State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for November 29
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
November 29, 2004
- Statement on Passing of Joe Sisco
- Secretary Powell to Visit to Canada/Europe and Morocco
- Possibility of a New Election
- Supreme Court and Rada's Stance on the Elections
- Threats to Territorial Integrity/Separatist Initiatives
- President Putin's Congratulations for Yanukovich/Russia's Position
- OSCE/EU Involvement in a Solution
- Response to Calls to Postpone the Election
- U.S. and Iraqi Ability to Ensure Fair Elections
- Desire for Referral to the UN Security Council
- Support for EU-3 Resolution/ Suspension Agreement
- Referral for Past Violations/Unilateral Referral/Permanent Suspension
- U.S. Policy on Macedonian Expansion/Name "Republic of Macedonia"
- Closed Embassy in Skopje/Threat to U.S. Government Facilities
- Turkey's Membership in the EU
- U.S. Recognition Policy and Turkish Cypriots
- 2006 Constitutional Referendum
- U.S. Opposition to Taiwanese Independence
- Withdrawal from Waziristan/Campaign Against Al-Qaida
- Beijing's Release of Democracy Activist Liu Jingsheng
- Release of Political Dissidents
- Continued House Arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi
- Expulsion of Nongovernmental Organizations
- Concerns Over Escalated Violence and Ceasefire Violations
- Expansion of African Union Monitoring
- Potential Peace Talks between Syria and Israel
- Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister Shara in Sharm el-Sheikh
- Hezbollah Broadcasts on AL-Manar
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here, and thank you for waiting for me. We're putting out a couple of statements that I'll just tell you about now. You can have the full written versions after the briefing.
The first is a statement on the passing of Joe Sisco, one of our renowned and highly esteemed diplomats that many of us in the Foreign Service have grown up hearing stories of his diplomatic ability and some of the crises that he was responsible for resolving. And so I think it marks a point of sadness for us all and we've got a statement from the Secretary of State on his passing.
QUESTION: The feeling is the same on this side of the podium, too. He was a terrific guy.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, there are a lot of good stories about him which I think he'll be remembered for.
QUESTION: Worked hard.
MR. BOUCHER: Second of all, just to tell you that the Secretary will be visiting Canada tomorrow with the President. He'll follow the President's schedule up there. Their visit is intended to promote partnership with Canada, build on broad and deep cooperation on security, environmental and trade issues. And so that will be -- the Secretary will be gone for that tomorrow through part of Wednesday.
And then another trip announcement. The Secretary will go to Europe from December 6th until he goes on from there to Morocco for a meeting on December 11th, which is the meeting of the Forum for the Future. So he'll be gone from Washington from December 6th to December 11th.
In Europe, he'll travel to Sophia, Bulgaria for an OSCE meeting, Brussels for meetings of the North Atlantic Council, the NATO-Russia Council and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. He'll also be giving a speech to the Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Center there and hold bilateral meetings with Belgian authorities as well as other NATO members during the course of that trip.
In The Hague, he'll be attending the U.S.-European Ministerial and then, as I said, on the 11th he'll be on to Rabat where he will co-chair the first meeting of the Forum for the Future, including sessions on democracy, participation and opportunity, and business and civil society dialogue. That is the first real meeting of the Forum for the Future. You'll all remember that a preparatory meeting was held at the United Nations in September of this year when the Secretary was there.
And those are the announcements for today and I'd be glad to answer these or other questions.
QUESTION: I suppose you could say, you know, one never knows, but so far as you know, looking over the horizon, would this by the Secretary's last trip? Rice's confirmation hearings have been set back a little from what seemed to be the tentative plan, so I guess he'll be around a while. Do you figure this is it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't figure. I don't know. I figure I don't know. (Laughter.) And so I don't figure. (Laughter.)
We'll see. The Secretary is going to be, I think as he's told you, firmly engaged in doing the nation's diplomatic business until he walks out the door for the last time. And depending on the timing of the confirmation of Dr. Rice, we don't know exactly how long that will be and there is certainly possible that other things will come up that he'll want to do, that he will need to do, on behalf of our nation, between now and then. So we'll just have to see.
QUESTION: Well, you're not aware of anything that -- any scheduled -- things that are scheduled already that he might be going to? I mean, we've all known since --
MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean after the NATO? Well, NATO meetings -- OSCE meetings get scheduled.
QUESTION: Yes, as do Forum for the Future meetings get scheduled --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything else after that.
QUESTION: -- which were scheduled, and you're not aware of anything?
MR. BOUCHER: Not aware of anything else after that that is already like that, sort of prior scheduled, you know, longtime event. But should the need arise or something, opportunity come up, I'm sure he will be pursuing it, whether that takes him overseas or not. So we'll just have to see.
QUESTION: At The Hague, is that U.S.-EU or U.S.-OSCE?
MR. BOUCHER: The Hague is U.S.-EU; Bulgaria is the OSCE meetings; Brussels are the NATO meetings; The Hague is U.S.-European Union ministerial meetings; and Rabat is the Forum for the Future.
QUESTION: Can we move on to Ukraine?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: A lot of business today. We saw the Secretary's statements. Some actually were there at the silent camera spray, which turned out to be verbal.
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was -- no, it was a walkout afterwards, so he walked outside afterwards.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know, but I mean that sort of keeps you away. But in any event, almost simultaneously, word from Kiev that Kuchma is open maybe to an election, a new election. Does that do it for you, or does it depend how an election is run?
MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been various possibilities and suggestions made. Certainly a new election or an election in some areas are among the possibilities.
Our view is based on really a couple of very fundamental things: Both sides need to follow a peaceful path to resolving the problems in Ukraine; second of all, that we very firmly and strongly support Ukraine's territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its freedom and its independence -- that has been a consistent position and one that we continue to uphold and believe is very important to remember at this moment; and third of all, that it's important, as both sides have started to do, that they follow the legal process, the political process that is underway in Ukraine, with the help of people from outside, as necessary and appropriate, to find a peaceful solution to the problem.
