State Department Briefing, January 30, 2004

 

Friday January 30, 2004

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2004
ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:40 p.m. EST
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman

Index

DEPARTMENT
International Court of Justice Statement
Jordan Police Training Graduates Statement

CHINA/NORTH KOREA
Armitage Comments/Six-Party Talks
A/S Kelly Travel/Prime Minister Thaksin
Senator Biden Remarks
KEDO Board Meeting in New York
March 20th Referendum

IRAN
Possible Congressional Visit to Iran
Iranian Permanent Representative Zarif Khonsari Visit to US
Postponement of Elections/Guardian Council

NORTH KOREA/NIGERIA
Nigerian Purchase of Missiles

NATO
Role in Iraq/Polish and Spanish Contingents/Role in Afghanistan

RUSSIA
U/S Bolton/Non-Proliferation Security/ Ballistic Tests

TURKEY
Convening of Peace Conference with Israeli, Palestinians and Syria
Prime Minister Erdogan/US Facilitation Role

CYPRUS
Support for Annan's Good Offices Mission for Cyprus

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
Suicide Bombings
Wolf/Satterfield Travel/Meetings
A/S Burns Meeting with Nabil Shaath
Money/Funds for Palestinians

PAKISTAN
Distribution of Nuclear Technology

SUDAN
Air Strikes Along Chad Border

IRAQ
Saddam Oil Contracts

Belgium
Comment by FM Michel Regarding Election


MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, if I can, I'd like to start with two statements: one on the International Court of Justice submission; and the other on the graduating class in Jordan of Iraqi policemen.

The news on the International Court of Justice is that the United States submitted today a written statement to the International Court of Justice in The Hague concerning the request by the General Assembly for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of the Israeli security barrier. Pursuant to the Court's order, written statements were due no later than today. The Court will hold oral hearings on the matter on February 23rd.

The U.S. statement expresses the continuing U.S. view that the referral is inappropriate and may impede efforts to achieve progress towards a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. It emphasizes the Quartet-led roadmap as the agreed upon method for moving forward towards a negotiated settlement. And the statement urges the Court to give due regard to the principle that its advisory opinion jurisdiction is not intended as a means of circumventing the right of states to determine whether to submit their disputes to judicial settlement.

I have a slightly longer statement available for you that essentially makes the same points or tracks with the points that we made in our submission.

Questions about this?

Sir.

QUESTION: The only people who are not opposed to this seem to be the Israelis themselves -- I mean, the actual barrier that's being put up. What exactly is wrong or inappropriate about submitting this to the ICJ, particularly when the General Assembly, that is, the world, has voted to do so?

MR. BOUCHER: There are two things, and I need to start by saying the United States itself has expressed views about the route of the security barrier and the issues of displacement involved in construction and the concern that it might, in fact, try to prejudice final status issues that need to be negotiated.

So the first objection we have to the Court trying to step in and make decisions on that is that the final -- the issues, some of these issues involved, are, in fact, issues that need to be negotiated between the parties, that can only really be solved by negotiations between the parties.

And the second objection that we've had to the Court taking up this case is to say that there is a principle, there is a principal that advisory -- that states should determine whether their disputes are subject to judicial settlement, and we don't think that the advisory opinion process from the General Assembly should be allowed to circumvent that rule that states have a right to decide whether to submit their disputes to this Court.

QUESTION: Well, since the Palestinians aren't a state, that effectively deprives them of any opportunity to bring matters before this tribunal.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, parties --

QUESTION: You said states.

MR. BOUCHER: I said states. In any case, I don't know what the status of Palestinians is vis--vis the Court, but one party to a dispute can't necessarily unilaterally establish jurisdiction for this court.

QUESTION: But it is often the case in civil proceedings in the United States that one party brings suit. The other one might not like that, might not want it to be taken up, but --

MR. BOUCHER: This is not a civil proceeding in the United States.

QUESTION: No, I understand that. But the principle is the same. One party can bring --

MR. BOUCHER: This is not a civil proceeding in the United States.

QUESTION: It's my understanding, at least the United States has in the past rejected decisions handed down by the ICJ. I can think of --

MR. BOUCHER: We have not accepted their jurisdiction in some particular cases.

