State Dept. Daily Press Briefing for October 15
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
October 15, 2002
1-2 Update on Situation in Bali
2 US Government Personnel Ordered to Depart
2-3 Investigation of Bomb Explosion / Intended Target
3 Number of Americans in Bali
3 Aid Requested by Indonesian Government
3-4,7-8 al-Qaida Link to Bombing
4,5-6 Efforts with Combating Terrorism
4 Travel Warning
5-6 al-Qaida Training Camps
7 The Responsibility of Muslim Clerics
6 National Security Strategy
19-20 Aboriginal Bowhead Whale Quotas Renewed
8-10 US Consultations with Friends and Allies
10-11 Status of UN Security Council Resolution / Text of
12 US Encourages Signing the Declaration of Principle
12-13 US Support of Counternarcotics Cooperation
12 Resuming Flights
13 Energy Security Discussions
13 Continuing Investigation of Kolchuga System Transferred to
13 Cooperation with Investigators
13-14 Conference with EU Members in Warsaw
14 National Court s Investigation of Kuchma
14 US Policy Regarding American Defectors
14-15 POW/MIA Update
15 Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with Chilean Defense
15-16 Mrs. Colvin Requests Assistance with Regaining Custody of
16-17 Developments in Northern Ireland
17 Election Update
18 Election Update
18-19 US Support for a Democratic Pakistan
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any announcements or statements, so I'd be glad to take your questions. Sir.
QUESTION: Why don't we give one of the other wires a chance?
MR. BOUCHER: One of the other wires? Are there any other that matter? What about a non-wire? All right, who wants the first question? Matt Lee?
QUESTION: I'll ask. What is the latest, if there is any latest, on the situation in Bali and your ordered departure?
MR. BOUCHER: The terrorist attack in Bali is being investigated by the governments of Indonesia and Australia. The United States sent federal agents to Bali to assist in the investigation. The President, over the weekend, condemned this heinous attack, and obviously we're doing everything we can to help Americans.
We have confirmed now that there are two Americans dead. There's a handful of others that were reported to have been in the club that we are trying to confirm their status. There's a larger number, 150 or so Americans, who are thought to have been in Bali that we are making every effort to identify where they are. We're calling hospitals, putting out Warden messages, contacting hotels, putting ads in newspapers, just to have people check in with us and contact the Consular Agency in Bali who we have in Denpasar there, or our Consulate General in Surabaya. There are others who have checked in with us, and when we can we pass the information on to their families in the United States.
There are four people who are injured we've been able to identify by calling hospitals. Two people were medically evacuated, were put on medical evacuation flights with our assistance.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not exactly sure which, whether they're same flights or separate flights.
For the rest of the people in Bali, Americans, there are commercial flights available going to and from the airport there. So other Americans are able to leave if they want to, if they will heed our advice to consider leaving the country.
As far as our ordered departure goes, we are drawing down US Government personnel in non-emergency positions and all our family members, so probably about something like 300 people leaving our official community out there. We felt we had to take this step because of increased security concerns arising from the October 12th bombing in Bali and another bombing in the vicinity of our consular agency in Bali. And as I said, our warning now advises all Americans to defer travel to Indonesia and that Americans now in Indonesia evaluate their security posture and consider departing the country.
QUESTION: So two brief things on that, then. On Friday when you were asked this question about whether you had told the Indonesians that you were considering pulling back people, is this what you had in mind then? Or was this under consideration even before the bombing?
MR. BOUCHER: There had been a -- some events and reports in Indonesia that had raised our level of concern. We were considering what to do before the bombing, but the bombing, very sadly and unfortunately, made clear the dangers.
QUESTION: So, in fact, on Friday you were considering a -- at least some kind of a -- whether it's authorized or some kind of drawdown?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we were considering a drawdown at that point. I will have to double-check on that. I think we were considering looking at what to do about the travel advisory.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the second thing is that -- have you -- is there any evidence that the bomb that went off near the consular office in Bali was directed at that office?
MR. BOUCHER: I think those things remain under investigation, but obviously with some kind of explosion near our Consular Agency in Bali, therefore we have to be concerned.
QUESTION: But you don't have anything at the moment to say that it was definitely --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything definitive on either attack at this point.
QUESTION: Okay. And are you convinced that that one is linked to the bigger car bomb explosion outside the nightclubs?
MR. BOUCHER: That one, meaning the --
QUESTION: The one near the consular --
MR. BOUCHER: Meaning the one near the Consular Agency?
