State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 18
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for April 18 -- Transcript
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
April 18, 2005
Publication of Patterns of Global Terrorism Report / Statistical Data
Flow of Information to the Secretary of State / Role of Senior Managers
U.S. Outreach to Muslim Countries
Confirmation Process for Karen Hughes as Under Secretary of State
for Public Diplomacy & Public Affairs & Dina Powell as Assistant
Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
Nomination on John Bolton as U.S. Permanent Representative to the
United Nations / Status of Congressional Vote
Importance of Returning to Six-Party Talks Without Preconditions
Direct Dialogue Within Six-Party Framework / Role of Each Party
Israel's Withdrawal from Gaza & Four Settlements on the West Bank
Upcoming U.S. Meetings & Discussions with Israeli's and Palestinians
U.S. View of Turkish Cypriot Community Elections
Secretary Rice's Upcoming Meeting with NATO Foreign Ministers /
Query On Whether E.U. Arms Embargo on China Would be a Topic of Discussion
Killing of USAID Worker / U.S. Working with Officials in Iraq
Coordination of Security Issues with New Government
Readout of Secretary Rice's Meeting with Foreign Minister DeGucht
12:40 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Quite a turnout for a Monday. I don't have any statements or announcements for you at this time, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: If you can start with -- there was a report that came out, I think, on Friday by Knight-Ridder that was published by various Knight-Ridder newspapers on Saturday about the Annual Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. Does the U.S. State Department plan to publish a Patterns of Global Terrorism Report this year, including detailed statistics on numbers of international terrorism incidents, as it has done in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: We do plan on publishing the Report on Patterns of Global Terrorism that's requested for us and required of us by Congress. That report is due on -- to Congress by April 30th and we will do that this year.
The publication will concern, as it has in the past, the country reports on terrorism. That's what the law asks of the State Department. That's what we'll be reporting to Congress.
As far as the statistical annexes that we have included in the past in various ways, there has been a development this year in terms of the structure of the government's work on terrorism and we're going to take that into account. The 9 /11 Commission recommended and the Congress passed legislation called the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that established the National Counterterrorism Center as the primary organization in the U.S. Government for analysis of global terrorism. With respect for that mandate and acknowledgment that they're the people who do the detailed work in any case, the government has decided that the National Center for Counterterrorism -- National Counterterrorism Center should compile and publish the statistical data on terrorism that has previously been included by the State Department in our report.
QUESTION: Why can't you publish the data, just as you have in years past; for example, last year it published data compiled by the Terrorist Threat Integration Center and in years prior to that published data also that was developed outside this building?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we believe that it's appropriate to recognize the primary role that these people have been given by Congress, by the 9/11 Commission subsequent to the 9/11 Commission and the kind of recommendations and review that was done at that time that felt that this responsibility for tracking terrorism and for warning about terrorism should be located very firmly in one particular place, and that's the National Counterterrorism Center and that's the place that will publish the statistics this year that'd be a better product -- people better able to explain it. You noted last year when we had a lot of questions about the statistics and we had to make changes and all that. In the end, we had to bring down the experts from the Center to explain them anyway. So these are the people who are going to take responsibility for doing it, putting it out and explaining it to you.
QUESTION: When are they going to publish it?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have a date yet.
QUESTION: Well, why shouldn't people conclude that you're suppressing these statistics since you don't have a date for statistics that previously you used to produce by April the 30th?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a new Center. It's some of the same people. It's new responsibilities under the law and it's their -- they're going to have to figure out when they can publish these statistics and they will do so.
The people of the United States will get all the facts. The world will get all the facts. We're going to do the very thorough reports we do on countries that support terrorism, on countries where terrorism occurs and on Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as we always have in the past. They're going to do the numbers, as they can best do. Each of us will do what we can do best and put it out and explain.
QUESTION: How can the public --
MR. BOUCHER: Can we let somebody else have a question on this?
QUESTION: If I may, if I can follow up and then I'll pass on to somebody else. But how can the public reasonably assess patterns of global terrorism, as is the name of your report, if they do not have in front of them the statistics that describe how many attacks there were, where they occurred, how many people died, et cetera, et cetera?
