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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for January 28

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 28, 2005


Tuberculosis Screening for Hmong Refugees
Phone Calls Taken by Secretary Condoleezza Rice from Counterparts
and Foreign Ministers since becoming Secretary

Elections Update / Expatriate Voting / Independent Electoral
Commission / Polling Places / Balloting Materials / Securing of Ballots
Query on Whether State Department will be responding to Elections on Election Day / Task Force
Query on Sunni Voter Turnout
Voting by Expatriates who are Dual-Nationals
Support for Territorial Integrity of Iraq
Reaction to Reports that Turkish Prime Minster Recep Erdogan
Stated that Elections would not be Fully Democratic, Stem Violence, or Stabilize Country

Results of Municipal Elections in Gaza / Election Success of Hamas
/ U.S. View of Hamas

Query on Whether Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice or Deputy
Secretary- Designate Robert Zoellick will Visit Athens by this Spring

Query on Whether U.S. Plans on Joining European Negotiations

Six Party Talks / Chinese Proposal for Working Level Talks

Reaction to Speech by Jia Qinglin

Leader of Sumate Maria Corina Machado Facing Treason Charges

Escalation of Violence

Abduction of American Citizens Along Border / Request for
Information by Mexican Government


12:35 a.m. EST

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, it's good to be here with you. We've had a very exciting event today with the President coming over and the Secretary and the President making remarks about how they intend to proceed as she heads off soon on her first trip. So I'm sure that's the main event for all of us today, but I thought I'd come down and say a few things and answer a few questions.

I'd like to talk very briefly about a statement that we're going to put up later and then I'll give you some Iraq figures and then we can go on to questions.

We have worked with the CDC, Center for Disease Control, and the State Department is instituting new procedures for the tuberculosis screening of Hmong refugees who come to the United States. There are, I think some of you may know, some reports of prevalence of tuberculosis, including tuberculosis that's vaccine-resistant, among this population, and so we've put in place some enhanced screening procedures in Thailand for Hmong refugees before they come to the United States.

There have been 15,000 deemed eligible for resettlement in the United States. The first ones started arriving in June 2004. So it's important to us that this population be carefully screened and we are putting in place some enhanced procedures to do that.

More detailed information is available from the Press Office for those who are interested.

If there are no questions, let me say a little bit about Iraq and we can go on to other things.

We're two days away from the Iraqi elections. I think you've all seen expatriate voting has started. It's a lot of very emotional scenes and I think very positive scenes and statements from people who, for the first time in decades, at least, are getting a chance to vote and choose their own government.

The first ballot was deposited in Australia. In Iran, as I think we've seen, there are thousands showing up and that is going on overseas. That will soon start on Sunday around the country in Iraq.

Today the maps of the polling stations are being distributed. Lists of candidate names have been published and are about to be distributed. I think the party lists are well known. These are the formal lists that are coming out.

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq that's running these elections is in full operational mode. They are finalizing the training of staff. They are operating the polling stations. They are counting votes. They're forwarding results for final tabulation. And indeed, there are already over 100,000 Iraqis who are working on these elections, preparing the polling stations and getting involved in bringing democracy to their country. And we admire them for that and respect them for that.

The unstable operating environment and continuous violence obviously have required them to take special arrangements in different areas, but in some of the more difficult places like Anbar Province or Nineveh there are multiple polling places. There will be estimated 40 polling centers in Anbar, and in Nineveh they're looking for 80 polling centers in that governorate as well. So these are polling centers, each of which controls a number of individual polling places, so there will be opportunities to vote in the province and, as I mentioned yesterday, opportunities to vote in Baghdad and other places -- or in Baghdad as well for people who aren't in the province.

The core staff of the Election Commission is set up at the headquarters and they are working on the tally center which will collect the results. And finally, I'd note that the Election Commission is organizing the final shipments of balloting materials to the 5,300 polling centers that are located throughout Iraq. To date, the shipments on January 28th are non-sensitive materials such as ballot boxes and voting screens. Sensitive balloting supplies such as the ballots and voter lists will follow, and those are located already at warehouses in various points around Iraq.

So that's where we are with the elections. We'll all be watching with great interest over the weekend, I'm sure.

Questions on this or other matters? Elise, on this?