QUESTION: So Israel has the right not to accept it. So I don't understand why you're worried that another international body, after the General Assembly, would come down on one side or another about this.

MR. BOUCHER: For both of the reasons that I said about this --

QUESTION: Well, does -- is it not your case that the barrier itself hinders the roadmap?

MR. BOUCHER: We have said that the route of the barrier is the primary concern that we have.

QUESTION: Okay. So, but the route of the barrier where it infringes over the '67 line, or where it plans to infringe over that line, is a problem for the roadmap, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: That's your opinion. Okay. Well, I don't understand why it is that another -- someone other than --

MR. BOUCHER: There's a difference between our having an opinion and many, many countries in the world having a strong opinion on this, versus saying that this is a dispute that can be resolved by an international court. And there's a difference between saying that we have an opinion and others may have a strong opinion about this, and saying the General Assembly has a backdoor to get the Court to intervene in any disputes that it feels like.

QUESTION: Richard, if Israel is attempting to build this fence, perhaps impeding an agreement in the future, is that not a unilateral settlement of the conflict that is against international law? And if Israel isn't going to stop because of the strong opinions of other countries, shouldn't some kind of international body make a judgment that this is against international law?

MR. BOUCHER: The -- but judgment of international bodies -- I mean, the General Assembly can pass a resolution if it wants to express its own opinion, so can other international bodies. There's a difference between that and making it a judicial matter.

QUESTION: So, in principle, you're opposed to the idea of the General Assembly referring anything to the Court?

MR. BOUCHER: The General Assembly -- the advisory opinion process that the General Assembly has, and that the Court has, this advisory opinion jurisdiction being used in a way that might not be consistent with the principle that advisory opinions -- I'm sorry -- that the advisory opinion jurisdiction might be used in a way that is not consistent with the principle that states have a right to determine whether to submit their disputes.

QUESTION: So for anything, then, not just this?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. There is a bigger principle. It's not just this case. It's the way this case got there, and some of the implications of the way it might be decided that we have raised in our submission because that has a general, a more general problem for us.

QUESTION: Well, then, in principle, wouldn't you object to virtually any non-state referral to the ICJ?

MR. BOUCHER: The question is whether the -- first of all, this is a different process. Not all cases get to the ICJ this way. But second of all, it's the principle that needs to be respected is the right of states to determine whether to submit their disputes. So it's conceivable that some international body may refer a dispute with the consent of the states involved or something like that.

QUESTION: Did you --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate on that.

QUESTION: Can you refresh my memory? Did you object to Charles Taylor appealing the jurisdiction of the UN Special Tribunal to the ICJ?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Can we move on?

MR. BOUCHER: All right. Can we move on to the graduating class in Jordan?

On January 29th, the fist class of 466 Iraqi police recruits graduating from an intensive eight-week training corps program conducted in Jordan. They have now returned home again to begin their policing duties in Iraq. As part of an agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority, Jordan is providing facilities and other support to enable the training of approximately 35,000 Iraqi police recruits over the next two years.

A second class of approximately 500 recruits began training several weeks ago, and another 1,000 recruits will arrive on February 8. When the facility reaches full capacity, as many as 3,000 recruits will be in training at any given time.

Okay. I have a little more information there about the curriculum for you as well in a written statement.

QUESTION: Will there be praise of Jordan in there for agreeing to do this?

MR. BOUCHER: We have praised Jordan in the past for offering these facilities and participating in this. It shows Jordan's interest in having a safe, stable neighbor, and helping the rebuilding of an Iraq where Iraqis are in charge of their own future and their own security.

QUESTION: Okay. How much is this costing the U.S. taxpayer? It is my understanding that Jordan itself, while it's doing the training, isn't paying for it.

MR. BOUCHER: We are putting a lot of money into this, but I don't have a number with me. We'll get it for you.

QUESTION: Millions?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, yeah. And it's worth it.

QUESTION: Are you worn out there?

MR. BOUCHER: Same, different? Another subject, Mr. Schweid.

QUESTION: Mr. Armitage has talked in Beijing. He came out saying a few words of praise for the Chinese effort, but he didn't contribute anything on the outlook for resuming those six-party talks. Can you give us a little information about the likelihood of those talks resuming soon? He praised China --

MR. BOUCHER: I was about to quote Mr. Armitage, who said, I think, in one of those press conferences, "Do I look like an idiot?"

