State Department Noon Briefing, February 5, 2004
|Thursday February 5,
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2004
MR. BOUCHER: All right. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements. I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: As you may have noticed, President Musharraf has pardoned Dr. Khan. Are you satisfied with that action?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me kind of review the situation and what we -- what we see and what we expect. First, I think the actions that Pakistan has been taking in regard to this investigation and uncovering information about the actions of various Pakistanis need to be seen in the context of the overall international effort on -- against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The spread of nuclear weapons and technology is, indeed, a matter of global concern. The United States has urged all nations that have this technology to take precautions to ensure that it is properly controlled, that it does not fall in the hands of rogue states, non-state actors and individuals. And that's why we have said that we value the commitments President Musharraf has made to prevent the expertise in Pakistan from reaching other places and other countries and other nations, and we have welcomed the investigation that they have undertaken into reports that such activities have occurred.
We think that Pakistan is taking serious efforts to end the activities of a dangerous network that, as Director Tenet said this morning, had already done much damage. It's up to the Government of Pakistan to take the necessary measures to ensure that this kind of proliferation will not happen again. It's important that those measures be comprehensive and they be enduring. We'd also expect that Pakistan will share information that they're unearthing in their ongoing investigation with the international community.
As far as the specifics of what happens to Dr. Khan, other than making sure that he and whatever other individuals or networks in Pakistan might have been involved in this trade don't transfer anything again, as far as the specifics of sentencing or pardons or whatever, that really is a matter for Pakistan to decide, and they'll take, I'm sure, appropriate measures under Pakistani law and regulations to ensure that he's -- he and his associates are no longer able to endanger the international community.
QUESTION: Just yesterday, you said you wanted them to take appropriate action, and it seems a perfectly reasonable question to ask whether pardoning a man, who has transferred weapons-related technology to countries hostile to this one, is appropriate.
QUESTION: So it's okay if you proliferate as long as you tell us about it and don't do it again?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not okay. No. It's for governments to find out and prevent this kind of thing.
But what penalties, sanctions, controls or steps are used to prevent it from happening again -- those are up for individual governments to decide.
QUESTION: But there's no penalty or sanction here that I can see. The man's been pardoned.
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's up to the Pakistani Government to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again.
QUESTION: Well, is the United States concerned that the pardon sets a precedent for other proliferators who might think, well, I can get away with it because I can say, sorry, give my information in, and receive a pardon?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's up to Pakistan to decide the specific steps that they need to take in this case. I don't think it's a precedent for anything else.
QUESTION: Richard, from the point of view of the United States, is this now done, or do you think, is it "case closed," or do you think that --
MR. BOUCHER: I think the -- I think the Government of Pakistan itself says that the -- the matter is ongoing.
QUESTION: So you're not --
MR. BOUCHER: The investigation is ongoing. There are other individuals that need to be looked at. There's a network that needs to be found out.
MR. BOUCHER: And there's information that needs to be shared.
QUESTION: So this, this -- the events of the last two days specifically related to Dr. Khan do not satisfy all of the U.S. concerns about Pakistan's proliferation?
MR. BOUCHER: Nonproliferation is and must be an ongoing effort. It is for all of us, whether it's this particular network or anything other than this particular network. But in terms of the specific investigation, I think the Pakistanis, themselves, acknowledge that this is an ongoing investigation that's not finished yet.
QUESTION: President Musharraf has said, though, that he will not allow an outside investigation into this, i.e., the IAEA, and he also criticized --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I called for that.
QUESTION: You did. No, you didn't. But that's sharing information. He has said he will not share information with the IAEA.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think he said that.
QUESTION: Okay. You didn't think Khan ever said that Musharraf was involved either, and, in fact, he did say that the day before he came out then and said it wasn't true.
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I said -- we talked yesterday. I said I saw what he said this morning, yesterday morning.
QUESTION: The day before he said something different.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say anything about what he said the day before because I didn't know what he said the day before.
QUESTION: Okay. What about -- what about the fact that Musharraf is criticizing two situations that the U.S. is very pleased about, and that is Iran and Libya allowing investigations? Musharraf says that they should have -- should not have handed over -- not have turned in Pakistan for sharing the technology.
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have spoken quite clearly on the importance of the steps Libya has taken to disclose, dismantle, destroy all its activities in the area of weapons of mass destruction. These are important decisions from Libya, and we believe those do, in fact, serve as a model for others that others should follow.
