State Dept. Daily Press Briefing For October 12
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing For October 12
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
October 12, 2004
- Ongoing Violence in Port-au-Prince / Supporters of Former
- President Jean-Bertrand Aristide / Leaders of Fanmi Lavalas / U.S.
- Continuing to Assist in Rebuilding / UN Peacekeepers
- Unauthorized Removal and Export of Weapons Material / Prohibited
- Export of Prohibited Items / IAEA Safeguard Visits /
- Tuwaitha-Location C / U.S. Concern for Exported Material /
- Determining Whereabouts of Exported Equipment / Responsibility of
- Iraqi Government
- U.S. Shared Objective to End Nuclear Program / Board of Governors'
- Resolutions / Meetings with General Affairs and External Relations
- Council / Deputy Assistant Secretary Davies and Under Secretary
- Bolton Meeting with European Counterparts-G8 / Lack of Compliance / History of Covert Activity / Possible Incentives / U.S. Position to Refer to UN Security Council
- Chinese Hostages Held by Former Guantanamo Bay Prisoner
- Status of Congressman Lantos Bill / Possible Creation of
- Anti-Semitism Office / Competing Proposals
- Yaser Hamdi Transfer / Renouncing of American Citizenship / Final Decision of Renunciation to be Made
- Decision of When to Hold Six-Party Talks / Possible Talks in November
- Lease on Ambassador's Home in Moscow / Understanding Reached / 49-Year Lease
[12:55 p.m. EDT]
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. If I can, at the top, I'd just like to tell you about one statement that we'll put out in more detail in written form, but we want to call attention to the ongoing violence in Haiti and, in fact, condemn the people who have been carrying out those violent acts, which are largely people who have been supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Groups that have been his supporters have launched a systematic campaign to destabilize the interim government. Over the past two weeks, we have seen thugs murder policemen, looted businesses and public installations, and started to terrorize civilians. Indeed, on October 11th, gunmen associated with these groups killed three people in random attacks, and there were reports that one parent was killed while walking his child to school.
So we call on the leaders of Fanmi Lavalas -- that's the party that supported President Aristide -- to break with the party's legacy of violence and criminality, and to cooperate with the interim government. Indeed, the interim government of Haiti led by President Alexandre and Prime Minister Latortue does represent the best hope for progress in Haiti. The United States will continue to work with them and to work with the United Nations in rebuilding and reform of the Haitian National Police to provide order and security for the people of Haiti. And we also have confidence that the UN stabilization force will be able to protect the Haitian people, and that their capacity to do that will increase in the days and weeks to come.
We're working with other countries and with the United Nations to ensure the full deployment of the UN peacekeepers to Haiti. I think they're about halfway there, have about 3,200 troops out of an expected 6,700, and we are working and coordinating with others to try to make sure the deployments happen as quickly as possible.
George, be glad to take your questions on this or other topics.
QUESTION: Can I ask about this? I just want to know if there is any indication or any suspicion from your end that Aristide is involved in any way in kind of fomenting this from his exile in South Africa?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think there have been some statements by President Aristide. I don't have them all. But certainly, we know who these groups are. We know these groups are people who have been aligned with him in the past and who continue to hold high his banner, if you might say, and, therefore, we're concerned about possible involvement, but no, I don't have any details for you right now.
QUESTION: Have you seen anything that would lead you to believe that -- with his statements that you refer to, would you like him to come out and say, "Desist"? -- to tell his supporters --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he has made clear to his supporters that, or former supporters, that they need to abandon violence and that they need to cooperate with the government. Indeed, I would say, generally, our view is that he's played a negative role since he departed Haiti in March and that it's his supporters and political party that are instigating much of the violence.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I just -- one thing -- you don't think he's -- you said, "I don't think he's made clear to his former supporters." These people obviously still are his supporters. Could we strike "former?"
MR. BOUCHER: Well, still are his supporters. I think I said both his supporters and former supporters.
MR. BOUCHER: But if any of them have abandoned the party, but it is -- it is, indeed, his supporters and the political party that he was head of that seem to be associated with all this violence.
QUESTION: On Iraq, there are reports that high precision equipment that could be useful for making nuclear weapons has disappeared from Iraq. Do you have anything?
