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Briefing on the Transition from CPA to US Mission

Briefing on the Transition from Coalition Provisional Authority to U.S. Mission, Baghdad, Iraq

Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone, U.S. Department of State Coordinator for Iraq Transition; Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mick Kicklighter, U.S. Department of Defense Director of Iraq Transition

Washington, DC June 9, 2004

(2:10 p.m. EDT)

MR. ERELI: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to welcome you and welcome back, by popular demand, our two directors for the transition in Iraq from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador Frank Ricciardone from the State Department and General Mick Kicklighter from the Department of Defense. These two gentlemen have been working together representing these two -- their two institutions from the very beginning to ensure a seamless transition from the CPA to the embassy when sovereignty is handed over to the Iraqi people on June 30th.

They have made, I think, significant progress and are here to brief us on the process leading up to the establishing of the American embassy and the opening of the American embassy when sovereignty hands over and to answer your questions.

So let me first introduce Ambassador Frank Ricciardone, to be followed by a few statements by General Kicklighter, and then we will take your questions. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Good afternoon and thanks for coming. I am especially pleased to be joined today by my colleague and good friend, General Mick Kicklighter, who will be leaving in just a few days for Baghdad on what will be his fifth trip since we began our partnership in January, while I will be leaving shortly thereafter for Manila to resume my post for the inauguration for the Philippines President on the very same day that Iraq will be taking over full control of its own national affairs, a start day in both places.

Together with the Iraqi people and their government and the multinational force and the other embassies in Baghdad, we are going to be facing special challenges there, but I am very confident -- Mick and I both are -- that we will be up to the challenges. And that is because we have got everything the President has asked us to put in place for the strategy he has given us; that is, a detailed and flexible plan and a strong interagency team to keep that planning process going even after the transition, and most of all, an effective US mission organization on the ground in Baghdad.

On the 24th of May, the President gave us our orders really, publicly, when he said, "Our coalition has a clear goal understood by all: to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq," he said, "is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend, a free representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved," the President said, "the sooner our job will be done."

That is a very different mission from that of the Coalition Provisional Authority, and so naturally it requires a different kind of organization. It requires an embassy, the vehicle by which we represent the United States around the world, to sovereign nations. American embassies are each a kind of mini-Washington, an interagency organization, and those agencies include military agencies, as well civilian ones under the ambassador, and we're in every capital where we have a relationship. And their job there is to carry on a daily conversation with the host nation -- the nation of the host government.

Our embassies offer support to the governments of our allies and our friends in the pursuit of interests which we share, and our embassies work cooperatively with host governments, always as equals, to resolve issues when our national -- our respective national interests diverge, or seem to.

Most of all, our embassies do a lot of listening to the people of the governments to which we are accredited. We don't tell sovereign governments what to do. We do tell America's story. We lay out our values, our objectives. We explain what we're trying to accomplish. But we mostly ask our host governments and their peoples and their medias and their nongovernmental organizations about their values and their objectives and what they want to accomplish.

So even as American embassies in other countries seek to advance our common interests with the host governments and peoples, they never take the place of those governments or hold the responsibilities of the host governments themselves or make their decisions for them.

Ambassador Negroponte has made clear that he and the American Embassy in Baghdad, which he will lead, will not succeed the Coalition Provisional Authority. Prime Minister Allawi, President al-Yawer and the interim government of Iraq are the successors to the CPA.

Our plan for standing up the embassy is well on track. We've been working from a set of over 500 milestones necessary to prepare us for the transfer on June 30th. We have also worked extensively together, and not just our two major agencies, the Department of State and Defense, but also other agencies -- Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture -- on planning to staff the embassy, to protect our people, to make sure we have the financial resources we need, to make sure we have the facilities we need, the communications.

We have got a plan this big. This is version 2.7. Actually, we have version 4.0 out in electronic form, and I'll have the heft of that by this afternoon, as well. We've got this as well planned as we can. Things will come up we haven't thought about, we'll have made some wrong assumptions, but we've done a lot to test those assumptions all the way through to identify the people that are going out, and so forth.