QUESTION: But Musharraf was criticizing that, so how can you believe that you're on the same page with him?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the specific comments, but I think the facts are clear that what Libya did is good for the international community.
QUESTION: It seems like you guys are only looking at some of the things that are being said. I mean, Musharraf said this in the same -- you know, the same speech that you talked about --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I know people have been quoted saying this and that. What -- I'm not trying to repeat their arguments or defend them. I'm saying what's important here is that the Government of Pakistan take steps to make sure that Pakistan won't be a source of proliferation, either with materials, equipment, or especially with the intangibles, the expertise that can help other countries develop weapons of mass destruction.
We see Pakistan taking steps that go to that end. We see Pakistan developing information as part of an investigation that is useful to the whole international community to go after this private network, this network of people sharing materials, information and expertise. And we would expect them to share that information with the international community. Those are the important things.
QUESTION: Would that include documents? Because he says that he will not hand over any documents. He says the IAEA can come and talk to us, but we will not hand over any documents. So would that satisfy your --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what documents they have. I couldn't make a judgment on that at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, until last year, Pakistan denied that having any hand in any of the nukes spread anywhere, and also I understand that, if I'm correct, in 2002, Secretary of State also said that Pakistan has pledged to him they will not spread any nukes anywhere.
Now, until this became public last year by the or from the IAEA and Iranian and Libyan officials, then is the only time the Pakistanis now under pressure to say yes, and now their scientists also admitting.
My question is that how do we know that these weapons have not spread beyond Libya and Iraq and Iran -- I mean, Libya, Iran and North Korea, maybe in the hands of Usama bin Laden and his associates?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't speculate, but I think the fact that expertise is easily transferable is one of the -- one of the reasons why it's very important for all governments to exercise vigilance on these points, and one of the reasons why we have undertaken an international effort to tighten export controls, including on expertise and other intangibles.
We have undertaken steps such as the Proliferation Security Initiative. We have pressed very hard for all countries to sign the additional protocols in the IAEA so that countries do have -- there is more scrutiny and control over these things, why the President has proposed that there be a UN resolution to bind countries to nonproliferation goals.
So the fact is that knowledge is more easily transferable than other things perhaps, and that's why it is important for all countries to exercise vigilance.
QUESTION: One more. It might become or come in limelight the link between Malaysia and Pakistan. Don't you think this is worried, and should be worry to the United States, of this because it may spread throughout the Islamic world, because it is -- because it was an Islamic bond?
MR. BOUCHER: The fact that these two countries are involved -- I mean, there are other countries and places that may be involved in this private network. I'm not going to draw conclusions because we've seen two particular countries investigating. Whether these countries are trying to develop an Islamic bond or whether there were individuals in these countries that had expertise and the ability to make equipment that they were sharing for whatever reasons, is also a matter that I can't make assumptions about.
But at this point, what is also clear is the Government of Malaysia has acknowledged that a Malaysian country -- company was engaged in proliferation activities that related to Libya's uranium enrichment program, and they have promised an investigation as well.
Once again, as I said with the case of Pakistan, it's important that this investigation be pursued vigorously and that they, you know, stop these activities, unearth the information and share it with the international community. They, I think, have sought the assistance and expertise of the International Atomic Energy Agency in that investigation, so that's a good thing as well.
So let's try somebody else. Steve.
QUESTION: You said earlier that the United States values the commitments Musharraf has made and that they're taking serious steps, but can you say anything more about whether we view the steps to pursue this are adequate in our view, and also whether the sharing of information with the international community is adequate or whether more needs to be done in both those areas?
MR. BOUCHER: As this is an ongoing investigation and an ongoing matter, I don't think I can make judgments at this stage. We've been impressed by the seriousness of the investigation, but I can't make a final judgment for you.
QUESTION: Richard, have the events of the last couple of days in any way caused a reassessment of your earlier judgments of President Musharraf's pledges that Pakistan was not proliferating and his continuing assurances that Pakistan's own nuclear arsenal is in responsible hands?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure that the information that's coming out, or the allegations as well, really question the issue of nuclear safety, of Pakistan's materials that they may have.
