State Department Noon Briefing, May 26
|Wednesday May 26,
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004
12:45 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. I don't have any statements or announcements. So I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Apparently, the last minute snags concerning the peace agreement in Kenya have been ironed out and the signing ceremony is going to go ahead as planned. Do you have any observations?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a large group of observers and participants who have assembled at Lake Naivasha in Kenya for the signing ceremony this morning. It didn't come off quite on time; parties resolved a few details. They are now promising to sign the agreement within the next few hours. So we hope and expect that that will take place.
The Secretary checked in this morning, called Dr. John Garang, and has talked to him about the situation, and he said, indeed, they were going to be ready to sign within a few hours. So we are watching that very, very closely. We're hopeful and expectant, and we'll look forward to seeing the ink dry.
QUESTION: Are you sympathetic to the reasons stated for the delays?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not quite sure I saw the reasons stated for the delays.
QUESTION: So, then, you're -- you regard it as -- you do not regard it as -- you don't think that any delay was necessary. In fact, you think this should have been done months ago, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Our -- we had -- we have been working this very hard, as you know. It's been very important to us. It's been a major effort of U.S. policy since the beginning of the Administration to try to get the parties to agree on a new arrangement in Sudan. The signing of these three protocols is something we have worked on, the Secretary, himself, personally, has worked on with the parties. And during his trip to Kenya in December, when they sign these protocols, it will be a major milestone, a major step forward towards bringing peace to Sudan and to fulfilling the promises that the negotiators made to the Secretary of State.
Within a few weeks, they're going to have to sit down and work out the details of the implementation, the security arrangements, and things like that, and that would then lead to a comprehensive agreement. And I think we've made clear that we would expect to have a White House ceremony following that signing.
So this has been a long and difficult process. We've often hoped for it to be resolved at the end of last year or at the end of the month or at the end of -- within days. It now looks like we're very, very close, that we're, you know, as close as can be. But, as I say, we're going to look for the ink to dry, and then we'll make further announcements, as appropriate.
QUESTION: So you're still looking for -- you're still under the impression that it is when, not if?
MR. BOUCHER: We are still being told by all the participants and by our people on the ground, the same thing that they're hearing out there, that they intend to sign within hours. We'll just have to see if it happens.
QUESTION: Has what has been going on in Darfur, what even your own officials have called ethnic cleansing by government-backed militias, and the many obstacles that the Sudanese Government has thrown in the way of USAID workers getting into Darfur, made you rethink at all whether you would, in fact, hold a White House ceremony with a government that you, yourself, say is ethnic cleansing in one part of the country even as it haltingly moves toward a peace agreement in another?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first, we are doing a lot to try to end the violence, the ethnic cleansing, the terrible humanitarian situation in Darfur. I think most of you saw the Security Council statement that was issued yesterday, the presidential statement from the Security Council that made clear the concern of the entire international community and called specifically on the government to bring an end to human rights violations and bring an end to the depredations of the militias that they have supported. So we are pushing, continue to push very hard, on the government in that respect.
Second of all, we have made clear that we will begin a process of normalizing our bilateral relationship, but in the context of the comprehensive peace agreement and resolution of the situation in Darfur including: ending the violence being perpetrated by the militias; protecting civilians; facilitating unrestricted humanitarian access and cooperation on the deployment of international monitors; and the creation of conditions for the safe returns of displaced people.
So, as we approach that point of having comprehensive peace, these issues involving Darfur are still very much prominent on our agenda.
I don't have any update on consideration of a White House ceremony or not. We'll have to look at that in more specific terms. When, as I said, when the ink is dry, we'll start talking about the further steps that we may be willing to take. It is certainly a major achievement for the people of Sudan, north and south, for them to have peace. And I think we've always been willing to -- we've always pursued that achievement.
