State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 14
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 14
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
October 14, 2004
- Attacks in Green Zone in Baghdad / U.S. Condemns Attacks/
- Previous Attacks / Two Explosions / Security Sweeps / U.S.
- Security Contractors and Iraqis Killed / State Department
- Employees Injured / Reviewing Security Procedures / Claim of Responsibility
- U.S. Concerns of Election / Conducting Free and Fair Election /
- Timing of Statement / OSCE Election Observers / Possible
- Consequences / Visits by Prominent Americans
- U.S. Appreciation of Involvement in Iraq
- Involvement in Development of Iranian Nuclear Program / Supplying
- of Fuel Under International Standards / Fuel Rods
- U.S. Ambassador to Spain Not Attending Spanish National Day Parade
- Former Secretary of State Baker / Reduction of Deb / Iraqi Donors Conference
- Right of Self Defense / U.S. Concerns of Incursion / Humanitarian
- Consequences / Exercise Maximum Restraint / Hope to Conclude Operations / Firing of Rockets into Israel
- Pull out from Gaza / Moving Forward on Disengagement Plan /
- Looking for Ways to Move Forward / Contact Through Embassies / Different Views
- Continuing Transition / Moving Toward Fully Functional Sustainable
- Democracy / Resolution Through Democratic Means / Musharraf Vision
- / U.S. Encouragement of Further Progress / President Bush Meeting with Musharraf
- Signing of Agreements
- Formerly Known as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- OSCE Election Monitors in the United States / 2002 Congressional Election / California Recall Election
- Cross-Straight Dialogue
- Nuclear Program in the 1970's / IAEA Supervision and Safeguards
- Prince Sihamoni Designated as King
[12:45 p.m. EDT]
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any more statements or announcements for you. I think you all saw the statement on the Ukrainian election we put out this morning. And I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, with the awful thing that happened in Baghdad. Indeed, this, apparently, was the first penetration of this highly fortified area. Does this say something about several things, about security measures? Do they have to be reviewed? Does it say something about the war on terror? The Secretary said last night terrorists are finding it harder and harder to find places to hide, although he said Iraq is a tough case. I guess terrorists found a way to get into the compound, though. That's pretty shocking, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: As you describe it -- awful events in Baghdad. It's very difficult for the people who are serving there, and certainly we offer our sympathies to the families of the victims of the attacks and our condolences to the families of people who died. I'll give you a rundown on that in a minute.
We also condemn these terrorist attacks. There is an effort that we are making to try to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country, and it's another example of where there are terrorists who want to attack the Iraqis, who want to attack us and want to attack anybody who is trying to establish opportunity and freedom for the Iraqi people. We know that's the situation. There are people who will go out and know that they're serving in dangerous circumstances, but it's obviously very sad and unfortunate when something happens to them or, frankly, when something happens to the Iraqis that we are -- who we are working with in the Green Zone and elsewhere in the country.
It's not the first time that there have been attacks on the Green Zone. Most of the previous attacks have been mortars and things like that. You'll also remember it's not -- that there was an explosive device that was found in so-called Green Zone Café not too long ago as well. So the kind of explosion and damage is new, but it's not the first time that that kind of attack had been carried out or that people have tried to attack the Green Zone, because that is where a lot of this activity related to Iraqi reconstruction is going on.
What we know at this point, there were two explosions inside the Green Zone -- the international zone -- today. One occurred in a place called Vendor's Alley, which is close to the U.S. Embassy and acts as a place where people sell souvenirs, handicrafts and other things. The other took place in what's known as the Green Zone Café. I don't have the details yet of the explosions -- exactly how they occurred, whether suicide bombers or explosive devices.
Embassy personnel at this point have been instructed to remain inside the Embassy complex until further notice. An investigation is underway, and security sweeps are occurring in the area.
Our Embassy in Baghdad reports that four American citizen contractors, members of our security team, were killed in the Vendor's Alley attack. Another contractor was seriously wounded there. Embassy officials are working to determine if there are other private American citizens who sustained injuries in that attack. Two State Department direct hire employees were injured in Vendor's Alley, but their injuries are not life threatening. We also understand that there are Iraqis who were injured in that attack at Vendor's Alley.