QUESTION: On the ballots.


QUESTION: Who's securing them until voting day?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't exactly know. It probably varies from place to place. The Iraqi Election Commission has responsibility for them and so they are in possession and securing them in that sense. But if you mean securing them in a broader sense, like escorting them with military equipment, principally the Iraqis. I don't know if there might be Americans involved at some points.

QUESTION: You're sure it's the Iraqis who are involved in [inaudible] around the country?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll say that's the way it was supposed to be. I'll have to check on the ground and make sure.

QUESTION: Will you be saying anything from this building on Sunday or will Secretary Rice do that in the morning talk shows?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, Secretary Rice will be appearing on some of the talks shows this weekend on Sunday morning, so I'm sure at that point she'll be prepared to give an update of the latest news that we get from our people in Iraq who will be following the election closely. We're going to have a task force operating in this building over the weekend, starting this evening, to follow developments in Iraq and make sure the U.S. Government is responding appropriately, and we'll be getting updates from them.

So she'll have the latest news when she appears on TV, and then I think we'll try to make sure that we have further information during the course of the day. Much of the information, I'm sure, will come either from the Iraqi Election Commission or from your colleagues who are in Baghdad and Iraq who will be reporting on the election there.

Yeah, Charlie.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up, Richard. Can you talk about what the expectation is of the Election Commission or the Americans at the Embassy about when tabulations would be complete or relatively complete?

MR. BOUCHER: That's something I would leave to the Election Commission, and my understanding is that they've -- in their press conferences, they've talked about it being a number of days before they would be able to complete the tabulation.

So what we'll be seeing on Sunday is the people who turn out, the voters in Iraq, the process and how it works, the process of letting people vote and then taking ballot boxes and counting and sealing and reporting. But I don't think there will be results for a number of days.

Okay. Said.

QUESTION: Do you know anything about a mobile voting unit that will serve in the Anbar area? Could you elaborate on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't elaborate on that. I'd leave that to the Election Commission to explain.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up.


QUESTION: Do you have any estimates on the turnout in the Sunni area?


QUESTION: Because, you know, it varies. It goes from 5 percent to 50 percent.

MR. BOUCHER: We'll see. I think the most important thing is that the Iraqis -- every Iraqi is being given an opportunity to vote throughout the country, even in the dangerous and difficult areas. Iraqis are being given that opportunity to vote and to choose their own government. Many of them will turn out. Many of them will take that opportunity. And indeed, we're seeing, again and again in various ways, that Iraqis are very interested in having that opportunity of deciding their own government because they haven't been able to do that in the past.

As I said, you've already got 100,000 Iraqis who are actively involved in this process of organizing the election. So I think we'll see a lot of Iraqis come out and vote and they'll be very -- they have that opportunity. That's the most important thing. And then we'll have a government that's based on voters of Iraq. And as much as we have worked to make sure that the Governing Council and then the Interim Government, with the UN helping its selection and formation through a consultation process, as much as we worked to make sure that they were indeed representative of the people of Iraq, we are moving to a new stage now, with a government that's based on the voters of Iraq.

QUESTION: On the expatriate vote, are you a little bit concerned that only in Iran the government is sort of encouraging people to go out and moving them and so on? Would you consider that to be meddling in Iraq's affairs, or is that expected?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know the details to see if there's anything I'd describe as meddling. I think we have certainly made clear we think every Iraqi inside and outside should not only have the opportunity, but take the opportunity, to vote. So I wouldn't want to criticize people for showing up at the polls.

QUESTION: Actually, on that same issue, could you put to rest rumors that are rife in some of the Iraqi communities in the U.S. that if Iraqis in the United States vote in the Iraqi elections, they may lose their U.S. citizenship?

MR. BOUCHER: Iraqis in the United States, dual-nationals who vote, will not lose their U.S. citizenship. Dual-national U.S. citizens who wish to vote in elections of other national nationality are able to do so without fear that it will in any way affect their U.S. citizenship, and that certainly applies to Iraqi Americans. As I just mentioned, we encourage all Iraqis everywhere who are eligible to participate in this election.

QUESTION: What about Americans of Iraqi descent who are not dual-nationals, who have solely U.S. citizenship? Are they not permitted to vote in the election?

