State Department Noon Briefing, January 14, 2004

 

Wednesday January 14, 2004

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
12:20 p.m. EST

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

NORTH KOREA
-- Visit of U.S. Delegation
-- Kelly's Meeting with Chinese DG Fu Ying and South Korean DG Wi Sung-lac
-- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with Chinese DG Fu Ying
-- Discussions about Six Party Talks
-- Assistant Secretary Kelly's Meeting with the Japanese

WESTERN HEMISPHERE
-- Monterrey Summit of the Americas

BOLIVIA
-- President Bush's Bilateral Meeting

VENEZUELA
-- Comments by President Chavez on U.S. Policy on Referendum
-- Signing of Declaration by Venezuelan President

HAITI
-- Secretary Powell and President Bush's Meeting with CARICOM
-- Attacks on Radio Outlets

IRAQ
-- U.S. Plan for Moving the Political Process Forward/November 15 Plan
-- Role of Ambassador Frank Ricciardone/Iraq Transition
-- Status of U.S.-Iraq Treaties
-- Sistani Views on Political Transition
-- UN Meetings
-- Ambassador Burns Travel

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
-- Need for an End to Violence/Vision of Two-State Solution
-- Condemnation of Today's Attack Killing Israelis

TURKEY
-- Troop Rotation/Incirlik Airbase

SUDAN
-- Peace Negotiations/Senator Danforth Efforts

LIBYA
-- Verification and Elimination of Weapons Programs
-- Signing of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

IRAN
-- Suspension of Uranium Enrichment and Reprocessing Activities
-- Guardian Council Decision to Disqualify Members of Parliament

SYRIA/ISRAEL
-- Peace Talks Between Syria and Israel


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2004
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

12:20 p.m. EST

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. Pleasure to be. Good to see you all.

Okay, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. I'd be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: How about the folks who visited North Korea? Are they back? Have you spoken to them or do you have something scheduled?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I think Deputy Spokesman Ereli told you yesterday that we expected to talk to them some more this week. That remains the plan. Nothing is -- no new briefings or information from them at this point.

I'll also remind you there were a number of members of the delegations, so we'll be talking to them at various times. But I guess the final thing to remind you of is don't expect that, once they brief us, we'll be able to come out here and brief you. It's up to them to talk about their visit, to the extent they want to.

QUESTION: All right. But can you talk about the meeting yesterday with Secretary Kelly by Ms. Fu?

MR. BOUCHER: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly met yesterday with the Chinese Director General for Asian Affairs Fu Ying. Obviously, they talked about the North Korea issue, the six-party process. Both sides agreed we'd continue to work together towards another round of six-party talks that we'd both like to see held at the earliest opportunity.

We are having other meetings. Assistant Secretary Kelly is meeting today, starting around noon, with the Korean -- Republic of Korea's Director General for North American Affairs Wi Sung-lac. That's, again, meetings today, again, in the context of continuing our consultations with friends and participants in the six-party talks, to define those talks further and to move towards a new round that we hope would take place at an early date.

Teri.

QUESTION: Mrs. Fu said when she left yesterday that there had been progress, or, actually, after she left her meeting with the Deputy Secretary. Could you explain to us what kind of progress was made in these meetings, other than you both want to have talks? That was known long before.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Let me -- I should also mention -- I was asked about the meetings with Assistant Secretary Kelly. Madame Fu also met with the Deputy Secretary, as you all know.

I don't -- I'm not in a position to talk about specific progress at a specific meeting. I think this has been a process of preparation that we've been going through. And that is a process where we have worked with the Chinese, and the Chinese have worked with the other parties, to talk more clearly and define some of the outcomes that we would expect from these talks, so that we can look for a productive round of talks, whatever follow-up is appropriate at that point, and all go in, having worked in advance to prepare these talks in a way that leads us to some clarity about what kind of outcome, what kind of constructive outcome, they could produce.

So I'd just put the meetings in that context, say this has been an ongoing process, as the Secretary told you when he briefed last week and has said on other occasions. The discussions are going on between the various parties. We are trying to work the issues and trying to make progress, even without quite having sat down at the table again.

QUESTION: Well, does that mean that the definition of the outcomes is still -- that's not -- it's not a finalized -- it's not finalized, it's still a work in progress? And by that, when you say "define some of the outcomes," you're talking about what public pledge or what public statement might come out at the end of it?

MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, part of the outcomes is the public statement that comes at the end. So that's one way to focus attention on what is to be done in the talks. But this is going to be, perhaps, a more thoroughly, very more thoroughly -- let me say, a well-prepared round of talks when we get to it next time. We are looking forward to talks. We would hope they would take place at an early date, and we're going to do everything we can to work with the Chinese and others to prepare for the talks.

QUESTION: Well, I guess, is defining the outcome, that's still a work in progress?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. It's still something we're working on.

QUESTION: But you haven't -- you and the Chinese haven't come to some -- didn't agree or didn't get close to agreeing on something that could then be taken back to the North Koreans for their reaction?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into the exact state of play on various issues and discussions. We're working with the Chinese on this. The Chinese are working with others, as well.

QUESTION: On that note, she also said that she had brought some ideas that had been conveyed to China from the North Koreans. Can you confirm that new ideas were heard in these meetings? I know you weren't there, but --

MR. BOUCHER: I can't. I'll try to check on that for you and see if there's anything we can do.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Ma'am.

QUESTION: A new issue on Monterrey summit. Did the Monterrey summit fulfill the expectations of the U.S. Administration?

And the second one is on the Bolivian issue. Is the U.S. Administration going to be, in any way take part on this issue to the -- to help Bolivia in the access to the sea with Argentina? Could you confirm that? It is any plan to have any meeting with the president of Argentina and President Bush in the future to talk --

MR. BOUCHER: That's three questions, right?

QUESTION: Ah, sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: It's not access to the sea through Argentina, or anything like -- you're not pulling a new one on me, are you?

QUESTION: No, no, no. To Bolivia. I'm sorry. I just --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

The summit in Monterrey, the meetings in Monterrey, I think, were very, very productive. You could see by the atmosphere and the statements from President Bush and the other leaders who were there that this was a very positive event for the hemisphere, one that brought us together again solidly on the agenda of development, on the agenda of development based on freedom and economic opportunity and what nations can do to open up those opportunities, to prevent corruption, and otherwise to plan for the benefits of development for their people.

President Bush had a number of bilateral meetings. I think the White House has briefed on those, so I won't try to get into any detail other than to note he did meet with the Bolivian President. And so there was discussion there, there -- we have been very supportive, along with other countries in the region, of Bolivia in trying to help them make progress in calming the situation, achieving development.

I don't think we've tried to deal specifically at this point with the issue of access to the sea.

QUESTION: But you will say that you are more -- that the Bolivian issue will be at the bilateral level or in a multilateral level to --

MR. BOUCHER: Bolivia is certainly an important bilateral partner for the United States in many things, including the war on drugs, development and other things like that. But it's also a matter of multilateral concern and support, I would say, for the United States, where we are working with other countries to make sure that Bolivia gets the support it needs to stabilize the situation and achieve some levels of development.

QUESTION: Richard, can I just --

MR. BOUCHER: And Argentina, whether there's going to be a meeting with the President, you have to ask at the White House.