As far as the judgment, the commitment that President Musharraf made in October of 2002 that Pakistan would not be a source of proliferation, we do think that the investigation and the steps that Pakistan is taking demonstrate that they're serious about that commitment.
QUESTION: Yeah, but it also -- doesn't it not suggest to you that that commitment was not entirely serious?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I think the steps that they're taking to investigate demonstrates that they are serious about adhering to that commitment.
QUESTION: But this is two years later, Richard.
MR. BOUCHER: It's not two years later, but anyway.
QUESTION: Well, close to two years.
MR. BOUCHER: Try 15 months. But the point is that President Musharraf made this commitment and has taken steps to ensure that it's effective, and we still see him taking further steps to make sure it's effective.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. And you think that -- did those steps, to your knowledge, begin with his commitment in 2002? Or did they just -- or was he forced, did he force his hand by presenting him with all sorts of --
MR. BOUCHER: They took steps in -- when he made his commitment, they started taking steps -- government, departments and elsewhere -- to try to make it effective, to make it effective. It's a commitment that we have said many times is important, that we expect them to keep, and we see him taking steps to keep it.
QUESTION: Richard, are you aware of any Pakistani nuclear proliferation since October of '02?
MR. BOUCHER: That's not a question I'd be able to answer at this point.
QUESTION: And just one other thing on this, which kind of gets to an earlier question, so I don't know if you'll actually answer it. But the lack of outrage from Washington on this is -- it's significant, I think, given the fact that when the Indians and the Pakistanis engaged in their nuclear tests back in 1998, there was sanctions immediately, immediately imposed. And so, I guess the question is: Is the mea culpa enough?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's the question. The question for us is whether Pakistan is taking effective steps to stop this trade and is cooperating in helping the international community uncover the network that we all need to get at and stop. We see Pakistan taking those kind of steps, we welcome that, and we'll continue to work with them to do that.
QUESTION: But Pakistan is -- it's not even, you know, signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty, but this is an obvious violation of the international law. So the result of the investigation will, you know, affect your decision on the, you know, sanction issue suspended since the 2001?
MR. BOUCHER: That would, in the end, depend on what comes out in the investigation, on what the facts turn out to -- how the facts are determined and what the interplay is with U.S. law, and I just can't make a judgment on that at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, what is the interplay generally with a government, especially when you do have a element such as the scientists in Pakistan, or in the case of Iraq with elements within a rogue regime? Are there any particular type sanctions that we should have, as Matt has been saying, should have honed in on earlier?
For instance, in Pakistan, we've had this trouble where, over the border, elements of al-Qaida and Taliban have sought shelter up in the north, and then Pakistan wouldn't allow American troops over the border to search for --
MR. BOUCHER: That's -- you're going a little too far here.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's start with a question and answer the question, and then if we want to go off into other regions, we'll do that a step at a time.
The responsibility of governments is to ensure respect for international standards and laws. In the proliferation area, we rely on governments to regulate and monitor, police, enforce, prevent transfers of materials that could lead to proliferation. That's why all these steps I've talked about -- improving export control, expanding the nuclear -- tightening the Nuclear Suppliers Group regulations, getting countries to sign up to the additional protocols, initiating the Proliferation Security Initiative -- these are all steps to tighten that network, that web of government control so that we can stop this kind of activity.
And the responsibility of governments is to make that effort as effective as possible, and therefore governments to take steps to prevent proliferation activity, we welcome that, as we're welcoming what Pakistan is doing to prevent operations of a private network that would be involved in proliferation.
As far as the question of sanctions, there's a multitude of U.S. laws that are involved when there are transfers, whether they're -- sometimes it depends on whether they're government entities, individuals. You can get hit or listed in different ways. It depends on the facts of this particular case -- of the particular matter.
So we'll come back. Tammy.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. expect -- this ongoing investigation in Pakistan, does the U.S. expect the Pakistani investigating authorities to look into who in the Pakistani Government may have had knowledge of these transfers, and will the U.S. be satisfied if it doesn't? And when I say, "who in the Pakistani Government," I'm also referring to President Musharraf.
MR. BOUCHER: That is an issue that we would expect the investigators to look at. At this point, we've seen the statements that have been made. We'll just have to see how things evolve.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. offering to help with the investigation at all, sending any people or --
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is a Pakistani investigation that they've wanted to conduct by themselves on their own.