In terms of the explosion at the Green Zone Café, there were several U.S. Embassy and Foreign Service National employees who sustained minor injuries in that attack. They received or are receiving medical treatment now. One U.S. citizen, a contractor, again, a member of our security team, was injured in this attack and at least six Iraqis were killed and a number of others wounded in the attack on the café.
I won't give you any more details on the people killed and wounded at this moment. We're still in the process of making sure that their companies and families know and understand what happened.
I do want to emphasize our sympathy and our determination to keep going, that we all know that the work of reconstruction in Iraq is dangerous, that there are some very nasty people who have no respect for human rights -- human life, no respect for the Iraqi people, no respect for the efforts that we're all making to help the Iraqi people. They are out to attack us and the Iraqis and others. And just as the Iraqis have persevered, we intend to persevere and we intend to overcome these difficulties and help Iraqis attain their goals.
QUESTION: On the review issue, obviously, you've got to be looking at things again. But does this call for -- it's maybe too early -- but does this call for an overhaul, some --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's much too early to start speculating on that until one knows a little more about, you know, how these attacks occurred, how they got in. I'm sure every time there is an incident like this, we automatically look for what we can to improve security for everybody who lives and works in these areas. And I'm sure the Embassy will be doing that, along with the military and others who have security responsibilities for that area. But it's premature to start speculating about what kind of changes might be necessary, whether they're major or minor.
QUESTION: And the Zarqawi claims, Zarqawi group claim?
MR. BOUCHER: We've seen the claim. I don't think I have any evidence to say one way or the other for sure that it is that group.
QUESTION: Richard, can I just -- you said that the total in the two attacks: four U.S. citizens killed and --
MR. BOUCHER: And six --
QUESTION: -- three wounded?
MR. BOUCHER: Four U.S. citizens killed and six Iraqis killed in the two attacks. The number of injured is -- well, there was one person seriously injured at Vendor's Alley, and another contractor who was injured at the Green Zone Café; and then in addition to that, there were several Embassy employees, two at Vendor's Alley and several more in the Green Zone who had minor injuries that are being treated.
QUESTION: Okay, but you don't have a number for --
MR. BOUCHER: And I don't have a number for Iraqis who were wounded, either.
QUESTION: Okay. So --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: All right. Can we move on to another subject?
QUESTION: On --
MR. BOUCHER: On this?
QUESTION: Yeah. Bret Stephens, who is the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, wrote an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal suggesting implicitly that maybe the United States is not learning the lessons from Israel in fighting a widespread insurgency. Could you tell us if there is any kind of cooperation, coordination or -- between the two on --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to do that. I don't have anything on that.
Yeah. Okay, Saul.
QUESTION: To take you back to your statement on Ukraine, you mentioned some of the violations that are going on inside Ukraine with the election. Are you at all concerned about influence from outside, from Russia, basically tacitly endorsing the Kuchma candidate?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I don't think I want to add to what's in the statement. Our concerns are quite clearly expressed in the statement and they relate principally to the way the election is being conducted inside Ukraine and some of the restrictions that have been placed on information and on politicking and things like that, and the importance that we attach to authorities in Ukraine conducting a fair and free election. That's been something that we have said is their responsibility, and the Secretary in his meetings and discussions on Ukraine with Ukrainian officials and others has consistently made clear the importance that we attach to that free and fair elections. So that's -- I think that's where the emphasis is now.
QUESTION: And was there any kind of warning to Ukraine that this statement was coming out? I'm wondering how they respond to such criticism.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there was a warning on this specific statement. They certainly are quite clear on our views because we've raised those through our Embassy, in public through various visitors, travel and meetings. So we've very consistently, I think, made clear our views of the importance of there being a free and fair election in Ukraine and our concerns that there were things that didn't point in that direction.
