State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 14
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 14
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
September 14, 2004
- Undersecretary Grossman's Briefing on Iraq Reconstruction Funds
- Secretary's Consultations with Foreign Minister on Talafar
- U.S. Views of the P.K.K.
- President Putin's Announcement on Direct Appointment of Governors
- U.S. Views of Terrorist Actions in Beslan
- U.S. Views of Democratic Reform and Progress
- Security Barrier
- Secretary's Meeting with Mr. Dov Weisglass
- Payments to Settlers in the West Bank and Gaza
- Death of Petros VII, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria
- Reunification Plan
- References to Turkish Cypriot Community in Department of State
- Background Notes
- Assistant Secretary Burns' Visit and Meeting
- Possible Contributions to Stability in Iraq
- Political Intervention in Lebanon
- Plans for Future Talks
- Fourth Plenary at End of September
- U.S. Efforts Toward a Diplomatic and Peaceful Resolution
- Reports of Large Explosion / "Mushroom Cloud"
- Violations of Commitments to the IAEA
- Secretary's Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony Cancelled
REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
- Referendum on the Ohrid Agreements
- U.S. Views of Urgency of Ending Fighting in Darfur
- UN Security Council Resolution
- Jingweit Responsibility for Acts of Genocide
- U.S. Broad Engagement With UN, African Union, Government of Sudan
- Discussions in Nigeria
- Security Situation / Status of Embassy
- New Warden Message
12:10 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I just wanted to mention a couple of statements we put out. We put one out about the Dalai Lama's representatives -- envoys visiting China, and I think you've already got. We announced that we'll be doing a briefing this afternoon at 4:45.
Under Secretary Grossman will kick off some information about how we're reorienting --reallocating some of the money for Iraq in order to hit the highest priorities. We've talked about that here before. This will be the details from Under Secretary Grossman, and then several of our experts in this matter, Ambassador Robin Raphael and Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Bowab.
And then tomorrow, there will be a briefing on the International Religious Freedom Report, as well as what are known as the countries of particular concern. That will be at 10:30 a.m. on the 15th of September -- tomorrow morning. And that's always -- usually, those two things have been separated in past years, but this year we're going to bring them together and talk about the facts and the conclusions at the same time.
Well, I'd be glad to take your questions on this or other matters.
QUESTION: Well, I guess this a little bit tangled, but could you try to unravel this business of the Secretary talking to the Turkish Foreign Minister about what the Turks seem to be -- harm being brought by the U.S. to the Turkish minority, and -- I'm lost on it.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary did talk to the Turkish Foreign Minister last Friday, and we've been in touch with the Turkish Government in other ways. They have concerns about some of the military operations being carried out around a town in northern Iraq called Talafar.
The operations by the multinational and Iraqi forces in that area are aimed at eliminating terrorist insurgents and foreign fighters who have been using the city as a transit point and as a safe haven for launching attacks elsewhere in Iraq.
The Turkish Government has been concerned about the Turkish -- Turkoman civilians -- people who live, have been living in that town, because many of them had to flee due to the insurgents' presence and the fighting that has ensued because of that. We have been working with the Government of Turkey. We have been talking to the Iraqi Interim Government about the civilian population there about how to conduct our operations in a way that doesn't cause trouble for the local civilian population. That's what we always try to do.
In this case, my understanding from press reports this morning, in fact, is that the city is open again and that civilians are returning to Talafar. But at this point, I only have that from press reports. I don't have any U.S. Government information on that at this point. I'd just reiterate that we do work very closely with Turkey on a whole range of issues regarding Iraq. Turkey's Government has reiterated to us, and I think in public as well, that they want this cooperation to continue.
QUESTION: Well, is the version -- first of all, I don't suppose even the Turks are saying that the -- any harm is intentional. But are they threatening to split with the U.S. and post-war Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: As I have said, we've cooperated with the Turks and they have reiterated the importance that they attach to that cooperation. So I know there have been a lot of press reports all over the map -- this, that and the other -- but that's where we stand with the Turkish Government.
MR. BOUCHER: Michel.
QUESTION: Yesterday, President Putin announced a number of reforms in his country. Do you have any comment on that, and especially with regard to the democratization of the country?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've -- certainly have looked at this and will continue to look at it, and we look forward to discussing these steps, these proposals with the Russian Government. I think it's important to make clear we stand in very -- we stand in solidarity with Russia in the fight against terrorism. Nothing justifies the sort of horrible terrorist actions that occurred last week in Russia and we reiterate our condolences to the Russian people and stand ready to work with Russia in the fight against terrorism.
