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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for July 16

Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC July 16, 2003


NORTH KOREA 1-2 Talks with Chinese, South Korean and Japanese Officials on North Korea 2 U.S. Pleased with the Chinese Role in Encouraging Multilateral Discussions 2 U.S. Examining the Issue of North Korean Refugees 3-4 U.S. Believes North Korean Issues are Multilateral Issues

SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE 4 Government Officials Arrested in Sao Tome and Principe 4-5 U.S. Condemns Rebel Actions 5 Ambassador Moorefield s Presence in Sao Tome and Principe 5-6 U.S. Aid to Sao Tome and Principe

TURKEY/IRAQ 6 Joint US-Turkey Statement on Arrests of Turkish Troops in Iraq 13-14 Concerns with Composition of Some Iraqi Municipal Councils

TURKEY 6-7 Secretary Powell s Upcoming Meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister

IRAQ/NIGER 7-8 Intelligence Analysis with Regard to Uranium in Niger

ISRAEL/ARGENTINA 8 Jewish Community Center 1994 Bombing in Buenos Aires 8-9 Government of Argentina Indicted Five Iranian Officials with Relation to the Bombing

COLOMBIA 9 U.S. Assistance to Plan Colombia

LIBERIA 10 Secretary Powell s Closed Session Meeting on the Hill

CUBA 10-11 Alleged Jamming of Satellite Television Broadcasts to Iran 11 July 14th Boat Hijackers Takes Their Own Lives 11-12 July 15th Boat Hijackers Escape Cuban Authorities

GERMANY 12-13 Read-out of Meeting Between Secretary Powell and Foreign Minister Fischer

IRAQ 14-15 Iraqi Governing Council is an Important Development for Iraq 15 Security Key Issue in Ira

q DEPARTMENT 15-16 Talks with Washington Times to Determine Origin of Falsified E-mail Message 16 Other Falsified E-mail Letters

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 17 Palestinian Authority: de facto Recognition? 17 U.S. Signs $20 Million Grant Agreement with Palestinian Authority


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. I think you just heard from the Secretary on the important issues of the day, so what else is there to talk about?

QUESTION: Well, I'd like to follow up on something the Secretary said.


QUESTION: The intriguing comment he made when he was discussing his conversation last night with the Chinese Foreign Minister. Can you elaborate at all on what he meant when he said that the diplomatic process --or the diplomatic track, was alive and well, and that he expected some movement along the -- some developments in the very near future?

MR. BOUCHER: In the very near future? I don't think I can elaborate any more. It is clear that the diplomacy is alive and well. We have been meeting, as you know, with Japanese and South Korean allies. We have been in close touch with the Chinese and the Chinese Foreign Minister, and the Secretary talked yesterday evening. The Chinese have recently sent an envoy to North Korea, who has had some meetings there.

So this process we are continuing to work this process with a view to working with the Chinese and with our friends and allies to see how we can advance the peaceful solution to the problems on the Korean Peninsula to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

QUESTION: Are there any plans for more talks?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point I will just say we are continuing to work on the issues. As you know, the United States has made clear that we continue to believe that this needs to be solved through discussions in a multilateral framework.

QUESTION: And does the Secretary -- I'm sorry. Are you saying that you don't want to answer my question?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm saying that I'm not going to go any farther than he did in terms of predicting developments in the very near future. When they happen, we will tell you about them.

QUESTION: Well, how about this? When you talked about or when he talked about as well the diplomatic track being alive and well, was the -- can you say if the Secretary, or if the United States in general, was pleased with what you heard from the Chinese Foreign Minister about the visit of the envoy?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'm not in a position to characterize third-hand what the North Koreans may have told the Chinese envoy, and what the Chinese may have told us about that.

QUESTION: No, no, I know that.

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we are certainly pleased with the strong role that the Chinese have been playing in this. We are pleased that the Chinese have been active participants in trying to encourage multilateral discussions, but also in representing Chinese interests, which are also very strong in seeing a non-nuclear Peninsula.

QUESTION: There is a story in The Washington Post today about possible White House plans to admit thousands of North Korean refugees into the U.S. to put pressure on Pyongyang. Can you confirm this, and where does the State Department stand on this, considering that this might hurt relations with China?

MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary said outside, we are examining the issue of North Korean refugees, but we don't have any proposals or decisions at this point, either at the White House or even to the level of the Secretary here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) any North Korean refugees, or does the fact that they automatically get South Korean citizenship mean that it doesn't take (inaudible)?

MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check and see. I'm not sure if there is a --

QUESTION: Would you mind?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I will check and see.

QUESTION: Okay. Sao Tome?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, maybe one in Asia over there. I'm not sure. Do you want to ask about Sao Tome?

QUESTION: North Korea.

MR. BOUCHER: North Korea, okay.

QUESTION: The framework issue. Is that the possible -- is that the acceptable for the United States to, you know, multilateral framework sideline with the bilateral talking? I mean a multilateral framework --

MR. BOUCHER: Is that the same question you asked me yesterday?

QUESTION: Yes, I just want to ask your basic position.

MR. BOUCHER: I will give you the same answer I did yesterday. The United States continues to believe that these are multilateral issues that need to be resolved in a multilateral context. And that is why all throughout we have held to the need to have multilateral discussions, as we had some in Beijing, and we now believe those need to be expanded, expanded to include Japan and Korea, perhaps others.


MR. BOUCHER: So, no, we have not -- we do not believe these are issues that should be addressed as bilateral ones.

Okay. North Korea?

QUESTION: Not North Korea.

MR. BOUCHER: No, then we'll go to Sao Tome for a while.

QUESTION: Actually, one more on North Korea?


QUESTION: I'm trying to squeeze something out of the stone that is developments in the very near future.

MR. BOUCHER: I am just bringing you right up to the date, right up to the moment we're in, and not trying to go farther.

QUESTION: Right, okay. But was there something -- did the Secretary say that based on the -- his conversation with the Chinese Foreign Minister, or was he -- was it based on something else?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I would say the Secretary said that based on his -- the totality of his knowledge, including the discussion last night with the Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: All right. But is there something specific that the Chinese Foreign Minister told him that --

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not trying to relate anything from that conversation that the North Koreans might have said to the Chinese, that the Chinese might have said to us. The Secretary was giving you exactly where we stand right now.

QUESTION: The Secretary said the conversation was long. Do you know how long it was?

MR. BOUCHER: I would have to double-check on exactly how many minutes. It was a thorough conversation, I'm sure.

All right. Sao Tome, and then we will go back to something else.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the coup?

MR. BOUCHER: We have reports now from our Embassy in Libreville, Gabon, as well as from the media, that Prime Minister Maria das Neves and some other government officials were put under arrest about 3:00 a.m. local time in Sao Tome.

We deplore these actions. We strongly urge those involved to release the arrested government officials. President Menezes was out of the country on a visit to Nigeria. The Prime Minister and some other government officials are, as I said, reportedly under arrest.

Early reports indicate that all of approximately 25 U.S. citizens, including our U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Moorefield and other staff from the Embassy in Libreville who were visiting Sao Tome, are safe and unharmed.

We understand that four of these individuals worked for the Voice of America, four were Embassy Libreville staff, and the remainder were private U.S. citizens. There are no reports of any injuries or deaths that we know of at this point.

The United States does not have a resident embassy in Sao Tome, but Ambassador Moorefield is accredited to Sao Tome, as well as to Gabon.

That is what we know of the situation now.

QUESTION: Are we doing anything to try to help the president return to power?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we are following the situation closely. I would say we are monitoring developments. We are also, I think, looking at our assistance programs to determine what we need to do with those, and we will review those programs and take the appropriate action once the facts have become clear.

QUESTION: Does that mean that you have not yet determined whether this is a coup?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we are still waiting for all the facts to make whatever implications and legal determinations there might be.

QUESTION: And is there anything going on with the president in Nigeria? Are there any contacts there?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of. I will have to double-check.

QUESTION: Okay. And it's my understand that the Ambassador was in San Tome for a 4th of July party, which I believe was a couple days ago, at least. Twelve days ago. Are they in a different times zone in Sao Tome that they have --

MR. BOUCHER: The Ambassador --


MR. BOUCHER: No. This -- it's like the Queen's Birthday.

