State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for July 3
Daily Press Briefing for July 3 -- Transcript
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
July 3, 2003
LIBERIA 1 Possible US Role/Involvement 1-2,3-4-5,11 Role/Future of President Taylor 2,4 Situation in Liberia 2-3 Secretary Powell s Communications with UN Secretary General/ Leaders in Region/Other Countries on Liberia 11-12 Status of US Embassy and Embassy Staff 12 Update and Status on Joint Verification Team
NORTH KOREA 5-6 US Informal Consultations with Japan and South Korea 6-7 Prospects for Multilateral Talks with North Korea
CHINA 7-8,9 Visit of Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi
CHINA/NORTH KOREA/IRAN 8-11 Imposition of Penalties on Chinese and North Korean Entities Pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000
ALGERIA 13 Release of Two Islamist Party Leaders
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 13 West Bank Violence / Progress on the Roadmap
IRAQ 14 Stabilization Forces for Iraq 15-16 Reward for Information About Saddam Hussein, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein
IRAN 14-15 Voice of America Programming
JAPAN/IRAQ 16,17 Reconstruction Process in Iraq / Stabilization Force
TURKEY/IRAQ 16-17 Turkey s Offer of Aid in Iraq s Reconstruction
DEPARTMENT 17-18 Steven Hatfill s Employment at the State Department
JAPAN/IRAN 18 Japan Investment in Iran Oil Field
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINIAL COURT 19-20 US Military Aid Restrictions / Article 98 Agreements
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. You have all heard from the Secretary, and so I'll be glad to take any other questions you might have.
QUESTION: Can you update, since he spoke rather comprehensively about Liberia, meaning are recommendations going from State to the White House? Have they gone?
And I'm a little confused. Are different parts of the government making separate recommendations? And did he talk to Annan again, or anything of that sort?
MR. BOUCHER: Phew. That's since an hour ago, since an hour and 20 minutes ago?
QUESTION: It's a fast-breaking story.
MR. BOUCHER: There's no update. There's no recommendations. There's no decision. What he was talking about was having -- was the President's advisors getting all the information together that the President needs to make a decision, and make, in that way, a recommendation to the President. That's not occurred. We don't have all that information. The pieces haven't come together to that point yet. They'll have more discussions, but I'm not predicting when they might. I think Ari Fleischer said this morning this can take some time.
So no update, no decisions, no recommendations. It would be a joint, presumably a joint recommendation. I don't know that there's any -- there may be different options presented by the advisors.
And there was something else. No, he hasn't talked to Kofi Annan in the last hour and 22 minutes, but he might.
Did I get them all? Sir.
QUESTION: He came fairly close to suggesting that the departure of Charles Taylor was a precondition for any U.S. participation in a peacekeeping mission. Is that the case?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the text. I don't think that's what the Secretary said.
QUESTION: No, I said he didn't say that.
MR. BOUCHER: It is a very important factor in the situation.
QUESTION: But is it conceivable that the United States would take part while Charles Taylor was still in office?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to describe conceivables. Accounts conceivable is somebody else's department, I think. (Laughter.)
But to try to understand this, I think, you've got to look at the whole situation. There are peace agreements agreed to in Ghana. There are involvement of West Africans, both in terms of the military force and the political work that they have been doing in this situation to try to resolve the differences, including try to secure a transition that doesn't involve Mr. Taylor.
There are meetings today of West Africans in West Africa to discuss further their efforts in this situation. There are efforts by the UN Secretary General. There are efforts by the United States that we could make in one form or the other.
The goal of all this is not just to get another lull in the fighting. The goal of all this is to transform the situation and bring peace and stabilize Liberia. In order to do that, we need to bring all these peoples together. We need to know what different people can contribute and consider what we can contribute.
And the President will decide what kind of contribution that can make. We are already active diplomatically and politically in support of West African efforts. But as you know, we're considering whether there should be a military element to that as well, and so we need to bring all these pieces to bear in a way that, between all of us, we can transform the situation and get the accords implemented and actually bring peace to the people of Liberia.
QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary mentioned that he had been speaking to not only Kofi Annan, but also to leaders in the region. Could you be a little bit more specific as to which?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he said communicating. He said we've had messages, I think, back and forth, and embassies have been in touch with people. He hasn't had any particular -- any phone calls at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, which countries? Just the immediate neighbors, or does it go all the way to, like, South Africa? Are they being consulted on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check the full extent. I think we're probably talking fairly widely. In terms of the people who we are working most directly with, I'd say that's primarily the ECOWAS people, the ECOWAS states.
