State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for September 18
Daily Press Briefing Richard Boucher, Spokesman Washington, DC September 18, 2002
ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS 1 Meeting of "Quartet" Members in New York 15-16 Security and Reform Efforts 16-17 Attempted Suicide Bombing 17 Palestinian Elections
IRAQ 2-6,10 US Consultations with UN Security Council on a UN Resolution 2-4,6 US Position on Inspections 8-9 Role of UN Monitoring, Verification Inspection Commission 13 Iraq's Failure to Comply with Obligations under UNSC Resolutions 13-14 Iraq's Letter to UN on Inspections
AFGHANISTAN 7 Protection of Afghan President Hamid Karzai 7-8 International Security Assistance Force
INDIA/PAKISTAN 10 Voting in Kashmir Elections
GREECE 11 Secretary Powell's Meeting with Greek Foreign Minister in New York
NORTH KOREA 12 Status of US Dialogue with North Korea 12-13 Japanese Prime Minister's Meeting with North Korean Leader
CUBA 14-15 State Department Official's Remarks at National Summit on Cuba
YEMEN 15 US-Yemeni Efforts Against Al-Qaida
SAUDI ARABIA 15 US-Saudi Discussions on Middle East and Ira
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be back. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Well, the Secretary's been back at least, what, 24 hours or something. You know, combining Iraq and the Mid East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, any serious contacts, telephone communications, et cetera? I'm wondering, for instance, about a Jordanian proposal that there be a monitoring arrangement to move ahead with the Palestinian-Israeli work plan, or whatever you call it. But I guess Iraq is the main thing. Are you picking up any points on Iraq from anybody?
MR. BOUCHER: What am I supposed to answer? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, about a half dozen countries have said you're right and --
MR. BOUCHER: All right, let's -- first of all, yesterday in New York we had some excellent Quartet meetings with other members of the Quartet. We also met with various Arab states, Arab leaders. You saw the communiqué that we put out after the Quartet meetings. Had meetings with the Israelis and Palestinians, Foreign Minister Peres and Nabil Shaath, along with the Quartet. So there was a series of discussions to review where we stand on all the task force work that's going on, on all the security work that's going on, and on all the humanitarian work that's going on and what more needs to be done; looking at issues, for example, of humanitarian access, looking at issues of return of tax revenue, looking at issues of continued reform, and especially security reform in the Palestinian community, continued reform in terms of financial authority in the Palestinian community and other aspects where we've seen progress and, I think as the Secretary General said, need to see more.
So I think that was a meeting that brought a real focus, and part of the statement out of that meeting that you will see is that the three-phased approach that the Quartet is going to use as we go forward into the future does involve monitoring by the Quartet, including performance against benchmarks, to make sure that we continue to move down this road so that we can achieve, as the President outlined in his June 24 speech, so that we can achieve two states living side by side in a space of as early as three years. So that does involve monitoring as we go forward. It involves benchmarks, performance-based monitoring by the Quartet and others. That's that aspect.
Now, as far as Iraq goes, I think the situation is as we described it after the President's speech. We said that we would begin consultations immediately with other members of the Council on the resolution. We began those consultations. We are continuing to discuss new resolutions with the other -- some of the other members of the Council. We haven't circulated anything to everybody yet. We're discussing with some of them possible language for a resolution. That's what we said we would do and that's what we are doing.
And we are moving forward with them to make sure that the Council specifies what Iraq has to do to demonstrate its willingness to comply with disarmament. It's not for Iraq to pick and choose some provisions of some resolutions and say it may or may not comply; it's for the Council to say what Iraq has to do. And Iraq has used any number of tools in the -- I mean the Council has used a number of different tools in the past to try to ascertain Iraq's compliance with its disarmament obligations, and it's for the Council to specify which tools and which means need to be used this time.
Second of all, it's for the Council to specify what "inspections without conditions" means. Clearly, the view of many Council members that you've heard is it can't be like it was in the past. A number of the members of the Council that we talked to and friends of Iraq or people who talk to Iraq -- I don't want to accuse anybody of being friends with the Iraqi regime, but people who talk to Iraq told us over the last several days that they were, in fact, telling Iraq that Iraq had to comply, that Iraq had to allow unconditional, unfettered sorts of inspections. And so there is a lot of pressure on Iraq; there has been and will continue to be.