Given the history of Sudan and all the terrible things that have happened in different parts of the country, it is a major milestone for them to have peace and for them to have an agreement on how to proceed together into the future. So how we decide to mark that when they get a comprehensive agreement, we'll have to see. We'll have to see what the situation is at that time in Darfur. Certainly, we're pressing very hard to move as quickly as possible in Darfur.
We had our ninth relief flight go in today, 20,000 blankets. There's local USAID staff on the ground to receive them, still pushing to move people in there. So there's a lot going on with Darfur, and we would hope that we would change that situation, and we hope that government and international institutions can change that situation quickly.
QUESTION: But just -- in your response to Matt's question, you said we have said that we will hold a White House ceremony once they, you know, reach a final peace agreement with the -- on the south. And now you say you don't have an update. And I guess my question is, well, are you committed to having one or not?
MR. BOUCHER: I am -- shall we say, continue to mention the fact that -- I have mentioned the fact that that continues to be something of an incentive for them to conclude. But I can't say that it's actually scheduled or fixed at this point.
QUESTION: The question isn't whether it's scheduled or fixed. The question is whether you are committed to doing that. And, if so -- I mean, you have said that you would do it, so I presume that you would honor that commitment. But if you don't -- you know, if so, the question is, why would you do that with the government conducting ethnic cleansing someplace else?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I -- it's a legitimate question. I'm not sure it's a question that has an answer at this point. Because when we come to that point, we may want to see where we are. We may want to see what the situation is in Darfur. They have to work out the comprehensive agreement before we really come to that point. That's the moment at which we would have to make that decision.
QUESTION: So you just don't know right now.
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know, can't know that right now. We'll see where we are, see where we are when get there.
QUESTION: Will you give a statement later in the day after the signing ceremony about activities or actions that will be triggered?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I said, the signing of the protocols does not trigger the change in the relationship; it doesn't trigger the lifting of any sanctions. We'll support the parties, work with the parties, as they finish the final details of the comprehensive agreement, but significant steps towards normalization of relations, instituting the process of waiving and lifting sanctions will be closely tied to, first, a comprehensive agreement, and, second of all, a resolution of the situation in Darfur.
QUESTION: I thought you said when the ink is dry, we'll talk about further steps that we will be willing to take.
MR. BOUCHER: We'll talk about further steps in the process. We'll see if there's a statement, how we handle that, but it'll be -- I think I've explained as much as one can, at this point, about further steps. So we may put out a statement. It may say, essentially, what I'm telling you now.
Okay. Joel, and then Dave.
QUESTION: Change of subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Dave, more on this?
QUESTION: Do you have -- what's your understanding of the security arrangements? Is it an intricate process that's going to be time-consuming or is it simple to do?
MR. BOUCHER: Our feeling is that the biggest -- the big issues, the major issues have been resolved, will be resolved with the signing of these protocols. I would have to admit that our experience in Sudan is that the working out of the details has been, in many ways, a difficult process, so I can't predict completely clear sailing through to a comprehensive agreement, but that certainly our view is that these protocols will resolve the major issues.
QUESTION: Change of subject. Here in Washington, Amnesty International just released its report for 2004, and they're very highly critical of some of the humanitarian issues and a moral dilemma in that it appears the Geneva Convention has been ignored in some instances in this area in both Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
And also, is the Administration beginning to flip-flop under this criticism? Because today in Russia President Putin has also criticized Amnesty International, saying it's just a commercial venture and they're trying to just gain further funding. How do you view that?
MR. BOUCHER: President Putin doesn't speak for our Administration, so I don't know that if he changes -- if he says something that I have to describe our -- ascribe to that view. We work with Amnesty International. We listen to Amnesty International. We have close ties. We talk to them all the time, share information.
That being said, we don't necessarily agree with their views. We have recognized the abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib. There is a firm U.S. process underway to identify those responsible and to carry out punishment. There are already court martials underway; justice is being served and will be served in that matter.
QUESTION: You don't necessarily agree with their views, so I assume that this is one of those cases? Or is there anything in this report --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't read the report. I mean, if they said abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib, I don't think we would disagree. We, ourselves, have put out much of that information.