QUESTION: What was the answer?

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: But he was asked some question. I think Mr. Armitage was, in fact, asked about the likelihood of talks. Mr. Armitage was, in fact, asked about the date, likely date for talks.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: And the only answer that I can give is the same on that he gave, and that is that the --

QUESTION: The one (inaudible) --

MR. BOUCHER: That was an answer to, actually, a different question. He answered those questions in Beijing and made clear that we have been working to prepare for another round of talks at an early date, but that the decision on when those will be held, at this point, seems to lie in Pyongyang rather than Beijing, and therefore it's not possible for us to predict when or the likelihood of any given moment.

QUESTION: Has there been any change in anybody's -- you know, the general -- the general complaint, if that's the right word, that the U.S. didn't want preconditions for the talks and -- I mean, has anybody's position changed?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- we'll see if -- when Mr. Armitage gets back, if there were any particular new understandings of the situation that came out of his talks in Beijing. I remind you as well that Mr. Kelly is in -- has been in Tokyo, is going to be in Tokyo. Anyway, Mr. Kelly is in the region talking to the Japanese and the Koreans.

And so we are working with our partners in these talks to try to prepare another round, and we feel that that focus on the issues and the substance of what can be done in talks has been useful and has moved, you might say, has sort of been part of an ongoing discussion. But at the same time, actually sitting down at the table again requires consent in Pyongyang to sit down at the table at the kind of talks that we've all been talking about, that we've all been preparing for.

QUESTION: Well, maybe those two trips would be your answer to Senator Biden's assertion the other day that the U.S. is dithering, the U.S. is split between ideologues and people who think you have to do something reciprocal to move North Korea along, that you're dithering -- he kept using that word -- that your failure to get the talks going is dangerous, that North Korea has put these -- has hidden these fuel rods, they can be blah, blah, blah, produce six or eight more weapons, et cetera.

I mean, but why go through -- why that long question --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see all those remarks.

QUESTION: -- because you're going to say the U.S. is not dithering.

MR. BOUCHER: Well --

QUESTION: Frankly, you are.

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see all those remarks. But as I said, as Mr. Armitage said, the question of talks, six-party talks reconvening, is really a question that needs to be answered on Pyongyang, not anywhere else.

QUESTION: One last thing, and I'll let it go.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: But you're saying, aren't you, or he's saying, that you would like North Korea to change its position. Yes? The U.S. is not prepared to meet North Korea half way, as Biden thinks you might.

MR. BOUCHER: The North Koreans can come in -- if they want to come back with their own proposal, I suppose they can come back with their own proposal. But the point that we've been working with the Chinese and the other parties is to take what the Chinese reported was agreed at the last round, that there was a consensus that these talks were about a nuclear-free peninsula, and to turn that into something that can make a good preparation, a substantive basis for these talks to be useful and credible and to produce an outcome that leads us in that direction.

We have been willing to work with the Chinese in that regard and have put forward proposals and given them commitments on security assurances and things like that that we think can help move the process forward. So we think North Korea ought to be prepared to come to talks on that basis. That's what we have been preparing for. We, again, looking for the answer in Pyongyang for them to come to those talks.

QUESTION: I promise this is the last question. It's just a logistical question. Mr. Kelly is going to go to talk to the Japanese or Japanese plus?

MR. BOUCHER: He's in -- let me get Mr. Kelly's schedule before I --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: -- before I mislead people again. Today, he's attended the 17th U.S.-ASEAN dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand, for discussions on U.S.-ASEAN relations, as well as global transnational and regional issues of mutual interest.

He also met with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin and senior officials of the Thai Foreign Ministry. He'll depart early Sunday for Seoul, for consultations on bilateral issues and matters related to North Korea and the six-party talks; and then he and Mr. Armitage join up in Tokyo, where they'll talk further with the Japanese.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you tell us how much chicken he ate in Bangkok?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Up in New York today, there is a meeting at the KEDO Board. I'm wondering what, if anything, the United States expects out of this and what the agenda is.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check. I think, as far as the agenda for the Board, you'll probably have to check with KEDO, with the organization on that. What the United States expects out of this meeting, I'll have to check and see.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on eating chicken?

