State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 26, 2005
State Dept. Daily Press Briefing May 26, 2005
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
May 26, 2005
Islamic Jihad Group Designated as Terrorist Group / Active in
Central Asia / Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Secretary Rice's Speech in San Francisco at Commonwealth Club /
Focus on Democracy and Working at Promoting Democracy
John Bolton / Handing over of Documents / Cooperated with
Committee / Spent Hundreds of Hours / Been Very Responsive/ Right
Person for the Job / Intercepts / Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller Comments
Conference in Addis Ababa / Charles Snyder AttendingConference /
Deployment of African Union Personnel to Darfur / U.S.Working
Hard on Issue / Deputy Secretary Zoellick's Visit / Financial
Assistance / Observers in the Region / Working with NATO /
Facilitating Deployment / Humanitarian Assistance / Willingness of the African Union
Continuing Reports of Violence / Violence Has Become More Localized
Peaceful Demonstration Outside State Department
Following Elections Closely / Need for Transparent and Democratic
Manner / Carter Center Observation / Peaceful Voting /Unfolding Process
Nonproliferation Treaty Conference / Held on Agenda / Tightening
of Controls / Disarmament Goals
Secretary Rice's Travel to the Region
$50 Million in Direct Assistance to Palestinian Authority /
Directed to Housing, Infrastructure and Schools
Concerned about Security Situation
Closing of Embassy and Consulate General / Local Security
Situation / Reopening When Conditions Indicate / Secretary
Discussed Situation with Indonesian President
Sales of Non-Lethal Defense Articles / International Military
Education and Training
Step to Drop Objection of Iran Becoming WTO Member / Keeping Commitments
Avenue for Peaceful Diplomacy
12:55 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. There are two things I'd like to talk about at the top and then I'd be glad to take your questions. The first is we're putting out a notice on our designation of a group called the Islamic Jihad Group as a specially designated Global Terrorist Group under Executive Order 13224. This is the one related to terrorist financing and it's maintained by the Treasury Department. Right?
MR. CASEY: Yes.
MR. BOUCHER: This is a group you might not be familiar with but it's active in Central Asia. It broke away from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and it is responsible for coordinated bombing attacks in Tashkent against the U.S. and Israeli embassies and the Office of the Uzbek Prosecutor General that killed at least two people and wounded nine last July.
So we've got a little more information about their history and the kind of attacks that they've carried out, but that's a designation that we've now made and we'll be publishing, as appropriate. Okay.
QUESTION: This is separate from -- this Islamic Jihad -- I mean, there are various Islamic Jihads already on the list.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, there are. This is --
QUESTION: The PIJ, Egyptian.
MR. BOUCHER: It's called the Islamic Jihad Group and, you know, it's the name they go by but a lot of them use different variations on the theme.
QUESTION: So it wasn't anything that you didn't have --
MR. BOUCHER: It was an offshoot, I guess, a split with the main Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan so they've been conducting these kind of attacks.
QUESTION: That's the official name? IMU? Is that Islamic Movement --
MR. BOUCHER: No, the official -- the group we're designating, the official name is the Islamic Jihad Group.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay? They broke away from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the IMU, as they're known. And that's already a specially designated terrorist organization and under the -- even under the UN Sanctions Committee.
Okay. Second thing I'd like to talk about is the conference in Addis Ababa on the -- on Sudan and Darfur in particular. This is a very important development and we're -- at the conference we're represented by Charlie Snyder, one of our senior Africa hands from the Bureau of African Affairs and he is making clear the very strong commitment the United States has and has had to this whole process of expanding the deployment of African Union personnel to Darfur. They are now at about 2,500. They'll fill that out with more policemen, to about 3,000. And then starting in July they plan on going up to about 7,000 personnel. We think that's a very important development for the people of Darfur for better monitoring and observing the status of things in Darfur and therefore something that can help stop a lot of the violence that's out there.