Our view is that unconditional inspections, inspections without conditions means that the inspectors can go anywhere anytime, see anyone, inspect anything, at the time or place of the inspectors' choosing. We made clear it has to be different and it's for the Council to specify -- Security Council -- to specify how it should be different.
Let me say one more thing about this. We've reviewed the history a bit of Iraq's acceptance of inspections without conditions, and regrettably, it seems that every time Iraq accepts inspections without conditions that we find them shooting, refusing or otherwise throwing out inspectors within a period of one to six months. Sometimes it took them 18 months.
In May of 1991, Iraq accepted inspections without delay or hindrance. That was one month before Iraqi personnel started shooting at inspectors who were approaching their vehicles. Iraq accepted inspections unconditionally in October 1991. That was the month that they then refused to comply with Security Council Resolution 715. A year later, Iraq was refusing to destroy materials that had been found in proscribed programs, and then nine months after the unconditional acceptance, at that point then came the standoff in the parking lot of the Ministry of Agriculture in June of 1992.
Iraq accepted unconditional inspections again in November 1993 and in October of 1994. That s 18 months before refusing UN teams access to sites that were designated for inspections. Iraq signed a memorandum accepting inspections that would be "immediate, unconditional and unrestricted," in February of 1998. That was only six months before the Iraqi leadership and the Ba'ath Party refused any further cooperation, thus halting inspections indefinitely.
So I think our view is very firmly that we will have to define in the Security Council what Iraq needs to do to comply with its obligations. We will have to make clear that "without conditions" means without conditions, and it's for Iraq to comply with that, not for Iraq to go cherry-picking on resolutions.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up. Just a few days ago, the US hadn't rule out, we were told by a senior official at a briefing at the UN, a two-step process, and the French typically -- the French had a typical two-step process in mind. Well, the first step is inspection. I guess what I'm asking -- well, I know what I'm asking you, but I'm asking you if that's still being entertained.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, --
QUESTION: Because you said resolutions, by the way.
MR. BOUCHER: By the way, the President said resolutions in his speech.
QUESTION: Right. But I'm wondering, but the President has since said --
MR. BOUCHER: Slow down, slow down --
QUESTION: -- that inspections is not the point, disarmament is.
MR. BOUCHER: Slow down. Let's correct the things that are wrong, and then I'll tell you what the things are that are right.
MR. BOUCHER: The French proposal, as I remember reading it, and as the French have talked about it, is for two resolutions. Okay? Not necessarily for inspections first and then a resolution. Okay?
Second of all, the Security Council in the past, the inspectors, have used a variety of tools to try to ascertain whether Iraq was complying or not. They've used required declarations, they've required disclosures, they've talked to people, they've talked to people outside, they've exchanged information, they've done inspections themselves, they've installed monitoring equipment. There have been a whole variety of different ways used, and we would think that the inspectors would use a variety of ways.
But remember, disarmament of weapons of mass destruction is one piece of Iraq's obligations. While we were in New York, there were discussions of how these other pieces might be handled. And that's another possibility for a separate resolution or in the resolution.
So there are various ways of handling this, all of which are being discussed by Security Council members now. What are the elements to ascertain disarmament? How do we insist on the other requirements? And I think also, once the Council has specified what it will take Iraq to get out of its breach of previous resolutions, does the Council at this point -- what does the Council at this point say about the consequences if it does not do so?
So those elements are all under discussion. And yes, the elements are all under discussion in New York, as we said they would be by this time. There are some various pieces of language that are under discussion with some delegations in New York, as we said they would be at this time. And we're proceeding down the road to have the Council specify what Iraq has to do.
QUESTION: I realize, Richard, that you'd like to pretend the Ivanov fight didn't happen yesterday, but it did, and he said explicitly --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not pretending. I'm just not getting so excited as maybe you are.
QUESTION: Well, okay. I'm trying to contain my excitement.
MR. BOUCHER: Good.
QUESTION: He said explicitly several times that what the Iraqis have done now is enough, there's no necessity for a new resolution, the inspections should proceed under the old rules; and in six months time, after they've done some work, then we can assess where things are at. How are you going to move the Russians off that position?
MR. BOUCHER: I think first of all, he said a number of things yesterday. He was talking about resolutions. He even, I think, talked about all necessary means if the Iraqis don't comply. These are all elements that need to be under discussion, and they are under discussion with the Russians, among others.
