State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for May 28
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC May 28, 2003
DEPARTMENT 1 Secretary Powell's Travel
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 1-5 Preparations for Road Map Meetings 3 Possibility of Quartet Meetings 3-4 Detained Palestinian Diplomat in Baghdad
SAUDI ARABIA 3, 5 Cooperation Regarding al-Qaida 5 Previous Investigation in Khobar Towers 6 Terrorist Attacks Bear al-Qaida Hallmarks 14-15 Jurisdiction About Attacks on Americans
CAMBODIA 6-7 Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism 6-7 Jemaah Islamiya (JI cell) Links to Islamic School
HUMAN RIGHTS 7-12 Department Views on Amnesty International 9-10 Treatment of Detainees in Guantanamo 11 USG Financial Support 12 Human Rights and Russia
SUDAN 12-13 Status of Machakos Peace Talks 13 Humanitarian Assistance
NORTH KOREA 14 Representative Weldon Visits Pyongyang
IRAQ 15 War Crimes and Accountability 17 CIA-Pentagon Report on Biological Vans
IRAN 16-17 Sanctions on Moldova for Contributing to Iranian Missile Programs 18-19 Mujahedin Organization and Their Support of Terrorism
INDIA 19 Terrorist Attack in Kashmir
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I think the only thing that I wanted to tell you at the top is now that the White House has announced the President's travels, I will fill you in on where the Secretary expects to be over the coming week or so.
He will leave with the President for Poland and St. Petersburg. When the President goes to Evian, the Secretary will pay a visit to Rome to confer with the Italian Foreign Minister and others in Rome. And then he will join up again with the President in Sharm el-Sheik and continue on with the President in Sharm el-Sheik, to Akaba, to Qatar, and on home.
This means he won't be able to attend the NATO meeting in Madrid and I think Under Secretary Grossman will represent us there although I'm not sure that's the final -- I don't have final confirmation on that.
QUESTION: Is this the place, or we could do it off-camera if you want, because it's logistics, but will there be a plane to take his support team out to --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's do the logistics off-camera because many of those answers are not known and I don't want to have to stand here and tell you that we don't know yet. We're working on the logistics, though, and I will fill you in on that as we move forward.
QUESTION: Oh, sure.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: In Rome, Richard, the others, would that be, perhaps, people with the Vatican?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I would expect meetings with the Vatican, I just don't have confirmation of specific meetings yet.
QUESTION: This, I think, is appropriately asked, any people in motion to, you know, I saw Mr. Burns in the cafeteria today, so he's here, but do you have people in motion to try to set the stage for these two summits?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have anything to announce at this moment, but I would say that, yes, we are working to prepare for the meetings that the President will have in Sharm el-Sheik and in Aqaba.
First of all, our Ambassador on the Ground, Our Acting Consul in Jerusalem are very active working with the Israelis and the Palestinians. Our ambassadors in neighbors in neighboring countries, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, especially, have been very active in supporting the effort in working towards progress on the roadmap, working towards progress towards the President's vision.
The Secretary spent a good deal of time on the phone the last several days. Saturday, he talked to many people in the Middle East as this was becoming -- as we were setting this up. He talked to Foreign Minister Shalom of Israel, Foreign Minister Maher of Egypt, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal of Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Muasher of Jordan, Secretary General Annan.
Sunday he talked to Foreign Minister Saud al-Faysal again and Foreign Secretary Straw; and then he has been on the phone with people like Spanish Foreign Minister Palacio and others about this. Today, he has talked to European Union President and Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou as well as Foreign Minister Ivanov, and the Middle East figures prominently in those discussions, always. He has also talked to NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson about something else.
QUESTION: So I'm sorry. So there were no calls yesterday? You're giving us back to Saturday.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm going too fast.
QUESTION: Was there a reason that you didn't tell us about the weekend calls yesterday when we were talking about the Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think anybody asked. Barry asked what we are doing to prepare the ground, and I volunteered what we have been doing to prepare the ground as well as what we are doing today and tomorrow.
QUESTION: So you would have told us if we had asked, even though the White House hadn't made the announcement yet? Is that what you're saying?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't have told you it was to prepare the ground for the President's meetings that have now been announced, but I would have said it was on the subject of the developments in the region.
QUESTION: All right. So he made no calls yesterday, in other words?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, depending on -- yesterday was Tuesday. He talked to Foreign Secretary Straw and to the UN Secretary General's Representative, Mr. de Mello
QUESTION: Any plans for a Quartet meeting next week or soon thereafter?