QUESTION: And how do they generally respond? Does it, in any way, affect their military cooperation? They've given troops to Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: I will leave it to them to respond to that. I think they do understand our concerns and express, at least in general terms, their hope for a free and internationally recognized election. What we're saying is the facts on the ground don't point in that direction at this point and tend to contradict their general statements like that.
Our appreciation, certainly, for their involvement in Iraq has been made clear. We do appreciate Ukraine's contributions. They have one of the largest contingents in Iraq, approximately 1,600 troops. They don't have forces in Afghanistan, but they provided overflight clearances for aircraft that are going to Afghanistan.
I guess what I'd have to say, though, is the contributions to the security endeavors that are good for Ukraine, good for us, good for many others in the world, they don't exonerate Ukraine's leadership from the responsibility that they have to Ukrainian citizens to uphold democracy and human rights commitments, including holding an election that meets international standards.
We have always felt that part of the fight to end terrorism, part of the fight to build security for all of us, is by strengthening democracy and opening up opportunity for people around the world, within our own nations but also in terms of many things that we and others have done to expand freedom in the world. The President's speech at the United Nations this year was all about that.
And so we think that meeting -- standing up for one's security obligations in terms of participating in these coalitions to fight terrorism or defend freedom for others is very important and deserves credit and appreciation; at the same time, it should go hand in hand with efforts to expand freedom domestically as well.
QUESTION: Richard, can I, just (inaudible) was this -- you're probably aware that your Acting Assistant Secretary, your DRL guy, was in Warsaw today at an OSCE meeting and made almost identical comments to what you just said in the statement earlier.
MR. BOUCHER: What a surprise. What a surprise.
QUESTION: Is this a coordinated thing to give them kind of a one-two punch?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a coordinated thing to give them a consistent message so that they can understand very clearly our views.
QUESTION: I meant just today. Why today, as opposed to maybe tomorrow, since the election is not until the 31st?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we wanted to do it in advance of the election so that there would be attention paid to this, perhaps room for improvement, but certainly to draw attention to this matter before we get to the actual election and because of the way we do see things shaping up. There are going to be a lot of observers going in for the election as well -- OSCE observers, I think, something like 600, who are going in -- and the United States has contributed to support that. There is also a lot of domestic observers, as many as 10,000.
So part of the effort to get our views out at the OSCE and to get our views out, more generally, to the public here is to inform people who are looking at these elections, including the various observers from OSCE and elsewhere, of the kind of concerns that we have and the things to watch out for.
QUESTION: Okay. And if you had addressed this while I was gone, did both of -- both you and -- I can't remember his name -- but the acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights and Labor talk about the warnings about possible consequences? Did you address that in an earlier question?
MR. BOUCHER: We can't address it in any more details at this point. We'll certainly, if it's necessary, we'll certainly review our various options after the elections.
QUESTION: Change subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: I have not seen the statement you put out this morning. But I remember the U.S. Ambassador of Ukraine was here and briefed us -- oh, I don't know -- a month or so ago, and mentioned that a number of prominent Americans were going to Kiev to stress the importance of a free and fair election. Do you have a list of names of people who have gone out there?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me see if I have: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Armitage, USAID Administrator Natsios, the OPIC President, I understand former President Bush, former Secretary Albright, former National Security Advisor Brzezinski, Richard Holbrooke, General Clark, Senator Lugar, Senator McCain have all visited Ukraine since February, and I think it demonstrates how wide a spectrum of people in the United States care about Ukraine but care about democracy in Ukraine and care about having a free election in Ukraine.
QUESTION: Speaking of elections in that area, do you have anything to say about the referendum -- new to say about the referendum in Belarus that's going to be happening this weekend?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have anything new. We did a statement on it, though, right?
QUESTION: That's why I'm asking.
MR. CASEY: We did something a while ago.
QUESTION: Yes, that's why I'm asking if there is anything new, since it's three days away. No?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Richard --
MR. BOUCHER: But I'll remember three days before the Ukrainian election to have something new.
QUESTION: The election is this weekend?
MR. BOUCHER: It's -- I think Matt's right. It's at the end of the month.