MR. BOUCHER: The report that we're asked to do by the Congress is our country reports on terrorism. That's what we are required by the statute that requires these reports. That's what we're going to be putting forward. That's what we're going to be sending to the Congress for its assessment, because Congress has defined what it wants to hear about and what it wants to assess. In fact, the Congress has specified the criteria that we should use in reporting in this manner and has specified other criteria that we shall use in subsequent years.
So our responsibility is to respond to the Congress and to give the Congress what they have asked of us, and that's a responsibility that we take seriously, that we will comply with fully and that we will put forward an abundance of information on to let people assess what is going on around the world.
We found last year -- all of us found last year -- that the statistics, depending on how they're compiled, depending on the definitions used, depending on the methodology used, depending on the time periods used, depending on the kind of database that they're working from, can sometimes be misleading. So you shouldn't reduce the analysis of terrorism to a chart. There will be charts put out by the experts who are experts in doing that and there will be narrative and there will be descriptions and there will be compliance with all the requirements of the law.
QUESTION: But not the numbers?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not -- there will be the numbers, yes.
QUESTION: But not --
MR. BOUCHER: There will be the numbers.
QUESTION: But not in your report?
MR. BOUCHER: There will be the numbers. You will get the numbers from the people who are expert in doing the numbers.
QUESTION: But you don't know when?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know when, no. They will tell you that.
QUESTION: And speaking of the numbers, the news article that I think brought this all about, speaking of 625 incidents and a huge increase, can you verify the numbers --
MR. BOUCHER: I can not verify any numbers at this point. I think it's way too early to start drawing conclusions. Again, remember our experience last year. Learn something from that, as we have, and remember that questions of definition and methodology, expertise, databases, where you cull the information from, how you report it, how it's compiled, do this -- it's not -- it's way premature to start reducing the global terrorism to numbers that may or may not be comparable to -- may or may not be accurate, may or may not be comparable. That's why it's important to look at this with the experts and I'm sure when they come out with the numbers, they will explain how it was done and whether it is or is not comparable to previous years.
QUESTION: Can I ask one more question? Is part of the problem how to categorize attacks on U.S. soldiers and U.S. civilians in Iraq? I ask because, you know, those attackers have been variously described as insurgents, as terrorists. There are various accounts of who they are. So I'm not -- what I'm saying is I don't know if the State Department has concluded that these are terrorist incidents, all of them or some of them, and so is there such a conclusion?
MR. BOUCHER: No, look, there's no politics in this. There's an attempt to get the best possible information to the Congress and to the American people on what's going on in the world with regard to terrorism. It's a big issue for us all. It's an issue with a lot of different experts in the U.S. Government. It's an issue where we all want to provide the Congress and the people the best possible information.
Some of these definitions of which things get counted and which don't get counted are in the law. Some aren't. I'm sure that people, when they put out the numbers for you, they'll explain the methodology. The experts will tell you that and not have some State Department cutout trying to explain somebody else's methodology.
QUESTION: Richard, a quick follow-up on this?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: You spoke about the politics of it. A former CIA analyst, Larry Johnson, and, in fact, Congressman Henry Waxman from California, both are saying that the motive was political behind it, that there was so much data that is embarrassing to the administration and its claims of winning the war on terror that, in fact, that's why the -- that was the reason to eliminate the report. Do you want to comment?
MR. BOUCHER: I just said there's nothing like that. I'm not going to get involved in political debate over whether or not there's politics involved. This is a straightforward attempt to make sure that those who have the best analysis of the countries and the organizations -- that's us, we think -- can put out that analysis and those who have the best handle on the numbers can put out the numbers.
QUESTION: Can you tell us on a timeline when this decision was made to refer to the NCTC?