QUESTION: It must be a great party.

MR. BOUCHER: The Ambassador has responsibilities in Gabon as well as in Sao Tome, so he needs to -- he can't be in both places on the same day. So for scheduling reasons, therefore, he does two different days, two different festivities to honor American independence on different days.

QUESTION: Is he still there?

MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is he is still there, yes.

QUESTION: And is he involved at all? Is his role just a --

MR. BOUCHER: He wasn't part of this action.

QUESTION: Is his role just a monitoring role or is he involved in actually talking to the people, trying to get them back into the barracks?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to describe that in any more detail at this point. Our Ambassador is there. He is following developments closely, along with the staff that is there, but I can't describe any particular diplomatic activity yet.

QUESTION: On the question of the aid, I realize you haven't made up your mind yet what you're going to do, but do you know how much it is?

MR. BOUCHER: It is several hundred thousand. It is both humanitarian and -- I'd say military/humanitarian. One of the military projects was an ophthalmologic clinic, things like that. So there are different activities that amount to several hundred thousand dollars. I will see if I can pin down the specific list.


MR. BOUCHER: Yes, there is some IMET in there.

QUESTION: Okay. And --

MR. BOUCHER: We will try to get you a list later, if I can make sure I have got it right.

QUESTION: And the other thing I asked for earlier, and I'm not sure you have an answer on this yet, but if -- well, is Sao Tome's participation in AGOA at all threatened by --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I didn't have a chance to check the law yet.


QUESTION: On the announcement for the 11 Turkish soldiers, on the U.S. side in this announcement, in the wording it does not include any apology and any kind of this word. And does United States feel in this event any guilt or guilty?

MR. BOUCHER: The joint statement was issued by both Turkey and the United States. Our Embassy in Turkey, in Ankara, released the joint statement. The joint statement expresses the joint conclusions, the joint sentiments, the joint feelings, the joint thoughts and the joint appraisal of the situation, so I will stick exactly to that. That expresses everything there is to say about it at this point.

QUESTION: Do you think that this kind of event is the helpful for between the Turkey and the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: I think if you read the joint statement you will see that we continue to maintain a very longstanding friendship that is very important to both our countries. We have determined that we can work more closely together, we can share information more, and enhance coordination and cooperation.

QUESTION: Also, the Turkish Foreign Minister is coming the next Tuesday, I believe.

MR. BOUCHER: He's coming -- let me see if I've got the date down here somewhere.

QUESTION: The 24th?

MR. BOUCHER: The 24th he will be visiting Washington. We expect him to meet with Secretary Powell on that day.

QUESTION: Any agenda on this subject, on this meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: There s always a lot of things to talk about with Turkey and the Turkish Foreign Minister -- cooperation in Iraq, cooperation on reconstruction, stabilization in Iraq. All these are very important issues for us and for Turkey.

QUESTION: So for the little bit, the little snafu yesterday, were there any changes made to what had been released unilaterally by the Turks?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we caught up to them and both put out the same text in the end.

QUESTION: Okay. So, in fact, there is a statement of regret, isn't there?

MR. BOUCHER: "The U.S. noted Turkish concerns about American treatment of Turkish military personnel during the unfortunate incident. The Turkish side noted U.S. concerns about reported activities of Turkish personnel in Northern Iraq. Both sides expressed regret that this incident occurred."

There you have it.


QUESTION: Can we go to Niger for a second?

In the week between the State of the Union Address and the Secretary's presentation at the UN, did Secretary Powell receive any additional information to further knock down the Niger uranium link?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked about this to, I think, great extent at his press conference at the White House Filing Center in South Africa. It is not so much a question of new information; it was a matter of going through the information in a different way, with the presence of all of the analysts, and finding that the Agency was not carrying it as a major item or a credible item at that point. Therefore, it was not included.

QUESTION: But did any intelligence agency or anybody talk to him in that week and said, "Hey, what President Bush said, those 16 words, I don't think you should repeat them"?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I am aware of, no.

QUESTION: So I have the same sort of subject.

MR. BOUCHER: Same sort?

