State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 8
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 8
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
April 8, 2005
Travel by Deputy Secretary Zoellick to Norway and Sudan
Implementing the North-South Accord
Assistance to NGOs and others in Sudan and in Darfur
Renewed U.S. Efforts Towards Supporting Peace and Stability
Systemizing Contacts and Senior-Level Talks
Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Role in Formalizing Talks
Important Role of China in Bilateral Issues
Status of Six-Party Talks
UN Efforts to Resolve Name Dispute With Greece
Ambassador Michael Klosson in Washington
Leaders Attending Funeral of Pope John Paul II
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
Upcoming Election of Secretary-General
Stripping Mayor of Mexico City's Immunity
Visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Status of Al Aqsa Mosque
Canadian Opposition to Proposed Launch of U.S. Titan 4 Missile
Bombing in Egypt
12:50 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. If I can, at the beginning, let me just tell you a little more about the Secretary of State -- Deputy Secretary of State's trip next week. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will travel to Oslo, Norway and Sudan during the week of April 11th. While in Oslo, the Deputy Secretary will participate in the international donors conference for Sudan, where he will focus on the implementation of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Accord, on curbing the violence in Darfur and on the international assistance that's needed to support these efforts.
He will announce in Oslo a significant financial commitment from the United States to support the full implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Following that conference in Oslo, he is expected to travel to Sudan.
Through his participation in the conference and his visit to Sudan, the Deputy Secretary will emphasize the need for Sudanese parties to move ahead with implementation of the peace accord as well as to end the violence in Darfur. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed last January in Nairobi does provide a unique opportunity to end the violence in Darfur and we urge the Sudanese parties to grasp this opportunity to achieve peace and democracy in a unified country.
One more note. I'd say that -- remind you that the United States has been a long and consistent leader in trying to bring peace and reconciliation to Sudan. Over the past three years, the United States has committed over $1.6 billion to Sudan for humanitarian assistance, for conflict resolution in Darfur and care for the people there, reconstruction and development and support for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
QUESTION: The other day you were speaking about circumventing the Sudanese Government insofar as assisting people in Darfur and in helping to implement the North-South accord. And I didn't want to start there, but I think since we're back into Sudan, is this possible? I mean, I think only in a parallel, there was a time you didn't want to provide aid to the Palestinian so you went -- Palestinian Authority, so you went to projects themselves. How do you do this in Sudan?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I think we've discussed this pretty adequately yesterday and perhaps a little bit more today with other briefers than me. We're talking -- this is not the Palestinian territories. It's a different situation.
MR. BOUCHER: We have worked with NGOs. We've worked with NGOs for many years in the South to bring assistance to people there in the south of Sudan, as you know. We've worked very hard with NGOs and aid agencies, international donors to get assistance to the people in Darfur. We're going to be supporting the creation of a new governmental mechanism for Sudan that unites the nation and that offers opportunity for everybody. We think that's very important. That's not the same as supporting the existing government. So we're not only talking about the mechanisms that we use to deliver aid in Sudan, we're talking about the changes that are going on in Sudan itself.
QUESTION: Richard, I think the other day you said 600 million --
MR. BOUCHER: There are different ways to slice it and dice it. 1.6 billion total from 2003-2005 for all the needs of Sudan. 600 million was 2003-2005 in Darfur, for Darfur -- for people in Darfur and the refugees that left Darfur.
QUESTION: So this includes all of Sudan?
MR. BOUCHER: This includes all of Sudan, including assistance to the South and things like that.
QUESTION: There have been some indications of a reduction in violence in Darfur lately. Have you --
MR. BOUCHER: There has been, over the past weeks, a reduction in the scale of incidents and the number of incidents of violence. At the same time, there have been continuing concerns and some reports of things still happening. The potential is still there. The activities of some of these groups is still there. We still consider it a very dangerous situation for the people of Darfur. We have been working very hard with the African Union to get their troops in. There's something like 2,300 troops, which is the initial stage of military, and then they have several hundred civil policemen who are there now and that's being added to, to get up to the original number planned of about 3,200.
