State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for July 18
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC July 18, 2003
NORTH KOREA/CHINA 1 Consultations with Chinese Officials Regarding Multilateral Talks 2 Status of the Agreed Framework 11 U.S. Consular Contact with Charles Lee; Hunger Strike 11-12 U.S. - Chinese Discussions on Falun Gong 18-19 Multilateral Discussions 23 Alleged Attacks Against Falun Gong Practitioners
CHINA 2, 12 Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo Meetings With U.S. Officials 4 Discussions Regarding Protests of Article 23 21 Withdrawing Funding From UNFPA
IRAN 3-4 IAEA Alleged Findings of Enriched Uranium
IRAQ 4-5 International Interest in Obtaining UN Mandate to send Troops 5-6 Provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1483 6-7 Independent Report on Postwar Window of Opportunity 7-8 UN Meetings Among Donors; Possible Donor s Conference 8 Iraqi Development Fund 17-18 International Assistance 18 Allegations of Governing Council Members Connected to PKK
NIGER/IRAQ 9 Distribution of Documents Regarding "Yellow Cake" Acquisition 9-10 Information Sharing with the IAEA 10 Determination of Fraudulent Documentation
SAO TOME/PRINCIPE 12-14 Diplomatic Efforts to Bring Peaceful Resolution to Situation 13 Status of Aid
CYPRUS 14-15 Recent Developments
TERRORISM 15-16 Proposal on Compensation for Victims of Terrorist Attacks 20 Reports of Rise in Hate Crimes
SYRIA 16-17 Under Secretary John Bolton Rescheduling of Testimony to Congressional Subcommittee
SYRIA/LEBANON 19-20 Reports of Syrian Troop Redeployment in Lebanon/UN Resolution
BURMA 21 Democracy in Burma; Legislation
UNITED NATIONS 21 State Department Authorization Bill on Funding for the UN Population Fund; Other Legislation
CUBA/IRAN 22 Jamming of Satellite Television and Radio Signals
GUYANA 23 Article 98 Agreement
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, I realize that the meeting hasn't actually begun yet, but --
QUESTION: How about a readout?
QUESTION: Yeah. Can you tell us exactly what you and the Chinese are going to decide later this afternoon when you're in the meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Well, can you tell --
MR. BOUCHER: It hasn't happened yet, as you point out.
Before we start down the road of what you and the Chinese are going to decide later, we've been working very closely with the Chinese. This is an ongoing process of working with the Chinese. They've been putting a lot of effort into achieving a goal that's important to them and important to us; that's to use multilateral talks as a peaceful means to denuclearized the peninsula.
So the Chinese have worked very hard to get the multilateral talks going in order to achieve that goal, and we appreciate that, and so we've been working closely with them. That doesn't mean that there will be a particular decision at a particular meeting today. This is an ongoing process of trying to get this thing organized in a way that meets the needs of actually solving the issue.
So we'll have, I think, important discussions, serious discussions this afternoon with the Chinese. We'll hear from them about meetings that Vice Foreign Minister Dai had in Pyongyang, and I'm sure they'll continue to work the issue.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you able at this point to say -- and again, I know you don't speak for other buildings, but who else is he -- this seems to be like a big secret for some reason.
MR. BOUCHER: Who else is he seeing?
MR. BOUCHER: I've got a fairly long list of people. Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will be meeting today with the Secretary at 4:00 p.m. That's on the schedule. He'll be meeting with the Deputy Secretary. He'll see National Security Advisor Rice.
He is accompanied on his visit to Washington by other Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, including He Yafei, the Director General for North American Affairs, and Madame Fu Ying, the Director General for Asian Affairs. And so we'll all be talking to them this afternoon about how to achieve the complete, irreversible and verifiable termination of the North's nuclear program.
QUESTION: Just one more thing. Yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said quite specifically that it believed the Agreed Framework should be resurrected, as it were. Is this something that you would be open to? I know that you said it was the North Koreans who breached it, or whatever -- I can't remember the exact language you used.
MR. BOUCHER: They declared it --
QUESTION: -- void or --
MR. BOUCHER: Was it null and void, defunct, dead?
QUESTION: Anyway, is that something that you would consider?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that that's actually a live issue at this point. The North Koreans said, I think, it was effectively nullified, if I remember correctly. But in any case, the North Koreans were the ones that violated it. They were the ones that breached it. They were the ones who, after agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons programs, went off and started a different program to enrich uranium.
The Secretary has said if we're going to resolve this in the manner that we want, that the Chinese want, that the international community wants, and that's an irreversible and verifiable end to the nuclear weapons program, that there are going to have to be different arrangements in the future.
QUESTION: Richard, do you know at what time -- do you know whether the Vice Foreign Minister is meeting Dr. Rice after --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's before. I think it's earlier in the afternoon.
QUESTION: So is it likely, then, that you guys will find a way to read out, to the extent you can, the Secretary's meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll try to find a way to tell you what happens, as much as we can, yeah.