So the United States, as you know, has worked very hard on this. The Deputy Secretary has been out there already. We've been paying a lot of attention to this through the past. The Deputy Secretary announced in Oslo at the donors conference that we had money for Sudan, we had $853 million for Sudan in 2005, we were requesting an additional $540 million in 2006 -- that's our fiscal year. Since then, the U.S. Congress has approved $125 million in supplemental funds for refugees, they've approved $50 million to support the African Union deployments and they've approved an additional amount in the supplemental for food assistance, part of which will go to Sudan. So when we total it all up, this present year and the requests for the future, you'll see something like $1.6, $1.7 billion from the United States for Sudan on top of the over $635 million of humanitarian assistance we've spent already.
Similarly, on the specific issue of deployments of the African Union, we've already been supporting the African Union deployment with $95 million worth of equipment for troops and personnel and support for troops and personnel at over 19 camps where the African Union has already set up its camps for monitoring and observing the situation out there. We have a few of our own observers out there with them and we're working with them on the further deployments. We have $50 million already available to support their further deployments and we use that money to help them conduct this expansion to build additional camps, expand existing camps, and provide operations and maintenance support.
We have been working with NATO to ensure that NATO is able to respond to the requests from the African Union. As you know, the Secretary spoke about this when she was in Vilnius in April. April, right? Tom?
MR. CASEY: April. Right.
MR. BOUCHER: When she was in Vilnius in April with her NATO colleagues, we had a good discussion there. And since then, NATO has moved forward. We've worked with the Africans. The Secretary has been in touch with President Obasanjo of Nigeria and we've been in touch in various other ways with African Union leaders so that African Union leaders went to NATO and made the request. NATO has now approved a list of options of how NATO can support this deployment of African Union personnel. And we're very pleased to see that at the same time the European Union has come forward with things that it can do to support these -- this deployment of personnel. And other governments such as Canada have also stepped forward to say how they can do this.
So, there is a coordinated international effort that's going on. We're pleased to see that the conference in Addis Ababa is addressing this in very specific terms and that so many nations, including the United States, are showing up with specifics.
So for the next round of deployment, we have the 50 million I mentioned; we've offered to airlift the Rwandan contingent to facilitate their deployment, we're going to help build the communications capacity of the African Union personnel and we will train African Union personnel to provide additional command and control for them. This is an area where the United States has taken the lead and we're very pleased to see that it's resulting in a conference in Addis Ababa that can bring additional monitors to Darfur and additional peace to the people of the region.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) this investment?
MR. BOUCHER: We think this will contribute a long way. There's obviously other things that need to be done. There's continuing and ongoing humanitarian support. There's continuing political effort, both in Khartoum in terms of making the North-South agreement work, and any movement forward in that respect does help solve some of the other problems in the country. We've also been strong supporters of the peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria and encouraging all the parties to get back there to resolve the political elements of this situation.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the ground, where there are still all kinds of reports of violence in the refugee camps and displaced persons --
MR. BOUCHER: There are certainly continuing reports of violence and that's why it's important that this deployment take place and this expansion of African Union deployments take place. To some extent, the violence has become more localized, broken up, not quite -- not systematic in the way it was. That's a small consolation to the people affected by it. So it's very important to stop the violence because people are still being hurt. Villages are still unsafe. People still don't feel it's safe to go back to their homes. And while they are being taken care of in refugee camps, the tragedy is just compounded by the fact that they're not getting home to restore their lives and to plant their crops. And the rainy season, as we all know, is fast approaching.
QUESTION: As we get information from the Darfur AU, it seems that there is a critics -- the process is very slow. What's your response on that?
MR. BOUCHER: The process --
QUESTION: In deploying and coordinating that. There is a willingness from the AU and there is a --
MR. BOUCHER: I think there's a willingness from the AU and there have been even troop commitments from about four countries. Unfortunately, what we've found in the past is there's a lot to do to get people organized, get people ready, make sure they're outfitted with the right equipment, build the camps, get the airlift. So a conference like this one in Addis can really speed up that deployment to make sure that the assistance is going exactly where it's needed, when it's needed. Pledges, such as the one we made of airlift support, are very important because that becomes a critical factor once the troops are equipped and assembled.
I think we do know that the experience with the first deployment is that it, you know, it went slower than all of us wanted, but when the troops got on the ground it really started to make a difference. And so I think everybody wants to make sure that we show up and is showing up in Addis Ababa with things like we've done: 50 million, plus airlift; things like NATO has done, a set of options to support them; things like the EU has done, so we can make sure this time it goes as fast as possible.