QUESTION: Well, they talked about the whole war on terror as being bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle. Do you agree with that or is that just something -- a sound byte?
MR. BOUCHER: That is something we would disagree with. That's a sound byte, but a sound byte that we would disagree with. This President has enunciated a very clear vision of defending civilization, defending society, defending decency from people who want only destruction.
QUESTION: They -- what they concluded was that the war on terrorism has threatened international human rights and the recognition of the rule of law worldwide in a way that it hasn't for some time -- been threatened in 50 years. They cite examples in -- among some of our allies who they say have used the war on terrorism as an excuse to crack down on dissident political groups. Can you comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I would just -- I would point out two things, and because this is an argument that does come up from time to time, it's something I think we've dealt with and we've pointed out the facts repeatedly on these matters.
The first thing is that the application of the rule of law is an essential part of the war on terrorism. A lot of the cooperation that goes on to stop terrorism is law enforcement cooperation, information-sharing, provision of arrest information, prosecution of cases and the punishment of terrorists.
So the rule of law is an essential part of the war on terrorism and part of our goals in working with many, many countries around the world has been to apply the rule of law to terrorists. And I think the essential thing that we've done is to take away places in the world where the rule of law did not apply, where terrorists had freedom to run around and to plot and to plan with the connivance, support or neglect of the local government, and in many cases around the world, you can see that's no longer possible. And that's why rule of law applies.
Now, the second point is that we have made clear in our foreign policy, whether it's our human rights reports that we've put out and the briefings that we've done for you in the last week or two, or the specific conversations the Secretary has around the world, that we have not lessened in any way our concern about human rights. We have raised human rights cases and issues with the leaders of governments, including governments that are very close to us in the war on terrorism. We have made clear that we believe that constructing a healthy society where rights are respected, where people enjoy freedoms and hope and opportunity is an essential part of fighting the war on terrorism.
So on those two basic -- for those two basic reasons, I would reject the overall argument. At the same time, let me say we do take Amnesty's reports seriously. We look at what they say. We look at specific cases they raise and make sure that we are doing what we can for the people who might be hurt by harmful practices around the world.
QUESTION: To follow on that first -- on that first point. Didn't the Secretary, himself, say to the White House counsel's office in the issues about the Geneva Convention that the position would create an overall environment that would lead to diminishment of the rule of law in these situations?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into what people may have said in internal memos or internal meetings. What I'm telling you is that we have made clear through our efforts, through the efforts of the United States Government, including coordination between our Attorney General and attorney generals around the world -- attorneys general, excuse me -- around the world, or our diplomatic meetings or the day-to-day efforts of our embassies, that rule of law is an essential part of the fight on terrorism and it's important for all of us to maintain the rule of law to do that.
QUESTION: Last evening, former General -- Marine General Zinni complimented the State Department, but is highly critical of the civilian controllers at the Pentagon.
And also, there seem to be differences following the Secretary's statement yesterday at the C Street Entrance with Prime Minister Blair of England. Can you talk to those differences, please?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, as far as General Zinni goes, he doesn't work for us. He's a private citizen. He can say what we want -- what he wants. He's got views, and he's not shy about expressing them, so I'll just leave him out there. He's not -- he's not one of ours.
QUESTION: Out where?
MR. BOUCHER: Out wherever he is, in private sector, something to which we all aspire someday, I suppose.
MR. BOUCHER: But, second of all -- (laughter) -- second of all, on the questions of our views of command and control arrangements and the views of the British Government or of Prime Minister Blair, I've spent the last 12 hours or so, sort of collecting everything that we've said and everything that they've said. Prime Minister Blair had comments in the House of Commons this morning. The Prime Minister's spokesman made statements today. I've read all this stuff and can assure you there's no difference.
QUESTION: Have you gotten a feedback yet from -- or any language back from other countries? I think there are consultations this afternoon.