QUESTION: Can you say whether the Secretary knew that the Niger reference was in there in sort of in the last couple of versions of the speech, so that he could have weighed in one way or the other?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think it was in the last couple of versions of the speech. I certainly don't remember seeing any draft that had it in, and I don't think he does either. It was just not being carried as part of a -- part of the case, as we started to go through it.


QUESTION: I think that today is the 9th anniversary of the AMIA Cultural Center bombings in Argentina and there is a new investigation in that case in Argentina. Does the State Department have any words they want to say on the occasion?

And I don't know if you have ever said this, but is the State Department prepared to say that the Iranian Government had some involvement in those attacks?

MR. BOUCHER: All right. Somebody over here help me. Okay.

As we have said before, we condemn all acts of terrorism and violence in the strongest possible terms, including the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires on July 18th, 1994.

The Government of Argentina is pursuing several prosecutions in connection with the 1994 bombing. The Government of Argentina earlier this year announced indictments of five Iranian Government officials. Hezbollah, the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group, is strongly suspected of responsibility for the attack, and we expect the perpetrators of this act to be brought to justice.

QUESTION: What is the State Department's assessment --

MR. BOUCHER: Our assessment is that the Argentine legal process needs to go forward. It has already reached some conclusions about that. And I said we join others in strongly suspecting Hezbollah as being responsible for this attack.

QUESTION: The five* Iranian officials, would you urge from the podium now for Iran to cooperate with the --

MR. BOUCHER: I'd certainly urge everyone to cooperate with the Argentine investigation.

QUESTION: And, finally, are you willing to say anything about the Iranian Government's role in the attack?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not in a position to say anything more than I have said. The facts, I think, speak for themselves. If the Argentine authorities believe the *five Iranian government officials who are responsible, and they have been indicted, we think that it is something that should be dealt with in a judicial manner.

*Argentine authorities have indicated four Iranian government officials.

But I think the overall involvement of the Government of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Government of Iran and terrorism generally, is something that we have documented many times over the years, including in our Patterns of Global Terrorism Report.

QUESTION: Okay. And I'll drop it there, sorry. But you are not willing to say -- you're not willing to go as far as the -- you are not willing to say, independently of what the Argentines are saying, that there were five Iranian officials of the Iranian Government?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I am in a position to go independently into what information we might have.


MR. BOUCHER: But, at the same time, I think the fact that we cite the -- the indictments that the Government of Argentina has brought against five Iranian officials certainly means that we give that indictment considerable credibility in terms of its -- asserting the facts, and that we think that the court system needs to be used to adjudicate them.


QUESTION: On Colombia, are you at all concerned that the effort to withhold military aid from Colombia is in any way undermining the government of President Uribe, who, after all, has shown himself to be a strong ally of the United States?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, you have to remember that the United States has been a very strong supporter of President Uribe and of Plan Colombia and the steps that he has taken to actually reduce coca production in these -- in the last year.

The overwhelming portions of our assistance to Plan Colombia and to President Uribe's program is in the form of counternarcotics aid, assistance that is not covered by the so-called Article 98, the restrictions that come from not having an Article 98 agreement.

So when we discussed that, I think I said, actually the portion that's caught for this year is about $5 million. Now, this thing comes up again with a larger chunk of money of military assistance around about October 1st, but the United States and Colombia have been in discussions already of how to resolve these issues in a way that would satisfy the American Servicemembers' Protection Act. And so I think we need to continue those discussions and arrive at a conclusion that permits us to continue to support Colombia in its effort against drugs and its effort to build a stronger society.

QUESTION: On Colombia. Have you an update on Article 98s? Have any other countries signed or any countries that were going to lose money signed?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a list with me right now. I would have to see if there's -- is there still one on the web? I will have to check and see where you can get an updated list. If we have to, we'll find one for you.

Okay. Adi.

QUESTION: Any update on the assessment team in Liberia, the military assessment team? Have they finished their tasks?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have an update on that. The matter of Liberia remains of current concern, remains something under discussion in the Administration. The assessments are still in the process of being finalized, so I don't have any assessments or decisions at this point.

QUESTION: Any sense as to when, now? When you might have decisions? I noticed that the Secretary was up on the Hill this morning.