MR. BOUCHER: That's not a matter of U.S. law, then. That's a matter of Iraqi law. I don't know -- I assume to vote in the Iraqi election you have to be an Iraqi national.


QUESTION: Richard, yesterday there was -- I think you mentioned it late yesterday -- a vote in Gaza for municipal elections, and apparently Hamas has swept those elections. How do you then deal with -- well, it's not at the national level, but how do you begin to deal with that entity if you still maintain they are a terrorist organization? They are also a political organization.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we view them as a terrorist organization. We continue to view Hamas as a terrorist organization.

I think what I would say about these elections is that it's not really about the results, it's about the process; that the municipal elections that were held in Gaza were peaceful, there was a large voter turnout, and they were conducted on the basis of some excellent cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians on issues like freedom of movement. And that is something we saw in the national -- the presidential election. It's something we're seeing again repeated now with these municipal elections -- another sign of the cooperation and the way they can work together effectively.

As far as the situation with regard to terrorism and violence, the key is: Do Palestinians, and do Palestinian leaders, act to end terror and violence? And what we've seen so far in President Mahmoud Abbas is a great deal of determination, some very concrete steps. As you saw, I think, in the President's interview yesterday, we've been very impressed by the things he's done and the things he's said, and we look for that to continue. And we look for others in the Palestinian Authority to adopt that same approach and would think that anybody in a position of responsibility must adopt that kind of approach if they are to achieve Palestinian national goals.

QUESTION: So does Hamas' victory, does that lend itself to what you've just said as far as another step in an effort to end the cycle of violence?

MR. BOUCHER: No. Winning an election doesn't mean you stop your violence. You stop your violence because you've abandoned violence as a goal. And that has to be the criteria of judging any particular organization or individual.

QUESTION: Does it bother you that an organization that you and the U.S. Government, as a matter of policy, regard as a terrorist organization, responsible for multiple acts of violence over many, many, many years, should win such popular support?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the point that I have to keep making is that what matters is what people actually do. Certainly we have not changed our view of Hamas as an organization. We think it needs to be put out of the terrorism business, and that remains very clear for us. But as I said, I think that the test right now for the Palestinians, if they want to achieve a Palestinian state, if they want to achieve their national aspirations, is to see whether they will move forward and end the violence, take active steps to end the violence and create the institutions that can support a state. And that's where the roadmap leads, that's where our policy leads and that's where we intend to work with Palestinians who are willing to do that.

QUESTION: So the bottom line is it's okay if members of terrorist organizations win elective office as long as they don't undertake -- and become political actors therefore, as long as they don't undertake violence?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: Well, that's -- but I'm asking you.

MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not the bottom line. Okay. I gave the bottom line. I mean, I don't know how to explain it more. But the point is that -- well, I won't explain it more. I'll just -- rather than saying the same thing again.

QUESTION: Go ahead, try, try.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll say the same thing again. The point is whether people in positions of responsibility act against violence, stop the violence. The violence has undercut Palestinian goals, it has made the creation of a Palestinian state more difficult, and that course is going to have to be abandoned by all if they are to achieve their national goals.

QUESTION: Richard, in the past, you've always rejected a political role for Hamas. When the Secretary was over there two years ago --

MR. BOUCHER: That's why I rejected his characterization of my remarks.

QUESTION: So, but I'm not hearing you today saying that Hamas has no role in Palestinian political life, as you have said in the past.

MR. BOUCHER: We do not -- we don't think Hamas has a role as long as they maintain a course of violence, as long as they remain a terrorist organization; we don't think they have anything constructive to bring to the process.

QUESTION: Another subject, [inaudible]. Mr. Boucher, without reservation, I was moved today reading the story in Washington Post about your departure from Department of State. Allow me to express my admiration. The way you conducted this mission for the land of the free and the home of the brave, Francis Scott Key says in your national anthems, you really did a splendid job in all those years. I know that for my personal numbers, a quarter of a century.

But Washington Post missed one crucial point today for the press in general -- (laughter) -- your unforgotten statement of November 30th in the last year when you said, answering to a question of mine, "I have never criticized the questions you all ask here in the briefing room. I think you all come and you have the right to ask whatever you want. I have always said that there are no bad questions, there are just bad answers." It is really historic quotation, to be remembered for the generation to come, and as a Greek correspondent, my warm congratulation and my best wishes, sas efharisto poli.

