State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 7
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 7 -- Transcript
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
April 7, 2005
Statement on Pretoria Peace Accord
International Investigation into Hariri's Death / UN Security Council Resolution 1595
Query on Possible Difficulties in Conducting International Investigation
Query on Whether Investigators will go to Syria / Cooperation of
other States / Coordination With Lebanese Government
Query on French Foreign Minister Barnier's Travel to U.S. State Department
Secretary's and Department's Expression of Support for Opening of
Kashmir Bus Route / Query on Whether Attack on Kashmir Bus Route is a Setback
United States Access to A.Q. Khan / Cooperation and Discussions
with Pakistani Government
Three Civilian Contractors Killed in Helicopter Crash
U.S. Support for Universal Adherence to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and Upcoming Conference
International Support for New President
New Iraqi Government / Reports of New Prime Minister's Order to
Give Amnesty to Iraqis Who Have Been Linked to the Baath Party
Query on Difficulties Ahead for New Iraqi Government
Senate Select Committee/John Bolton/ Senate Foreign Relation Committee
U.S. Position on Issue of Macedonia's Name
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Kennedy's Comments on Annan Plan
U.S. View on United Nations Reform
Sudanese Government's Cooperation in International Tribunal and
U.S. Aid / Targets and Goals of U.S. Aid
Query on U.S. View on Need for Elections and Whether Burma should
Host ASEAN Meeting
12:47 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here with you. I just want to mention one statement that we are issuing, and that's to welcome the agreement on Cote D'Ivoire that was reached on April 6th in Pretoria. This agreement establishes a new plan for achieving a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Cote D'Ivoire and we call on all parties to implement the agreement fully and to honor the previous agreements that they have reached as well. So we'll put out a slightly more detailed statement on that shortly after the briefing.
And that's the only statement I have. I'll be glad to take your questions on this or other things.
QUESTION: Can I ask about this?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: There seems to be a sticking point, something called Article 35, which says that both parents of a presidential candidate have to be from Cote D'Ivoire. Does the U.S. have a position on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we do. We've left it to the South Africans to try to resolve these sticking points, to try to resolve the agreement. We just think it's good that they have reached agreement and now we want them to fully implement it.
Other things? Saul.
QUESTION: Can we change the subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Okay. Just recently, the United Nations Security Council has ordered an international investigation into the killing of Hariri in Lebanon. The previous investigation the Lebanese performed was considered to have serious flaws. What can be different about this new investigation that you've pushed for and supported that can make it work?
MR. BOUCHER: Just moments ago, I think, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1595. It was a vote of a 15-0, I understand, which we appreciate. It was co-sponsored by the U.S., United Kingdom and France.
This is a resolution that acts very quickly on the recommendations of Mr. Fitzgerald and we think that it therefore can carry out those recommendations, which were rather thorough. As you know, the report raised some serious and troubling allegations and we recommended an independent international commission and we have supported that. We absolutely want to see those responsible for the heinous act, and their sponsors, brought to justice as soon as possible.
I think the "what's different" question is that, first of all, this will have international support and backing, and all states are called upon by the resolution to cooperate fully with the investigation. The Council already has a letter from the Government of Lebanon -- I guess it was a letter to the Secretary General -- saying the Government of Lebanon will fully cooperate with the investigation.
And the third thing I would say is it gives the commission the authority to collect testimonial, documentary, physical information and evidence, to have freedom of movement throughout Lebanon, to have privileges and immunities to which its members are entitled. So in those -- in that regard, it fully empowers the group to investigate this thoroughly. It requires the cooperation of other -- of all states. And it continues the excellent work that's already been done by Mr. Fitzgerald. It's already raised some of the disturbing questions that need to be looked at.
QUESTION: One key thing that he said in his report was that the physical evidence on the ground wasn't properly looked at and is now no longer available, so usually when you start an investigation like this, that forensic evidence is where you start. You can't do that. Doesn't that mean that from its very beginning this investigation is stymied?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we just passed a resolution. The investigators have told us they want to do this investigation, they think it can be done. And you're asking me to stand up here 20 minutes after it passes and say it's not going to work?