MR. BOUCHER: He was up on the Hill this morning in closed session, talking about Liberia with members of Congress. No, I don't have a -- I'm not able to predict when we might get a final decision on some of those things. That would be up to the White House and the President to decide when they want to decide.


QUESTION: Any reaction on the House approving the State Department budget bill?

MR. BOUCHER: They did?

QUESTION: It did. Congratulations.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- no -- let me look into it. I think there was some fairly complicated situations up on the Hill.

QUESTION: Yes, and the UNFPA money, if you have anything to say about that specifically.

MR. BOUCHER: I will check on the UNFPA money.


QUESTION: Richard, yesterday you were asked about this and you didn't have and answer, but since that question that was asked, the BBG put out a -- issued a resolution asking you guys to make some representations to Cuba over its -- the alleged jamming of satellite television and radio, I guess radio broadcasts to Iran.

Do you know if such a -- if such representations have been made?

MR. BOUCHER: I think yesterday I said we had not made a determination of the source of the broadcast -- the jamming, and I have not made a determination as to whether I can find my information on this.

Here is what we know. There is a U.S. company, Loral Skynet, that reported interference with its commercial satellite transmissions. Continuing to look into the facts of the matter, we are consulting with the Federal Communications Commission and other U.S. Government agencies about an appropriate response.

You'll see in the statement by the Board of Broadcasting Governors their belief that the source of the interference is in Cuba, and we would expect to raise that issue with the Cuban Government. I don't think we have done so at this point.

There are international treaty obligations and international mechanisms to deal with satellite interference problems. We expect to use those.

QUESTION: So the State Department is looking into Cubans cooperating with the Iranians to jam U.S. broadcasts?

MR. BOUCHER: No. We are looking into the source of interference with these broadcasts and we're going to we will be taking up with the Cubans the question of whether or not this interference is coming from Cuba.

QUESTION: Do you know when that will happen?

MR. BOUCHER: When what happens?

QUESTION: When will --

MR. BOUCHER: I will report on it after we've done it. It hasn't been done at this moment.


QUESTION: Another Cuba question. There have been a couple of hijackings there and some increasing violence. Any great concern that this is going to lead to something bigger -- another mass exodus?

MR. BOUCHER: The information I have is on really two incidents. There's a Cuban Government statement about a July 14th incident in which three would-be hijackers of a fishing boat allegedly shot and killed themselves after being surrounded by Cuban security forces. A ten-year-old boy was apparently also shot and injured.

The Cuban Government informed us on Tuesday, July 15th, that a second vessel had been hijacked from the Port of Nuevitas in eastern Cuba. Cuban border guard vessels and aircraft tracked the craft for some hours. We understand it left Cuban waters about midday.

We have reminded Cuba that it has an obligation to resolve hijackings in a manner that is consistent with international law, and that it needs to conduct law enforcement and judicial actions consistent with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

We reiterate that only safe, legal and orderly migration should take place from Cuba to the United States. Any hijacker who arrives in the United States will be prosecuted with the full force of the U.S. legal system.

There is U.S.-Cuban cooperation to try to ensure safe, legal and orderly migration, and we want to make sure it stays in those channels.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. Government have any reason to doubt the Cuban Government's account that the three hijackers in the July 14th incident committed suicide?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we are in a position to know.

QUESTION: Much was said downstairs with the Secretary and Foreign Minister Fischer about Iraq, but the other big topic of conversation was Afghanistan and the Middle East, I guess. Can you tell us what exactly they talked about in terms of Afghanistan and particularly ISAF and German leadership of it and possible expansion of its --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, they talked about the overall situation in Afghanistan, the situation with regard to development, economic development and political developments; talked about the security situation in Afghanistan. Both we and the Germans want to make sure that we provide the kind of security that is needed by the government to continue with the work that it is doing there.

As you know, NATO has made a decision to take over the management of ISAF, so they also discussed about how that transition can work.

QUESTION: Okay. Anything else in the U.S.-German --

MR. BOUCHER: They really talked about almost everything under the sun. They talked about Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, AIDS, Middle East peace, Ukraine, Moldova, EU expansion, relations with NATO. Kind of a full range of issues.

QUESTION: Can you say how long they met?

MR. BOUCHER: They met one-on-one for about a half hour, and had lunch for about an hour.

