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State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 1, 2005

State Dept. Daily Press Briefing June 1, 2005


Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 1, 2005

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT
Confirmation of New Spokesman / Spokesman, Richard Boucher's
Impending Departure

IRAQ
Transitional Government / Upcoming Elections
UN Security Council Resolution 1546 / Iraqi Security Forces Development

BOLIVIA
U.S. Response to Recent Violence / Democracy Discussions /
Upcoming Organization of American States Meetings

NIGERIA / LIBERIA
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor's Current Location and
Activities / U.S. Concern for his Involvement in Liberian Affairs

CHINA
Secretary Rice's Telephone Conversation with Chinese Foreign
Minister Li Zhaoxing

JAPAN
U.S. Support for Japanese Seat on UN Security Council


TRANSCRIPT:

12:50 p.m. EDT


MR. BOUCHER: Okay, it's Hammer time. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Schweid, you get the first question.

QUESTION: Wait a minute.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Any others? No thanks? Let's go.

QUESTION: Actually, there's a rumor out this is your last briefing.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Well, if it isn't, then we ought to leave.

MR. BOUCHER: My successor, as you know, has been confirmed by the Senate and is waiting to sign his papers and be sworn in and we're not sure exactly which day that's going to happen. But it's a pleasure to be with you today.

QUESTION: Well, thank you, but we're never sure if you mean it. I've seen you come and go. I'm thinking you're the Michael Jordan of spokesmen; you keep retiring and coming back.

(Laughter.)

But there's another parallel to Michael Jordan: You're the best. And, you know, we have this is all on background and it's very brief, but we've all appreciated your directness, your responses and lots of things. We're trying to get answers to some tough questions.

And if you're not coming back, we're going to miss you and we hope you come back in some form or another. And now we have, I think, a dozen questions on Cyprus. Right?

QUESTION: Yes. Do you think you could give us an historical of the U.S. policy since 1923 in Cyprus?

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: I actually probably could. I probably could, but I don't think I'll bore you with it.

I want to thank you, Barry, and thank everybody who has been attending these briefings and otherwise been in touch with me. I think we're all part of a bigger process that serves information, truth, democracy, and tries to give people the information they need to support, evaluate, criticize U.S. foreign policy, and that that process improves the policy.

And it's been a pleasure to be here with you and to engage in the discussion with you and it will be a pleasure to keep in touch with all of you as we go on to other things, myself included. And I'm sure you'll welcome my successor, too, as a member of a small club of spokesmen who come and try to serve your needs and serve the Department's needs and the Administration's needs every day.

So it's been a pleasure to be here and this may or may not be my last briefing. As I said, I don't really know until later, but we'll see. And with that, on with the show.

QUESTION: On Cyprus?

QUESTION: Can you tell us where you're going?

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Actually, if we could ask you an Iraq question. And it's an easy one. The Iraq Foreign Minister says today U.S.-led forces must remain in Iraq until the country's own soldiers and police can take responsibility of securing the nation and its continuing insurgency. I don't know how many years that might take, but is the U.S. prepared for such an open-ended commitment to remaining in Iraq? I assume he means and he does say forces, military presence.

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's well understood what the process is between us and the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government is going through some very important transitions right now: the political transition from the first elected transitional government to a constitutional a new constitution and a new election later this year; it's going through a transition of creating the economic environment and the infrastructure that it needs to move forward in the world; and it's going through a transition of creating the security forces that Iraq needs to control its own territory and within its own borders. And we want to support that transition. The coalition wants to support that transition.

And so yesterday, as a matter of fact, we had the review of Resolution 1546 that was previewed in that resolution last year. And as part of that review, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Zebari, wrote letters to the Security Council asking for them to look at the mandate again and to continue it. And so that's what the Council did. The Council issued a statement yesterday that we joined in on where the members of the Council agreed on the continuation of the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq in accordance with Resolution 1546 and at the request of the Iraqi Government. We are pleased with the Council's response.

Now, it goes without saying that this process of transition is one that involves us and the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi Government ultimately makes the decisions on how long they think they need foreign forces and we are working with them to try to help them develop their own forces and capabilities to the point where they're able to take care of the security needs of their country.

QUESTION: Well, no criticism intended, but I thought the notion was that there would be an ever decreasing U.S. presence or U.S. involvement in security with the hopes that they could take over; but considering the guerilla war or insurgency or whatever you call it, that no longer is something you can comfortably be sure of, is it?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't I don't know why you would say that. I don't think there was anything that the Foreign Minister of Iraq said to the council that would contradict that or that would alter the basic design, which is that the coalition forces are needed as long, you know, until the moment until the time that the Iraqis can take over their security issues, till they themselves can dominate the security environment.

We've seen I think the facts on the ground are that we've seen increasing tempo of Iraqi operations from the election to the current operation in Baghdad and that, I think, Secretary Rumsfeld spoke about this this morning, and therefore that you can see that there is a process underway and that as the Iraqis take more and more of a role and a responsibility, the coalition will change its presence or its nature. But that's not a completely predictable process because you're dealing with a real enemy out there and a real danger in the form of the insurgency and the terrorists that are there.

