State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for May 5
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC May 5, 2003
ANNOUNCEMENT 1 Secretary Powell s Visit to the Middle East and Europe 1 Death of Mike Jendrzecjczyk
RUSSIA 2 Sharing of Missile Defense Technology/ Russian Notion of European 2, 3 Secretary Bolton s Visit to Moscow
INDIA/PAKISTAN 4 Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage s Trip to the region/ U.S Role in the Region
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 4 Details of Assistant Secretary of State William Burns Meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister 5 Roadmap Steps
UNITED NATIONS 5 Secretary Powell s Trip to New York 5-6 Process of Negotiating UN Resolution
IRAQ 6-7 Appointment of Bremer and Progress of the Garner Group 7 Oil-for-Food Program and Lifting of Sanctions 9 No Decision to Determine Role of International Atomic Energy Agency s Investigation of Nuclear Sites 9 Discussion with Other Countries on Multinational Force in Iraq 10 Informal Discussion on a NATO Role in Post-War Ira
q GUANTANAMO BAY 8-9 U.S. Policy on Detainees
NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA 10-11 Nuclear Weapons Program
SYRIA 11-12 New Strategic Dynamic in the Region/Presence of Rejectionist Groups 12 Further Meetings
CONSULAR 12 Visa Fraud
BURMA 12-13 Release of Political Prisoners
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome. Welcome, and let me turn to my staff and say, "What happened to it?" The last ah, there it is. Okay, we've got it.
I wanted to tell you about the next trip by the Secretary of State. Having just returned from one, the Secretary will be traveling to the Middle East and Europe beginning May 9th through May 16th. He'll stop in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bulgaria and Germany -- and stops to be added later, I'm sure. No. There are no particular additions at this point, but everything possibly -- things can be adjusted as we go.
The Secretary's visit to the Middle East will be an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations, confirmation of the new Palestinian leadership, our efforts to advance Arab-Israeli peace, the liberation of Iraq and progress towards a democratic, representative government in Baghdad.
His meetings in Russia, Bulgaria and Germany will give the Secretary the opportunity to discuss bilateral and transatlantic relations with leaders in those countries, as well as to consult with them in their capacity as UN Security Council members on the liberation and reconstruction of Iraq.
A final note, just so everybody saw it. We put out a statement Friday about the death of Mike Jendrzecjczyk. And having worked with him a bit in Hong Kong and others, I think we're all saddened by that development. So, with those notes, I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, in the last couple of days a couple of thoughts have come out of Russia and I wondered if --
QUESTION: Could I just ask one thing?
QUESTION: It's about the trip.
QUESTION: You want to go ahead?
QUESTION: Well, I just want to make sure -- there are no meetings on the 9th, right?
MR. BOUCHER: No. No. Takeoff is on the 9th. Meetings start the 10th or 11th.
QUESTION: 10th or 11th?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Not the 10th? I'm sorry. I'm just trying to figure out --
MR. BOUCHER: We're a week away from this still or five days away from this. The final schedule of meetings is not settled at this point. Let me just put it that way.
QUESTION: Okay, what --
MR. BOUCHER: But, given that we're taking off late the evening of the 9th, going into the 10th, by the time we arrive anywhere it will be the 10th.
QUESTION: Thank you. That's all I wanted to know.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: With the Russia stop, I wondered if a couple of things that came out of Russia the last couple of days were subjects that the Secretary would discuss. One is the notion -- Mr. Putin revived the notion of some sharing of missile defense planning, programming -- I don't know -- technology, he wasn't very explicit.
And the other is the Russian notion of the European Union and the former Soviet Republics sort of joining into one large group of -- I don't know -- are there any thoughts --
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen any particular statements on that, so I don't have any --
MR. BOUCHER: -- I don't know anything about whatever the notions might be. I do know that U.S.-Russian missile defense cooperation is an ongoing thing, something we are committed to, and have been for a while. It's an ongoing effort that we have underway with them.
Under Secretary Bolton is currently in Moscow discussing that, as well as other subjects, like North Korea, like Iran, like Iraq, like nonproliferation of the G-8 and things like that. He will be going on to Paris to discuss nonproliferation topics with the G-8, as well. So some of those things he might discuss out there.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Richard, I just came back from India, I was in --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Russia for a moment please?