QUESTION: No, it's the 17th. Ukraine is --
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: This is the 14th.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. 14th, yeah.
QUESTION: Could you have a fresh guidance on this for tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: (Laughter.) About Ukraine or Belarus?
MR. BOUCHER: We will have the old wine in a new bottle, yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Richard, I have a question. Extensively, you spoke about the Iranian nuclear reactor within the last day or two, and also Secretary Powell has extensively spoken concerning that, and Russia today say that they have finished work on the nuclear reactor and are waiting for a signed agreement with Tehran with respect to the spent fuel rods, returning them to Russia at each juncture when they're spent.
Does Russia have any responsibility in this interim period, and especially if it slips beyond November? In other words, would the nuclear scientists in Tehran just start using that reactor to enrich the fuel without any safeguards?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, but slow down. They can't enrich fuel unless they get the fuel, and the import of what you're telling me is the Russian announcement -- I haven't seen it myself, but I do know that has been Russian policy now. And as you know, we've worked hard for a long time with the international community to get people to understand our concerns about development of the Iranian nuclear program.
The Russians have, in the past, had a lot of cooperation there, cooperation that we thought was being used as a cover for nuclear weapons activities; and progressively, over time, the Russians have cut off some of those specific exchanges and they've now adopted a position, which we think is a very positive one, which is that they are willing to supply fuel for the reactor only if it's under international standards and safeguards and, second of all, that the fuel will be returned to Russia after it was spent.
And so it's another example, really, of where the international community does share our concerns about Iran and has come to share our concerns about Iran. And it's another example of the kind of benefits and opportunities that the Iranians are missing out on by not cooperating with the international community on nuclear safeguards and controls.
QUESTION: Do you have new guarantees from Russia that the new fuel rods, unused, are inactive and not at that facility now?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, well, I don't know the exact status of the facility. I wasn't aware that there were any fuel rods there at this point.
QUESTION: I don't know.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Richard, can you explain to us why your Ambassador to Spain blew off the Spanish National Day parade and give us a brief readout of the Foreign Minister's call to Secretary Powell complaining about this?
MR. BOUCHER: The Foreign Minister didn't call Powell to complain about this.
QUESTION: But Spanish media says that -- why, he called him about something else?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) And did this come up?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Well, apparently, the Foreign Minister said that it was a diplomatic discourt -- it was not diplomatic, wasn't in keeping with diplomatic courtesy. The Spanish appear to be pretty upset about this, and think -- and perhaps you can dispel this -- that the reason that the Ambassador didn't go was because the new Spanish -- the Spanish Government disinvited U.S. soldiers from participating in --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of all the stories and the discussion of this. I do think the best explanation of this is probably going to come from our Embassy in Spain. I'll leave it to the Ambassador to explain why he was not able to attend.
QUESTION: Well, yeah, that would be fine, if, in fact, you can confirm that the Spanish Foreign Minister didn't raise this issue with Secretary Powell in a phone call.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll double-check and make sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the allegation -- I'm sorry, did you --
MR. BOUCHER: There was a lady behind you who's been waiting, but go ahead.
QUESTION: I apologize for going --
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead. We're working our way back.
QUESTION: It's okay.
MR. BOUCHER: Patient people sit in the back. Go ahead, Said.
QUESTION: Are you aware of the allegation that while former Secretary of State James Baker is working so hard to convince people to forgo the debt, you know, Iraqi debts, that his group, the Carlyle Group, is, in fact, trying to, you know --
MR. BOUCHER: I think there's been a considerable amount of explanation by Carlyle Group. I don't have anything to say on that. I think that's not a matter that we're directly responsible for. But there is more than -- more out there from Baker and his group.
QUESTION: There's also -- just to add, there's also apparently the Albright Group are doing the same thing. They're telling the Kuwaitis that we will get your money back. Have you talked with them not to interfere in this process?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that we've talked to either one of them, but -- I mean, either one of the groups.