QUESTION: The -- I just want make one thing -- you're not aware that Bolivia is seeking access to the South Atlantic, are you?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: No. That was --

QUESTION: I can't -- I just wanted to make sure I --

MR. BOUCHER: I just wanted to make sure that was not implied by the question.

QUESTION: Okay, all right.

MR. BOUCHER: Sir.

QUESTION: Sir, on Monterrey, President Chavez of Venezuela and other spokesmen of Venezuela have been trying to describe that there's -- or insist that there's a difference between the viewpoint of Secretary Powell and National Councilor Rice regarding the Venezuelan -- they say -- they're saying that Powell is much more circumspect, he understands the situation; Rice, on the other hand, is a complete illiterate. That was the word used.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I disagree with the characterization of Dr. Rice, whose achievements are well known, but I'd also disagree with any notion that there's somehow this split on policy. The U.S. policy towards Venezuela has been discussed and considered by Dr. Rice and Secretary Powell on many occasions, and as far as I know, they've always been aligned together on what we need to do about the situation there, and that's focusing minds not on some external distractions but focusing minds on the constitutional process and the process of referendum that is underway in Venezuela, and showing some respect for the political parties and the political factions in Venezuela.

QUESTION: Can you explain how the Venezuelan President could sign the declaration and, at the same time, disagree with it, with regard to the outcome?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't speak for the Venezuelan President. He'll have to explain himself.

QUESTION: But is that -- is that acceptable?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to speak for the Venezuelan President. Thank you.

Adi.

QUESTION: Richard, moving on to --

QUESTION: Can we stay in Monterrey?

MR. BOUCHER: Stay in Monterrey. I wanted to, but they wouldn't let me. Had to come back.

QUESTION: This is -- I assume this was discussed, the issue of Haiti, in the periphery of the Monterrey meetings. And I'm just wondering, the Secretary was calling last week for Aristide and the opposition to join up to the bishops' plan and all that sort of thing, and now it looks like there's going to be a meeting between the President and some of the opposition in the Bahamas coming up.

Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. BOUCHER: The issue of Haiti was discussed quite extensively in and around Monterrey. The Secretary had a meeting with the CARICOM nations, including Haiti, and the President joined that meeting for part of it. Both the Secretary and the President encouraged President Aristide very strongly to engage in dialogue with the Haitian opposition to try to resolve these issues. CARICOM, the bishops, others have made their services available and their ideas available to try to help out, to try to help bring the parties together into some sort of dialogue. And so strong support from us, but also from other members of the -- the people in the region was expressed at that time for encouraging that kind of dialogue.

As far as the specific meeting that you talked about, the idea was discussed but I don't know if I'm -- I'm not sure it's confirmed at this point.

QUESTION: But it's something that you would --

MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly something that we would encourage.

QUESTION: Richard, on Haiti. Apparently, supports of Aristide attacked some radio outlets in Haiti. Do you have any specific --

MR. BOUCHER: Sorry, that's new news to me. I'd have to check on it and see.

Tammy.

QUESTION: Also on Haiti. In the meeting with the CARICOM heads of delegation, was the -- just for clarification, did Powell meet specifically one on one with Aristide and convey this message, or was it only in the larger group setting?

MR. BOUCHER: It was a group meeting, but I think they had some time to talk a little bit privately as well. Whether it was that meeting or during the course of the two days, I don't know. But it was, I think, basically the same message that the President conveyed, that the Secretary conveyed, that it's very, very important for the government to enter into dialogue with the opposition to try to solve these problems peacefully, take advantage of the proposals and suggestions being made by the bishops or the intercession of the CARICOM nations and the help that they can offer, in order to resolve the political turmoil in Haiti for the benefit of Haiti's people. That was a very clear message, and I think there was a lot of support for that kind of message among other nations in Monterrey as well.

QUESTION: And did President Aristide appear to be receptive at all?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't try to characterize his reaction at this point.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that Aristide has actually accepted, in principle, the bishops' plan, and that it is, in fact, the opposition who are --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. No, that's not my understanding, but I can't give you an exact state of play.

Adi.

QUESTION: Moving on to Iraq, if there is a change to the caucus system in terms of selecting members for their transitional national assembly, would you expect this change to be uniform across the nation, or the country of Iraq, meaning that whatever reform that might take place, whatever change might take place, would be across the board in all the 18 governorates, but not just in the areas that would -- where the Shia population is in the majority?

MR. BOUCHER: Very good question, but let me stop you at the first word, "if." It would be purely speculative for me, at this point, to try to prefigure an outcome of what the -- how the Governing Council might move, particularly on the day after we told you that we very firmly stand by the November 15th plan. That is the plan for moving us forward.

The Secretary and others have explained why it was crafted the way it was. Ambassador Bremer has explained why it's not possible to have elections within the small time period that we have to try to help establish a transitional assembly and try to help the Iraqi people regain their sovereignty in that fashion. So that we certainly are listening to various parties in Iraq who have different views or views about how the November 15th arrangement should be carried out. That process is ongoing.

It's something Ambassador Bremer and his people are engaged in with different people in Iraq. But at this -- there is really nothing to say about if this and if that because what we're doing is talking about how to implement the November 15th decisions that the Governing Council made, that all the members, all the different political groupings in the Governing Council came together on and decided on, on November 15th.

QUESTION: Well, perhaps, the question is better asked without an "if." As you go about --

MR. BOUCHER: It's the same question. I'll give you the same answer but --

QUESTION: It's not a hypothetical.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION: As you go about implementing the November 15th agreement with absolutely no changes to the timetable, and exactly the way that Bremer and --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: -- well, and the outcome -- to achieve exactly the same outcome as the November 15th agreement, are you prepared to consider changes to the caucus system envisioned in the agreement that would not be uniform throughout the country; in other words, some parts of the country might have one system, other parts might have another?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not prepared to speculate on that, at this point.

QUESTION: Not speculate on that. Well, I'm not asking you to speculate.

QUESTION: Are you in the process of considering it?

MR. BOUCHER: Are you in the process of considering? Might you do this, might you do that? It all boils down to the same kind of speculation. I'm not in a position to stand here and say it's going to be this way, it's going to be that way; it could be this way, it could be that way. It's just not productive.

There are ongoing discussions. This is a document, the November 15th plan was agreed to by all the members of the Governing Council. This is an Iraqi plan. It's an Iraqi document. The Iraqis are first and foremost the ones who are going to have to be involved in its implementation. The Coalition Authority naturally has great authority over the matter and is heavily involved in the matters, talking to all the people in Iraq.

How those discussions will turn out, and how the plan will be exactly implemented, other than the big pictures that already have been decided, I'm not going to speculate on how that's going to turn out.

Sir.

QUESTION: Yes. This press conference last week, Secretary Powell stated very firmly that the Palestinian Authority had to rein in terror. But former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said that he wasn't about to take on Hamas, Islamic Jihad because he wasn't going to start a civil war.

And my original question was going to be: Do we have any reason to expect the current Prime Minister, Mr. Qureia, to behave any differently? But since then, I learned that there's been a suicide bombing killing four Israelis not far from the place where three Americans were killed in October, and Mr. Qureia has declined to condemn this.

Now, I'm trying to ask -- for a reconciliation --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm just waiting for the question.

QUESTION: Okay, the question is: How can we expect the Secretary's stated policy to be realistic in this environment?