QUESTION: Okay. And outside of the region has this been a -- I mean, in terms of the Secretary's or your Department's communications, has this been -- I mean, are you --
MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly been a subject of discussion. I am trying to think. It has been a subject of discussion with the British and others in Europe. I can't remember if it came up on the call with Italian Foreign Minister Frattini, but certainly the European Union has been interested in the situation there and others.
QUESTION: That was yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, Tuesday. Did discuss it --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Did discuss it yesterday, I remember, with Foreign Minister Graham of Canada, when they talked. So it's an ongoing subject of discussion by others outside the region, as well as inside the region.
QUESTION: Could you clarify -- I'm confused on the Taylor situation. You want him to leave, but you also want him tried as a war criminal.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Well, if he leaves, it would seem that maybe someone will give him sanctuary, and that's the end of the war criminal angle, isn't it? Or do you want him to leave and go directly to The Hague? That I could understand.
MR. BOUCHER: The goal, as I said, is to bring peace and security to the people of Liberia. And that's what we want to do.
MR. BOUCHER: Our first priority is to bring peace, stop the bloodshed. One way of -- one element in achieving that is for Taylor to depart the country.
MR. BOUCHER: So that becomes an important element in achieving peace and stopping the bloodshed. We also recognize the work of the special court, and we have also said that those who are accountable for the -- responsible for the atrocities in Sierra Leone need to be held accountable. I don't see any contradiction in that.
QUESTION: Richard, you keep saying that this situation with Taylor is a very important factor in this situation. But what we're trying to get at, is it an important factor in the decision on what the U.S. will do and when?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a factor, certainly, that we are looking at and considering. When I tried to talk about bringing all of these pieces to bear -- the agreements, the political developments, including Taylor's departure, the military forces that others have, what the United States might do in this situation politically, possibly militarily -- the goal is to bring all of these factors together so that we can effectively bring peace to the country.
Taylor's departure is an important element of that, and that's why the President said yesterday Taylor needs to leave now. Because to get to peace and stabilization in this country, we have made clear, as really was made clear in the Accra agreements, that Taylor needs to leave.
QUESTION: But there is a concern that the rebel -- that the reason that there has been a little bit of a lull is because the rebels are trying to, you know, rearm themselves and resupply themselves. And are you worried, while you wait for all, every piece to be in order, and all of the pieces to come together, that there could be more bloodshed in the meantime?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we are very concerned about the humanitarian problems in Liberia. There is a humanitarian crisis there, and that's what we're trying to deal with. We're trying to deal with it effectively. This is not just a political change or something. This is a question of the humanitarian hardships of the people of Liberia, and how the international community, including the United States, can deal effectively with their situation and give them the peace that they deserve.
QUESTION: It seems that the United States is in favor of having Taylor go to The Hague and face the charges there.
MR. BOUCHER: The court's not in The Hague, but --
QUESTION: But have you spoken to the Nigerians? Because there are reports that the Nigerians were offering some sort of asylum. Maybe -- have you spoken to them and said back off on this because we want this?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, you're impugning things -- imputing things -- sorry, not impugning. But I didn't describe it the way you described it, so I'm not going to take that as the premise to the question.
Have we been in touch with the Nigerians? Yes. We're aware that the Nigerians have made these offers of asylum or refuge or whatever, a place for him to go. We've seen different and conflicting reports about Taylor's response. At this point, you know, we defer to the Government of Nigeria on the question of whether he goes there or not.
QUESTION: When you spoke to the Nigerians, did you tell them that this is not what the United States wants?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I --
QUESTION: In terms of possible --
MR. BOUCHER: I have not taken a position. I have not said this is not what the United States wants. I've said this is a matter the Nigerians have to figure out in terms of whether he goes there. So I'm not going to adopt your language as something that we didn't say or did say, whichever you asked about.
Sir. Ma'am. Barry.
QUESTION: Change of topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, go.
QUESTION: On North Korea? Is that okay?
MR. BOUCHER: Yep.
QUESTION: Okay. So in the "little TCOG" talks this week here at the State Department -- (laughter) --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, boy, you're heading into a lecture here.