QUESTION: Is your rather restrained response to all this now due in any way to a concern or a fear that President Musharraf's hold on power is so tenuous that it might be further eroded by U.S. condemnation?
MR. BOUCHER: Our concern is that this be a complete and thorough series of steps that can stop the proliferation from Pakistan, stop the activities of these individuals and help the world get at this, sort of, private network of people.
We see Pakistan doing those things and we want to keep -- see them continue. That's what we're talking about here.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary made any calls to President Musharraf or has Deputy Secretary Armitage made any calls to Pakistani officials about this recently?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of.
QUESTION: Just to go back to the issue of the pardon in the context of the investigation, what's -- is the point of the investigation in your mind just to make sure that this activity stops and doesn't happen again, or is it also to find those responsible and make sure that they're brought to justice?
And what is the incentive, or the disincentive, for other such proliferators or black market operators to not take this type of activity if they see that it won't be punished?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, the matter of punishment, the matter of what to do about the individuals involved, is a matter for Pakistan to decide.
From the United States point of view, the broader picture is to stop the proliferation activity and to help the international community get at the networks that have been involved.
QUESTION: But I mean, just to, just to reiterate the question, I mean, if you're going to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll reiterate the answer.
QUESTION: Well, but I know, but if you're going to try and stop, if you want to try and stop this activity, I mean, if people see that there's no consequences for this, what's -- why would they not continue to do it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think people are seeing that there are no consequences for this. There may be different consequences in different cases. There may be different consequences in different countries. But the broader point is to stop the activity and help the international community get at the problem.
QUESTION: So do you expect Malaysia, when it pursues its investigation, to also issue pardons to people who have proliferated?
MR. BOUCHER: We would expect any country that is facing, is conducting an investigation, to decide what's the appropriate penalties under their judicial system and their laws.
QUESTION: Richard, you are relying on the Pakistan investigation, and how can you be sure that investigation will be fair and to the point that the way it will satisfy the international community, including the IAEA, because the people investigating are the same people involved in one or another way.
MR. BOUCHER: If you want to ask questions about who's investigating and how thorough a job they'll do, really those questions have to be answered on the ground.
QUESTION: But U.S. is not investigating.
MR. BOUCHER: We're not involved in this particular investigation. There's certainly --
QUESTION: Not independent investigation by the United States?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll finish my question -- my answer. We certainly have been following this situation. We certainly have -- have and would continue to develop our own information. Director Tenet spoke today about how we had uncovered much of this activity working with other governments and how our intelligence services had figured much of this out. So it's certainly an area that has been of concern and will continue to be of concern to us.
The goal is so that we -- all of us in the international community -- can find this activity where it's occurred and stop it.
QUESTION: About Cyprus. Did United Nations General Secretary ask the United States send a representative for the Cyprus meeting, which will be starting next week in New York?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary General, as you know, has invited the parties to come to New York February 10th to resume negotiations on the basis on his plan. We welcome that step. We do continue to support strongly, in any way we can, the Good Offices Mission of the UN Secretary General. We urge the parties to do likewise, so as to assure that a settlement can be reached and a united Cyprus can enter the EU on May 1st.
Our Special Cyprus Coordinator would expect to be in New York during the talks, but these are talks between the Secretary General and the parties so we're generally not in the room when they take place.
QUESTION: The news report is that Mr. Grossman will be also attend to this meeting, too.
MR. BOUCHER: I hope it's not your report, because it's wrong.
QUESTION: No, it's not mine. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Good. Then I'll tell you it's wrong. He's not going up for this.
QUESTION: And also another report that United States asked for some base in Cyprus? Is it true or can you confirm this? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: The question hasn't come to me before. I haven't had a chance to look around everywhere, but no.
QUESTION: A follow-on?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary Powell made any phone calls very recently, I mean, these last 24 hours? Did he talk with Annan or anybody else?
MR. BOUCHER: He talked to the Secretary General two days -- yesterday, or day before? -- about Cyprus. So no, not since then.
QUESTION: It will be only Weston going to New York from the U.S. side?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure Weston will have others with him and we'll do whatever we can to support the talks, as appropriate.