So that deployment is underway. We've been supporting that very much. We continue to support that as well as there's talk now you've seen from the Africans of expanding it. And so we -- while the number and scale of incidents has gone down, we think it's still a very dangerous situation for the people there that we need to bring up these African troops. We need to make sure that the forces on the ground are effective in being able to monitor and prevent the reoccurrence of violence and that we need to move forward things like the political settlement.
Deputy Secretary Zoellick, as he proceeds to Sudan -- as he meets with people in Oslo, first of all, he'll see Vice President Taha, Chairman Garang in Oslo, and then as he goes to Sudan and visits various places there, will continue to push for implementation of the peace accords, push for steps to end the violence in Darfur, flow of humanitarian assistance. All these things remain high priorities on our agenda.
QUESTION: Can we go to something else?
QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Is the money Mr. Zoellick is going to pledge in Oslo in any way linked to any progress in Darfur? Do you make a link between the situation in Darfur and --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, that's the same discussion we had extensively yesterday. I don't really have anything new to say. I think we've explained that we think that the important thing about the situation now in Sudan is progress on implementing the North-South accords, progress in giving Sudan a government that unifies the nation, contributes to ending the violence in Darfur. At the same time, it's important to do both, the specific steps to end the violence and take care of the people in Darfur, as well as the specific steps that are needed to move forward on the North-South accords.
QUESTION: Is the Administration doing something to systematize the contacts with China? There's a report in the paper today of more regular programmed meetings.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we have talked to China about this and we've agreed to hold regular senior-level talks with China on a whole range of political and economic issues. We have in the past had an active economic dialogue through the State Department with Chinese counterparts. We want to, I think, recognize the role that China is playing in Asia, in global affairs, as a member of the UN Security Council, and have more regular discussions of world issues with China.
The details of the structure and the timing are still to be worked out. It's an idea that I think the Chinese actually proposed a year or more ago, the Deputy Secretary talked -- Deputy Secretary Zoellick talked about it with the Chinese Ambassador in early March, and the Secretary and the Chinese leaders agreed to it when she went out there in mid to late March.
I think this -- talks are another example of the kind of interaction we're having with the Chinese these days on international issues as well as issues in the bilateral relationship. As you know, the President and Chinese leaders have gotten together frequently and the Secretary has had meetings with the Foreign Minister and we have a number of discussions at other levels as well.
QUESTION: Would this be headed by the Deputy Secretary?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: This would be the Deputy Secretary talking to Chinese counterparts. The full structure is not worked out yet in terms of Chinese counterparts and how often and things like that.
QUESTION: Does this reach the level of a strategic dialogue, such as you have with, say, India?
MR. BOUCHER: I would call it regular senior-level talks.
QUESTION: What does it reflect? I mean, China has always been immense and important. What's been lacking? In fact, what needs to be corrected or improved?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, China -- what this reflects is what I said a moment ago. It reflects the growing role that China has been playing in Asia, globally, at the United Nations as a UN Security Council member, on many, many world issues. And we have over the past several years, I think, been able to enhance our cooperation with China on many of these issues, whether it's, you know, North Korea, the fight against terrorism, we need to work with them in Sudan, all these things. And so in addition to continuing a dialogue on economic issues -- it's been, we think, useful and important to us -- we want to have a dialogue that goes to other issues as well.
QUESTION: On China, can you bring us up to speed on what they're telling you about North Korea and where we might stand or whether there's any progress?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been in touch with the Chinese about their recent discussions with North Korea and Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju. I think you've also seen public statements made in North Korea in recent weeks. And I guess the way I'd summarize it at this point is while there have been some statements that indicate a commitment to the six-party process, we still do not yet have a clear commitment from the North Koreans to come back to talks or a date that they would come back to talks. So the Chinese are continuing to work these issues. We're continuing to keep in touch with them and other parties. We have made clear that we are prepared to return to the talks without preconditions and we urge the North Koreans to return to the table for serious discussions to resolve the issues of its nuclear programs and to end its international isolation.
QUESTION: So the regular senior-level talks would be an interagency effort? Would the U.S. delegation include officials from Pentagon, Commerce, Treasury?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know yet. Don't know yet. We haven't set all the details so I can't say at this point. Frequently -- generally, they do, but I wouldn't say for sure at this point.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on FYROM, the UN negotiator, Matthew Nimitz, made publicly his proposal for the new name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM. The Greek Government today responded constructively to this (inaudible) and to this new development. What is the reaction of the U.S. Government?