QUESTION: I just wanted to know if the subject of these four-way talks with China, South Korea, the United States and North Korea had come up, and, if so, what the State Department's policy is on that.
MR. BOUCHER: All right. First, these are not TCOG meetings. These are informal consultations with the Japanese and the South Koreans. There were meetings. The United States, Japan and South Korean groups had discussions yesterday, had dinner last night. They had some more discussions today, and I think now the people are going their separate ways.
These were good discussions, useful discussions and consultations with our friends and allies in this effort to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs and to do that in a peaceful manner through multilateral discussions.
So what we talked about with them was -- you might call it a brainstorming session -- how to achieve that goal through multilateral talks in a peaceful manner. And we found the exchange of ideas very useful and we'll continue to consult with them as we look to moving forward in this manner.
I know there have been rumors out there about some proposal for four people to -- for four-party talks. We're not aware of any proposal for four-party talks like that.
QUESTION: Did you come to any conclusion --
QUESTION: On that subject, one of the things that was supposed to be talking about was the KEDO arrangement and the future of KEDO. Was there any progress on that, or was that brought up at all in the talks?
MR. BOUCHER: This is, obviously, a subject of continuing discussion. It will be a matter for decision by the KEDO board at the appropriate time. But this consultation was not designed to produce particular decisions or conclusions. This was a chance to get together and exchange a variety of ideas. And we did that, and we'll keep working with each other as we try to move forward.
QUESTION: Any expectation that there will be some sort of meeting with the North Koreans in the near future, in the next month or so? And is the U.S. any closer to formulating a response to the North Korean proposal of last April?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have made clear we want to have multilateral talks and we want those multilateral talks to include Japan and South Korea. I'm afraid -- I know we haven't seen anything from the North Koreans that indicate that they're willing to do that.
QUESTION: Richard, just on that, is it a nonstarter, any suggestion that one of the two, Japan or South Korea, be left out? I mean, you want five, the five and not four?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've made abundantly clear since the initial round of discussions in Beijing that we think that, first of all, that everything we do in this discussion is done in full consultation with the Japanese and the South Koreans both; second of all, that we think that the talks need to be expanded, that they both have important things to contribute, and we think the talks, as others do as well, frankly. But we think, first and foremost, the talks should be expanded to include the Japanese and the South Koreans both.
QUESTION: And then still later then, perhaps others?
MR. BOUCHER: Now, if there are others who can contribute to the resolution of this problem, and we don't see any reason for them not to be there. In fact, as the Secretary, I think, made clear in the meetings in Cambodia, we think that it's not only in our interest and the interest of the international community to all be there, but it's, in fact, in North Korea's interest to resolve these issues with everybody.
QUESTION: And just to be specific, the others that might -- that you think should be included at a somewhat later point are Russia and Australia, or there are others?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been -- those are two obvious ones, but I don't have a full listing at this point. I'd say, first and foremost, we have emphasized that these discussions need to be expanded to include Japan and South Korea.
Sir. We'll come back, Barbara.
QUESTION: Okay. I guess on the (inaudible) about the four-party meeting, the way you mentioned, and the -- you say that there is no discussion of the four-party meetings during the regional people meeting, but how about the Chinese side? Mr. Wang raised this issue during the --
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we've had discussions with a number of people this week. We're not aware of any proposal to have four-party talks.
Okay. Barbara and then Jonathan.
QUESTION: Procedural issues aside, as far as how many parties should be at the meeting, is the United States any closer to formulating a counterproposal to what the North Koreans put down in April?
MR. BOUCHER: We have exchanged ideas with our counterparts and friends about how to proceed. As I said, we're interested in multilateral talks that would include Japan and South Korea, in addition to the United States, North Korea and China. But I don't think it's a matter of the United States -- has the United States formulating a counterproposal. It's a matter right now of whether North Koreans are going to agree to sit down and talk in the multilateral setting.
QUESTION: Did Mr. Wang have any more meetings here today? And how did his meetings fit in with the informal trilateral consultations? Was there any interaction between -- out of all of those parties?
MR. BOUCHER: No, there wasn't any interaction between all those parties. We had some useful discussions with Mr. Wang. I don't know if there are any more meetings today. Do you, Phil?
MR. REEKER: No.
MR. BOUCHER: We discussed with Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, North Korea issues, obviously, many of the same North Korea issues, but we also discussed other issues like South Asia. And so it's a little -- a little broader, a little different.