MR. BOUCHER: They were very close together in terms of the time. I'm sure the investigators will identify any possible links.
QUESTION: Richard, you talked about a figure of 150 Americans. Is this how many Americans are total that were on the island and you're just trying to find some of them or is that the number that you can't find?
MR. BOUCHER: That's the number of people who we have heard from their relatives in the United States that they haven't checked in, they haven't heard. And it could be because they are in remote areas and we can't -- don't assume that these people have gone -- come to any harm. But we're trying to help American relatives track down their loved ones who were thought to be in Bali, and so we're making an effort to track down some 150 Americans. There are probably many more Americans who were on the island at the time. Many of them probably called home and everybody knows that they are okay.
QUESTION: One other. Has there been any expression of the need for help by the Indonesian Government to help solve these? I mean, we have people there on the ground in Bali, but has the government itself asked for any help?
MR. BOUCHER: The President, in his statement, offered any kind of assistance the US could provide, and I think the most immediate form is to send some federal agents, some FBI people, to Bali to assist them in their investigation. I'm sure we'll help in any other way that might be asked, but at this point that's the only specific I can tell you about.
QUESTION: On October 11th, I think it was, the State Department issued last week a Worldwide Caution to American citizens mentioning al-Qaida. I realize that intelligence information is not the sort of thing you like to talk about from the podium, but can you tell us if there was any indication at that point that an attack was in the works specifically for Indonesia?
MR. BOUCHER: If we have specific and credible information about attacks, we put it out in more specific form. We described, I think, the basis for our cautions on October 10th. We said we continue to receive credible indications that extremist groups and individuals are planning additional terrorist actions against US interests.
You'll also remember that when we put out the worldwide warnings in September that we said at the time that while a lot of this information did center on Southeast Asia, we knew that there were threats in Southeast Asia. We also assumed that there were other threats around the world. And the President, I think, over the weekend or yesterday, talked about a number of things in Kuwait, in Yemen, and this bombing in Bali which have caused loss of life and serious damage to people. And these occur in different parts of the world and may each have a connection to al-Qaida.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, George.
QUESTION: The Indonesian attention to the terrorist problem has been a concern for the administration for some time. The Secretary was there about two and a half months ago talking about this, and I recall when he was asked about it, and he said, well, we think they'll do better in the future, suggesting that the status quo was not particularly satisfactory.
Do you have any observations as to the level of Indonesian activity in this regard?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we have had, since last year, a whole series of discussions with the Indonesians designed to improve our cooperation against terrorism. That cooperation has improved over time and we've been working with them to look for all the different ways and new ways that we could cooperate. We continue to do that and we'll continue to work with them as we best can to assist them in efforts to deal with the problem of terrorism. We know it exists, you know, all over the world. We know there -- the, I think current figures are there have been arrests of something like 2,600 people associated with al-Qaida and terrorism in something like 90 countries.
So it's not a problem that's confined to any single place or any single region, but we need to work with countries all over the world and so we've talked to the Indonesians about how we can do that. The Secretary, when he was there, talked to them about new things we could do and ways to cooperate more effectively, and we continue to do that with Indonesia and want to continue to work with them so that their efforts can be even more effective.
Okay, let's go back here.
QUESTION: Mary Wilkinson, the Sydney Morning Herald. On the 26th of September, the US Embassy put out a notice in Jakarta specifically urging Westerners to avoid bars and tourist areas. Can you tell me, was Bali explicitly included or excluded in that notice?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a copy of that notice with me. Was that in the pack of things we pulled off earlier? You think it was? Okay, we'll look for it. I told them blithely that I didn't need to have it; nobody would ask about the specifics.
QUESTION: On the basis of The Washington Post report this morning that there was an intelligence report explicitly mentioning Bali at that time, was that notice on the 26th of September linked to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check and see if we can link it to any particular piece of intelligence. The warnings that we put out describe as best we can in an open way the kind of information we're getting. And as you know, in the last couple months we've been getting a lot of information about a lot of areas where there might be attacks without being able to identify any specific locations where these attacks are most likely to occur.
And therefore, as we've seen, there have been attacks all over the world from time to time. And I have to say, as much as we've done against al-Qaida, as much as we've been able to succeed in arresting people and grabbing the finances and preventing them from having safe havens, they're still lethal, they're still dangerous, and they're still capable of carrying out attacks.
So we do put out these general warnings. We put out more specific ones. Our embassies pick those up and provide them to the local American community or local American residents in these countries.