So among the peaceful solutions are various permutations of decisions or agreements on elections that certainly would be a satisfactory outcome, but they need to sort of work their way through these legal and political processes peacefully and find an outcome that works for everybody.
QUESTION: Have they informed the United States of any of the details, the fact that they say it as a fact that we'll have a new election?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I think that -- I'm not sure it was said that they will. I think there were candidates saying that they might if certain other things happen. So they're going to have to work their way through this.
When the Secretary spoke this morning to President Kuchma, and then he spoke to Foreign Minister Lavrov, he made clear our fundamental interests, as I've explained them to you: that it be peaceful, that it respect territorial integrity, and that they work through the legal and political process in the country.
No, they didn't get into discussing particular details. Some of this news broke later after these conversations, in any case. But we're certainly staying in very close touch on the ground. Our embassy out there has been following this very closely. Our European bureau here has been following it very closely.
As you know, the supreme court in Ukraine is today considering numerous complaints of electoral fraud. The parliament, the Rada, considered this over the weekend on Saturday, saying the outcome was at odds with the will of the people. So we're hopeful that this kind of ferment and discussion will lead to an outcome that is peaceful, one that, as I said, respects the legal and political processes in the country.
QUESTION: When the Secretary spoke with President Kuchma and Foreign Minister Lavrov today, were any of his concerns allayed about the potential for a breakup of Ukraine?
MR. BOUCHER: I think all the parties he talked to did say that they agreed that Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty were very important and needed to be respected. I would add that the people he has talked to, that all the parties that we've seen in Ukraine, have pledged themselves not to use force and to seek a peaceful outcome, and that is something that we very much have supported and have emphasized in our own discussions.
And as the Secretary noted in response to a question at the stakeout, so far the parties have kept it calm and worked through these legal and political opportunities, and that's how we hope it continues.
QUESTION: Did President Kuchma, in his conversation with the Secretary, say that the new -- or give him any indication that he would be willing to accept new elections?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, they didn't discuss that specific. I think that sort of statement broke on the wires later after the conversation, in any case, but it didn't come up in the --
QUESTION: Well, right, which leads to a question --
MR. BOUCHER: It didn't come up in the conversation.
QUESTION: It didn't come up at all in the conversation?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: All right. Okay. And then you talk about the supreme court investigating these allegations of fraud. Isn't that something that the Electoral Commission was supposed to do before it certified these results? And if I'm correct in thinking that it was, why do you, or why should anyone, have any confidence that the supreme court would faithfully address these issues?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I was expressing a particular view one way or the other. That's what's going on today. We would hope that they would look at it seriously. We would hope that they would examine these allegations carefully and come up with decisions and judgments that people will have respect for.
Yes, the Electoral Commission was supposed to have looked at it, and we urged the Electoral Commission to hold off making a declaration till they had looked seriously at these things. They didn't do so. But the fact that it's now with the supreme court means that the court has an opportunity to look at it carefully and render a judgment.
QUESTION: Okay. And speaking of making final judgments or judgments on the election, you had urged all parties and all other countries not to do anything that might prejudice the -- what you saw as the process unfolding. Your -- the President's good friend, this President Bush's good friend, President Putin, totally ignored that, and in fact, twice congratulated the pro-Moscow candidate. And I'm wondering if in the Secretary's conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov if it -- if this came up. Or is this, is it your feeling that this is now kind of water under the bridge and that everything needs to be pointed forward?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know if it's come up, for example, in conversations in the White House briefings or elsewhere, but I think our basic view is that it is important for all the parties to hold back and all the parties from the outside to support a peaceful outcome based on legal and political process. That was the substance of the conversation today with Foreign Minister Lavrov. It was not accusatory. I think we both, at this stage, at least, agree on the need for Ukraine to be able to use those processes underway to reach a fair outcome.
QUESTION: When you say "at this stage," does that mean that prior, in the days since the election last Sunday, that perhaps you saw a divergence of view?
MR. BOUCHER: We're certainly aware of the phone calls and statements that President Putin has made. I just -- frankly, I don't know if the White House had something to say on that yet or not. I don't have an opinion for you today.
QUESTION: Right, and I'll follow that up. But you're convinced now, after -- or the Secretary's convinced after speaking to Lavrov, that you and the Russians are on the same page regarding the election?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to characterize Russian views, except to the extent to say that they understood, the Foreign Minister understood why -- our view on territorial integrity, agreed with us on the need to keep it peaceful, and that there were indeed legal processes, political processes available inside Ukraine, for these matters to be settled.
QUESTION: Can I --
QUESTION: Can I quickly just follow up on what she asked? On the territorial integrity of the Ukraine, you're not at all alarmed by the demonstrations and the call for autonomy, especially if it's the way it's being said on the basis of, let's say, East versus West kind of situation?
MR. BOUCHER: We certainly have seen that. We are, I would say, concerned about some of this agitation for separatism. We strongly oppose any separatist initiative in the Ukraine. We did note that President Kuchma met with a group of governors and criticized calls for separatism.
And so it goes back to the basic point we made before: We strongly support Ukraine's freedom and independence and its territorial integrity and we continue to uphold that position in our discussions with everyone involved.
QUESTION: I'm sorry to keep coming back to the election. I'll just try once. It sounds -- it's very puzzling that the Secretary would talk to the President of Ukraine, and almost minutes later there would be stories out that Kuchma is considering a new election.
MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, the stories I saw said that Yanukovich was considering -- or said he would accept a new election. I didn't see Kuchma. Maybe that was subsequent.