We are studying these actions that were announced by President Putin yesterday. We look forward to these conversations with the Russians. It is important, as the Secretary has said before, to strike the right balance between fighting terrorism but also moving forward on democratic reforms and the democratic process. That is a fundamental issue that has to be faced and one that we'll be discussing with the Russians.
QUESTION: Do you think that falling back from democracy?
MR. BOUCHER: Tammy.
We have always encouraged Russia to move forward. The Secretary has talked about this issue of finding the right balance in his Izvestiya article. These steps certainly raise concerns that that might be the case, and that's why we want to talk to them about these steps.
QUESTION: That was my question --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: What you saw yesterday raised concerns that their balance may --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it does raise some of those concerns about finding the right balance and moving forward, rather than backward on democracy.
QUESTION: Richard, speaking of balance -- have the Israelis -- there's a meeting with the Secretary, of course, this afternoon. But even in advance of the meeting, has the U.S. made a judgment as to whether the Israelis finally have the fence right so that you've defended the right to defend itself, but you've asked that the fence be constructed in ways -- blah, blah, blah.
So have they -- they keep changing the route. Have they finally got it right?
MR. BOUCHER: We have, I think, had a position, as you say, that's well understood on the barrier. The discussions with Israel on this matter continue. We're talking to them about the route of the fence and the humanitarian impact, so that's a continuing discussion. That will probably be one of the subjects to be discussed when we meet with Mr. Weisglass this afternoon.
QUESTION: Is Iran another?
MR. BOUCHER: There are many subjects that we can go through with him, certainly following up on the April by Prime Minister Sharon talking about the Gaza Disengagement Plan, issues like settlements in the barrier and possible other topics will come up, as well.
QUESTION: Do you have anything complimentary to say about the approval of payments to settlers to give up their homes -- get out of the way?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that at this point.
QUESTION: You focused on the humanitarian side of the talks when it comes to the separation -- wall separation. Are you going to touch also on the fact that this wall is being used by the Israelis as a reason to grab more Palestinian lands?
MR. BOUCHER: I refer to the routing of the barrier. As you know, that the United States has been concerned about the routing of the barrier -- that it not take -- confiscate land, take land, and prejudge the outcome of the negotiations, so that has been one of our concerns about the barrier.
As you know, as well, the Israeli courts have decided that it should not encroach upon Palestinian land and reports are that the barrier is being re-routed. We've seen that in some places. And so that's been a continuing issue that we're interested in because of that -- our concern all along has been two-fold part of it: The routing itself -- not try to prejudge the outcome or take Palestinian land; and second, the humanitarian aspects of the barrier.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, any comment on the sudden death of the Greek Patriarch, Alexandria Petros the VIIth, who was a Greek-Cypriot, by a tragic copter crash over the Aegean Sea in Greece last Saturday?
MR. BOUCHER: We expressed our concerns, I think, in a public statement yesterday. Certainly, the event saddened us all. We were disturbed by the news and I think we expressed our condolences and sympathies to the families.
QUESTION: Do you know if anyone from the U.S. Government is going to attend the funeral in Cairo in two days from today?
MR. BOUCHER: I do not know at this point. I'll try to check for you on that.
QUESTION: And also, the Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stated last Saturday that it was more important to pay attention to the conduct of changes to be introduced to a UN-proposed submission plan for Cyprus than to their numbers. How do you respond to this?
MR. BOUCHER: Than to what?
QUESTION: It is more important to be --
MR. BOUCHER: To be -- pay attention to changes --
QUESTION: -- to pay attention to the conduct of changes.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: And not to the numbers.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to interpret his remarks for you. I don't have any particular response. We thought the plan was fair and supported its adoption. We still think it's the, not only the best proposal available, but the only proposal available. And that's where it stands.
QUESTION: In Greece, I think in the mostly (inaudible) background notes on Greece, at least the other day, you did not say anything about minorities and the section of people, and for the first time, nothing for the Cyprus issue. And may we know the reason why?
MR. BOUCHER: We always try to update background notes and I'm sure the Cyprus background notes say -- talk amply about the Cyprus issues. So it doesn't have to appear in every set of background notes we put out. As far as the minorities questions, I'm sure the population is described well. We always use government census data for that sort of thing. I'm not sure what the correlation is there.
QUESTION: A mention on the same note on Cyprus, you are presented for the first time the 18 percent Turkish Cypriot minority as a Turkish ethnic entity and I'm wondering why this distinction.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here, but --
QUESTION: Because it's a minority. No, it's a minority.