MR. BOUCHER: There are consultations this afternoon on the UN resolution at the United Nations, as part of our continuing process of consultations. We also have had discussions with people who are not in the Security Council to get their views on the resolution. We've had discussions with the Iraqi Foreign Minister, for example, and other friends and allies in the coalition about the resolution. So this process is moving forward.
As far as whether countries have specific suggestions they want to make to the text or specific changes to make to the text, it's possible we might hear that today at the UN meeting. But we'll just have to see. We've seen, I think, general comments from a variety of places.
I would note that, so far, the initial response has been generally positive, generally supportive. At the meeting on Monday, when we put down the resolution, passed out the resolution -- let me put it that way -- there were a number of Security Council nations' representatives there who looked at it and said it recognized immediately that it reflected some of the comments that they had made, some of the issues that they had raised in the earlier consultations and discussions. And so we think the careful study of the resolution in capitals will also reveal that a lot of that preliminary discussion with other countries is very useful and that, indeed, our text reflects a lot of what we heard.
At the same time, we are dealing with a UN resolution, a Security Council resolution. We don't expect that people will be silent. We know that there are always suggestions, changes of languages and ideas that might be put forward, and we'll be -- listen to those and see how we can work with other people to achieve a resolution.
QUESTION: Yeah. Do you still expect Mr. Brahimi to submit his list of members of the interim government within the week, or within a week or so? And --
MR. BOUCHER: The --
QUESTION: -- who are they?
MR. BOUCHER: Well said. The -- as the President said the other night, it has been Ambassador Brahimi's intention to finish up his work by the end of this week. I think probably the end of this week or sometime next week is a reasonable expectation, but the timing has to be decided by him.
Ambassador Brahimi is clearly in the lead on the process of identifying members of the Iraqi interim government and the structure of the Iraqi interim government. He's having very extensive consultations with people in Iraq, with members of Iraqi society, including Governing Council members, groups, civil groups, jurists -- very, very wide consultations. I think if you look at the UN briefings, you'll see every day they lay out two, three, four more groups or people that he's been talking to. We leave it in his hands.
As far as identifying who those individuals could be, might be or will be, it's really up to him to say what he wants, when he wants. The only thing I would say now is our understanding is that there is nothing nailed down, that nobody has been chosen.
QUESTION: When he makes his selections, are you going to accept them? Or is there -- are you just going to say, okay, that's fine? Or if you have objections to someone that he selects, is that person -- can that person be rejected?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you're raising hypotheticals that just won't occur because we have been working with him along the way in this process. Ambassador Blackwill, Ambassador Bremer are both out in Baghdad. They, too, are having discussions with Iraqis, but they're also keeping in touch with Ambassador Brahimi as he works along the way. We've been comparing notes, sharing ideas. And so I don't expect that kind of circumstance to arise.
QUESTION: But doesn't that comparing notes and sharing ideas really amount to U.S. vetting of who he might choose?
MR. BOUCHER: It amounts to our supporting him in every way we can. He still has to lead. He is in the lead on this process; we recognize that. We wanted him to take the lead on this and he has done so, so.
QUESTION: But you don't expect him to name anyone that you would object to?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't expect us to have any differences one way or the other on this.
QUESTION: But wouldn't that be because you have been consulting with him on --
MR. BOUCHER: Because we've been working with him.
QUESTION: So why shouldn't one regard this as a joint U.S.-UN slate?
MR. BOUCHER: Because it's a -- because the UN is in the lead.
QUESTION: Well, yeah. But the lead -- you know, the President is in the lead of this country, but when he makes decisions in consultation with other people, you can call it -- you know, I mean, the lead is -- it doesn't seem to me to satisfy or answer that question. If you are so absolutely certain, as you just said to Matt, that he won't name anybody that you would object to, and that you're working with him or consulting with him, it seems to be reasonable that it's a UN-U.S. decision, since you are sure he's not going to name somebody you're going to object to.