QUESTION: So they talked about everything but the disagreement between the United States and Germany over -- is that what you're saying?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if that -- there were a few jokes about it, frankly. But no, we don't sit there talking about the relationship. We talk about the things we can do together.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary -- did they talk about Germany and Italy at all?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I was -- not that I had heard about. Not when I was there. Let's put it that way.

Okay, ma'am.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Turkey again?


QUESTION: Turkey has concerns on the presence of PKK presence in Northern Iraq, and today Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, commenting on the report, asked by journalists on the report, saying that a former PKK member, namely Mahmoud Osman, has been elected in one of the provisional government in Iraq. And he said we do not expect our allies to recognize the terrorist, meaning, I believe, U.S.

Do you have anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: We are the ally, not the terrorist, right? (Laughter.)


MR. BOUCHER: That's a positive sign.

QUESTION: And in general, you know, if you are not aware of this report --

MR. BOUCHER: Look, the situation in the North, I think, you are really going to have to ask the people on the ground. CENTCOM and Coalition Provisional Authority can answer questions for people out there about who the people are that are coming up in these municipal elections and other things like that.

We have instituted -- we have managed to help with municipal councils being elected throughout Iraq, and the people of Iraq are choosing their leadership at a local level. We now have an Iraqi Governing Council that is representative of all the people of Iraq that is starting to exercise power at the national level and is taking on more and more responsibility right from the start.

So I really think those questions need to be answered out there in Iraq. When it comes to U.S.-Turkish relations, we have worked out with Turkey ways of dealing with any issues that might arise that Turkey is particularly concerned about in this area that is -- that we recognize the sensitivity and the importance for Turkey. A lot of that was worked out during the Secretary's visit there some months ago. And so if there is something the Turks want to raise with us about what's going on in Northern Iraq, I am sure they will through the appropriate channels.

QUESTION: I don't think this has to do so much with Northern Iraq as it does with the council that Paul Bremer selected, and this Osman guy -- not to mention I was going to add on about ex-terrorists on the council -- I mean, there's three members of Dawa, which, at varying points the State Department itself --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. You want to ask about the membership of the council, you can either ask council members, who themselves helped form this, or you can ask people in the Coalition Provisional Authority who -- and the United Nations, for that matter. Sergio de Mello is the Special Representative of the Secretary General, was very involved in the formation of the council as well. So there's plenty of people to ask, but I'm afraid this is not the right one.

QUESTION: Richard, still in the PKK, the new name is the KADEK is under your international terrorism organization list?

MR. BOUCHER: The PKK certainly is, yes.

QUESTION: But how about the KADEK?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember. You'd have to check the listings.

QUESTION: Because the new name. They changed name.

MR. BOUCHER: You can -- as I said, you can -- the listings are on the Internet. The financial listings are on the Office of Financial -- what's it called? -- OFAC, Foreign Assets Control website, where they list not only the organization but also different names that it's known under.

QUESTION: I'm trying to find out, did you change your mind to -- you know, is the --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we haven't changed our mind.


QUESTION: Richard, with respect to Iraq this morning, a helpful mayor and his son were apparently assassinated. As well, there are apparently big amounts of, I guess, contraband weapons that have entered into the area of Baghdad and its suburbs. There have been a concerted effort by Ambassador Bremer to talk to those 25 members of the council to have them and their new police force work within the community to counter all of this?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, let's not -- let's not throw five things in the same basket.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. BOUCHER: Each of those is an interesting development in itself. The Governing Council, I think you have seen statements from the United Nations, statements from Iraqis themselves, that this is a very, very important development for Iraq.

This is a chance for Iraqis to begin to take their responsibility, and they will be appointing ministers. They will be running things. They will be coming up with a budget. And above all, they will be starting the process by which Iraqis can write their own constitution, and then implement their own constitution.

At the same time, I don't think they are quite yet responsible for everything going on in Iraq. Police forces have been reconstituted throughout the country. At one point, I saw a number of 30,000 policemen that were already back on the job and patrolling in Iraq, so that has been done. But I think that has been done on the local level. There has been a lot of municipal councils actually elected by the people of the various Iraqi cities, and I think that policing function has been carried out at a slightly lower level.