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, the effort that Secretary Baker made was to get international agreement that there would be substantial reduction of debt. We are continuing to carry that forward. We have been in -- I'm sorry -- very close touch with other members of the Paris Club, working rather intensely this month with the Iraqis and members of the Paris Club to try to get a foundation for that substantial reduction of debt, and we're proceeding on the way.
It was a major subject of discussion at the Iraqi donors conference in Tokyo, although not the principal subject of discussion, and so I think we continue to work very hard to try to achieve that kind of reduction of Iraqi debt.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Middle East.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: We hear there's a conflict between Sharon and his military generals concerning the operations going in Gaza, so do you have any reaction on that?
And just one more thing, also: Blair, yesterday, said that nothing will be going on in the Middle East, nothing will be achieved until the end of the U.S. elections. So do you think if, like, we wait until the end of the U.S. elections --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, Sharon and his generals is not a subject for the United States.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you --
MR. BOUCHER: We're neither Sharon nor his generals. And who was it that said nothing's going to happen?
MR. BOUCHER: Blair?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I saw comments like that. Certainly we're always looking for opportunities to make progress.
QUESTION: Richard, perhaps --
MR. BOUCHER: Hang on.
QUESTION: -- a little different point of view, which is that over a week ago, the Secretary said that he hoped that the Israelis would be wrapping up their operations in Gaza soon. It's now been more than a week, as you know. The situation doesn't seem to have gotten much better. Five more Palestinians were killed today.
What is -- what's the U.S. view of what's going on?
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is essentially the same, that we do believe the Israelis have a right to self-defense and that they should do that in a manner that concludes as quickly as possible and that minimizes any loss of civilian life or humanitarian consequences.
We have continued to make these concerns known to the Government of Israel, concerns about the incursion, and continue to urge them to minimize humanitarian consequences; at the same time, make clear once again we are urging all the parties, including Israelis and Palestinians, to exercise maximum restraint and to take measures to -- particularly the Palestinians to take measures to end the violence and terror, avoid actions that escalate tensions or make more difficult the restoration of calm. So that's a view that we've consistently expressed to the parties.
QUESTION: Well, are you disappointed that it hasn't -- that the Israelis haven't wrapped it up?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our view is known and we continue to express it. I'm not going to try to characterize feelings.
QUESTION: Well, do you still hope that --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we still hope that they can conclude the operation as soon as possible and that they can do so without -- with a minimum loss of harm to the civilian population. We have made clear, as the Secretary made clear last week, that the firing of rockets into Israel is a terrible action that has cost lives repeatedly over time, and that that needs to end. The Palestinians have a responsibility here, too, to stop that kind of activity and control the violence.
QUESTION: A follow-up?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, sir. A follow-up.
QUESTION: But today Sharon said that the operation will continue. Does that mean he, in fact, responded to Secretary Powell's hope?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask him if he was responding or just stating a fact.
QUESTION: Richard, Ariel Sharon has announced that he would like to begin the pullout from Gaza in May, and yet, at the same time, there will be a vote in the Israeli parliament October 25th. Now, if that were to all occur, Sharon's under pressure to -- from, I guess, the right wing hardliners. Is there any contingency if his government falls?
MR. BOUCHER: Israeli politics, whether it's the political aspects of moving forward on the disengagement plan or whether it's the formation or whatever happens to the government, that's a matter for Israelis to decide and not something the United States gets involved in, nor do we intend to get involved in that.
We have made clear that we continue to look at the disengagement plan as an opportunity to move forward, to move forward for the Palestinians in terms of the actual real return of control over territory and the end of settlement activity in Gaza in a way that would be unprecedented in terms of the agreements that have been reached between Israelis and Palestinians in the past; and second of all, that the return of settlements in the West Bank offers the appropriate linkage to moving forward on the roadmap, to meaning, showing that this is a step along the way towards resolution of the larger issues as well.
So we continue to see that opportunity. We continue to look for ways to move forward. We have continued to work with the international community on that. How the Israeli Government moves it internally through their political process is up to them.
QUESTION: Richard, is there more clarity today on the Deputy Secretary's presence or absence at that meeting tomorrow?