MR. BOUCHER: The Quartet will continue to work these issues. We have been in touch with the Quartet representatives to discuss how we move forward and to, indeed, to keep them apprised of developments as these meetings came together, to talk about how we wanted to continue to work these issues. So I'm sure there will be meetings with the Quartet, but nothing specific about time, place, level, or anything like that. But the Quartet continues to work these issues; we continue to work with the Quartet.
QUESTION: Richard, in the last half-day, U.S. troops have detained a Palestinian diplomat in Baghdad with a group of four others, apparently, with illegal weapons. And also, it appears as to what you have been talking about, that the Saudis have arrested the master minds of the Riyadh bombings, as well as similar in Casablanca, Morocco.
Is Yasser Arafat right now trying to undermine these peace talks? (Inaudible.)
MR. BOUCHER: That's about five different things that I am not going to throw in the same basket or in the same answer. Let's separate them out. Okay.
First, as far as the arrest of Palestinians and others in Baghdad for carrying illegal weapons, I'll refer you to our authorities out there. They are responsible for the situation on the ground and for enforcing the rules about weapons.
Second, as far as the arrests by Saudi Arabia, I would just like to say that we're working very closely with the Saudi Government on uncovering Al-Qaida elements, support for Al-Qaida inside Saudi Arabia. Saudis are in complete agreement with us that Al-Qaida represents a threat to both our nations. Overall, we have had very good cooperation from the Saudi Government on counterterrorism issue and investigations like this. But as this attack illustrates, there is much more that can be done, and things that can be improved. We'll maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Saudis on broadening and deepening the war on terrorism.
I would note that in this particular investigation, our ambassador has characterized cooperation as superb. So that's been going on, and I think our ambassador has briefed the press, sort of updated people on the status of the investigation. We have had two teams out there -- interagency teams -- composed of 70 members of the FBI and other agencies. They are teams that are headed by our ambassador, Ambassador Jordan, and they have worked to support the Saudi investigation of last week's terrorist attacks. And I think he has talked about adjustments that are upcoming to those teams.
Now, the third thing about the situation with the Palestinians -- was a separate matter that you raised. Oh, well, it must be in here somewhere.
Let me say, on the questions of meetings between the Israelis and the Palestinians, obviously, each of the sides will explain the who, what, when, where and how, and what's going on. Our view is that these are important; that we welcome the May 17th meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas. We think it's a step in the right direction of restoring a dialogue between the two sides.
We fully support those efforts, and we continue to encourage the parties to have such meetings and to pursue efforts together to establish better security for Israelis and better living conditions for Palestinians, something the Secretary worked on when he was out on his trip, along with issue of the roadmap and implementation of the roadmap. And I think we're starting to see some of those things come to a more positive -- come to more fruitful results at this point.
So the Secretary has been working on those things, and our team has been working on those things. We continue to encourage the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet together and try to produce some concrete outcomes that are of benefit to both Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: To date, Hamas leader offered a truce with the Israelis. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any particular comment on that. Our view has been that there needs to be 100 percent effort to end the violence. There needs to be a dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure. It's important -- and I think you have heard this from Prime Minister Abbas -- it's important for the Palestinian Authority to exercise the authority under the decisions of the Legislative Council, important for the Prime Minister to establish the authority -- his government, the legislature -- as the sole authority. He can't have a situation of trying to create a state when there are other armed groups around contesting his authority.
So I think it is important to us that this process move forward and that the process of ending the violence and dismantling the infrastructure be brought to a fruitful outcome.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the Palestinian Chargé in Baghdad? As -- I understand that you are referring us to the local authorities. But, as a matter of principle, what is the U.S. position on the status of diplomats accredited to the old regime and who may continue to reside in Baghdad? Do you consider them to have immunity?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check. And obviously, this is perhaps a different situation, as well.
QUESTION: Why is this different? I mean he is an accredited diplomat isn't he?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll check into it and see if we have any decisions on that.
QUESTION: Richard, last week, Friday, to be specific, there was some talk about a small number of people from State and others going out to the region to help coordinate the implementation of the roadmap. We were led to believe that it would be some time -- it was coming up some time soon. Have these people left yet, or is it like going to wait until after the summits?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new. We have talked about creating such a team. We have also had diplomats who travel out to the region frequently to work on the implementation issues including establishing some sort of coordinating cell to help people with the implementation and with the monitoring of implementation. So those are all things on the agenda. I don't have anything new to announce at this moment.