MR. BOUCHER: The fact is that for the Palestinians to move forward towards their vision of a state, for the parties to move forward towards the vision that the President has enunciated of two states that can live peacefully side by side, there needs to be an end to violence and terror.

We made quite clear we think the roadmap is the way to do that. It's the way to move forward. And to move forward on the roadmap, you need to start ending the violence and terror and taking steps against these groups that continue to attack it with violent means. Those people are not only killing innocent civilians; they are also killing the dreams and hopes of the Palestinian people.

Whether a given government politician or administration moves or doesn't move or does some but not all, the fact, the objective fact, is that that needs -- you need to end the violence in order to achieve the vision of two states living side by side.

The United States continues to press very hard for that. We've made clear after the attack today, our Consul General in Jerusalem, David Pearce, spoke with Prime Minister Abu Alaa to underscore our strong concern over the attack, reiterated once again the need for the Palestinians to take a maximum effort to rein in those responsible for violence and for this particular vicious attack.

I'd add that we firmly condemn today's attack. We firmly condemn the statements made by Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, which incites terror and violence against innocent people and also, as I said, undermines the Palestinian people and their aspirations.

Hamas has long been designated a terrorist group in the Department's Pattern of Global Terrorism reports. They have consistently expressed a commitment to terror and a desire to destroy the state of Israel. They are responsible for killing hundreds of innocent civilians. And the Palestinian Authority, in order to establish its authority, and in order to make progress possible, needs to take steps to rein in this violence.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iraq? Can you explain what exactly Ambassador Ricciardone's role is going to be in the transition and when exactly he will be taking up this post? Does it have a title? Does it -- does it -- what does he do?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has asked Ambassador Frank Ricciardone, currently serving in the Philippines as U.S. Ambassador, to return to Washington this summer, where he'll take up a role of leading the State Department's Iraq policy as we move towards full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty this summer. Oh, I'm sorry -- to return to Washington -- I don't have the date. I think it's actually sooner than this summer.

QUESTION: Well, he said he was leaving today.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, well then it's much quicker because restoration of sovereignty is this summer, and he's got to get back soon to prepare for it. I misspoke there. I'm sorry.

Anyway, he will return to Washington to lead the State Department's Iraq policy as we move toward the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty this summer.

As you know, he's got vast experience in the region and on Iraq issues that uniquely qualifies him to help guide the Department through the political, legal and logistical complexities of normalizing our relations with Iraq as we work with the Iraqi people to transform their country from Saddam's autocracy to a democracy.

QUESTION: Can you just give an example or two of what he -- you mentioned political, logistical and something else. I mean, is he the guy who's going to be looking at how to staff an embassy, how to get people in? What -- can you be any more specific about what his role will involve?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is, "You name it, he'll do it;" that all these issues that will come up, from political issues to legal matters of the status of, you know, agreements that have to be signed regarding status of personnel or agreements between us and Iraq on security, things like that, he's going to have to look at all of these things because all of them are involved in preparing for a relationship in the latter half of this year which involves a sovereign Iraqi government and a U.S. mission that's there working with them.

QUESTION: Okay. And then as -- on a strictly legal question, and I'm sure you're not going to be able to answer this, but perhaps you might be able to look into it, or someone could look into it.

I presume that when you look at the historian, or the legal office's "Treaties in Force," that huge, long list, there are quite a few treaties with Iraq, some of which predate Saddam Hussein's government, some of which were signed in the -- before he because anathema to the United States.

Can you find out what the status of things are? Will the new -- will a new Iraqi government have to -- have to sign on to them? Just because the way the former government wasn't changed democratically, as it were. It was -- you know, it was overthrown. So what is the status of U.S.-Iraq treaties, both predating Saddam and the ones that were signed in the earlier --

MR. BOUCHER: The standard answer is they remain in force.

QUESTION: Even now?

MR. BOUCHER: As far as getting you the legalistic answer, I'll get you that, too.

Sir.

QUESTION: The Grand Ayatollah Sistani has said on a number of occasions his strong preference -- declaration even, some might say -- for direct elections versus the caucuses. But after each time that he has said it, the Bush Administration, the CPA, but primarily the IGC has spoken to him and tried to negotiate with him.

Have you sensed any -- has he compromised at all on this issue? Is he --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to characterize other people's positions on these issues, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: No, but your sense -- have you -- is your --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to -- here -- I mean, this is just a back door way of saying, you know, my trying to characterize where he stands on this issue at this moment. I'm not his spokesman, and my sense of what he might be thinking or my sense of whether he might be compromising is -- we're not here to do that.

We're here to tell you what the policy is, and the policy that we've been pursuing is based on November 15th. It's based on a willingness to talk with all the various parties in Iraq who have different views about how this can be implemented most fairly and most openly. And we want to do that. We want to talk with them. As you pointed out, the Governing Council wants to talk to other people in the country and make sure we do work through this and implement it in a way that's most open and most fair for the people of Iraq.

The Ayatollah Sistani, we know, has some strong views. He's expressed them. There have been discussions with him about how that can take place. But I'm not going to try to characterize his position at this moment, or any other moment, for that matter.

Charlie.

QUESTION: On Iraq, what do you expect to happen at the UN on Monday, and who will represent the U.S. there?

MR. BOUCHER: At the UN on Monday, we expect to have a good and thorough discussion. The point, I think, for Monday's meeting is that it's a part of the process that we've been having with the United Nations and with other governments in the Security Council and with the Iraqis themselves about how we all can move forward towards the Iraqis assuming sovereignty, towards the Iraqis assuming the full function of sovereignty, you might say, and to achieve this transitional administration by the end of June.

So we've been working with the United Nations. As you know, the Secretary has talked frequently with the UN Secretary General, including twice on Sunday. He'll continue to talk to him. Ambassador Negroponte has met with the Secretary General. Yesterday there were discussions, I think, between the Secretary General and the Security Council. We felt those were constructive. Those provided another opportunity for an exchange of views with the United Nations. It is part of an ongoing dialogue, and that dialogue will continue in the talks on Monday.

As far as the exact U.S. representation, it's not -- don't have any decisions for you yet.

QUESTION: Do you expect the IGC to brief the Security Council directly, or just to brief the Secretary General?

MR. BOUCHER: There will be, I think, first, some meetings with the Secretary General and his people during the course of the day by the Governing Council and appropriate representatives from us and the coalition.

The Security Council decided this morning in consultations that they would like to arrange a meeting with the Council members and the Iraqi Governing Council representatives next Monday, on the 19th. They decided on a private meeting to be held Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. So, at that point, the Iraqi Governing Council representatives and the Secretary General will brief the Security Council on the meetings that they will have had during the course of that day.

QUESTION: What's your sense of where Ambassador Burns is right now? And what's he going to be doing in Baghdad? And if you can be a little bit more specific than other -- than you and Adam have been over the past couple of days.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can. My sense of where he is now is that he is now in Kuwait, and that he does plan to travel to Iraq for meetings with Iraqi and coalition officials. But other than saying he is going to be out there working on these transition issues in Iraq, talking to members of the coalition and other people in Iraq, I don't really have any more detailed characterization.

QUESTION: And I presume he is going to be meeting -- in Kuwait he is meeting with the Kuwait officials, or is that just -- is that just a --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I don't have the exact list of people that he is seeing there, but he will be meeting with Kuwaiti officials.