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Could you -- could you give us more -- more details about Secretary Bolton's visit there?
And also, I understand that Iran is going to be, as it always is, on the agenda but perhaps even higher on the agenda this time with more allegations about Iran's pursuit of nuclear material?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the exact agenda or schedule of meetings for him in Moscow. He is in Moscow to carry on broad discussions in his area, particularly the nonproliferation field, which is something very important to us. Russia's cooperation with Iran has long been a concern to us.
As you know, in recent months, more and more information has been coming out to confirm that Iran is running a complete nuclear fuel cycle, that they have been interested in developing various aspects of the nuclear cycle that not only don't make sense for Iran, but also have -- or don't make sense for people to cooperate with, and so this is a chance to look at those new facts and to talk with people who have been cooperating with Iran in the nuclear area and make, once more, clear the point that we've always made,- that it's not in anybody's interest to have nuclear cooperation with Iran, given their ultimate goals and intentions.
QUESTION: And will he also talk about Russia's position on the sanctions issue at the UN, or is that just not something that falls within his realm of expertise?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if that will come up or not, frankly.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not sure we're quite at that point yet to discuss specifics.
QUESTION: And how long does he stay?
MR. BOUCHER: He's -- I don't know exactly which days the meetings are. I think it's 5,6 in Moscow and 6,7 in Paris, and then back here. So I'm not sure if that's one day of meetings or two days of meetings.
QUESTION: Are we still on the trip or did we --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't know where we are. We're getting ready to go to India, though, when we get a chance.
QUESTION: This does have to do with Russia and, in fact, it also has to do with India.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. A good transition.
QUESTION: The Indian Foreign Ministry says that in Moscow the Secretary will be meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: That has been discussed. I don't know if it's confirmed yet.
QUESTION: Going back to India. I just came back from Kashmir. What people are saying there, really, that what this trip of Deputy Secretary Armitage will make a difference than other high official trips in the past because what they are saying is that also what role the U.S. will play now, whether the U.S. will be mediator or asked by any country, India or Pakistan, in this process of Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to describe the U.S. role any differently than we had before. As the Secretary just told you outside, it's important that the two countries address all the issues, including Kashmir. And it's important that we all focus on the fact that people who live in Kashmir need a right to live in peace and security for themselves and their family.
QUESTION: And there is no U.S. policy or changing the U.S. policy in Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Richard, have you gotten yet the readout from Assistant Secretary Burns from his meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything more detailed than I think he's given you. He's expressing to the parties the commitment of the President to his vision, to the roadmap as a way to achieve the vision of two states living side by side. He's out there making clear to the parties that they need to take steps to advance the process. He's out there sitting down to discuss with them how to implement the roadmap, how to achieve this vision. We are looking for steps -- I think he been very clear we need the commitment and the steps to end the violence from the Palestinian side and we are also going to need reciprocal steps from the Israelis to get started in this fashion.
So in that manner, he is out discussing how to implement the roadmap. He is preparing for the Secretary's visit at the end of the week.
QUESTION: Richard, could you talk about the roadmap in the sense of whether steps are sequential or whether they're together in parallel? Or what are you envisioning, since both sides are -- each side is saying something different?
MR. BOUCHER: The steps build on each other. We have made clear all along that the movement in the roadmap is based on performance. It's based on what the parties do. But at the same time, there is a schedule of when we would expect them to do those things. And so as we sit down and talk with them, and as we hope they talk to each other, we look for them to start taking a series of steps that can help each other along the way and help achieve a more secure, a more normal situation for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
QUESTION: Who goes first?
MR. BOUCHER: There are steps that both sides need to take, and that's what we're talking with them now about.
QUESTION: I don't know if maybe this came up in the context of the UN, but the Secretary downstairs says he expects the contact to increase in the next couple days and, in fact, the trip that you announced at first isn't the next trip of the Secretary's, is it, outside of Washington? It would be the second one this week, so can you talk a little bit about New York?
MR. BOUCHER: Did I say the next? The next foreign travel by the Secretary.
QUESTION: Well, some people would say that about New York.
MR. BOUCHER: But he doesn't.