The Secretary has been in touch with various Security Council members. He talks frequently with Foreign Secretary Straw. He's talked with the French Foreign Minister a number of times, keeps in touch with Kofi Annan. He's talked to Ivanov several times. So, you know, they had some conversations around the Quartet meeting yesterday. So this is an ongoing process of working with other delegations, both at the Secretary's level and as well as our delegations in New York, to come up with what belongs in a resolution.
So I think you need to look at what people said. You've seen a lot of initial reactions from various people. Those are their initial reactions. We're working through this with other members of the Council. But I come back to say what we're doing is what we said we would be doing, and what we're doing with other delegations right now is what we said we would be doing with other delegations right now. So we're working this through and we're getting to the point where the Council can be specifying what it wants, and not accept the Iraqi letter as the be-all and end-all of what Iraq has to do.
QUESTION: I would just follow up. The Russian perception is clearly that a new resolution is not necessary, that old rules are laid out, and that they should just let things proceed now. And he specifically mentioned the six-month timetable.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we have always said that the Iraqi obligations are already clear in many, many resolutions, including the obligation on inspections. So that's correct to say that it's not necessary to have a new resolution for the inspectors to go. But on the other hand, we think it's important for the Council to specify what it means at this juncture. You all were asking us two days ago, "Why do you need a new resolution if all this stuff is already clear?" The same answer applies: We think it's important for the Council to specify what it wants at this juncture to bring Iraq into compliance.
I remind you, we'll be talking to all these people not only the way we have, on the phone and etcetera, but the Russians come to town tomorrow. We'll be having meetings with them and the Russian Defense Minister and Secretary Rumsfeld here on Friday. Those are on the Treaty of Moscow and the strategic framework issues, but obviously we'll have a chance to continue our discussions with them, as we do with other Security Council members.
QUESTION: There was a Security Council meeting this morning to discuss some things that even their schedule said would include Iraq and the inspections. Can you tell us if anything's moved as a result of this meeting? And can you honestly say that any delegation other than the British are working with you on language at this point?
MR. BOUCHER: We are talking about elements of resolution and some language with other delegations as well, talking about elements with a broader group and the specific language. So we're proceeding on that.
I don't know exactly what the discussion was this morning for the Security Council -- they meet all the time -- but I think there's a briefing by Hans Blix tomorrow afternoon as part of the effort to come up with a resolution. We'll talk to him. The Security Council will talk to him about inspectors tomorrow afternoon, I'm told. I don't have anything on meetings today, but clearly the Perm Reps in New York, Permanent Representatives, are all in touch with each other and see each other on these issues.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary get a briefing from Blix's office after yesterday's meeting with the Iraqis? Or did all the Security Council members --
MR. BOUCHER: There wasn't a formal briefing. The Secretary was back in Washington by the time that occurred.
QUESTION: Right. But did he hear about it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think people have -- we've had some reporting on it, but my understanding is that this meeting tomorrow afternoon is to talk to Blix about inspections and what sort of language we could put in a resolution, but also to hear from him on his contacts.
John. I'll back come up here.
QUESTION: I've got a couple on the inspectors, teasing out the implications of what you're saying. Is it the clear US position now that you want inspectors in Iraq? Dr. Rice said on Sunday you weren't sure about it at that stage.
MR. BOUCHER: We see inspections as one of the tools that the Council can use to try to ascertain, try to determine, whether Iraq intends to comply with its obligations. Inspections are one of the tools to use to find out if Iraq is truly and finally ready to abide by these obligations. As I pointed out, the Council has used a number of different tools in the past, including this one, and we think at this point it is proper for the Council to specify what it wants, what it wants to see Iraq do. Inspections could be one of those.
QUESTION: And is it your clear position that you want a new resolution before any inspectors go? Because the previous resolutions, I think, said let the inspectors in immediately. You say wait till we've got the resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a specific position on that. We'll have to see on the timing of all this and how it can work. A clearer position is that if there are inspections, any inspections need to be done in a really unfettered manner. They need to be different than before. They need to be able to go anywhere, anytime, anyplace, talk to anyone they need, to do their job.
QUESTION: How confident are you that you will get a resolution before the inspectors go in?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't have the position of whether we need one before the inspectors go. I will have to check on that. But we are talking to other members of the Council about a resolution. We're engaged on that. I don't see anything that changes that course.
As I said, you've seen a lot of initial reactions, but as Council members sit down and look at the history of this, look at what's needed, look at what the Council has to do -- remember, both the President of the United States and the Secretary General called on the Security Council to face up to its responsibilities. That situation hasn't changed, and we think that Council members will face up to those responsibilities and take the matter in its hands to tell Iraq what Iraq needs to do to comply.