QUESTION: No, I'm asking you how --
MR. BOUCHER: I just think it's a little soon to jump to those conclusions. The fact is, yes, there's always difficulties. There are particular difficulties with this investigation. I don't think Mr. Fitzgerald glossed over those difficulties when he talked about it in his report. And nonetheless, he was already heading in the direction of trying to identify some of the things that might have happened and how they might have happened and felt very much that an independent international commission could carry this forward and get there.
The investigators will have to deal with the situation as they have it with the evidence they can get, the testimony they can get. But they are empowered by the Security Council to go out and find out the truth in a complete and transparent manner. The states or all states are required to comply and to cooperate with them and they have a pledge of full support from the Lebanese Government. So we -- I guess I'd say we are convinced that as good an investigation as can be done can be done by these people with this resolution.
QUESTION: A follow-up. Do you expect the investigators to go Syria as part of the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to sort of specify their travel or how they will proceed, other than to say that the other -- the reverse of the question the answer is definitely yes. We would expect Syria, like all parties, all states, to cooperate fully with the investigation and provide any relevant information pertaining to the assassination.
QUESTION: Yes, Richard. How do you expect this commission or this investigation -- the investigating body to be so totally independent? Would they rely on what the Lebanese Government tell them? Would they have unfettered access, you know, to use an old term from the '90s, like the inspections in Iraq? How would it work?
MR. BOUCHER: I think just that all states have been requested to fully cooperate means that whatever they want to do they should be able to do. The fact that Lebanon has pledged its full cooperation, I would expect means that whatever they need from the Lebanese Government they would expect to get from the Lebanese Government.
QUESTION: I guess my question is will they work hand in hand with the Lebanese Government or will the Lebanese Government be required to give them whatever information they have?
MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is probably both.
QUESTION: A slightly related question. Minister Barnier was supposed to have been here today, at least until the Secretary left town. Did he postpone, cancel or what?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure where's traveling or if he is traveling at this time or whether perhaps his plans would change because of the Pope's funeral, but all I know is he's not here today.
QUESTION: Richard, a quick question on South Asia. One, I saw the statement you issued yesterday on the bus terminal bombings by the terrorists in Kashmir. The question is that you think U.S. undermines this now as far as U.S. and India and Pakistan relations are concerning on solving the Kashmir problem and people-to-people contact from this bombing by the terrorists, who doesn't want to have these contacts in the future?
And also if Secretary spoke to any leaders in the -- India or Pakistan leaders?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first -- the second question first, given what she's been involved in from past day or so, she hasn't had occasion to talk to Indian leaders or Pakistani leaders. But in her travels out there and other exchanges with our Embassy and on her behalf, we've expressed our very strong support for the opening of the bus route. She discussed it very directly with both Pakistani and Indian leaders when she was out there and expressed her strong support and her admiration for the act of statesmanship that it represented in terms of breaking through some things that hadn't been done for many, many years.
As far as whether the bombing is a setback, I think, you know, the way we would look at it is say the buses arrived and that that's a very positive step forward and we're very pleased with the completion of the first bus journey across the line of control in more than 50 years. I think given the vicissitudes and the dangers, one has to applaud the courage of the Kashmiri passengers who made this historic journey. We also congratulate especially the leaders of India and Pakistan for their vision in launching this initiative on behalf of the people of Kashmir. There are hundreds of Kashmiris who cheered the opening of the bus service and I think that demonstrates broad support on -- strong support on both sides of the line of control for the route.
The grenade attack was an attempt to disrupt this and we're glad to see that those attacks -- attempts to frustrate the opening -- did not succeed and we're glad to see that the people who wanted this service, who wanted this breakthrough, were successful.
QUESTION: Another question on Burma. If you can confirm that DCM Deputy Chief of Mission at the Burmese Embassy here in Washington is asking for asylum in the U.S. because of the attacks and that he might be killed -- his family if he go back to Burma?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't comment specifically on any individual asylum request, whether there is one or not, so I'm afraid that's just nothing I can do. The Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for handling asylum matters, so I'm sure you can get them not to comment as well, because I don't think they do either.