QUESTION: No, but the reason I bring it up is not to challenge anything that's been said here, but to give -- I can't give much weight to the notion of an election if he didn't bother to mention it to the Secretary of State in this telephone conversation. It would seem -- it can't -- and I would wonder how serious they are.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't -- I didn't read the wires as carefully as you do. It seems to me that this is an idea that is being discussed in Ukraine. It's been discussed by more than one person, if President Kuchma has talked about it as well. Certainly, if that's what happens, if that's what the parties agree to, I think everybody would find it satisfactory if that's what everybody agrees to. But there are a variety of outcomes that are possible and we'll just have to see how they work through this.
Our view, our basic view, is at a slightly higher level, and that's what the Secretary of State discussed with the President of the Ukraine and the Foreign Minister of Russia, and that's that this needs to be done peacefully, it needs to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and it needs to work through -- that they need to work through the legal and political processes that are available in Ukraine. And that is fundamentally our view. Which one of these particular formulas they come out with and they end up with would be a matter of working through those processes.
QUESTION: But you are confident that the new election idea did not come up in the Secretary's conversation with the President? Because, I mean, the reason why we're asking is because this has got some similarities -- not a lot, but it has some -- to what happened in Georgia, where after the Secretary's intervention with President Shevardnadze in a different situation -- he wasn't stepping down, he wanted to stay in power -- but, you know, things happened as a result of intervention by the U.S., by the Russians, by others. So that's why --
MR. BOUCHER: And we certainly would hope that things would happen as a result of the Secretary's phone calls and the intervention, what the U.S. Embassy is doing and what other nations are doing. The OSCE is very involved. European nations are very involved in making their position known.
And we would certainly hope, first of all, that the international community would pursue this, as we seem to be doing perhaps a little more now, by all pointing in the same direction, by all pointing in the direction of using these legal and political processes in Ukraine to resolve it.
Second of all, we hope the Ukrainians will take that seriously and that all the parties in Ukraine will maintain a peaceful approach to this matter and try to look for ways to help solve these matters.
So certainly we believe that our intervention is designed to try to move things forward and help them work it out, but precisely which outcome they arrive at is not the most important thing to us. The most important thing to us is that it's an outcome that respects the Ukraine, respects the will of the people of Ukraine, and respects the legal institutions and processes and the political process that they have within the country.
QUESTION: Richard, there's a sizeable demonstration in front of the White House with a statement addressed to President Bush, to Secretary Powell and also to Dr. Rice, and the groups that are protesting or having a rally there are saying that President Putin of Russia has been complaining about Western influence and while Russia continues to play its dirty games. Do you think that -- have these particular aspects of this whole Ukraine situation been discussed with President Putin?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I was just asked a similar question a few moments ago and I didn't have the answer then. I don't have an answer now. I think you'd have to check with the White House briefing and see if they've addressed the issue of President Putin's comments and statements.
QUESTION: Just to be perfectly sure on something, other than laying out the principles that you feel are important vis-à-vis resolving the Ukraine situation -- I'm not asking you to repeat them because you have said them and made them clear.
MR. BOUCHER: I'd be glad to, if you want me to.
QUESTION: I know you will. The Secretary did not himself express any kind of a preference on what particular outcome they arrive at, correct?
MR. BOUCHER: They did not get into particular outcomes or express a preference for a particular outcome.
MR. BOUCHER: Neither, yeah. Not -- neither of the three, is the proper word for that --
QUESTION: Yeah, I was thinking about --
MR. BOUCHER: -- not one of the three.
QUESTION: I was thinking about Kuchma and Powell.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh. Kuchma and Powell, Lavrov -- none of the three expressed a particular preference for a particular outcome.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: New subject? Sir, you got it.
QUESTION: Iraqi election. How do you react to the meeting that took place this past weekend with 15 different political parties headed by the head of the -- the former head of the Iraqi National Council, the two major Kurdish parties, in fact, Mr. Allawi's own party, calling for postponing the election for six months?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have reacted to that. You saw, perhaps, the Secretary's remarks this morning to the stakeout. We believe that it is very important to proceed with elections. The Iraqi Government indicates that they are doing everything possible to meet the commitment to hold elections by the end of January. Prime Minister Allawi has been very clear on that and we remain very committed to supporting them in reaching that goal.
Clearly, we understand the issue that security presents to people. It's also, remember, important to remember, though, a number of political factors in Iraq that the polling indicates a majority of Iraqis want the election on January 30th. There is an intensive effort underway to train and equip Iraqi security forces to maintain the peace more and more as we approach the time of the election. The effort has been producing results in different cities, including Najaf and Fallujah and Samarra and other places.
In Fallujah, we not only have been successful in putting the situation -- the city back in government hands, but we have reconstruction money ready to flow, something like $100 million worth of reconstruction funds that are ready to go in, starting to go in, indeed, already. So denying these strongholds to terrorists and insurgents and putting them under government control makes it possible for more and more and more Iraqis to participate in the elections, and that is the -- I think, the goal that we have.
There are Iraqis from all ethnic and religious groups who are indeed supporting elections on the schedule that the government has announced that's required by the various resolutions and laws, Iraqis who want to have a voice in their government. There is more than 200 political parties have registered already with the independent electoral commission in Iraq. At least 25 of these are affiliated with Sunni groups. So there are many people who are looking forward to participating in these elections on time, and you've seen all of the politics going on with voting lists and coalitions and agreements between parties.
So our view remains strongly the Iraqi Government is committed to doing this. We remain committed to helping them do it, have the election on time, and that we are undertaking a whole series of actions along with the Iraqi Government to try to open up the election, make sure it is open to all people throughout Iraq and all groups throughout Iraq to participate in.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: But the statement alleges that the reason they are calling for postponement is that neither the American forces nor the Iraqi forces have the manpower or a plan in place to protect all the precincts, the electoral precincts.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we believe that by progressive military action to take back the cities, by the training of Iraqi forces who can work alongside coalition forces to continue their efforts to improve the security situation, perhaps it won't be a perfect situation in every city throughout Iraq, but that Iraq can be opened up and opportunities can be opened up to all Iraqis to participate in the elections, and that's what's most important at this stage.