QUESTION: Richard, on that, was Vice Foreign Minister Wang informed that on the last day of his trip here, you guys were going to come out and impose sanctions on five Chinese companies and a North Korean company for technology sales to Iran?
And if he was, considering that the Chinese have protested these things rather loudly in the past, is he -- was there any reaction from him?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'll leave it to the Chinese to react, if they want to. As you noted, there is a notice, I think, in the Federal Register today about sanctions.
Where is my stuff on this? I have got the whole rundown somewhere. Somebody whisper at me.
Oh, because it's Iran. I was looking under Asia. The penalties are on five Chinese entities and one North Korean entity, pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. A determination was published today in The Federal Register. The penalized entities are five Chinese entities, as I said: Taiann Foreign Trade General Corporation; Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant; Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Company; NORINCO -- that's China North Industries Corporation; and China Precision Machinery Inport/Export Corporation. The North Korean entity is Changgwang Sinyong Corporation.
Penalties were imposed on these entities as a result -- as provided in the Iran Nonproliferation Act for the transfer to Iran in the first half of 2002 of equipment and technology listed on multilateral export control lists, or otherwise having the potential to make a material contribution to weapons of mass destruction or missiles.
And that, as usual, is about as far as I can go into what specifically it was that caused us to impose these penalties under our law.
QUESTION: Okay. So it was complete coincidence, then, that you guys decided that --
MR. BOUCHER: These things are done according to a regular reporting process and publication process. So it's not to -- not done in any manner to coincide with a visit.
QUESTION: Well, could you say if he was told yesterday --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if this was discussed with him or not, or how --
QUESTION: Well, certainly, can you give us, then, a rundown? I know that -- I believe he met yesterday with Under Secretary Bolton.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that's what I said yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Well, and, as we are all well aware, Assistant Secretary Bolton deals with --
MR. BOUCHER: Under Secretary Bolton.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Bolton deals with proliferation issues so --
MR. BOUCHER: So you're going to ask me the same question once more, and I'm going to say I don't know if it was discussed with him. But I will find out for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay?
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: If I didn't say I will find out, let me say it again.
QUESTION: Could you discuss the impact of the penalties on these companies? I know that NORINCO has been a big supplier and is already under sanctions from about a month ago.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We now have a total of 15 entities subject to these sanctions. Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant and China Precision Machinery Import/ Export Corporation were previously sanctioned under the Act in May of 2002. Changgwang Sinyong was previously sanctioned in January and June of 2001. Liyang Yunlong was previously sanctioned in January and May of 2002.
And I don't -- where is the date for the NORINCO? Yes, it was earlier this year that there were -- it may not have been precisely under this Act, but there are also sanctions on NORINCO.
QUESTION: When you say 15, you mean 15 what?
MR. BOUCHER: Entities.
QUESTION: Does that include - -
MR. BOUCHER: No, entities of different countries.
QUESTION: That includes the Moldavians and --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that would include the others as well.
QUESTION: So, and that's all for Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: For the Iran, yes. These are under a particular section of law, a particular law, the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000.
QUESTION: All but one of those companies was already under sanctions? All but one, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I have to check and see if Taian was subject to any sanctions under other laws.
QUESTION: Do you know whether it has any business with the United States of any kind?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't. There is a lot of aspects to this, though. In addition to contracts with the U.S. Government or any assistance from the U.S. Government, there are no sales by -- of any item on the munitions list or sales of any defense articles or defense services, design and construction services and licenses under the Export Administration Act, which is dual-use technology are also denied. So there's a question of their being able to acquire U.S. technology as well.
QUESTION: Do you know if the Chinese Government is aware of all this?
MR. BOUCHER: I will find out if we -- oh, you mean aware of the transfers?
QUESTION: Oh, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh. I don't think I'm in a position to say.
QUESTION: There are some private companies in China, but not very private --
MR. BOUCHER: And there are various kinds of government companies in China. The question is were these people subject to any scrutiny by the Chinese Government, which now has its own regulations. I don't know. You'd have to ask the Chinese.
QUESTION: Richard, this morning when I went back and checked about this North Korean firm, I think -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong -- but the sanctions that -- at least some of the sanctions in 2001 that were imposed on them had to do with Pakistan, not Iran. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't remember.