And now my question, if I may.

MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, sir. (Laughter and applause.)

I just want to say thank you. You've been an important part of my staying here. I think the story in the Post was about my still being here, rather than my leaving. But no, thank you.

QUESTION: No, the story --

MR. BOUCHER: I've enjoyed every one of these. Go on with your question.

QUESTION: No, the story is clear what's going to happen, so that's why --


QUESTION: Now, may --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, what's next?

QUESTION: The question is: Do you know if Madame Secretary Condoleezza Rice or Designate-Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick will visit Athens before or by the spring, or none of them?

MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any specific plans at this point, other than to say, as I think I mentioned yesterday, that the Secretary and the future -- the Deputy Secretary-designate have talked about this, have agreed on the importance of the alliance and the emphasis that we place on the alliance and working together with our partners in Europe, and have set themselves a goal of trying to visit all the NATO capitals before the spring, in the next couple months, that is.

And so they will be making their travel plans accordingly, and Greece is certainly one of our key allies and we'll try to go there, I'm sure. One or the other, we'll try to go there, I'm sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: One follow-up on that. Are you now in the position to name the dates of Secretary Rice's upcoming trip?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I think what we'll have to do is give that to you either next week or do it for planning purposes day by day. But it's approximately one country a day, with a few squeezed in there.

QUESTION: Change of subject. On Iran, the IAEA chief, ElBaradei, has encouraged the United States to get more engaged with Iran, join the negotiations that the Europeans are undergoing. Is that something that you reject out of hand, you would never do, you're not interested in doing? Or are you considering joining in the negotiations?

MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know that we've been asked at this point to take any part in this, but I think one needs to keep a certain perspective on these questions, that the issue is Iran and the issue is Iran meeting its requirements. The Europeans have already made clear to Iran any number of incentives, should Iran live up to what it's required to do without any incentives.

So I think our view is that Iran should meet the requirements, Iran should do what the Europeans have asked them to do, do what the IAEA has asked them to do, do what they themselves have promised to do, and that that's not a matter of giving them incentives. That's a matter of them making the real decision to abandon any nuclear weapons program and live in harmony with the neighborhood.

QUESTION: So while that responsibility is on Iran, then there's the question of tactics, how you persuade them to make that strategic decision. In deciding what your tactic is, are you staying on your course of not joining in?

MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't know that we've been asked to. I'll leave that.

QUESTION: Richard, Debkafile, the Israeli website allegedly close to Israeli intelligence, says that Russia is trying to reassert is position in the Middle East by forming some sort of an alliance with Turkey, Iran and Syria. Do you know anything about that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't read an Israeli website that purportedly is close to Israeli intelligence.

QUESTION: But do you have any information on something like this?

MR. BOUCHER: No, no. I haven't read the website.

QUESTION: There's a report out of Tokyo saying that China has proposed holding working-level talks to pave the way for a fourth, I guess, plenary round of six-party talks. Are you aware of any proposals for working party -- working-level six-party talks?

MR. BOUCHER: We have not heard from the Chinese on this particular proposal, but let me reiterate a couple of things. One, it was the original agreement to -- last -- what was it, a year ago, or last June, was for people to come back to working-level talks in September and move on to the plenary. So working-level talks have always been part of the picture. It shouldn't be any surprise that they're still a part of the picture. But it's still a matter of North Korea agreeing to come for talks.

We have made clear that we are ready to resume six-party talks at an early date without any preconditions. That has been our position and remains our position, so we're waiting to hear from them.

I would note that we've had a lot of diplomatic contacts during this interim period with other members of the five parties, the occasional New York exchange with the North Koreans last fall, that the other five parties have talked to the North Koreans many times. And while this diplomatic activity has continued, North Korea has nonetheless not been ready to come back to talks, and I think the basic bottom line is we think it's time for them to do that and to come to talks and work hard to end the nuclear program and North Korea's international isolation.