Sir.

QUESTION: Yes. About Turkish airbase Incirlik, did you sign any separate agreement about this, using to this rotation business? Because, you know, as the Incirlik base is the NATO bases, and this operation is not the NATO operation.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know the detailed legal aspects of this. I'm afraid that's not a question I know how to answer.

QUESTION: But the State Department is involved with this business.

MR. BOUCHER: We're involved in a lot of businesses. I'm just not familiar with the legal aspects involving the U.S.-Incirlik --

QUESTION: Can you take this question, please?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything to say. Yeah.

George.

QUESTION: There are reports of a U.S. effort to try to ease an outbreak of hostilities in western Sudan between the government and rebels. Do you have anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I'll have to look into it.

QUESTION: Well, how about on Sudan? The clock continues to tick and the --

MR. BOUCHER: The clock continues to tick and our efforts remain underway. I think Senator Danforth is at the Lake Naivasha site where the parties are having their discussions. The United States certainly has been very actively trying to help in those negotiations. The Secretary has made phone calls. I think last Friday may have been the last time he made some phone calls on this subject, but we've had, in addition to Senator Danforth, we've had diplomats on the scene working hard to encourage the parties to achieve some results and to achieve them as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Well, as you know, they missed one self-imposed deadline, then both sides were saying they were hopeful in the first ten days of January that they could reach a comprehensive solution. We're now on the 14th. Do you see this month or in -- and, most particularly, before, perhaps, the 20th?

MR. BOUCHER: Right. You just pointed out the perils of predicting any particular date. But certainly our effort is for them to really wrap up some of these issues as quickly as possible. We think while the issues are very difficult, that the issues are, in fact, clear and that they should be able to just -- they just have to decide on some of these things.

Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, you said, going back to Monterrey, you said that it was a very positive meeting for the hemisphere. How do you equate that with the fact that the United States did not get -- I think the date was draft of 2005 on the Free Trade Area.

MR. BOUCHER: I think it said according to the agreed schedule, something like that.

QUESTION: You did not get what you wanted on the corruption.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we got good statements on development, on corruption, on free trade. We're very pleased.

QUESTION: Richard, Libya this morning ratified the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even though it's not stated, are you anxious to have them also list their suppliers, whether it be Pakistan or North Korea? And if it's not a government entity, also criminal elements and such, and what's there to monitor that?

MR. BOUCHER: Part of this process of discussion that we have had with Libya and that we will have with Libya over questions of verification of their programs and elimination of their programs, is certainly disclosure of information and transparency in what they have done and how it needs to be eliminated or resolved. So that's always been part of the picture.

QUESTION: And to the ratification?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing specific on that. I'll have to check. We remain involved in sort of the practical aspects of verification and of elimination of the programs.

QUESTION: So you're not prepared to comment on someone's signing up to a treaty that you yourself have -- that the United States has rejected.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to wing it, that's for sure.

Teri.

QUESTION: Yesterday I asked a question that I believe now has an answer on Iran. Iran was saying that it is legal under its new obligations, under its IAEA restrictions, to import equipment to process uranium, as long as it doesn't actually do it. And there's some debate about that.

Did you get an answer on that, on how the U.S. feels about that?

MR. BOUCHER: The resolution that the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors adopted last November 26th called on Iran to adhere to its pledge to suspend "all" -- all -- "enrichment-related and reprocessing activity." In October, Iran agreed to that suspension with the scope and duration to be determined by the International Atomic Energy Agency, not by Iran.

To begin to rebuild the international community's confidence that Iran has genuinely abandoned its nuclear weapons efforts, the scope of that suspension, we believe, must be comprehensive, must cover all sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, and that suspension must continue indefinitely.

Now, we've made our views clear on the International Atomic Energy Agency, as have many other members of the Board of Governors.

Once again, I would point out failure by Iran to live up to its promises, to its -- and to adopt a comprehensive and indefinite suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities would be deeply troubling, would indicate that Iran is neither serious nor genuine about its past promises to the IAEA and to others.

So we look forward to the mid-February report from the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General ElBaradei to verify whether Iran is meeting fully its pledges, including the suspension of enrichment and reprocessing. We expect at the March 8-10 of the Board of Governors that nations will respond appropriately.

QUESTION: Are you saying that you've conveyed that to the IAEA just after the statement came out by Iran, so in the last couple of days?

MR. BOUCHER: I think all along we've made clear that view. I'm sure we've done it since the -- in the last few days when this issue has been a matter of discussion as well.

QUESTION: Richard, on Iran. On Monday, you guys were calling for the Iranian Government to disavow the Guardian's Council decision to disqualify a number of MPs from being candidates. And I'm wondering, given that, if you have any reaction to Ayatollah Khamenei's order this morning for the Guardian Council to review its vetting?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'll have to check on that. I didn't see the latest permutation. Obviously, we have stood for free and fair elections in all countries, including Iran.

QUESTION: So you are not aware of this latest development?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of the latest development. I'll have to check on it before I can comment.

Got one more in the back.

QUESTION: Israel President Moshe Katsav has, on Al Jazeera, of all things, urged Syria to come to a peace talks, or at least initial meeting in Jerusalem. If it cannot be held there, are you anxious to speed that along and have that conference in a different location, maybe here in the U.S.?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's -- you mean two or three days ago, right?

QUESTION: No, this was today.

MR. BOUCHER: Today?

QUESTION: Today.

MR. BOUCHER: We had seen the statements. I think there has been some reaction from Syria. Obviously, we're interested in encouraging talks. We've always stood for a comprehensive peace process. But at this point, I'm not sure there is any meetings for us to be facilitating at this point. Let's put it that way.

QUESTION: Richard, today the Syrians said that they don't think that a peace agreement with Israel is possible under the Sharon administration. Do you hold to that point of view?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: You think that a peace agreement with Israel and Syria is possible with --

MR. BOUCHER: I think we think peace is always possible and people should keep working for it sincerely from both sides.

QUESTION: How do you explain the Israelis' position that they would want to have peace talks and also, in the same time, they insist they want to keep the Syrian land in their possession, even if they should reach any point of agreement with Syria, that they insist they want to keep that Syrian occupied land?

MR. BOUCHER: I've got to stop you before you go on too long. I don't explain the Israeli position. I explain the American position.

QUESTION: I mean, do you agree with that?

MR. BOUCHER: I explain the American position, and the American position is that there need to be talks between the parties, there need to be negotiations between the parties in order to resolve these issues; that we don't pick one side or the other; we try to help both sides get to the point where they can solve these issues peacefully.

QUESTION: Being part of the Madrid conference, do you see the Syrian -- the Israeli position as a legitimate one?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to comment on individual governments' positions, whether it be the Israeli one, the Syrian one, the Lebanese one or anybody else. Our goal is to try to help the parties make peace. We've been -- that's been our role all along. It has not been up to us to offer ongoing commentaries on positions that one party might take or the other.

QUESTION: Can I just get this on the record? You mentioned at the very top that Assistant Secretary Kelly was meeting with the South Koreans today. Do you know if he's going to meet soon with the Japanese?