QUESTION: I would like to take a detour to Afghanistan very briefly, if I may. I don't know if you've seen the comments from Mr. Lantos about two aspects of security in Afghanistan; one of them being that President Karzai's security is going to be handled primarily by a private company, DynCorps, I understand? He's concerned about that.
And also, this report which doesn't -- a State Department report which doesn't seem to back up the suggestion of recent weeks that ISAF should be expanded beyond Kabul. I have two questions about the protection of Karzai and exactly what the administration's position is on whether ISAF should be expanded.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let me deal with both those issues. The Diplomatic Security Service is in the process of working with the Department of Defense on the transition for the protection of Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. At present, we do have agents on the ground in Afghanistan overseeing what we will need to do. Diplomatic Security Service is a civilian law enforcement and security service. It operates in an environment where the rule of law governs.
That is not necessarily the situation in Afghanistan, so we may need to bring on necessary specialists in order to do the job properly; and that would require the use of contractors. And even that, the plan is for our people, Diplomatic Security Service and what other contractors they use in addition, to protect President Karzai only until a properly-trained Afghanistan protection detail for the President is brought on board. So there various aspects to this job, some of which our agents are very good at and trained to do, and there are other specialized parts of this that are more like almost military activities for which we might use some contractors.
There are also physical security upgrades that need to be done -- the alarms, barriers, access control procedures, things like that -- and then finally the training of a local force that involves recruiting and training, although that job, that's probably something we'll do with our Anti-Terrorism Assistance Office in the Diplomatic Security Service.
So there's a number of different tasks. Some of them are things that our Diplomatic Security agents are used to doing, know how to do very well and do an excellent job of, and then there's some other tasks that we may have to use contractors and specialists to help out because this is such a unique and unusual situation.
As far as the situation on the International Security Assistance Force, really the policy remains the same. There was a report to Congress required under the supplemental appropriations bill. It addressed -- that report addressed, as the law required, broad US security concerns and strategy for Afghanistan. Since it was a report to Congress, we think it's up to the Congress to decide whether to release it.
But we've spoken before about the policy, and I will again. We have not opposed the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Under the leadership of Turkey and earlier the United Kingdom, the force has done a superb job of maintaining the stable and secure environment that has largely prevailed in Kabul. Many of the security problems faced by Afghanistan are in the countryside, not in the cities, and that's another practical consideration in any expansion of the force. We have US forces in the field working to resolve disputes between and among various armed Afghan leaders. Thus far, this has been the most effective tool in achieving some measure of stability between those forces.
Not long ago, Ambassador David Johnson, our Coordinator for Afghanistan, said it this way. He said, "This does not preclude an expansion of the International Security Assistance Force in some targeted form, nor does it preclude other creative ideas outside Kabul that might help achieve an ISAF-type effect."
So we'll continue to consider how best to address the ongoing security concerns in Afghanistan. I would note that our most important priority now is to work with the international partners to find the right candidate to extend the effectiveness of the force beyond the December end of the Turkish leadership mandate. So that remains the top priority now.
QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on that, who you'd like to see?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not publicly. Yes, we do have thoughts. No, I'm not in a position to share.
QUESTION: On UNMOVIC, has the government been providing UNMOVIC all along with information on where Saddam may have weapons?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that gets to the kind of specifics I may not be in a position to address. I think I can safely say that all members of the Security Council, all members of the UN, should support the role of UNMOVIC and that we would do that as best we can.
QUESTION: Do you think his palaces should be inspected?
MR. BOUCHER: We think the inspectors should have the right to go anywhere, anytime, talk to anyone, look in any place that they need to, to do their job.
QUESTION: Within the confines of a new resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: Can we let some of the others who have waited much longer?
QUESTION: On timing, do you have any objection, in the absence of a resolution right now, to Hans Blix proceeding with plans for inspections, including a meeting next week?
MR. BOUCHER: That's really the third time I've had the question of timing of inspections versus resolutions. I don't have any particular answer on that. We're in close touch. The Council is in close touch with the inspectors, with Mr. Blix. The Secretary General is in close touch. We'll be hearing from him tomorrow at the Council to talk with him about his work and how it relates to resolutions. But it's all part of the mix of things being worked up in New York. I don't have any definitive answers on it now.