MR. BOUCHER: Nope. No, I don't have anything specific at this point. I think at this point I have to wait for him to get back and ask him in the morning.
QUESTION: Just back on Gaza for a second. You said, "We have continued to make these concerns known to both sides." Do you know -- are you aware of any recent high-level contact about --
MR. BOUCHER: Through our Embassy, at this point it's largely -- well, it is -- it's a matter of our diplomatic representatives at the Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Consulate General in Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Okay, so there hasn't been anything that you're aware of?
MR. BOUCHER: If you're asking about phone calls from the Secretary, no.
QUESTION: Richard, former head of the Mossad, Yossi Alpher was in town on Tuesday, and he said it really is unrealistic now to talk about conflict resolution and that what we should have is really conflict management, and that the separation plan comes within that, which means, you know, not to be hopeful towards accomplishing the roadmap or the two-sate solution and so on. Have you heard anything about this? Are you talking about a conflict management --
MR. BOUCHER: I just gave you the U.S. view that we are looking for ways to move forward on the roadmap, on the overall issues. We think that's very important. That is the view that the Israeli Government continues to express. I know there's a ton and a half of different views in Israel, and they're all being expressed by present, former and other officials, but the view of the Israeli Government, as expressed by the Prime Minister, is he wants to move forward on this and he sees it as a step to move forward to the larger issues so the President's vision and that the roadmap is the way to get there. That's the view that we continue to see from the Israeli Government and we intend to work with them and act on that to try to achieve whatever progress we can.
QUESTION: Your Embassy in Lebanon put out a Warden Message this morning telling people to take extra care in shopping malls around Beirut -- in and around Beirut. It's a rather brief notice, and it just says that they should do this "due to recent events." And I have tried without success to find out what recent events it refers to, which I don't think is an unfair or un -- you know, it's a relevant question. Does it have to do with the arrest of the possible -- the plot against the Italian Embassy? Does it have to do with the UN Security Council resolution on Lebanon/Syria? Can you take that possibly and find out --
MR. BOUCHER: And see if I can try unsuccessfully to find out as well?
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I presume that you would have better success than I would.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'll race you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Pakistan. There's been a bill passed in the lower house of parliament that gives Musharraf scope to break his pledge. He said he will step down as army chief by the end of the year. Do you urge him to stick to his pledge?
MR. BOUCHER: We have continued to express our belief that Pakistan's long-term interest is to continue its transition to a fully functioning democracy. We expect to see continuing progress towards this goal, which is central to Pakistan becoming a moderate and modern state. But the specific issue here is for Pakistanis to resolve and through democratic means.
So we are urging Pakistan to continue to make progress on its transition to a full and sustainable democracy with free and fair multiparty parliamentary elections as scheduled in 2007. We want these elections to meet international standards, and we want to see Pakistan in the meantime strengthen judiciary and parliament to enable political parties to operate freely and increase transparency.
President Musharraf regularly affirms his vision of Pakistan's progress towards democracy. That's a vision that we share and we'll continue to encourage him to move in that direction.
QUESTION: Your statement began saying, basically, that Pakistan has begun this process. Watch this is tricky.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can the process continue, even if Musharraf is not the President? He marked the major turning point, but is he the only known democratic figure who could be the President of Pakistan?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not deciding who's going to be the President of Pakistan.
QUESTION: No, I'm not saying that. But is it a one-man, democratic rule --
MR. BOUCHER: That's not for us to do.
QUESTION: -- or is --
MR. BOUCHER: We have worked very closely with President Musharraf. We have praised his intentions and the steps he has taken and the progress that has been made towards a more democratic society in Pakistan. We have encouraged further progress. We have encouraged him to continue to make further progress. So that's where we are.
QUESTION: Yeah, I guess I'm asking whether it's ingrained enough so quickly so that it's irreversible and doesn't rest on one man.
MR. BOUCHER: That's the kind of political commentary I'll leave to you guys.
QUESTION: But do you believe he should step down as army chief?
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that Pakistan needs to continue to make progress towards democracy. Whether they take -- whether he takes this specific step is something that's going to have to be decided in Pakistan.