MR. BOUCHER: It was made in the last, what, month or two, so I'm not exactly sure when I first heard about it, but last month or so. You know, the Secretary asked the Counselor of the Department Philip Zelikow to get involved in this and to look at how we reported on terrorism. He took a lot -- looked into this thoroughly for her, where are the problems of the past. I remind you, he had a significant role in the 9/11 Commission and then in the drafting of the legislation that put into law many of the recommendations. So he was very, very familiar with the desires, the recommendations and the wishes of the Congress on this and wanted to make sure that we did meet all of our various requirements and different laws, but also took into account the desires and wishes of the Congress, as expressed in this legislation last year.
QUESTION: Did he touch base -- did the Counselor touch base with Congress anew?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how much we've had a chance to talk to Congress at this point. We'll certainly be in close touch with the Congress as we proceed down this road, but I don't think we've had time to do all our consultations before the leak.
QUESTION: So just to summarize, the changes and the new reporting isn't solely based on the new law, but also because of problems that you saw with last year's report and how to streamline and more efficiently --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I would not quite put it that way. I would say that obviously we're all aware of the problems with last year's report. That raises the question what's the best way to do this. And given the new law, given the primary responsibility put at the National Counterrorism Center, we want to use our expertise where we can and we want to use their expertise where they can and have them take the responsibility that Congress assigned to them and do the more detailed statistical reporting
QUESTION: Are you still going to do a rollout, as you do it every year with the Secretary making the opening statement and --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly. I don't have a precise date yet for when our portion -- when our report's going to be done, when our country practice report is going to be done and therefore I can't promise the Secretary for the rollout, but we'll certainly provide the appropriate report to the public as well as to the Congress --
QUESTION: I understand that you'll provide --
MR. BOUCHER: -- the way we're supposed to.
QUESTION: -- provide your report, but regardless of whether it's the Secretary or some other person who briefs the press --
MR. BOUCHER: And we'll be glad to explain it to you abundantly at the time, I'm sure.
On this? Or shall we keep going? Said.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on this one. Since you cited that last year's report or the last report was faulted on the basis of methodology of collecting data, now does this apply only for the last report or for the reports that have been issued since '85, I guess, or how would you --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I invite you to look back at some of the briefings we did at the time where we explained the differences in methodology. There have been, I think, constant corrections to the data over the course of the years. That's just the way it's been; whether that's inevitable or not, we'll hear from the experts when they compile their data and put out their numbers for this year.
MR. BOUCHER: More on this?
QUESTION: I've got one.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Who actually made the decision to exclude from the State Department's report numbers on international terrorist incidents -- Dr. Rice or was it somebody else?
MR. BOUCHER: Nobody made a decision to exclude numbers. Dr. Rice, with the advice of the Counselor and of the bureaus involved, made a decision to have these numbers be reported by the people who are more responsible for them and for us to take up our statutory responsibility and report fully and completely to Congress on the issues that we were asked to report on by the Congress.
QUESTION: One more?
MR. BOUCHER: More on this or not?
MR. BOUCHER: Different, okay. Barry gets -- this? No. Barry gets to go somewhere else.
QUESTION: Mr. Bolton is on a lot of people's mind, including a lot of reporters who come up with daily disclosures. One of the latest is that he tried to block intelligence on Iran from getting to the Secretary of State, past and previous. Is there anything you can say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's just apply a bit of common sense to what's being discussed here. First of all, the Secretary of State knows what's going on. She has a variety of ways of knowing what's going on. Under Secretaries, including Under Secretary Bolton, talk to her every day, several times a day, about issues and matters that are coming up. She has meetings with the Under Secretary, she has individual discussions with them, she gets phone calls from them, she gets notes from them, she gets a lot of different pieces of information from them and from people around the building. So on this -- somehow, that any given individual in this whole system can stop the Secretary from knowing what's going on, even if they wanted to, is rather silly. And second of all, the fact is nothing of the such -- nothing of that type occurred in any of these situations.
The second thing is, as in any organization, private organizations, government organizations, senior managers are expected to look at material that's being prepared to decide whether they can decide, to decide what needs to be added to it, to decide what's the best way to handle the issue. Sometimes that may involve forwarding a piece of paper to the Secretary, sometimes it may involve briefing her, sometimes it may involve making a decision, sometimes it may be throwing the thing out and going back to rewrite. And everybody around this building does that. All our responsible managers are expected to do that.