QUESTION: And on the question of anytime, anyplace, would the United States want any new resolution to supercede and erase the agreement that Kofi Annan reached with the Iraqi Government, I think it was back in 1998 --
-MR. BOUCHER: As I've said already four times at this briefing, we want it to be different. We think the Council needs to specify what "without conditions" means.
QUESTION: I mentioned this to you earlier, but it was an interview with the BBC with the Arab League Ambassador to London, and in that interview he said that all civilian sites should be excluded. Now, I understand you're going to say anywhere, anytime, but given that Amra Moussa did help draft this document, the Arab League did help draft the Iraqi document, and the Secretary General congratulated him for his help, I mean, have there been discussions between either US officials or, that you know of, UN officials and Amra Moussa or other Arab League officials to talk about concerns that this might be built into this supposed offer from the Iraqi side?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there have been any new discussions with UN officials. Certainly in our discussions with various Arab representatives, as well as other representatives of the Council, as I mentioned earlier, they've used words like "unfettered," "unrestricted," "without conditions," "unconditioned," those kind of statements. They've made clear their view is that Iraq should accept inspections that were unrestricted. They've used phrases like that and they haven't themselves qualified it.
But I think the fact that you have some representatives saying, well, maybe it means this, maybe it means that, reiterates the point that, first of all, when Iraq has used the word "unconditional" in the past, it has very unfortunately led to renewed Iraqi refusal in a matter of months after that.
Second of all, it's not for Iraq to define what "without conditions" means. It's for the UN Security Council to do that, to face up to its responsibility, as the Secretary General called upon them to do.
And third of all, that the inspection regime needs to be one that can get at Iraq's continued attempts to pursue these programs and continued attempts to hide what they're doing, and really that the inspection regime, the mechanisms used, whatever the requirements of the Council are, however the Council decides to specify, need to be used to determine as quickly as possible and on a repeated basis whether Iraq really and truly intends to abide by its obligations or whether it merely intends to put up these tactical smokescreens again and then try to cheat when the pressure is off.
QUESTION: I just want to ask you about the timetable laid out, I think Resolution 1254. Are you comfortable with that or would you want to change that in the new resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: The resolution is 1284, and we'll see what the Council decides to do.
QUESTION: Change of subject. In Srinagar, India, there have been 460 people that have been killed in campaign voter violence in recent days, and 19 in the last 24 hours, and right now the Indians of course are blaming the Pakistanis. And where do you see this violence going? Should there be some monitoring by the UN or other people in there, such as commissions and such, or do you think this -- because it's going to be a three-stage voting process?
MR. BOUCHER: Four-stage, I think. But anyway, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary both discussed this fairly extensively when they were out in the region with India and Pakistan. We are looking to an open election, a free and fair election here, to be a piece in moving the process forward and getting towards a dialogue between the two nations to try to resolve some of these fundamental issues. So we take great interest in this election in Kashmir. We have and we continue to.
The voting is taking place sequentially in different parts of the state, in order to be able to provide security, adequate security, in each of these places. The first round took place September 16th. We do have reporting from our US Embassy in New Delhi that indicates a positive start to the process. Violence, while you say it's true, there was violence that's disturbing, but it was relatively at a low level. Turnout, reported by the Indian Election Commission, appears to be something like 48 percent overall.
Further rounds will occur through the beginning of October, after which the ballot counting will take place. We do welcome the Indian Government's commitment to holding an election that's free and fair and perceived as such internationally and within India. We have diplomats, and others do as well, up in the area observing the elections. Their findings, combined with the coverage by India's media and the international press will form the basis for an assessment of the election overall, after it's over. And I'm sure it'll be widely reported.
And against these kind of sporadic violence and the threats that were issued, we actually applaud the courage of the voters who have chosen to participate in the first round of voting. So that's where we are. And it may not be four-stage. I may have been wrong in correcting you.
QUESTION: Very impressive.
MR. BOUCHER: I was very impressed, too. I just -- that just flashed up in my brain and now I'm not sure if it's true. So it's the three- or four-stage process that will --
QUESTION: Can we go back to Iraq just for a moment?
MR. BOUCHER: Can we let some of the others in the back --
QUESTION: But on Iraq. I wanted to get back to the subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Now that we're off the subject, let's go somewhere else for a while and then we'll come back to it.
QUESTION: Can I do India?
MR. BOUCHER: Please. Sir. George.