By the 30th of June, in fact, just from the Department of State, we will have on the ground nearly half of the people who will be staying there in permanent positions. There will be others there on temporary duty staffing the rest. So we will have a full-up team there. More of our permanent people are heading out every week, including our section chiefs, so that our country team will be in good shape well before the 30th.

Many of the people in the media I've spoken with have focused on the fact that this will be one of our largest embassies. That is true and that is interesting, but for me the most interesting story is the fact of its quality rather than size. This is an all-star team. Once the President appointed Ambassador John Negroponte to his seventh presidential appointment in a really illustrious career as a statesman, other seniors rapidly confirmed that they were ready to serve. And we have got a number of serving ambassadors I might name who left their posts on very short orders, within a matter of a week or so, closing down, coming to Washington for a week or two of reading in, and then getting out to Baghdad.

I might cite, for example, my friend and colleague, Jim Jeffrey, who succeeded me in Turkey, actually. He left his job in Albania in late April, had a few weeks here in May, and by mid-May was out in Baghdad. He has been on the ground now for nearly a moth preparing the new embassy that he will help to lead under Ambassador Negroponte as the Deputy Chief of Mission.

With him will be Ambassador Ron Neumann, who had already taken time away from his post in Bahrain over the past six months to serve in Baghdad under the CPA. He is relinquishing his post formally this month and he will be back in Baghdad to take up a permanent position as Political-Military Chief.

Ambassador Steve Browning left Washington yesterday. He relinquished his post in Malawi just a few weeks ago. He is one of our star managers of the service. He is going out to be the Management Minister Counselor, again, under Ambassador Negroponte and Ambassador -- and Deputy Chief of Mission Jeffrey. And he'll be in Baghdad in a matter of a few days.

Ambassador Neumann's Deputy Chief of Mission of Manama, our Embassy in Bahrain, Bob Ford, will be in Baghdad by the end of the month. He is one of our best Arabists and a Turkish speaker and a man of wide experience. He will be our Political Counselor. So we are getting a lot of really strong talent there.

That is to say nothing -- and I should say something about the people at junior and mid ranks who have been lining up to serve. You know, and I have said publicly before for some 140 or so positions, we had over 200 volunteers competing really rather aggressively to get those assignments. We have identified another 35 positions we are going to open up to cover our regional outreach throughout the country. For those, we have sent out a volunteer cable just in the past ten days or so, and that is getting a gratifying response as well. And the same is true throughout other agencies that are looking for people. Other agencies are sending their best; people are eager to serve and we are not having any problems doing that.

As well, we are carrying forward a number of the people who are serving at CPA who wish to continue. Many of them are detailees from other government agencies. Many more are temporary employees of the United States Government brought on either through contract or through a special authorization that the Defense Department had to bring them on.

So, all in all, we're not going to have a complete change-out of personnel come the 30th of June with a fresh team coming in. There is a substantial handing over of the baton in a kind of relay that will occur, and we expect it to go smoothly.

We're making progress in the area of security, which is one of the greatest challenges we face. It's like people in your profession of journalism. It's very hard to be a diplomat in a country and to speak with the people you've got to speak with from behind walls or armored cars or guard details. But we do it and we manage. We protect our people and we find ways of maximizing our contact with the host people wherever we are.

The same will be true in Iraq. It will depend, to a large extent, on the military for protection, but also on the Department of State's Security Bureau. We have some numbers of their people who are already on the ground. I think 32 of about 48 planned Department of State security officers are already on the ground.

That's a very quick overview. I'd like to give General Kicklighter the microphone for a few minutes and then we'd be glad to take questions together.

Mick.

LTGEN KICKLIGHTER: Okay. Thank you, Frank. I know that you're very busy and I'll try not to repeat too much of what Frank said, but we have been working together constantly, day after day, getting ready for this.

Actually, this mission began in early January, and the first thing that we decided to do was to put seven joint assessment teams on the ground in Iraq and in Baghdad to take a look at exactly what needed to be done as we prepared for this transition. A relief in place is a very difficult military operation, and that is where you have one -- one organization comes in behind another organization, and that organization that is operating withdraws and you don't lose any capability in the process. And that was the goal that we set out to do.