QUESTION: I have a two-part, short question on Pakistan, please. One, that Pakistan said that they will not give U.S. request access to A.Q. Kahn and his nuclear -- where he supplied or spread his network of nuclear equipment.
And second, Pakistan is going to reintroduce the new passport which will have the religious affiliation that the minorities are saying that they are going to be target of this new passport, that who is Muslim or who is non-Muslim under this new passport.
MR. BOUCHER: On the first question of access to A.Q. Kahn, I really don't have anything new to say on that. As you know, we've had good cooperation with the Pakistani Government in finding out about the A.Q. Khan network and the activities and the links and the other people that are associated as part of really a worldwide effort by us and others, other governments and the IAEA, to get at this whole network and rip it out root and branch.
The question of, you know, further access and how our discussions are going is not something I'm in a position to get into. We regularly discuss that with the Pakistani Government. The Secretary had occasion during her visit to talk about the A.Q. Khan network and the need for all of us to continue our efforts to find out everything we can and to pursue the information wherever it leads.
As far as the new Pakistani passport and religious affiliation, I, frankly, don't know what we've said about that before so let me check and see if there's anything we want to say at this point.
QUESTION: Afghanistan. Do you have information on the contractors, the government contractors who were on the helicopter that crashed yesterday in Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is I really don't. I think the Defense Department has announced there are three civilian contractors who were killed in the crash, along with -- there's 12 or 13 of our military personnel. I don't remember -- 13 of our military personnel. And so, obviously, we're saddened to hear about the crash and offer our thoughts and condolences for them. But at this point, I don't have any definitive information on the identities or nationalities of the contractors.
QUESTION: Any idea who they were contractors for, whether DOD or State or --
MR. BOUCHER: No. We're working with U.S. Defense officials and with our people in Kabul to try to identify those who were killed.
QUESTION: Has it been confirmed that this is not a result of hostile fire?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I'd have to leave it to the Pentagon to determine that.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MR. BOUCHER: We can change the subject.
QUESTION: The NPT, Nonproliferation Treaty. Last week, Secretary Rice suggested that maybe it's time for Israel, Pakistan and India to join the NPT, which, you know, considering that Israel's nuclear capabilities have never been brought up in the past, is this a topic that you might press before the conference on May 2nd?
MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we've always supported universal adherence to the NPT. That remains our position. As far as how we approach that issue and dealing with the conference coming up, I, frankly, don't have anything yet.
QUESTION: How was your view of the -- well, the good, warm reception that the new Iraqi President has received from the neighboring country, like Syria and Turkey and others?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's good. It's good for everybody to support him. He's selected by the Iraqi people. We now have an Iraqi leadership mostly in position and I think they announced the choice of -- well, they submitted the choice of the prime minister, or at least announced him to the parliament today. So they'll be moving forward on that front as well. And we think that's a really important development, a historic development that the Iraqi people have taken on their rod to democracy. We look forward to working ourselves with the new Iraqi Government and we certainly think that all the neighbors should respect and support this government.
QUESTION: What about Mr. Barzani (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't choose Iraqi leaders. Iraqi people choose their own leaders. We've all watched this process with great interest but the Iraqis have worked this out in their own political system, and just seeing that happen is a very good thing.
Okay, let's keep -- we'll keep working back and then come back to the front.
QUESTION: Thank you. The Senate yesterday voted in favor of an amendment attached to the State Department's spending bill which require imposing sanctions on China if China fails to change its currency policy in six months. Do you think it's appropriate for the Senate to link the policy question directly to State Department's budget?
MR. BOUCHER: They do that all the time. As far as this specific amendment, our position on this specific amendment, I'll have to check and see if we've taken a position on that.
QUESTION: And on Japan.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Japan has approved a new edition of tax book that critiques a (inaudible) own militaristic past and it has drawn, I mean, huge protests from China and South Korea. Given that the U.S., like China and South Korea, sacrificed much through the World War II to stop Japan's military aggression, does the U.S. have a position on how Japan addresses history?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me check and see.
