State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 12
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 12 -- Transcript
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
April 12, 2005
Donors' Conference in Oslo / US Commitment for Sudan
Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Travel to Sudan
Status of Lebanese Elections
Status of Syrian Troop Pull-Out
US View of Signing of Strategic Partnership Between India and China
Secretary Rice's Meeting with Indian Foreign Minister This
US Citizen Contractor Kidnapped in Baghdad
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Visit to Baghdad
Anti-Japan Demonstrations in Beijing and Guangzhou
Japanese Textbooks and World War II History
Castro's Comments Regarding US Harboring Terrorists
Proposal for Resolution to the Macedonia Name Issue
US View on Expansion of Settlements
Secretary Rice's Phone Calls to Quartet Members, Jordanian Foreign
Minister and Palestinian Authority President Abbas Regarding
Meeting Between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon
12:40 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here with you. I don't have any statements or announcements right now, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Do you have any summation you can give us on the outcome of the donors conference in Norway yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any summation to give you, but I would note that the Deputy Secretary of State gave a news conference, I think, right before he left today, and talked about it there. Certainly, it was a very positive conference. There's a lot of support for implementation of the North-South agreement as well as for ensuring an end to the violence and the tragedies in Darfur.
The Deputy Secretary is continuing his travels. He'll be on to Sudan and make several stops there to push on both those issues. And I think the international community came together in Oslo to show how important it is to all of us that we fully implement the North-South agreement as well as deal with the tragedy of Darfur.
QUESTION: Did a number emerge from the conference that you're --
MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. number emerged when the Deputy Secretary announced that the United States was looking to provide something on the order of $1.7 million *. He announced a commitment of 853 million for Sudan; that's 799 that's appropriated Fiscal Year 2005, 54 million carried over from 2004. And he also noted that we have requested approximately 883 million from Congress for the combined Fiscal Year 2005 supplemental and the Fiscal Year 2006 budget request.
So when you add together the appropriations, the carryover from 2004, the appropriation for 2005, the supplemental from 2005 and the budget request that we're making for 2006, that's the way you get to about 1.7 million -- $1.7 billion from the United States. As you know, the organizers were looking for something on the order of 2.6 billion. I think that's the World Bank estimate. And I've seen some press reports that there appears to be sufficient funds available, but I'd leave it to the organizers to talk about that.
I think the important thing for us is that, once again, the United States is in the lead on this and we'll stay there because this is a very important issue for us. We are the leading international donor and we're certainly the leading donor for Darfur and Sudan; second of all, that we're moving forward on both fronts, both the implementation of the North-South agreement and the question of Darfur; and third of all, I think there's a lot of support in the international community for doing that, and that was manifest in Oslo.
QUESTION: Does the United States -- is it -- is the United States concerned that in Lebanon the failure to set up a government could delay the polls that you want in May?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can predict Lebanese politics. We have certainly been encouraging all parties to make sure these elections occur on time. As we've said before, first and foremost, the Syrians need to withdraw completely military and intelligence presence. That's required under the UN resolutions. But more important, it's part of the process of letting the Lebanese decide their own future. And then second of all, the Lebanese need to organize elections on time and allow the people of Lebanon to express their views.
QUESTION: Yeah, Richard, India and China just signed what they call an historic agreement for strategic partnership (inaudible). Does the United States have a reaction to that or a position on it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we have any particular reaction to that. We have good relations with China, very good relations with India. We've been certainly following events there, but we've always welcomed any progress that those two countries or others can make to reduce tension and to improve their relationship.
QUESTION: And if I can just follow up on that.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Because in terms of the weave of the politics, a couple of weeks ago that we announced that we wanted to help make India a major power, we talked about possibly co-licensing and joint production, and now they're talking about a strategic partnership with a country that we're trying to prevent the Europeans from lifting an arms embargo with. Is -- does there any -- any worry enter into this that they might be entering into a relationship that would eventually be counterproductive to U.S. interests?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I think that's pure speculation. We've always seen China's relations with others in the world -- a growing trade relationship, a more positive relationship than China's had for years in some of these places -- as overall a positive thing. We want China to be able to play a constructive and responsible role in international affairs. We've encouraged people to have good economic relationships, good political relationships, diplomatic relationships with China, and for China to act responsibly in the community of nations. That's what's going on here.
QUESTION: Just one last thing on that. Have U.S. officials had any discussions with the Indian officials, and especially the Foreign Minister is coming here this week, on exactly what might be their concerns about China and China's buildup and then what might be the limit to the India-China relationship?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've had any discussions in New Delhi in view of the visit that just occurred. I think it just finished. So I'm sure we'll be talking to both sides about how this relationship is going and what they foresee. And as you pointed out, the Secretary does have an opportunity to talk to the Indian Foreign Minister later this week.