QUESTION: I want to go back to the Saudi part of the previous question in triplicate. The outstanding cooperation the ambassador described, if that was his word or something like that -- "superb" -- does that include the American, the FBI team's ability to question suspects, or just to collect forensic evidence, or do you have any way to describe more fully what that means?
And also, do you have any information on how the news of the arrest was communicated to the U.S. Government -- whether that was just to the Embassy, was it Interior Ministry, to the Justice Department, to State? Is there any -- what's the flow?
MR. BOUCHER: No, frankly, I don't know. I don't have any internal details of the arrests. But, you know, it's for the Saudis to talk about and for the Saudi Government to discuss what they have done in public and describe it.
What I would say about Saudi cooperation: They have welcomed the team, the interagency team. They have worked with the FBI. They have repeatedly stated their commitment to eliminating the terrorist threat. It's been very solid cooperation: contacts at senior levels, but also working levels, access to the evidence that can ensure the accuracy of the investigation. We feel like we have been able to work with them. It's their investigation. We have been able to support them in all of the appropriate ways.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on one point. I understand access to evidence, as you recall, from the previous investigation in Khobar Towers, there was a big problem with access to suspects. And that's what I'm asking about.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to go into the actual details of how we worked with them in this investigation. So this is just a level of detail which people in the field would have to decide if they are comfortable getting into or not, at this point.
QUESTION: Yes, my name is Nayyar Zaidi. I represent the Daily Jang in Pakistan.
MR. BOUCHER: Welcome.
QUESTION: Following up on -- thank you. Following up on the Saudi issue, I think about a week ago, the Crown Prince made a statement that Saudi Arabia did not have any evidence of al-Qaida's involvement in that blast, which kind of was contrary to what we have been hearing here in the Post and other papers that they had tied it to al-Qaida. So can you clarify, or do you have any information on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember any such statement, actually.
QUESTION: It was on the wire and I read it.
MR. BOUCHER: Well --
QUESTION: Next time, I'll bring it.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't want to say anything against the wires but --
QUESTION: Okay. No, no, I understand.
MR. BOUCHER: -- so don't lead me down that road. But let me just say that there are -- we have said that the way these attacks were carried out, that they bear the hallmarks of al-Qaida. These are the -- looks like the kind of operation that al-Qaida has planned and executed in the past.
And one has -- without getting into anything we may know, one has to leave a little room for the investigators, themselves, to look at all of the evidence, to examine all of the evidence, and to come to conclusions about the specific action in a legal sense. But I think it's been clear to all of us that this bears all the hallmarks of al-Qaida.
And certainly, the Saudi Government recognizes the kind of threat that al-Qaida represents to their country and to our country; represents that these people are challenging all those who want to give peaceful lives to their citizens; and need to be stopped.
QUESTION: On the subject of al-Qaida-related arrests, you've been pretty harsh on the Government of Cambodia over the past couple of weeks, or, at least, this building has. I am wondering if you have any words of praise for them now for their arrests of this "JI cell," or at least what's alleged to be a "JI cell" there, which, apparently, had a lot of -- there was a lot of U.S. cooperation.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me say we are very pleased that the Royal Government of Cambodia has taken action against alleged terrorists. We welcome Cambodia's cooperation in the international fight against terrorism. We understand that after extensive investigation, one Egyptian and two Thai nationals, who are members of the Umm Al-Qura group, have been charged under Cambodia's terrorism law. Our embassy has confirmed that 28 additional foreign teachers in the group's school have also been asked to leave the country with their dependents.
We, the United States, has sought to work with the Government of Cambodia on counterterrorism issues, including in financial law enforcement in information sharing areas, as we have with other governments around the world, and we welcome the steps that they have taken in this regard.
QUESTION: Richard, do you know anything about the school, what was being taught there? And was there any evidence that the ASEAN activities next month were a potential target?
MR. BOUCHER: The school was an Islamic school run by the Egyptian leader of this group in Cambodia. And the municipal court there decided that these three could be charged with international terrorism that links to Jemaah Islamiya.
As far as what implications it may have, I think every time a government takes steps against groups who are associated with terrorism, it makes the place a little bit safer rather than otherwise.