QUESTION: New subject? Iran. For the past month, couple of months now, you guys have been insisting that Iran -- it was past time for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council, or past time for the IAEA to refer Iran to the Security Council, and it appears that you have lost that battle. No, it doesn't just appear. You did lose that battle once again today. And I'm just wondering what you think of that.
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, I know you're going to look for the most negative aspect of what happened today in Vienna --
QUESTION: No, just the most obvious.
MR. BOUCHER: Just the most negative obvious, obvious negative. What happened --
QUESTION: Well, Richard, have you guys not been saying publicly --
MR. BOUCHER: We have been saying publicly for a year --
QUESTION: -- that it's past time --
MR. BOUCHER: We've been saying publicly for a year that Iran should be referred to the UN Security Council, so --
QUESTION: Okay. And were they today?
MR. BOUCHER: Every day you could write the story. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and the next day, if you want to, Iran is not being referred to the UN Security Council today, nor was it yesterday or the day before.
What I do want to point out is that we think that we have made -- over time, we have brought a stronger international pressure on Iran, we have brought a strong international attention to Iran. The Russians have made clear that they will only support Bushehr, the reactor there, if it's a closed fuel cycle. The Europeans have made clear that Iran is not going to get benefits from them unless Iran agrees to full suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activity.
These actions, over time, we think, increase the isolation and pressure of Iran on this issue and have led to Iran's agreement to suspend this activity. While we might have preferred a different outcome, while we might have preferred referral, we went along with the resolution that was adopted today without a vote by the Board because the Director General, ElBaradei, of the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency has been able to report to the Board that Iran has implemented the agreement it made with the EU-3 to fully suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
Now, this action was -- this report was delayed because of Iran's effort to reinterpret the terms of the suspension agreement. But the Agency has now confirmed that Iran has accepted the terms of full suspension, including the requirement of no testing or operation, including research and development of centrifuges.
We have issued an extensive explanation of vote, where we expressed our reservations about today's decisions. But we now look to the International Atomic Energy Agency to continue its investigation into Iran's safeguards implementation to verify whether Iran is meeting its latest suspension pledges, and we would look forward to an immediate report from Dr. ElBaradei if Iran fails to sustain full suspension or impedes International Atomic Energy Agency verification.
In that case, we certainly believe the Board should have no choice but to refer Iran to the Security Council.
QUESTION: But failing that, as things stand now, you are not going to the UN.
MR. BOUCHER: If Iran --
QUESTION: Excuse me. You.
MR. BOUCHER: This particular resolution does not refer to the UN.
QUESTION: That I know.
MR. BOUCHER: That we know.
QUESTION: What's the U.S. position?
MR. BOUCHER: If Iran abides by this resolution --
QUESTION: No need to go there.
MR. BOUCHER: If Iran abides by this resolution, that means Iran will have suspended all enrichment and centrifuge activity, including testing and development projects. We think that needs, then, to be followed by a cessation of those activities for the world to be satisfied, but on that basis, we felt it was appropriate to agree to the resolution that went through this morning.
QUESTION: So they'll need verification and --
MR. BOUCHER: It has to be verified on a sustained basis.
QUESTION: -- and centrifuges --
MR. BOUCHER: It has to be verified on a sustained basis. And if at any point, the Director General of the Agency finds that Iran is not abiding by its commitments or is breaking its commitments, he is required by this resolution to report that to the Board. And we would expect, then, the Board to take appropriate action in referring it to the Security Council.
QUESTION: But the foreseeable future, the U.S. is no longer insisting that Iraq -- that Iran's noncompliance go to the UN. You're willing -- it's wait and see now, show me. It's a "show me" position.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's show me the suspension. I mean, let's remember what this is all about. This is not about just referral. This is not about going to the UN. Going to the UN was one more tool we wanted to use, we want to use, to make sure Iran understands that it has to change its behavior with regard to nuclear reprocessing and nuclear weapons.
The fact that Iran has suspended this activity and that the Director General can verify that is a step along the way, we hope, towards a full cessation and the actual reassurance to the international community that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons. If that continues on a sustained basis, then this resolution will apply. If it doesn't continue on a sustained basis, the Board will have to then consider other action, including the kind of action we always thought had to be taken.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you had said all along -- you didn't use the phrase "shell game," but referred these kinds of promises before. You were extremely skeptical --
MR. BOUCHER: Very much.
QUESTION: And there was even a notion that it was a bad cop/good cop routine going, the Europeans trying to be conciliatory and the U.S. being tough. I think you're not tough anymore. I think you now are willing to be convinced that Iran has changed its ways, that this time it's not going to fool the international community, that you can detect, or at least inspectors can detect, when the centrifuge work reaches a certain danger point where weapons ingredients are being produced.
MR. BOUCHER: No, no, that's -- everything you just said is wrong.
QUESTION: That's very hard to do.
MR. BOUCHER: Everything you just said is wrong. First of all, we haven't sprung new faith in Iran's bona fides or Iran's willingness to do this. We are still as skeptical about Iran as we always have been. Its track record of 18 years, plus the last six months, plus the last six days, plus the last six hours, tends to demonstrate that. Maybe not six hours, but right down to the wire they were trying to exempt certain things. They did not succeed in doing that.
They have now agreed to a full suspension, including testing and developments. All right? We'll see if they do it. If they do it, then this resolution applies. If they don't, then the Director General will report that to the Board and we will go forward.
Let's remember, the last time Iran junked one of these agreements, they did it by public declarations and kicking out inspectors and refusing visits and breaking seals and the whole lot. So it was fairly obvious what Iran was doing.