MR. BOUCHER: We've always talked about the Turkish Cypriot community. I think that's the way we normally describe those people.
QUESTION: And the last one on Turkey. According to Reuter News Agency, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan stated the other day that Ankara lost patience with its NATO ally, the U.S., over its failure to crackdown on Turkish guerrilla -- Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq. How do you respond to this criticism?
MR. BOUCHER: Just to say that we and the Turkish Government have always agreed that Iraq cannot become a place of terrorism, that the PKK is a terrorist group and that they need to be controlled and eliminated, and that we have been working with the Turkish Government keeping them informed as we go about that task.
QUESTION: Back to the Middle East. Can you give us a wrap-up of Assistant Secretary Burns' meeting in Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: There was a statement that he issued in Syria, and I'd be glad to give that to you. Let me give you, if I can, just the basic summary, if I can find it.
All right. Basically, the conversations that Assistant Secretary Burns had in Syria occurred on September 11th, describe the discussions as frank and detailed. They went through a number of areas where the United States has had concerns and talked about the kind of concrete actions that Syria could take to improve the situation to build better relations with its neighbors and better relations with the United States.
Specifically, they talked about what Syria can and should do to help contribute to the stability of Iraq. They talked about what Syria can and should do to help contribute to the stability of Iraq; they talked about the issue of the fight against terrorism; talked about the situation with regard to individuals and organizations operating on and from Syrian territory and in Lebanon that facilitate violence and terror. Assistant Secretary Burns also pressed him over the issue of Syrian intervention in the Lebanese political process.
So it's part of a continuing, frank dialogue that we've had with the Syrian Government on all of these issues, looking for concrete action by Syria.
QUESTION: You're still look for a deal? Do you have any -- did his visit on any of these fronts produce anything resembling a breakthrough?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to describe anything as a breakthrough. We had conversations. It's always useful in our mind to have these conversations, to make clear to Syria where we think they can and should move forward. But the test of whether these conversations lead anywhere is what happens on the ground and it's too early to say on that.
QUESTION: But these things have been described before. They've --
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
QUESTION: That's all right.
MR. BOUCHER: They have all been described before. Each of them has its own progress or lack thereof, and I think from time to time we have said that there have been minor steps on some of these things. But we reiterate the points to make sure Syria understands we haven't lost interest in these matters; they remain very important to us and the key to any -- to our relationship. And second of all, we have always made clear what they can do in present circumstances in terms of the kind of activity that we see.
QUESTION: The fact that Mr. Burns was accompanied by a very, very large team from different departments of the U.S. Government, the national security, many other places, the Pentagon, it's been viewed in the Middle East as a very positive meeting that took place in Damascus.
But on the other hand, did you see yesterday in the Congress -- the new bill in the Congress was trying actually to rough the edges of this good dialogue between the two?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I have characterized the dialogue as frank and detailed and I'm not going to adopt any different terms at this point. Second of all, we did have a substantial, broad American delegation that went, reflecting different departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, but reflecting, I think, the very serious nature of the visit, the importance that we attack to these issues, and unfortunately, the number of issues that are troubling the U.S.-Syria relationship and Syria's relations with the rest of -- to some extent, with the rest of the region.
As far as the -- whatever bill or legislation that was up on the Hill, I'm afraid I just haven't seen that yet.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Let's work our way back again.
QUESTION: Do you know if there are any plans for a meeting between Secretary Powell and his Syrian counterpart next week at the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any plans at this point. I don't even know what Foreign Minister Shara's plans might be. Whether they'll bump into each other or not, I just don't know.
QUESTION: Richard, there is a wire report that the Russian Foreign Minister said it doesn't look like there will be talks, six-party talks in September. Do you have any comment on that or any light to shed on six-party talks?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think, you know, people are looking at the calendar and drawing the conclusion that the North Koreans may not fulfill the promise and the commitment that they made at the last round of talks to have these talks in September. The United States is certainly willing and interested in doing that. All six parties committed to participate in the fourth plenary by the end of the month. They all agreed last June to do that, and the other five parties, including the United States, certainly remain ready to return to the talks.
We would expect the North Koreans to live up to that commitment as well, but it does look like that they have been stalling and that they're -- at this point, they haven't agreed yet.
QUESTION: Well, if so, would you conclude that there won't be any talks?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll conclude that on September 31st.
QUESTION: North Koreans.
MR. BOUCHER: Same topic, North Korea? I can't remember what the same topic is, but let's continue.
