State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 4, 2005
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 4, 2005
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
May 4, 2005
Paris Agreement / Full Cessation of Enrichment and All Related
Activities / Objective Guarantees
U.S. Discussions with Europeans / Possibility of Further Action /
U.S. Support for Efforts of the European Union 3
Acquisition of Multinational Corporations
Kuwaiti National Assembly Re: Women's Right to Vote
Diplomatic Relations Between Lebanon and Syria
Resolution 1559 Requirements / UN Verification of Withdrawal /
Gunfire in Bekaa Valley
Respect for Independence and Sovereignty of Lebanon
Rejection of U.S. AIDS Funding / Requirement of Policy Opposing
Prostitution & Sex Trafficking
Reports on the Joint Investigation into Shooting Incident in Iraq
/ U.S.-Italy Cooperation
Rewards for Justice Program
Secretary Rice's Conversations with Iraqi Leaders / Foreign
Minister Zebari / Deputy Prime Minister Chalabi / Mr. Barzani /
U.S. Commitment to Support the New Iraqi Government
U.S. Respect for All Members of the Iraqi Government
Travel of Taiwanese Figures to Mainland China / Need for More
Formal Discussions / U.S. Support for Dialogue
North Korean Precondition for Rejoining Six-Party Talks /
Importance of North Korea Returning to Six-Party Talks
2:05 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. And I don't have any announcements. Be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Richard, this morning, Mr. Solana was talking to reporters and he was making the remark that perhaps close to full cessation of activities might be the best we can get out of the Iranians. What do you add to that statement, please?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I don't want to try to do that because I didn't really see what he said. Certainly, in yesterday's statements, here he was very clear that the -- as he called it -- "Paris Agreement," the understandings that they had reached with Iran was that there was to be an end to enrichment, reprocessing and all related activities and that's what he was looking for. So I think I'll just leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: Just follow up with it? Is the United States willing to accept any at all wiggle room and the idea of close cessation or is there --
MR. BOUCHER: Our view is that this suspension has to be turned into a full cessation and we made that clear. I think the Europeans, in fact, have made that clear. And the point being that Iran has to reassure the world as the Europeans call it, "objective guarantees" that they're not going to develop nuclear weapons. And given the history of two decades almost that we've seen them use -- enrichment and reprocessing of other programs -- as cover for going in the direction of nuclear weapons. I don't see how the world could in any way be satisfied if they maintain those programs.
QUESTION: Forgive me if this was raised, but to what extent have you begun discussing any sort of a road map or plan forward if they do announce an intent to resume and even if they do say they are resuming enrichment, what they do and resume enrichment?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can describe a road map or a plan forward or anything like that, but I think you do know that, right from the start of this week, as the Europeans entered into these discussions and as we've had further consultations with the European allies, including during the Secretary's visit to Europe, beginning with this new term.
We've always discussed with the Europeans the need for Iran to comply, of Iran to reassure others and you've seen us and them talk in private and in public about the -- what one might have to do if Iran were to break the agreement. So as we've supported this effort and hoped for the success of the European effort, I think, we've also been aware that Iran's past behavior and Iran's -- many of Iran's statements don't offer -- they don't really speak about the full compliance and reach an agreement. We'll have to see where they get to and if they don't, we'll have to see what else we can do.
QUESTION: Well, obviously, the most explicit discussion of this came in the European statement in March and what I'm wondering is whether there had been more detailed, recent discussions about next steps, if that is what happens?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been continuing discussions of both the options for -- their chances of success and what the Iranians were up to, as well as the problems of how we might deal with the problem of Iranian failure. But I don't think I can go beyond that at this point. We're certainly encouraging these talks. We hope they're successful. And we hope the Iranians agree to the very straightforward and practical proposals the Europeans have made.
QUESTION: Can you say whether you'd like the Europeans to agree on a more explicit, even if it remains private, way forward if the talks fail?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll just say we continue to be in very close touch with the Europeans in discussing all aspects of this matter.
QUESTION: The Kuwaiti parliament seems unable to decide whether to give women the right to vote in municipal elections. Do you have any reaction to yesterday's --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, what I think -- what we saw -- was it yesterday, May 2nd -- in the Kuwaiti assembly was a vote that didn't provide a clear result and parliament has now scheduled an additional vote around May 16th to clarify the result.