Now there is agreement to some very -- a series of very specific steps, but it is a full suspension, and therefore, any activity on enrichment or reprocessing activity would be a violation of this.
So I think the United States remains as skeptical as ever that Iran will, in fact, live up to the terms of this agreement, but we have put in place, we think, a mechanism in this resolution that means that if they do violate it, or, in the pure skeptic's view, when they violate it, it will be reported and that will be the basis for further action by the Board.
QUESTION: Richard, you've had that before, and I thought that -- well, unless I'm wildly mistaken, you guys have been saying before this that they should be reported anyway for past violations. That was the whole thing going into this November meeting was that they should be referred to the UN for past violations, not -- regardless of what they agreed to do now with suspension. Am I wrong about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No. And that's certainly been our view. And that's been our view for a year. That's been our view for every meeting that we've gone into with the IAEA Board. That has not been the view of other members of the Board.
QUESTION: Well, why is it taking the most negative point of this when I say that you said that you wanted to refer --
MR. BOUCHER: Because -- I don't know. Why are you taking the most negative point?
QUESTION: No, I'm saying why are you saying that when it seems to me --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I was wondering why you're taking the most negative part of this.
QUESTION: It seems to me a pretty big defeat that you didn't get either.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me just admit up front that at the past several, if not all six, Board meetings, the Board did not refer the matter to the UN Security Council. Okay?
QUESTION: Yeah, but you hadn't taken as public a view, as public a position on it, before the early --
MR. BOUCHER: That is the view that we held going into each one of those meetings, that Iran deserved to be referred to the Security Council. That remains our view today. Nonetheless, we went along with this resolution for the reasons that I have explained. And it remains our view that should Iran -- certainly should the Director General report that Iran is not living by this full suspension, that Iran needs to go back before the Board and the Board needs to refer it. That will remain our position.
QUESTION: But is it your view, then, that this resolution deals with its past violations? Because that's what it sounds like you're saying.
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: It is not?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: So Iran still needs to be referred to the Security Council for its past violations, regardless of what it does on suspension of enriching uranium now?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. And furthermore, if they don't abide by this suspension, then that in itself would be cause enough for referral.
QUESTION: Well then -- okay. Well, do you have any plans -- I notice that there have been people in Vienna saying that you reserve the right to unilaterally refer Iran to the Security Council. Will you do that for past violations?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any plans in that direction at this moment. It remains our view, nonetheless.
QUESTION: But -- well then -- all right. So you don't have any plans to refer them even though you think that -- for past violations, even though you still think they should be?
MR. BOUCHER: That's been our view for a year or more.
QUESTION: If it is such a threat, their nuclear weapons program, their alleged nuclear weapons program, why don't you unilaterally refer them?
MR. BOUCHER: Our goal in all this is to end Iran's nuclear weapons programs. We think those programs are based on the enrichment-related and reprocessing activity. We think that in order to reassure the international community that Iran is not intending to develop nuclear weapons, they need not only to suspend, but eventually to cease all enrichment and reprocessing activity, and that the reactors that they do have be put under this closed cycle.
We have been successful in getting other people in the world to adopt that view. The Russians have adopted that view in terms of the closed fuel cycle. The Europeans, in their negotiations, have adopted the view that there needs to be a full suspension and -- a full suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activity. So to the extent that our good cop/bad cop, whatever you want to describe it, our skepticism and our information and our views have had some influence, we've seen the international community toughen its stance.
And given that view, which we think is more and more reflected in the IAEA resolutions and is somewhat reflected in this resolution, we felt it was appropriate to go along with this resolution even if we haven't changed our fundamental skepticism or our view about past violations.
QUESTION: Richard, wouldn't the skepticism be less if it were a permanent suspension rather than a full suspension?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Was an effort made to seek a permanent suspension?
MR. BOUCHER: You have to ask the Europeans that. It was not our negotiation, as you know.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Ukraine --
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: -- and especially the role of European intermediaries in this whole crisis? Do you think that mediation trips like President Kwasniewski's did help the whole situation, or was it too much involvement, for example?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we think that this visit and that the involvement of President Kwasniewski has been useful, that it's helped the Ukrainians come towards finding a political and legal solution, and therefore, we certainly believe that anyone that can help them do that should try to do that.
QUESTION: Another issue. FYROM, Mr. Boucher. I am fully aware of your aversion to ancient history, but there is a matter in which ancient history affects present-day reality. The November Background Note you just released the other day on the so-called "Republic of Macedonia," internationally known as FYROM, as written, since legitimized the arrogant disclaims of FYROM, no more, no less. This DOS note implies that the so-called "Republic of Macedonia," like the U.S. Marine manual for which the Greek Government protested earlier, leaves the clear impression that this state has its mission the liberation of the rest of Macedonia.
Is the Department of State aware of the implication arising from its practices of attributing "national identity" via geography?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess I -- my basic point would be I don't agree with your interpretation of the Background Note, that you say it implies this, it leaves the impression of that, that somehow we're supporting wider claims of a broader Macedonia. That is not the policy of the U.S. Government, nor is it the policy of the Macedonian Government, and I just don't -- I'll look at our Background Note again, but I really don't think it leaves that impression or implies that, frankly.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) of the Background Note, including the new appointed Ambassador to Greece, Charles Ries, who at the present time is in charge for the European affairs, too, here at the State Department, explain to the average Greek why a state that comprise of only 38 percent of the total land of ancient Macedonia should be treated as the "liberated segment" after it accept totally the name of the Greek region with the same name that consisted of 58 too of the total of the ancient land?
MR. BOUCHER: Who's referring to it at the "liberated section"?
MR. BOUCHER: We are doing that? No, you are. I'd say you are. I just want to make sure.
QUESTION: Let me explain. In the whole historical page --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I don't think we imply or leave the impression or want to intimate, in any way, that we support Macedonia beyond Macedonia's borders. We think that the Republic of Macedonia deserves to be called by that name. We've explained that already. But that is not implying something about expansionism or a greater Macedonia or any of those terms that you keep throwing around.