MR. BOUCHER: As I mentioned yesterday, we certainly welcome the discussions and the UN process to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the Macedonian name issue. As you said, we understand it is part of this UN process and new ideas have been presented to the parties and that there is a discussion going on. We welcome this new momentum in the process. We urge both sides to engage constructively in a spirit of compromise.
QUESTION: On Cyprus, did you locate for me Ambassador Michael Klosson? I'm still waiting for him and wondering what he is doing in Washington, D.C. in these days.
MR. BOUCHER: He was in New York and Washington for some meetings. He had meetings back here, I think, with Under Secretary Burns and others in EUR and so far he hasn't had time to call me.
QUESTION: One more question. Mr. Boucher, since you are an expert on the Cyprus affair, to allow me to ask the following. After the referendum in Cyprus of February 24 last year, some members of the international community, including the U.S., are criticizing the "no" of the Greek Cypriots. However, it's not fair. In the entire island -- voted 511,200 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; 347,494, however -- otherwise, the 68 percent voted "no" to the plan; 163,706 -- otherwise, the 32 percent voted "yes" to the plan.
I am wondering why you are criticizing the results, since the majority of the Cypriots rejected the UN plan with a free and democratic way for which the Bush Administration is very sensitive, take into consideration all its (inaudible) spread democracy and freedom all over the world.
MR. BOUCHER: I would say two things about that: One is that we, I think, have addressed that quite adequately after the vote; and number two, as far as the numbers go, I'd refer you back to Mark Twain.
QUESTION: But one's 68, the other is 32. How do you explain?
MR. BOUCHER: What? I'm not going to explain it. That's where Mark Twain comes in.
MR. BOUCHER: You can look it up.
QUESTION: Israeli radio has confirmed today that Israeli President Moshe Katzav shook hands with President Asad of Syria and spoke to Iranian President Khatami during the funeral of Pope John Paul II. How do you assess this event?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any assessment. That's between them. It's between them.
QUESTION: The OAS elects a new secretary general on Monday. Do you have any thoughts going into the election and does Secretary Rice plan to attend?
MR. BOUCHER: Unfortunately, Secretary Rice will be in Texas on Monday. I don't remember what the timing is of the OAS meeting.
QUESTION: 10 o'clock.
MR. BOUCHER: 10:00 a.m., so I'm pretty sure it's not possible for her to attend that. I don't know yet who will attend for the United States. This is an important choice of the OAS to get a new leader, a new secretary general. We've been in very close consultations with many countries from the region. As we know, this has all been going on for some time and we look forward to working with the countries of the region to give it new leadership at the OAS.
QUESTION: You're still supporting President Flores, right?
MR. BOUCHER: We're in touch with all the governments of the region about the candidates and how to work it out.
QUESTION: Well, wait -- have you withdrawn your support for him?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we haven't changed our position at this point.
QUESTION: In Mexico, the popular mayor has had his immunity withdrawn by Congress. It's a pretty overt political move, seems anti-democratic. Have you guys been in touch with the Mexican Government about it? Are you concerned about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We see this as an internal matter for the Mexicans.
QUESTION: A couple of months ago, (inaudible) offered an assessment to members of the Congress. In their assessment, he put Mexico as a potential flashpoint for political instability in the face of the upcoming presidential election. Don't you feel that what happened yesterday in some way gives more relevance to that assessment?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to comment on it.
QUESTION: Can I ask you why you're not going to comment on it? You guys, and particularly under this Secretary, you're very concerned about democracy. The President has put it as central in each of his -- of the bilateral relations. If this were to be happening in another country, say Venezuela, I'm sure you guys would be quite outspoken. You don't choose to say it's an internal matter when Venezuela does things that you consider anti-democratic. Is it that you can't make a judgment on this one or that, even though it's anti-democratic, you don't --
MR. BOUCHER: You're presuming an answer from me that I haven't given.
QUESTION: I'm asking if you think it's anti-democratic and --
MR. BOUCHER: And I'm saying we think it's something for them to work out to decide.