Certainly, for the United States, we have supported the rights of women everywhere to vote and to be full and equal participants in the political, social and economic lives of their countries. And we note the Kuwaiti leadership remains fully committed to providing full political rights for women in that country and we expect -- we hope that that commitment will result in a positive outcome. So, we would urge parliamentarians and ministers to use the upcoming two-week period to reflect on the many contributions that Kuwaiti women have made to their society and to grant them the political rights they deserve.
QUESTION: The United States and Canada have very special ties as neighbors and Syria and Lebanon have very similar ties and the Prime Minister of Lebanon has visited with the Prime Minister of Syria today and with President Asad and they reaffirmed the special and historic ties between the two countries and affirmed their willingness to -- and desire to expand on their relationship in the future.
Have you had a chance to look at the results of that visit and how do you look at it?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't looked at that particular visit. I would point something out, though, that the United States and Canada have embassies in each other's capitals and treat each other will full respect as independent sovereign nations and don't interfere in each other's political affairs.
If Syria is to withdraw all its personnel, including all its intelligence personnel, from Lebanon and establish a diplomatic relationship with Lebanon, I don't think anybody would have a problem with that, as long as they stop interfering in Lebanese internal affairs.
QUESTION: Just on that -- just quickly on that.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: So are you saying that you believe Syria is still interfering in internal affairs in Lebanon by the virtue of still having intelligence personnel in the country?
MR. BOUCHER: We are saying that it's very, very important under Resolution 1559 that all foreign military and intelligence personnel leave, that we have seen significant withdrawals, of course, but that until the UN is able to get in there and fully verify that they've all been withdrawn there is still this open question as to whether they really have all been withdrawn.
There's a UN verification team out there now. Unfortunately, they encountered some gunfire in the Bekaa Valley. And we do share the concern the UN has expressed about that incident and about the safety and the ability of the UN team to carry out their work, and Lebanon needs to work to ensure their safety and their ability to carry out their work. But until we know for sure that they're all out, I think that does remain a question.
QUESTION: That gunfire -- are you saying the source is on the Syrian side?
MR. BOUCHER: It was -- let me see if I can describe it. Has it been reported, Tom, in the press reports? Do you know? Yeah, I guess the UN has described it as Palestinian armed elements who fired warning shots in the air when they were inspecting -- when the team was inspecting sites in the Bekaa Valley.
Yeah. Okay. Sir.
QUESTION: Have you got anything to say about the arrest of two soldiers in Colombia? I know the Embassy, I think, has said something down there.
MR. BOUCHER: I think our Embassy has said something down there. I'll have to get you something later on that.
QUESTION: Brazil has turned down some AIDS funding because they are refusing to sign a pledge condemning prostitution. Do you all have any reaction on that?
MR. BOUCHER: We have a legal requirement under the Leadership Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 that requires us to make sure that no funds under this Act are going to organizations that have not -- that do not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. So, consistent with that provision of law, we have asked partners in these efforts to sign documents that describe their commitment and so it's our -- under our responsibility to comply with the Act, we do carry this out and we don't provide assistance to any group that can't explicitly tell us that that they have a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking, and that that is an important provision of the law if you look at the bigger purposes of the law in terms of fighting AIDS.
So that's what we've asked for and apparently we haven't gotten it from these organizations in Brazil. We certainly would hope to be able to do that. We think it is fully consistent with the purposes that we're working on together, and that's to save people from AIDS and to slow down the spread of AIDS or stop the spread of AIDS among a population that's very vulnerable. We don't dictate in what manner they have to implement this commitment or this policy. We don't specify how they have to express this in action. We just want to know that they're as committed as we are to fighting AIDS, but also to fighting prostitution and stopping prostitution and sex trafficking, which had been part of the spread of AIDS.
QUESTION: I would like to know if the Secretary has read the Italian Regime -- the Italian report and their version of the findings of the investigation into Calipari's death.