In terms of the intelligence that we have, we share a lot of intelligence more and more these days with other governments. As you probably know, we've always shared anything that can be of mutual interest with our Australian allies and we work -- we have a very, very close intelligence relationship. So we do make sure that anything we pick up that might affect them, that they know about, and so we always share whatever specifics there might be.
Do you have it? The one on the 26th said that -- we talked about the September 23rd grenade attack in central Jakarta. "Common sense dictates that Westerners, especially US citizens, should exercise extreme caution, be extra vigilant. Americans and Westerners should avoid large gatherings, locations known to cater primarily to Western clientele, such as certain bars, restaurants and tourist areas." It was not specific to Bali, no.
QUESTION: One question along the lines of what George asked you. Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation that you're getting right now from Indonesian authorities? And in particular, CNN says it's obtained video of an al-Qaida training camp in Indonesia. Has the US asked the Indonesians to shut down these training camps?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen CNN video on this. I don't know if they have our video or we have theirs at this point. But I would say that we have talked with the Indonesian Government over a long period of time about any number of things that we could do together to fight terrorism, any things that they could do to fight terrorism.
We have seen increasing cooperation, but like everywhere else in the world, we need to see continuing cooperation and there are always new steps that people need to take and things that people need to do. So, at this point, I think I will just stop it at that.
QUESTION: So, I mean, is the US aware of any training camps in Indonesia?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I would have to check.
QUESTION: Richard, can you check, especially because I believe that you guys have pointed to at least one training camp in Sulawesi.
MR. BOUCHER: In Sulawesi?
QUESTION: Sulawesi? It's been discussed before --
MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check, Matt. My recall may not be as perfect as others'.
QUESTION: More along the same lines. Yesterday, the President used some fairly pointed language in talking about Indonesia needing to take up its responsibilities to go after terrorists on its soil, which the language seemed to me to fairly closely echo some of the language in the new National Security Strategy that the White House put out a few weeks ago.
Can one put two and two together and presume that the US might contemplate going into Indonesia and doing what the Indonesians refuse to do themselves, or are incapable of doing themselves, because that is something --
MR. BOUCHER: That's putting two and two together and getting 13. Nowhere near. I don't think anybody can do that.
QUESTION: But you did set out that -- that idea is set out in the new Security Strategy.
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, read the whole National Security Strategy. We talk about -- we talk much more about cooperation with other governments against common threats than we do about preemption.
QUESTION: Would you say a handful (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: From zero to five.
QUESTION: Okay. So we should take these things literally, then? When you say a handful? Up to five?
MR. BOUCHER: Less than five. I don't know if it helps us to give out a specific number. We're going to try to account for all the Americans that were thought to have been there. It may turn out some weren't. It may turn out there are others that we find out about. So at any given point we may be looking for one or two more or less, but we think there are less than five who were in this club that we have not been able to identify yet.
QUESTION: Let me ask a question about the responsibility of Muslim clerics. Pakistan, of course, just held elections and the MMA, a Muslim opposition group, thinks now that they can have a greater coalition role, and also there is a Laskar Jihad in Indonesia that just disbanded and folded just about the same time of this terrorist attack last weekend, and also in Israel they've just been forced to release a cleric, who, in an interview, was very outspoken against some of the condoning suicide bombings, or bombers, I should say. What is the responsibility? Are we talking to various governments to have them curtail some of this outright speech by some of these Muslim clerics?
MR. BOUCHER: I think not everybody you cited in there are clerics. We have always felt that everybody in the world has a responsibility to speak responsibly and to understand that terrorism and violence are harmful to the cause that they espouse, as well as horrible for the people who are the innocent victims.
The President, I think, again spoke on Friday about the fact that Islam is one of the world's great religions and it espouses a way of peace and nonviolence, and that's the way we see it. And that's what we think the responsibility of clerics or others who espouse a religion have to their own religion as well as to humanity.
Have you got a follow-up?
QUESTION: No, no. This is the reverse. There are a few of these people that are actually asking for more incitement and more --
MR. BOUCHER: That's not good.
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. We can agree on that.