QUESTION: Is there anybody involved besides the U.S. and the EU apart from the AU troops? Any Arab countries, for example?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to look at the full list in Addis. The UN obviously plays a very important role and the Secretary General is out there. The governments like the Canadians have stepped forward, so they're out there. But there is, I think, a significant amount of support from a lot of countries. I just don't have the full list of who's doing what.
Certainly, in our discussions, I know from the Secretary's discussions with Arab leaders, Gulf states, Darfur, Sudan is a very regular subject of discussion. Encouraging their support, encouraging their interest.
Okay, David. We'll come back, Joel.
QUESTION: There's a large number of Ethiopians outside the State Department and I think they -- urging the United States to pressure the Ethiopian authorities. They claim that the election was tilted in favor of the government. I wondered did anybody at the State Department dialogue with them and do you have any kind of an updated read on the honesty of that election?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know if anybody dialogued. We all sort of noticed them and welcome them to express themselves. This is a group from the main opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia. They are talking about irregularities, problems that they thought occurred in the election in Ethiopia. I would note the demonstration was peaceful. Nobody was arrested. No trouble at all. And our Bureau of Diplomatic Security says that the support from Metropolitan Police was excellent, so they were able to keep it peaceful.
We are ourselves following very closely the developments in the Ethiopian election. The National Election Board has begun announcing results. It started on Saturday. It's about 55 percent of 547 constituencies that have reported. But all these results are preliminary and we don't expect official certification until June 8th.
The next phases are vote counting, certification, formation of a government. We've expressed clearly the view this needs to be done in a transparent and democratic manner. There are some international observer teams, including U.S. Embassy personnel, who are monitoring the whole process through the end.
QUESTION: A follow-up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm just trying to read Adam's handwriting here. (Laughter.)
Carter Center has had staff out there and they observed the polling and a small group from them has remained in Ethiopia to follow the rest of the process. We've seen the news reports and various objections and claims of irregularities from the opposition coalitions. We think that all that needs to be looked into and looked into thoroughly.
We do note that voting was peaceful. We hope that this atmosphere of peace and nonviolence is maintained and I think I'll leave it at that for the moment. There were -- while we did note the reports of irregularities, I think I have to say overall we didn't see evidence of systematic fraud. So what did happen needs to be looked into carefully, but we'll see the results as they unfold.
QUESTION: Richard, I was just out front during that rally and afterward I interviewed a 23-year old student who is a graduate student at College Park at University of Maryland. And he's saying prior to the election there was interference, not necessarily going to the election but foodstuffs, fertilizers for farmers -- in other words, a whole massive campaign to change and to perhaps influence how the electorate would vote. Will members of the State Department and -- will they be asking the Carter Center and the OSCE to investigate how will that have an impact?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how any specific charges will have an impact. Some of that -- the run-up to an election gets looked at by the observers as they try to make their assessments. It's too early now to try to give any kind of assessment because the process is still continuing, this counting and certification that we talked about. So there is a National Election Board in Ethiopia. We're certainly keeping in touch with them as well as the government and the political parties. But as that process unfolds, I'm sure all the observers, including official personnel like our own -- people like the Carter Center -- will look at the whole process, how it unfolded and how it's being conducted right through the end.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Actually, yesterday, the European Union election observers expressed their concern, in even by saying they're not -- they took the National Election Board powerless. After May 15 election, the next day the ruling party declared a victory supposedly winning like 300 votes seats without proceed with normal procedure of counting votes.
The demonstration -- I've been there and I was asking a couple of people and then they were saying people have been jailed, people have been killed, and I'm trying to get, you know, a list of, you know, names from our bureau over there. But they really -- there is a really concern from the European Union. And I believe I remember there was a letter written for the Ethiopian Government from John McCain and Madeleine Albright concerning the expression of strong U.S. election observers. And would you comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have an overall assessment. We're telling you -- we're talking about a process that's still unfolding. All these charges, all these problems need to be looked into. Some of them may prove to be more significant, some less significant. At this point, it's hard to do that balanced assessment because we haven't see the whole process.