MR. BOUCHER: The first thing to remember is that, yes, indeed, there was extensive and widespread looting after the war, and that there were removal and exports of material from Iraq. Since then, there has been renewed controls put in place. I think you've seen the Iraqi Minister of Science and Technology talking in public about the kind of controls that Iraq now has in place. And Iraqi law now prohibits the exports of metals of all kinds without a license from the Ministry of Trade. Exporters not allowed to export prohibited items, including nuclear, chemical, biological and weapons-related materials or weapons components technologies, and things that might be associated with that.
We have been working with Iraq to develop better export and broader -- better and broader export control system to prevent the spread of weapons, technology and items that might be coming out of Iraq.
The Iraqi Interim Government is working to ensure that weapons materials don't fall into the wrong hands. I think if you look at what actually happens, the coalition forces did move quickly to stem looting, including security and monitoring the facility at Tuwaitha, where many radiological sources and tons of safeguarded material was stored.
The International Atomic Energy Agency inspected Tuwaitha, location C, in June 2003, and again in August of 2004. The Iraqi Minister has reportedly said that the locations that belong to the Science and Technology Ministry are secure and under our control. That would include Tuwaitha.
So this is a problem that did occur after the war. We think that through a variety of efforts that we and the Iraqis have been making, it has been brought under control, and indeed, the United -- the International Atomic Energy Agency has been able to inspect facilities in Iraq to ensure that the materials that are still there are properly categorized and accounted for.
QUESTION: So you don't share the IAEA concerns?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we share the general concern that some material might have gotten out into the market immediately after the war, but to the extent that all of us have been able to bring it under control, we have done that and we have been able to -- I think the Iraqis have been able to put in place the kind of monitoring, the safeguards and control systems that are necessary to prevent any further leakage.
QUESTION: But you believe that some did leak out and that some -- and that --
MR. BOUCHER: Not necessarily nuclear material. You'd have to check with the IAEA as to whether all the radiation sources are accounted for. There were, as we know, a variety of reports that various pieces of equipment might have gotten out.
QUESTION: Yeah, but, this is -- in the absence of stockpiles of weapons, this has become the main -- the nexus in the -- the nexus of terrorism and Iraq, or the alleged nexus between terrorism and Iraq has become the Administration's kind of rallying cry for the war. I'm surprised that you're not a little bit more concerned about this, just saying that, well, some stuff got out but we fixed the problem now. Wasn't that, the fact that some stuff did get out, isn't that a problem?
MR. BOUCHER: I started out, the first sentence I said was that there was looting and that we were concerned. We have been concerned, expressed our concern about the unauthorized removal and exports of material from Iraq. So that's a problem that occurred right after the war that we do think has been brought under control.
How much material there was, what kinds of equipment it was and where it got to, I think, you know, we know some of that; we don't know all of that.
But I don't think that the material that the IAEA was inspecting and the facilities that they were inspecting was ever part of the issue, with regard to Iraq's developments of weapons of mass destruction. It's not something that we expressed particular concern about before the war.
QUESTION: Richard, would you -- it looks like the IAEA would like to get back into the country to monitor some of these sites. Do you have a problem with that? And is it the responsibility of the U.S., is the military still there, or the responsibility of the Iraqi Government to approve it?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, the Iraqi Government is the responsible party for securing these materials, monitoring these materials, and for any interaction with the IAEA on safeguards and inspections questions.
The IAEA has been back to Iraq. These are normal safeguards visits. These are normal visits to go and look at material that they had under safeguard before the war. And as I said, two visits have already occurred to Tuwaitha facility in June of 2003, and again in 2004.
As for any further sort of UNMOVIC-type inspections, well, that's a matter that has been addressed in UN resolutions, but there's no further movement on that at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, does this make you think that the IAEA should do -- should make a formal request, then, if it wants to do that directly to the Iraqi Interim Government, or how, how should that be?
MR. BOUCHER: They have done it. I mean, they submit a report every six months. That's why this is being reported now, that they have -- I'm sorry -- they have had concerns about material that might have escaped from Iraq. But subsequently, as I pointed out, they have been there to inspect, and so there's an ongoing process between the IAEA and the Iraqi Government. It's not, somebody's got to write a piece of paper and submit a request. They have an ongoing interaction that's all well, that's good.
QUESTION: Getting back to the material, what kind of material does the U.S. think got out?
MR. BOUCHER: I do not have a list. I think the IAEA reports would have to specify whether any of the radiation sources in some quantity might have -- excuse me -- might have disappeared. I just don't know. I think most, if not all, of it was accounted for. But there were reports of, you know, equipment-type things.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. Do you mean the IAEA, the U.S. doesn't have a separate -- that the U.S. didn't -- that this is --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we have a separate accounting, but the official accounting is by the IAEA, and that's the purpose of their inspections. That's why they've been there twice is to look at the material they knew was there before the war and to ascertain where it is now.