QUESTION: North Korea officials told the British diplomat who visited them that they are not keen about the talks under the U.S. elections are over.
MR. BOUCHER: I have seen a variety of reports and speculation on that. I think some of it, descriptions of the British discussion, but I think it's important to remember that this Administration has pursued a diplomatic solution; that this Administration has come forward with proposals that we put on the table on June 25th; that the President, himself, has talked about the need to reach a diplomatic solution and his willingness to provide, for example, multilateral security guarantees repeatedly.
So there is no question that this Administration has been trying to solve this issue diplomatically and peacefully, that we have offered realistic proposals that can get us to that goal in a way that provides assurance to North Korea's neighbors that North Korea is not pursuing nuclear weapons anymore, that North Korea is going to implement the pledge it has made to denuclearize the Peninsula, but that also takes care of some of the needs of the North Korean people through the actions of various partners and parties during the course of this process.
So I don't know what the North Koreans are expecting, but certainly this Administration has put on the table a concrete and realistic proposal for a diplomatic solution.
QUESTION: Is it significant that the talks are not held before the end of September, will not seem to be proceeding well in the sense that China, too, has said that if the talks are not held before these dates, the sky will not fall down, as they said?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to predict the holding of the talks or the falling of the sky. I think what's important to remember is that the United States has maintained a position all along that we were ready to go to these talks. We are ready to follow up discussions on the very concrete, forthcoming proposal that we have made. We, and our partners, are ready to go forward on this, to help North Korea achieve its goals of a denuclearized Peninsula. That's a goal that they have accepted along with the rest of us to help North Korea reassure its neighbors that it's not going to pursue nuclear weapons, and to help the people of North Korea with some of their needs as we go forward.
So the proposal is on the table, and we would hope that they would be realistic and understand this is an opportunity to move forward. If they don't, that's question you have to ask them.
QUESTION: Have your partners like the Chinese heard anything directly from North Korea about a new reluctance to hold the talks for any specific reason, particularly, perhaps, the South Korean programs?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the Chinese might have heard. You'd have to ask them.
QUESTION: But they usually tell you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, but then we don't usually tell you. (Laughter.) But at this point, I don't think there's any clear indication from the North Koreans what their intentions are or what their reasons might be. It's too early to draw a conclusion on this, but it does appear that North Koreans have been stalling. Why, is question one has to ask the North Koreans.
QUESTION: And they're so chatty.
QUESTION: Richard, Pakistan has approved a nuclear control --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll stop with Pakistan and finish with North Korea, okay?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, Tammy.
QUESTION: On the explosion or mushroom cloud the other day, does the U.S. find the North Korean explanation plausible that it was demolishing a mountain as part --
MR. BOUCHER: Plausible, I think, maybe about as far as one would go that -- my understanding is North Korea may have invited some people to go there and see. I expect more information will come out and tell people exactly what this is.
As you know, we did not immediately jump to any particular conclusion about the explosion and the cloud that was seen. We'll look at all available information and, at some point, it will be clear what it was.
QUESTION: But the Secretary said this morning that the information they gave is consistent with what we saw, that it might have been demolition work for hydroelectric facilities. And if so, how can you be sure that it might -- not been military activity whatsoever?
MR. BOUCHER: How can be sure it wasn't what?
QUESTION: Military activities.
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's plausible, this explanation. It may have been what they say. It may have been something else. If more information comes out and we develop more information, then we'll be in a position, perhaps, to make a firmer judgment on it. But at this point, all I can tell you is it certainly did not appear to be any nuclear activity. What, exactly, it was I think, maybe I can't say yet.
Yeah, Andrea. Do you have something? I thought you did.
MR. BOUCHER: Sorry. Joel, back to you.
QUESTION: Okay. Pakistan has approved a nuclear arms control bill following the Khan work, or scandal between North Korea and Iran. Meanwhile, Mr. ElBaradei wants to -- says that his report won't be done until November -- the report on Iran, and you're looking to have that done before November. Why the problems with that?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We're sort of out of sequence. I owe some people Syria questions and some people North Korea questions. Now we're getting to Iran.
QUESTION: Okay, sorry.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the Director General has reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency Board a number of times on Iran's activities. It's very clear from those activities and from what Iran, itself, has said that Iran is not living up to commitments that it made to the world, to the European nations, and specifically in writing and various times and is not living up to the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board when they asked for a complete suspension of activity.