QUESTION: And on -- if we haven't moved off North Korea, on the topic of pursuit of nuclear weapons, do you have any comment on reports that the IAEA has found enriched uranium in Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the simplest answer is it's up for the IAEA to describe what they've found. Let me move on to -- once I get to Iran.
We expect Director General ElBaradei to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors with a full and factual accounting of what they have found in Iran. We would hope that would come well in advance of the next International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting, which is scheduled, I think, September 8 to 12, and we'll work with other members of the Board to ensure that the Board takes effective and appropriate action.
We have long said that Iran's clandestine nuclear program represents a serious challenge to regional stability, to the entire international community and to the global nonproliferation regime. And I think if you see the reporting of recent -- the revelations of recent months demonstrate the accuracy of the statements that we've made.
QUESTION: Are you looking for any kind of a board meeting or discussion prior to the 12th?
MR. BOUCHER: There is, I'm sure, ongoing discussion among board members. We would hope to get, certainly, facts and information before the 12th and before the next scheduled board meeting. And whether that results in a formal meeting or not, I couldn't say at this point.
QUESTION: You're saying it's up to the IAEA to describe it, but has the U.S. been notified about findings that the IAEA has made now in Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say we're looking forward to hearing from them on all the information that they have found.
QUESTION: And you haven't heard from them yet?
MR. BOUCHER: Getting back to sort of, "What do they say, what have you heard?" kind of questions, it's not for us to describe what we've heard. It's for them to say what they have to say on the subject. But I would say we look forward to hearing a full account of everything that they have uncovered.
QUESTION: And you can't say whether you've heard anything without telling us what it is?
MR. BOUCHER: I can say that we've heard a lot. There was a board meeting in June. The IAEA laid out a whole lot of information of what they've been finding. We're also looking for additional information from recent visits and from the results of the sampling that they've done, and I'm sure they'll be producing that information when it's ready.
QUESTION: And (inaudible) this report, what would you -- how would you feel about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We have always said that the Iranian clandestine nuclear program is -- should be of very serious concern to everyone, that it was more much than a peaceful reactor program. I think this substantiates those statements that we made over time, and we would expect everyone to be able to act accordingly.
QUESTION: And regarding the meeting --
QUESTION: Meaning the report that you're not commenting on? This substantiates the --
MR. BOUCHER: The revelations over the past few months and whatever further reporting there might be on what Iran is up to.
QUESTION: Going back to the Chinese leaders visiting the State Department, do you think Saturday is going to discuss also about the cry for democracy in Hong Kong and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators there asking for democracy? And also, Beijing is wanting them not to repeat the 1989 Tiananmen Square.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we have expressed ourselves on the situation in Hong Kong with regard to Article 23 and, more importantly, our overall support for movement towards more democracy -- towards democracy in Hong Kong. So I think we've been very clear on that.
Whether there's a chance for this to come up during the course of the meetings today, I don't know. It will depend on the time and how many topics they want to cover. There is obviously a principal topic is the North Korea situation, and Vice Foreign Minister Dai himself has been most involved in that situation.
QUESTION: Another one on Iraq? Since India had said that they will not join the peace process, that they will not send the forces at this time, but only through the United Nations, now as far as UN peace process are concerned, where do we stand now? When UN is going to take action or what kind of role the UN is going to play as far as forces in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I know you've seen various statements from different governments about maybe a different UN mandate or some kind of action at the UN, and the Secretary has, I think, said the other day that there were, indeed, discussions like this going on. He talked about it with the UN Secretary General and with some other foreign ministers. And I think we appreciate the interest that a lot of people have in this.
I would point out once again, though, as the Secretary has pointed out, Resolution 1483 already encourages people to participate in stabilization. There is sufficient authority for many nations already who want to participate in stabilization and peacekeeping activities. There are some who have expressed a desire for more of a mandate, and the discussions -- that has been a matter of discussion so far.
As the Secretary pointed out, these are very preliminary at this point. I think everybody wants to hear on the 22nd from the UN Represent Sergio de Mello and the Iraqi Governing Council members who will be coming to New York, and they'll give the Council an update on the situation. So we'll see where discussions go from there.
QUESTION: Richard, just to follow quick, if the Secretary is personally involved or he is personally in touch with any Indian authorities or Indian Foreign Minister on this issue?
MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, I can't remember the last time. I'd have to check the last time they talked.
QUESTION: Richard, on that, you say that 1483 encourages countries to participate, but clearly you would like them to participate more than they have done given the encouragement in the mandate. What is -- why do you have any reservations at all about amending the resolution to make it -- to encourage them to participate?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we have that many reservations about it. We're just pointing out to you the discussions at this point are preliminary and people are looking forward to hearing from the UN Representative and the Iraqis next week. We would expect discussions to proceed onward from there.
QUESTION: So I heard you say -- when you say you haven't -- you don't know that you have any reservations, does that mean that you're very much open to the idea of amending it, then?