QUESTION: If we can just get back to Indonesia. I know that we've talked about an al-Qaida link to the Bali attack, but has there been any information --
MR. BOUCHER: Possible. I think at this point we can't --
QUESTION: Possible. But has there been any indication that there also might be any kind of Hezbollah, like the former ambassador was on MacNeil-Lehrer or the Lehrer show yesterday, said that he had warned in 1999 the government about Hezbollah presence in Indonesia. Can you comment on that at all?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't comment on that. The investigation is still ongoing. I'm sure they'll want to pin down any possible links to any possible terrorist groups. There's also obviously indigenous Indonesian groups that need to be looked at in this regard who are among the possible suspects. So they will have to run down whatever connections the perpetrators might have had.
In the back.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Bolton said to some members of the media that it's not enough just to take out Saddam, but maybe his top lieutenants should go as well. Is this sort of an administration change, maybe sort of a new, expanded version of regime change?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those remarks. I don't think I can comment on it.
QUESTION: Can we go on to Iraq? Well, we are on Iraq, I guess. Apart from meeting Foreign Secretary Straw this morning, with whom he has discussed this at great length over the past few weeks, and what has the Secretary been doing to secure the UN resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: I hate these questions that start out, "Apart from what you're doing, what are you doing?"
QUESTION: Well, this is slightly to agree with you on most things, whereas the others don't. There was a mention of talking to the French yesterday. Can you give us more details?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. We've been in touch with other delegations, including the French in New York. We've continued our conversations at the ministerial level, specifically by the Secretary's meetings with Foreign Secretary Straw today. We continue to work with other members of the Council on key elements of the resolution. The discussions continue. As the Secretary just said, they are intense and we'll keep working it.
QUESTION: Well, on that, this was what, an ambassador level, UN ambassador level meeting yesterday in New York?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, meeting or discussion. I'm not sure if they talked on the phone or talked in person.
QUESTION: Okay. And the Secretary said that during that the French presented some ideas?
MR. BOUCHER: We had heard back from them, and we'll consider that and get back to them.
QUESTION: And is this --
MR. BOUCHER: Reports that there's a deadlock or a split or some breakdown are wrong. We're working it and we're still in touch with the other countries and discussing it.
QUESTION: But reports that the negotiations are intense and difficult aren't wrong?
MR. BOUCHER: Intense --
QUESTION: It's six of one, half a dozen of the other.
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not.
QUESTION: Can you say if --
MR. BOUCHER: A breakdown means it's stopped.
QUESTION: Should the French expect some kind of an answer when the Defense Minister comes here to Washington or is this something that will be done at a lower --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. The Secretary has had these discussions directly on the phone with the French Foreign Minister. Foreign Secretary Straw has been in touch with the French Foreign Minister as well. The President has talked to President Chirac. So we've had these discussions in a number of ways, but I think the most direct channel has been sort of through the foreign affairs channel.
QUESTION: -- the Secretary's reference to an idea to -- is specific to talks in New York.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we heard some ideas from them in New York through their ambassador to our ambassador and we'll be responding in whatever way we decide is appropriate. Their ideas are responding to ideas that we've floated with them, so it's been going back and forth.
QUESTION: To discourage us from saying -- repeating that these talks were in deadlock, can you give us any evidence of any progress that --
MR. BOUCHER: I give you the evidence that the Secretary of State just told you that they're ongoing, and I for one believe him.
QUESTION: Richard, do you think you're making progress?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to claim any progress until we've done it, so it's -- you know, we're a little shy about claiming too much.
QUESTION: Well, but you claim that it's not broken down and it's not deadlocked, and then you can't say -- you can't say there's no progress. So what are we supposed to think?
MR. BOUCHER: You're supposed to think that the discussions are intense, they're ongoing, that we're working this. Obviously if we didn't think it was a positive discussion we wouldn't have it -- you know, it wouldn't be continuing. But I can't -- you know, we'll -- to come out here and claim progress, discussions are progressing. Is that close enough?
QUESTION: I don't know about your last statement because continuing would demonstrate you've taken the -- you've walked the last, whatever the cliché is, before you act on your own or you act in concert with a few friends, that you've tried everything you can to --
MR. BOUCHER: We and the French are trying to work out this. We and the French are both trying to work this out. We're trying to work out language that the French and the British and the Russians and the other Security Council colleagues can agree upon that will make clear the determination of the Council. Let's remember, this is not about the US and France; this is about Iraq, and about Iraq understanding very clearly that if they don't comply with the UN requirements there will be consequences. So we're continuing to work on that. That is the goal that we and the French and others have. They understand the need for Iraq to comply and to disarm. We all want to secure that goal, and how exactly we do that in this resolution or, as the French prefer, resolutions, is the subject of continuing discussion. This is a positive discussion. It's a discussion that has been both ways, that we've floated ideas with them and they've floated ideas with us. So it's not a breakdown, a deadlock or an irreparable split, as some would have it. It's an ongoing discussion.