QUESTION: Well, okay. So when you say 15 entities subject to sanctions dealing with Iran, you're including --
MR. BOUCHER: That's under the Iran Nonproliferation Act. Now, companies that sell things often sell them to different people.
QUESTION: No, I understand. Yes.
MR. BOUCHER: And that can invoke different sections of U.S. law. And so you may find a company that's under these similar sanctions for different transfers to different places, even though bureaucratically or legally they wind up under different sections of U.S. law. So it may be that they were already subject to these sanctions under Iran Nonproliferation Act 2001, but they may have violated other laws as well. Ok?
QUESTION: I have a question -- sorry -- on Liberia, one more. Apparently, Charles Taylor has given an interview to CBS Radio -- are you aware of that -- in which he has said that he'd be prepared to leave --
MR. BOUCHER: Charlie confirms it.
QUESTION: Good. In which he said he'd be prepared to leave within 45 to 90 days. If that is to be believed, would that be an acceptable timeline for the U.S.?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the President said now. We do believe that his departure is one of the key factors in resolving the situation, in bringing peace to Liberia. We know that there are -- the Africans have worked on this. They had a different timeline than that in Accra accords, Accra accords, the agreements that were signed in Ghana. And I don't think it's for us to stand up here and try to negotiate through the media -- sorry -- but with Mr. Taylor, but we do think it's important to change the situation for the better, and a key factor in doing that would be his departure.
QUESTION: The Secretary this morning expressed concern for U.S. employees at the embassy in Liberia. What's the status of these employees and their dependants? How many are there?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't give exact numbers. We have a very small number there. We've ordered the departure of family members and nonessential personnel, so we have a very small remaining staff there who are fully committed to the diplomatic task of trying to bring peace to the area and trying to look after the interests of whatever American citizens may be remaining there. But I'd say most of our people have departed.
QUESTION: Two questions. You just called Charles Taylor Mr. Taylor, and the President yesterday called him Charles Taylor, omitting the title of president. Does this administration recognize him as the President of Liberia?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, President Bush the other day called him President Taylor. I think I've done so as well. So I'm not making a big deal over it. But no, we can call him President Taylor if you want to.
QUESTION: All right. You haven't mentioned anything about the activities of the American representative who was dealing with ECOWAS and was --
MR. BOUCHER: The joint team, the Joint Verification Team, which the retired American general was part of, or retired American military. I don't remember if that was his rank.
The Joint Verification Team is now in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They're on the road to Liberia to begin implementing the ceasefire. We urge all combatants to cooperate fully with the Joint Verification Team in which the United States is participating. That's where they are.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on Teri's question, has the State Department been in direct touch with Charles Taylor?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware --
QUESTION: I mean, is it negotiating with him in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't describe this in that -- I certainly wouldn't describe this as negotiating with him. As you know, the West Africans have carried a lot of this effort on the political front and they continue to do so. We have been supportive of their efforts. Whether there has been any direct contact with him recently, I just don't know.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: I think he wanted to change the subject some time ago, so we'll let him do it first.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about Algeria and the release of Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj. Did you manage to get anything together on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I did. Let me tell you what we think.
It's our understanding that both Ali Belhadj and Abassi Madani were released by Algerian authorities after completing their sentences. It's too early for us to speculate on what the political implications of their release will be. As the level of violence in Algeria continues to decline, peace and stability should be the priority for all Algerians. We hope Algerians are now looking ahead and moving beyond the violence which, over the last decade, has claimed 100,000 lives.
QUESTION: Well, what is -- what's your attitude towards the political restrictions on -- the restrictions on their political activities, which --
MR. BOUCHER: We've seen some reports. We're still looking into those reports. We've made clear -- I think you're talking about restrictions on their talking to the press. I mean, we've made clear before our concerns about press freedom in Algeria, and we've talked about those in our Country Report on Human Rights. But I don't know the specifics at this point of what restrictions the men may have agreed to.
QUESTION: Are you trying to find out?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we're looking into it.
QUESTION: There was a shooting (inaudible) the West Bank. A Palestinian was killed, not that (inaudible) that it shouldn't stand in the way of continuing to strive for peace. Do you have -- does the State Department have a view who might be accountable and if there's any ramification here, or can you just --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular details of the shooting or who was responsible. I think we've made clear, the Secretary has made clear, the President has made clear, there is going to be violence. There is going to be people who are against peace who are going to try to carry out violent acts, and they need to be stopped and they need to be stopped by the joint efforts and the combined efforts and the separate efforts of Palestinian Security Services taking responsibility, as they have now in Gaza and Bethlehem, as well as Israel with its right to defend itself.