MR. BOUCHER: There was some talk of a meeting with Japanese. I understand travel was cancelled for scheduling reasons. So we're looking to reschedule.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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


U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
12:20 p.m. EST

BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

NORTH KOREA
-- Visit of U.S. Delegation
-- Kelly's Meeting with Chinese DG Fu Ying and South Korean DG Wi Sung-lac
-- Deputy Secretary Armitage's Meeting with Chinese DG Fu Ying
-- Discussions about Six Party Talks
-- Assistant Secretary Kelly's Meeting with the Japanese

WESTERN HEMISPHERE
-- Monterrey Summit of the Americas

BOLIVIA
-- President Bush's Bilateral Meeting

VENEZUELA
-- Comments by President Chavez on U.S. Policy on Referendum
-- Signing of Declaration by Venezuelan President

HAITI
-- Secretary Powell and President Bush's Meeting with CARICOM
-- Attacks on Radio Outlets

IRAQ
-- U.S. Plan for Moving the Political Process Forward/November 15 Plan
-- Role of Ambassador Frank Ricciardone/Iraq Transition
-- Status of U.S.-Iraq Treaties
-- Sistani Views on Political Transition
-- UN Meetings
-- Ambassador Burns Travel

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
-- Need for an End to Violence/Vision of Two-State Solution
-- Condemnation of Today's Attack Killing Israelis

TURKEY
-- Troop Rotation/Incirlik Airbase

SUDAN
-- Peace Negotiations/Senator Danforth Efforts

LIBYA
-- Verification and Elimination of Weapons Programs
-- Signing of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

IRAN
-- Suspension of Uranium Enrichment and Reprocessing Activities
-- Guardian Council Decision to Disqualify Members of Parliament

SYRIA/ISRAEL
-- Peace Talks Between Syria and Israel


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2004
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

12:20 p.m. EST

QUESTION: Welcome back.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. Pleasure to be. Good to see you all.

Okay, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. I'd be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Gedda.

QUESTION: How about the folks who visited North Korea? Are they back? Have you spoken to them or do you have something scheduled?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I think Deputy Spokesman Ereli told you yesterday that we expected to talk to them some more this week. That remains the plan. Nothing is -- no new briefings or information from them at this point.

I'll also remind you there were a number of members of the delegations, so we'll be talking to them at various times. But I guess the final thing to remind you of is don't expect that, once they brief us, we'll be able to come out here and brief you. It's up to them to talk about their visit, to the extent they want to.

QUESTION: All right. But can you talk about the meeting yesterday with Secretary Kelly by Ms. Fu?

MR. BOUCHER: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly met yesterday with the Chinese Director General for Asian Affairs Fu Ying. Obviously, they talked about the North Korea issue, the six-party process. Both sides agreed we'd continue to work together towards another round of six-party talks that we'd both like to see held at the earliest opportunity.

We are having other meetings. Assistant Secretary Kelly is meeting today, starting around noon, with the Korean -- Republic of Korea's Director General for North American Affairs Wi Sung-lac. That's, again, meetings today, again, in the context of continuing our consultations with friends and participants in the six-party talks, to define those talks further and to move towards a new round that we hope would take place at an early date.

Teri.

QUESTION: Mrs. Fu said when she left yesterday that there had been progress, or, actually, after she left her meeting with the Deputy Secretary. Could you explain to us what kind of progress was made in these meetings, other than you both want to have talks? That was known long before.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Let me -- I should also mention -- I was asked about the meetings with Assistant Secretary Kelly. Madame Fu also met with the Deputy Secretary, as you all know.

I don't -- I'm not in a position to talk about specific progress at a specific meeting. I think this has been a process of preparation that we've been going through. And that is a process where we have worked with the Chinese, and the Chinese have worked with the other parties, to talk more clearly and define some of the outcomes that we would expect from these talks, so that we can look for a productive round of talks, whatever follow-up is appropriate at that point, and all go in, having worked in advance to prepare these talks in a way that leads us to some clarity about what kind of outcome, what kind of constructive outcome, they could produce.

So I'd just put the meetings in that context, say this has been an ongoing process, as the Secretary told you when he briefed last week and has said on other occasions. The discussions are going on between the various parties. We are trying to work the issues and trying to make progress, even without quite having sat down at the table again.

QUESTION: Well, does that mean that the definition of the outcomes is still -- that's not -- it's not a finalized -- it's not finalized, it's still a work in progress? And by that, when you say "define some of the outcomes," you're talking about what public pledge or what public statement might come out at the end of it?

MR. BOUCHER: Obviously, part of the outcomes is the public statement that comes at the end. So that's one way to focus attention on what is to be done in the talks. But this is going to be, perhaps, a more thoroughly, very more thoroughly -- let me say, a well-prepared round of talks when we get to it next time. We are looking forward to talks. We would hope they would take place at an early date, and we're going to do everything we can to work with the Chinese and others to prepare for the talks.

QUESTION: Well, I guess, is defining the outcome, that's still a work in progress?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. It's still something we're working on.

QUESTION: But you haven't -- you and the Chinese haven't come to some -- didn't agree or didn't get close to agreeing on something that could then be taken back to the North Koreans for their reaction?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into the exact state of play on various issues and discussions. We're working with the Chinese on this. The Chinese are working with others, as well.

QUESTION: On that note, she also said that she had brought some ideas that had been conveyed to China from the North Koreans. Can you confirm that new ideas were heard in these meetings? I know you weren't there, but --

MR. BOUCHER: I can't. I'll try to check on that for you and see if there's anything we can do.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Ma'am.

QUESTION: A new issue on Monterrey summit. Did the Monterrey summit fulfill the expectations of the U.S. Administration?

And the second one is on the Bolivian issue. Is the U.S. Administration going to be, in any way take part on this issue to the -- to help Bolivia in the access to the sea with Argentina? Could you confirm that? It is any plan to have any meeting with the president of Argentina and President Bush in the future to talk --

MR. BOUCHER: That's three questions, right?

QUESTION: Ah, sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: It's not access to the sea through Argentina, or anything like -- you're not pulling a new one on me, are you?

QUESTION: No, no, no. To Bolivia. I'm sorry. I just --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

The summit in Monterrey, the meetings in Monterrey, I think, were very, very productive. You could see by the atmosphere and the statements from President Bush and the other leaders who were there that this was a very positive event for the hemisphere, one that brought us together again solidly on the agenda of development, on the agenda of development based on freedom and economic opportunity and what nations can do to open up those opportunities, to prevent corruption, and otherwise to plan for the benefits of development for their people.

President Bush had a number of bilateral meetings. I think the White House has briefed on those, so I won't try to get into any detail other than to note he did meet with the Bolivian President. And so there was discussion there, there -- we have been very supportive, along with other countries in the region, of Bolivia in trying to help them make progress in calming the situation, achieving development.

I don't think we've tried to deal specifically at this point with the issue of access to the sea.

QUESTION: But you will say that you are more -- that the Bolivian issue will be at the bilateral level or in a multilateral level to --

MR. BOUCHER: Bolivia is certainly an important bilateral partner for the United States in many things, including the war on drugs, development and other things like that. But it's also a matter of multilateral concern and support, I would say, for the United States, where we are working with other countries to make sure that Bolivia gets the support it needs to stabilize the situation and achieve some levels of development.

QUESTION: Richard, can I just --

MR. BOUCHER: And Argentina, whether there's going to be a meeting with the President, you have to ask at the White House.