QUESTION: All I was suggesting, and then I'll drop it, is that the fact that you're still talking doesn't necessarily mean that you have prospects of success; it necessarily means you're making a very strong effort.
MR. BOUCHER: It means we're both trying to make it a success, we're both trying to -- we're all trying to reach agreement on this.
QUESTION: Prior to your answer to Barry just then, you have always said -- you have never said that you're trying to work out language. You've always said that you're on the concept phase. And what you just said to Barry was we're trying to work on the French, trying to work out language that will be acceptable. Does this mean that you guys are now on to language or is that --
MR. BOUCHER: This question has come up before but it's come up in the way, "Have you changed your text?" No, we haven't changed our text. We have one text that we've floated with others. But obviously, we're discussing the elements, the concepts, and we're floating textual language for those elements and contexts.
QUESTION: So you are --
MR. BOUCHER: I think I have said that on previous occasions, frankly.
QUESTION: But you're negotiating those; is that what you mean? You're not --
MR. BOUCHER: We're not down to the level of textual negotiation that one does before one puts a resolution together.
QUESTION: Richard, is it fair to say that you're working on a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides, that the US is showing flexibility, then?
MR. BOUCHER: We've always said going into this that we had our preferred course, we had our preferred language, but that we were going to consult with other governments and see what they thought. These are real consultations. We're talking to them. We'll see how to work it out.
QUESTION: Right. But, I mean, obviously if you're still talking, either you're saying we're not going to budge or you're working on some middle ground.
MR. BOUCHER: Or we're saying we understand you, now let's try to figure out how to do this so it works for both of us.
QUESTION: And that isn't a compromise?
MR. BOUCHER: No. If both sides get what they want, nobody has to compromise.
QUESTION: Would --
MR. BOUCHER: Look, I'm not going to do this in public. I'm not going to negotiate this with you. I'm not going to characterize it 17 different ways. We're working this with the French in fairly intense discussions. We're talking to the other Council members, the British and the Russians as well. And we're trying to come up with a solution that meets the goals of the Council, which is to make clear to Iraq they need to disarm, and if they don't, there will be consequences.
QUESTION: Richard, is it -- does the US believe that if the French -- if the US is able to reach agreement with the French that the Russians and the Chinese will follow behind?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're working with all of the Perm 5 at this point. We're actually keeping in touch with other members of the Council as well. And I think we have a feeling that if we can work with out with the Perm 5 then we'll have something that others can accept as well.
QUESTION: I just want to go back to ten questions ago about the Bolton quote. It's very simple. Insofar as US policy also would like to see regime change at some point, that would include not just Saddam, but I'm assuming his top-level generals --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see -- I don't see anything controversial about what was quoted to me, but I didn't see what he said so I won't be in a position to give you an exegesis of the full text.
QUESTION: Can I ask a non-UN Iraq question, which is Iraqis are going to the polls, such as they are in Iraq, what do you think, if anything, of the referendum that they are having right now?
MR. BOUCHER: You know, I have to say we didn't even prepare anything on it. It's not even worthy of our ridicule. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: That's stronger than Ari Fleischer.
MR. BOUCHER: Is it?
QUESTION: Not being worthy of our ridicule.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, I just made it up, so -- (laughter.)
QUESTION: Can we change subjects?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: Well, the OAS Secretary Gaviria trip to Venezuela has been canceled and you -- on Friday, you encouraged both sides in Venezuela to sign the Declaration of Principle, but after the countermarch President Chavez refused to sign it. Do you have any reaction, any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think our view remains the same from day-to-day that there needs to be a compromise, political dialogue and compromise in Venezuela. They need to work with the outside parties who have so generously offered to help in this matter and who have been successful in so many other areas, that it's really important to try to resolve these issues through dialogue. And we think both parties, all the parties in Venezuela, should be willing to engage in that kind of dialogue.
QUESTION: That one report over the weekend that the United States was seeking some agreements with the Venezuelan Government, firstly on long-term energy security and secondly, on the resumption of interdiction flights over Venezuela for the drug trade --
MR. BOUCHER: We've been talking about counternarcotics cooperation. We had a team down there in Caracas from the 25th to the 28th of September. It was a working-level team talking about counternarcotics cooperation with Venezuelan Government officials, and we remain engaged with Venezuela to enhance our cooperation.