MR. BOUCHER: Let's --

QUESTION: Apparently, there is a report in USA Today that over a dinner of Persian chicken at the Capitol, several members of Congress and Iran's Ambassador to the UN -- pretty good segue, huh? Of course, you can chicken out from an answer. (Laughter.)


But no, they discuss -- it's a very -- what should I say? -- hypothetical story, but it is on page one of USA Today, that there was discussion of a congressional visit to Iran, which would be the first since the revolution. I say it is hypothetical, so I guess I have answered my question. But do you care to say how the State Department might feel about such contacts?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can give you a definitive answer on a specific trip.

QUESTION: Sure.

MR. BOUCHER: But I'd just say, in general, we've always encouraged exchanges, people-to-people exchanges with the Iranians, with Iran. We've certainly encouraged congressional travel in general. So I guess it sounds like it'd be fine with us, if that's what they decided to do.

QUESTION: Well, if I could follow up?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Elise.

QUESTION: The State Department is the one that gives the ambassador the permission to travel outside of the radius of New York for any trips or anything like that. Can you say what led you to give approval for this particular trip?

MR. BOUCHER: The travel of Iranian representatives in New York, members of the U.S., some of the U.S. -- UN missions, who are under travel restrictions in New York, each case is looked at separately. It's done on a case-by-case basis. There were no objections on any national security grounds or other grounds for this trip.

So we approved a request for the Iranian Permanent Representative to Washington, to come down for closed meetings hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, and a private meeting with congressional officials. That visit took place, January 28th and 29th. Iranian Permanent Representative Zarif has not been in Washington since he became the Permanent Representative to the UN in July 2002. He had requested permission in November 2002, to come to Washington. We approved that trip as well with limitations on some of the activities, but he subsequently withdrew that request.

QUESTION: Did he have any other meetings with, for example, U.S. Government officials while he was here? Did any attend the Woodrow Wilson Center session?

MR. BOUCHER: There were not, certainly not any meetings over here. I'm not aware whether or not there were any officials at any sessions.

Yeah. Sir.

QUESTION: I was going to go back to North Korea. Did you get --

QUESTION: Can we stay with Iran for a second?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Let's stay with Iran. Sorry.

QUESTION: The Iranian Interior Minister has apparently called for a postponement of the February 20th elections. It seems like his call would have to be approved by the Guardian Council, and it seems like it's an effort to give the Guardian Council more time to restore some of the many people it has declared ineligible for running in the election.

Do you have any comment on that, on the call for a postponement?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess the Guardian Council was supposed to take up or announce today what they were going to do about the various candidates --

QUESTION: I think they have said that they're --

MR. BOUCHER: -- qualified and disqualified. I guess the only thing -- I can't comment on this proposal, that proposal, this candidate. But we have always maintained that free and fair elections should be the norm, that free and fair elections should be through a process that meets international standards. The decisions about who can govern a country are best made by the citizens of that nation through an open and transparent process.

And with that in mind, we are watching very closely how events unfold in Iran's upcoming parliamentary election.

QUESTION: I think the Guardian Council today announced that they had restored a third of those who may declare ineligible --

MR. BOUCHER: We have not seen the announcement yet.

Changing the subject.

QUESTION: Back to North Korea by way of Nigeria. Did you get any clarification on the Nigerian deal? Has there been any official contact with the Nigerian Government on the situation?

MR. BOUCHER: We have -- the simple answer is no. I don't have any more information for you at this point. We have, indeed, raised the matter with the Nigerian Government. We expressed concerns about the possibility that there might be a purchase of missiles from North Korea, and it's an issue that we will have to keep discussing with them.

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher.

MR. BOUCHER: Sir.

QUESTION: Sorry, just to follow up on the North Korea six-party talk. So your understanding is still the ball is in the court of North Korea -- I mean, China feeling that it hasn't got any response from the North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- the Chinese or the North Koreans would have to tell you about any discussions they may or may not have. But as far as we understand it, the question of whether and when another round is held really lies in Pyongyang.

Okay, let's do some of the people who have been --

QUESTION: Secretary General Hoop Scheffer says NATO would like to take a more proactive role facing modern day dangers. He says NATO is playing a small role in Iraq -- intelligence, logistics, some Polish troops on the ground. -- but he says he would like to wait for political developments to sort of be firm in Iraq before he even contemplates any kind of expansion role in Iraq.