Based on the teams' assessments and their recommendations when they came back, and those teams are still working together with us, as Frank has discussed, we have developed a very detailed transition plan. That plan is being executed as we speak now. Our goal was to get as much done as we could before 1 July, and the things that we had not done before, we hope to start reshaping the organizations in the month of June, so that when July rolls around, there will be very little left to be done, starting as we start with supporting -- a U.S. Embassy supporting a sovereign nation. And, to date, that plan is well on track.

The last thing I'll say, and we said this the last time we spoke to you, each time that we've been out there -- and I know you hear this over and over again -- but we were so impressed with all the people that we came in contact with; that is, the military forces, the civilian personnel, the contractors and the Iraqi folks that we were privileged to meet and get to know out there. We just were inspired by the team effort and the dedication.

And I would add to that group, the families of all of those Americans that are over there. They're great heroes to our country, as well -- the support they're providing their loved ones over there.

With that, I'll stop, and Frank and I will take your questions.

QUESTION: Can I ask, then, about the $18 billion that has to now be managed? I know that nominally the State Department is in charge of that. But on a hands-on level, who is going to be organizing how the projects are managed?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: It's more than a nominal management. It's a heavy responsibility of the Secretary of State, which he will depend on and has charged Ambassador Negroponte to discharge. There will be a substantial staff already in the development, many of the people already on the ground, drawn from people who have been serving in CPA.

The CPA's Project Management Office will go out of business, if it has not already. It's in the process of transitioning. And there will be a project management staff for the ambassador called IRMO, the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office. It will be a temporary office of the embassy, meaning lasting for a few years, as long as the 18.4 billion needs oversight and planning and spending.

Then there will be, under that staff, the implementing agencies. There will be the U.S. Army's Project and Contracting Office, which will implement the majority of those things. It will do a degree of project management also across other agencies that are doing construction. USAID will be another implementing agency. The Department of State has various elements that will implement contracts, such as State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Legal Affairs that will assist in training programs. The Department of Justice is another implementing agency. So there is a series of implementing agencies, each with their respective inspectors general that are involved.

And there will be IRMO that pulls it all together, that makes it transparent, that helps the Ambassador in staffing the priorities, making sure we test those priorities, have a good conversation among the implementers at post. We check it with the country team, report it back to Washington. We keep Congress informed and we keep Washington well informed.

QUESTION: Did you say the majority --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Did you have a follow-up?

QUESTION: Well, it was actually going to be that, yes.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Okay. Sorry?

QUESTION: So the State Department is in charge, but in terms of implementing, it's the Army which is implementing the majority of projects?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Not the majority. I'd have to look. Probably in dollar value, I should guess construction so far would be the majority of the dollars that are already obligated. But AID has something like $3 billion obligated as well. I would have to check the figures for you, but it is not only the Army.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I will do the best, but right now CPA has on their website what the best figures are. We would simply go to CPA and find out what they have done so far. Now, those priorities may well be adjusted in consultation with the people on the ground and in consultation with Congress. But it is not -- it would be inaccurate to suggest that the Army is retaining control of the 18.4 billion. Each of the implementing agencies is going to have a substantial share of that money.

Sir.

QUESTION: Remember the bad old days when much of the countries of the world opposed the war in Iraq and it was said that these countries -- France, Germany, Russia -- would not be given contracts, would not be allowed to have prime Army contracts. It was fine-tuned a few -- a little bit later to say they could be subcontractors.

Well, now that we all love each other and you have a unanimous resolution, what is the state of that situation? Can Germany, France, Russia and others bid with equal hope for an opportunity for contracts with American firms or will this continue to be a bonanza for American oil companies?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I was with you until the last phrase. I'm not sure --

QUESTION: Well, I mean a golden opportunity for American oil and construction companies. It's a fairly clear field. If you eliminate the competition, as we know from our own history, you know, you do better.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I have no further fine-tuning, as you suggested, to the fine-tuning that was done. We are continuing with the fair and open competition that we've had, as I understand it, since we got through that period where there was some question about who gets to bid on primes and who gets to bid on subs. There is no change to that policy as it was most recently set forth.