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know if she personally has read it yet. I know she's been briefed on it and certainly, the people here and in the European bureau and elsewhere are looking at it closely. We'll study it closely, but I don't think we're going to be prepared to offer some kind of commentary on it. We stand by the U.S. report. We note that there are differences, but we also note the very strong cooperation between the U.S. and Italy and that was expressed yesterday when the Secretary called Foreign Minister Fini and I believe the White House has briefed on the President's phone call to Prime Minister Berlusconi today.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: If Mr. Abu Farraj al-Libbi was so important, why wasn't he on the Rewards for Justice list? Is it that you didn't want -- unless I'm mistaken, I didn't see him up there. Was it that you didn't want to tip him that you were looking for him or --
MR. BOUCHER: It's really that it boils down to a law enforcement matter. First of all, there is a general reward for terrorists -- for terrorists who have acted against the United States and I'm sure that stands in his case, if he has committed those kind of acts. But generally, the Rewards for Justice has been a tool that we have used when we have -- when the law enforcement personnel have come to us and said -- you know, we think this would be helpful.
We think the public might have knowledge of where this person is. We think, that by advertising this for a reward in a certain area, we can get a -- maybe get some more leads, could help in the investigation. So it's not to be seen as how important the wanted person is, there are many wanted people, who may not be the subject of advertising for Rewards for Justice. But there are some where the law enforcement people come to us and say, it would be very useful to advertise this one -- and because we think there's information out there that could help us track him down.
QUESTION: Richard, there's a report that, well, the Secretary was talking to members of the Iraqi Government, including Mr. Chalabi --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: And as we all know, the United States has had serious reservations about Mr. Chalabi. Does this conversation indicate that those are in the past or does the United States still have the same reservations about Mr. Chalabi?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- we've always shown respect for all the members of the Iraqi Government and I think, in this regard, the Secretary has reached out to members of the new government. She did speak yesterday with Foreign Minister Zebari to congratulate him on his reappointment as her counterpart and to discuss the situation with him. She also spoke yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Chalabi. About a week or ten days ago, she spoke to Mr. Barzani and other deputy prime ministers. So she will keep in touch, I think, with various Iraqi leaders from time to time, either through their visits here or through her reaching out or the visits of some of her personnel just to keep in touch with what's going on out there. And I'd put these phone calls in that context.
QUESTION: You said that she spoke to Foreign Minister Zebari to congratulate him on his reappointment. Why did she speak to Deputy Prime Minister Chalabi? Was it --
MR. BOUCHER: I think to recognize, first of all, the place that he's taken in the government and congratulate him on that. But also to discuss some of the issues still facing the government in terms of inclusiveness and filling the other positions and also how we go forward in cooperation. I think we're both -- the United States is very committed to supporting this government, cooperating with this government and we want to make that clear and also have various kinds of discussions with them about how we can do that.
QUESTION: Do you think she'll speak to any other members of government and --
MR. BOUCHER: I think, so far, that's pretty much it but I don't rule out further discussions with different people. Now the Vice President, of course, was here not too long ago as well, so she has had different kinds of contacts with Iraqi figures as they form a government and move forward. The message is always the same, we want to work with you, support you, important timetable for a constitution coming up and it's important to keep the government as inclusive as possible, keep the whole process -- political process as inclusive as possible.
QUESTION: Just one last question. Mr. Chalabi -- does the government still have the same reservations about Mr. Chalabi as it had a year ago or is that sort of now in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I wouldn't characterize our view that way so I wouldn't try to comment one way or the other on your question.
QUESTION: How would you characterize the view of Mr. Chalabi?
MR. BOUCHER: We have respect for members of the Iraqi Government and we want to work with them in furthering the common cause of establishing an independent and democratic Iraqi nation.
QUESTION: Respect for all members that you --
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Have you received from Mr. Chalabi (inaudible) answers to questions about his involvement with the intelligence before the war?
MR. BOUCHER: You're making a presumption there that I can't share.
QUESTION: May I ask you about China again? Do you have any advance knowledge or communication with Mr. James Soong before he goes to mainland China?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know when's the last time our people might have seen him. Certainly, he's one of the figures in Taiwan that U.S. representatives keep in touch with. As far as the travel, I'd say what we said the other about travel of other figures to the mainland and contacts. We encourage contacts. We encourage discussion. It helps set the environment and produce understanding between Taiwan and the mainland. But we also recognize that, in the end, discussions about status and political negotiations have to take place in a more formal way between the representatives that were elected on Taiwan and people on the mainland.