QUESTION: Richard, this is about John Bolton's hearing next week. There are some reports that Carl Ford, the former head of INR, is going to testify that Bolton intimidated some of his officials in terms of skewing the intelligence, and when they wouldn't that he kind of kept them out of meetings and policy deliberations because they didn't agree with his point of view. Do you have anything to say about this and were these -- you know, did Carl Ford ever talk to Secretary Powell or others in the Department about these claims and were they investigated?
MR. BOUCHER: The first thing, I think, to know is that there are a lot of old stories sort of being re-circulated right now and many of them we've discussed here. I've discussed them with you in this briefing room when they came out at the time. People testified in public or said things in public or in panels. We had, I think, provided explanations at the time so I'm not going to really get into them again.
I'd also note that at one point -- I think it was about two years ago -- that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence looked very thoroughly into them and I'd say found that there was no basis to question his nomination or confirmation based on what they found when they looked into these things.
I would say as well, even though these things have been looked into many times in the past, we've made clear at this point with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that we're -- Mr. Bolton, first of all, is fully prepared to answer questions on these matters if they wish to raise them next week. We've been fully prepared to provide them with documents and information relating to those matters if they want those, and we've provided that. And we've been fully prepared to provide them with access to the individuals involved or the people in responsible positions who are knowledgeable to explain the situations to them.
So at this point we're working and cooperating very closely with the committee. But we do note these are old stories. They've been looked into in the past, discussed in the past, and we don't see any grounds for questioning his nomination or confirmation.
QUESTION: If I could second follow up, you said that you're prepared to share this information and put up officials. Are there any plans to put senior officials that are currently serving in the building to testify?
MR. BOUCHER: We've made the offer. I just, frankly, don't know precisely at this moment where we've transferred documents or they've said, yeah, send up so and so. But we have certainly made clear not only is Mr. Bolton himself prepared to answer all the questions, but we're prepared to provide them documents, access to the individuals, whatever they might think they need.
QUESTION: On Greece. A diplomatic (inaudible) is going on since yesterday in Athens and Skopje regarding the name of the FYROM almost to (inaudible) level of reaching agreement with the U.S. involving, too. Needless to remind you, Mr. Boucher, that Secretary Condoleezza Rice and the Greek Foreign Minister discussed extensively this issue on March 24th. Do you have anything on that or any comment?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd just say in general what she has said and what we have said before and that's we support the UN process. We look to the parties involved to engage flexibly and constructively towards a mutually acceptable solution and, of course, that solution will be one that we would be happy to accept ourselves.
QUESTION: On Cyprus. How do you comment on the European Court on Human Rights decision in the case of Myra Xenides-Arestis against Turkey that the so-called, "Compensation Commission," in the Turkish occupied territory of Cyprus cannot be considered effective domestic remedy to which Greek Cypriots must apply with regard to any claims they have on their own property there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm going to try to comment on European court decisions.
MR. BOUCHER: Why? Because it's a European court decision, not an American court decision and not an American policy issue.
QUESTION: No, but it has to do with the Greece and the occupation of Cyprus.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I know it has something to do with Greece and Cyprus. But it's their decision and they're going to have to explain it.
QUESTION: I have another question on Cyprus. Cyprus --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Cyprus Coordinator Laura Kennedy, in an exclusive interview to the distinguished Greek Cypriot reporter Michael Ignatiou, published in Athens and Nicosia saying, inter alia, yes, to the Annan plan but with changes, something that she's characterizing, "reasonable and appropriate." Do you believe this?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. If that's what she -- is that what she said? Do I believe that she said that?
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check the transcript and see.
QUESTION: But do you agree with whatever it is?
MR. BOUCHER: I agree with whatever she said. I just don't know what she said.
QUESTION: And also, in the middle of the traffic yesterday downtown, I saw a nice car, your friend, your Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Klosson. May we know the reason why he is in Washington, D.C., in these days?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't seen him.
QUESTION: He is in Washington.
MR. BOUCHER: Is he? Okay, I'll give him a call.
QUESTION: Was he making a left turn? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. I don't have anything on Mike -- on Mike's travel.