QUESTION: Why would you leave it to them when, in other cases, you're prepared to get out there and make comments when --
MR. BOUCHER: Because (a) no two cases are the same. Second of all, your question presumes an answer that I have not given you and that I am not prepared to give to you, an assumption that it's anti-democratic. The only way to say that I have to answer the question is if I believe that. And for the moment, I'm saying it's up to them, it's an internal matter.
QUESTION: But if I ask you directly, does the United States believe this is an antidemocratic move --
MR. BOUCHER: And my view is this is an internal matter for the Mexican Government and that's where I'm going to stick. Going to ask me five more times?
QUESTION: Without saying that this is something undemocratic, then why do you say to take a more cautious position when in the past the U.S. has been ready to condemn any attempt to suppress political opposition even when those attempts are made through what we'll say are legal means?
MR. BOUCHER: Because this is an internal matter for the Mexican Government.
Same question? I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Well, since you mention that the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be in Texas this coming Monday (inaudible) the meeting between President Bush and the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, do you think that in her agenda will be to the issue of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (inaudible) into the crisis?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. It's really the White House meeting, the President's agenda. You'd have to get the White House to comment on what's on his mind for this meeting.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) part? Ms. Condoleezza --
MR. BOUCHER: For my part, I'll be in Washington and not attending or proposing or having an agenda for the meeting.
QUESTION: Not you. I'm saying about the Secretary.
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not -- it's a White House meeting. The President has many issues to discuss with the Israeli Prime Minister. We have a very broad relationship. We talk about a lot of different things. I'm not in a position here today to predict what they're going to discuss on Monday. I'm not preparing the agenda. The Secretary is obviously talking to the President and others about the issues to come up. But at this point, it'd be for them to predict it from the White House, not from here.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. doing anything (inaudible) the problem regarding the Al Aqsa mosque? Because there is a report saying that the Palestinian militants, they are saying they will end the truce if Jewish protestors enter the mosque. Are you doing anything regarding this?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to see. I'm sure our Embassy is following the developments there, as well as our Consulate General, but I don't have anything at this moment.
QUESTION: I'm wondering about the Titan 4 missile launch that's scheduled to go on this weekend, even though there's a possibility of some debris falling on oil rigs in Newfoundland. There's some anger in Canada over that. Any response?
MR. BOUCHER: That is something that we've heard from the Canadians about. The Canadians have raised concerns about the trajectory -- trajectory, excuse me -- of a missile to be tested by the Air Force. We're consulting with Canada on the issue and the testing date has now been changed, I think, until April 13th. So I'd refer you to the Department of Defense for more information on how they're going to work it out.
QUESTION: Will the trajectory be changed? Will it be --
MR. BOUCHER: I refer you to the Department of Defense for more information about how they can work it out.
QUESTION: Do you have anything more to say about the attack yesterday in Cairo where an American national was killed?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: First of all, let me extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of yesterday's bombing attack in Cairo's Khan Al-Khalili district. The attack killed three people, including the bomber, injured as many as 20 foreigners and Egyptians. There was one American man who was in Egypt for tourism who was killed in the attack. Three other Americans also in Egypt for tourism were wounded in the attack. And we're extending our support and our deepest condolences to them. We are in touch with families, we are working with the people and their families, both of the citizen who was killed and the people who are injured.
We had Embassy consular officers on the scene and in hospitals soon after the attack and established our contact with the injured citizens. We're monitoring the status of the wounded and continue to make inquiries to find out any other information on wounded foreign nationals.
In the early hours of Friday morning, the Embassy made arrangements for the Americans to be moved to a private hospital. The Consul General will see them today. We're also working with Egyptian officials to render assistance to the American victims and their families. We note that Egyptian Prime Minister Nazif has visited the victims in the hospital to demonstrate the Egyptian Government's concern for the victims and to condemn the attack.
We note as well the Embassy has issued a Warden notice to Americans living and visiting Egypt, advising them to stay away from that particular area until further notice. At this point, there's no independent information to suggest this alleged attack was part of a larger effort. The notice suggested all residents and visitors to Egypt should be especially vigilant and avoid areas of Cairo where large numbers of tourists congregate.
The Egyptians are conducting the investigation. Our Embassy continues to consult with Egyptian security officials, who have been very cooperative with our officials out there.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(This briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m. EDT.)