But indeed, we think this is something that needs to unfold in a very transparent and very democratic manner. The official election results need to reflect the actual votes, not the predictions of how many somebody thought they were going to get on election night excitement or claims of victory. So the whole vote counting needs to be very solid.
You know, there are other observers who have said that the opposition was getting more seats than had been expected, so I'm sure everybody will make their predictions. What really counts is a very transparent, very credible counting of the votes and we'll see what the results are when they come out.
QUESTION: One last thing. There was a demonstration before the election, two days before the election, and almost 2 million opposition parties supported were gathered and then it end up peacefully. But after the election the Prime Minister banned any kind of demonstration for about -- for the next months and people have also concern on that. Do you want to comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I think we said the other day that, you know, we think that everybody needs to have the right to express themselves and that as long as things are peaceful they should be allowed. But all these things need to be looked at. It's just hard to do -- to give you the significance of an individual step or an individual peace as we're still in the process.
QUESTION: Up in United Nations in New York, the NPT conference winds down tomorrow. There seems to be a lot of fingers pointed at the United States by some of the governments and by the NGOs, saying that a lack of a clear U.S. commitment to some of the instruments under the NPT has held up progress. Also, talk of bunker-busters and other sort of new weapons seems to alarm some of the critics of the U.S. Can you address or state the U.S. commitment to this NPT?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think first of all, I suppose pointing fingers at the United States is, you know, a popular thing to do. My understanding of the facts of the conference is that it was held up on the agenda for three weeks because of differences among some of the non-aligned members of the conference and that not -- that had nothing to do with the United States.
Second of all, we've made very clear, the President has made very clear, a very strong nonproliferation agenda, not only our efforts at this conference and elsewhere to strengthen the nonproliferation regime, strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty, but also outside of the Nonproliferation Treaty to take steps. So we've worked to tighten the controls on the export of nuclear equipment and materials. We've worked on the Proliferation Security Initiative and have something like 60-some partners on an initiative that was announced just about two years ago now -- I think the anniversary is next week -- to make sure that this trade in nuclear materials can't be conducted. We have pursued vigorously ourselves and with partners the A.Q. Khan network and the black market network to make sure that this trade in nuclear materials is not allowed to flourish.
Within the Nonproliferation Treaty itself we have worked to make sure that its provisions are applied and that countries that had been in the past engaging in covert activity are appropriately exposed and required to come back into compliance. We have worked on the positive side with governments like Libya, which have been willing to get rid of their nuclear weapons programs and add Libya to the list of countries over the last 10 or 15 years that themselves have voluntarily relinquished that and have benefited overall for their nation as a result.
Finally, one aspect of the NPT that people often talk to is the disarmament goals, but the United States, under this administration, has signed a Treaty of Moscow, a treaty with the Russians, to take dramatic reductions that have been made over the last 10 years in the number of nuclear weapons and continue those reductions down to very low levels.
So I think the United States has shown by its actions and by its efforts on these other things that we do believe in nonproliferation, we do believe in the Nonproliferation Treaty, and we're focused on the specific steps to carry it out. We think the conference is useful. It gives us a chance to talk about those things. But it was a review conference. It was not designed to make new rules or somehow change this. We need to go about that process and continue to go about that process elsewhere.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The President today announced that he's asked Secretary Rice to travel to Jerusalem and Gaza.
MR. BOUCHER: I can confirm he said that, yes. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Any idea when she's going to travel and any more details on the $50 million in direct aid?
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't set an exact date for the travel. We're looking at possibilities. I would expect it to happen in the month of June, maybe around mid month, but don't hold me to that if we decide it needs to change for scheduling purposes. But that's generally the plan.
As you know, we've had a lot of contact back and forth with the Palestinians and the Israelis. They have seen regular visits to Washington, including now the visit by President Abbas. We just had a Quartet meeting in Moscow that the Secretary attended and so she looks forward to going back out to the region herself and continuing those discussions out there.
As far as the $50 million, the $50 million of direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, it will come out of year 2005 Economic Support Funds. It'll be devoted or directed at projects, new projects in Gaza, things like housing, infrastructure, schools, to help the Palestinian Authority as it takes over Gaza from the Israelis as the Israelis disengage. The goal is to improve the quality of life in Gaza for Palestinians.