QUESTION: And one more. Do we know -- I don't know, maybe I should ask it to UN, but this de Soto will be continuing as an --
MR. BOUCHER: That's a UN question. I don't know.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: Richard, there's a report about a possible UN proposal for a referendum, I think on April the 21st or the 12th -- I may have gotten the dates mixed up -- in Cyprus on their plan. Is that -- do you know if that's right? Do you like the idea of a referendum that close to the date?
MR. BOUCHER: The -- you're going to have to get the explanation from the UN. When we refer to the Secretary General's requirements and the Secretary General's conditions, putting the plan to a referendum at a point in this process, a fairly early date because we're trying to get it all wrapped up by May 1st, is part of the Secretary General's proposals, his formula, his requirements, whatever we want to use.
But that's part of the package the Secretary General has put forward that we have encouraged the parties to use to resolve this.
QUESTION: Either of the European Union is going to be represented in those talks?
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask that question in Brussels. I don't know.
QUESTION: In Brussels? Because you are mediating anyway. You are in charge.
MR. BOUCHER: No. The Secretary General is in the middle of this.
QUESTION: But, you know, President Bush followed a very aggressive policy at the beginning of the year to this effect, so either was --
MR. BOUCHER: And we're supporting him strongly.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. BOUCHER: We're supporting him strongly, but we're not inviting people to go to New York. The Secretary General's doing that.
QUESTION: But already they're talking about seven-party conference, anyway.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know who's talking about seven parties, but I can only count -- I can count a few less than that.
QUESTION: According to the statement, there are five plus the United States and the UN. I was wondering what happened to the European Union.
MR. BOUCHER: You can go ask the European Union or you can ask the United Nations why they weren't invited, but this is definitely the wrong address.
QUESTION: But the U.S., you are mediating, I thought.
MR. BOUCHER: This is definitely the wrong address. And no, we're not mediating.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Richard, in his meeting today with the Deputy -- Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Olmert, what -- was the Secretary given details of the Gaza withdrawal plan? And if so, what does he think of them?
MR. BOUCHER: The meeting today -- first, I need to note, this was a longstanding scheduled visit for a while, and clearly, having the opportunity, they talked about the current situation in Israel, our desire to make progress on the roadmap, our common desire to make progress towards the President's vision.
The Deputy Prime Minister talked to us about discussions in Israel, what Prime Minister Sharon had been saying, and made clear that Prime Minister Sharon is committed to the President's June 24th vision as outlined in the roadmap and said that the future Israeli actions that are being discussed would be made in that context.
We also recognize that the permanent solution to the difficulties in the region between Israelis and Palestinians and others needed to be found through negotiation, so that they maintain their commitment to the roadmap, maintain their commitment to the President's vision, and restated a commitment to negotiations. So those are -- that was the context in which they discussed various things that are being put forward and considered in Israel at this point.
The Secretary said, obviously, we'd follow this very closely. The Israeli Government will continue to consult with us and will continue to study these matters carefully.
QUESTION: When you say longstanding scheduled -- how longstanding?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly, but it's been on the books for a while.
QUESTION: For a while meaning, more than a week?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Yeah.
QUESTION: Was the original intent of the meeting to talk about the settlement issue, or was there another -- was there another --
MR. BOUCHER: I think the original intent of the meeting was that he was on a private visit. I think he was going to be on a visit to the United States. I think it's a private visit. And it was an opportunity to stop in and talk to the Secretary and share notes on the situation. That's what happened.
QUESTION: Was there anything else raised, the barrier, for example, or was it mainly about Gaza?
MR. BOUCHER: It was about everything. I mean, it was about what's going on. It was about the proposals to talk about settlements, to talk about Gaza, talk about the fence. But it was also about how to make progress on the roadmap, and the Secretary emphasizing, once again, the need for the Palestinians, especially, to take immediate steps to confront terror and violence, that we are serious about trying to make progress. We are continuing our talks with the parties, continue to emphasize what needs to be done to make some real progress on the roadmap that we and the Israelis and the Palestinians are all committed to.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise any concerns about the route of the barrier in this conversation?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, as I remember the conversation, the Israelis recognized our concerns about the route of the barrier before we had to raise them. But, yeah, he mentioned that the fence was a difficult -- was a problem for us, the route of the fence was a problem for us.
QUESTION: The route.
QUESTION: The route.
QUESTION: And he make --
QUESTION: Did he talk about specifics?
QUESTION: Did he talk specifics?
QUESTION: Did he get the maps out?