MR. BOUCHER: That means exactly what I've already said on it. I'm not going to try to adopt new language. I appreciate your suggestions, but at this point it's a matter that has been discussed, that we've discussed with others. I leave it to others to say, for example, if there were such a mandate that they would contribute significant numbers of troops. In many of the statements I've seen, other than perhaps the Indian statement, that's not as clear as some might think.
QUESTION: Well, the Russians today said specifically that they would consider it if there was a -- if there was a UN mandate.
MR. BOUCHER: That's interesting.
QUESTION: Can I just ask, though, what exactly are you wanting to hear from de Mello, though? How does that -- how does what he say --
MR. BOUCHER: I think our understanding is that people are just looking for kind of an update on the situation from the UN Representative, not necessarily a direct comment on this prospect, but looking to get the facts on the ground as he sees them.
QUESTION: To go back to the earlier point, are you looking, then, for actual commitments from states before proceeding; in other words, we'll do it --
MR. BOUCHER: We're looking to see -- first of all, this is not a proposal by the United States. The United States has not made a proposal on this point. We have said we understand the interest that people have in this. The United States has said we think there's already sufficient grounds; and, indeed, there's sufficient grounds for us, for the Poles, for the Spanish, for a lot of other people, Albanians, a variety of people who are already there operating, both to support the people of Iraq but also to support the UN Resolution 1483.
So that's been our position on this. Now, if others say they want something more, you know, that's fine. We'll talk about it with them. We'll see where the discussion goes.
QUESTION: Would it be fair to say, then, that you're not particularly interested in embracing the proposal that you did not make, that the United States did not make --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: -- unless you see other people say, yeah, we'll step up to the plate if --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't -- no, I wouldn't quite say it that way, either. I'd just say we'll see where the discussion goes. We're open to this prospect. We are, indeed, talking about it with other people. But at this point I can't draw it to a conclusion.
QUESTION: What, if anything, do you make of the CSIS report that says that the window of opportunity in reconstruction is closing very quickly in Iraq unless much more is done very quickly?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the general comment is there is a lot to do, but there's a lot being done. And the -- you know, we look very carefully at this report. I think we always appreciate the recommendations, we appreciate the effort that's gone into this by a prominent group of experts, and we look carefully at the reports.
There's a lot being done and we've made -- we've hit some of those milestones. You remember, when Ambassador Bremer arrived and started setting up the kinds of things that he wanted to accomplish in terms of having an Iraqi Governing Council, getting on with the constitutional process, getting a lot of the services up and running, getting municipal councils up and running, getting the judicial system up and running, the police, the military. All those things that needed to be done, we're starting to hit some of those milestones. We're starting to actually deliver on those things and see those things happen.
So, this month, we've had the Iraqi Governing Council formed. It's a first step, but a very important one in terms of the Iraqis having real authority over their government, real authority over their future and real authority to start planning for the future in terms of budgets and projects and things they want to do.
We're moving, I think rather quickly, on schedule, to the constitutional conference, which, again, will be Iraqis deciding what kind of government they want for the future. That is solely in Iraqi hands.
There is a lot of progress in some particular areas. All the major cities, 85 percent of towns now have municipal councils where Iraqis are taking responsibility for management of local matters, for healthcare, for water and electricity. There's more than 150 newspapers that have been started since liberation, and Iraqis, for the Iraqi people this is a great opportunity to speak out after 35 years of silence. There are courts operating in -- out of -- in 100 of 130 courthouses. There's 30,000 police back on the street.
And there are people who are attacking this success. We've seen attacks on the electricity as electricity's gotten up. We've seen attacks on the police training center as the police have gotten up and running. So there are definitely people who want to try to drag this back and stop it. But I would say a significant amount of progress is being made in this regard.
Is there a lot more to do? Yes. There's still the security situation. The electricity is not all the way there yet. There is much more to happen, that will happen in the political progress. So we want to consistently make progress in this, and I think as the report points out, these things need to keep happening to give people a sense that -- of what the future is going to be.
QUESTION: Well, it also says the Pentagon and the administration both need to allow other countries to have more of a role, and the United Nations as well.
MR. BOUCHER: And we have certainly encouraged other countries to play more of a role and we've welcomed the contributions that people have made and are willing to make. And as we just discussed, we're open --
QUESTION: Well, more than just troops, I think it said.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there's plenty of ways that other countries are playing a role through the United Nations agencies that are there, many of them playing a role directly in assistance programs. We've just been talking, as you know, with the European Union as well as with other donors about the prospect for another sort of fund to be set up that people can contribute to.
If you look back on June 24th at the meetings at the UN among donors, the UN Development Program outbrief, briefing at the end of that, talked about this prospect of setting up a fund so that other donors could do projects together if they weren't going to do them alone. So there are a lot of different ways that we're getting more and more countries involved.
QUESTION: Two questions, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Elise.
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on plans for a donors conference in -- was it in October there was talk about that? And then also, are you planning to bring, when the -- this council goes to the UN, are you planning to bring them to Washington for meetings with U.S. officials?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if they'll come down here for what meetings or not. I will have to double-check on that. As far as donors conference, I don't think there's anything definite at this point. It has been, indeed, discussed among potential donors, among people who are involved and want to be involved, but I don't think there's anything particular yet.