How will the Administration press the Secretary General to take an expansion role in Iraq between now and when Iraq becomes a sovereign government?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, as you know, that's a process that is not scheduled to take very much time. Iraq will have, we hope, on June 30th a transitional assembly that takes responsibility for Iraqi sovereignty at that point. So that's coming pretty quickly.


NATO is already helping to support the Polish and Spanish contingents that are out there. We have repeatedly raised at NATO meetings the prospect that NATO could do things in Iraq, and it remains a topic of continuing discussions. The Secretary, in his visits to Brussels, his talks with other foreign ministers, certainly raised this prospect. We have agreed with other members of NATO, the old and new Secretary Generals, that Afghanistan is the first priority and getting Afghanistan right is our first NATO priority.

But as some of these contingents roll over or look at their arrangements, we would also hope that NATO would look at what they can do to support that now. So that, we would hope, would lead to some additional effort by NATO in Iraq that could support the deployments there.

QUESTION: But why wait for Iraq to make that formal announcement? I mean, why is he -- why --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we certainly don't tie one thing to another politically or formally. There may be nations who do. There may be NATO members who do. But I think as far as we see the timing issues of NATO's involvement in Iran (sic)*, there are two factors: one is that the first priority has to be getting Afghanistan right; and the second factor is that we want to see -- there are arrangements that are operating now for a certain period of time, and that as those are reviewed, it becomes logical then that that's perhaps the logical moment to look at what more NATO can do.

-- ...NATO's involvement in Iraq

QUESTION: Richard, Under Secretary Bolton is in Moscow. Is he discussing with them the Proliferation Security Initiative, and how important it is that Russia be part of it?

MR. BOUCHER: Well -- has he spoken in Moscow? Has he given some kind of rundown? I think that's the first place we ought to look. I don't have a rundown from him yet.

In general, is he talking about Proliferation Security? Yes, he's talking about that and a variety of other nonproliferation subjects that are important to us and the Russians, where we work together.

It's important to us that the Russians be informed, that the Russians contribute to nonproliferation in every way they can. I'll just leave it at that for the moment.

QUESTION: Well, on that, I guess, since you haven't heard back from him, you're not going to know that the Russians were cool, to say the least, to Mr. Bolton's entreaties that they sign on to the PSI. They said that the explanations that he had given to them for PSI and the legal technicalities of why it's not in violation of international law were far from satisfactory.

And I'm just wondering if you can find out from his office if this is a disappointment to the United States that the Russians would take the position, it being the only member of the G-8 not to have signed onto it, and if you're planning to continue to try to get the Russians onboard?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any comment on the Russian statements. I'm sure we'll talk to Mr. Bolton when he gets back. As far as whether we'll continue to discuss Proliferation Security Initiative with the Russians, absolutely we have talked to them about it from the start. And as it continues to evolve, we'll talk about it, continue to talk to them about it, in the context of a whole variety of measures that nations can take to reduce proliferation.

QUESTION: Can you check that, that you've talked to them about it from the start? Because I think one of the reasons the Russians -- this has been acknowledged by U.S. officials -- that one of the reasons the Russians are not excited about this is because they were not in on it from the start and they felt left out.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- I remember that Mr. Bolton's made several trips to Moscow, and he's discussed this several times over many months.

QUESTION: Yeah. But they were all after the President's May announcement.

MR. BOUCHER: After -- was it after Poland? Yeah, probably. So we've talked to them from an early point in the process.

QUESTION: Also on Russia.

MR. BOUCHER: Please.

QUESTION: There some reports that Russia is preparing for one of its most massive tests of ballistic missiles in preparation for a nuclear conflict. Do you have anything on this?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: It's a Russian newspaper report.

MR. BOUCHER: I really -- first of all, whether Russia is preparing for nuclear conflict, I think is a question you can ask the Russians.

QUESTION: No, it's an exercise.

QUESTION: It's an exercise.

MR. BOUCHER: An exercise. No, I'm sorry. We don't track Russian nuclear national exercises.

QUESTION: If it's an exercise, aren't they obliged to tell the U.S. about it?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Have you heard? I mean, has the U.S. heard?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I have not heard.