QUESTION: Meaning, it's open season? Anybody can bid for prime?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I want to -- I have to check --

QUESTION: I understand what you're saying --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I want to check. I would want to use the exact language when we last addressed that by someone who is expert in the bidding process. Okay?

QUESTION: Okay.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: There is no change to the way it has been for these many months. Okay? In terms of equal access by other companies and countries.

Sir.

QUESTION: Just to clarify this. I think some have said that out of the 18 billion, only 4 or 5, I think, billion will be left to be obligated by the time June 30th rolls around, that most of it was going to be -- there are some set-asides for what the U.S. will do after sovereignty is transferred. Can you give us some numbers, please, about what the expectation is on what is going to actually be obligated once the State Department takes over this process from the occupation?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: What I can give you is, again, the numbers that CPA has put out, and my recollection of them -- Mick, you could check my recollection -- is that -- pay close attention to the word "obligated." Something approaching 8 billion may be what they have obligated, actually obligated, by the end of June. We haven't reached the end of June yet. I don't know if they'll reach that or not, but they have not yet obligated that amount. It could be as much as 10 billion. At one point, they were hoping to obligate that. That would -- even if they obligate 10 billion, that would leave 8.4 billion not obligated.

QUESTION: Actually, there's an OMB website that has different sets of figures. So I would like to -- if you could come back to us with some of your figures of what you expect, that would be great.

MR. ERELI: You know, this really -- this really isn't the group to talk about that spending and those figures. This is the group to talk about transition to the embassy. But the specific administration of the funds, I would have to say, belongs to a different office. So, I mean, if you want to talk about the structure of the embassy and the authorities of the different groups within the embassy, that is one thing. But if you want to talk about how -- the specific substance of the work, we would have to get you those specialists.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yes. I'm glad to talk about the management of it, but --

QUESTION: Adam has led me to the point where you wanted to get away from, which is the embassy and the personnel and talking about numbers which all of us are going to have to write or broadcast at some point anyway. So can you review the bidding on how many Foreign Service people there will be, how many State Department, how many local Iraqis there will be hired, and also the situation with the offices, the embassy, the ambassador's residence? Those kind of details?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Sure. Not a lot of change since we last spoke about this. We have been pretty steady on the mark of something over 900 and probably under 1,000 permanent Americans under Chief of Mission authority. Those are important qualifiers. There will be other Americans who may well be out there for shorter terms. By permanent, we mean one-year assignments. There may well, especially at the outset, be additional people there on 90-day special projects that will go away after a certain period. A goodly number of those are identified, many are now in place. As I said, many are people from CPA who will be staying on at least for a few months. We can put out some factoids, some specific numbers on those if you want to have particular very carefully put questions. Because whenever you ask about people, the answer is, "It depends what kinds of people are you counting." But the key datum is over 900/under 1,000 permanent Americans under Chief of Mission authority.

There will be additional people on the embassy premises who will be working for the commander on the order of 3/400. It depends again how you want to count and how much of their time they spend around the embassy premises. There will be on the order, by the end of this calendar year, of 600, maybe 700 FSNs, Foreign Service National employees. That number over time, over the years, I would expect would grow. Typically, the ratio is more Foreign Service Nationals locally engaged staff than there are Americans at most of our embassies.

QUESTION: Excuse me, if I may interrupt, can I? Just a quick question. Initially, we were told this would be the largest embassy, and now you're speaking, and you did a few minutes ago, one of the largest. How does 900 stack up in size to other embassies?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Maybe the largest.

QUESTION: Maybe the largest?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: That's what I thought it was going to be.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I think so. I wouldn't want to be pinned down to it. Whenever I've checked, people say, well, Cairo is, you know, 600-odd, and so it's substantially higher.

QUESTION: Well, the AID office in Cairo is probably as large as that.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: We count aid and military assistance groups in those other missions. In this embassy, the military assistance will be done at the outset by the command, so that will not be under the ambassador's authority, direct authority.

QUESTION: And the buildings, the -- you know, is this all in the green zone? Are you finished rehabbing in those --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: In Baghdad -- we will have representation outside Baghdad for outreach to the provincial areas where we have various projects going on. In Baghdad, we expect to be fully in the green zone. We have identified a former residential palace belonging to the regime as a site that we would use for the interim as the chancery, as the main chancery. The ambassador's office would be there, maybe 40 or 50 desks.