QUESTION: Can we go back to Lebanon?
QUESTION: I was just going to --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let's go via wherever she's going. (Laughter.) Sorry. Sorry, Said.
QUESTION: It's the Middle East, at least.
What can you tell us about the American contractor who was kidnapped in the Baghdad area?
MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is not much. There was a U.S. citizen contractor who was kidnapped on April 11th. That's yesterday. The United States Embassy in Baghdad is in contact with the family of the American citizen. We don't have any formal Privacy Act waiver and therefore we're not in a position to release any additional information.
QUESTION: Can you at least say who this person was a contractor for, whether DOD, AID, any --
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: That's covered by privacy?
MR. BOUCHER: It has to do with his personal data, his individual detail.
QUESTION: An Iraqi --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's --
QUESTION: On Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, Said. Whatever.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. I know it's a Pentagon matter, but I wonder if you would comment on the Secretary of Defense's visit to Baghdad. He warned against corruption. Is it the view of the State Department that, you know, there is no good governance in Iraq and are you coordinating --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, that's not what the Defense Secretary said. Second of all, I'd leave any explanations of his remarks to you to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: I understand but, you know, your own assessment? What --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think it's the occasion to do any further assessment. Corruption is definitely a danger that needs to be guarded against. We have insisted, in terms of our dealings and what we've done to help the Iraqis, that an emphasis be put on transparency, public accountability. It's what democracy is all about. And we've been working with others, including the Europeans, for example, to help establish responsible ministries, responsible personnel, systems of government, systems of accounting and we will continue to do that with the Iraqi Government so they can avoid some of these dangers that have plagued many other countries.
QUESTION: Is it also the Department's assessment that the insurgency, I think, so to speak, that may allow, you know, withdrawal of forces and so on?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I can't expand on the Defense Secretary's remarks on that matter.
Okay, where were we? Mushaq.
QUESTION: Do you have the name, Mr. Boucher, the name of the American kidnapped in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Can't -- can't do anything personal to the -- to the American who was kidnapped.
QUESTION: Go back to Lebanon?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Again, if you would, could you tell us what is the -- how do you assess Syria's departure from Lebanon? Is it on time? Are there any negotiations going on with the Syrians or any kind of talk with any Syrians? What is the level of U.S. engagement with Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, we follow this closely. Second of all, we keep in close touch with the United Nations, which has been monitoring and following this process. And so we regularly hear from Terje Larson, and the Security Council members do, about what's going on.
As far as on time, I mean, time was full withdrawal immediately, so I guess it hasn't quite met that standard but we're certainly looking to see this proceed apace, urging -- continuing to urge all parties to make sure it happens very soon, as soon as possible, immediately. And third, looking to see it fully completed in all its aspects, not just military but intelligence services.
So it remains a matter of great importance to us. It's a matter that we are -- I think, a matter of great importance to many countries around the world. We're keeping in close touch with others on it, too.
QUESTION: If the Syrians complete their withdrawal by the end of the month, as they suggested, would that be propitious for the U.S. to sort of send the Ambassador Scobey back to Damascus?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to predict anything at this point. What's important is Syria completes a full withdraw immediately, as soon as possible.
QUESTION: There were reports saying Taiwan's President Chen had some informal encounter with the U.S. delegation in Vatican, during the funeral service for Pope. Are you aware of any interaction at all between Secretary Rice, President Bush and Taiwanese delegation?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything. I haven't checked.
QUESTION: And the other thing, do you know -- do you have anything to say about massive anti-Japan demonstration in Beijing and Guangzhou over the weekend? Are you concerned the seemly anti-Japan trends in China and South Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think there are two things to say about this. One, as far as relations between China and Japan, we've always encouraged them to have good relations. We think it's important for regional stability and for the future of both countries.
Second of all, we have always encouraged them to resolve differences, bilateral differences, in a harmonious and peaceful fashion together and we continue to encourage that. And Secretary Rice, I think, made that clear in her various comments during her trip.
And third of all, it's important we don't allow the demonstrations to become violent. China does have a responsibility to prevent violence against foreign missions in Beijing. We think that it's very regrettable that this one did turn violent and was not -- was not under control.
QUESTION: And as for your statement on the controversy over Japanese textbook, I just want to clarify something. It seems the U.S. has no problem about how Japan addresses the World War II history but feel unfortunate China and South Korea have problems with that.
MR. BOUCHER: We have felt that it's important these nations discuss these issues and work them out amongst themselves. It's not something we've been involved in.
QUESTION: But U.S. sacrifice almost 900,000 soldiers during the World War II fight -- try to stop Japan's military aggression. Just, you don't feel this -- the issue for Japan to, I mean, to make accurate their history?
MR. BOUCHER: We feel very strongly about this matter of history, of course. We have our own views of it. But no, we've not raised the issue of textbooks.