QUESTION: Do you guys have any idea where the material was picked up?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I've seen various press reports. I don't have a U.S. accounting. That's the kind of accounting that the IAEA would be trying to do.
QUESTION: On the international stage, I'm sorry, where it ended up?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, on the international stage. Again, it's -- the IAEA is trying to look -- has been looking at the material that they knew was there, that they had under safeguards or seal or under their watch before the war as part of the Safeguards Agreement and that's -- the purpose of their visit is to try to ascertain where that material is at this point. And they would be better placed than I would -- than we would -- to try to account for that.
QUESTION: Richard, to follow on that and not to necessarily dispute, but to try and be more specific, does the U.S. have any knowledge that some of the equipment might have gone to Iran?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- Charlie, I just don't know, frankly. It's not a question I tried to check on this morning -- that's it.
QUESTION: The other IAEA issue of the day, of course, is (inaudible). The --
MR. BOUCHER: The gentleman has one on Iraq, still.
QUESTION: On Iraq?
QUESTION: The same question, the same issue. You saying every six months they report. Is this happen before six months or the last six months?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as I know this is -- again, this is based on press reports -- the agency has submitted a periodic report. I don't know exactly how many they've done. You'd have to check with them.
QUESTION: The other question is related. You say that this is the Iraqi Government responsibility to protect it.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: What is the role of U.S. in this process?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we're very supportive of the Iraqi Government. We've worked with them on export control; we work with them on border control; we work with them in supporting their efforts and helping them define the mission; and obviously, we've worked with them in helping with security at facilities. But they have the lead on this one.
QUESTION: But perhaps there is a certain mechanism according to which you will cooperate?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we support the Iraqis in many things involving security of the -- of facilities and locations inside Iraq. But as I said, the Iraqis have the lead on this one.
QUESTION: You're aware of reports today out of Vienna of people saying that, that you guys are now considering possible incentives to Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities. I'm just wondering if you can say (a) whether it's true, whether it's correct that you are doing that; (b) if there are, in fact, talks this week here on that issue; and (c) if there are, why the change in -- or the apparent -- why is there an appearance of a change from your insistence that it go to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: No, yes, and no.
QUESTION: No, there isn't? Yes, there is a meeting? And --
MR. BOUCHER: First, I think we have to start with -- the basic fact is that the United States, the governments of the United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as other members of the G-8, and indeed, the international community share the objective of ending Iran's program to build the capability of producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. And we have been working with those governments in the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors to try to move this forward, try to get Iran to comply with the requirements of the Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors has passed five resolutions since September 2003 calling on Iran to cooperate fully with the agency's ongoing investigation, to ratify promptly a safeguards-strengthening additional protocol, and to suspend immediately all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
The most recent resolution, the one we adopted on September 18th, also made clear that Iran must heed these requirements before the International Atomic Energy Agency Board meets again in November.
So what we're doing now is to examine how to get Iran to meet those requirements. The Europeans, as I think you have seen the reporting of their meetings that they had Monday with the General Affairs and External Relations Council, have said that they are discussing how to get Iran to comply with its requirements, and indeed with the promises that Iran had previously made to some of these European nations.
We are having a meeting on Friday with G-8 partners and something called Senior Officials Group of the G-8. Basically, for our part, it will be Glyn Davies, Deputy Assistant Secretary in our European Bureau, and Under Secretary for Technology John Bolton, who will meet with European counterparts, with G-8 counterparts.
What do I have it, -- right? T, what does T stand for?
QUESTION: Arms Control.
MR. BOUCHER: Arms Control, Under Secretary for Arms Control, sorry. He's known in the building as T, which stands for arms control. The Under Secretary John Bolton will be meeting with them, along with representatives of the European Bureau, and since the Europeans have been discussing how to get the Iranians to comply, we look forward to hearing their ideas about how to move forward.
I think it's important to remember the United States has always felt and continues to feel very strongly that Iran's history of covert activity, Iran's history of developing programs that are designed to produce nuclear weapons requires that these -- that this matter be referred to the UN Security Council for action. And so, one of the things we'll discuss on Friday is to hear from the Europeans about their ideas about how to get Iran to comply with the requirements, and we also would expect to discuss what to do, what the next steps might be, were we to refer this to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: But I don't understand. How did you get from the point where -- I mean, in your position, all right, it's not a question of how to get Iran to comply, how to induce them to comply, it's just simply that they should comply. They have to. They must comply. Why -- I don't -- when did --
MR. BOUCHER: Making clear to Iran that they have to comply is one way of getting them to comply. I mean, the point is to get Iranian compliance.