MR. BOUCHER: There are a number of reasons for that, though. And, in fact, first, the fact that we trust him; second, the fact that we respect him and the work that he is doing; and third, the fact that we are working with him.
The first two doesn't necessarily make it a joint slate, so I don't think that's an inaccurate characterization. I don't object to the idea. And the third says, yeah, we've had a hand in it. So, you know, you can describe it how you want to. I don't think "joint slate" is quite the right idea. It's not like two political parties getting together and nominating somebody, at least not in my experience.
QUESTION: It's not the joint decision then.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll describe it the way I want to. It's a decision that we respect and support. That's what we expect to come out. But you can ask me then, if I -- it's a decision we respect and support.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, any response to my pending question regarding the discussion between Ambassador Tom Weston and the Greek Cypriot president (inaudible) were likely going to attain the status of Mehmet Ali Talat and Rauf Denktash in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community in Cyprus?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we put out an answer to that this morning.
QUESTION: Can I ask something? When was the decision made? When did you decide to no longer consider Denktash the leader of the Greek Cypriot -- I mean, Turkish Cypriots?
MR. BOUCHER: The Turkish Cypriot community designated Mr. Talat as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot delegation, Turkish Cypriot community delegation, to the talks in Switzerland. And he has played that role ever since, through the referendum and onward. The Secretary met with him as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. Our Ambassador in Cyprus met with him as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, and we regard him as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.
QUESTION: Basically, Denktash forfeited his position, in your eyes, as leader of the Turkish Cypriots when he -- because of his steadfast opposition to the Annan plan?
MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Talat was the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community who came to negotiate in Switzerland. He was the leader of the community who took this through referendum. He was the leader of the community when he met with the Secretary, when he met with our Ambassador, and that's the role that he's playing now.
QUESTION: Well, the point -- I guess the point is that you're using the word "the leader" and many others might -- including Mr. Denktash -- might say that he is "a leader" of -- "a leader" who represented them, not "the leader" who represented them. I mean, do you not accept the fact -- recognize Denktash as the elected president? I realize you don't --
MR. BOUCHER: We have not changed our recognition policy in any way. Either of the so-called TRNC or of individuals that may or may not have positions in that structure.
QUESTION: So, then --
QUESTION: What do you think is specific role of Denktash?
MR. BOUCHER: All I'm saying is we regard Mr. Talat as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.
QUESTION: Can you state that your decision to regard --
QUESTION: Another disclosure -- another disclosure on Cyprus.
MR. BOUCHER: You're getting all hyped up over --
QUESTION: Another disclosure on Cyprus. According to an article written by established Greek-American organization, to be published soon in a very well known American magazine, a full copy of which is in my possession, reveals the following:
"Why then the consternation about the rejection of the Annan plan? Because the true purpose was not the claimed goal of the reunifying the island, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974, but the one stated by Mr. Daniel Fried, a senior State Department official. At a public meeting in Washington on June 26, 2003, in the presence of this writer and others, Mr. Fried declared: 'When we were trying to persuade Turkey to allow the passage of our troops through its territory into Northern Iraq, we offered Turkey two incentives, several billion dollars in grants and loans, and Cyprus, in the form of the Annan Plan.' When Turkey refused passage, the billions were dropped; however, the Annan plan survived, until it was dropped by the Cypriots on April 24th."
Can you comment on that? Because it's coming from the mouth of Mr. Fried, Daniel.
MR. BOUCHER: Daniel Fried works at the National Security Council.
QUESTION: But at times he was --
MR. BOUCHER: He's a State Department officer.
MR. BOUCHER: He's been Ambassador to Poland. He now works at the National Security Council.
Second of all, I think the United States has been quite clear that we have worked for a settlement between the two communities in Cyprus since long before Saddam Hussein took power in Iraq, since long before the issues of Iraq's invasions and weapons of mass destruction programs and other things became an issue. The United States' record on trying to reconcile the two communities and bring them together is abundant and clear, and has not -- the reasons for our trying to do that have not changed in -- year to year. They've been consistent since 1963.