QUESTION: One question, a follow-up, if I may. You said that you have not heard from the Chinese about this proposal. You didn't say this reported proposal. So you do understand that this proposal is out there, even though the Chinese haven't directly communicated it to you? Have you heard about it from the South Koreans or the Japanese or --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think we've read the same press report as you have. What I'm trying to say is that the discussion, the idea of having working-level talks, has always been around. We haven't heard anything new on that idea. We haven't heard any scheduling of that idea or any indication from the Chinese that that's ready to go.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about China? Taiwan -- yesterday, mainland China officials laid out a new -- sort of new policies towards Taiwan, said they are willing to talk to anyone, and they gave a definition on status quo. Do you have any comments on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure what you're referring to. There was a speech at the People's Political Consultative Conference by the Chairman --

QUESTION: Yes, by Chairman -- or Deputy Chairman Jia.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I guess we -- we're looking at the text of the speech by Jia Qinglin, the member and chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He was commemorating, I think, the 10th anniversary of Jiang Zemin's eight-point speech, and we'll look at that very carefully.

So, for the moment, I just want to reiterate U.S. interest in peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences and our continued support for the idea of dialogue as the best way for the parties to resolve their differences.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the first direct flight that would start tomorrow between the two sides?

MR. BOUCHER: No, but I'll try to get you something.

Okay. Nicholas.

QUESTION: Richard, I understand that this morning, for the ceremony, and also for an event on Monday, everybody in this building, including the assistant secretaries, had to come down before they could go upstairs. I know this from your protocol people.

Does Diplomatic Security think that the assistant secretaries might be a threat for the Secretary of State?

MR. BOUCHER: I've been this building for 20 or more years, and those who have been here know how it works. To get to the eighth floor, you have to go to the first floor. The way the elevators operate, when they do events, they run them direct. And so every time I go to anything on the eighth floor, I come down from my office and go back up these elevators to the eighth floor.

QUESTION: But I don't -- that's not the issue. The issue is they have to check in with the table at the entrance on C Street before they can go through to proceed to the elevators.

MR. BOUCHER: There was no particular inconvenience to that. We walked around and down the line with everybody else, just like we should. There's no discrimination.

QUESTION: The leader of Sumate in Venezuela, Maria Corina Machado, faces treason charges for her association with the National Endowment of Democracy. Do you have a comment?

MR. BOUCHER: We do follow this situation closely, but I would also say we're not aware of any new developments at this moment. This is the case of Sumate and national -- nongovernmental organization. Last year, they were unjustly accused by the Venezuelan Government of treason for receiving a small grant from the National Endowment for Democracy for voter education and civic activities.

We do remain very seriously concerned about the case and about harassment and intimidation of civil society in Venezuela, as well as the continued threats to democratic institutions and basic civil and political rights there. As you know, Venezuela is obligated, like all other signatories to the Democratic Charter in the hemisphere, to meet international standards of human rights, and we would expect this Government in Venezuela to do that.

QUESTION: There was no -- there were no legal steps by the government this week?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that there's anything new, not that my folks told me.

QUESTION: Same subject. Is there any new development concerning the U.S. effort to enlist the cooperation of Latin American countries with respect to Venezuela's dispute with Colombia?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular update for you. We're certainly keeping in touch with other governments, and I think you'll see from the news that -- what they're doing. I don't know of any particular developments, though, in that regard.


QUESTION: On Turkey, Mr. Boucher. According to New York Times, Turkish military is prepared to intervene if post-election clashes erupt in northern Iraq, or if Iraqi Kurds try to form an independent state, a senior army general has said, who ranks second in Turkish army hierarchy, and underscored Turkey's growing anxiety over the Iraqi election scheduled for Sunday. Turkey feels that the Kurds would exploit a political victory in Kirkuk area elections to form their own state, precipitating a breakup of Iraq that could threaten Turkish security.

Any comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see those particular remarks so I don't have any particular comment. But what this election is about is creating a government for a unified nation, creating a democratic government where all the different people and parties in Iraq and all the ethnic groups -- the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurds and the Turkomen and all the others -- have a chance to be represented and get together and decide the government of the country.

We have very strongly supported the territorial integrity of Iraq. Everyone involved in this process has pledged to uphold that. We have encouraged the Iraqis to work out all their political arrangements with a view to a reunified nation, and that's what they have been doing. And this is another step in that process, not something else, not something that leads to division; but rather, it's a chance for all Iraqis to get together and decide the future of their country, write their own constitution, and form a government that represents the people from throughout Iraq.