QUESTION: And you just said that there have been five separate resolutions since September 2003.
MR. BOUCHER: And the Iranians haven't done it.
QUESTION: Yeah. So --
MR. BOUCHER: And so, the last resolution said that they must heed the requirements and requests of the resolution before the Council -- before the Board of Governors meets again in November. So that's what we're focusing on, and that's what the Europeans are focusing on, how to get the Iranians to comply with those resolutions before the Board meets again in November. The United States' position has been and remains that this matter deserves -- needs to be referred to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: So you're not willing to consider any -- or to acquiesce to any potential incentives that the Europeans or other -- or your other partners in the G-8 might offer?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Europeans have already -- always made clear that the relationship between Iran and the European Union was hampered and was held back by Iran's behavior on this and other matters. So I suppose that is a point they will continue to make to the Iranians, but I'd refer you to them for an understanding of their discussions.
QUESTION: No, I'm asking what the U.S. position is.
MR. BOUCHER: Our position is this matter needs to be referred to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: Well, some of the reporting out there suggests that you want to circumvent the Security Council in an effort that, if Iran doesn't cooperate, that there would be kind of a set of various countries imposing unilateral sanctions, whereas some members of the Security Council might veto such sanctions. But are you saying that you're committed to working -- are you --
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is this matter needs to be referred to the Security Council. Now, that doesn't prevent countries from taking steps, nor does it prevent one of the issues that we think does need to be discussed, is how the Security Council could deal with the issue or it to be referred there.
QUESTION: I take it you're not wanting to say whether the U.S. thinks that incentives are a good idea in this context.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think at this point it's a matter for us to address. The Europeans have been talking about their approach, their package, their discussions that they intend to have with the Iranians about what they might say. And they, as I said, have always made clear that there are certain aspects, certain benefits in the EU relationship with Iran that wouldn't happen without Iranian compliance. So we'll hear what they put together, we'll hear them out, and talk together with them about how to move Iran into compliance with the Board of Governors' requirements, or what to do if the matter needs to be referred to the United Nations.
QUESTION: Is it two separate matters? Is it one -- what you're saying that it's okay for the Europeans if they want to discuss possible incentives for the Iranians, but as far as the U.S. is concerned, there would never be incentives on the table.
MR. BOUCHER: I think you'll have to check with the Europeans as far as what they're -- you know, what their package will involve, whether it's anything new or whether it's just the -- what they've always made clear, that there were certain benefits in the relationship that wouldn't happen without action by Iran on nuclear and other matters.
As for the United States' position, I think we've made very, very clear that Iran needs to take action on the nuclear issue. Our view is that it should be referred to the UN Security Council. That's where we think the next steps are.
QUESTION: Right. But you could also -- I mean, that's the stick. There could also be potential carrots that are dangled out there, and are you saying that, in U.S. eyes, that's not something that would be on the table?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to dangle anything today, no.
QUESTION: But are you saying that the U.S. would not provide any incentives? What the Europeans want to do is their own prerogative?
MR. BOUCHER: No. They're going to come and tell us what kind of package and discussions they've been having and we'll hear them out. We'll see what they have today and we'll have a discussion. We'll have -- I think the simplest description I can give you of Friday's meetings is a chance to share ideas about how to bring Iran into compliance with the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors, and to share ideas about how the Security Council might take up the issue, should it be referred to the Security Council.
QUESTION: But Richard, it sounds like the same old, same old. Why do you need to meet here in Washington --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't write the news story saying there was great new stuff out there.
QUESTION: No, but why? Why do you need to meet with your Europeans counterparts here --
MR. BOUCHER: Because we have been discussing these matters, the matter of Iran, with the Europeans on a very consistent basis, very thoroughly all along. It's been a subject of close consultation at all levels.
Under Secretary Bolton, as you know, goes frequently to Europe, discusses Iran with his counterparts. The Secretary of State frequently discusses it with his counterparts. It was a subject of discussion at the G-8 meeting that they held in New York when the Secretary was up for the UN. And the G-8 discussed this matter of how to get Iran to comply. And those discussions are on a continuing basis.
We have facing us, facing Iran, the need to comply before the November meeting. And as we approach that date ourselves, we're going to keep in touch with them and talk to them about how we can face that issue together -- make sure the Iranians understand the need to comply.