So to start judging whether the Secretary was informed by whether or not a particular piece of paper sat on her desk or made it to her desk or was, whether it was good enough to make it to her desk, is a judgment that you can't make from outside. Our responsible managers have the responsibility to decide on these matters, what's the best way to handle them and to keep the Secretary fully informed of everything she needs to be informed of. She is satisfied that she knew what was going on and that she was kept fully informed of everything she needed to know in the proper manner.
QUESTION: On the process -- I think you've described it -- and I actually understand it -- that senior officials have authority to decide or decide what gets to them, is, you know, worth passing along or not. This is true not only of Mr. Bolton, isn't it?
MR. BOUCHER: It's true in any organization. It's true of me and the memos I get from my staff, some of which I don't send on to the Secretary but I might find other ways of telling her about them. It's true of every senior manager in any organization.
QUESTION: Richard, some media questions. First, the Taliban have put together a clandestine radio network to incite terrorism and violence and that just went on air today in Afghanistan. And secondly, fortunately, I guess, the Iranians have closed down Al Jazeera television in Iran, saying it's stirring up violence and have arrested 200 persons. And I guess you've seen this front page series of articles in The Washington Post front page, both yesterday and today and they're saying there are no Muslims in this media operation --
MR. BOUCHER: That was on the second page, but anyway. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: And also that --
MR. BOUCHER: All right. Let's -- let me -- hold it, don't do any more before I forget them all. Closing down Al Jazeera in Iran -- saw the report, sorry I don't have anything on it. No, I can only do two at once. What was the first thing?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the Taliban radio.
MR. BOUCHER: Clandestine radio. That's an interesting concept, nobody can hear it. It has to be secret. (Laughter.)
No, I don't -- I hadn't heard about it. I'll have to check on it. I know what you -- I do know what you mean, nobody's supposed to know where the transmitter is. I'll see if we have anything on that.
As far as the lack of Muslims in the outreach effort of the State Department, I guess just two things to say. One is, we do make an effort in the Foreign Service and in our embassies to represent the American people in all their diversity and all their aspects and that certainly is important to us, but I don't think any of us want to believe that you have to be Muslim to be able to represent the United States in Muslim countries. That's not a dictum we apply anywhere in the world. We have Arabic speakers, we have people trained in the region, we have people with experience in the region who know who they're talking to, understand the people they're listening to and can engage in this dialogue and represent the United States without necessarily sharing a religious affiliation themselves.
We have made a major push in training for this part of the world. I think you've all heard us say before we have more people in Arabic language training this year than we do in Spanish. And so it's a major push by the State Department to make sure we get qualified people, trained in the language, with the knowledge of the area, who have experience in the region, to talk to people in Arab and Muslim countries, but you can do that, we think, without necessarily being Muslim yourself.
QUESTION: Well, of course, you don't have to Muslim to represent the U.S. in those countries, but do you see the benefit in trying to bring on more Muslims into the Foreign Service in an effort to try to understand Muslims?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't -- you know, I asked this morning, "Do we even know?" And the answer is, "We don't track people by religion." So, but as far as the general proposition, yeah, I think I endorsed the general proposition at the beginning of my remarks to say we want to have a Foreign Service to represent the United States that is as varied, as diverse, as the American people.
QUESTION: A follow-up? I've got a follow-up on that one. Just let's stick with that exact question. When is Mrs. Hughes expected to -- or Ms. Hughes expected to start her duties at the State Department? The article said not before the autumn? Is that accurate?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's -- always these things depend on the Senate, as well. But that process for her will probably, I think, be worked out over time over the next couple months. So I would expect by the end of this summer, for example, it could be completed. It could depend on congressional schedules in the Senate.
Dina Powell -- I spoke to her this morning -- her nomination is on track and looking to get it done as soon as we can.