QUESTION: Richard, on that trust fund --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, on the trust fund.
QUESTION: I don't know exactly what they've proposed, but have you heard anybody saying that some of the oil revenues should go into that fund?
MR. BOUCHER: That's not the purpose of this fund. The oil revenue is going into the Iraqi Development Fund which is administered by the Iraqis in conjunction with the Coalition Provisional Authority subject to international audit. That was established by the UN resolution.
The discussion at New York and the briefing done by the UN Development Program had -- was about a fund that's actually similar to a fund that worked very well in Afghanistan for other donors to contribute, for the World Bank and UNDP to take a role in the project planning and execution -- basically an opportunity for people who wanted to contribute, wanted to make a difference for the Iraqi people to make the contribution, but not to have to set up their entire sort of -- an entire program and execution apparatus on their own.
QUESTION: Richard, regarding the October of 2002 statement you made yesterday, do we have an exact date as to when the State Department -- it was October of 2002, but can you be a little bit more specific? October 1st, 2nd or 3rd or something like that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember the exact date. It was really the first half of the month. I don't remember exactly what date it was.
QUESTION: Three questions --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Niger?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we're going to stay on Niger for a while.
QUESTION: Once you received these documents, you said that -- you said yesterday that they were shared throughout the government. But did you ever hear after that time any government agencies making statements that they did not have the documents? I mean, when was it actually publicly known that you did have these documents?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't understand what the question is. Did I hear any government agency say publicly, "We don't have the Niger documents"?
QUESTION: Well, you -- the State Department shared the documents immediately, according to you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Were there statements still being made that they didn't -- that certain authorities didn't have documents?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think any -- I don't remember -- still being made? I don't remember ever saying, "We don't have them." You mean, publicly, in terms of public statements?
MR. BOUCHER: If you find one, we'll ask what the situation was, but I don't remember any such discussion.
Remember, this is -- the documents were not the way this arose. This arose in reports and allegations, things that had been reported much earlier than that. And, indeed, the CIA sent Ambassador Wilson out in February of 2002. There was already discussion in the intelligence community, including the commentary from our Bureau of Intelligence and Research that said the idea was highly dubious that Iraq had obtained "yellow cake" from Niger.
So this was already a subject of discussion. The documents sort of came -- the actual documents themselves -- you know, came quite, you know, after many months already that it had been an issue. But it was not the center of discussion among the intelligence agencies. It was not the center of the case on going to war. It was not the issue.
QUESTION: Why weren't they handed over to the IAEA for a couple of months, at least, after that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know -- I mean, there were probably a few weeks, maybe four or five weeks, if I remember correctly, I think the IAEA asked after they saw it in our fact sheet, and by early February they had the documents. I don't know exactly the bureaucratic process of, you know, providing them from release, but remember that the sharing, the considerable information sharing we were doing with the inspectors, with the IAEA and the other inspectors, was actionable intelligence. Remember that phrase? We discussed it quite a bit here. It was information that they could use to find where the programs were, to find -- to inspect sites.
And so the sort of inquiry into information that, you know, that was not clear how good it was, it was less important than giving them information that was as good as we could get that would tell them, "If you go here, you might find something," or "If you go here, go in the back door because otherwise they'll sneak out the side door."
So we were much more focused on giving them actionable intelligence. That was the goal. I think they asked for these, and through whatever processes necessary, they were eventually shared.
QUESTION: Richard, on that -- would there have been any reason to give this stuff to the IAEA before the resolution that actually passed, which wasn't until November? We're talking about, you say, mid-October. The inspectors didn't even exist. I mean, they existed but without it --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't. I mean, again, it was never -- sort of the nature of our sharing was on things, news they can use.
QUESTION: Yeah, but were you giving them other things, but pre-Resolution 1441?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we weren't just -- not that I know of. We may have -- I suppose in the normal course of business, because the IAEA had other safeguards, there might have been some information we were sharing with them anyway on the safeguard of material. But more or less, the whole process of inspections, the sharing of information related to Iraq's programs really accelerated once the resolution was passed, the inspectors were up and running. And that was -- and the more they got into it, the more capability they had to act on information, the more we shared information that they could act on.
QUESTION: Richard, how long did it take you to establish that those documents were fraudulent?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know at what point the intelligence agencies or others might have established they were fraudulent. As I said, there were many in the -- some in the intelligence agencies, let me put it that way, because it was a matter of record in the national intelligence estimate that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa, including Niger, but there was some in the intelligence agencies who thought claims that Iraq had obtained the information were dubious to begin with. So I'm not sure they spent that much time trying to figure out if the documents, you know, the documents themselves. It was the IAEA, I think, that first came out in public, Dr. ElBaradei in March, to say that these were outright forgeries.