QUESTION: What about the connection between Iraq and the Annan plan?
MR. BOUCHER: There is no connection between Iraq and the Annan plan.
QUESTION: Richard, just to go back to Lambros' original question, can you state that your decision to regard Mr. Talat as the Turkish Cypriot -- "the leader" of the Turkish Cypriots is, in no way, related to Mr. Denktash's opposition to the Annan plan?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a decision about who we can deal with as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. That is Mr. Talat. That is the person they put forward as their delegate, their head of delegation, their negotiator, their representative at Switzerland. That is the person who has carried this process forward and who has continued to carry it forward, and he's the person that we meet with as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.
QUESTION: But you can't rule out, you can't say, "No, it has nothing to do with Denktash's opposition to the Annan plan"? You can't say that?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a question of how we consider Mr. Talat, how we meet with Mr. Talat. That's what I'm answering you. That's what I'm telling you.
QUESTION: But your answer is tautological. I mean, you say he's the leader because we meet with him as the leader. I mean, it's a tautology. All I'm saying is can you tell me, "No, it has nothing to do with Denktash's political views on the Annan plan"? But you won't say that.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm saying it's about Mr. Talat.
QUESTION: Well, can you say that --
MR. BOUCHER: And that's the question. That's the answer I'm giving.
QUESTION: And so, but you can say definitively that the decision to regard Mr. Talat as the leader stems from, or dates from, his selection to go to Switzerland to talk -- to lead the --
MR. BOUCHER: Since that time, we have dealt with him as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.
QUESTION: And does that not necessarily -- doesn't it flow from that that Denktash's non-presence in Switzerland and his opposition to the plan that that's the reason for it. Does that not make sense (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: It flows from the fact that he was their designated leader at the talks, that he was the leader in the referendum, that he was the leader who came to the United States, who came to New York on their behalf, and he is the person therefore that we've been meeting with as the leader.
QUESTION: The reason that he was doing that was not because -- the reason that Talat was doing that instead of Denktash wasn't because of Denktash's health, for example, it was because he was opposed to the plan.
MR. BOUCHER: The fact is that Mr. Talat was leading the Turkish Cypriots, has been leading them, is leading them, and we deal with them as that way. That's the issue here.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), correct?
MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me?
QUESTION: You are placing Denktash into the corner.
MR. BOUCHER: We are dealing with Mr. Talat as the leader of the Turkish Cypriots. That's the simplest answer I can give you for a whole lot of reasons, that that's the role that he's been playing and we accept him in that role.
QUESTION: Change of topic?
QUESTION: Can I just have one more? Not about this -- not about that specifically.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: How is the review coming? There are some -- been some reports in the region that decisions had been made about easing, making it easier for Turkish Cypriots to get visas to the United States, in terms of the rewards that they will accrue for -- has there been any decision made on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, as we've said, we're looking at a series of steps that can ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. The review has been progressing. I don't have anything to announce today.
QUESTION: Is there something coming up soon? Would you expect it to be soon?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything to announce today.
QUESTION: Well, is it in its final stages, the review?
MR. BOUCHER: It's been progressing quite well.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have any announcements to be made today on the reward for Mr. Zarqawi?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I think there were some reports that we were going to increase the reward. It's a matter that's still being discussed in this building. There's not a specific recommendation or decision on that at this point. If there's a decision to do that, we'll tell you when.
QUESTION: Who makes that decision? Is it DS, or is it White House, or --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Has a recommendation been made to the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: There's no recommendation at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, the U.S. Army has nabbed a number two in Najaf, the Deputy to this cleric al-Sadr. But as they pointed out in the report, al-Sadr is getting firmly entrenched with Iran throughout this whole melee in Najaf and nearby. Is -- have you gone to both the UN and elsewhere to criticize, again, the Iranians for interceding?