In terms of the attack on the mayor, I just have to leave any details -- or of weapons coming into Baghdad -- leave any details to the people in the field, but the general observation that we made before still applies. Security is obviously the most important issue for us, but also for Iraqis these days, and we have taken a lot of steps to improve security in Iraq.

The instability has come from various elements. Some of it is criminal, some of it is looting, some of it appears to be centered on Baathist elements, particularly in areas that weren't -- where there wasn't a lot of fighting. But I think you could also say that for some of these people, they are attacking the success. As we get the electricity grid up and running, they start attacking electrical engineers or the electric towers themselves. As the police get up and running, there is an attack on the police training center. As some of the mayors, some of the municipal officials get up and running, there are attacks on municipal officials.

So I think, you know, we do have this problem, and I suppose from that standpoint, as we continue to move forward, there will be people who try to undermine the success, and these may continue to happen.

QUESTION: Richard, is the Department satisfied with the response at the Washington Times to your complaints yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: We are in touch with the Washington Times, continue to be in touch with them at various levels. We are working with them. We have technical people from us and from the Washington Times working together to try to determine the origin of the falsified e-mail message.

I think we want to see that process through. I think the Washington Times themselves, in their writings this morning, said that they would continue to look into it and provide more information. So we will continue to work with them and work that process, and look to the additional information that they can produce.

QUESTION: Well, are you satisfied with their explanation?

MR. BOUCHER: It is not quite time to draw a bow on the whole thing and say it's over. We have to see what comes out more about this. But, certainly, we have established good cooperation and we are working with them on trying to determine for both of us where this thing came from and who did it

QUESTION: One story said that Al Kamen had received an e-mail from someone in Minikes' office. And I wondered if you're aware if that is accurate, and whether there may be other letters out there.

MR. BOUCHER: I think you will have to ask Al Kamen whether he received an e-mail. We have -- we do understand there was another incident like this, where there was a falsified e-mail address from Vienna. But, again, we will look into that as well. I don't think we ever got a satisfactory response of where that might have come from.

QUESTION: Was that yesterday, too?

MR. BOUCHER: No, this is some time back. It was last year.

QUESTION: Richard, have you come to the conclusion that it was indeed a falsified e-mail address, and not somebody getting into the computer and actually using that computer?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we haven't determined the exact origin. We have drawn the conclusion that the sender was not the sender.


MR. BOUCHER: The sender -- no, it was not Ambassador Minikes.

QUESTION: Right. But that's different from giving a falsified e-mail address.

MR. BOUCHER: But did it come from his computer, did it come from within our system, did it come from outside, I am not at this point able to make a judgment. We are obviously looking at our system in Vienna as well, at the mission, to make sure that it didn't come from there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: We have got one more, I guess.

QUESTION: On Turkey again. Some press reports yesterday claim that the U.S. rejected Turkey's offer on channeling part of $1 billion US aid for Turkey to the reconstruction projects in Iraq. Can you confirm that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't confirm yet. As you know, we have had the requests. We have been considering them. We have been in discussions with the Turkish Government, but I don't have any final answers for you.

QUESTION: And this aid was going to be disbursed if Secretary Powell decides that Turkey is cooperating with the United States in Northern Iraq. Do you still believe that Turkey is cooperating?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have any judgments for you on this point -- on the aid, sorry.

Gene, do you have one?

QUESTION: Yes, I have one more.

In view of the fact that the representative of the Palestine Authority has been in the building many times in recent weeks, and that the President has been at Aqaba meeting with the Prime Minister of the Palestine Authority, would the Department of State describe the relationship with the Palestine Authority as being de facto recognition?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I would describe it as -- I mean, if you're implying in the sense of a statehood, we're not there yet. In terms of working with the institution of the Palestinian Authority, I think we are quite open about the fact that we do work with those institutions. In fact, today we signed the grant agreement with the Palestinian Authority for the $20 million that is the first money that we have provided to them directly that they can use, therefore, for municipal services, for social services to help the Palestinian people.

QUESTION: So the situation is different from when Israel was created and Truman recognized de facto the Israeli state?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid my historical knowledge is not good enough to do a comparison. Sorry.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:05 p.m.)


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