QUESTION: Richard, is it the U.S. position that regardless of what Iran does between now and November 25th it should be referred to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. position is that Iran's past behavior merits referral to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: So regardless of what they do between now and then --
MR. BOUCHER: The position is that it merits referral to the Security Council. I'm not going to predict at this point that Iran will or will not do anything.
QUESTION: Exactly. So --
MR. BOUCHER: Past, past experience --
QUESTION: I'm not asking if --
MR. BOUCHER: -- would indicate they won't.
QUESTION: Right, okay. Well, fair enough, but I mean, without predicting anything, just right now, you think that --
MR. BOUCHER: Right now our position is that this needs to be referred to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: And you don't see -- then that won't change?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not looking to change that, no.
QUESTION: No, but -- the point -- your point is that regardless of what Iran does between now and the 25th --
MR. BOUCHER: You're asking me to predict the future.
QUESTION: -- its past behavior --
MR. BOUCHER: Merits --
QUESTION: -- merits --
MR. BOUCHER: Its past behavior merits referral to the UN Security Council.
QUESTION: So no matter what, you want it to go to the UN Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: Its past behavior merits referral to the Security Council.
QUESTION: So is it correct that no matter what, you want it to go to the Security Council?
MR. BOUCHER: It's correct to say that its past behavior merits referral to the Security Council. The only point is I -- this has been our position for every meeting that we've had so far. That is our position going into November. I'm sure it will be our position and that's as best I can answer your question.
QUESTION: Well, it's not a very straightforward answer. I know that your position is that it should be -- it's past time for it.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just saying it my way instead of your way. I don't see much difference.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, so I'm not wrong in saying that then?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not wrong in saying what I say. You can account for your own words.
QUESTION: Can we move on?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: There are a couple of Chinese hostages being held by a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner in Pakistan, and the United States released him saying that, you know, we thought he was no longer a threat, or had any intelligence value and now he's directing al-Qaida fighters. Do you have anything on that or?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the only thing I would say is we're aware of the situation. We are following it closely. But as far as the specifics of the matter, you'd have to check with the Pakistan Government; and as far as the matter of his release from Guantanamo and the situation when he was released, it's really been a matter for the Pentagon to deal with. I don't have anything on that particular individual.
QUESTION: So do you guys, do you have input when the United States releases prisoners at Guantanamo, if you know information that they might be a threat?
MR. BOUCHER: I think any agency of the U.S. Government that had information like that would share it, but the -- as far as I know, the decisions on who is releasable and on what basis are made at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Richard, there have been some reports about a quite substantial influx of Iranian clerics into Iraq and the number is in the hundreds, just ahead of the Ramadan, which begins on Friday. Do you have any recent information to suggest that it might be the case?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any information on that.
QUESTION: Richard, I have a question concerning a Palestinian conference. It's a national student conference, what they call Palestinian Solidarity Movement. It's being held this coming week at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. And the group apparently sides with more radical approaches, including forced terrorism and no negotiations in the Palestinian-Israeli intifada. And meanwhile, there is also going to be an (inaudible) bus on display, a bus that was burned out in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Are you making arrangements? And also --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that there is any involvement of the State Department in any of these matters.
QUESTION: And is this against the guidelines of both the State Department, Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice?
MR. BOUCHER: The United States -- the State Department doesn't make guidelines internally in the United States. You'd have to check with domestic agencies on the kind of activity that's permitted.
QUESTION: Richard, what's your understanding, or what's the building's understanding of the status of Tom Lantos' bill and would require the State Department to create a special office for anti-Semitic acts and reporting them?
MR. BOUCHER: Understanding the status?
QUESTION: Yeah, apparently --
MR. BOUCHER: I think we saw reports that it passed over the weekend.
MR. BOUCHER: But I don't know if it's been signed yet.
QUESTION: Okay. Is the Administration still opposed to this?
MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, anything that becomes law, we would carry out fully and completely.
QUESTION: Is the Administration still opposed to it?
MR. BOUCHER: If it's been passed by both Houses of Congress, and if the President signs it, we'll implement it. That's all I can tell you.
QUESTION: Well, but do you think that the office should be kind of expanded, not only to include anti-Semitism, but other forms of racial discrimination?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to engage in wild speculation on something and how it will be done and implemented. All I can tell you is it will be implemented. At this point, as far as I know, it hasn't quite become law. But if it does become law, we'll implement it, whatever our previous views on the subject.
