to tie the lifting of sanctions to fleshing out a more defined UN role?

MR. BOUCHER: I have seen statements by other members of the Security Council. None of them have said that. They have all been tied to weapons of mass destruction, which we think is not the operative issue anymore. Some of them -- but I don't know. You know, you can ask others, but I haven't seen any statements to that effect.

QUESTION: Richard, are you ruling out completely some kind of interim period in which the U.S. military or Garner's group or some U.S.-dominated authority actually conducts oil sales?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not ruling anything particular out, but I am certainly not talking in that direction. I am talking the goal is to get the Iraqis up and running, so that they can take control of their resources and handle these matters. Garner's role is to help them do that, not to take over the oil.

QUESTION: Okay. But is there is -- are you leaving that option open, if it takes much longer than expected for the Iraqis --

MR. BOUCHER: I am not opening or closing any options. I am telling you what we are doing, and the facts are that's what we are doing. And I think one should write news about the facts of the matter on the ground as they are being done. And that is what's being done, not opening up doors to other alternatives.

Eli.

QUESTION: Richard, this is back a couple of questions ago. Do you have kind of timeframe for when there will be the naming or the selection or the voting or however we get to the -- what we call the "interim authority?"

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don t. We are not in a position to do that at this point. The meeting in Nasiriyah last week decided that there should be another such meeting in a different location within ten days, so the people in Iraq are working now, the participants in the Nasiriyah meeting, along with those of us who can help them organize, are working now to try to get together a meeting for later, for the end of this week.

Place, time and place, exact time and place left to be determined, but that's what they're working on now is following up and producing what we talked about -- a series of meetings that can lead to the creation of an interim authority.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

Given that there have been a lot of reports in the last week or so of other governments establishing presences in various Iraqi cities, and some Iraqi opposition leaders have even gone so far to say that there is only a few weeks until the U.S. -- the U.S. has to really establish a firm presence, can you just comment on the timeline? And is it being affected by, say, Iranian and other agents doing things on the ground?

MR. BOUCHER: I believe, if press reports are correct, we have a considerable presence in Iraq right now.

QUESTION: Obviously, you -- yeah, there is --

MR. BOUCHER: Many of them, most of them, perhaps, are wearing uniforms. But we have, in addition today, Jay Garner and his group are in Iraq. They're in Baghdad today. And they are working on the things that need to be worked on, the things that the Iraqi people want. They have gone in to say, "You want electricity." They are at electricity sites trying to help restore full power, and there is some already there.

I think they are reporting power is already on in Kirkuk. They expect the south part of Baghdad to get power later this week, a couple of days, mid-week. So they're working on power. They're working on water. They're working on hospitals. Something like 60 percent of the hospitals are already open and up and running.

So they are working on the things that the Iraqi people say they want. They are trying to help the Iraqis restore services and help Iraqis get organized for their own future. That's what is going on. That is our presence. That is what we are there for. We are there to help the Iraqis.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. BOUCHER: No, let's let the patient people in back --

QUESTION: Richard, do you have -- do you share any of the concern of -- like Senator Richard Lugar and others that the religious factions in Iraq are really -- maybe kidnapping, this whole thing and having a theocratic state? I mean, do you have concern, the State Department, about that?

MR. BOUCHER: Our concern is that all Iraqis get a chance to participate in this process. That's we have tried to organize a series of meetings with people from throughout the country to participate in this process. That is why we tried to help identify people inside Iraq who can participate.

Some of the groups are more organized. There is a lot of politicking going on, both people inside Iraq, outside Iraq. But this process needs to take place where leaders emerge, discussions are held, and Iraqis can start to define their own future and what kind of democratic and representative and open state that they want to decide.

QUESTION: But if there was an election and there was a theocratic state, will you accept that?

MR. BOUCHER: That's so hypothetical and down the road, I wouldn't say that at this point. The point is this needs to emerge from the Iraqis, and all of the Iraqis need to participate, and all of the Iraqis need to be represented, and that a democratic and open state that can live at peace with its own people, live at peace with its neighbors, is our goal. And I think that defines it better by saying what it needs to be, what it can be, what the Iraqi people can create, as opposed to saying not this, not that, not something else.