QUESTION: I mean, if -- literally, I think. If they do it, they've got to tell you.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll check and see. We do have various liaison channels with the Russians on things. I'll check and see if we have any information. But I'd also suggest you might want to ask the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Sure. But it involves test-firing several ballistic missiles, and I think they've got to tell you.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. They make notices. We tell each other a lot --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: -- of those things. Whether I'm in a position to speak for the Russians on what they're doing or not is not the question.

QUESTION: No.

MR. BOUCHER: I know --

QUESTION: Just on notification will be helpful.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, have -- again, ask the Russians. I'll find out for you, if I can.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: And you might want to check with the Pentagon to see if they've got anything over there.

Sir.

QUESTION: Going back to China. When Mr. Armitage did meet with the Chinese leaders regarding Taiwan's March 20th referendum, he did explain to them President Bush's misgivings on it. What exactly what was said about how the Administration will handle if the referendum goes forward?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think Mr. Armitage addressed that question in public. I'll be glad to get you his transcripts. He made clear what our view was.

QUESTION: But in -- with the Chinese leaders saying they believe in a peaceful resolution of the question, what exactly does that mean? I mean, what are they going to do? Have they expressed any details of what they're going to do to the State Department?

MR. BOUCHER: You can ask them. I am not speaking for the Chinese here. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: To follow on to that, in these transcripts, Mr. Armitage was asked if he had received any assurances from the Chinese that they wouldn't, in effect, flex their muscles at the time of the referendum, and he said he did not receive any such assurances. Did he seek any?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, once again, when he answered the question, he also made clear he was out there to try to work a whole series of issues with the Chinese to improve our cooperation, to improve the regional peace and stability and to try to resolve issues that might cause problems. So I think the point is not to get in a future fight over something that might or might not happen, but is to build a relationship and an environment where those things don't happen.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the Turkish Prime Minister said that he was trying to get together, convene a peace conference with the Israelis, Palestinians and Syria on a comprehensive peace deal. Did this come up during any of the discussions with the Turks this week, or the idea of Turkey coming up, of taking a greater mediating role in the conflict?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked about his conversations with the Foreign Minister on that topic yesterday. I'll just refer you back to them, as far as what happened here. And as far as the discussions with the White House, you'll have to go to the White House.

QUESTION: Richard, on Turkey, the Secretary yesterday said he was expecting to hear -- or expecting to speak later, after he -- after he -- he was going to speak with the UN Secretary General about Cyprus.

MR. BOUCHER: And he did.

QUESTION: He did?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: And is there any --

MR. BOUCHER: Yesterday afternoon.

QUESTION: Okay. Is there any movement or change in the idea of the U.S. using its good offices to prod the -- all the parties involved into reaching agreement?

MR. BOUCHER: The United States, as the Secretary said to the Secretary General yesterday, our goal is to support his efforts. We have strongly supported, at the highest levels, the UN Secretary General's Good Offices Mission for Cyprus, and the role of the Secretary General as facilitator in that process.

The Secretary did talk yesterday with Secretary General Kofi Annan about the Cyprus issue, expressing our full support for his efforts, discussing the situation, promising that we would do what we could to help get the parties to meet his conditions for talks and for moving forward on the issue quickly.

The United States has been active with our own diplomats and envoys in trying to encourage support for the Secretary General's efforts. The Secretary, himself, has frequently raised this with Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministers and leaders.

I guess what I would say, in answer to the question, what are we going to be doing as we look forward, is we're going to continue a strong effort in that regard. The Secretary said he will be personally involved. I'm sure he'll be active, and that this U.S. effort, as we try to build momentum, will, in fact, intensify.

QUESTION: But there wasn't -- I mean, after the Turk -- after Prime Minister Erdogan, at the White House a couple of days ago, suggested publicly, or asked the President, President Bush, publicly for the U.S. to play some kind of a facilitation or media facilitation role in it, Secretary General Annan said that he didn't think that that was really necessary. He said that my good friend, Colin Powell, has lots of other things to do, and he said that he would prefer if someone such -- who was more intimately involved in the Cyprus issue or has greater knowledge of it, someone like his own representative, Mr. de Soto, was the main person.