QUESTION: Has it been submitted yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly the status of the paperwork, but as with several others who have been named recently, her paperwork is being prepared for the Hill and looking forward to a confirmation hearing in the near future.
QUESTION: I'm aware that the confirmation process is always -- is often long and often unpredictable. But given the priority that Secretary Rice has placed on the effort to better communicate with the Arab and more broadly Muslim world, why do you suggest that it -- why would it may be the end of the summer before Ms. Hughes is here? Why not move that -- move that faster?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's remember, we're dealing with people here. We're not just dealing with slots and bodies and we have to take into account the individual's circumstances and wishes. We have a very strong public affairs and public diplomacy team now. We look forward to the addition of Karen Hughes to that team, once she is ready to come on board and the Senate is ready to approve her. We also look forward to the early arrival of other people to take part in that process, including Dina Powell, who will take over -- with the Senate's approval -- who will take over the educational and cultural affairs and also act as a deputy to the Under Secretary. So we are -- we have a strong team. We are reinforcing the team and that team will be further reinforced when Karen Hughes arrives.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on North Korea, which Scott McClellan basically addressed but left a couple of things hanging. He spoke of one option if the impasse is prolonged: going to the UN. He said that's a possibility. He didn't speak of others. Are there other possibilities you could describe?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to get too speculative here. Obviously, we have looked at the various courses of action available diplomatically. But the most important thing is how we're going to solve this problem. And the way to solve this problem is to go back to talks. The way to solve the problem for the North Koreans is to go back to talks. You know, running reactors or not running reactors, reprocessing or not reprocessing, is not going to get North Korea a solution to its troubles. It's not going to get them, as the Secretary has said, the respect they desire, the assistance that they need.
And so whatever is going on in North Korea, and I can't get into the details, but I do say we follow develops at Yongbyon very closely, it's important to remember that they need to come back to talks if they're going to solve their problems. And that's where our focus remains. That's where our work with other members of the six-party talks remains. We're in regular contact with China. We're in regular contact with the other parties. As you know, China has been undertaking a number of efforts recently. And we, you know, believe it is time for North Korea to give a clear commitment to return to talks and to return in a serious manner.
QUESTION: That touches on the second question. Is there any, what, any indication that North Korea is going to be more receptive? Are we where we -- are the -- is the impasse where it was a couple of weeks ago?
MR. BOUCHER: In terms of indications from the North Koreans, I don't think we've seen anything new for a couple weeks now. They're -- certainly, they've been -- other parties have been talking to them. The Chinese have had a number of visitors that they have had consultations with the North Koreans and we've been in touch with the Chinese as they've undertaken those steps. But at this point, we do not have any clear commitment from the North Koreans about returning to talks, about the date for return to talks or that they will return in a serious manner.
Once again, reiterate the United States and others are prepared to hold the talks without preconditions. All this discussion currently, the rhetoric and the -- coming out of the North or the discussion of what they are and are not doing, what they're telling travelers, serves as a reminder that the only way for North Korea to really solve these problems is to come back to the talks and that's what they need to do.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the North Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: This morning, the North Korea has mentioned that they will dismantle their nuclear project only when the United States agreed to two-party talks between United States and North Korea. What is --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that statement. I'll have to -- well, I'm sure we'll have to find it and look at it. I would just remind you, we're willing to go back to the talks without preconditions. We think North Korea should be willing to go back without preconditions. They're going to get -- they're going to be able to lay things on the table at the talks. We hope they'll come back seriously. We hope they'll come back seriously prepared to respond to the sweeping proposals the United States has made. But it's important for them to come back without preconditions and not engage in posturing or other activity.
QUESTION: A follow-up. I mean, your patience isn't indefinite. I mean, how long are you going to give them to seize the opportunity to come back to talks before you look at alternative means?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new timeline or deadline at this point.