We would be obliged to continue using the present site used by the CPA for an interim period only, very temporarily, for a lot more of the American embassy work that would have less to do with the public. We want to have the main chancery be easier of access to the public, and that we just need a space to be until we construct a new embassy.

We have chosen a site that we would like to begin building on. We will be speaking with the government of Iraq as we go ahead and make those arrangements and setting that all up. We expect it would take a good couple of years to build a new embassy, once we break ground.

QUESTION: How many -- just on Charlie's question. How many places around Iraq will people be assigned, like, to consulates or --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Sure.

QUESTION: -- missions? And also, how many people will be in the ministries, detailed to the ministries --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Sure, okay.

QUESTION: -- on contract, or whatever?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Around the country, four, five and one is the formula that we're using: about four regional hubs in Mosul, Kirkuk, Hilla, and Basra; and, in addition, we will have five smaller regional teams working with -- directly with military units, who will assist those units in speaking with the local communities, working with them. So that's the five.

The one is Baghdad is itself a province and we will work with the provincial government and the municipal government of Baghdad from the embassy, of course. That's what we mean by the four, five, and one formula.

In terms of experts provided to support the ministries, we have come up with about 200 foreign experts that we understand from the Iraqi ministries now they would like to have. And I have to assume that number may go up or may go down as the Iraqi themselves decide they want and as foreign countries are able to provide.

Of those 200 or so that we've currently identified, about 155 have been filled by Americans heretofore, and we hope to replace all of them. About 111 of those 155 are people who want to stay on and are on the ground and will stay on, at least for some months, and we are working now to recruit another 45 or so.

You asked about what kind of people they are, whether some are temporary employees. They're a mix of detailees from American government agencies. There have been some from the State Department helping the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There have been some from Treasury helping with the Central Bank and Ministry of Finance, and so forth, as you'd expect.

I think something over half are what we call 3161 hires, under 5 U.S. Code 3161, the Defense Department, through CPA, its temporary organization, has been able to bring on some temporary employees, and a number of that.

QUESTION: Do you count those as part of the 700?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yes, they're under Chief of Mission authority.

I'm conscious there are other people who have questions, too.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: The green zone right now is a closed area with, I think, four or five main gates. Is that going to remain like that, a closed area that you can lock down when you need to and open up when you need to? Is that entire area still going to be under U.S. command and with all the embassy personnel inside there? Or is that going to be changed?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Its exact status is something we're going to have to work together with the government of Iraq over time. In the short term, we intend to keep it a secure area for both Iraqis who have business there, and we hope there will be many, all the time. Some number of Iraqis do live in there now. But we will be working with the government of Iraq to make sure it stays secure and that it is an effective place from which we can do business, diplomatic business, and which other embassies can do diplomatic business, for a time, until it goes to being a more normal place than it ever was in the past under Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: Will the Iraqi military help you?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: We hope so, because we're working with the Iraqi military on security issues across the way. When we've visited --

LTGEN KICKLIGHTER: In fact, they're helping us now.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yeah. When we've visited, we've checked out some of those gateposts, and we see American soldiers with Iraqi soldiers.

LTGEN KICKLIGHTER: Right, side by side.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: I have one more question, which is, the Mujahedin-e Khalq are currently still on the State Department terrorism list, but they are being -- they're in a camp that is protected or being held by the U.S. military. They have been asking for refugee status. What happens to them? They're in, I think, Camp Ashraf.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: That's an Adam Ereli question. Really, that's outside of the scope of the planning we're doing, the operations and management of -- for the embassy. Sincerely. I mean, I don't know the answer to your question.

QUESTION: Okay.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Okay.

Please.

QUESTION: You didn't answer Charlie's question about how many Arab speakers you'd expect to have in that staff.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Among the Americans?

QUESTION: Yes.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Not as many as we'd like. I don't know what the number is. I haven't got a list of them. Among the seniors, there are several excellent Arabic speakers. Bob Ford, the Political Counselor that I mentioned, is not only an excellent Arabist, but he speaks excellent Turkish.