QUESTION: Today in Iraq, in the Anbar, there was a chaotic situation, demonstrations, angry demonstrations against Iraqi police searching homes of the residents of that area looking for weapons. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I think our people on the ground have to address those kinds of situations that arise on the ground.
QUESTION: Richard, talking of making the world safer, Amnesty's annual report said that the world wasn't any safer and was quite critical of U.S. policies on many aspects. I wonder if they have prepared any kind of response to their report?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let me say a couple of things about the report from Amnesty International. First of all, they do an enormous amount of work on human rights around the world, and we take this work very seriously. A substantial report like this deserves a careful look and careful review, and we'll give it that kind of careful review.
At the same time, we don't agree with everything in it. I need to make clear again that the United States remains strongly committed to its longstanding human rights policies, both at home and abroad. We comply with our international obligations. We urge all governments to vigorously enforce the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their citizens.
We have consistently been very proactive in the promotion of human rights. Our assistance funds around the world support efforts to improve human rights conditions. And that's true in many, many countries all over the world. That's true in the Middle East. It's true in Central Asia. It's true in Africa. It's abundantly clear, with things like the Middle East Partnership Initiative, the Millennium Challenge Account, that promote rule of law, that promote reform, that promote civil society in countries around the world.
We have taken reasonable and legal steps to fight terrorism in the United States and around the world. And I think the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are quite prepared to explain our domestic law enforcement efforts. We reject any criticism, any allegations that are human rights efforts have diminished. Amnesty International's particular charges are incorrect. There is solid, sustained, international cooperation with war on terrorism and the war on terrorism has not detracted from our strong and steadfast commitment to human rights and democracy.
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Boucher, Dr.Garang, and he is here meeting with --
QUESTION: Can we stay on the Amnesty International?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We'll stay on this, and we'll come back in a minute.
QUESTION: Thanks. Well, one of the criticisms that Amnesty International is making is -- is that while in Iraq, human rights are improving for the people, a lot of conflicts have kind of suffered as a result, such as the Ivory Coast, because the U.S. was fighting with France over the issue of Iraq, that Ivory Coast became a hostage to that; on the issue of the Human Rights Commission that some countries didn't feel they had to support the U.S. resolutions because they were unhappy with the way the U.S. went about the war in Iraq. Do you think that some conflicts became hostage to the war in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think those are the kind of particular charges that we believe are not correct. If you look at the situation the UN Human Rights Commission, the problems in that Commission go way back -- long before the war in Iraq, long before September 11th. And some of those in that Commission, who have joined that Commission, who are not interested in protecting human rights, will find excuses as they come along to avoid any serious action on human rights.
We agree with Amnesty that there should have been stronger action on some issues like Zimbabwe and Sudan, where the resolutions didn't pass. But we worked very strongly to that end of the Commission, and we think we were able to achieve quite a lot given the make-up of the Commission. We'll continue to work with the Commission to try to help it achieve its goals.
The situation is Cote d'Ivoire is another case in point. As I read the Amnesty press release that actually was critical of the media, saying that international media attention is focused on Afghanistan and Iraq instead of -- and hasn't paid attention to places of conflict like Ethiopia and Cote d'Ivoire, nevertheless, our policy in Cote d'Ivoire has been to very consistently support efforts to peace.
We have been consistent supporters of the peacekeeping efforts that France and the Economic Community of West African States have carried out. We have contributed materially to those efforts, particularly by the Africans; and we have supported the efforts to try to resolve that conflict peacefully in a way that respects the human rights and freedoms of all the people of Cote d'Ivoire. So I just think the criticism is misplaced.
QUESTION: Well, if I could follow up with one more. What officials at Amnesty are saying is that the U.S. has, in a way, lost its moral authority to beat the drum on human rights because it's not following human rights when it comes to the treatment of detainees and prisoners, and that you're setting -- that the U.S. is setting a model for other countries to follow.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm afraid there is another specific that's not true. The United States has respected due process. We have respected the international humanitarian law in terms of the way we have treated people who have been in detention. And we've continued to maintain a system that respects clear, legal authority. And as I said, the domestic agencies can give you more information on that. The point though, I guess, is look what's happening around the world.
Indeed, the United States has brought -- gotten rid of a dictator in Iraq who was killing people, gassing people, threatening people, torturing people and raping people. The United States has been a consistent supporter of human rights around the world, hand-in-hand with the war on terrorism because we've made the point and supported the point with our efforts and our money that to build strong, stable and healthy societies that it takes adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights. And that's the best way, ultimately, to defend yourself against terrorism.