And Iran even promised a suspension, but it was not carried out. So at this point it is clear that not only did Iran have a covert nuclear program for almost two decades, but even their more recent promises that they'd made to reassure the international community have not been carried out. So they've violated their obligations and their commitments.
That has been the substance of the reports that we've gotten from the Director General, repeatedly. I'm sure he will continue to report information as he finds it and as he sees it. But that's why we think at this point we have come to -- it's time to move the matter forward to the Security Council, and that's what we're discussing with others in Vienna.
There's resolutions that have been drafted that people are discussing in Vienna. We're working on that. We do think it is important to focus on this matter in Vienna and to have a resolution that makes clear how seriously the international community takes these matters.
Okay. We owe you one.
QUESTION: Yes, do you have anything that the Arab League Foreign Minister has issued a statement today in Cairo about Lebanon?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm afraid I haven't seen that. We'll have to find it and see if there's anything to say about it.
QUESTION: You didn't see that?
MR. BOUCHER: Thanks. George.
QUESTION: Could you tell us why the hearing this morning with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was canceled?
MR. BOUCHER: It really boils down to the press of other business. The Secretary's been up twice, three times in front of the Senate in the last week. It was in -- at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sudan. He was, yesterday, talking about intelligence reform 9/11 matters. He went up again yesterday afternoon on Refugee Consultations, so frankly, with all the other business, we called the committee and talked about maybe taking a pass on this one, and they consented, and so it was canceled.
QUESTION: Was there anything in particular that had his attention this morning?
MR. BOUCHER: Everything we've been talking about, really.
QUESTION: New subject on FYROM. Any comment on the FYROM Government decision to hold finally a referendum on the Ohrid Agreements signed by the U.S. Government, too, on November 7th, which, you know, creating 16 Albanian communes in this country?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that, so I don't have anything on it at this point. I'll see if we have anything later.
QUESTION: And one, also, on Bangladesh, and do you know what's the outcome of Under Secretary Patterson visit to Bangladesh?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
QUESTION: On Sudan. The Sudanese Government -- the UN has put out estimates that between six and 10,000 people are dying every month and the Sudanese Government denies that. I know you don't have all of our -- the U.S. assessment, probably, off the top of your head, but is that within the estimates that the U.S. would give right now, too?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I think it is. It has been generally in line with our estimates. There is some information on this in the material that the U.S. Agency for International Development has put out on their website. You can check it against that. Whatever the numbers are, I think we all understand this is a terrible situation -- a situation where many, many people are suffering and many, many people remain at risk. And, in fact, even if we get all of the improvements we've been asking for, many more people will die.
And so, it's a matter of some great -- well, it has been a matter of great urgency to us to end the fighting, to deliver the humanitarian supplies. And that's what we have called on the government to do. And we think the international community must keep up the pressure. We're talking about a, as you know, a new resolution at the United Nations and probably will be discussing that further this afternoon with people in New York.
QUESTION: How is it going?
MR. BOUCHER: It's going good. We've had good discussions so far. We'll probably prevent -- present some revisions to revisions to our draft text this afternoon at the Council meeting and we'll see where we go from there.
QUESTION: Any estimate on a vote?
MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point, no.
QUESTION: Do you have a ballpark estimate on the total death toll?
MR. BOUCHER: This has been done before. It's hard to do, although, as I said, there is some information out already from the experts. And I think I'd have to leave it to that for the moment.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) over the past few weeks. But the Secretary described acts committed in Sudan as acts of genocide. But did he make it clear whether he believed the government was committing acts of genocide or whether acts of genocide were being committed by others? And --
MR. BOUCHER: He -- if you look at his testimony on the Hill, when he said it, he said, I have concluded -- I, the Secretary, have concluded that these acts, that these -- I forget how he said it -- that these actions constitute genocide and that the government and the Jingaweit militias are responsible. And just look at the exact quote, the two sentences that he used.
QUESTION: Okay. Because just yesterday there was a luncheon and the Ambassador of Sudan was introduced by a State Department official. It doesn't seem like the treatment that would be afforded to a government that is believed to be committing acts of genocide.
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we've maintained relations with this government. There are areas where we think we can move forward, like the north-south talks and Naivasha situation, and there are areas where they need to do more to move forward. So we continue to use our relationships with the Government of Sudan to try to press for action on all of these points, including and especially, the situation in Darfur.
QUESTION: On the resolution, you introduced it sometime last week. Could you characterize what the holdup is in finalizing a text and how you're -- are you seeing any receptivity to the idea of a formal inquiry by the United Nations?
MR. BOUCHER: What the holdup is?