QUESTION: And was the Secretary talking about something specific that he's going to do in New York when he was talking about the UN? Or is he talking about something --
MR. BOUCHER: We've been talking -- he wasn't talking about something specifically he will do in New York when he's up there. As you know, he's going up Wednesday evening to make a speech at the Foreign Policy Association and he may have some meetings up there, as well. They are honoring both him and Javier Solana. So we'll see what chance the two get to talk and what other meetings he might have when he's up there.
But the -- what he's referring to is the work that's going on on the UN resolution, the principal UN resolution that we've been talking about, working on -- talking about and working on -- a resolution that would remove the sanctions burden on the Iraqi people, a resolution that would encourage the humanitarian international community to play a humanitarian role and to help rebuild Iraq, and a resolution that would describe how the UN can play its vital role in the future of Iraq.
So that discussion is ongoing. We've had some discussions of language at this point within the U.S. Government and with a few of the other members of the Council. We expect to broaden this discussion in the coming days and have discussion with other members of the Council as soon as we can, as soon as we can have language for them.
So we are moving forward along this line. It's been a subject of discussion. The ideas behind the resolution have been a subject of discussion when he has talked to other foreign ministers; for example, it's been a subject of some discussion in New York already. as well.
QUESTION: You said a principal UN resolution. Does that mean there will be more than one?
MR. BOUCHER: There are many interlinked *resolutions that need to be addressed by the Council, and so we are looking at the best way to ensure action on those. We are focused on one principal resolution that would do this in terms of lifting the sanctions, providing for the UN role and coordination, UN coordinator kind of roles, and give a means for others to help rebuild Iraq. There may be other auxiliary resolutions as we move forward in weeks ahead.
QUESTION: On Iraq, what's the holdup in the appointment, the formal appointment, of Jerry Bremer, and is there a dispute over what role he would play?
And secondly, why is it important to have a civilian in that role? Is that helpful to get the international community on board more?
MR. BOUCHER: I have not tried to address the appointment of anybody in Iraq in a civil administration capacity since that's a matter that, for the moment, is handled out of the Pentagon and the White House. So I think I'd refer you to them, as far as any appointments that may or may not be made.
What I would say is a couple of things: First, Mr. Garner has been doing a terrific job. He's together a lot of the organization on the ground. They are moving in many ways, for example, local councils have been set up in Umm Qasr and Basra by the British, and now we hear Mosul; so local administration is going forward. Some of the ministries are up and running already, and I think that's one of the things we'll be seeing more of this week. Over the weekend, they -- they managed to get, I think, the Ministry of Oil; Ministry of Industry, you'll see other technocratic kind of ministries up and running with Iraqis in charge and American advisors. ______________
*There are many interlinked core issues that need to be addressed
Third, we see the police getting back on the beat in various places, including now in Baghdad. So there is a lot of work that's been accomplished out there and General Garner's team has done it. But we have always said as circumstances evolve, as circumstances change there will be additional personnel put in, there will be additional resources put in. And the goal is to transition, as we said right from the start, transition from a largely military situation to a more civilian one; and then transition from the civilian one to an Iraqi one. And that's the process that's going on, and we'll send out the people that are necessary to help that, that occur.
QUESTION: Do you consider the issues of the administration, civilian, Iraqi, et cetera, to be linked to the process of negotiating a UN resolution lifting the sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: Not necessarily. I'm sure there is some interest, there are certainly issues that have tie-ins: the administration of the Oil-for-Food program, the contracting ability, you know, the Iraqi Oil Minister. Now we have somebody who is in charge of the Iraqi Oil Ministry that they were able to name over the weekend who will work with international and coalition advisors. So there are things certainly in his area of responsibility in terms of oil that will be affected by what the UN does, but our ability to proceed down these lines doesn't necessarily depend on what the UN does.
Now, we have said -- the President said in Belfast when he talked about the vital role the United Nations can play, he has talked about the endorsement of the post-conflict administration. He has talked about some role in the political process, as well. So the sooner the UN is organized by a resolution, the sooner the UN coordinator is appointed, or however that ends up being described, then the sooner the UN can begin to play a role in some of the things that need to be done in Iraq quickly.
QUESTION: But I mean -- if I may.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is the negotiating of the language in the resolution affected by the speed or the extent to which civilian leadership gets in place in Baghdad? In other words, you addressed it in the reverse way.
MR. BOUCHER: I can't see how it is. We are all aware that June 3rd the Oil-for-Food program expires or comes up for renewal. That's one thing that may or may not be affected by how the, how prepared the Iraqi administration is at that point to take it, to take over some of those responsibilities. But I don't know. I don't see any particular timing aspects of this.