QUESTION: Does the United States take a position on the '92 consensus --
MR. BOUCHER: We have always encouraged a dialogue between the two sides and continue to take that position.
QUESTION: One last thing. Do you have an early assessment of Lien Chan's visit? Do you think it's --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think we're going to get into political commentary on these. We've always -- as we said the other day, it's useful, it's good for two sides to talk to each other at these levels, for people to visit back and forth and have a dialogue and a discussion. We have always encouraged more contacts and more dialogue.
QUESTION: The rebel leader who is a religious Shiite figure in Yemen fighting with the government is calling today on Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq to help to interfere to stop the fighting in Iraq and calling on the UN to send a team to investigate the war. Do you have anything on this situation?
MR. BOUCHER: I have not seen that statement. I don't have anything on it, no.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. Government expressed concern to Royal Dutch/Shell and Germany's BASF about the possibility of their selling a plastics company, Basell, to an Iranian state-owned company?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm told I'm not in a position to get into specifics of any individual company or transaction but I guess I would say generally it's no surprise that in this environment we might have some concerns about Iran's acquisition of a multinational corporation with ties around the world and with certain levels of technology, and that that is a view that I think is well known to the Europeans.
QUESTION: But you're not commenting on the specific --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to comment on the specific case.
QUESTION: The trilateral dialogue with Australia and Japan, did you ever consider also including South Korea? Because I believe that Japan and South Korea are your strongest allies in East Asia and if you did consider it, why didn't you include it?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll take the suggestion and look at it.
We have various forms of dialogue and discussions with different allies, certainly South Korea is among our strongest allies in East Asia. We have many excellent allies there. But the -- I think the important thing is that we deal with each of them, we talk to each of them, work very closely with each of them. We do have, you know, trilateral meetings with Japan and South Korea on North Korea, for example. So we have different sorts of meetings, depending on the issues, but yes, we do work very closely with South Korea as well.
We have a couple more, I'm sorry. Yeah. Sir.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Syria and Lebanon, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The resolution -- the UN Resolution 1559 did not ask Syria to -- and Lebanon to have an embassy, but asked Syria to withdraw its forces and it has informed the United Nations that it has accomplished that. What makes the United States want to tell Syria and Lebanon that that they must have an embassy? Why, they do have, now, a high council that administers all their relationships and why doesn't the United States leave that decision to the two countries to decide when it is an appropriate time to have an embassy?
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose the two countries will decide, but they need to be able to decide freely and without pressure one way or the other. You, yourself cited the example of the United States and Canada and that is one of the features of the U.S.-Canadian relationship, which indicates the respect that we have for each other's independence and sovereignty. And I think if you do look at 1559, it is about respecting the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon and there are various ways to -- for Syria and others to express that, including by setting up a diplomatic relationship and not having intelligence and other personnel involved in their internal affairs.
QUESTION: On North Korea, according to the report from Beijing, North Korea has recently demanded for the bilateral talk with the United States as a precondition for returning to the six-party talks. Do you have a comment on it?
MR. BOUCHER: I repeat what we said before. This kind of pops up and comes out every now and then, that they somehow want this to be a bilateral channel. That's not where the problem is. The problem is with the whole neighborhood. The problem of developing nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula is one that is -- creates difficulties in all their relationships. But it's also true that the six-party talks is a place where the solutions can be found, where the kind of -- as we've -- as the Secretary has said, the kind of respect they desire and the assistance that they need can be found.
That's why we continue to believe the six-party talk is the best -- six-party talks are the best way to resolve these issues. But North Korea has to be prepared to come back seriously and resolve these nuclear weapons questions, as well as establish a better relationship with its neighbors. It's not a question of the forum. We have not -- we've said we can have bilateral discussions in a six-party context, but we don't think that throwing it into some other context and pretending that this is a U.S.-North Korean issue is going to help it at all. The way to solve this is for North Korea to come back seriously to the six-party talks. That's where the solution can be found.
(This briefing was concluded at 2:30 p.m.)
DPB # 77
May 4, 2005