QUESTION: I don't want to cut that response too -- slice it too much, but in the format of six-party talks, take this, if you -- if you will. In the context of six-party talks, all six don't talk together altogether, all the time. Isn't it possible to break off two or three parties and have --
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: It doesn't rule out --
MR. BOUCHER: We've done that in the past. That's why I'm saying I'm going to have to look at the statement and see what it means, whether it implies anything different than what we've done before. We have, in the context of six-party talks, had direct dialogue with other parties to the talks, including a direct dialogue with the North Koreans within that framework.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: South Korean Government have mentioned South Korean will do leading role to better North Korean nuclear problem. What is your comment?
MR. BOUCHER: That they will do what to settle the problem?
QUESTION: They will do a leading role.
MR. BOUCHER: South Korea will have a leading role?
QUESTION: Yes. What if they want leading role, that of China's?
MR. BOUCHER: I think all the parties play different roles but important roles in the talks. South Korea certainly has been a very important player in this and they have had certain areas where they've been farther out in front than some of us, but we've all coordinated very closely together. And I think we've appreciated the fact that each of the parties brings different -- something different to the table. But if North Korea wants to get those things off the table, if they want to take advantage of the opportunity here, they're going to have to show up for talks.
QUESTION: Israel is inviting bids to build 50 new settlement homes in the West Bank. How do you see it, especially after almost a week after the President warned from any expansion of settlements?
And second, Prime Minister Sharon also is thinking of delaying withdrawal from Gaza until August.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I haven't seen any particular announcement from the Israeli Government about delaying or timing or scheduling the withdrawal. This is a matter for discussion in Israel. We think that withdrawal from Gaza and the four settlements on the West Bank creates an opportunity for all. We need to work hard to prepare for that. We're working hard with the Palestinians on the issue of security. The Secretary announced last week the appointment by the Quartet of Mr. Wolfensohn as the Coordinator for Gaza Withdrawal. And so there's a great deal of work going in to making this happen and helping the Israelis and Palestinians turn this into a positive opportunity for both of them.
We have not endorsed any particular date or any particular timetable, but we do think this is a specific opportunity that both sides need to prepare themselves to take to make it work smoothly and to take advantage of it.
As far as the announcement of 50 new homes in Elkana, I don't have anything particular on that other than to remind you, as you did, that the President has been very, very clear that we want to see no expansion of settlements and we will continue to work with Israel on those obligations.
QUESTION: Can you give us more details about how you're working with Israel?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I won't go into any more detail. We'll be in touch with them. We'll talk about these things with them through our Embassy. We have several people going out there this week. Assistant Secretary David Welch and the Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams will be traveling out to the region this week and they'll talk to the Israelis and Palestinians about any number of things: the opportunities here, disengagement, many of the issues on the ground. But I'm sure this issue of settlements will come up as well.
QUESTION: Richard, if and when there is an announcement postponing the withdrawal, do you think you will (inaudible), an advisory, or could you tell us, what would you do in that case?
MR. BOUCHER: I would do whatever is appropriate in that case, I am sure.
QUESTION: Because it seems -- you know, it's reported in the Israeli press that they already --
MR. BOUCHER: I will do whatever is appropriate in that case. It may be not to issue anything at all.
QUESTION: Could you say how long that trip is going to be with the Assistant Secretary and --
MR. BOUCHER: They're going to stop in Morocco today on the way out there. They'll end up in Tel Aviv Tuesday, I think meetings on Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure if they go on after that or not. I'll have to check.
QUESTION: Meetings with (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: You don't know which?
MR. BOUCHER: I assume they'll be in both and possibly in other areas as well. I don't have their full itinerary. But when they go out there they meet with Israelis and Palestinians, they meet with people in the government, they meet with people in other places too.
QUESTION: Can you check on whether there will be any other -- besides Morocco and then the meetings with the Israelis and the Palestinians, will they be going to any other countries?
MR. BOUCHER: I will check on that. We may get the schedule as it rolls out, but I'll tell you when I know, okay?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) was supposed to be in July, middle of July. It was going to be postponed for religious reasons, not for political reasons, because it coincide with a Jewish holiday. Now, Sharon thinks that it's wiser to do it after, sort of the -- by August or September. I mean, you tell us that they have not informed you that since every newspaper wrote about it today, and they haven't told you it was postponed for religious reasons?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I appreciate your telling us about it, but I don't think the government has made any decisions or announcements on this yet. And second of all, as I said before, the important thing is that the withdrawal take place, that it takes place in a manner that is positive for both Israelis and Palestinians. There's a lot of work to be done. We'll be concentrating on getting that work done for the withdrawal, whenever it occurs.