QUESTION: And your previous views on the subject were?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check.
QUESTION: Come on, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, these things, you know, we have -- we don't just say, "for it or agin' it," okay? Sometimes on legislation like this we have reservations; we like to see it done this way instead of that way. There are competing proposals. I think there was more than one bill on the Hill dealing with this issue, so I just don't know all the details of our position and I don't think I want to stand up here and just give a bare-bones answer when it could be slightly more complicated than that.
QUESTION: Does the State Department believe that having an office -- a special office and a special envoy just to deal with anti-Semitism is a good idea considering the fact that you already put out a Report on International Religious Freedom and The Human Rights Report, which contains -- which contain very specific, country-by-country, detailed analyses?
MR. BOUCHER: And you know how much we've dealt with the issue of anti-Semitism.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, the Secretary went to the conference in Europe and everything like that, so --
QUESTION: I'm not trying to suggest that the State Department's position is --
MR. BOUCHER: Our position is that we have been dealing consistently and thoroughly with the issue of anti-Semitism, but how that impinges upon our views of various pieces of legislation that have been put forward, one of which looks like it's about to become law, I'll have to check what the exact position was that we took. But at this stage in the process, the only thing to say is that if it does become law, we look forward to implementing it completely.
QUESTION: Well, would the State Department support, then, legislation that would create special offices for discrimination or anti-, acts against other religions?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that any such bills have been proposed, and therefore, I don't know that we've taken any position.
QUESTION: Is the State Department concerned that a provision, that a law that specifically applies to --
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, I'll look up the position that we took on this legislation for you. I'll be glad to share it with you if we have one. But I'm not going to try to answer it indirectly or by speculation on other forms of laws that might or might not be written.
QUESTION: Richard, can you tell us -- the Saudi Ministry of the Interior said yesterday that Yaser Hamdi, upon arrival back in the Saudi kingdom, renounced his U.S. citizenship. Has that, has anybody from the embassy confirmed that that happened?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's -- it's -- the statements, the meeting with people from our embassy are part of the process of renunciation. So a U.S. Consular Official from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, met with Mr. Hamdi so that he could be afforded this opportunity to renounce his U.S. citizenship. We will review the results of that meeting in accordance with standard practice before confirming officially whether Mr. Hamdi is no longer a U.S. citizen.
Loss of nationality is a complicated matter subject to Section 358 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It requires that the Consular Officer certifies certain relevant facts and then the State Department back here, Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, must decide whether to approve this Consular Officer's certificate. So the final decision on renunciation is made back here by the Department of State.
QUESTION: When do you expect six-way talk to be held? According to news -- according to some news, the U.S. is trying to get the talk to be held just right after the election, presidential election.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a date for you. We have made clear we're prepared to go to those talks at an early date. We were hoping that North Korea would meet its previous commitment to have the talks in September; we were ready to do that. We remain ready to have talks at an early date, but I'm not sure any word has come from the North Koreans about their willingness to do what they had promised to do. In fact, we just see continued excuses and statements giving reasons for delay.
QUESTION: Richard, is there anything new on discussions with Syria on cooperation along the Iraqi border?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new since the military talks that were held about 10 days ago.
QUESTION: Yeah, earlier today, I think that you and the Russians managed to clear up your dispute over the ambassador's house in Moscow. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: The head of our Foreign Buildings Office, General Williams, was just out in Moscow looking at a couple questions, and one of them was the lease on Spaso House, the ambassador's residence. He has -- how do I say it -- he's basically reached agreement with the Russians on a further lease of that property and the terms of the lease, but I'm not sure it's all been finalized yet.
QUESTION: Well, they seem to say it has been, both the Foreign Ministry and the embassy.
MR. BOUCHER: I think they reached an understanding on the matter. I'm not sure if the papers are done and signed. I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Okay. And what are the terms for that lease?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a 49-year lease. I don't remember how much money it involves but I'll try to get some details for you, particularly if it is finalized.
QUESTION: On what the rent is that you're going to be paying?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Are you sure that -- is it considerably more than the about three dollars that you were paying on the previous lease?
MR. BOUCHER: It is probably safe to say that almost anything would be more than what we had been paying, so I'll have to double check on the amount.
QUESTION: Well, there seems to be some problem with talking about the exact amount, or talking about the amount that the rent is, and I'm just curious as to what that is, what the problem is.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing ended at 1:30 p.m.)
DPB # 165 [End]
Released on October 12, 2004