QUESTION: He is not in Washington, D.C.?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know where he is. I haven't seen him these last few days.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure -- we'll try to get the bureau to give you a call and tell you what he's up to. Okay?
Do you have something, Saul, or is it taken care of?
QUESTION: One on Iraq. The new prime -- the prime minister now has been named. His first major decision was to -- or he said that he'd ordered an amnesty for the Iraqis who've been linked to the Baath Party. So looking back, do you think it was -- if that's his first major decision, does that show that it was a mistake when Bremer, all that time ago, said --
MR. BOUCHER: You want me to declare his prime ministership a failure, too?
QUESTION: No, no --
MR. BOUCHER: We're doing instant conclusions on people today.
QUESTION: No, not on him. On the Bremer decision, that his first decision is --
MR. BOUCHER: I understand. Well, the --
QUESTION: -- against the decision that the --
MR. BOUCHER: The new Iraqi Government is going to represent the Iraqi people. It's going to have to make decisions on their behalf. It's going to have to go forward with a lot of major tasks like writing a constitution, et cetera. They have to deal with the circumstances as they find them. They have to decide how they want their country to go forward. Our goal was to put this country back in the hands of the Iraqis after many, many years of dictatorship and distortion of their politics and of their rights and, really, cruelty that occurred to many of these individuals, but to the Iraqi people as a whole.
Now that they have that power to go forward, they are going to make their decisions and we're not going to sit around second-guessing them and we're not going to say, "Well, you know, that's not what we did." There are certain basic principles that need to apply in every democracy and we're obviously going to uphold those principles, but the Iraqi Government is going to make its decisions and our goal in this period has been to make sure that they could create their own government and move forward. And that's what they're doing.
QUESTION: Can I come back to the UN Security Council for a minute?
QUESTION: Can I follow up on Iraq, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, a follow-up on Iraq, then we'll come back to the Security Council.
QUESTION: Okay. No, it's just that, obviously, the process to form the government took a lot longer than some people expected and you've been through that largely. My question is whether or not the entire process of constitution and new elections in December looks imperiled and will have to run afterwards, and is it something there that you're willing to consider now, just putting back a lot of that -- those deadlines?
MR. BOUCHER: You want us to already admit failure in the process and --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. That just seems to be a tenor in the questions today.
QUESTION: No, no, I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: Maybe I'm sensitive. Okay.
QUESTION: No, it's just a question that the thing has been delayed --
MR. BOUCHER: No, the first day of the new presidency is not the day to say that he's not going to -- he and the government are not going to achieve their goals set for the end of the year. They are very, very aware -- the end of the year. They are very, very aware of the tasks before them. They are very, very aware of the deadlines before them. They are very aware of what they're going to need to do to bring everybody in and get a constitution and an election and a government that's based fully on Iraqi society.
Yes, people have -- people in Iraq have complained and grumbled to some extent about how long it's taken to form the government, but that's what happens in a democracy and that's a good thing. The playing out of Iraqi politics in this case, they will do it their way and that's a good thing, too. So I think, you know, they come to our office fully aware that their major task is to write the constitution, get it approved, and have an election at the end of the year. So we'll certainly offer every possible support in that regard.
We'll work with the Iraqis on setting up the responsible institutions of government to carry the nation forward. We'll work with them on setting up the security institutions to protect their own country from the insurgency and other potential enemies. But I think -- you know, I think these leaders deserve a chance and they deserve a chance to go forward with the political support they have, with the principles that they have embraced, with the people, with a variety -- a real broad variety of Iraqis that they have brought in and intend to bring into the government, we think that they have a determination to accomplish the goals ahead of them.
QUESTION: If I could just follow up, Richard. I don't want to -- you seem to want to put us in a judgmental mode here. I'm not talking about being judgmental mode. I'm talking about whether or not the December schedule that was fixed there -- is that something that we have to be wedded to or are there serious complications if we look just to give them extra time because the first part of the process has taken so long.
MR. BOUCHER: No. You offered me two alternatives. I don't accept either one.