Ron Neumann speaks excellent Arabic. Others who do not, who would not claim to speak excellent Arabic, know some, or have background in the Arab world, like Jim Jeffrey, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait as well as in Ankara. And some -- Steve Browning, the management counselor of mission, I don't know whether he would claim to speak Arabic. He served in Cairo so he has Arab world time. And, more importantly, as you get down to middle and junior ranks, we have recruited particularly for Arabic speakers. But the simple answer is, "Not enough. We wish we had more."

QUESTION: And one other thing. On the land that you have identified to build the embassy on, under what circumstances do you acquire that land? Do you need to -- have you already agreed with the Iraqis, although it would have been the old Iraqi government, that you get it? Do you have it?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: We have longstanding claims back and forth, actually, going back to, I think, 1970. In 1967, the Iraqi government at the time seized our what was then a brand new purpose-built embassy which was right near the Republican Palace. It has a history. It was later the Foreign Ministry and later Saddam took it. And we have always had that claim. When I was a young desk officer in the early '80s, we had a lot of backing and forthing and they proposed other plots.

We never concluded that conversation with the existing governments of Iraq through the '60s, '70s and '80s. We are going to have to take up that conversation with the new Iraqi government and now there is the whole question of, you know, new places for us to build. And we'll sort that out. It won't be easy. It will take a negotiation with a sovereign country that will have its own views on what its rights are and what it wants us to do.

QUESTION: So your presumption is you would build on the old site or you are looking for a completely new one?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: No, the old site is too small. And not only that, it is right next to the Republican Palace, which we are sure the Iraqis will want. It's theirs. And they would probably not want a foreign embassy right by the Republican Palace any more than the government did in 1967. I think it was in '70 when they declared it theirs. So we are assuming we are just going to have to take up where we left off and have that conversation. We'll figure it out. You know, these things come up all around the world. Sometimes they take a long time to resolve but we always do work out a functional resolution.

You don't have your hand up, but you had a question before and I don't want to leave out Turkish friends.

QUESTION: Thank you. I was going to ask you whether you would have more representations beyond Baghdad. And the second, one I know you are very much, you know, beyond the management because we have seen you in Turkey and also very much related to the Kurds. And today's news that Turkey has been very much focuses, the thing that comes out, the two -- the letter that goes to the President and the warnings that they had, number one, that their dissatisfaction toward the UN Security Counsel resolution and the exchange they had with the Shiite cleric, Mr. Sistani.

So I was wondering how you are reacting to it and how you are seeing Kurds going forward from June 30th onwards.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I really do want to stay away from the policy questions because it's not -- I don't want to make anyone's job any harder than it already is and I haven't seen what has come out of Ankara today. But you know my own personal affection for Turkey, and certainly anything that Turkey is concerned about in Iraq, we're concerned about. We stay close on these issues.

We've got questions in the back. We've been favoring the front. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes. Is Basra going to be reopened as a consulate by any chance? And these regional offices, what relationship will they have to the Iraqi government as such? Will they always just report through the embassy and there will be no Foreign Ministry agreement for the Mosul consulate or whatever you want to call it? These regional offices are kind of intriguing. They're the first time that the embassy that I know of has ever had regional offices. How could you describe their relationship to the Iraqi government?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: They are temporary arrangements. One or more of them could become, over time, consulates. We would be discussing that with the government of Iraq, I'm sure. They will function in the interim, however, much like what we call constituent posts of embassies overseas. When I was in Turkey, we had one, two, three of them. And their roles always are -- they always report back through the ambassador. They are on the same status as other American diplomats. They are in the regions precisely so that they can have direct contact with regional and municipal governments and private entities, the media, the universities, to help carry out our various programs. In Iraq we will have a lot of development assistance going on outside of Baghdad, whether construction projects or governance projects or media projects, educational projects, and it takes people on site or at least nearby to be able to manage those well and to respond to what the local people want us to do to make sure we have the right sense of local priorities.

As I mentioned at the outset, the role is not, you know, we are not administering the country anymore. We are not going to be the government of the country. That means we need to listen. If we are going to support, we need to have good conversations with the people, listen to what they want. We are not going to go building things for them that are not their priorities.