Nor do we view the Republic of Macedonia as the liberated portion of Macedonia. We see it as an entity that deserves recognition and respect from the United States and the international community because of the way it's handled its own affairs, and that it's not itself committed, nor are we pushing it or encouraging it, to take any expansionist ideas in mind.
QUESTION: Let me be more -- to clarify. Why did Department of State force history, based on this move, presented Alexander, parenthesis, quote, "the Great," unquote, parenthesis, why, in parenthesis and quotation? May we have an explanation? It's in the text.
MR. BOUCHER: I honestly don't know.
QUESTION: It's a very serious matter.
QUESTION: It sounds like a movie review.
QUESTION: It's from the text.
MR. BOUCHER: I honestly don't know why he's referred to that way. There must be a style manual somewhere that says it.
Okay, let's move on to other things.
QUESTION: Wait, wait, I have a Macedonia question.
MR. BOUCHER: That's too bad.
QUESTION: Could I stay on Macedonia?
MR. BOUCHER: One more Macedonian.
QUESTION: Can you explain to us why your Embassy in Skopje was closed to all but essential business today, and why Americans were told to stay away from the Embassy and all U.S. Government facilities in the capital?
MR. BOUCHER: They -- as we note, the Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, is open for essential services only on Monday, November 29th. All non-immigrant visa, immigrant visa, non-emergency American citizen services are suspended. I really can't go into the reasons, other than to say it's information that we acquired locally that relates to U.S. Government facilities. The Embassy is looking at its security posture, and they will reopen at the appropriate time once they decide it's okay.
QUESTION: Would you say it's a potential threat? The information suggests a threat?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, a potential threat to U.S. Government facilities. I'd leave it at that, though. Okay?
QUESTION: Yeah, but, wait, wait. I mean, why couldn't that have been in the notice that went out to Americans?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: I mean, surely, when one is told that they should stay away from all U.S. Government buildings in the city, I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, the goal of the information for Americans is not to make news or provide information to the news media. The goal is to provide information -- with information to Americans that they need to conduct themselves. What they need to know is if the embassy is not open, don't go there today. Right? That's what we told them.
QUESTION: Moving on to the visit to Canada tomorrow.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: There is speculation that as part of the visit, Canada may be asked to play some sort of organizational or monitoring role in the upcoming Iraqi elections. I'm wondering if you can verify that. And also, will there be some sort of announcement in terms of a timetable to lift the ban on Canadian cattle? What are the expectations for the visit?
MR. BOUCHER: I really can't go into any detail on the visit. It's a presidential visit. The White House is going to have to brief on it.
QUESTION: The Secretary is now going as well.
MR. BOUCHER: I know. But when it's a presidential visit, the White House is going to have to brief on it. The Secretary is going because of our good relationship with Canada, but also because he's there to support the President in all these matters. But as far as what can be expected to come out tomorrow, I have to leave it to the White House to explain. Sorry.
QUESTION: I have a question on Cyprus. Obviously, you want to see Turkey to become a member of the European Union, but some countries in Europe, they insist that Turkey has to recognize the Republic of Cyprus first before the accession talk. What is your position on that?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not a member of the European Union, but we certainly do believe that Turkey needs to be put on a path to membership. We've made that very clear. As to what specifically needs to be decided within the European Union to do that, we do think it's important that they set a date. We do think it's important that they move forward on this. But some of these decisions they have to work out within the European Union; we recognize that.
QUESTION: There are a lot of reports today in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus that they are saying that you are ready to push for a new initiative in Cyprus. Is it true? Are you planning something?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new for you, no.
QUESTION: A follow-up on Cyprus. In May 2004, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency gave to the two legal airports -- you know very well (inaudible) -- in the occupied territory of Cyprus, the U.S. Government designation as follows: LC46 (Tympou or so-called "Ercan") and LC47 (LeFkoniko or so-called, in Turkish, "Gecitkale"). Any explanation since it's contradictory to your policy of non-aggression of the Turkish state of Rauf Denktash?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea of what you're talking about.
QUESTION: I'm talking about the two legal airports which already you have --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I know the airports. I have no idea with the Geospatial, whatever it is, does.
QUESTION: That's exactly --
MR. BOUCHER: And why they put notes on their maps, whether they're putting notes on their maps for pilots who might need to land in emergencies or what. I don't think the note on a map constitutes an act of recognition, and our recognition policy has not changed.
Let's go on to some other --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that based on the number of activities by FAA, you don't want to discuss? And USAID, under Natsios, from this building, that these are part of an effort to diverge from your policy of non-recognition for the so-called "TRNC"?
MR. BOUCHER: We have not changed our policy on recognition. We have not -- we are not intending to change it, nor have we been asked to change it by the Turkish Cypriots. We have been looking, as you know, at the airports in the north, where the Transportation Security Agency has been up there and looked around to see whether they can qualify for travel. But that in itself, should that decision be made, does not imply a change in the recognition policy.
QUESTION: If I could quote a statement by USAID for the (inaudible), et cetera, et cetera. You are aware about that (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I certainly am, and we've talked about that many times. I don't have anything new today.
QUESTION: Richard, on Taiwan.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: The President of Taiwan said last week that he is going to pass a new Taiwanese constitution through referendum in 2006, which seems to be a little bit contradictory to what he had said in his inaugural speech. Are you concerned about this situation evolving there?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me just review, I think, some of the things that you mentioned, just to make clear what our view has been and remains. Our primary interest is in maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait, and the United States is opposed to any unilateral steps that would change the status quo. We are opposed to any referendum that would change Taiwan's status or move towards independence.