QUESTION: The -- I just want make one thing -- you're not aware that Bolivia is seeking access to the South Atlantic, are you?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: No. That was --

QUESTION: I can't -- I just wanted to make sure I --

MR. BOUCHER: I just wanted to make sure that was not implied by the question.

QUESTION: Okay, all right.

MR. BOUCHER: Sir.

QUESTION: Sir, on Monterrey, President Chavez of Venezuela and other spokesmen of Venezuela have been trying to describe that there's -- or insist that there's a difference between the viewpoint of Secretary Powell and National Councilor Rice regarding the Venezuelan -- they say -- they're saying that Powell is much more circumspect, he understands the situation; Rice, on the other hand, is a complete illiterate. That was the word used.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I disagree with the characterization of Dr. Rice, whose achievements are well known, but I'd also disagree with any notion that there's somehow this split on policy. The U.S. policy towards Venezuela has been discussed and considered by Dr. Rice and Secretary Powell on many occasions, and as far as I know, they've always been aligned together on what we need to do about the situation there, and that's focusing minds not on some external distractions but focusing minds on the constitutional process and the process of referendum that is underway in Venezuela, and showing some respect for the political parties and the political factions in Venezuela.

QUESTION: Can you explain how the Venezuelan President could sign the declaration and, at the same time, disagree with it, with regard to the outcome?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't speak for the Venezuelan President. He'll have to explain himself.

QUESTION: But is that -- is that acceptable?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to speak for the Venezuelan President. Thank you.

Adi.

QUESTION: Richard, moving on to --

QUESTION: Can we stay in Monterrey?

MR. BOUCHER: Stay in Monterrey. I wanted to, but they wouldn't let me. Had to come back.

QUESTION: This is -- I assume this was discussed, the issue of Haiti, in the periphery of the Monterrey meetings. And I'm just wondering, the Secretary was calling last week for Aristide and the opposition to join up to the bishops' plan and all that sort of thing, and now it looks like there's going to be a meeting between the President and some of the opposition in the Bahamas coming up.

Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. BOUCHER: The issue of Haiti was discussed quite extensively in and around Monterrey. The Secretary had a meeting with the CARICOM nations, including Haiti, and the President joined that meeting for part of it. Both the Secretary and the President encouraged President Aristide very strongly to engage in dialogue with the Haitian opposition to try to resolve these issues. CARICOM, the bishops, others have made their services available and their ideas available to try to help out, to try to help bring the parties together into some sort of dialogue. And so strong support from us, but also from other members of the -- the people in the region was expressed at that time for encouraging that kind of dialogue.

As far as the specific meeting that you talked about, the idea was discussed but I don't know if I'm -- I'm not sure it's confirmed at this point.

QUESTION: But it's something that you would --

MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly something that we would encourage.

QUESTION: Richard, on Haiti. Apparently, supports of Aristide attacked some radio outlets in Haiti. Do you have any specific --

MR. BOUCHER: Sorry, that's new news to me. I'd have to check on it and see.

Tammy.

QUESTION: Also on Haiti. In the meeting with the CARICOM heads of delegation, was the -- just for clarification, did Powell meet specifically one on one with Aristide and convey this message, or was it only in the larger group setting?

MR. BOUCHER: It was a group meeting, but I think they had some time to talk a little bit privately as well. Whether it was that meeting or during the course of the two days, I don't know. But it was, I think, basically the same message that the President conveyed, that the Secretary conveyed, that it's very, very important for the government to enter into dialogue with the opposition to try to solve these problems peacefully, take advantage of the proposals and suggestions being made by the bishops or the intercession of the CARICOM nations and the help that they can offer, in order to resolve the political turmoil in Haiti for the benefit of Haiti's people. That was a very clear message, and I think there was a lot of support for that kind of message among other nations in Monterrey as well.

QUESTION: And did President Aristide appear to be receptive at all?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't try to characterize his reaction at this point.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding that Aristide has actually accepted, in principle, the bishops' plan, and that it is, in fact, the opposition who are --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. No, that's not my understanding, but I can't give you an exact state of play.

Adi.

QUESTION: Moving on to Iraq, if there is a change to the caucus system in terms of selecting members for their transitional national assembly, would you expect this change to be uniform across the nation, or the country of Iraq, meaning that whatever reform that might take place, whatever change might take place, would be across the board in all the 18 governorates, but not just in the areas that would -- where the Shia population is in the majority?

MR. BOUCHER: Very good question, but let me stop you at the first word, "if." It would be purely speculative for me, at this point, to try to prefigure an outcome of what the -- how the Governing Council might move, particularly on the day after we told you that we very firmly stand by the November 15th plan. That is the plan for moving us forward.

The Secretary and others have explained why it was crafted the way it was. Ambassador Bremer has explained why it's not possible to have elections within the small time period that we have to try to help establish a transitional assembly and try to help the Iraqi people regain their sovereignty in that fashion. So that we certainly are listening to various parties in Iraq who have different views or views about how the November 15th arrangement should be carried out. That process is ongoing.

It's something Ambassador Bremer and his people are engaged in with different people in Iraq. But at this -- there is really nothing to say about if this and if that because what we're doing is talking about how to implement the November 15th decisions that the Governing Council made, that all the members, all the different political groupings in the Governing Council came together on and decided on, on November 15th.

QUESTION: Well, perhaps, the question is better asked without an "if." As you go about --

MR. BOUCHER: It's the same question. I'll give you the same answer but --

QUESTION: It's not a hypothetical.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION: As you go about implementing the November 15th agreement with absolutely no changes to the timetable, and exactly the way that Bremer and --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that.

QUESTION: -- well, and the outcome -- to achieve exactly the same outcome as the November 15th agreement, are you prepared to consider changes to the caucus system envisioned in the agreement that would not be uniform throughout the country; in other words, some parts of the country might have one system, other parts might have another?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not prepared to speculate on that, at this point.

QUESTION: Not speculate on that. Well, I'm not asking you to speculate.

QUESTION: Are you in the process of considering it?

MR. BOUCHER: Are you in the process of considering? Might you do this, might you do that? It all boils down to the same kind of speculation. I'm not in a position to stand here and say it's going to be this way, it's going to be that way; it could be this way, it could be that way. It's just not productive.

There are ongoing discussions. This is a document, the November 15th plan was agreed to by all the members of the Governing Council. This is an Iraqi plan. It's an Iraqi document. The Iraqis are first and foremost the ones who are going to have to be involved in its implementation. The Coalition Authority naturally has great authority over the matter and is heavily involved in the matters, talking to all the people in Iraq.

How those discussions will turn out, and how the plan will be exactly implemented, other than the big pictures that already have been decided, I'm not going to speculate on how that's going to turn out.

Sir.

QUESTION: Yes. This press conference last week, Secretary Powell stated very firmly that the Palestinian Authority had to rein in terror. But former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said that he wasn't about to take on Hamas, Islamic Jihad because he wasn't going to start a civil war.

And my original question was going to be: Do we have any reason to expect the current Prime Minister, Mr. Qureia, to behave any differently? But since then, I learned that there's been a suicide bombing killing four Israelis not far from the place where three Americans were killed in October, and Mr. Qureia has declined to condemn this.

Now, I'm trying to ask -- for a reconciliation --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm just waiting for the question.

QUESTION: Okay, the question is: How can we expect the Secretary's stated policy to be realistic in this environment?