QUESTION: Can I ask about Korea please? There are reports that the government is preparing to release a couple of dozen prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and I'm wondering if you can confirm that. And also --
MR. BOUCHER: Our government.
QUESTION: The U.S. Government.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, the U.S. Government.
QUESTION: And also whether you can say whether Secretary Powell's letter had any, any bearing on this?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's be clear on the Secretary's communications with Secretary Rumsfeld. The matter of the prisoners at Guantanamo is something they have discussed all along, they have discussed frequently, as I think we have said in our briefings before. Defense has primary responsibility down there. We all work aspects of this issue for them and there has been a process underway to reach a final determination on all of the detainees.
So certainly, the Secretary and Secretary Rumsfeld have had numerous exchanges and conversations about how to make that process work effectively and efficiently. But that's a process that was decided by the administration so that each detainee can be processed, can be either prosecuted or continue to be detained by the United States, or transferred back to his home country for prosecution or detention, or released if he no longer poses a threat to the United States and its allies. And every relevant agency engages in this process to ensure that the overall interests of the United States are represented.
We are moving forward on this process, and have been working with Defense and other agencies. To date, we have released over two dozen persons who we determined did no longer pose a threat and I think you are aware of many of those people went back to Afghanistan.
We are continuing our discussions with other governments regarding appropriate forums for prosecution, the possibility of transferring their nationals back to them for some action, and the possibility that some of the detainees can be released. So this is an ongoing process to reach a final determination on all the detainees, and it's something we have worked with the Defense Department very closely on.
QUESTION: So this isn't -- you weren't talking about new releases that either are happening today and over the next couple of days?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not trying to announce a particular release; I would just say this is an ongoing process. We are working on it with them. And, yes, it may result in new releases above and beyond the people who have been released in the past.
QUESTION: Above and beyond the two dozen?
MR. BOUCHER: It will result in that, yeah.
MR. BOUCHER: Because the goal is to reach a final determination on all the people who are down there.
QUESTION: If I can go back to Iraq. Has Poland discussed with you having German and Danish and possible other troops, as part of the, of a multinational force in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: We can't give you any final configuration, but we have been in discussions with Poland, with the United Kingdom, and others -- and other countries about the role that they can play in terms of organizing the future stability of Iraq, playing an important role in that, as well as a number of other countries to participate in the -- the future stability of Iraq.
So that's been an ongoing discussion we have had with other governments. I am not quite ready to announce anything yet. Secretary Rumsfeld did talk about it a little bit yesterday on the Sunday shows.
QUESTION: On Iraq, the IAEA says it's very concerned about reports of looting at Iraqis' main nuclear sites and is asking the United States to let them send a mission or some kind of inspectors. Can you talk about that?
MR. BOUCHER: We are certainly aware of the different sites in Iraq that the IAEA had seals, had monitoring, had responsibility for. Coalition forces have secured the facilities that housed the natural and low enriched uranium that was at those sites. I remind you none of this material is usable in nuclear weapons. All of this uranium would require significant processing in order to be suitable for enrichment for weapons use. The Pentagon might be able to give you details of site security.
As far as the IAEA goes, we have been in touch with the IAEA. We're in touch with them on various issues all the time. But there is no decisions at this point about what role they may or may not play in terms of evaluating and monitoring at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, I was going to ask about the --
QUESTION: Can I just do a follow-up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Richard, you didn't say it and I don't know whether you mean it or not, in terms of coalition forces having security over their sites, you're not saying that there hasn't been some looting at those --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not able to say exactly, you know, seals, looting, details of that. Defense Department would get them for you if they have them.
QUESTION: So, I was going to ask about NATO's decision to send a -- to participate or command an international peacekeeping force in Iraq, but since the decision only lasted about two minutes, three minutes, I want to ask this: is there anything new on the status of the thinking about --
MR. BOUCHER: Give the guy a break. Okay.
QUESTION: Is there anything new in your thinking about what kind of a role NATO could or should play in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: No. It's as Secretary General Robertson and the Secretary, I think, mentioned when we were out there. There's continuing discussion on an informal basis at NATO about the kind of role that Iraq -- that NATO could play in Iraq. And that's no, nothing definite at this point. That's an ongoing discussion that the Secretary, I would say not necessarily started but reinvigorated when he was out there. Remember. Some suggestions had been put on the table by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz a while back.