MR. BOUCHER: No, they didn't' get any maps out.
QUESTION: Israeli media are suggesting that Secretary Powell mentioned that there would be some high-level envoys going shortly to the region; is that correct? And, if so, can you tell us anything about it? Not Satterfield and Wolf, but that there would be a new mission to follow up on this discussion about -- about specifically the settlements.
MR. BOUCHER: Didn't say that in the meeting I was in.
QUESTION: All right. Can you enlighten us, if after Secretary Burn -- Assistant Secretary Burns finishes his meeting in London, and then returns to the United States, if he plans, say, maybe next week to head out to his area of responsibility?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of any particular plans. I'll have to check and see if there is anything.
QUESTION: Richard, did the Secretary give Deputy Prime Minister Olmert any understanding that the U.S. would not be too hard on Israel until -- or unless and until the Palestinians did what you've said repeatedly they need to do?
MR. BOUCHER: No, no. I mean, he made -- what they talked about was how to make progress on the roadmap, which we all understands means that there is obligations on both sides, that we expect both sides to take steps. But we all know, quite clearly, as the Secretary said before, that the most immediate and important steps are for the Palestinians to act against the source of the violence, the violent groups that carry out terror.
QUESTION: He said afterwards that eventually they thought, in terms of their policy of disengagement, that it should be kind of a total separation except for only like the inevitable necessity, in that the Palestinian shouldn't be working in Israel, and that they should just stay where they are and work, economic opportunities should be developed there for them to work in the Palestinian areas.
Does the U.S. share that point of view?
MR. BOUCHER: That was not really discussed at the meeting.
QUESTION: Yes, since this is the former mayor of Jerusalem, has a particular interest in that and has come out with several suggestions for solving the Jerusalem problem on the basis of neighborhoods, in the discussion of the fence, which is of particular concern to the Palestinians and to Jerusalem residents, was there any discussion of how the fence was going to go through Jerusalem?
MR. BOUCHER: There was no discussion of the -- I mean, they weren't trying to map out routes or anything like that. There was a discussion of the fence. It wasn't a negotiating session. It was a talk with a visitor from Israel, important official visitor from Israel, about what was going on, about the thinking, about the things being said and the environment, and how we can try to make progress on the common goal, which is to work, make progress on the roadmap and achieve the President's vision.
QUESTION: Richard, because they're building this fence, obviously it's for security purposes. The major problem is you've and others have reiterated in questioning the militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and others. That seems to be the real difficulty, the financing for them, their abilities possibly at this time to even being linked into al-Qaida.
Is there an understanding between the Egyptian Government, the Israelis, perhaps the Jordanians to, even though they, with commonality, to work on those -- those particular aspects, and apparently the Syrians are still dragging their feet. Is there any --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, let's slow down --
MR. BOUCHER: -- before we get to the northwest territories of Pakistan.
MR. BOUCHER: The governments that have been involved, the governments that we've been working with, the President met with at Sharm-el Sheikh, participated in the Aqaba meeting, have all made clear that an end to the terror and violence is a key part of making progress, and many of them have worked in very concrete ways either negotiating or trying to help with ceasefires or trying to build up the Palestinian security services, encourage the Palestinians to take real control of their areas, as a government should.
So there is, I think, a fairly consistent understanding and a commitment to governments working to end the -- to work to end the violence of terror. But what we all know is the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Government, needs to take control of the situation. You can't have a state that's fighting for power with other armed groups. They have to emerge as a single security organization that can control violence in their areas, and that those kind of resolute steps are required from the Palestinian side, and no one else can substitute for that.
QUESTION: The Turkish Prime Minister, when he was at the -- in Washington, D.C., according to the Syrian and Turkish press, he convey or he brought some message from the Syria. Did you satisfied whatever he bring to you about Middle East and terrorism, I believe?
MR. BOUCHER: We talked at the time about it, about the fact that the Turks, the Turkish Government, has had discussions recently with Syria, and has heard from Syria of a desire to get movement on the peace process and a desire to improve relations. And we have -- I think I -- we repeated at the time and said we've made clear that we would like to do that, but it has to be on the basis of Syria taking steps, that they move us forward, particularly when it comes to their support for violent groups that are opposed to the peace process.