QUESTION: So the emphasis will be on the pullout rather than on the date, so we shouldn't really get nervous if July came and August came and they haven't withdrawn yet?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not getting nervous. You can get nervous if you want to. Okay.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the big electoral victory of Mr. Talat in the Turkish Cypriot community?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's --
QUESTION: Just very quickly. There's talk of postponing the legislative election, the Palestinian legislative election. Are we counseling the Palestinians not to postpone the election; that would be a bad idea?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've gotten into that or not, frankly.
Okay. Mr. Talat and the Turkish Cypriot community. We did do a statement yesterday --
QUESTION: No, yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: Seventeenth. My copy says the 17th, would've been yesterday. We did do a statement yesterday that congratulated him on his victory in the Turkish Cypriot elections. I don't really have too much to add to that today. Turkish Cypriots exercised their right to select a leader of a community. It was a free, fair and democratic election. We welcome the reaffirmation by the Turkish Cypriots of their commitment to a comprehensive solution and to the reunification of Cyprus and we look forward to working with all interested parties to that end.
QUESTION: To add to that, since you, for many months now, you announced the policy of stopping the isolation, political and economic, of the Turkish Cypriots after the referendum, can we expect with the election of Mr. Talat to see more concrete steps to that effect?
MR. BOUCHER: I think as we announced the policy, it didn't really depend on the election of a particular person; it depended on the Turkish Cypriot attitude in trying to maintain a positive Turkish Cypriot attitude towards reaching a solution, as they had in the -- as they voted in the referendum. And so this is probably another sign that they do maintain that attitude and I would expect that our efforts to support the Turkish Cypriot community to try to help them overcome some of their difficulties, that those will continue because it is important for them to remain committed, to remain -- to see the practical benefit in seeking reunification.
QUESTION: One more, if I can, on Cyprus. It came up as an issue to the confirmation hearing of the new Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Mr. Fried. There is a person in Los Angeles that claims to be the (inaudible) consular representative of the TRNC, the so-called entity or state of northern Cyprus. And Mr. Fried responded by saying that he didn't know about it, so do you have anything on that? Because there are some complaints from the Government of Cyprus and there was -- there were press stories referring to that issue?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard about it recently myself either, so I will have to check on it and see.
QUESTION: Any comment on the refusal by Raul Denktash not to participate in these elections because he represented a large portion of the island?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: And also, do you have anything to say about the report released by the German Marshall Fund regarding the Balkans in the Europe's future?
MR. BOUCHER: The report by the German Marshall Fund --
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
MR. BOUCHER: -- about the Balkans in Europe?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: That's correct.
MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not an American issue, I don't think, sir.
Go ahead, ma'am.
QUESTION: Can we return to the Bolton confirmation process for just a moment?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: In addition to the story that Barry mentioned, new stories have come up over the weekend of various allegations of run-ins, alleged run-ins, with Mr. Bolton. Are you worried that this sort of, you know, searching for people who might have had encounters with him is going to delay the vote this week or jeopardize it at all, in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that will depend on the Senate. We certainly think it's time to have the vote. The Secretary expressed last week her desire to have a representative for the United States in New York. There's important work we have to do up at the UN, both on the reform side and on the UN action side, and she has expressed very clearly her desire to see this take place as soon as possible and we would hope things would go along those lines.
QUESTION: But and to have these sort of accusations that are somewhat personal in nature, you still think that Mr. Bolton's personality is the right one suited for the job?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is still confident he'll make a good representative for the United States. That's what the President believes -- believes in nominating him and they still support the nomination.
QUESTION: Undersecretary Burns mentioned that he will lead a delegation to Europe to start a series of strategic dialogue on issues, including arms embargo to China. Do you have more information on the delegation?