QUESTION: Can we change to Bolivia?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

QUESTION: There's violence and protests and congress is having difficulty meeting there. On the diplomatic front, this is a country that you've helped a lot, especially working with the Mexicans. Are you doing anything to try and defuse the violence?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, simply put, yes. We are in touch with the government. We're in touch with leaders in Bolivia. We're also in touch with other nations who are very interested and concerned about the situation there. And I would expect that this situation, as well as that this situation will be discussed as part of the discussion of democracy in the hemisphere at the OAS General Assembly meeting next week. But yes, Bolivia is one of the issues of that we're working on in the hemisphere along with others in the OAS in order to support the Inter-American Democracy Charter.

QUESTION: The main protest is about nationalizing the gas sector, with the U.S. usually prescribing economic policies that don't involve nationalizing. Are you talking to the government about that, that they shouldn't give into the demands of the protestors? Where do you stand on that issue?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, generally, we've stuck with talking to the government about the security situation, about the situation as regards to democracy and maintaining democracy in Bolivia, so I think I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Others? Joel.

QUESTION: Apparently, Charles Taylor has violated his asylum agreement. He's over the border in Nigeria and

MR. BOUCHER: He's in Nigeria.

QUESTION: He's in Nigeria, right.

MR. BOUCHER: He's been in Nigeria.

QUESTION: Right, supposed to be not working, meddling in other affairs, both

MR. BOUCHER: I thought you said he had crossed a border.

QUESTION: No, no. I said he's been

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION: crossing a border, meddling into Liberia and other neighbors' affairs. Is he setting up a new rebel group? And secondly, Rudolph Stewart is saying it's time for this to happen, referring to your extradition of him. Is it going to be to Sierra Leone or to Liberia?

MR. BOUCHER: The first of all, I'm not sure everything you're saying is quite accurate, but the issue of Charles Taylor and his status is one that's on our agenda. We've discussed it with the Nigerians. The Secretary had an opportunity to talk not too long ago with President Obasanjo about it. We've certainly kept in touch with people in Liberia and others in West Africa on the subject.

None of us want to see meddling, interference by Charles Taylor in the affairs of Liberia. And second of all, all of us, I think, want to see that he faces justice for the crimes he is accused of having committed. There are indictments, I believe, from the court in Sierra Leone and that would be the logical place.

We are working on this with others in the region on how to ensure that he does face justice, but at this point I don't think there are any new developments.

QUESTION: Well, you stopped short of saying that he has, in fact, meddled. What is your position on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I think our view is concern at reports that he may have been involved in affairs in Liberia. There have been a number of such reports, but I'm not sure I can give you any precise description of the extent to which he's done things.

QUESTION: The Secretary talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing this morning. Do you have a readout?

MR. BOUCHER: She talked to him well, she talked to him yesterday our time, which would have been this morning, Chinese time, I think. And, basically, they talked about UN Security Council reform. Foreign Minister Li placed a call to her to talk about some of the recent developments at the UN with regard to reform generally and especially the Security Council.

QUESTION: And did they talk about North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check for you.

QUESTION: One last thing. The Secretary mentioned in her previous interview that Deputy Secretary Zoellick is going to visit China soon.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have a date on

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have a date on that yet.

QUESTION: To follow up on that discussion, was there any discussion about Japan's seat on the UN Security Council?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, in any discussion of the UN Security Council we always say that we support membership for Japan. It's the only country we've endorsed. That's part of our position. Any discussion of our position, we say that.

QUESTION: Did it come up

MR. BOUCHER: So I'll leave it at that. I'll leave it at that. I don't want to go into the whole back and forth, but that is clearly part of our view of UN Security Council reform.

Arshad.

QUESTION: Zimbabwe. There is a report in Zimbabwe's state Herald newspaper that Zimbabwean police have arrested more than 20,000 people as part of this blitz on shantytowns. Are you aware of the report?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't get my copy of the state Herald this morning, so we'll have to look into it and check on it for you.

QUESTION: Okay. It looks as if they're bulldozing large shantytowns and arresting people.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We'll look at it.

QUESTION: That's it?

QUESTION: You might want to stay

QUESTION: Well, I have a last question since this might be the last briefing.

MR. BOUCHER: Sir.

QUESTION: You might want to revise this by tomorrow. You've served, I don't know, three Secretaries of State; is that right?

QUESTION: At least.

MR. BOUCHER: This time. A few more previously.

QUESTION: Do you has there ever been a meeting a Secretary of State you've served has had a lousy meeting?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: They always seem to have excellent meetings.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: No, the meetings are always excellent. The envoys are always special.

QUESTION: Never

MR. BOUCHER: The conferences are always successful. So it's a good world to live in, Charlie.

QUESTION: Will there ever be an ordinary rapporteur?

MR. BOUCHER: I doubt that there ever will be, Barry. All right, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:00 p.m.)

DPB#94

ENDS


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