MR. BOUCHER: A couple things on that: first of all, I think we've made clear our view that Iran should try to play a constructive role in Iraq and not support factions or militias; second of all, you'll remember there was a visit by a senior Iranian official to Baghdad, not so long ago, while this situation was going on. And I believe he expressed at that time his view that this should be solved peacefully and with respect for clergy and for the responsible authorities in Baghdad for the Iraqi Governing Council and their authority, central government authority.
So that's the kind of role we do believe they should play. We've made that clear. We had a meeting -- the British had a meeting that we were part of at that time. And that's a view that we've made known in public as well as in that meeting.
QUESTION: Richard, are there any plans to update the Worldwide Caution that's out, or perhaps issue a new one in light of this new intelligence that reportedly points to attacks against America or American interests this summer?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to see. I forgot to check. I think if you look at the Worldwide Cautions we have, they're fairly strong already. But we'll see if they can be improved if they need to be.
Okay. Sir. I'll come back.
QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Armitage had a meeting with the Japanese Deputy Vice Minister for Foreign Policy this morning. Do you have a readout on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. That implies my answer is going to be unsatisfactory?
Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Nishida met this morning with Deputy Secretary Armitage for about 30 minutes. They discussed a number of issues important to both countries, including North Korea and cooperation in Iraq's reconstruction. Following the meeting with the Deputy Secretary, Mr. Nishida met with Under Secretary Bolton.
He was meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly at 11:45, so I don't have a readout of that. But the intention was to discuss regional issues as well as bilateral matters in that meeting.
QUESTION: I still have a follow-up.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: In the conversation with Deputy Secretary Armitage, did the issue of a man named Charles Jenkins --
MR. BOUCHER: No, it did not come up.
QUESTION: It did not come up?
MR. BOUCHER: It did not come up.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to preview the meeting of Secretary Powell with the Finnish Foreign Minister? I can't imagine what kind of pressing bilateral issues they're going to talk about.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary will meet with Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja --
QUESTION: That's actually why I asked, to see if --
MR. BOUCHER: You wanted to see if I could say it and I didn't practice -- at 2 p.m. I would expect they'll talk about the issues of the day in Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, non-proliferation efforts that we do share with Finland. And, obviously, we'd look for any role that Finland would like to play in the reconstruction effort in Iraq or elsewhere.
QUESTION: And there hasn't been any so far, has there?
MR. BOUCHER: Finland pledged 5 million euros at the Madrid conference, at the Madrid conference. And they -- I think their law requires UN mandate for their peacekeepers to go to Iraq. We'll have to see if they want to look at that after there's a resolution.
They have also given a considerable amount for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and they have a civil military cooperation team in Kabul that they're increasing to 60. And they're also planning to help with the Nordic Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. So they are involved in all these areas to a significant extent, and certainly we welcome that.
QUESTION: Move on to the car bombs in Pakistan, in Karachi. It's my understanding that you guys -- that you are under the impression that the Consul General's residence was not actually the target of these bombs, but that, in fact, it was the Pakistani-American Cultural Center, which has no affiliation with the U.S. Government. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: That's the initial impression. I'd have to say the bombs that took place were, I guess, about 50 meters down the street from the Consul General's residence. So I'm sure they'll be looking, as part of the investigation, at trying to identify what the target was and whether it was incidental that the Consul General's residence was down the street, or if that was part of the -- part of this point.
QUESTION: You're sure that 50 meters is the right --
MR. BOUCHER: That's what I'm told.
QUESTION: What is the Pakistani-American Cultural Center?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me say what I can about this. First of all, we definitely -- we deplore the attack that occurred today outside the Pakistani-American Cultural Center. This is an English teaching facility that's not officially connected with the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist incidents. There were no American citizens who were victims. One member of the U.S. Consulate's Guard Force was injured in the explosion, is being treated as a local hospital, and embassy personnel have been to visit him and others, I think, that were injured.