QUESTION: So, Richard, there are many Shiite clerics that are not only adopting an anti-American position, but also calling for a state based on Sharia law, along the lines of Iran, which seems to be gaining at least some resonance throughout the Shiite community.

MR. BOUCHER: And there are many other Shiites in Iraq besides those Shiite clerics and those particular groups. There are many other people in Iraq besides the Shiite, and they all need to participate and they all need to have a role. Just because some have a demonstration Friday after the mosque doesn't mean that that is an overwhelming trend of public opinion. This process is just getting started of having people come out and start expressing themselves and what they want for their future. And our job is to work with all the Iraqis so that all the Iraqis get to control their future, and I wouldn't be misled by what you might see on a given day on television.

QUESTION: Richard, what proposals have you heard for the venue for the meeting? And is there any reason why it should not take place in Baghdad now that General Garner is there?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular venue to announce at this point.

QUESTION: And secondly, as you said, there's a lot of politicking, politic politicking going on, and a lot of people have opened party offices in Baghdad already. If those people want to take part in this next meeting, how are you going to sort them out?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the people on the ground will have to sort them out to make sure that all groups get represented and represented fairly in this process. It's an ongoing process. It's probably an expanding process. And, I mean, just look at this. This is great. People are demonstrating -- some against the United States. People are forming political parties. People are putting out information. People are talking to each other in Iraq in a way they've never been able to do before in their entire lives. This is a wonderful thing and it is a process that we have some confidence with, that Iraqis talking to each other, talking about their own future with each other, they will be able to create their own future and it won't be dominated or hijacked by any given group because part of our job is to ensure that all Iraqis are able to participate.

QUESTION: Richard, I believe last week you said you were going to try and look into what the status of the National Council of Resistance was, since it's -- since it came out that its alias, or that one of its alter egos was actually a target on the battlefield, the Mujahedin-e Khalq. What's the --

MR. BOUCHER: The answer is that, as I have said before --

QUESTION: Go to the Justice Department?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I need to refer you to the Department of Justice for any questions about their legal status.

QUESTION: Could you ask the Justice Department, though, to actually get an answer? Because every time we call over to the Justice Department, I mean, they're making -- it looks like it's one of these endless loops; they refer people back to State. So --

MR. BOUCHER: I'll -- if I have a chance, I may mention it to them that you're interested in getting an answer.

QUESTION: Well, you don't have to do it yourself, personally.

And the other thing is that I noticed over the weekend that Victoria Clarke, your counterpart at the Pentagon, sent a letter to The Washington Post about a photograph that we talked about in this briefing, saying that the photographer who was responsible for the picture had been, in fact, dis-embedded, somewhat punished. Did the State Department have anything to do --

MR. BOUCHER: Dis-embedded?

QUESTION: Dis-embedded, yeah.

QUESTION: Disembowled?

QUESTION: Not disemboweled. But had been -- had been thrown out of the unit in which he or she was operating in. Do you know if there were concerns expressed to the Pentagon by this building about the photograph in question?

MR. BOUCHER: I do not know. But as I mentioned at the time, the Pentagon is responsible for these matters and I'll refer you again to them to talk about the letter and how it may have occurred, come about.

QUESTION: Change the topic to Sri Lanka? The Tamil Tigers said --

QUESTION: No, no.

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Okay, go. (Laughter.) Just trying to help the process here, guys.

MR. BOUCHER: But I am going to turn to that, Thad, just to get ready.

Betsy.

QUESTION: This is a slightly different skew on a Middle East question. You all have said that you've been in talks with Syrians and the Syrians seem to be cooperating in returning Iraqis to Iraq who have fled there.

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't quite go that far -- yet.

QUESTION: Well, can you say whether you all have talked to the Iranians and asked them to return people who might have fled into Iran?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not sure it's an operative issue, but if it is, I'll check and see if there's anything to say.