President Chen Shui-bian gave a pledge in his inaugural address in the year 2000. He reaffirmed this pledge in his 2004 inaugural speech. The pledge included that he would not declare independence, not change the name of Taiwan's government, not to add the state-to-state theory to the constitution and not to promote a referendum to change the status quo on independence or unification.
We appreciate President Chen's pledge and his subsequent reaffirmations of it. We take those reaffirmations and that pledge very seriously, particularly as they apply to this referendum on a new constitution.
Now, the United States has always held and reiterates that cross-strait dialogue is essential to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait area. We've consistently urged both the PRC and Taiwan to work to achieve dialogue, and we believe that such efforts should continue. We do not support Taiwan independence.
QUESTION: Richard, a follow-up?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: So, based on what you just said, do you regard what the President said last week on promoting a new Taiwanese constitution in 2006 a violation of his pledge?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our view, as stated, is that his pledges were very, very important and they need to be respected. As far as whether any other ideas or proposals contradict that or not, I think he'll have to explain.
QUESTION: There's a new Zawahiri tape that surfaced, it's been aired on Al Jazeera, and he says that al-Qaida will continue to keep fighting the U.S. My first question is: Do you have anything on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't, no.
QUESTION: And the next question is, particularly in light of these continued threats from al-Qaida, what concerns does the U.S. have that Pakistan has withdrawn forces now from Waziristan? Are they discontinuing the hunt for bin Laden?
MR. BOUCHER: Our understanding of the situation with regard to the forces in Waziristan is it's not a change of attitude or inclination or activity on the part of the Pakistanis. They -- Pakistani officials, both publicly and privately to us, have made clear that there has been no withdrawal from Waziristan and that they remain fully committed to continuing the campaign against al-Qaida and al-Qaida supporters.
Pakistan has undertaken many operations along its shared border with Afghanistan and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in order to support the war on terror. We do expect those efforts to continue. Furthermore, Pakistan provides very good cooperation and information sharing on these and other operations along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
So, we've seen the reports, but we've talked to the Pakistani officials about them, and they have told us that they maintain their commitment to fighting terror and they intend to do that on the ground as well.
QUESTION: So there's been no downgrading of the effort?
MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to get them to explain the military movements, but our understanding is the effort remains the same.
Okay, we had a lady way in the back that needed to ask a question.
QUESTION: Could you comment anything on the Beijing's release of the democracy activist Liu Jingsheng, who has been behind the bar for ten years? Over the weekend. He was released over the weekend.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, did we have something over the weekend on that? Who was duty officer? Let me get you something. We're certainly aware of it and glad to see him out of jail.
QUESTION: And we have seen some media report speculating that Beijing is doing so in trade of the possible EU lifting of their arms sales embargo. So do you have anything on this?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't speculate on why China has taken certain steps.
QUESTION: Another out-of-jail question. The Cuban Government appears to have released several of the 75 dissidents who were arrested in early 2003. Just a reaction?
MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point, we've seen some perhaps half a dozen people have been released from jail, and we certainly join their family and friends in welcoming the end of the unjust detention to which the regime subjected them. Our view, as you know, is that they never should have been imprisoned in the first place.
We think that it's important to remember that pressure from democratic nations has helped contribute to their release, and to remember that these Cubans are brave people who were jailed solely for exercising their human rights. We really don't give any credit to the Cuban Government for releasing them, since they never should have been jailed to begin with, and we hope that they can return to their work to build a truly just and open Cuban society.
We continue to condemn the unjust incarceration of dozens of other prisoners of conscience in Cuba, and we repeat our call to the Cuban Government to release all political prisoners immediately.
QUESTION: How about people staying in jail? Since we're doing out-of-jail? Let's do in-jail. The Burmese Government seems to be absolutely unwilling to take a hint about what the international community, especially you guys, think about their continued detention and house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, and have now extended it, her detention, another --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, they never ever really set a date for her release, for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. She was arrested on May 30th, 2003, has been under house arrest since September of 2003. We're certainly disappointed, deeply disappointed, the junta continues to ignore international calls for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo and all the political prisoners, and we call on them again to do so immediately and unconditionally.
Once again, we call on the Burmese junta to engage the democratic opposition and ethnic minority groups in a meaningful dialogue leading to genuine national reconciliation and to the establishment of democracy. They need to allow the National League for Democracy to reopen its offices and let their people come out and man those offices so that they can exercise their fundamental rights with the respect of the regime.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on Burma with regard to the ASEAN summit that's going on now, and what action, if any, Burma's neighbors might or might not take?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that at this point. We're following it, but I don't know what they might do.
QUESTION: It seems, since you've done releases and detentions, that we can do expulsions. Sudan --
MR. BOUCHER: Developing a theme here. Milestones, we'll call it.
QUESTION: Save the Children, the British charity, has said that it received two letters from the Government of Sudan expelling their country director and officially warning the organization. Oxfam said it has gotten a letter of warning, and aid officials who don't wish to be named say that Oxfam's country director has also been told to leave within 48 hours.
Do you have any comment?
MR. BOUCHER: We are very concerned about this situation. We have seen these reports that the Government of Sudan has decided to expel country directors for Save the Children, a British humanitarian aid agency, and for Oxfam, the British charity.
These two nongovernmental organizations have played, we think, an important role in helping alleviate the suffering of the people of Sudan, especially in Darfur. There are contacts at various levels of the United Nations operating in Sudan with Sudanese authorities to press the Sudan Government to reverse these decisions, if, indeed, they have been taken. And that is something that we will continue to press as well.
We have followed up very much, as you know, in recent weeks, on evidence that the rebel groups and the Government of Sudan have not been living up to their promises. To date, we think they have not, and we join the United Nations and the European Union in strongly condemning the violence, condemning the ceasefire violations, but also condemning the failure of the government to live up to promises on allowing humanitarian assistance to get in.