QUESTION: I have three questions. I will ask them one by one.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. (Laughter.) That's at least more honest than saying I have a follow-up. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Okay, first is Charles Lee.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: This morning we got some -- I got a phone call actually from his fiancée in the States. And I just want to confirm with you what was your news update on his case.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. A U.S. Consular Officer spoke by telephone on July 16th with Chuck Lee. He's the American citizen who's imprisoned in China on charges pertaining to the attempted sabotage of broadcast equipment. This was the eighth conversation with Mr. Lee within the past ten weeks, either by telephone or in person.
Mr. Lee complained of mistreatment on the part of prison authorities. He also reported being forced to attend anti-Falun Gong group study sessions.
We have protested his treatment to appropriate prison authorities. At Mr. Lee's request, the United States Embassy and the Consul General in Shanghai have also raised Mr. Lee's case with senior officials at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with Jiangsu provincial authorities on several occasions, both formally and informally.
And the U.S. Embassy and the Consulate General in Shanghai will continue to monitor his case closely and raise issues related to his imprisonment and to his health with appropriate Chinese officials.
QUESTION: With regard to his right now hunger strike, are there in protest of this kind of mistreatment? And they also confiscated all his letter written to the U.S. Consulate officials in Shanghai.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any -- I don't know those details one way or the other, whether they're true or not. I can't confirm them.
MR. BOUCHER: I just don't have that information. But we certainly have been in touch with him directly over the telephone, as well as sometimes in person.
QUESTION: Tomorrow -- actually, by the end of tomorrow -- the persecution of Falun Gong will enter its fifth year. Given this massive scale of persecution to this many people, actually lots of resources were consumed or were used, spent, in this massive persecution. Since the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister is in town, do you think the State Department would bring up this issue and tell the Chinese that given this --
MR. BOUCHER: There are always many issues on the U.S.-China agenda, and this is an issue that has been important to us that we have been raising with the Embassy and the Consulate General have been raising in China. We just talked a few moments ago some other issues that are of concern to us.
The talks today are principally about North Korea. That's the purpose of the visit. That's what we're working here in these particular discussions. So I don't know whether any of these other issues, whether it will be possible to address them, but they are issues that we address on a regular basis with Chinese authorities.
QUESTION: Okay, the third question is we heard that actually every delegation from China will bring up this Falun Gong issue and is particularly with regard to the lawsuit, the genocide lawsuit filed by Falun Gong people here in the United States against the former Chinese president. Well, if you're asked this question, will the State Department respond in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: In what way?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me check and get you the actual -- the kind of response we use on that. It's a legal matter. I think in most cases we leave it to the courts.
QUESTION: You mentioned something about Mr. Lee's health. Do you have any reason to believe that he is in ill health?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I said, he has complained of mistreatment. I know there have been these reports that he's on a hunger strike, so his health has been a matter of concern to us.
Okay, let's proceed back.
QUESTION: Sao Tome?
MR. BOUCHER: Sao Tome.
QUESTION: Yeah. Has your ambassador been in touch with Major Pereira or anyone else in the -- of the coup people?
MR. BOUCHER: Our --
QUESTION: And what -- any negotiations taking place that you can tell us about?
MR. BOUCHER: Our ambassador has been working with people on -- well, with other diplomats. He's also been in touch with people involved in the arrests. He's been in touch, together with the Portuguese ambassador, with military officials who have been involved in arresting officials of the freely elected government. Our ambassador has also been in touch with President Menezes, who is in Nigeria. And our other diplomats, including our ambassador to Nigeria, has been in touch with him as well. Since the Leon Sullivan Summit was taking place in Abuja, there were actually number of African leaders there who are concerned about the situation.
So we've been working diplomatically directly with President Menezes as -- and in touch with military officials who are involved in this action as -- and then we've been working with other Africans as well to try to bring a peaceful and nonviolent resolution to the situation that would involve release of all the hostages and allow the elected government to continue to function.
There have been some positive developments in the last 24 hours. Four of the hostages have been released, although ten are still being held. The airport is now open. Flights have already -- one flight, at least, has already departed and others are expected today.
Our Embassy reports that all is calm in Sao Tome. There is a minimal military presence on the streets. Cities seem to be returning to normal. All American citizens are safe and we're not aware of any injuries to anyone during this crisis. So we'll continue to work diplomatically with others and to continue our contacts with appropriate officials to try to resolve the situation peacefully.
QUESTION: Okay. But have you seen any sign from those people you've been in touch with, the military people, that they are willing to restore the democratically elected government?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to predict anything at this point, no.
QUESTION: Richard, have you made a determination yet on what actually happened and whether any aid will be affected?
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of the legal requirements of Section 508 of the Foreign Operations Act -- what you're asking about -- we and our lawyers are starting to assess the situation. We'll be looking at the activity in Sao Tome in relation to our law and will make appropriate determinations as events proceed.
QUESTION: So the answer is no?
MR. BOUCHER: Not finished yet, no. But we've -- we're looking at it.