MR. BOUCHER: They have a schedule. Everybody agrees on the importance of meeting that schedule. They know what they have to do. We'll give them every possible support in doing that.
QUESTION: I have a quick question about India, please. One, about three weeks ago, largest pre-9/11 terrorist attack took place in Canada killing -- on Air India, bombing, killing 263 passengers and now, recently, three weeks ago, Canadian courts let those terrorists free. So are you worried or concerned about these next-door terrorists?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: And second, India said that it will not accept this membership on the Security Council seat unless it comes with a veto power. Any comments?
MR. BOUCHER: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Or if the U.S. supports India's membership in the Security Council with veto powers?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new to say on reform in the UN Security Council at this point. We've said it all before.
Sorry? I jumped you.
QUESTION: I have two questions, if I may. Coming back to the UN Security Council, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN yesterday mentioned that he would block -- unless there was consensus, he would block any actions to reform the Security Council to expand it. Does the --
MR. BOUCHER: Who are you talking about?
QUESTION: This is the Chinese Ambassador --
MR. BOUCHER: Chinese Ambassador.
QUESTION: -- to the UN. Does the U.S. have any reaction to what the Chinese Ambassador had said?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm just going to say I think we've really said it all before. We think that the issue of UN and reform is important. We think the broad reform of the United Nations needs to be undertaken. We look forward to continuing our discussions, working with other members of the Council in achieving that. The Secretary has had some discussions during her trip to Asia with Japan, Korea, and China. We'll continue to have discussions with allies and friends on the Council and off the Council about broad UN reform, including reform in the Security Council.
QUESTION: And my second question actually pertains to Japan. Japan is actually named as one of those countries looking for that expanded seat on the Security Council. The Chinese Ambassador mentioned the word "consensus" and my colleague over there mentioned the textbook. There has been some geographical rifts between Japan and South Korea over some islands in the Sea of Japan. How do you think Japan is doing? How's it coming along in getting that permanent seat?
MR. BOUCHER: That's not for me to judge.
QUESTION: Richard, the Deputy Secretary will be attending the Sudan donors conference in Oslo next week and apparently will announce a substantial U.S. contribution to reconstruction. The President of Sudan, I believe it was over the weekend, said basically, over his dead body would he cooperate with an international tribunal, you know, vis-à-vis Darfur war crimes. Given his position, I'm wondering does that cause -- doe that give the United States reservations about its aid plans for Sudan?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, let me say the United States has been undertaking a very serious effort on Sudan in recent weeks and months and trying to move forward to resolve the situation in Darfur, but also to make sure that the North-South peace agreement is implemented.
And you've seen us cooperate in the UN Security Council on passage of three resolutions: the first one to establish the peacekeeping for the North-South accords; the second to establish sanctions and a sanctions process in the UN that's already underway; and the third to establish accountability for the war crimes that might have occurred there.
I know the Sudanese Government has said various things about the accountability issue, but the simple fact is that the resolution requires all parties, all governments, to cooperate with the UN and that's what the UN Security Council as a whole expects of the Sudanese Government. There needs to be accountability for these crimes and we all agree on that. The resolution passed because of that, even though the U.S. and a few others abstained.
The second question is sort of how do we approach this. Well, I think, the one of the next steps is that Deputy Secretary Zoellick will be attending the donors conference in Oslo. After that, he'll be traveling to Sudan, including Darfur, to try to press forward on all these fronts: on implementation of the peace accords; on issues of cooperation with accountability and other things; and particularly in trying to resolve the problems in Darfur and make sure that people who are suffering there get what they need in terms of relief from the violence and assistance for their needs.
So that remains our goal and that's what our assistance contributes to. We've spent, I think, it's something like $600 million already in the last couple of years, from 2003 to 2005, on assistance for the people of Darfur and we will continue to support them as well as to support the implementation of the North-South accords. These two things have a relationship. We do believe that moving forward on the North-South accords and therefore creating a new government in Sudan can change the situation and can facilitate the resolution of many of these issues involved with Khartoum. And the Deputy Secretary is going forward -- is going to these meetings in order to try to move that process forward.