QUESTION: Well, I mean, how come you're not --
MR. BOUCHER: How come it's taken a week already?
QUESTION: Well, it seems to be pretty --
MR. BOUCHER: I mean --
QUESTION: I mean, everyone seems to agree on the need to do more, so why isn't there kind of more urgent action on the issue?
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, first of all, I don't want to apologize for how long things take at the UN. We all think that the U.S. draft was great, should have been accepted and voted on the next day. It wasn't. That's fairly normal.
Often, things take much longer at the United Nations. We have been working this. We think there is still a very good prospect for getting a resolution that meets our bottom line, a strong resolution that supports an expanded and proactive presence of the African Union and makes clear that Sudan must fulfill all its obligations, especially those outlined in 15 -- previous resolution, 1556.
So we think there is movement in that direction. Getting the exact words down on paper is often a matter of some discussion at the United Nations. I would point out, though, that the United States is not relying solely on the United Nations to move this process forward. We have been pressing the Government of Sudan. We have been working with the Secretary General, with the African Union, with the parties on arrangements for an African Union force -- an expanded African Union force -- to go in, and we continue our presence in Nigeria to work with the parties on trying to reach a political settlement. So this is not the only horse we're riding, but this is the speed with which this one walks, gallops or trots.
QUESTION: I wasn't suggesting that you weren't doing all you can. I was just wondering, you know, what are some of the areas that you're -- you said you're going to present an amended text.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to outline the issues that others have raised. Obviously, we presented a perfect resolution.
QUESTION: Obviously. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Other people do have their ideas as well. We're happy to listen to those, and to the extent that we can accommodate those, we will. And that's why we are making some revisions to our text, but I'm not going to outline those until we have a chance to discuss them further and show them to other Council members.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, new topic. Same? Yeah.
QUESTION: Actually, at that luncheon that was mentioned earlier yesterday, where the Sudanese Ambassador spoke, he said that the designation of genocide has actually emboldened these militias that are fighting the government and he wonders why the U.S. didn't take this into consideration when they were formulating this document.
The other thing he said is that he feels that the U.S. should be doing more to work with the Sudanese Government. He drew some comparisons between the U.S. war on terror and what the Sudanese Government is going through right now. I just wondered if you had any comments on either of those.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to get into every point by point with a guy, through third parties, made clear the United States has worked with the government. We have pressed the government. We have agreed with the government when the Secretary was out there, on the steps that the government can and should take in order to improve the situation. Regrettably, the government has taken some of those steps but not all of them, particularly the ones necessary are on the security side, and we pointed that out to the government.
So, again and again, the United States or the international community or the first UN resolution, and now a second resolution, we have been put in the position of having to point out to the government where their failures have led to disaster for the population of people of their country, a part of their country. So the United States will continue to press that. We'll continue to take steps.
As far as whether the U.S. statement it was genocide emboldened the rebels or not, I'd say, first of all, the statement was based on factual information that we collected. It's based on a judgment. It's dictated by the facts, a judgment that these facts are directly in line with the definition of genocide and the Genocide Convention. So it's not a matter of politics or considering the effect on this, that or the other. It's the truth. And it's a statement of the truth and that's the way the Secretary put it.
Finally, as regards to the issue of helping and supporting the idea of reaching a settlement, the United States has been very, very active directly with the Government of Sudan and the rebels through our presence in Nigeria working with the Nigerians, as well as the parties, and in addition, in the rest of our diplomacy in trying to get and make the parties to reach agreement. We've been present in Nigeria. We have followed those talks carefully. We have worked to keep the parties there and to keep them talking and to keep them focused on the issues at hand. They have reached basic agreement on humanitarian access and they're now facing the issues of security and those are the issues that we have been pressing them on.
Okay, something else.
QUESTION: The security situation in Nepal deteriorating recently based on a statement by the Nepal -- the Embassy, U.S. Embassy in Nepal?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I don't have a copy of the statement. We put out a new Travel Warning not too long ago, didn't we? Or a Warden Message, not too long ago, so we certainly are concerned about the situation there. I'll get you a copy of the Warden Message so you can get the details.
Yeah. Joel. One more.
QUESTION: Apparently, there is an approval to pay Gaza settlers to move and vacate Gaza, and yet Prime Minister Sharon threatened -- is threatened both with political and religious unrest.
MR. BOUCHER: I think one of your colleagues asked me about Israeli payments to settlers earlier.
QUESTION: And a further question is, also in East Jerusalem, they have seized a political lists and closed those offices.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll get you something on that later.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50)