If the people in Hilla say, "We really need to have, you know, more of this type of project and less of that," well, that would be a deciding factor. They tell their central government that and our local representation will tell the embassy that and we'll adjust our national policies accordingly.

Does that answer the question fully?

QUESTION: Yes, and I have a follow-on, please. Concerning the relationship of the embassy with the Iraqi government, I presume it will be just like any other embassy. I'm not sure how many other embassies there are there.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Forty-three. Well, we'll be the 44th.

QUESTION: You will be the 44th.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And the Foreign Minister -- you will be working primarily in terms of formal relationship with the Foreign Ministry. What happens to the Iraqi oil revenues? Are they --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: It's theirs.

QUESTION: Are theirs.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: You're getting again outside of my immediate area, but that is an obvious well known fact: They will have full control of their oil revenues.

We will not be working (inaudible).

Sir.

QUESTION: Are you considering paying for the property of the new embassy through a negotiation process on the property that was seized back in '67?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Clearly, the property that was seized -- seized? We left in '67 and broke relations and it was 1984 before we resumed relations. I think the actual seizure was a few years later, like 1970. I would have to check the history.

Yes, our property in Baghdad will certainly be part of the negotiations that no doubt we will be entering into at some point with the government of Iraq when it finds it's the right moment to do so.

QUESTION: Possibly a direct land property swap?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I don't want to speculate on what the negotiators may come up with. But, you know, we need to be somewhere. Assuming, as the Iraqi government has confirmed, they want to have close, cooperative diplomatic relations with us, we need a physical presence.

Clearly, the old property we had is not suitable. The Iraqis back in the '60s didn't want us to have it. We will be negotiating with them for new property and we will have in those negotiations a resolution on the unresolved issues of our property from 1967.

Are we going around again? Miss.

QUESTION: How quickly do you expect the visa office to be opened up?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Good question.

QUESTION: And is there a certain number of visas? Does that come under a quota system?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Right. At the outset -- we have had consular operations in Baghdad now. However, we have not had visa operations. At the outset, we do not expect to have normal public visa operations. We hope fairly soon, within some months, certainly by the end of this calendar year, to have a limited visa-processing capability for officials and other Iraqis for going on U.S. government programs so that we don't have to send them to Amman or Kuwait to do their visa work, but that would be very, very limited.

No question in future years, many Iraqis will want to travel to the United States and we will have to have a major visa operation, but I don't expect that to happen this calendar year anyway. Good question.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: When will Ambassador Negroponte go to Baghdad? Will he be there for the magic date? And, technically speaking, do the Iraqis take control on the 30th or on the 1st?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Well, there are many magic dates. It depends on what ministry you're in because at least the last count, a dozen or so had already had their magic dates of going under full Iraqi control.

QUESTION: From CPA to embassy?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: No. Remember, it's not CPA to the embassy. It's CPA to the government of Iraq. And that magic date is not later than June 30th. That's the formulation we keep using. No, Ambassador Negroponte at this time, my understanding, does not intend to be there for that. That's the Iraqis' day. That's the day when they get to celebrate taking charge of their national affairs, full charge of all their national affairs, and that's their day.

I expect sometime very soon after that, Ambassador Negroponte will be coming for another magic date, which is the reestablishment of our diplomatic relations which were severed in 1990, I think, or January 1991. I know the chargé left in January of '91. When they actually formally broke with us, I don't recall.

QUESTION: And what's that date?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: That will be very soon after the 30th. I couldn't tell you what date at this point, but it will be soon after. We simply haven't -- we need to discuss this with the government of Iraq, find out when it is convenient for them, set a date, make the arrangements, and we simply haven't completed that conversation yet.

It is not for us to say, "On this date we will do it." It's a two-party decision and we need to make sure the government of Iraq and we agree on the day.

QUESTION: You'll have an interim government. That doesn't present any legal or other problems?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: No. They're the fully sovereign government of Iraq. The UN resolution yesterday made that very clear, so we have no legal problem at all in accrediting an ambassador to that government, assuming they want him in.