Was there any -- in the conservation between Secretary Powell and the Secretary General yesterday, was there any kind of delinea -- more clarification of what Secretary Powell's role might be in this, what his personal involvement would be?

MR. BOUCHER: To the extent that I just discussed it with you, yes. The U.S. role has been and continues to be to support the efforts that the Secretary General is making. The Secretary pledged that that sort of role would continue, and that he personally would be active in trying to do that.

QUESTION: Your reaction, Richard, to the Israeli response to the suicide bombing yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: To repeat what we have said before in these kinds of circumstances, we recognize Israel's right to defend itself against terror attacks, and we, once again, call on the Palestinian Authority to make a maximum effort against terror and violence, an effort that must be far more serious than it has made in the past three years.

QUESTION: After yesterday's briefing, reports from Jerusalem surfaced that a Palestinian policeman had attacked the -- bombed the bus. Is the State Department -- Satterfield stayed on; Wolf, I suppose, came home. But you have other people there. Have you heard anything along those lines?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we'd heard stories like that. It's up to the Israelis to tell us what happened.

QUESTION: All right. And Mr. Wolf did come, did head home, right?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have confirmation that he actually got on an airplane. I do know that Deputy Assistant Secretary Satterfield remains in Jerusalem.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: Ambassador Wolf was due to leave.

QUESTION: All right.

MR. BOUCHER: They're having further meetings today with Israelis and Palestinians, Deputy Assistant Secretary Satterfield and separate people at the embassy. Yeah, today, they're -- he is having meetings --

QUESTION: Right.

MR. BOUCHER: -- with the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Knesset, and he's having an informal session with a donors group to talk about humanitarian issues.

QUESTION: And with Palestinians, too?

MR. BOUCHER: With Palestinians, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Richard, to follow on that subject, did either the Secretary or Assistant Secretary Burns ever get in touch with any Palestinian leaders?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary spoke yesterday afternoon with Nabil Shaath, the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority, and emphasized once again, as he has before, the need for the Palestinians to take resolute steps against violence and the groups that perpetuate them.

QUESTION: Richard, is it still your view that the Israelis should bear in mind the consequences of their actions? You didn't repeat that in that --

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it is.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: In the case of Abu Mazen, one of the ways that the U.S. expressed its support for his role was to offer direct funding. Now you just mentioned that there is this informal donors conference. Is that out the door now, this issue of direct funding, given the fact that the State Department has expressed some reservations about Qureia and, obviously, Mr. Arafat?

MR. BOUCHER: We had money last year that we did apply directly through the Palestinian Authority to meeting some of the needs of the Palestinian people. That was based on a number of factors, including financial accountability, and we felt was the effort being made on the roadmap to peace.

I don't want to speculate at this point whether, when we get new money and it comes down to deciding how to spend it, whether we'll see that same kind of circumstances here or not.

QUESTION: Is there any U.S. response to the latest information coming out of Pakistan about Mr. Khan, his father, and nuclear -- the distribution of nuclear technology?

MR. BOUCHER: No further -- nothing further than what we said before on the subject.

Sir.

QUESTION: You might have to take this one, but it seems the Sudanese Government has a military offensive going in Darfur, using air strikes at a village along the Chad border, and there are more refugees moving in to Chad. I was looking for a reaction, if there is one.

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check and see if we have anything on that specific situation. The situation in Darfur, and particularly the consequences for refugees, has been a matter of great concern to us. We have frequently called on the government to try to calm things down there, and on all the parties there to proceed peacefully to negotiate their differences.

QUESTION: Have you said anything, or do you have anything to say, about this report came out of Iraq last evening about this Saddam oil contract plums list off the books and on these individuals that were listed? Have you gotten into that at all yet? Have you seen that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't seen that. Haven't seen that. Not sure it's the kind of thing that we would jump into.

QUESTION: Richard, the Defense Minister of Belgium was quoted in an interview as saying that if he was an American he would vote Democrat in the upcoming election. I understand that the Secretary called his colleague, Foreign Minister Michel, to complain about this comment. Is that correct? And if it is, what exactly did he tell Foreign Minister Michel?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check.

QUESTION: You don't know at all? Are you serious?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm absolutely certain in my lack of knowledge.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m.)

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