QUESTION: Any observations on the situation regarding infiltrations along the line of control?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing. Nothing new to say. We've always -- we've said sometime it's down, we've said we want to continue to see the parties take steps not only to reduce infiltration, but also to ease off on the tensions in that area.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, do you have anything to say about the meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Georges Papandreou and Secretary of State Colin Powell last Monday in New York City, since you were there? You were present, actually. If you can.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I can confirm that. Yes, I was present. The Secretary and Greek Foreign Minister Papandreou had a good discussion on Monday. They did spend part of the meeting together, one on one. So I wasn't there at that part. We then had a slightly larger meeting with the Foreign Minister and various Greek officials.
I think they talked about the fight against terrorism, both in the one-on-one and in the larger meeting, and the Secretary congratulated the Greek Government and the Foreign Minister on their breaking up the November 17 group, which has been especially violent.
They talked quite a bit in various ways about the Greek presidency of the European Union that's coming up. The Greek Foreign Minister and the Secretary already have a fairly active relationship, both in terms of their meetings and on the telephone, but both promised to, I think, work very, very closely together as Greece assumes the presidency of the European Union coming next year, starting in January.
They discussed the Middle East, the situation in the Middle East, the Quartet meeting that was about to take place and the opportunities there. They talked about Iraq and pursuit of a new resolution and the need to remain together and steadfast.
They discussed the situation with Cyprus and the situation with regard to Turkey and the European Union, which is coming up again this fall in Copenhagen.
QUESTION: One more question. On Skopje, Albanian Ali Ahmeti of the party Democratic Union for Integration won in the last Sunday elections in Skopje. What is the US position vis-à-vis Mr. Ahmeti? He is on the American blacklist presented actually last year by President Bush.
MR. BOUCHER: Is there an answer on that? We'll get onto that later for you. I don't have an answer right now.
Okay. In back.
QUESTION: On North Korea. Last February at White House briefing, Dr. Rice mentioned US will not have dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea? What should be the real substance of the United States' next dialogue with North Korea when it happens?
MR. BOUCHER: The substance of any discussions we can have with the North Koreans would be very serious matters, matters that the President identified in his statement more than a year ago now, as being on our agenda: the nuclear matters, commitments to abide by the Agreed Framework which remained very important to us, and we have said that we will continue to abide by that if North Korea does as well. Therefore, second of all, the issue of missiles, ballistic missiles, not only the development of such missiles in North Korea but also the export of missiles. Nonproliferation, generally, is a key issue for us. And then there are other issues that we want to raise. The President made clear we need to talk about the balance of forces, conventional forces, on the Peninsula, the imbalance of forces one might say, because that, again, remains one of the greatest difficulties and dangers in that area.
So there are some matters that we will look forward to discussing at the appropriate time with North Korea, and I think you know sort of the state of play on that. After our attempt to start those discussions earlier this summer, we're now considering what the appropriate time would be to get back to them.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Iraq briefly?
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Have you talked to the Japanese contacts with North Korea at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we've talked about them. The Secretary certainly did yesterday. Foreign Minister Kawaguchi came by to tell him, to give him a briefing on that, and we appreciated her doing that. The Japanese Government has kept us very closely informed throughout their preparations and discussions in this process. And as I said, the Secretary got a personal briefing yesterday from the Foreign Minister, which we appreciate.
We welcome and we support the efforts of Prime Minister Koizumi with North Korea. We note that he discussed many of the matters that are particularly of Japanese concern, but he also raised security issues that are of broad, international interest on which the US and Japan share concerns.
The North Koreans acknowledged their responsibility for and provided some information regarding the abduction of Japanese nationals. We support Japan's efforts to resolve this problem and to secure the return of those abducted. We also expressed our condolences to the families of those who are now reported to be deceased.
We also note that North Korea, during this visit, indicated it would extend its current moratorium on the launch of long-range missiles and that it would abide by all nuclear-related agreements. Those things, too, are important to us. So we look forward to continuing to work together with our South Korean and Japanese allies, together assessing the results of the Prime Minister's visit as all of us seek to achieve progress on issues of concern.
QUESTION: Can I try Iraq again? You've mentioned, almost in passing, that there are other issues with Iraq which might be dealt with in resolutions. And of course, we remember the piece, the white paper, or whatever -- The Decade of Deception -- I forget the title exactly. But it cited several US allegations, mistreatment of people, illicit economic activity.
MR. BOUCHER: Facts. We call them facts, Barry, not allegations.