QUESTION: There is -- there was an official quoted in the paper yesterday -- State Department official -- saying that there are no strings on the money. In other words, that is given so that there's no connection at all between that and Sudan's approach to the accountability issue at all?
MR. BOUCHER: As I -- this is not money to support the Sudanese Government as it's now constituted. This is money -- any money that we spend from now on in is for -- any money we spend from now on is to implement the North-South accords, which will create a new government in Khartoum, and to help the people of Darfur who are suffering, often at the hands of government and government-sponsored militia. So we direct our money to the places where it's needed in order to move forward and don't see it as support for the current government.
QUESTION: Well, but can I follow up? At the same time that you're spending the money -- that's a long, I mean, creating a government and implementing the North-South, I mean, you've even acknowledged yourself that that's a long-term -- that's a long-term process. That's not going to happen overnight. So, I mean, the money that you're spending --
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look at the peace accords, it happens on a certain timetable and some of those steps happen relatively quickly, frankly.
QUESTION: But at the same time, you've said to the Government of Khartoum -- Secretary Powell when he was there and from this podium -- that there's not going to be an improvement in the relationship with the government until there's -- even with a North-South agreement until there's improvement on Darfur. So how does giving this money signal that there's not going to be an improvement on the relationship?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, how does giving what?
QUESTION: Don't you think that giving this -- them this money to implement the North-South --
MR. BOUCHER: Who's "them"?
QUESTION: -- the government --
MR. BOUCHER: I just I -- I just said "them" is not the government.
QUESTION: None of this money --
MR. BOUCHER: "Them" ain't the government.
QUESTION: None of this money is going to the government?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't think so. I mean, there may be, you know, tangential involvement. I'd have to double check. But the purpose of this funding is to support development for the people of Sudan, to support implementation of the North-South accords. If you look at the North-South accords, you'll see quite quickly new governments are formed, new apparatus are formed in Khartoum to govern the country. We want to support that. We want to support implementation of North-South accords. We're not in the position of holding up on Darfur because the North-South is not being implemented or holding up on North-South implementation because of Darfur. We want to see both things happen because they contribute and support each other and so that's what our money goes to.
QUESTION: So I'm confused now. So you're saying the money is going to a government that doesn't yet exist, is that it?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not -- I can't tell you precisely who the recipients are of the money or whether there are any government organizations involved. The money is the -- the goal of the money is not to support the current government. The goal of the money is to help the people in Darfur and, second of all, to implement the North-South accords which will replace the current government.
QUESTION: But wouldn't it be better to have a donors conference after there have been a change of government?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's important to have a donors when these guys are trying to get up and running, and that's what we're doing now, as well as when the situation in Darfur remains acute and needs some attention. And the sooner we can get the North-South accords implemented, the better off we are in trying to solve the problems of Darfur.
QUESTION: Richard, may I go back to Burma, please? And maybe for clarification or you can answer in a different way. You think this defection is a message for the international community and for the military government in Burma that time has come to give up and -- give up his country back to the people and have a democratic government?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. What is?
QUESTION: The defection of the Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington is a message for the global community or international community and for the military government in Burma that time has come for them to give up and hold elections and give the country back to the people?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't talk about any reports of asylum or defections. Do I agree the time has come for the military to give up its hold on Burma and return the country to the people of Burma so they, too, can have democracy? Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have a position on whether Burma should host the ASEAN meeting this year?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've taken a position on that at this point.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), Mr. Boucher, according to Stratford Institute based in Austin, Texas -- very well-known and connected with the CIA --in an analysis which actually looks like a plan in process dated April 5th is predicted that Albanian terrorists of Kosovo area will carry out terrorist attacks against the Balkans, European countries, starting with Germany and, to my surprise, the state of Israel in the name of the so-called "White Islam." I am wondering how do you comment on that since Albania is a vital ally to the U.S., member of the coalition force with (inaudible) on the Iraqi front.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment on whatever some outfit in Texas may have done as a research report. I'd just say that we cooperate with many governments against terrorism, including the Government of Albania.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m.)
DPB # 58