QUESTION: Richard, could you address one other specific matter raised in the report, which is the treatment of the detainees on Guantanamo? In the report, or in announcing a report, Amnesty said, "by putting these detainees into a legal black hole, the U.S. administration appears to continue to support a world where arbitrary, unchallengeable detention without trial or charge becomes acceptable."
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to admire the rhetoric, but again, I think we've explained this and talked about this many times in legal terms and in terms of international requirements. I have made clear from here, as has the Pentagon and other agencies that the people who are under detention in Guantanamo are being treated according to the standards of the Third Geneva Convention and that as combatants, that they need to be taken off the field as long as the fighting is going on.
Now how those cases are handled legally is a question that I'm sure our others in the Department of Justice and elsewhere will be able to talk about at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: But you don't believe that the detention of such people without charges or trials may encourage other nations to do the same with people and therefore undermine human rights?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there's two things. I think, one, is that we are following international standards of treatment. Second of all, we're following international standards for the detentions, and third of all, I just don't think you've seen it around the world.
I think if anything, the United States' involvement with other governments in the war on terrorism has raised the respect for human rights of the people and raised the respect for professional conduct of military forces and other things like that.
QUESTION: Richard, I was under the impression from your initial comment about the report that you hadn't really read it that carefully and that it deserved a careful, a careful look. What you said -- you seemed to be pretty specific in what you're retaining.
MR. BOUCHER: There's a lot in it. These are -- the things that we're talking about now are, frankly, the things that they highlighted in their two or three page press release.
QUESTION: Okay. So my question is --
MR. BOUCHER: So we've been able to get a little material on that.
QUESTION: Would you expect, then, that after a careful read you'll come out and reject even more of what the report has to say? Or is there anything in it that you agree with?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Again --
QUESTION: And not just about the United States --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, again, I think again, I think it's important to remember that this group does a lot of very important work and we often cite their work in our statements on human rights. We have produced very detailed and credible reports on human rights year after year after year. And this year's report, which came out, what, a month and a half ago, is no exception to that.
Our support for human rights policy in a positive way to create better human rights conditions around the world, our honest and forthright human rights reports: all of these things have continued. And they've continued alongside as part of our policy on terrorism.
So I think maybe it's more with some of the sweeping judgments and some of the examples used to support those judgments that we have differences. I suspect that as we go into the details of the report, we will find many things that we do agree with.
QUESTION: Okay. So it's not a question of you agreeing with everything they say about other countries except for, perhaps, your close allies like the Brits and the Australians and that you disagree with that criticism, but you accept and agree with and, in fact, have cited --
MR. BOUCHER: I've already --
QUESTION: -- as have Amnesty, abuses in pre-war Iraq and Africa. Do you agree? Can you say? Have you read the -- can you say if you agree with the criticism that Amnesty levels at other countries?
MR. BOUCHER: In some cases, I'm sure the answer is yes. In some cases the answer may be no. I've disagreed with some of the characterization of the way they characterized the situation in Cote d'Ivoire. We -- the other example they cited was the Philippines, where we don't think the facts are supported -- the facts would support the kind of conclusions that they've reached.
On the other hand, as I've said, they do very detailed and extensive work on the human rights situations in many, many countries and that's very important to the international human rights community, including us.
QUESTION: Do you know -- does the U.S. provide any money to Amnesty? Not that that would have any --
MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. Government?
QUESTION: Yeah. Is it like, is it considered to be an international organization like the ICRC?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know --
MR. BOUCHER: --whether they --
QUESTION: No? Okay.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm just thinking -- I'm sure there's not any direct budgetary support. Whether they have NGO contracts in particular places for particular things, I don't know.
QUESTION: And then just one more very briefly: You were talking about the UN Commission on Human Rights earlier. I'm presuming you're aware of this move afoot backed by your friends, or non-friends on the Commission to throw "Reporters Without Borders" (RSF) out, to remove its observer -- advisory status for the Commission.
I realize that you guys voted against this, but it appears to have gathered some steam and may actually come up for another vote. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I would have to check.
QUESTION: On the -- on your compliments for Amnesty, and they had several compliments for you and the State Department's work and the report and the Human Rights Report, but one of the charges is that while it's a very responsible and comprehensive document of human rights abuses around the world, that often, U.S. policy and U.S. public criticism of the countries that you cite -- there's a disconnect there that -- they use Russia, for example -- that in the report there's a lot of concern about what's going on in Chechnya and Russian human rights abuses but will this be an issue taken up with the President at the upcoming summit? They say that there's a disconnect in terms of what you document and what you do about it.