QUESTION: A follow-up. And also, according to Reuters from Davos, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said today that this weekend Iraqi elections would not be fully democratic, and it was unlikely to stem violence or help stabilize the country. "It would not be possible to characterize this election as fully democratic elections," Erdogan told to the reporters in Davos, noting that one major ethnic group, Sunni Arabs, had decided not to participate. "This is the signal of some more negative developments in the future of Iraq," he said.

Any comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: The remarks, I think, that I've seen reported, I don't think I've seen an actual transcript, so I'm assuming they're correct. But our -- we do keep in touch closely with the Turkish Government on these issues. I have seen many statements from the Turkish Government. I think they recognize what a step forward this is in terms of having an election in Iraq. I think they recognize how important it was to proceed with that election, how determined the Iraqis were to have their election. And so we all look for the opportunities that are created by this election. We all look for the opportunity for every Iraqi to vote.

We know that this won't be the perfect election. We know that there are still violent groups trying to undercut it. And we've always said, as important as the step is for the Iraqis to take more -- to take charge of their politics through this election in an even greater way, it also is not going to be the end of violence. They're going to have to take charge of the security situation as well.

And what we see going on is the Iraqis taking more and more charge of their politics, taking more charge, more responsibility, for security as they get trained up. You've seen the arrests in recent days of terrorists in Iraq by the Iraqis, supported with -- obviously, the coalition is still out there supporting them, but this process of Iraqis taking more and more control is an important one, and the political development of this weekend is a very important step.


QUESTION: Richard, since yesterday, apparently the Sudanese army has turned away the African Union monitors and won't let them investigate the air raid bombing site from yesterday.

MR. BOUCHER: Hmm, I didn't know about that. I'll have to check and see.

QUESTION: And there's also been a warning from the UN.

MR. BOUCHER: I think the UN has talked about the same incidents that we've talked about, and they're concerned about the growing violence that I talked about yesterday. This violence that we've seen has been terrible, and both sides are to blame, all the parties are to blame. And we want them all to respect the ceasefire and we think the government has violated the ceasefire in some terrible ways. And the African Union needs to get out there and needs to be able to investigate.


QUESTION: The Mexican Government have mentioned that they don't know anything about the 27 abductions of American citizens along the border and they were going to request the State Department the possibility of having more information to investigate it. Have you shared that information with the --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if they've made the request. We'll have to see.

QUESTION: And Dr. Rice has already spoke about the incident and the Public Announcement with Minister Derbez?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I think I mentioned yesterday when -- maybe I didn't mention yesterday. She completed something like 15 phone calls yesterday to counterparts and foreign ministers around the whole world, and one of those phone calls was with Foreign Secretary Derbez and they had a good conversation. They hit on a couple of issues, including the question of the border areas and the advisory that we'd issued.

QUESTION: Can you give the others as well (inaudible)?


MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- let me see I can get most of them. I think I talked to you about Russian Foreign Minister, Italian Foreign Minister, Pakistani President. In the afternoon was NATO Secretary General, Egyptian Foreign Minister, the Palestinian Authority President, Canadian Foreign Minister, Jordanian Foreign Minister, Mexican Foreign Secretary, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Romanian Foreign Minister, Chilean Foreign Minister. The Israeli Minister of Finance called. The Japanese Foreign Minister she talked to. And I think this morning she's already talked to the French Foreign Minister. So these and other phone calls will be continued, I'm sure.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the conversation with the Israeli Foreign Minister?

MR. BOUCHER: The Israeli Foreign Minister came to see her --

QUESTION: Finance Minister, excuse me.

MR. BOUCHER: Oh. It was congratulations, as most of these calls, congratulations, touching base. She talked to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Shalom, two days ago at the National Security Council about the opportunities and about the cooperation that we expect.

QUESTION: But there was no significant substantive aspect to the Israeli Finance Minister's call?

MR. BOUCHER: Most of these were short calls and just touching base and congratulations, no particular substance to that -- most of them. No, I don't want to quite say that. But there was no particular substance to this call.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:12 p.m.)

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