QUESTION: On North Korea, we get a report this morning the administration is kind of shifting, changing their policy, emphasizing more locate of the weapons mass destruction. Can you say anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Just to say that first of all, the Secretary addressed that, I think, to some extent, outside when he was there. He said it's important to remove and eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program, that we have not implicitly or explicitly adopted a policy that accepts North Korea's pursuit and possessions of nuclear weapons. Our goal remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Denuclearization of the peninsula is a goal that is widely shared by other members of the international community. We all think that nuclear weapons on the peninsula are destabilizing, and frankly, are not in any way helpful to North Korea's planned future. We are all making that point to them.
QUESTION: So there is no policy change, I mean, more emphasis on the forceful option rather than dialogue or diplomatic solution?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we haven't decided what to do in terms of next steps yet. We're analyzing the talks that were held in Beijing, the multilateral discussions that were there. We're consulting very closely with South Korea and Japan as we go forward, but no decision on what happens next.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on some reports saying that there's going to be a TCOG meeting in Seoul in mid-May?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. But I'll check on it. If I have anything, we'll put it out later.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Do you have one, Joel?
QUESTION: The Secretary, being interviewed on various talk shows here yesterday, reiterated in discussions with the Syrians exactly what he wanted them, and discussed with them what the Asad Government wanted them to accomplish. Do we want those people detained so that they don't maybe enter into the West Bank or into Lebanon to cause further problems if they are, indeed, taking sanction in Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm going to go into any more detail at this point. The Secretary made clear that we thought that, given the new strategic dynamic in the region it was important for Syria to reevaluate some of these things that it's been doing, and particularly to reevaluate the presence of these rejectionist groups and to shut them down. And we discussed with them various ways that Syria could take steps in that regard that would make sure that the closures would be effective and permanent.
QUESTION: Do you know if that has been followed up on yet? I realize people just got back a couple days ago, but do you know, has there been any --
MR. BOUCHER: Has the Ambassador had further discussions?
QUESTION: Yeah. And I ask only because, you know, several of these groups whom you're looking --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I know. They've made public statements about still being there. On the other hand, there have been a number of press reports, I think some by the traveling group who went down to the offices and found the offices essentially closed. So the exact status, no, I don't have any update.
I can't confirm any particular meetings that our Ambassador had, but I know he expected to have some meetings very soon after we left to follow up on various things that were discussed. So I guess the answer is I can't quite confirm that we have done that, but it was our -- it was his personal intention to do that very quickly.
QUESTION: Okay. Is there -- there was some hint while we were there that as part of his next trip the Secretary might return there. There are no plans for him to go back to Syria, are there?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the trip is the stops that I listed. I think that's probably quite enough for an eight-day trip.
QUESTION: Richard, on Sri Lanka visa fraud, in the past there were some reports, similar problems in a number of countries. Do you see this a global problem as far as the U.S. Embassies or consulates?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't call it a global problem in that it doesn't exist in very many of our facilities all around the world. It is something that can happen anywhere, on any continent. We are very diligent, very thorough and very determined to arrest and punish anybody who is involved in visa fraud, wherever they are in the world. And there have been cases, I think, in all regions from time to time. But yeah, these things do happen, and when we find out about them, when -- we have a lot of steps, first to find out about them, to prevent them, to find out about them and to prosecute and punish when we can find people engaged in visa fraud.
QUESTION: On that case, do you know if the consular section has reopened yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it had. Did you see anything this morning? I think, yeah -- we'll double-check.
QUESTION: Okay, I was just wondering. Do you have anything on the release by Burma of a dissident there?
MR. BOUCHER: Eighteen people were released in Burma.
QUESTION: I'm thinking of one.
MR. BOUCHER: Somewhere in here, yeah.
We welcome the most recent release of political prisoners in Burma, including Dr. Salai Tun Than. We had raised the case of Dr. Salai Tun Than with the regime due to his age and his nonviolent call for freedom for reform. He is an academic and an alumnus of two United States universities.
We hope that this release will lead to the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners and a substantive dialogue between the regime and the National League for Democracy and national reconciliation.
Thank you. [End]