The projects will be worked out jointly between the United States and the Palestinian Authority and we'll work out in advance, you know, which projects get how much money. That's a process that will be started with them --
QUESTION: You said 2005 funds. Is this on top of what's already been pledged, the $350 million?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm trying to remember the 350. I think the 350 was actually the $200 million from the supplemental and then --
MR. ERELI: A 150 request.
MR. BOUCHER: A 150 requested for '06, right?
MR. ERELI: For '06.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. So this is before the 350, if you catch it. It was money that we had from earlier budgets, from the 2005 budget. And then on -- and this is the way it will be spent. And then on top of that is 350: 200 million we've gotten from the supplemental and 150 we're requesting for the '06 budget.
QUESTION: This was money you had left over from something? Or where?
MR. BOUCHER: It's 2005 money so it's not the end of 2005 fiscal year --
QUESTION: It had not been allocated?
MR. BOUCHER: It had not been allocated. It's now being allocated to this direct assistance.
QUESTION: New topic?
MR. BOUCHER: Yep.
QUESTION: This is on Guantanamo. Can you speak to reports that Department of Defense officials posed as State Department officials during investigations and interrogations?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those reports.
QUESTION: Apparently, there's some reports coming out of FBI transcripts with detainees that said that Pentagon officials posed as State Department officials during interrogations.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on it. You must remember these FBI memos are about allegations from detainees so it's something we'd have to look into before we knew whether it was credible or not.
QUESTION: In regarding the situation -- the security situation in Haiti, do you -- have you made any decision regarding the evacuation of nonessential personnel?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any decisions for you at this moment. We are looking very carefully at the situation in Haiti. We have been concerned about the deterioration in the security situation down there as it affects our personnel and Americans. But at this point, I don't have anything new for you.
QUESTION: Can we talk about the closure of the Embassy and Consulates in Indonesia?
MR. BOUCHER: Indonesia. Yeah. In Indonesia, we've closed the Embassy in Jakarta, the Consulate General in Surabaya and all other U.S. Government facilities in Indonesia. That would include the U.S. office in Medan. We have closed them effective May 26th until further notice because of a specific security threat that would relate to those facilities.
The Embassy and U.S. Consulate General will reopen to the public when conditions indicate that such a reopening is safe. The reopening will be communicated to the public via the Embassy's website. Emergency services for American citizens will still be available.
The current Travel Warning for Indonesia notes the tourist threat there remains high and warns U.S. citizens to defer all nonessential travel to Indonesia. I would note that we discussed this yesterday with the Indonesian President and his delegation -- the Secretary did briefly -- and we were assured to get every possible support from the Indonesian Government.
QUESTION: So the decision -- you knew when -- you knew ahead of the President's meeting that this -- that the security threat was so high that they would be closed. Did you receive any other information from the delegation that was here that led you to take this action?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think actually the post out there had decided on the closing. They're authorized to do this on a local basis when it's necessary. And so they decided on the closing before the meetings had so --
QUESTION: I know you can't usually answer this, but can you tell us anything about what kind of threats?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't, other than to say it was a specific threat related to the local security situation, particularly as affecting our facilities.
QUESTION: Just the Embassy installation?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd just leave it at what I said.
QUESTION: Can you whether say it's tied to al-Qaida or Abu Sayyaf?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. But generally, I think we know which groups operate in Indonesia and some of those groups do have ties to al-Qaida. But I'd still describe it as a local security issue.
QUESTION: A procedural question. The Secretary is giving a speech tomorrow in San Francisco. Could you talk about the topic and will it be piped in here?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary is giving a speech tomorrow in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club. We expect to have an audio feed coming back here and then get the audio and the transcript out to you as soon as possible after that. But it should be live at 3 p.m. tomorrow from -- on audio through the State Department television system.
The speech is about democracy. It's about how democracy within a country is an essential part of a more peaceful world and it's about the work we're doing to promote democracy in various forums, including the economic opportunity that goes with it in places like Latin America, Asia and Africa.
QUESTION: Some Democrats in the Senate are still threatening to hold up Under Secretary Bolton's nomination unless the Department hands over some of these documents related to requests for intercepts. Does the administration have any plans to hand over those documents?