QUESTION: There's some presumption of diplomatic relations?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Sure. We'll be in good shape.

QUESTION: Okay.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Sir.

QUESTION: When do you expect the Iraq embassy to open here in Washington?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Good question. They have Rend Al-Rahim here as a kind of acting ambassador, but I don't know what their status is in terms of open or not open. Do you know?

LTGEN KICKLIGHTER: It's an interests section right now, and it's functional.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Right.

QUESTION: But these aren't credentialed --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: You know, we should get back to you and tell you exactly what their status is. I guess officially they are closed and it's -- she's the head of an interests section. That would make sense. But I don't know that for sure. We will have to check and confirm.

Sir.

QUESTION: What is the thinking about the date, the June 30th date? There has been speculation and informed speculation that the date would be earlier than that. There was even talk at the time of the announcement of the interim government that the CPA was going to dissolve itself on that day. So the way it's written, it's anytime between now and June 30th. Is there any -- what thinking is going into this of having it -- is it going to be a surprise? One day it will be announced for security reasons without advance notice? I mean, what sort of thing can we expect?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: I don't -- if you're surprised, I'll be surprised. I don't know of any other date right now. A couple of points. One, the President has made very clear since November, June 30th was it. We were not going to let that date slip, number one. Number two, naturally, the Iraqis are eager. They want the future to come. We all want the future to come sooner rather than later. Right now there is, you know, 20 days left, 21 days left. Will it be only 18 days or 16 days? I don't know. But the Iraqis are eager, we are eager, and it will be not later than the 30th of June. We are committed to that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: One more.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Okay.

QUESTION: May I just ask what the new embassy's role would be in the trial of Saddam Hussein? Is there --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Yes. Good question. It will be one of support. We will have -- among those 900 or so Americans who will be there at least for an extended period, and we're guessing permanent positions of about a year, will be some good number of people from the United States Department of Justice, perhaps also from State, working directly on that problem. Our role will be one of support. We will not be the authority. We will be there to lend such expertise as we have -- perhaps other governments might do the same, I don't know -- in international criminal law, war crimes, etcetera, crimes against humanity, and we will be there very much supporting the Iraqis who will have the lead on this. Good question.

QUESTION: Just to clarify. You said 35 personnel will be the outreach. Does that mean that those 35 will be spread among the four, five and one --

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Let me clarify. Thirty-five Department of State officers in addition to probably about eight more diplomatic security officers plus many others from other agencies. At the four regional sites, at each of them I should expect somewhere from 60 to even 100 people in various roles, not just support roles, the mass -- let's say the tooth-to-tail ration, there's something like 60 percent support and they might well be contract support people. The other, let's say, 40 percent of tooth could be certainly the Defense Department. We will have civil affairs officers, we may well have Army FAIOs. We hope so. We love Army FAIOs. Public Affairs Officers, Department of Justice people helping with regional courts, regional rule of law issues.

QUESTION: But the civilian presence is likely -- I'm sorry to carry this on.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: No, good questions.

QUESTION: -- to be more than 100, 150 people spread throughout the country at these locations.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Easily, sure. Let's say there's an average of 80 at those four sites plus small teams at the others, well over 300 people, I would say, something under 400. That's the plan right now. It would likely be a temporary affair, probably through this year and a half or so of particular transition. As long as the support is useful and the Iraqis judge it's useful and we judge it's useful together, we'll keep doing it.

QUESTION: Just one, last, last, last question. The Army, the military, did tons of planning for many contingencies, some of which happened, some of which didn't happen in the run-up to the military campaign. You have done a lot of planning, obviously. What is your biggest worry?

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: In general terms, security is the biggest concern. Not that we will not be able to address it, but getting it right in a way that lets us do our job as effectively as possible. It must be security. That is our biggest preoccupation and concern and that will take a lot of our resources. But it's a concern. We'll get it done. We've got lots of concerns. We are addressing it. We have plans to do it. We are putting the resources in it, lots of armored cars and lots of people.

GENERAL KICKLIGHTER: I would agree, that is our greatest concern is security.

AMBASSADOR RICCIARDONE: Okay. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:55 p.m.)

2004/648

[End]

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