QUESTION: Well, they are facts, but they would argue, I guess, that they are allegations. But in any event, are you suggesting that all of these might, in one way or another, in the US view, be contained in resolutions? And if so, will they contain grave consequences of provisions? In other words, are you trying to lay the groundwork for action against Iraq for any one of a half dozen or so factual or claimed violations?
MR. BOUCHER: We have make clear from the start, the Secretary of State has, that Iraq's defiance of the United Nations, Iraq's failure to live up to a whole series of obligations, was an issue that the United States felt and that, frankly, the Secretary General felt the Security Council needed to face.
How the Council decides to act on the various provisions that Iraq is violating, we will have to decide in terms of discussing the resolution. The resolution, as we have described it, that we seek is one that would identify the violations by Iraq, is one that would specify what Iraq had to do to correct those violations, and third that would specify that there would be consequences should Iraq not correct those.
We've talked about resolution or resolutions. You may find that some of these things are dealt with in that resolution, whereas others might be dealt with elsewhere. Those kind of issues are still under discussion.
QUESTION: Apparently, there's some grumbling that Kofi came out too soon with the Iraqi letter and was too quick to welcome it. And I believe there were even allegations by the White House that the media got the letter from Iraq before it was even passed to the members of the Security Council. Is that true, as you understand it, and have you heard anything else?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if that's true or not. You know, I'll go get my copy, you can get your copy and we'll see what the fax machines say on the time of transmission.
QUESTION: Well, I got these from you. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Oh. Well, then.
QUESTION: Have you heard that kind of grumbling, that kind of dissatisfaction, and that perhaps he's being too optimistic about it?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, let's all remember, you know, anybody that's examined Iraq's behavior in the past was not surprised that we had this kind of move by Iraq. You know, did we know it was going to be Tuesday? No. But everybody knew that as the Council showed unanimity from the President's speech, as the pressure built on Iraq, not only from members of the Council responding to the President's speech, but members of the Arab world and other nations responding to the President's speech, the pressure grew on Iraq, the threat of force was out there -- only under those circumstances have we ever seen Iraq take any steps in the past -- and as in the past, under those circumstances, Iraq came forward with something that appeared to address at least one of the issues that was important to many members.
And therefore, Iraq's behavior is anticipated. The reaction from people who saw one of their key issues being addressed was anticipated as well. But the fact is, as we sit down and work through the obligations of Iraq, as we sit down and work through the responsibilities of the Security Council, and as we sit down and work through what it will really take for Iraq to demonstrate that this time is different, that this time they do intend to comply, I think you'll find that we all in the Security Council want to face up to those responsibilities and have the Security Council tell Iraq what it has to do, and not Iraq pick and choose what it might or might not do.
QUESTION: Can I change the subject? On Cuba, apparently one of your Deputy Secretaries of State has been very busy talking about how Cuba has been trying to throw -- endanger the American war against terrorism. Can you shed any more light on this, how you think that Cuba has been providing any false information that might endanger US national security?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if I can shed any more light on it. He talked yesterday -- Deputy Assistant Secretary Dan Fisk -- at the privately sponsored National Summit on Cuba, an event held in Washington, D.C. He's talked about how, despite some of its statements, the Cuban regime has failed to live up to its promises to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. We think they really work to distract attention and resources from some of our ongoing efforts.
The misinformation that we've gotten in some cases basically wastes our time and effort tracking it down. So we've had a lot of problems with some of the statements, some of the information that Cuba's given us. We don't think it's been much of a help and, in fact, it's actually diverted valuable resources from more -- how can I say? -- more appropriate and more factual information.
QUESTION: Have you taken it up with the Cuban Government, and what has the response been?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sure we've taken it up with the Cuban Government, but I don't have anything on their response.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: You know, one has to wonder. They've sent, you know, walk-ins in to pretend to give us information. One has to wonder why they do those sorts of things.
QUESTION: Richard, from your UN talks, can you describe any change of attitudes with both the Saudis and any help that you're getting from the Yemen Government in looking for al-Qaida training camps?
MR. BOUCHER: The question, I think, related to the help and the work that we're doing with the Yemeni Government on looking for camps, I think, relates to a story about Pentagon activities, and I would have to refer you to the military or the Pentagon for answers on that.
As far as working with the Saudi Government, we've been in very close touch with them over the last several weeks on the question of Iraq. I think you've seen a number of comments that they've made. During the meeting yesterday morning with the Saudi Foreign Minister, in addition to discussing the Middle East and the Quartet meetings that were about to take place, the Secretary and the Saudi Foreign Minister discussed again the question of Iraq and Iraq's obligation to comply. So we've had pretty -- very good and close coordination with them on this matter.