QUESTION: Were they specifically talking about a resumption of air --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position at this point to go into specifics. I think you know we've recently described our position on resuming flights and that still remains the case.
QUESTION: No. This is a separate, completely separate operation. You don't shoot people down over Venezuela. You never did anyway.
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to check and see if there's flights over Venezuela, but I'm not aware of any.
QUESTION: No there aren't. There haven't been, but -- there haven't been for many years --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we've been talking to them about counternarcotics cooperation but we're not, at this point, able to go into the --
QUESTION: And on the energy security aspects of this, do you know of any discussions with the Venezuelan Government?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any particular discussions, although I suppose it's a subject that comes up fairly frequently with Venezuela.
QUESTION: Moving on. Ukraine. Your and the British investigators are there. What have they uncovered, if anything, about President Kuchma's involvement in this alleged sale?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's interesting. I can't count. They re still there. They are still in Kiev. They arrived on October 13th. They are looking to determine whether the Kolchuga system was transferred to Iraq. To contribute to the safety of US and UK pilots and to clarify questions on Ukraine's export controls, they'll also look into the chain of events and leadership decisions after President Kuchma approved the transfer of the Kolchuga system to Iraq in July, 2000.
The team is out there. They are working, but I don't have any specifics of their itinerary. Right now their focus is on the fact-finding portion of the trip.
QUESTION: What kind of cooperation have they gotten from the Ukrainians?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's -- I don't want to give a general assessment there. One of the things they want to do is make sure that the atmosphere that was prefaced and promised of open and cooperative work together is maintained, and that's what they will expect.
QUESTION: Same subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: There are the meetings in Warsaw today, as well, between Ukrainian politicians and the European Union and others. What is the US participation in that and it seems to be, if it exists at all, at a fairly low level and why is that?
MR. BOUCHER: We have representatives from our embassy in Warsaw who are attending the conference. This is a conference that the Polish Government is hosting between -- it's on Ukraine and Europe. European Union representatives are attending. As you know, we're not a member of the European Union, but we support Ukraine's goal of integration into Europe institutions and the growth of democratic processes in Ukraine.
QUESTION: Another subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the, I guess the National Court's investigation now into Kuchma?
MR. BOUCHER: The what?
QUESTION: Yeah. There was a -- they just launched an investigation into Kuchma internally. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment on that. Certainly there are a lot of issues here that need to be looked at and I'm sure we would hope that anything that they would find they would share with us.
QUESTION: It's about American soldier, Sergeant Charles Jenkins, who defected to North Korea in 1965, later married to a Japanese citizen abducted by North Korean agent. On Tuesday he talked to a Japanese official at Pyongyang and expressed no desire to leave that country. What is US policy on this individual? Do you still want to interview him or prosecute him? What about possibility that he's coming to Japan with his family?
MR. BOUCHER: We have known about this individual for a long time, that he was in North Korea. We hadn't known that he was married to this woman until Prime Minister Koizumi brought the word back about the abductees. The United States has sought to talk to this person and other Americans who are known to be in North Korea, but largely about whether they had heard or knew of any others who might have been there that we did not know about as part of our missing persons effort that we have underway, including efforts in North Korea to find Americans who are still missing from the war. So we have wanted to talk to him. I think we still want to talk to him. But I don't want to speculate on whether he might or might not go to Japan.
QUESTION: Does he still have the US citizenship or just defector?
MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know. I think the Pentagon might be able to update you on that. They keep track of Americans overseas, including those who have departed from the military service and gone elsewhere.
QUESTION: Richard, on that same subject, I just want to know, are you aware of any non-military people, POW -- well, any non -- when you say you want to talk to him about other Americans that might be there, how many civilian Americans are you aware of that are -- are there any civilian Americans that you're aware of or -- now?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say civilians, so other Americans. Military people are Americans, too.
QUESTION: But you're talking specifically about POW/MIA issues, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: You're not talking about -- I don't know -- some tour group from Boise that got hijacked into North Korea, are you?
MR. BOUCHER: No, not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: At least to your knowledge, there isn't any?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the specifics on the missing people from the war, but I would expect that the vast majority, if not all, were military people.
Okay. Over there.
QUESTION: Any word on the purpose of the Chilean Defense Minister's meeting with Deputy Secretary Armitage last Tuesday, I guess it was October 8th?
MR. BOUCHER: Didn't we put up an answer on that? We'll check.