QUESTION: Well, do you have anything to say about the textbooks? Should they be --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything to say about textbooks. I just have to say that, you know, insofar as it's an issue between other governments, we would hope they would resolve these issues.
QUESTION: Well, but one of the things that helped Europe a lot was the contrition that the Germans showed and there seems to be an absence of that on the part of the Japanese. Anything to say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: On the issue of the demonstrations, demonstrations often turn violent and not necessarily -- and while it's the security forces' responsibility to try and prevent that, sometimes they do get out of control. But you expressing or saying it's regrettable that this happened and highlighted that it was the Chinese responsibility to stop it happening, do you think in some way they allowed the violence to get out of hand or allowed it to turn violent?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I could say that. I don't think I have any information like that. It's just an important part of a government's responsibility to allow the peaceful expression of views but to try to make sure that remains peaceful.
QUESTION: On China-Japan relations? You said you encouraged the two countries to solve the issue through the dialogue. Are you willing to be part of the consultation?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that anybody's ever asked us to do that.
QUESTION: Yes, I would like to know -- changing the hemisphere. I would like to know how do you respond to the remarks made by the President -- Cuban President Fidel Castro yesterday about that the U.S. Government is harboring terrorists when (inaudible) Posada Carriles here in the U.S. apparently --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see those remarks those -- I think it's probably topics we've always -- we've addressed many times in the past. I'm not sure there's anything new there.
QUESTION: But in the event that this person, Posada Carriles, apply for asylum here in the U.S., apparently he's going to do it tomorrow, would you consider it?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say anything about asylum, whether it's been applied for or not.
One or two more? Sir.
QUESTION: One question on the Macedonia name issue, if you can. Now both sides they know the Nimitz proposal, the Special Envoy of the UN. Does the U.S. takes any position on the actual proposal or your position is just that you want to see a common accepted solution from the two parties?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've said we saw that -- we felt that putting forward the proposal and working with the parties in this matter is a constructive step and we've encouraged both parties to deal with it seriously. And we're still in touch with both parties, as well as the UN, trying to encourage people to take it seriously and work this out.
QUESTION: But not actual position on the substance with the proposal?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've said that the putting forward of the proposal is a constructive step. I'd have to see if there's anything more to say than that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Can I go on to --
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Listen, Richard, yesterday the President stated the American position on the expansion of settlements, yet in a subsequent statement by Prime Minister Sharon and his deputy Ehud Olmert, they seem to be sticking to the expansion. In fact, Ehud Olmert said that Maale Adumim is part of Jerusalem. You know, could you tell us what would be the mechanism? What is next? How will the United States make sure that --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, though, I think the President very clearly stated our views that we saw disengagement from Gaza as very positive, there were positive developments on that front, I think in terms of the prospect for coordination of that disengagement, and so there are a lot of good things going on.
MR. BOUCHER: The President also expressed our view about the settlements and said that there should be no expansion of settlements. That's what the roadmap says. And we're in touch with and we certainly have been making that point to the Israelis. I think Prime Minister Sharon did restate his commitment to the roadmap as the only way forward. And they're very aware of our view on what that means for settlements.
As far as follow-up steps, we'll keep in touch with the Israelis. We're certainly keeping in touch with other parties. The Secretary this morning has talked to President Abbas and Palestinian authorities. Talked to the -- she's talked to the Jordanian Foreign Minister. She's talked to the German Foreign Minister and the Russian Foreign Minister so far and expects to talk to Quartet members about the meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. And we'll be working with all these parties to move forward on the disengagement to make that a success, on the security issues to make security -- to make sure that security can be established for Israelis and Palestinians alike and to move forward on the roadmap.
QUESTION: Richard, those phone calls, other than Abbas, were today?
MR. BOUCHER: All of them today.
QUESTION: All of them today.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up, Richard?
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Richard, I'm sorry. A related question. Can it be said that the United States is putting some pressure on the Palestinian side to coordinate with the Israelis? There's some reluctance there to do that because this is a unilateral step by Israel.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's a unilateral step by Israel that Israel has decided, but it also is an opportunity for everybody, and for Palestinians in particular, to actually see territory return to their administration, to give their people a chance to live and develop in their own space. We think that's a very important opportunity and that we and the Palestinians and others want to take advantage of that.
One of the things that needs to be done to take full advantage is to have the economic prospects for the area is to have is to have security for the area, is to have responsible government for the area. So in a variety of ways, we've been working with the Palestinians on those things and we think that coordination with the Israelis on those things is important, too.
QUESTION: Is this a theme --
MR. BOUCHER: And so the President -- well, I think it's been a theme all along for us. We were pleased to hear the Prime Minister yesterday say that he did want to coordinate. And the President said that he would hope that the Palestinians accept the proposal to coordinate the withdrawal.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:55 p.m.)