But above all, we have encouraged the parties to cooperate on security, and we hope that continues. We have also made very clear we need to be able to move forward on this process, keep moving down this road to build a momentum for peace, to build a momentum for the roadmap, and not allow it to be sent off course by acts of violence. We have seen, you know, violent acts from time to time. The goal is to work together to stop them and to create a momentum in a positive direction.
Yes, change the subject, Barbara?
QUESTION: Yes, on Iraq, is the administration considering broadening the UN mandate for Iraq in such a way as it would facilitate participation in peacekeeping and other activities by other nations?
MR. BOUCHER: I have not heard any discussion of new proposals at the United Nations on Iraq. There is language in the existing resolution, as you know, that encourages governments, other countries, to cooperate and to work with the Iraqi people in bringing stability to that country.
And I think most of the governments that we have talked to -- and we have talked to -- as you know, we are talking to quite a few governments right now about stabilization forces -- most of the governments are responding to that request in the UN Security Council resolution to help bring security and stability to the Iraqi people. So I think that's the basis on which people are already acting.
QUESTION: Some governments, though, the Indian Government, apparently, in particular, is looking for something stronger in the way of a UN mandate --
MR. BOUCHER: There have been, I think, discussions of various kinds with the Indian Government about what they might do in this situation, what they might contribute to stabilization in support of the UN and the UN Security Council resolution, also in support of Indian interests and stability in this region. But, ultimately, the basis and the decisions are for the Indian Government to make.
QUESTION: Richard, now, next door to Iraq. How does the creation or the establishment of this new VOA television service to Iran fit in with the Secretary's comments yesterday that the best thing for the U.S. to do, in terms of promoting a regime change in Iran, would be to sit and not get too deeply involved in this family feud?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made clear before several things, one, that we don't consider that providing information is getting involved or interfering in anything, and I don't think you -- people in the other news media who do that consider it interference of any kind either, so --
QUESTION: Well, the Iranians do, and they have made no secret about it.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's their problem.
MR. BOUCHER: The Voice of America provides information. It's a standard tool of our public diplomacy to help inform people overseas. They're -- I think, put out their own information. The Voice of America is now moving to a daily nightly Persian language TV program, News and Views .
It starts on July 6th, and it's aimed at reaching the millions of Iranians who watch satellite televisions. It's a daily 30-minute show, 9:30 to 10 p.m. in Iran, original news reporting from Iran about events there. And we think it is important for everybody there and everybody around the world to be as well-informed as possible, and this is a case where we can -- we can help out with that.
We have not changed, in any way, our fundamental view that the solution to many of the difficulties that Iran faces is to be found in the kinds of reforms, the kind of democracy, that the protestors are calling for. And we'll continue to express that view, as appropriate, too.
QUESTION: So there is no --
QUESTION: Richard, you say original -- original piece -- news from Iran. Are there Iranian reporters working for --
MR. BOUCHER: Apparently so, and I'm sure VOA can talk more, to the extent they can.
QUESTION: The Secretary's comments, though, from yesterday stand?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yes.
QUESTION: You don't regard this as getting deeply --
MR. BOUCHER: No, we don't involve this -- regard this as getting deeply involved. And, you know, there is turmoil in Iran, there is debate in Iran, and the Iranian people are going to have to work through this. But I think we have also expressed our very strong sympathy with those who are calling for reform, or are calling for democratic change.
Okay, down here.
QUESTION: Back to Iraq. With the posting of the $25 million, I think, reward for Saddam, is the failure to capture Saddam Hussein compromising the reconstruction mission and the collection of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, which Senator Warner indicated that it was?
MR. BOUCHER: I -- let me -- hang on. Let me look and see what they want me to say, and then let me talk. (Laughter.)
There were briefings done in Baghdad. And, first, I think I'd refer you to that, because I think the authorities there are much closer to the ground. And in terms of how it's actually -- well, what can I say? There must -- they have more details, the reality on the ground.
The way it is seen, I think, generally, is that it is important. It's an important part of the effort to identify his fate. There is still some uncertainty among certain people in Iraq about him and about whether he'll come back. And that may or may not affect some attitudes.