QUESTION: Okay. Was there any comment or connection between that and the resignation of Chilean Air Force General Rios over allegations that he was trying to suppress the involvement of the Chilean military in human rights abuses during the Pinochet dictatorship?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any connection. I'll have to check and see.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on an American woman in China who has gone there to try and get her son back from her former husband who kidnapped the child that is being held hostage in a hotel?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a complicated and difficult situation, as most of these custody cases are. We're trying to help the mother regain custody of her child, as she should under US court orders. We've actually been in touch with the mother since early August but we didn't receive any request for assistance until we were contacted in China over the weekend.
Our Embassy in Beijing has sent a consular officer yesterday to Zhengzhou in order to meet with Mrs. Colvin. The Embassy has requested that Chinese police provide protection to Mrs. Colvin from possible harassment by her ex-husband. We've been in touch with the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office yesterday and we expect to stay in close contact with Chinese officials to work towards resolution of the case.
And that's about where we are right now. We're trying to work on it out there.
QUESTION: Any -- do you know -- well, she has not been able to get out of the hotel because she's afraid that the former husband will snatch the child again. Is there anything that the consular official can do to --
MR. BOUCHER: As we ve said, we've already asked the Chinese police to provide protection to her to prevent that kind of action from occurring, and we have a consular officer on the scene who's trying to work it out so that she can return to the United States with her child.
QUESTION: The Foreign Ministry in Beijing seems to be saying, well, it's up to the local authorities. The former husband is asking for quite a bit of money. And is there any chance that you all are putting more pressure on the Foreign Ministry to simply make a decree that she should be able to leave with the child?
MR. BOUCHER: Our Embassy, as I said, has been in touch with the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office and we continue to talk to Chinese officials about it, as well as to have a person on the scene to work this. US custody rulings aren't automatically binding in foreign countries. China is not a part to the Hague Convention on International Parental Child Abduction.
But as in this case, when there's a decision on custody that's been violated, the abducting party can be charged with international parental child abduction and we can keep them out of the United States and we can try to see that the child is -- that the right parent is given custody and the child is allowed to return.
QUESTION: Northern Ireland? I realize the White House said something about this, but perhaps you could go into more detail. Is US diplomacy doing anything to assist in resolving this crisis?
MR. BOUCHER: As you say, the President yesterday underscored our support for the decision, the necessary but difficult decision made by Prime Minister Tony Blair. We've welcomed the commitment by the Prime Minister and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to restore confidence between the parties and the peoples. We stand ready to assist the efforts of the British and Irish governments as they work towards full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. We echo both prime ministers' strong condemnation of sectarianism and violence as having no place in a democratic society.
We do maintain contacts with the parties there and we'll continue to use our influence to try to end the violence and restore confidence.
QUESTION: Do you think that the IRA should disband?
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly the IRA needs to take some steps to address the deficit of trust. Exactly what those steps should be and their timing has to be determined by the political process. So I don't want to get into the particulars of steps and sequencing, but we need to restore trust. And in addition to the IRA, Unionists, Loyalists, Nationalists and Republicans alike all share a degree of that responsibility.
QUESTION: Is any party especially responsible? You seem to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I said, the IRA needs to take some steps to address the deficit of trust in particular.
QUESTION: Okay. Do the Loyalists also have -- do they also have to redress the deficit of trust?
MR. BOUCHER: There's a lot to be done to restore trust between the communities and everybody has a responsibility in that regard.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about the failure of the Serb election?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we put out a statement, didn't we?
QUESTION: No. I actually thought you were going to.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I think we're going to put out a statement, release after the briefing.
We join the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international observers in recognizing that the elections on Sunday were conducted in a peaceful and democratic manner; disappointed that voter participation fell below the 50 percent threshold that's required for a new president to be elected.
We support the democratic process in Serbia. We strongly support the OSCE's recommendation that changes need to be made in Serbian election laws to allow the democratic process to continue, and when new elections are scheduled we urge the Serbian people to participate in those elections.
QUESTION: Okay, I have another election question, if I could.
MR. BOUCHER: In the back.
QUESTION: -- report that the Saudis aborted an attack on their pipeline last summer and that the US was aware of it and kind of helped them keep it quiet?
MR. BOUCHER: What?
QUESTION: It was on one of the networks last night.
MR. BOUCHER: Is that what this means? No, I haven't seen that report. I will have to see if we have anything on it.