QUESTION: What, so you have no opinion on it?
QUESTION: Can you be a little more specific about how that concern about Pakistan continuing on that path has been expressed to Pakistani officials?
I ask because when President Bush met with General Musharraf at the United Nations General Assembly, I think there was -- the briefer said that it wasn't raised by the President. I might be mistaken about that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well --
QUESTION: Anyway, can you --
MR. BOUCHER: -- you'd better check with the White House on that because I think maybe the specific issue of the uniform, as its known, was not raised at that meeting. But I think -- if I remember the briefing correctly -- there was some discussion of the importance of movement towards democracy for Pakistan and elsewhere, and certainly that has been one of the President's major themes. It's a theme and an issue that we take up in just about every discussion with the Pakistanis. Certainly, the Secretary talked to the Pakistani Foreign Minister about it whenever he meets and our Embassy is very active too.
QUESTION: Richard, are you trying to suggest that you have no opinion on this matter?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm trying to suggest that we've said before we thought it would be a good step, but that progress towards democracy in Pakistan doesn't rise -- doesn't rest solely on this step, that there is -- we continue to encourage progress and we continue to encourage Pakistanis to look for ways to make progress.
QUESTION: So you are not necessarily opposed to him staying on?
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that the Pakistanis need to continue to find ways to make progress.
QUESTION: Well, it sounds as if this is a significant change.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't say so. We've always encouraged Pakistan to make steps towards democracy. We have seen -- when this potential step of relinquishing his military titles was discussed, we said, yes, that would be a good thing.
QUESTION: Do you still think it would be a good thing?
MR. BOUCHER: We still think it would be a good thing, but the decision on whether to do it or not is going to be his; and in the meantime, we continue to encourage all sorts of steps towards their moving in the direction of democracy.
QUESTION: Well, can you say it's not a good thing that he hasn't done it? (Laughter.) I'm serious.
MR. BOUCHER: Charlie, I'm not going to try to say things like that at this point. They have passed a law. President Musharraf has not announced what he is going to do. And as I said, we look for all sorts of ways. We encourage all sorts of ways in moving more -- in more democratic directions. We praise what they have done so far, and we'll continue to encourage them to take further steps in the future.
QUESTION: Can you say if his staying on in office as a general is compatible with Pakistan's move toward democracy?
MR. BOUCHER: That's the same question I've just been asked five times. I don't have anything new to say than what I told your colleagues.
QUESTION: But you do recall, Richard, that he came to power in a coup?
MR. BOUCHER: I do recall that, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: And that the time, you said it was a bad thing?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it was a bad thing.
QUESTION: And then that he is significantly rehabilitating himself?
MR. BOUCHER: And steps toward democracy are good things and we'll continue to encourage them.
QUESTION: But you are not prepared to say that this is a fundamental component of a step toward democracy?
MR. BOUCHER: Steps toward democracy are good things and we'll continue to encourage them. That's as simple as I can say what our view is.
QUESTION: Without saying what you really think?
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, when the Secretary of Defense or any other Secretary are signing bilateral agreements, did you check before the format of the text from a diplomatic point of view?
MR. BOUCHER: (Laughter.) Do you want to be more specific in your question?
QUESTION: What is the position?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes, I raise the question because Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the other day, signed in Skopje a bilateral cooperation agreement not using the appropriate name of the country, which, in this particular case, as you know, is FYROM. And I'm wondering why and give us an explanation.
MR. BOUCHER: We have signed various agreements with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, commonly known as Macedonia. And, but I think those agreements have taken various forms.
QUESTION: I was told also that the Coordinator of Cyprus, Under Secretary Laura Kennedy, is out of the country and I'm wondering if she's going to visit Nicosia, too. Do you know?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know.
QUESTION: And the last question. It's true that for your presidential election November 2nd you proposed and accepted the presence of international observers, and I'm wondering why and if you can comment on why.
MR. BOUCHER: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe routinely sends observers to countries who are members, including the United States. We are a member who are having elections. That has been a very normal practice for many countries that we have encouraged, and they are doing so in the case of the U.S. elections.