MR. BOUCHER: The fact is that for the Palestinians to move forward towards their vision of a state, for the parties to move forward towards the vision that the President has enunciated of two states that can live peacefully side by side, there needs to be an end to violence and terror.

We made quite clear we think the roadmap is the way to do that. It's the way to move forward. And to move forward on the roadmap, you need to start ending the violence and terror and taking steps against these groups that continue to attack it with violent means. Those people are not only killing innocent civilians; they are also killing the dreams and hopes of the Palestinian people.

Whether a given government politician or administration moves or doesn't move or does some but not all, the fact, the objective fact, is that that needs -- you need to end the violence in order to achieve the vision of two states living side by side.

The United States continues to press very hard for that. We've made clear after the attack today, our Consul General in Jerusalem, David Pearce, spoke with Prime Minister Abu Alaa to underscore our strong concern over the attack, reiterated once again the need for the Palestinians to take a maximum effort to rein in those responsible for violence and for this particular vicious attack.

I'd add that we firmly condemn today's attack. We firmly condemn the statements made by Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, which incites terror and violence against innocent people and also, as I said, undermines the Palestinian people and their aspirations.

Hamas has long been designated a terrorist group in the Department's Pattern of Global Terrorism reports. They have consistently expressed a commitment to terror and a desire to destroy the state of Israel. They are responsible for killing hundreds of innocent civilians. And the Palestinian Authority, in order to establish its authority, and in order to make progress possible, needs to take steps to rein in this violence.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iraq? Can you explain what exactly Ambassador Ricciardone's role is going to be in the transition and when exactly he will be taking up this post? Does it have a title? Does it -- does it -- what does he do?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has asked Ambassador Frank Ricciardone, currently serving in the Philippines as U.S. Ambassador, to return to Washington this summer, where he'll take up a role of leading the State Department's Iraq policy as we move towards full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty this summer. Oh, I'm sorry -- to return to Washington -- I don't have the date. I think it's actually sooner than this summer.

QUESTION: Well, he said he was leaving today.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, well then it's much quicker because restoration of sovereignty is this summer, and he's got to get back soon to prepare for it. I misspoke there. I'm sorry.

Anyway, he will return to Washington to lead the State Department's Iraq policy as we move toward the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty this summer.

As you know, he's got vast experience in the region and on Iraq issues that uniquely qualifies him to help guide the Department through the political, legal and logistical complexities of normalizing our relations with Iraq as we work with the Iraqi people to transform their country from Saddam's autocracy to a democracy.

QUESTION: Can you just give an example or two of what he -- you mentioned political, logistical and something else. I mean, is he the guy who's going to be looking at how to staff an embassy, how to get people in? What -- can you be any more specific about what his role will involve?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the answer is, "You name it, he'll do it;" that all these issues that will come up, from political issues to legal matters of the status of, you know, agreements that have to be signed regarding status of personnel or agreements between us and Iraq on security, things like that, he's going to have to look at all of these things because all of them are involved in preparing for a relationship in the latter half of this year which involves a sovereign Iraqi government and a U.S. mission that's there working with them.

QUESTION: Okay. And then as -- on a strictly legal question, and I'm sure you're not going to be able to answer this, but perhaps you might be able to look into it, or someone could look into it.

I presume that when you look at the historian, or the legal office's "Treaties in Force," that huge, long list, there are quite a few treaties with Iraq, some of which predate Saddam Hussein's government, some of which were signed in the -- before he because anathema to the United States.

Can you find out what the status of things are? Will the new -- will a new Iraqi government have to -- have to sign on to them? Just because the way the former government wasn't changed democratically, as it were. It was -- you know, it was overthrown. So what is the status of U.S.-Iraq treaties, both predating Saddam and the ones that were signed in the earlier --

MR. BOUCHER: The standard answer is they remain in force.

QUESTION: Even now?

MR. BOUCHER: As far as getting you the legalistic answer, I'll get you that, too.

Sir.

QUESTION: The Grand Ayatollah Sistani has said on a number of occasions his strong preference -- declaration even, some might say -- for direct elections versus the caucuses. But after each time that he has said it, the Bush Administration, the CPA, but primarily the IGC has spoken to him and tried to negotiate with him.

Have you sensed any -- has he compromised at all on this issue? Is he --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to characterize other people's positions on these issues, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: No, but your sense -- have you -- is your --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to -- here -- I mean, this is just a back door way of saying, you know, my trying to characterize where he stands on this issue at this moment. I'm not his spokesman, and my sense of what he might be thinking or my sense of whether he might be compromising is -- we're not here to do that.

We're here to tell you what the policy is, and the policy that we've been pursuing is based on November 15th. It's based on a willingness to talk with all the various parties in Iraq who have different views about how this can be implemented most fairly and most openly. And we want to do that. We want to talk with them. As you pointed out, the Governing Council wants to talk to other people in the country and make sure we do work through this and implement it in a way that's most open and most fair for the people of Iraq.

The Ayatollah Sistani, we know, has some strong views. He's expressed them. There have been discussions with him about how that can take place. But I'm not going to try to characterize his position at this moment, or any other moment, for that matter.

Charlie.

QUESTION: On Iraq, what do you expect to happen at the UN on Monday, and who will represent the U.S. there?

MR. BOUCHER: At the UN on Monday, we expect to have a good and thorough discussion. The point, I think, for Monday's meeting is that it's a part of the process that we've been having with the United Nations and with other governments in the Security Council and with the Iraqis themselves about how we all can move forward towards the Iraqis assuming sovereignty, towards the Iraqis assuming the full function of sovereignty, you might say, and to achieve this transitional administration by the end of June.

So we've been working with the United Nations. As you know, the Secretary has talked frequently with the UN Secretary General, including twice on Sunday. He'll continue to talk to him. Ambassador Negroponte has met with the Secretary General. Yesterday there were discussions, I think, between the Secretary General and the Security Council. We felt those were constructive. Those provided another opportunity for an exchange of views with the United Nations. It is part of an ongoing dialogue, and that dialogue will continue in the talks on Monday.

As far as the exact U.S. representation, it's not -- don't have any decisions for you yet.

QUESTION: Do you expect the IGC to brief the Security Council directly, or just to brief the Secretary General?

MR. BOUCHER: There will be, I think, first, some meetings with the Secretary General and his people during the course of the day by the Governing Council and appropriate representatives from us and the coalition.

The Security Council decided this morning in consultations that they would like to arrange a meeting with the Council members and the Iraqi Governing Council representatives next Monday, on the 19th. They decided on a private meeting to be held Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. So, at that point, the Iraqi Governing Council representatives and the Secretary General will brief the Security Council on the meetings that they will have had during the course of that day.

QUESTION: What's your sense of where Ambassador Burns is right now? And what's he going to be doing in Baghdad? And if you can be a little bit more specific than other -- than you and Adam have been over the past couple of days.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can. My sense of where he is now is that he is now in Kuwait, and that he does plan to travel to Iraq for meetings with Iraqi and coalition officials. But other than saying he is going to be out there working on these transition issues in Iraq, talking to members of the coalition and other people in Iraq, I don't really have any more detailed characterization.

QUESTION: And I presume he is going to be meeting -- in Kuwait he is meeting with the Kuwait officials, or is that just -- is that just a --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I don't have the exact list of people that he is seeing there, but he will be meeting with Kuwaiti officials.