It certainly has not stood as any kind of roadblock or insurmountable difficulty in proceeding with reconstruction and proceeding with the political process that's ongoing and accelerating now, and proceeding with the Iraqis taking over ministries, and in proceeding with some important finds on the weapons of mass destruction side, like the vehicles to produce biological agents or the nuclear devices hidden under the rose bush in one of the scientist's yards.
So it may have some psychological effect on the situation, and we think it is an important element to remove that uncertainty. But, at the same time, I don't think it has impeded the real effort going to restore services to the Iraqi people, to get them more and more involved in a political process that can lead to the kind of Iraq where they are in charge and able to live in freedom without fear of this kind of dictatorship and cruelty again.
Okay, go back there.
QUESTION: Japanese diet is expected to have the new legislation to sending a Japanese Self-Defense Force to Iraqi reconstruction tomorrow. And tomorrow is a U.S. holiday, so could you give us -- (laughter).
MR. BOUCHER: You want me to welcome it before they vote? (Laughter.)
I think the decision is obviously for Japan to make, based on Japanese capabilities, Japanese interests. We have made quite clear all along that we would welcome any involvement of Japan and the process of reconstruction, as well as stabilization. Japan has already, I think, been quite forthcoming in terms of its willingness to contribute to the reconstruction process. And we would certainly welcome any additional assistance they could give in the area of stabilization.
QUESTION: Yes, it's on Iraq and Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister holding talks in London said they are waiting a response from Washington on the offers they made for assistance in Iraq, including supplying power, electricity, water and petrol. So why this delay? Is there a delay, or is there any reason? Because it's -- you know, they need water, electricity and petrol, and it's -- it will be very easy for the Turkish Government provide.
MR. BOUCHER: I think in some of these areas, there is already some supply back and forth across the Turkish border, but we do appreciate the offers from Turkey. These were discussed about two weeks ago during the visit of Under Secretary Ziyal. They have talked about offers of humanitarian donations, expressed interest in bidding on reconstruction projects in Iraq as well.
All such aid officers are now -- offers -- all such aid offers are now being reviewed by the International Coordinating Council of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. So Turkey's offer is a welcome and positive step in facilitating further recovery in Iraq, and developing construction relations between Turkey and the new Iraq. But the offers are under review at this point.
QUESTION: And on Iraq, an Iranian official visiting Ankara said -- on naming U.S. -- said some are trying to block the relations between the two countries.
MR. BOUCHER: Which two countries, Turkey and Iran?
QUESTION: Turkey and Iran.
MR. BOUCHER: Iran-Iraq?
QUESTION: I mean, he didn't name U.S., but it was --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, then I don't know who he might be talking about.
QUESTION: Richard, on the review of these offers, anything that the Japanese might offer are subject to the diet's vote tomorrow would also go through this, right, or is it -- or anything the Japanese offer as well?
MR. BOUCHER: There are different coordinating mechanisms. Some of this is being looked at in Baghdad, in terms of the contracts, in terms of assistance for reconstruction. The military coordinating mechanism has been somewhat different.
QUESTION: Richard, could you describe the relationship the State Department has had with Steven Hatfield?
MR. BOUCHER: Hatfill, H-a-t-f-i-l-l. He was a contract employee with the Science Applications International Corporation. The State Department has a contract with the Science Applications International Corporation to provide advice and guidance on the training programs in our Chemical Biological Countermeasures Office of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Dr. Hatfill worked on this program part-time, as part of this contract, from mid-April 2002 until mid-June 2002. He did not work on any classified projects. He did not have access to classified information during his work at the State Department.
Any further questions about the contracting of activities, I guess, can go to the Science Applications International Corporation. And, obviously, questions of the FBI probe go to the FBI.
QUESTION: Did he receive a merit commendation for his work?
MR. BOUCHER: An employee of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security wrote a letter of recommendation last summer. I am told it was written without proper authorization, was not cleared elsewhere in the State Department, so it was personal views of an employee who worked with him.
QUESTION: So that means that the State Department would not have given him a positive recommendation?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite know if I could say that, but we are looking at the circumstances under which it was written. And in the way it was written and sent, it did not constitute an official recommendation of the building -- of the State Department.