I think they have a team that's going to be headed by a Swiss representative and they're welcome. They're going to look at our elections and I'm sure, like many, many people in the world and in the United States, they'll express their opinions.
QUESTION: But did you accept that before, or it's happened for the first time?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is the first time. Right?
MR. CASEY: There have been observers at the 2002 congressional elections as well as the special election, the governor recall election in California.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, there you go. You get the full details from Tom. There have been observers at the 2002 congressional election as well as the California recall election.
QUESTION: The same issue keeps coming up about (inaudible) the other day and I didn't have an answer.
MR. BOUCHER: The what issue?
QUESTION: The name of that place that's next to other places in the Balkans. Do you have a desk here for that country? And is the desk officer the desk officer for the Former Yugoslav Republic of -- or is he the desk officer, or she the desk officer of Macedonia?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, as you know, we do this periodically, maybe every couple of months, sometimes every week here.
QUESTION: Well, I'm sorry.
MR. BOUCHER: The country is formally known at this point as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
MR. BOUCHER: It's commonly known as Macedonia. We generally refer to it as Macedonia because everybody knows where that is.
QUESTION: Referring to Taiwan's President Chen's speech, in which national type speech in which he called for resumption of cross-Strait talks, China sees it quite differently from the United States and regarding it as a provocation rather than an opportunity for dialogue. Do you have any comment on that?
And secondly, there are new reports on Taiwan's old nuclear program. Do you have any new information or comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: On the first question, I'd just repeat what we said. We looked at the speech. We thought it was constructive. We thought it was a welcome and constructive message that offered some creative ideas to reduce tension and resume cross-Straits dialogue, and we have urged both sides, we will continue to urge both sides to take the opportunity to engage in dialogue in order to resolve the differences peacefully.
As far as the question of Taiwan's nuclear activity, I think you're dealing with reports about things that happened in the 1970s and 1980s. The International Atomic Energy Agency, I think, is currently looking into these questions to evaluate Taiwan's history, just as the International Atomic Energy Agency does with others.
QUESTION: But the U.S. has no opinion on it? It's sort of like South Korea back in the '70s. You have no -- when you were able to verify that back then they did experiment, you can't do that in this case?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think it's known that in the '70s they worked under IAEA supervision and safeguards on plutonium at some point. At this point, I think it's in the hands of the IAEA to look at this, look at the history, and we'll see what they report to the Board of Governors, if anything.
QUESTION: Richard, tomorrow in Zimbabwe, the verdict in the trial of the opposition leader whose name I can't pronounce is going to be announced. You have been quite critical of this process as it has moved through a court. I'm wondering if you have anything to say now.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything today. We'll see if there's something to say tomorrow.
QUESTION: And then my last one. Now that they've elected a new king in Cambodia, I presume that you're ready to believe that Sihanouk did abdicate and you might have something to say about it.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we do note that Prince Sihamoni has been designated by Cambodia's Throne Council to be Cambodia's next king following the abdication of King Sihanouk on October 7th.
We understand that King Sihanouk will continue as monarch until Prince Sihamoni's formal coronation. The date for the coronation has not yet been announced. The selection of Prince Sihamoni to succeed the King was conducted in an orderly fashion through the country's established institutions.
QUESTION: You don't have anything to say about your old sparring partner, the King? The ex-King, or soon-to-be ex-King?
MR. BOUCHER: I will make the appropriate statements when it's time, when the ex-King becomes the ex-King.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: When the present King becomes the ex-King, I guess.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
DPB # 167
 After the briefing we received corrected figures on the number of deaths in these two attacks. The total number of confirmed deaths in both attacks is five -- four in Vendor's Alley and one at the Green Zone Cafe. Of these five confirmed deaths, three were American citizen contractors killed at Vendor's Alley. In addition to these five confirmed deaths, another American citizen contractor who was at Vendor's Alley at the time of the explosion is missing and presumed dead. [return to footnote 1 paragraph ] [return to footnote 2 paragraph]
Released on October 14, 2004