QUESTION: Did this, last week in the same meetings, did you ask the Turkish side, open the Armenian border?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check the White House briefings and see if it came up over there. I don't remember any particular discussion of that here with the Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Richard, as you're aware, and you've expressed concern about in the past, the deadlock, political deadlock in Cambodia over the formation of a new government is still going on, and apparently today there is a new development related to that, which is the broadcast on state television of confessions of two men who claim that they launched, that they threw grenades into an opposition demonstration in 1997, at the -- on the orders of the opposition leader, Sam Rainsey, who is involved in this current political deadlock.
Do you have any view of this or any concern? There seems to be some concerns that the government may move against him because of these -- these confessions.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check with our experts and see where the situation stands, as far as we're concerned.
QUESTION: Okay. Can -- is --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay?
QUESTION: I'd -- given the time --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll look into it for you.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher --
MR. BOUCHER: Yep.
QUESTION: On Kurdistan. Peter Galbraith wrote, before yesterday, a very interesting article in New York Times regarding the creation of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq, mentioned also statements attributed to Paul Bremer in the framework of partitioning Iraq in three pieces.
Any comment, if you'll clarify it once again, the U.S. position vis-à-vis to this problem?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm glad you found the article interesting. But if you want to know what Ambassador Bremer said, there's a website that the Coalition Provisional Authority has, and they put up all his statements there. I'm sure you can look it up and find -- yourself and find out what he did in fact say.
QUESTION: And what's your position?
MR. BOUCHER: Our position is that we support his activities and what he's trying to accomplish in Iraq.
QUESTION: Just to wrap up two things from yesterday. The Secretary had meetings yesterday with the Foreign Minister of Benin and with Kosovo -- with Kosovo. Can you tell us what exactly the hot issues are in the U.S.-Benin relationship these days?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, our discussions with Benin are important. They've just come on the Security Council, and so part of the discussion there was to, first of all, welcome the fact that they're on the Security Council and look forward to working together, talk about how we can consult with each other. I think they agreed that the particular channel would be between the ambassadors in New York that we would use to keep in touch on issues.
Some discussion of the broader issues that will need to be faced by the Council, particularly in terms of the political transition in Iraq and what lies ahead there, as well as discussion of regional things. We expressed our -- the Secretary expressed our appreciation for Benin's support for the peacekeeping efforts of the Economic Community of West African States.
And really on the -- in terms of the bilateral relations, things are very good so there wasn't too much discussion of that. It was more Security Council issues and regional issues.
QUESTION: And when you say region, you're talking about Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Specifically those?
MR. BOUCHER: ECOWAS things. Ivory Coast, Liberia.
QUESTION: Okay. And Kosovo?
MR. BOUCHER: In Kosovo we had a couple meetings. There was a meeting with Under Secretary Grossman and then a brief meeting with the Secretary. During the course of these meetings we stressed the importance of implementing the internationally endorsed standards and cooperating with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo to achieve that goal. We continue to support the efforts of the UN in Kosovo and the leadership of UN Special Representative Holkeri to bring about a multiethnic, democratic society in Kosovo, as defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
At this time, we believe progress needs to focus -- the focus needs to be on making progress on standards, particularly those involving multiethnicity, and not a discussion of final status. We have not taken a position at this time on the outcome of final status discussions.
The U.S. remains committed to Kosovo's development and will continue to work with its allies to create a stable and democratic Kosovo.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Just one more, a small one. I understand Libya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations came down to Washington this week to attend the National Prayer Breakfast. To your knowledge, did he have any meetings with Administration officials?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: We have some more in the back. Sorry.
QUESTION: On Kosovo, your position is to support a democratic Kosovo or an independent Kosovo? Because that's the --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll refer you back to the statement I just made.
QUESTION: The Foreign Minister of Yemen is in town. Anything about his visit and meetings and agenda?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary will be meeting with him this afternoon. The discussions will probably focus on the campaign against terrorism. The cooperation that we've established with Yemen in the fight against terrorism has been excellent. We both, I think, look to continue that cooperation because it's in the interests of both nations.
This is an important relationship to us and we're looking for opportunities to further strengthen that relationship.
QUESTION: Do you have any information or the statement about the investigation against U.S. construction company Bechtel and the partner of the European Union? They are agreeing to the investigation against them?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Partner of the one Turkish company.
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have anything.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:20 p.m.)
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