QUESTION: Two quick ones, Richard. First of all, are you aware of any warning by General Garner about a month ago that the United States should make sure that the museum in Baghdad is protected because of potential looting and things that actually happened, just whether you know anything about such a memo or what communication that he sent over?

MR. BOUCHER: I go back to what we said the other day, that CENTCOM had issued orders. CENTCOM issued instructions to all troops inside Iraq to protect museums and antiquities throughout Iraq. And as you know, a part of the -- when we dealt with the issues of bombing and targeting, which were very difficult during this campaign because the Iraqis did put -- the Iraqi regime did put military sites next to civilian residential areas and also historical sites, we were very careful in terms of the bombing in this campaign to make sure that we did not hit Iraqi antiquities, Iraqi sites. And based on the evidence on the ground, that seems to have been quite successful.

Were we present in time to prevent the looting? Obviously, not in all places. But CENTCOM instructed our troops, to the extent that they could, to make it one of their tasks to try to protect antiquities and museums.

QUESTION: Just one more. There have been complaints by UN officials, at least in the press, that they don't have access yet to Northern Iraq. Have you gotten any complaints from the UN about that?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. Don't know. We do know, in our talks with Turkey, that facilitating the movement of supplies for UN organizations and other humanitarian organizations was one of the issues the Secretary took up during his visit to Turkey, one of the issues which we settled with the Turks. And I think if you look at the count of the trucks moving across and who they are moving for, you do see that there is considerable humanitarian supplies now moving from Turkey for UN organizations and NGOs into Northern Iraq.

Okay, Joel.

QUESTION: Slight change of subject, but it's also the Middle East. Abu Mazen appears to be frustrated because I believe this Wednesday there's a deadline for the PA to install a cabinet and he is wanting to perhaps crack down more security-wise and eliminate some of the terrorist groups, and yet Chairman Arafat seems to have his choices and there's, I guess it's coming to brinkmanship in the PA themselves.

MR. BOUCHER: Correct. I think the deadline for formation of the cabinet is the 23rd, which is Wednesday. Our view is that formation of a strong and empowered Palestinian cabinet, headed by Abu Mazen and committed to serious efforts on reform and security, is deeply in the interests of the Palestinian people. It is essential that the Palestinians complete this process of establishing a government urgently.

The United States is determined to do all we can to help such a government move rapidly toward the two-state vision outlined by President Bush, and the Palestinians can't afford to miss this opportunity. We are hopeful that Abu Mazen will choose and then the Palestinian Legislative Council would confirm a cabinet that is capable of taking the steps on Palestinian reform and taking clear and sustained action against violence and terrorist attacks that are necessary.

The Palestinian people deserve serious leaders ready to work toward the vision of two independent states, an independent Palestine living side by side with Israel. That's the opportunity. Now we would hope they would not miss it.

QUESTION: So does that mean you are ruling out any new prime minister? Just you want Abu Mazen?

MR. BOUCHER: We think that the process that has been undertaken so far is a good one, that but for a few final details that a prime minister and a cabinet have been chosen. As I said before, I think we're confident in the idea that this cabinet would be confirmed by the Palestinian Legislative Council. It would be the council that the Palestinian legislature wants, the cabinet that the Palestinian legislature wants, and that the opportunity should not be missed at this moment.

QUESTION: Richard, what has the United States done to try to break this deadlock over the formation of the cabinet?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, in the end, it's a matter for the Palestinians themselves and for Palestinian legislators, for Palestinian political leaders, to make the decisions necessary to take advantage of the opportunity and get on with their future. This view that I've expressed to you has been expressed directly to Palestinians in our contacts, has been made clear to a variety of people who we have talked to in terms of other foreign leaders, other foreign ministers, some of whom are traveling to the region and expressing their own view, which we are happy to say if it coincides with ours that it's time to get on with this process, it is time to confirm this government, and it's time not -- it's time to start building the new institutions, the new leadership that can achieve a Palestinian state, not miss that opportunity.