QUESTION: Can I ask an election question? Last week you said that the initial indications from the Pakistan election were -- looked okay, and that if those were borne out that you would consider it a credible reflection of the will of the Pakistani people.
So you've now had the weekend, I guess, and one extra day to consider it, albeit it was a holiday. What do you think? Were the initial indications borne out?
MR. BOUCHER: I certainly have to say at this point -- I think first of all, we welcome the elections in Pakistan as an important milestone in the ongoing transition to democracy. We've reviewed the preliminary European Union observer findings. We concur that while some questions about restrictions on candidate qualifications in campaigning exist, these elections are an important step towards the restoration of full democracy in Pakistan. We also agree that government and political leaders now have a joint responsibility to ensure the smooth transition to a sustainable form of democratic and civilian rule. We continue to watch this process closely and remain engaged with Pakistan through the transition, and we look forward to working with the new government when it's formed. So that's pretty much our bottom line on the elections.
QUESTION: Will the Secretary of State see Mr. Sharon before or after or both --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Pakistan for --
QUESTION: Sure, yeah.
QUESTION: Given the success of the Islamic parties in the Northwest, is there any kind of reflection in this building or elsewhere in Washington that perhaps you may have pushed a little too hard for elections?
MR. BOUCHER: Our belief is that Pakistan needs to move towards democracy. We see this election as a milestone. It's an important step in that movement. Obviously full-fledged democracy is yet to come. We want Pakistan to keep moving in that direction. Some of these parties did quite well, especially in Baluchistan and the northwest frontier, but in the national assembly they'll be one of several parties and there'll probably, based on all accounts, be some kind of coalition.
So at this point, I don't want to offer any judgments about the government that might emerge. But certainly we think it's important for people to have a way of expressing their wishes and for parties to take the responsibility of leadership.
The course on which President Musharraf has led his nation is an important one. It offers the prospect of a moderate Muslim nation and that's one we wholeheartedly support.
QUESTION: One you --
MR. BOUCHER: Wholeheartedly support.
QUESTION: Will the Secretary be meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel besides being in the White House meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to check, Barry. I didn't check to see if there were any other meetings. I should mention as we talk about Pakistan that the Secretary did talk to President Musharraf over the weekend. Right now I can't remember if it was Sunday or Monday. Over the weekend is as close as I can come right now.
QUESTION: I've got one more here.
MR. BOUCHER: One more?
QUESTION: Yeah. I presume that you were pleased with the fact that the aboriginal bowhead whale quotas were renewed today?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we are.
QUESTION: Anything else to say about them?
MR. BOUCHER: The International Whaling Commission took three actions at a special meeting on October 14th. They admitted Iceland as a member, they adopted a, by consensus, a quota for the bowhead whales and rejected a Japanese resolution seeking support for an eventual quota for coastal whaling. So we're pleased that Japan, which acted to block the subsistence quota at the annual meeting last May, did not oppose the five-year quota at this meeting which will allow Alaskan and Russian natives to continue harvesting bowhead whales for subsistence purposes.
QUESTION: Right. And now to the real issue -- you voted against Iceland getting in. Iceland was very upset when you had blocked them before in May and they got in. What do you make of that?
MR. BOUCHER: Overall, we've consistently urged Iceland to join the International Whaling Commission, but our problem has been with a reservation to the commercial moratorium that Iceland wanted. Concern is based on the belief that all Whaling Commission members should be bound by the same rules and on the potential precedent that could be created. Now that the Commission has taken this decision, we expect Iceland to be a constructive participant and it's certainly our hope that Iceland will not authorize whaling unless and until the International Whaling Commission lifts the moratorium on commercial whaling.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the last thing on this, the other vote, the Japanese proposal, was rejected but in fact, the United States broke with long-held tradition and voted for it, even though it lost. What does this mean? Was there some kind of quid pro quo done here for the -- you voting for their resolution and them agreeing not to oppose the quota renewal?
MR. BOUCHER: We have not swapped any votes or made any linkage between the two. We said that we could support the concept of a quota if it was based on advice of the scientific committee and it was noncommercial. Because Japan's resolution included those elements, we were able to support it.
QUESTION: Okay, but in the past you guys have always said that you regard their coastal community whaling as commercial whaling. Does that mean that you guys are willing to move on this? And you oppose all commercial whaling, so therefore you've opposed --
MR. BOUCHER: As we said, this proposal was both based on the advice of the scientific committee and was non-commercial and it was for that reason that we were able to support it.