MR. BOUCHER: The Human Rights Report forms the basis of policy. It forms the basis of human rights policy, and we have adopted an approach in this administration, particularly that says, "These are the problems, how can we help fix them? How can we either create better conditions in this society or bring about the pressures that would lead to change?" And that remains an important part of our policy with regard to every country that's covered in the Human Rights Report: it is carried out by ambassadors, it's carried out by bureaus, it's carried out by the Secretary of State and the President.
Chechnya is always the subject of discussion with the Russians. But we've also looked where we can to work with the Russians to try to bring about a political process there, and we've welcomed in that regard, for example, the referendum, which we think offers an opening to starting something like that.
So it's not just a matter of going into meetings and condemning everything and complaining. It's a matter of saying, "These are the problems, let's see what we can do about fixing them and making lives better for the people who live there." And that's the situation with regard to a lot of the approaches we might take on some of these issues.
Sometimes it's pressure. Sometimes it's looking for a positive development, and in many cases, we use both.
Yeah. Okay. We're going to go to Sudan?
QUESTION: Yes, sir. There are few issues involving Sudan. Dr. Garang is here meeting Secretary Powell and others. And how do you think both parties, the government and Dr. Garang are close to have peacement, agreement?
On the other front, the west of Sudan there is another group fighting the government for the similar purpose of John Garang. And 100 of village are being like buried and people, there's no security over there. How confidence you are with this government, Mr. Bashir Government for achieving peace with Garang? And then there is another problem in the west of Sudan.
MR. BOUCHER: There was a very good discussion today and indeed, I think we've had very good discussions with Dr. John Garang during his visit to Washington. We've had detailed discussions with Walter Kansteiner, our Assistant Secretary for Africa and actually quite an extensive and detailed discussion with the Secretary of State this morning.
We've talked about status of the Machakos Peace Talks and the prospects for the near-term conclusion of a peace agreement. The Secretary has underscored to him the U.S. commitment to a just a lasting resolution of this 20-year conflict. We've been working very closely with him to bolster the efforts to reach an agreement. We've supported the efforts of the Peace Talks mediator, Kenyan General Sumbeiywo, and so this has been a very active effort on our part.
The Secretary met one week ago, exactly, with the Foreign Minister of Sudan. He's met with both the Foreign Minister and with Dr. Garang before, so we have tried to help move this process forward and think it's progressing well at this point. There are a great number of particular problems in reaching an agreement. So we think the progress has been good so far. We think the problems are soluble. We think that it is possible to bring about a peace for the people of Sudan throughout Sudan, but it is going to take more effort. And we're certainly willing to continue to put the effort into it and we think the parties are, as well.
QUESTION: If it got to the west of Sudan, the same movement by them against the government --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything particular on that that was mentioned during the course of the conversation, but I don't have any particular arrangements on how that might fit into the --
QUESTION: With the U.S. position on this, I mean, it's like humanitarian disaster in that region; the same as it's going to be, south of Sudan, I mean.
MR. BOUCHER: We've been active with humanitarian support in a variety of areas in Sudan and Dr. Garang thanked the Secretary this morning for everything the United States has done in the humanitarian areas. I just don't have anything that would focus on one particular area there.
QUESTION: How bad are the obstacle, remaining obstacles and do you have any sense of how soon, maybe a final agreement can be reached?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm able to predict at this point. There are seriously substantive issues, we're sure, for both sides. But we think there has been substantial progress achieved and we and we hope that progress can continue in order to solve these issues and, as I said, we're willing to put the effort into it to try to get there.
QUESTION: So you don't think that the agreement will be sign in June? Or not?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that, did I?
QUESTION: I mean, that's --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just not going to predict.
MR. BOUCHER: At this point.
QUESTION: Back on Cambodia. Did you have anything about the U.S. role in helping track down these people?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an answer to that at this point.
QUESTION: Can I ask another bunch of questions?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Congressman Weldon is about to leave for North Korea. Could you tell us what you know about that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Representative Weldon and other members of Congress are traveling to North Korea, based on an invitation that was extended by the North Korean Government. We understand Representative Weldon will also visit Seoul on the return trip from Pyongyang.