QUESTION: Richard, it was alleged that he had been in Africa working on -- with either South Africa, or, at that time, what's now Zimbabwe, Rhodesia. They have drained a pond in Frederick, Maryland. But, in other words, it's now in the hands of the Justice Department, not the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: It's in the hands of the FBI, yes.
Okay, we've got one back there, one up here. Let's go back there.
QUESTION: Regarding the oil deal between Iraq and Japan, the Vice Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan was here yesterday, meeting Mr. Armitage. Did Mr. Armitage request Japan to withdraw from the plan itself, or to delay it, or do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check. We put up an answer the other day, giving our basic attitude towards such projects, particularly when Iran is under more and more scrutiny from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and when nations around the world are pressing Iran to join the additional protocol and to fully disclose its nuclear program. So I think we have been pretty clear on our views. I'll find out if that came up in the discussions.
QUESTION: Yes. But is it your position that Japan should withdraw from the contract itself?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think our position has so much to do with the contractual obligations and the legal aspects of the contract, how that issue is resolved, which is more a contractual question. Our view is a policy view that people shouldn't be involved in big projects like this with Iran, particularly at this time.
QUESTION: Richard, has Foreign Minister Papandreou received a response to his letter raising the issue of the use of the word "Macedonia," in the European Union?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- I don't know if there has been one yet, frankly. I haven't heard of one, but I'll have to double-check.
QUESTION: It's not a front burner issue for the Department at the moment?
MR. BOUCHER: We always try to answer the mail, particularly from good friends like Foreign Minister Papandreou. I'm just not sure if it's been done quite yet.
Okay, ma'am, one more -- two more, we'll see.
QUESTION: Another issue.
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Another issue. It's on the announcement made by the U.S. administration to suspend military aid to those countries, including Latin American countries who are not -- have not agreed to exempt the U.S. soldiers from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
My first question is: Mr. Chicola from Bogata announced that the U.S. restriction on military aid will have minimal impact on Colombia. But what about on other countries like Venezuela? From the beginning, there was a very -- Venezuela was very concerned on the implementation of Plan Colombia. Now, Venezuela has been sanctioned, too. Is -- this situation is not going to increase imbalance in the region?
And my second question is how to create a flourishing dialogue and foster a relationship between the U.S. Government and Latin America, when the United States is going against its principle. It's a question of principles.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, first of all, the United States is not going against its principles. The United States is implementing its principles. And we have a very flourishing relationship and an active dialogue with the countries of Latin America, including on this subject of the Article 98 agreements.
It's an important principle for the United States that those who want to adhere to the Rome Treaty, who want to participate in the International Criminal Court, can do so. That's their sovereign decision to do so. But they cannot implicate others and pretend to carry out prosecutions against others who may not be participating, especially since we have our own legal system that deals with the same kind of crimes, and that we do deal with the same kind of crimes. We hold our military to the highest standards, and we don't think that we need to rely on prosecutors under this court to decide when that needs to be done.
So this has been a matter of principle to the United States and has been an important element of national policy. We have a law that was passed by our Congress that says that we won't provide military assistance to countries who put American officials and military personnel and others in jeopardy of this kind of prosecutorial discretion under this court. In terms of the current fiscal year, because we're two-thirds, three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year, most of the money in those military programs has probably been spent, much of it has. And I had numbers sometimes on Colombia. I did have numbers on Colombia. But the actual amount -- if you look at our overall aid assistance to Colombia under the Andian Regional Initiative, it's hundreds of millions of dollars. There is about $120-$130 million of that that's military, and, of that, this year there is only $5 million that has been captured.
Now, come October 1st, there is a new fiscal year's worth of money, and until these issues are resolved, we wouldn't be able to spend that. So it is in all of our interests to continue working on these issues, continue discussing these issues and conclude these agreements, so that we can respect the right of others to participate in the court, and they can respect our right not to be subject to the prosecution of prosecutorial discretion of the court.
QUESTION: But, in your opinion, this is not going to create an imbalance in the region -- more aid for Colombia, less for other countries, as Venezuela?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't have the numbers with me. I'd be surprised to find that we had any substantial military assistance to Venezuela, but you can look that up easily on the Internet to find out what the numbers are.
QUESTION: Richard, are there any new Article 98s to report, or are you still at 45?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new numbers this morning, so I don't know if we are still at -- have we checked to make sure there are no new ones, or we just --
There are no new ones today.
Okay, thank you. [End]
Released on July 3, 2003