MR. BOUCHER: This is the same old issue. Same one, keeps going around, keeps getting raised. I think we've responded a number of times. A couple things to note. We've cooperated extensively with the committee throughout its investigation, throughout its consideration of John Bolton's nominations. We've spent hundreds of man-hours. We've produced extensive amount of documents. Over 25 hours of hearings and business meetings were devoted by the committee to reviewing the nomination. We additionally responded to 175 written questions from senators. There were 36 separate interviews that they conducted, including with those -- with about a dozen current State Department employees. We think all this review puts the Senate in a position to make its judgment on John Bolton's nomination.
Once again, we reiterate the Secretary and President believe he's the right man for the job. We hope to see him at the United Nations very soon. We have said before that we don't think that providing these internal deliberations on testimony would be the right thing to do. We think that providing that kind of internal deliberation on a document that was fully cleared would have a chilling effect on our ability to have discussions like that in the future. We have already provided to the committee the final clearance page for that testimony and all those who have been interviewed by the committee affirmed that the remarks were fully cleared.
As far as the question of intercepts, as you know, that matter was handled between the Director of National Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mr. Roberts, has stated that both he and Senator Rockefeller agree, "There was nothing in the contents of these intelligence reports in question that caused us any concern." Senator Rockefeller said, "I have found no evidence that there was anything improper about Mr. Bolton's ten requests."
So I believe -- we believe the full Senate has more than enough information to go forward now with a positive vote on John Bolton.
QUESTION: Is it appropriate for Mr. Bolton to contact a State Department official whose name was mentioned among those ten intercepts and say you're doing a good job?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not getting into the question of the intercepts. That's a matter that has been handled by the Intelligence Committee because it is an intelligence matter and therefore I'm not in a position to talk about it here. But I would just note for you that the Chairman, Senator Roberts, and Senator Rockefeller have both agreed that there is nothing there that should interrupt the nomination.
QUESTION: Okay. But Senator Rockefeller is the one that brought that up in that letter to the committee and he thought it might be inappropriate. Is that standard -- is that standard --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, he's on the record quoted as saying that there's nothing improper about Mr. Bolton's requests.
QUESTION: Why did the U.S. decide to drop its objection to Iran becoming a member of the WTO just coincidently yesterday -- today?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it's not totally coincidentally in that we had promised to take this step some time ago in support of the European Union efforts and that this matter came up on the agenda of the WTO yesterday. I'm sorry, today. It was on the agenda and we had to deal with it. We wanted to see how things went in terms of the discussions the Europeans had with the Iranians. But it is a commitment that we made some time ago in order to support the European effort and we remain fully supportive of the European effort and want to carry out what we've promised to do that.
Today in Geneva, as you say, the United States did not block consensus on a motion to accept Iran's application to begin the WTO accession process. I'd point out that process is usually a lengthy one. It can often last several years and require very complex negotiations. And it would, again, require a consensus before Iran could actually join the World Trade Organization as a member.
The President decided on March 11th that in order to support the European diplomacy, the U.S. would drop its objection to Iran's application to the World Trade Organization and would consider on a case-by-case basis the licensing of spare parts for Iranian civil aircraft, in particular, from the European Union to Iran.
The discussions this week on May 25 between the European Union 3 and Iran in Geneva, we think demonstrate that efforts to achieve a peaceful diplomatic solution on the Iran nuclear issue do continue. Our decision on the WTO demonstrates our continuing support for that effort. But I would point out the burden is on the Iranians to keep the commitments they've made under the November Paris agreement to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. The United States is in constant communication with our friends in the European Union 3 and we're of one mind that Iran must hold to its commitments.
QUESTION: But basically, what the EU accomplished yesterday was just to get Iran not to say they'd wait a couple more months to decide what to do. That's not a rollback of the things they've said before. It's -- and they continue to say today that it doesn't mean they will renounce their nuclear program. So why does that count as enough progress to --
MR. BOUCHER: I really didn't -- I didn't try to say it was progress. I said it shows that there is an avenue for peaceful diplomacy here. Our goal has been to support that avenue for peaceful diplomacy, to support the efforts the Europeans are making. The suspension continues. We and the Europeans have all solidly reiterated the fact that those agreements in Paris need to continue to be respected and we will hold them to that. And that's, I think, the goal that we share with the Europeans, and in support of the Europeans we said we would take these steps. And so in support of the Europeans, we are taking these steps.