QUESTION: Can you tell us and give us details of the latest such contact, endeavor to?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the Secretary has talked over the weekend with Foreign Minister Palacio of Spain. He has talked this morning with European High Representative Solana, with Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou, who is in the EU presidency; also been in touch with the Israeli Foreign Minister and the Russian Foreign Minister. And in all of these discussions, the situation with regard to Israelis and Palestinians has been a topic, and our desire to move forward on things like the roadmap, which we are waiting for the confirmation of the Palestinian government.

QUESTION: All of them but Palacio were today?

MR. BOUCHER: That's right.

QUESTION: Go back to the Tamil Tigers?

QUESTION: One more.

QUESTION: Oh, I don t mean to stay on Iraq. We're going to be there for awhile.

QUESTION: It's about USAID. I am not sure if you can speak to this. But how is it going to work now that Bechtel has been given the contract for the major reconstruction with Halliburton, who -- how is that going to be phased out of Halliburton, who had the initial kind of emergency contract?

MR. BOUCHER: I think Halliburton didn't bid on the -- on the second contract.

QUESTION: No, I know. But, I mean --

MR. BOUCHER: That's really a very specific question that the AID people on the ground can help -- help work on. I am not sure they actually covered the same work. So you'd have to -- you'd have to check in more detail.

Again, the scope of the work, the essential nature of the contracts, I think is all on the web. We put out quite a bit of information there that you could probably check fairly easily.

Tamil Tigers. We have seen the statement by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. We are awaiting more information. We continue to support the peace process. We hope the talks can resume soon.

QUESTION: To follow up on that, is there any plan for Secretary Armitage to go to South Asia, to go to Sri Lanka as well?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any on -- anything on his possible itinerary, when he is expected. He is expected to travel to South Asia in the upcoming near future, but I do not have any itinerary yet.

QUESTION: Can we stay on South Asia for just a second? Do you have any comment about the resignation of your rather colorful Ambassador to India?

MR. BOUCHER: He put out a statement explaining his reasons. He explained his motivations in a statement released in New Delhi, discussed the time to -- wish to spend time with his family and return to teaching at Harvard, which he needs to be back for the academic year this fall. I do not have anything to add to that. Those were his reasons. He and Secretary Powell discussed this some months ago.

The Secretary and the President is quite aware of the plans that Ambassador Blackwell was making to return to his academic life. The Secretary did talk with Ambassador Blackwell this morning, said he appreciated his service as Ambassador to India, praised the work that he had done. And then they talked, as always, about the work on the current agenda between the U.S. and India. Ambassador Blackwell will be there for some months more. I know there is still a lot of work to do, that he will help us do.

QUESTION: Richard, on that, there was speculation in India that he was unhappy with the firmness of U.S. resolve on the "terrorism" issue with India and Pakistan.

MR. BOUCHER: Any speculation that there are policy reasons for this resignation I think is just totally misplaced. No, it's not true.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, how about if it's not policy, how about personality?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, he is --

QUESTION: Do you want to talk about the Inspector General's Report?

MR. BOUCHER: -- leaving for the reasons that he described. He has discussed this with the Secretary over the past months. Those are the reasons, and I'll leave you with his statement. If you want me to, I can give you a copy of it.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Wait, we have one more. The head of the UN Human Rights Commission, the High Representative for Human Rights, wrote the opinion pace -- opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal lamenting the fact that the Commission seems unable to properly discuss the question of human rights. I am wondering, in light of that, if you guys have come to any conclusion about the overall meeting that is about to wind up.

MR. BOUCHER: I do not have any particular conclusion at this point. Let's let it wind up. And I really think I would refer you to our most able and illustrious representatives who have been out there working on this throughout, who may have a better assessment than I do.

QUESTION: One more on SARS. There have been a lot of reports over the weekend that China has underreported its number of cases. Is there anything you can say?

MR. BOUCHER: I think some of the reports over the weekend was that China has now started to report more fully and completely, and that certainly is something we welcome. [End]

Released on April 21, 2003


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