They travel as members of Congress. Our Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Jim Kelly briefed the members of the Congressional delegation before their departure. We'll, of course, look forward to hearing from them on their return, but I would say they are not carrying a message from the administration.
QUESTION: Could I come back to the Saudi thing? I know you got into it a little bit, but I don't think you touched on the extradition question. The ambassador, the U.S. Ambassador -- and I will start it from there -- was quoted as saying, "The U.S. isn't involved in any extradition moves."
Is there -- unless you want affirmative justice -- but is there a U.S. interest in getting extradition of people accused of killing Americans?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that kind of determination is usually made by law enforcement authorities in the two countries, once there are charges and crimes. It's just too early to start speculating at this point. Normally, issues of jurisdiction are solved in an amicable manner between the various law enforcement authorities anyway.
QUESTION: I don't think of it as a jurisdictional thing. I think of it as an attack on Americans -- does the United States --
MR. BOUCHER: If a person, it's also an attack; it's also a bombing in Saudi Arabia, so there are crimes in Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Two different -- they could be tried in both places.
MR. BOUCHER: And they -- that's right. And law enforcement authorities usually get together and decide how that should proceed, and but I think it's too early to start describing it at this point. At some point, you can ask the law enforcement authorities what decisions they are making.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment to make about Peruvian President Toledo's decision to declare a state of emergency yesterday, which allows him to suspend, I believe, certain constitutional protections and his use of troops to clear protestors today?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't at this point. I'll have to check on it and see.
QUESTION: Were you able to get an answer to my question from yesterday about whether you guys are considering compensating Kenya for damage done to its economy by lack of tourists, based on your --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have an answer yet. You cited some quotes. I am trying to confirm whether or not they are adequate.
QUESTION: Okay. I have another one.
MR. BOUCHER: We have other people too.
QUESTION: Well, I can't see them.
MR. BOUCHER: I can.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about the issue of war crimes in Iraq? There have been some reports now, I guess, that some State officials are going to be going over there. Can you give us a status report on where this stands?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can give you anything new on that. We have made clear that people, who committed serious violations, including war crimes, need to be held accountable; that as the Iraqi legal system is established and reconstituted, and the Iraqi authorities take charge, the first decisions will be for them to make on how they want to hold people accountable for crimes that have been committed in the past. So I can't give you any definitive or final answers at this point.
Okay. We had one here, and one there. I thought there was another one in the back, but go ahead.
QUESTION: I believe you may have something to say on Iran proliferation-related sanctions in Moldova?
MR. BOUCHER: In Moldova.
QUESTION: Well, first of all, the two announcements -- there were two announcements in the Federal Register this morning that doesn't link the two of them together. Are you in a position to be able to say that these three Moldavian entities and the Iranian company that are mentioned as being sanctioned have, in fact, some relationship in it?
MR. BOUCHER: Sanctions were imposed on the Moldavian entities and person for the knowing involvement in the transfer of equipment and technology controlled under Category II of the Missile Technology Control Regime Annex that contributed to Missile Technology Control Regime Class, Category I missile programs in Iran.
MR. BOUCHER: So the sanctions were imposed on the Moldovan entities and persons because they contributed to missile programs in Iran.
QUESTION: And then the Iranian company is being sanctioned because it received these?
MR. BOUCHER: It was penalized for its material contribution to Iran's ballistic missile programs through its involvement in this activity.
QUESTION: But does that mean you are not wanting to link the two as one as the seller, and one as the buyer?
MR. BOUCHER: There is always a limit to the amount of information I can give out, since what we know. But I think I have linked these two entities --
QUESTION: Okay, all right. Thanks. I just wanted to make sure.
MR. BOUCHER: -- involving the transfer of materials from Moldova to Iran. And they triggered two separate sanctions laws, and sanctions are being imposed.
QUESTION: You would link them.
MR. BOUCHER: I did.
QUESTION: Yeah. Okay. The two of the three Moldovan entities, that is the company with the shorter name and the --
MR. BOUCHER: Vladov.
QUESTION: And the guy, Mr. Vladov, yeah.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Sanctions were imposed on them last May, almost exactly a year ago. And does this just -- for Iran-related transactions, so are they already -- does this just extend -- they are two-year sanctions, I understand. Were they two years last year as well, and this will just extend the sanctions for another year or what's the deal? Is it consecutive or concurrent here?
MR. BOUCHER: The sanctions were imposed May 2002 and --
QUESTION: They're under a different act.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, they are two different things. It's a two-year period.