QUESTION: If I could just attack it another way, the reports out of Sao Tome say that the new leaders are willing to negotiate, but they're pretty vague about what they might actually be negotiating. Can you throw any light on what --
MR. BOUCHER: I think all I can tell you at this point is we're in touch with other parties, as well as the military officials involved and the government, to try to resolve this peacefully and come to a resolution that leads to a release of everybody who has been arrested and a restoration and continuation of democratic government.
QUESTION: Have you heard from any of the African countries of any contingency plans for military intervention?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, we are working to try to resolve this peacefully, and that's what we are talking to others about.
QUESTION: Richard, this -- do you want to talk about something else?
MR. BOUCHER: There's a million people in the back.
QUESTION: I'm sure they all want to talk about Sao Tome. If they do --
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe not. Anybody else for Sao Tome? No? You get Sao Tome. Go.
QUESTION: They did say, as Jonathan said, that they would negotiate with this international team that's going in, and this team is made up of these people from the Portuguese-speaking nation group as well as someone from the U.S.. Am I correct in thinking that this -- that this person is going to be the ambassador who is there?
MR. BOUCHER: Our ambassador has been working with the Portuguese ambassador and he's the one that's working it on the ground. I don't know of any others who are --
QUESTION: So another person would go out there from here?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to double-check, but I'm not aware of anybody else going in for us. Our ambassador has been the point-man on this from Sao Tome itself in terms of what's going on there, but also he's been in touch with the president, who is in Nigeria.
QUESTION: Sao Tome still. There was a report that the U.S. ambassador to Angola, Mr. Dell, had also gone to Sao Tome. Is that completely --
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't heard that. I'll double-check and see.
Okay, let's start way in the back. Lambros.
QUESTION: The Turkish Cypriot leader Raul Denktash is threatening now to send settlers to the occupied territory of Cyprus, Varosi of Famagustu, for the first time after 29 years of invasion and occupation. Since this new threat is against the UN plan and the U.S. effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, I wondering if you could comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen the statement, so I don't have any comment right now. I will have to -- we'll have to look it up and see.
QUESTION: And last Monday there was a meeting here with -- between Secretary Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Do you know if they discussed the Cyprus issue, too?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if it came up in that meeting. Again, I would have to check.
QUESTION: Yes, in today's Washington Post there's an article concerning earlier Iran with Justice Lampert and he's the U.S. Justice that has filed numerous law claims against the regime in Iran. And there seems to be a dispute. They are willing to have those particular cases brought forth, but a cap on the amounts to individuals. And this is in respect to terrorism, suicide bombings and so forth. And I don't know if the paper is accurate, but they say there is a -- some dissent within the State Department concerning those particular caps to individuals.
MR. BOUCHER: I think -- yeah, what you're talking about is a claims -- the question about how claims of victims of terrorism can be paid. And I think first, make clear that we've dealt quite a bit with this subject. We very much sympathize with the plaintiffs in this case and others for suffering, for the losses that they have experienced as a result of acts of terrorism, including the one at issue in this particular case.
We have been working within the administration, and now we've made a proposal to Congress on how a comprehensive approach to compensation can be established, an approach that would be fair, that would be equitable and take into account the suffering of the victims.
The current system is based solely on litigation. It leaves many victims with nothing but large default judgments that, in fact, they can't satisfy. And so we have seen many cases where victims have obtained judgments, attempted to attach blocked assets, and then they have to compete against each other for satisfaction against the very same assets.
There's something like $500 million that's been paid to satisfy compensatory damages; $386 million of that, though, has come from the U.S. Treasury, not from foreign governments. So we think the current system can be improved and we've made proposals to ensure that all victims will get compensation. Up until now, fewer than one victim in five has been paid anything. And so we think this is an affordable approach, one that gets some compensation to people who deserve it, and one that takes into account our national interests.
QUESTION: Richard, on this.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah?
QUESTION: I'm a bit confused. Is this -- would your approach apply to people who were the victims, or the people who have brought litigation against states or, and non-state actors such as kind of -- in other words, does this apply to frozen assets of individuals of groups only or -- and/or frozen assets of countries?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the issue that is being dealt with in this case, and the legislation is state-sponsors. I would have to look at the legislation itself to see how broadly it applies to others, as well.
QUESTION: So it does apply to states or to the assets of governments?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Exactly what is the rationale for the U.S. taxpayer having to pay -- paying compensation to a victim of terrorism sponsored by country X. Surely that defeats the purpose of holding country X accountable?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the rationale has been -- what we've seen is that blocked assets that belong to country X themselves are the subject of negotiation and litigation and are often not available to satisfy Americans who need to be taken care of and so this is a way of trying to satisfy the needs of Americans who are being taken care of while preserving -- allowing those other things to be handled in their own manner.
QUESTION: Right. Well, and you also mentioned -- you mentioned that sometimes people, the victims have to compete against each other to get these things. But isn't it also a fact that they have to compete against the State Department, which -- or the U.S. Government which routinely says, or files briefs with courts saying, "You can't touch this money"?