QUESTION: To go back to the Mid East for a moment, shortly after the President's speech in June there was a lot of ferment about the US assistance to helping the Palestinians rebuild their security forces, and there was a point at which I recall the Secretary was on the verge of announcing something, of saying "wait a few days and we'll give you some details," or "it's under discussion." And Tenet, of course, was supposed to go there and didn't.
Whatever became of all that? It seems to have petered away. And because, at least up until today with another suicide bombing, things have been fairly quiet on the security front, the urgency of this question seems to have evaporated. But can you update us on where that is?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure we promised details. We may have promised more to say, and certainly I have more to say, but I'm afraid some of the details we're not in a position to give you. This is something that we have, indeed, been working on. And you'll remember, there was an earlier trip by the Director of Central Intelligence Agency, then there were some visits here to Washington by various Palestinians, including meetings with security people here. And this is something we have continued to work on actively throughout this period whether anybody was paying much attention or not, and frankly, sometimes we would prefer that they wouldn't.
But we are moving down this track. The Secretary briefed the Quartet at the meetings yesterday on where we stood in terms of security cooperation. We and some other governments are helping in this process, working with the Palestinians to rebuild a security service that can be responsible, that can be clean, that can be transparent, that can take control and can stop the violence before it occurs.
So without getting into details of the security cooperation with the Israelis and the Palestinians, I can say we remain committed to doing that. We are doing it. We are helping the parties in any way we can try to engage in active security cooperation and to try to rebuild the service.
QUESTION: So there are things happening. Are things happening on --
MR. BOUCHER: We have a number of -- we have the active support of a number of Arab states, including Jordan and Egypt, in these efforts on security and Palestinian civil reform.
QUESTION: So things are happening on the ground to train people now with American involvement?
MR. BOUCHER: Without getting into specifics, we are actively working with other governments and with the Israelis and the Palestinians to help the process of reform and to help create a Palestinian security service that can take responsibility.
QUESTION: How much of a disruption is the cabinet reshuffle that's happening now? I mean, is that an obstacle?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've said -- have we said? Maybe not. We may not have discussed the subject. But in terms of the rebuilding of Palestinian security services, the kind of security cooperation we have underway, no, that's proceeding. That's proceeding in the way that we had expected and the way we've been planning.
In terms of the events themselves, we've been watching, of course, the steps in the legislature and the changes in the cabinet. We've welcomed the process, I think, of the legislature asserting more control and are very interested in this overall process of reform of institutions in the Palestinian Authority.
QUESTION: Do you want to say anything about the bombing? You didn't mention it.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there have been a couple of things recently. I think first of all, it's very troubled and obviously condemn in the strongest possible terms the attempted suicide bombing this morning. It appears to have wounded two. We think the Palestinians need to take immediate steps to prevent actions such as these, disrupt the infrastructure that supports violence and terror. And those efforts are necessary to improve the situation for Palestinians overall, particularly the humanitarian situation.
I would also note that there was a particularly awful attack the other day, yesterday I think, at a Palestinian school. There was a bomb explosion in a Palestinian school. We are saddened by the reports of injuries to innocent schoolchildren at that place, and we condemn that attack as well in the strongest possible terms. We do note that in that case Israeli and Palestinian officials have said they'll be looking into the explosion and will bring those responsible to justice.
QUESTION: Richard, has the cabinet reshuffling that you were talking about, have those resignations already taken place, or are they just preparing to depart?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how that system works. I think they've been announced, the resignations have been announced.
QUESTION: Of the total cabinet?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. But exactly when they become effective, whether it awaits the appointment of a new one or not, I just don't know.
QUESTION: Do you have a position on the timing of the Palestinian election and the question of whether Arafat needs to have stepped down from a direct role in the government for that to happen?
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look in the Quartet statement yesterday, you'll see that the Quartet supports the idea of an election in early 2003 as part of the overall process of reform. I'll leave it at that.
QUESTION: What about Arafat's role leading up to it?
MR. BOUCHER: We've always said it's for Palestinians to decide on their leadership and their leadership structure. We've just made clear who we can work with, and we need to see new leaders emerge that can take responsibility for effective action. And we think all these reforms, elections, whatever, are part of that process.
Released on September 18, 2002