QUESTION: Okay. So you don't know if this extended?
MR. BOUCHER: That's "Vladov, Cuanta S.A., Computer & Communicatti SRL," and their subunits and successors will be denied all new individual export licenses, commerce control or state control missile technology control regime items, and all new U.S. Government contracts."
So they are usually superimposed. It would be two years from today.
Okay. No, we've got people. Elise.
QUESTION: On this report this morning on the -- the CIA-Pentagon report on the biological vans, can you comment on this? Do you think that this provides a smoking gun? Some people are saying yes, some people are saying no.
MR. BOUCHER: I brought my copy. This is, I think, a very serious look at what has been found. And you'll see in the report they talk about the specialized tractor-trailer that was found near Mosul. They talk about a second mobile facility that was found at the Al-Kindi Testing Development and Engineering Facility in Mosul. Of course, Al-Kindi is a name we remember from the Secretary's presentations at the UN; and then in late April, they discussed a mobile laboratory truck in Baghdad.
The analysis that is presented here is a very detailed and thorough analysis that relates to the intelligence that we have. It relates to the equipment on board. It provides pictures of much of what has been found. And, as we have said before, it reaches the conclusion that these pieces of equipment, that these vans were destined for biological -- to produce biological agents and not for other purposes.
It's very important to recognize that programs that we had said existed do exist; that the kind of equipment that we had said existed does exist. And I guess I have to point out that this was not information that the Iraqis had ever divulged to inspectors. It was not. It was information that was designed to be hidden from the inspectors. It was a program designed to be undetected, and that it was not being detected by the normal means of inspections because the Iraqis weren't divulging it and weren't cooperating.
QUESTION: Does this suggest that this is the end of expectations of finding additional --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think so. This is a report on three trucks.
QUESTION: No, no, because I --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we'll see -- you know, as we go forward, and we talk to more scientists, we examine more sites, I'm sure there will be other things --
QUESTION: Remember when these incidents cropped up, that there was reluctance to sending them out. It had to be studied, and now they have been studied. So I wondered if it's -- marks a coda in your search for weapons of mass destruction?
MR. BOUCHER: Not a coda in the search for weapons of mass destruction, but I think a very, very thorough, very detailed, and very analytical report on these particular findings and substantiation of what we had suspected but were being careful about to make sure that it really checked out.
QUESTION: And another thing, if I can quickly. The Morocco capture, the capture in Morocco and the Casablanca bombings, is there U.S. involvement?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't have anything particular on that at this point.
QUESTION: On Iran, there were several press reports suggesting that American commanders in Iraq have been calling for lifting Mujahedin-e Khalq organization from the list of organization support terrorism. Is that being under review now?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know where you saw those reports. We consider the Mujahedin-e Khalq a terrorist organization. We treated them as such. They have been disarmed in Iraq. They have been prevented from committing further terrorist actions, and we still consider them a terrorist group because of their actions in the past.
QUESTION: So there is no consideration to lift them because that's the --
MR. BOUCHER: I have not --
QUESTION: That's totally -- we are quoting American commanders in Iraq saying that they should be lifted from the --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I have not seen any moves in that direction. No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: No, we have got more.
QUESTION: Yes, by the way, before you close the briefing, I do have a question on India.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, go ahead and ask.
QUESTION: Oh, could I? Okay. There was a so-called terrorist attack in the Indian-held Kashmir, in which, I think, 25 people died. And the statement by the State Department said that we sympathize with the people of the "Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir."
Now, we have a CIA map, which says Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. So if that is a fete accompli, what kind of a political settlement are we talking about in these dialogues?
MR. BOUCHER: A political settlement that -- a dialogue that can address all the issues, an eventual political settlement that can be reached by the two sides taking into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir. There is no change in our policy. I wouldn't draw any particular conclusions from a particular phrase or a map. I suspect if you looked at the history of these things, those things have appeared from time-to-time in various forms. I am not familiar myself with a particular nomenclature that we use. But, certainly, we do consider that any political settlement needs to be one that's reached by the two sides and is acceptable to the two sides.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Is it the position of the State Department that Jammu and Kashmir is an Indian state like any other Indian state? Let's be clear.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to get back to you, if you're asking for a precise legal definition. I'm not jumping into this one with three feet.
QUESTION: Richard, have you guys decided yet on the merits of the Belgian lawsuit against Tommy Franks?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new on that.
Released on May 28, 2003