MR. BOUCHER: Was there more information at this point, Tom?
MR. CASEY: I don't. That was dealt with in Nick's testimony on Thursday and I did address it from the podium a little bit the same day. Don't have anything further on it beyond that.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Just we're still where we were last Thursday on that one.
QUESTION: Also, when Secretary Rice meets with the NATO Foreign Minister later this week, will the arms embargo to China an issue she will raise?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's an EU arms embargo so it's not a topic of the NATO meetings themselves. It is a topic she frequently discusses with European foreign ministers, just about everyone she meets, so I would expect it to come up in her conversations, yeah.
QUESTION: Can you give us a kind of a current view -- have the Europeans managed to dissuade you? Have they told you enough about the type of dual-use equipment they would sell? Does it still bother you that they would do that?
MR. BOUCHER: Our position hasn't changed. We believe it's the wrong decision both for the message it sends and for the potentially strategic implications for us.
QUESTION: Can you comment on the deteriorating relations between China and Japan and what clear efforts by senior officials in China that part of these (inaudible) is due to defense policy on Taiwan?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have any particular desire to get into that. Sorry.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on the killing of the U.S. aid worker Marla Ruzicka?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Just a little bit to say. Marla Ruzicka, an American citizen, was killed by a car bomb attack in Iraq on Saturday. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and to the families of the other victims of this terrorist action. We have been in touch with her family and are doing everything we can to help them out. But out of respect for the family, at their time of grief, we will not at this point be releasing any further details. We are working very closely with Iraqi officials to try to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous attack.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say on the work that she did in Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's it for the moment. Certainly, we have the greatest respect for the work she was doing and her attempt to take care of innocent victims of the difficulties that have beset Iraq.
QUESTION: Another Iraq question. The United Iraqi Alliance, the main Shiite group in the coalition government, they're expressing for a thoroughgoing purge of the government bureaucracy and the security forces of people with connections with the past regime and I'm wondering what -- if the United States is giving them any counsel on that.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just going to leave it where I had before whenever this question has come up. It's really a matter now for the Iraqis to decide. There is guidance from previous law and discussions and the Iraqis will have to, within their political system, with all very different parties speaking out, have to decide how to proceed on issues such as this. It'll be for them to decide.
QUESTION: President Talabani is quoted this morning in one of the papers as saying that the security forces have been put together wrong, essentially that people were swept from the streets regardless of their attitudes towards democracy or their past connections and, in a sense, he's talking about starting again on security forces that the United States --
MR. BOUCHER: These are things that we will work in cooperation with the Iraqi Government. The government is still in the process of formation. There's some pretty intense negotiations going on right now. We look forward to the new cabinet. We look forward to working with the new government, the Prime Minister and others, as well as the presidency, the people who are known so far. We coordinate with them very closely on security and it's the goal of all of us to make sure that Iraq has the best possible security forces who are able to take care of the security needs of the country.
QUESTION: Do you have a readout on the meeting with the Secretary and the Belgian Foreign Minister this morning?
MR. BOUCHER: Just the briefest of readouts. They covered a number of topics. They've had very good meetings in the past and continued a pretty thorough discussion of many issues such as some of the NATO business coming out of Iraq, Afghanistan. They talked about the Congo again, as they did last time, in some detail about how we can all work to move forward there. You may have noted the UN resolution just passed today on that. We want to work on all aspects of this, the question of transition in the Congo as well security for the people of the Congo in the areas where the UN is working.
QUESTION: The arms embargo?
MR. BOUCHER: They talked about the EU arms embargo on China a bit. And I should have written everything down, but that's pretty much the major topics that they went through.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher.
MR. BOUCHER: We got one more back there.
QUESTION: Last Thursday in the funeral of the of the late Archbishop Iakovos in New York City, I noticed that no representative of U.S. Government in any level was present and I was wondering why -- if you know.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see if somebody was there.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll check and see if somebody was there.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:27 p.m.)
DPB # 65
Released on April 18, 2005