Sir.

QUESTION: Yes. About Turkish airbase Incirlik, did you sign any separate agreement about this, using to this rotation business? Because, you know, as the Incirlik base is the NATO bases, and this operation is not the NATO operation.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't really know the detailed legal aspects of this. I'm afraid that's not a question I know how to answer.

QUESTION: But the State Department is involved with this business.

MR. BOUCHER: We're involved in a lot of businesses. I'm just not familiar with the legal aspects involving the U.S.-Incirlik --

QUESTION: Can you take this question, please?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything to say. Yeah.

George.

QUESTION: There are reports of a U.S. effort to try to ease an outbreak of hostilities in western Sudan between the government and rebels. Do you have anything on that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I'll have to look into it.

QUESTION: Well, how about on Sudan? The clock continues to tick and the --

MR. BOUCHER: The clock continues to tick and our efforts remain underway. I think Senator Danforth is at the Lake Naivasha site where the parties are having their discussions. The United States certainly has been very actively trying to help in those negotiations. The Secretary has made phone calls. I think last Friday may have been the last time he made some phone calls on this subject, but we've had, in addition to Senator Danforth, we've had diplomats on the scene working hard to encourage the parties to achieve some results and to achieve them as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Well, as you know, they missed one self-imposed deadline, then both sides were saying they were hopeful in the first ten days of January that they could reach a comprehensive solution. We're now on the 14th. Do you see this month or in -- and, most particularly, before, perhaps, the 20th?

MR. BOUCHER: Right. You just pointed out the perils of predicting any particular date. But certainly our effort is for them to really wrap up some of these issues as quickly as possible. We think while the issues are very difficult, that the issues are, in fact, clear and that they should be able to just -- they just have to decide on some of these things.

Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, you said, going back to Monterrey, you said that it was a very positive meeting for the hemisphere. How do you equate that with the fact that the United States did not get -- I think the date was draft of 2005 on the Free Trade Area.

MR. BOUCHER: I think it said according to the agreed schedule, something like that.

QUESTION: You did not get what you wanted on the corruption.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we got good statements on development, on corruption, on free trade. We're very pleased.

QUESTION: Richard, Libya this morning ratified the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even though it's not stated, are you anxious to have them also list their suppliers, whether it be Pakistan or North Korea? And if it's not a government entity, also criminal elements and such, and what's there to monitor that?

MR. BOUCHER: Part of this process of discussion that we have had with Libya and that we will have with Libya over questions of verification of their programs and elimination of their programs, is certainly disclosure of information and transparency in what they have done and how it needs to be eliminated or resolved. So that's always been part of the picture.

QUESTION: And to the ratification?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing specific on that. I'll have to check. We remain involved in sort of the practical aspects of verification and of elimination of the programs.

QUESTION: So you're not prepared to comment on someone's signing up to a treaty that you yourself have -- that the United States has rejected.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to wing it, that's for sure.

Teri.

QUESTION: Yesterday I asked a question that I believe now has an answer on Iran. Iran was saying that it is legal under its new obligations, under its IAEA restrictions, to import equipment to process uranium, as long as it doesn't actually do it. And there's some debate about that.

Did you get an answer on that, on how the U.S. feels about that?

MR. BOUCHER: The resolution that the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors adopted last November 26th called on Iran to adhere to its pledge to suspend "all" -- all -- "enrichment-related and reprocessing activity." In October, Iran agreed to that suspension with the scope and duration to be determined by the International Atomic Energy Agency, not by Iran.

To begin to rebuild the international community's confidence that Iran has genuinely abandoned its nuclear weapons efforts, the scope of that suspension, we believe, must be comprehensive, must cover all sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, and that suspension must continue indefinitely.

Now, we've made our views clear on the International Atomic Energy Agency, as have many other members of the Board of Governors.

Once again, I would point out failure by Iran to live up to its promises, to its -- and to adopt a comprehensive and indefinite suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities would be deeply troubling, would indicate that Iran is neither serious nor genuine about its past promises to the IAEA and to others.

So we look forward to the mid-February report from the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General ElBaradei to verify whether Iran is meeting fully its pledges, including the suspension of enrichment and reprocessing. We expect at the March 8-10 of the Board of Governors that nations will respond appropriately.

QUESTION: Are you saying that you've conveyed that to the IAEA just after the statement came out by Iran, so in the last couple of days?

MR. BOUCHER: I think all along we've made clear that view. I'm sure we've done it since the -- in the last few days when this issue has been a matter of discussion as well.

QUESTION: Richard, on Iran. On Monday, you guys were calling for the Iranian Government to disavow the Guardian's Council decision to disqualify a number of MPs from being candidates. And I'm wondering, given that, if you have any reaction to Ayatollah Khamenei's order this morning for the Guardian Council to review its vetting?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'll have to check on that. I didn't see the latest permutation. Obviously, we have stood for free and fair elections in all countries, including Iran.

QUESTION: So you are not aware of this latest development?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of the latest development. I'll have to check on it before I can comment.

Got one more in the back.

QUESTION: Israel President Moshe Katsav has, on Al Jazeera, of all things, urged Syria to come to a peace talks, or at least initial meeting in Jerusalem. If it cannot be held there, are you anxious to speed that along and have that conference in a different location, maybe here in the U.S.?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's -- you mean two or three days ago, right?

QUESTION: No, this was today.

MR. BOUCHER: Today?

QUESTION: Today.

MR. BOUCHER: We had seen the statements. I think there has been some reaction from Syria. Obviously, we're interested in encouraging talks. We've always stood for a comprehensive peace process. But at this point, I'm not sure there is any meetings for us to be facilitating at this point. Let's put it that way.

QUESTION: Richard, today the Syrians said that they don't think that a peace agreement with Israel is possible under the Sharon administration. Do you hold to that point of view?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: You think that a peace agreement with Israel and Syria is possible with --

MR. BOUCHER: I think we think peace is always possible and people should keep working for it sincerely from both sides.

QUESTION: How do you explain the Israelis' position that they would want to have peace talks and also, in the same time, they insist they want to keep the Syrian land in their possession, even if they should reach any point of agreement with Syria, that they insist they want to keep that Syrian occupied land?

MR. BOUCHER: I've got to stop you before you go on too long. I don't explain the Israeli position. I explain the American position.

QUESTION: I mean, do you agree with that?

MR. BOUCHER: I explain the American position, and the American position is that there need to be talks between the parties, there need to be negotiations between the parties in order to resolve these issues; that we don't pick one side or the other; we try to help both sides get to the point where they can solve these issues peacefully.

QUESTION: Being part of the Madrid conference, do you see the Syrian -- the Israeli position as a legitimate one?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to comment on individual governments' positions, whether it be the Israeli one, the Syrian one, the Lebanese one or anybody else. Our goal is to try to help the parties make peace. We've been -- that's been our role all along. It has not been up to us to offer ongoing commentaries on positions that one party might take or the other.

QUESTION: Can I just get this on the record? You mentioned at the very top that Assistant Secretary Kelly was meeting with the South Koreans today. Do you know if he's going to meet soon with the Japanese?

MR. BOUCHER: There was some talk of a meeting with Japanese. I understand travel was cancelled for scheduling reasons. So we're looking to reschedule.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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

(end transcript)

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