MR. BOUCHER: They have to compete against other claims on the money whether they are international agreements or other court cases.
QUESTION: John Bolton's testimony over --
MR. BOUCHER: Rescheduled for September 16th.
QUESTION: Yeah, could you say why? Can you say if it's because the CIA refused to clear the testimony?
MR. BOUCHER: It was because there was another meeting schedule at the same time and so he had to postpone the testimony and worked it out with the committee. He'll be out there September 16th explaining it all.
QUESTION: Well, can you say anything about reports that other agencies had a problem with some of the claims that he was making?
MR. BOUCHER: No. It was rescheduled because of other meetings that conflicted with it.
MR. BOUCHER: They've now agreed they'll be out there September 16th explaining it all.
QUESTION: Okay. One more. Have you reached agreement with the British on these detainees at Gitmo?
MR. BOUCHER: We've been in close touch with the British as well as the Australians. I think Prime Minister Blair and President Bush last night said the White House would have something today and I'm sure the White House will.
QUESTION: The British announced (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure the White House will.
Okay, let's head back to the back and continue.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I have two questions. Has the administration now abandoned the plan to have the Palestinian state by 2005?
MR. BOUCHER: No. We're still trying to make the roadmap work the way it was planned.
QUESTION: Second question. A high level commission just back from Iraq is urging more international involvement in the peacemaking process, but most countries seem to be sending only token assistance. What can the Secretary do to get more cooperation?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we discussed this in considerable detail only 20 minutes ago, maybe a half hour. The simple answer to your question is we are providing different ways for countries to assist. We're talking to other governments about what they can do to help in this situation. We're talking to governments about what they can do militarily, what they can do with police, what they could do in terms of the Development Fund to help the Iraqi people, what they can do in terms of other kinds of funds that might be formed or other kinds of projects that might be undertaken to help the Iraqi people.
So we have been working with other governments and basically said there's a lot of work to do to help the Iraqis get back on their feet and we welcome everybody who can make a contribution.
Okay. Let's keep going down.
QUESTION: Yes, on the Iraq government council, Turkey conveyed its concern through the U.S. Embassy in Ankara because there is a member within this council, an Iraqi Kurd namely, Mahmoud Osman, who has connections with the PKK. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I was asked that question yesterday and I referred it to the coalition, and I've --
QUESTION: But it was not asked yes--
MR. BOUCHER: -- and I've now said that, I will tell you again, I think for any accounting on individuals in the council --
QUESTION: But the story is --
MR. BOUCHER: -- you'd have to ask the coalition.
QUESTION: -- continuing. I mean, --
MR. BOUCHER: That may be, but it can continue more if you go ask the coalition provisional authority and they give you an answer.
QUESTION: I think they conveyed their concerns to Washington. That's why I'm asking.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, the coalition provision authority would be the one to tell you who's on the council and how they got there and what their background might be.
QUESTION: The North Korean talk comment. There is report from South Korean Government of Zhejiang that North is demanding China to exclude Japan at this time because of their, what they call the colonialization before --
MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask the North Koreans what their position is. Our position is that Japan and North -- and South Korea should be included in the discussion.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Yesterday you said it's important to move to a five-way talk at this time.
MR. BOUCHER: It still is today.
QUESTION: And you did not rule out the three way talks. What about four-way talks? It's out of the question?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think we've said before, we have not seen any proposals for four-way talks, but we do think it's important to move to five-party talks, that Japan and South Korea have a role. That's what we're pressing for. That's what we want to see.
QUESTION: Does U.S. oppose to four-way talk?
MR. BOUCHER: We are pushing for five-party talks. We've not -- there's not a proposal to be for or against on four-party talks as far as I know.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just for a (inaudible).
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) particularly any necessity to hold our, I know it's a TCOG meeting in the next week or near future?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- I checked. There's nothing scheduled at this time. I'm sure it will continue to consult very closely with the Japanese and South Korean Governments. I think they have also been in direct contact with the Chinese about where the Chinese --in what the Chinese heard in North Korea, so there's a lot of consultation going on between the different people it has involved, and we'll continue to consult very closely with Japan and South Korea.
Over here. Sir.
QUESTION: There has been a Syrian redeployment in Lebanon -- reports of 1,000 soldiers --
MR. BOUCHER: There have been reports of that, there have been reports that some of them withdrew. I don't think I have any --
QUESTION: What's your assessment -- is it a product of the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any --
QUESTION: -- ongoing U.S. --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any real assessment for you on exactly where the troops might be. What I would tell you is we've always encouraged the process that envisaged by UN resolutions that Syrian troops would re-deploy and that Lebanon would be free of all foreign forces, and that remains -- it's something that United States policy is supportive of and that we continue to look for opportunities to advance.
QUESTION: Do you think it's enough, timewise? I mean, --
QUESTION: Which UN resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to look it up. I can't remember it, actually.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) 520.
MR. BOUCHER: What's -- no -- it's --
MR. BOUCHER: 425 is free of all foreign forces, right? I don't remember. I have -- you can find it on the web, please. I don't remember exactly which resolution contains that phrase.