The latest escalation of violence is also a matter of concern to us. There has been a escalation of violence instigated by the Sudan Liberation Movement and Army. It's illegal, inhumane, clearly detrimental and counterproductive for the Sudanese people. So our message to them is also that if they want to engage the international community, they have to adhere to agreements that they have signed.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: You said that we -- you will yourselves also press the Sudanese not to expel these people if, indeed, that is their intention.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Have you yet done that, or you have not yet done that?
MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't able to find out if we had actually had that contact yet or not, so I put it in sort of a vague present tense, I think.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, (inaudible) you will be in Canada tomorrow. On November 16th, in the town of Western Thrace, Greece, more than 400 Muslim Greeks angered by the presence of actresses not wearing headscarves near the entry of the mosque gathered around the television crew filming an episode of a popular (inaudible) movie, demanding they leave.
I was told by the local witnesses that among the Muslims' crowd were the U.S. Consul General of Thessaloniki and the bands of the U.S. officials from the American Embassy in Athens who arrived in the town the day before bearing arms. In the latest stage, they ask asylum in a Muslim house (inaudible) the film director Stratos Markidis.
How do you explain this unusual presence and activity of the U.S. diplomatic personnel from Thessaloniki and Athens prior to the incident?
MR. BOUCHER: Frankly, it doesn't sound correct to me, but you'll have to check with the Embassy or the Consulate on -- as far as when their people went to the movies.
QUESTION: Excuse me, Mr. Boucher. Mr. Miller has given a speech November 21st in Los Angeles in a group of 60 Americans and he admitted, yes, that what's happened but it was totally, absolutely coincidence. I would like to know if the Department of State was aware about this incident.
MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador knows better than I do, and I support him fully in what he said.
QUESTION: But can you take this question because --
MR. BOUCHER: No. I support fully whatever my Ambassador said on this matter.
QUESTION: Can I ask very quickly on Syria? Could we change?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: President -- Syrian President Bashar has said -- issued a statement saying that he was fully ready to engage unconditionally with peace talks with Israel. But it seems that it was rejected by the Israelis. Do you have a -- do you know anything about this or do you have a comment, or --
MR. BOUCHER: I would only say, as I think the Secretary said during the course of his meetings and press events in Sharm el-Sheikh, that we remain committed and interested in comprehensive peace. We'll certainly look for opportunities to move forward on all those fronts.
The Secretary did meet with Foreign Minister Shara in Sharm el-Sheikh and this was one of the matters that they discussed, and certainly we think that the parties should be willing to take advantage of any opportunity to move forward on all fronts on a comprehensive peace.
QUESTION: Well, Richard, a couple days ago I asked, and there wasn't any answer, but I'm led to believe there might be now, about the decision by France to allow Al-Manar, the Hezbollah TV station, to broadcast there. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything particular on that, except to say that we are certainly concerned about the content of what Al-Manar broadcasts, but as far as the decision to permit the broadcasts, I'd have to leave that to the French authorities to explain.
QUESTION: Richard, returning to the situation with Sudan and Darfur, ABC News, while you were away, did a story on -- specifically on the crisis in Darfur, and examined the government in Khartoum, and Andrew Natsios interviewed said one of the Jingaweit commanders was a gentleman by the name of Moussa Hilal and he is reported to have instigated the massacre, both in July, and this is concurred by both the U.S. State Department and the UN. And I asked Adam Ereli at the time, why hasn't he been detained and are you going to complain to the Sudanese Government. He's in Khartoum.
MR. BOUCHER: And Adam told you what I'm about to tell you, I'm sure.
QUESTION: Well, Adam assumed at the time that he may have been in Western Darfur.
MR. BOUCHER: A number of things: first of all, the United States has been very clear about the relationships between the government and the Jingaweit and how -- that is why we felt the government bore responsibility for the genocide that was taking place in Darfur; that, second of all, we have been very clear with the government on the need for the government to take action against the Jingaweit leaders and to remove them from positions and arrest them in order to break those ties that had existed in the past with the Jingaweit.
We've been very clear on our disappointment that they have not done that more thoroughly and that has been a matter that we have raised repeatedly and continue to raise repeatedly, as we call on the government to get the situation under control, and particularly to get the Jingaweit under control.
There is ongoing a UN investigation called for by one of the last UN resolutions on the topic and there may be more information on the particular responsibility of individuals at that point, but we'll just have to see.
QUESTION: And finally, is the intervention by the African Union sufficient to end that crisis, or do you think other tactics might have to be brought into play to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we think that the expansion of African Union monitoring and forces on the ground is an important development that needs to be pursued, that it does have a prospect of calling the parties more to account and stopping some of the violence, but there are other tracks that need to be pursued as well: one, what I did today, calling on the authorities to respect the agreements that they have made; two, following the political process, both the north-south talks, which I guess are technical talks now, but they resume at the senior levels December 6th, and then the Abuja discussions, which although the agreements signed so far have been violated, we think it's important still to pursue those when they return on December 9th; and then three is this expansion of the African Union forces.
There is now, at this point, I'm told, 813 African Union personnel in Darfur. There are additional headquarters staff and troops that will get there in December. The Australians are assisting with the deployment of 390 Nigerian troops in early December, and the Dutch are prepared to provide airlift for subsequent deployments. So, by early January, there should be 3,320 personnel in the African Union mission, and we think that's very important for them to go forward.
As you know, we've supported this deployment, first with our flights, second with our money, some $40 million we've spent so far to support the African Union. The Europeans have chipped in 100 million -- I can't remember if it's dollars or euros -- and $100 million for the African Union. And then, of course, we've also spent something like $302 million in humanitarian assistance.
So the United States is heavily involved on all these fronts -- calling people to account, pushing for peace, discussions expanding the deployment of the African Union and providing humanitarian assistance -- and we'll continue to proceed on all those fronts.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
DPB # 194
Released on November 29, 2004