QUESTION: Richard, what can you tell us about the Baghdad lockdown? They're going to effectively cut off all air space and also, actually, the military, the U.S. troops, Iraqi army, just barricaded the city.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite know what you are referring to. I've seen some reports about additional deployments by the Iraqis in Baghdad, but I think you'd have to check with the military and the Iraqis on that.
QUESTION: Back to Indonesia again, not the Embassy, but the President's visit. There's a couple of British media reports that the U.S. had decided to resume certain sales, non-lethal sales of equipment to Indonesia. Can you tell us where we are in this process? I know, for example, IMET has been restored, the training has been restored, but I understand that there are still things standing in the way from actual --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just trying to remember a couple British reports. I guess Financial Times and Reuters, right? That's all I can think of.
QUESTION: The BBC, I think. Not Reuters.
MR. BOUCHER: BBC, too. Okay. You're right. There have been a series of decisions now over several months on issues involving provision of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Government of Indonesia.
First, we decided to provide International Military Education and Training. It's a very important program, a program that leads to the professionalization of the military and closer relationship and cooperation with us. We think it's been very positive in the past and are glad to be able to continue that with Indonesia in the future.
The second part of that was the decision to allow direct commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles and services. That was made earlier this year, particularly with regard to providing spare parts to the C-130s that Indonesia wanted to use in the Aceh airlift to help the people affected by the tsunami. That was a very important, I think, humanitarian moment and where we were happy to make the arrangements as quickly as we did for commercial sales.
Now there's another piece. May 25th -- that was yesterday -- we decided to renew government-to-government transfers of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Government of Indonesia. That means that we can do foreign military sales and excess defense articles. These again, non-lethal items, but this time they're not commercial, they're out of Defense Department stocks, either excess or items that the Defense Department acquires. They can be sold with services such as training and maintenance packages and things like that through the government so it's government -- it becomes a government-to-government sale instead of a just a commercial sale.
So that's the third piece of this. We think that increased U.S. sales in this manner that are specifically targeted can enhance democratic military reform, can help us both achieve key security objectives such as humanitarian relief, counterterrorism and maritime security. There is no U.S. funding associated with these transfers. Indonesia is going to use its own national funds for any purchases from these channels. We think these sales can provide incentives for and exposure to greater accountability and subordination to the civilian authority among the military and that there are benefits to interoperability and meeting the critical needs of some Indonesian military capabilities. And that was, I think, amply demonstrated by the airlift to Aceh.
We look forward to full normalization of military relations, as the President said yesterday, but that will depend upon continued counterterrorism cooperation, prosecution and punishment of members of the armed forces who've been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights, accountability for human rights abuses committed in East Timor and elsewhere, and transparency of military financing. So this is a step along the road that we hope to be able to go down as Indonesia makes these further changes in reforming the military.
QUESTION: Richard, when you say that you're going to -- that the Indonesians are going to pay for this by themselves, are you providing or considering any loan guarantees in this regard?
MR. BOUCHER: There's no U.S. Government financing at all involved in this.
QUESTION: The Syrian -- Syria's UN Ambassador is saying, in response to U.S. allegations that it hasn't done enough, that it has actually intercepted more than 1,200 people at the borders, sent some of them back to their own countries and stopped them from joining the insurgency. Do you have anything that would corroborate that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
QUESTION: You haven't heard anything like that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check and see if there's any other -- any reliable data like that.
QUESTION: With such high numbers, it would seem that you would know about it if they were arrested --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure how many there might have been or what they might have been doing. We do know that they -- whatever number it is, they might have stopped. There's still much greater flow than there should be. There's a flow of people. There's a flow of both money and resources across that border.
QUESTION: This morning, Ambassador Hill said that he would be meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts next week. Do you have any details on those meetings or meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
QUESTION: Thank you. (The briefing was concluded at 1:35 p.m.)
DPB # 92
Released on May 26, 2005