QUESTION: Richard, in several years U.S. states, hate crimes are on the rise, especially against Indians with the turbans and beards called Sikhs, including in San Francisco at least two taxi drivers were murdered this week. So what you think State Department as their foreign policy is concerned if the Indian Government in touch with the State Department or will State Department take any action?
MR. BOUCHER: If you want to know what the Indian Government is doing, ask the Indian Government. These are --
QUESTION: But the U.S. and this --
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that hate crimes are wrong and that we have laws, we have states, we have authorities to try to stop them. I think you've heard from Mayor Guiliani on this subject as well as he was heading out to the anti-Semitism conference in Europe that it's a matter of considerable discussion and legal action in the United States.
QUESTION: Finally, I have one on Burma, if you can update us, please, on the democracy in Burma, and also congressional action this week or yesterday, if this is enough or what other actions the U.S. Government are you going to take?
MR. BOUCHER: The -- well, there's no update, unfortunately, on democracy in Burma. There's not any progress in that regard, and Burma remains an important concern for us.
We have worked with the Congress on the legislation that is working its way through the Hill. I can't remember if it's fully passed yet or not. We have also been looking at steps that we can take. We've taken some steps with regard to visas and other things, and we're also actively working on questions of assets and trade.
QUESTION: This question is about UNFPA and I'm kind of asking, see if you had anything on why, again, this year the State Department authorization is holding up funding for FPA. Is it for the same reasons as last year in terms of the -- of money going to China, which supports --
MR. BOUCHER: I think there's two things that are going on. One of the progress of the legislation on the Hill. There are a number of concerns we've had about the House bill that's working its way through -- the State Department authorization bill that was working its way through the House on the UN Population Fund. We strongly oppose Section 116(e), which earmarked $50 million of unrequested funding for the UNFPA in fiscal years -- in each of fiscal years 2004 and 2005. We were pleased and encouraged when the earmark that had been added during committee markup was deleted on the House floor by the Smith Amendment, the Smith Amendment on UNFPA makes the bill language consistent with the administration's family planning policy.
As you know, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment has specifically precluded U.S. funding of UNFPA under certain circumstance, and last year we made a determination that their assistance to China supported birth limitation programs that are coercive, and so those conditions still apply.
QUESTION: And you're making efforts to see if you can give -- this year to give the money to UNFPA but make sure the U.S. -- none of U.S. funding goes directly to China?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we think that this amendment withdrawing the funding was consistent with our policy.
We have made clear right from the start of this administration that we would continue to support population and health programs as much as we have in the past, that money that was not spent in one way could be spent in other ways. And I believe that was the case last year with this money that was not spent through UNFPA, and I would expect that to be the case in the future as well.
QUESTION: Have you determined yet whether Cuba is, in fact, the source of the jamming of these satellite television and radio signals? And if you have, have you said anything to the Cubans about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We have, indeed, raised it with the -- raised the jamming with the Government of Cuba. I think I would say that the interference with Loral Skynet's commercial satellite transmissions appears to be emanating from the vicinity of Cuba. It does appear to be intentional.
So yesterday, we called in Cuban Government representatives in Washington and we formally requested the Cuban Government to look into the matter.
QUESTION: Richard, from the vicinity of Cuba? I mean, that could be Miami, for all we -- I mean, from the vicinity of Cuba?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're meaning closer vicinity than that. But we've asked them to look into the matter and we would expect to hear back from them.
QUESTION: I mean, in the middle of the sea? Can you say from Cuba, not just the vicinity?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, no I can't. I can say in the vicinity of Cuba. There's not a much -- there's not much in the vicinity of Cuba besides water, but that's as much as I can confirm for you.
QUESTION: There's no suggestion that they're doing this from some kind of boat, is it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to be the technical whiz here and tell you exactly where this stuff is coming from. That's what we know. That's what we've raised with the Cubans. I don't want to mislead you by trying to get more specific.
QUESTION: So the Cubans -- what did you say to them, exactly? Stop it?
MR. BOUCHER: We said we want you to look into this matter, we want you to find out what we can and report back to us.
QUESTION: Did they say anything right away?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that they had anything to say at that point.
QUESTION: Falun Gong hate crime. Next Monday it will be -- next Monday there will be a congressional briefing on recent assault -- attack against some Falun Gong practitioners in New York when they were having a peaceful demonstration, and the attacker is believed -- is China -- Chinese community leader who has been able to have direct relation or connection with Chinese Embassy. And also, that incident in terms of time and location coincides with the welfare dinner of the Chinese Permanent Ambassador to UN.
Are you aware of this incident, and what's your --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if that incident has been reported to us, but I think, as you said, it's a matter being handled by local law enforcement.
MR. BOUCHER: We've got one more down here?
QUESTION: The Government of Guyana, or the prime minister or president of Guyana said that they were going to sign an Article 98 agreement. Do you know if that's been done?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. I'd have to check. Thanks.