U.S. Consulate personnel tell us that the Pakistani police responded quickly to the scene, that their actions prevented a greater loss of life. We appreciate the professionalism and the care that Pakistani authorities have taken to protect U.S. Government facilities in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan. We expect the Pakistani authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident and take swift action to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
QUESTION: You said that the cultural center is not affiliated with the consulate. Does it have any affiliation with U.S. Government, like, does it get any funding, or is it, to your knowledge, a totally private organization?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know for sure. I'll have to check and see if there's any sort of grants or other support that we might provide.
QUESTION: It would be nice if you could do that.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah. Over the past -- well, within the past week, the Czech Government has reversed itself on selling an early warning system or some kind of a radar system to China. And I'm just wondering how much pressure you put on your friends, the NATO allies, to stop this sale.
MR. BOUCHER: We discussed the issue. This is called the VERA Passive Radar. We discussed the issue with them, but the decision was theirs. We are pleased they made the decision, but we understand the decision was in keeping with their obligations under the European Union's arms embargo. We do value our cooperation with Czech Republic in our non-proliferation relationship and partnership.
QUESTION: Is it not correct that the United States was prepared to step in and buy this to prevent the Chinese from getting it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything further on something like that.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on --
MR. BOUCHER: It's their decision, they made it.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on China's desire to purchase, I think, uranium from Brazil?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Uzbekistan now says it will set up a commission to look into, I guess -- I don't know -- torture, in general, but the man that the Department expressed concern about last week. Do you know anything about this? It says U.S. diplomats, U.S. forensics experts, and other Americans will be on the commission.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't. I'll have to check and see.
QUESTION: You welcome the move? I mean, is that -- it's -- there's so many --
MR. BOUCHER: It sounds like a good thing, but I don't -- I'm just not -- hadn't realized they had taken that step. I'll have to see.
QUESTION: Have there been more conversations about this since you put --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check.
QUESTION: As a follow-up, when you're checking, would you see if, whatever the answer gives, would affect any suspension of aid or affect any redirection of aid at the same time?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, okay.
QUESTION: Can I just go back to --
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: -- my favorite topic from yesterday?
QUESTION: I had -- Uzbekistan?
MR. BOUCHER: Uzbekistan, again.
QUESTION: Just a real quick one. When is the designation due? When do we have to make the decision about --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure there's a precise date.
A PARTICIPANT: There isn't.
MR. BOUCHER: There isn't.
A PARTICIPANT: There's no specific date, but funds cannot be expended.
MR. BOUCHER: Funds cannot be expended until. So I suppose the date would be the end of the year, but it depends on the type of funding.
QUESTION: When you check into it, could you also check into whether the President -- if the Secretary decided not to certify, whether the President could choose to issue a waiver, therefore allowing the funds to go forward? I'm not asking for an answer on this because, obviously, you guys haven't made a decision, but it would be nice to know if there is waiver authority.
MR. BOUCHER: Is there waiver authority in the legislation? I'll have to check on that. Don't know.
QUESTION: Perhaps, or almost certainly predictably, the Chinese have complained that you are going to allow the Taiwanese Vice President to go on this little junket to Las Vegas. I'm wondering -- they say that it's a violation of the One China policy and a violation -- and goes against the three communiqués. I guess I'm just looking for your response.
MR. BOUCHER: It's a transit. It's being done for the safety, convenience and comfort of the traveler, and it's very similar to other transits that we've allowed in the past.
QUESTION: The Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Richard, the Sharon spokesman just said that they are forwarding a revised version of the plan, the Sharon plan for disengagement. Have you been made aware of any plans?
MR. BOUCHER: We have not seen a new plan. We've certainly kept in touch with the Israeli Government. We continue to express our support, as we did with the Quartet, for a plan for full withdrawal from Gaza.
We've continued to keep in touch with the Palestinian side to try to get them to prepare for taking the responsibility in Gaza, and that's something that we continue to meet, discuss with them and with others. Our Consul General has been meeting with Palestinian officials, including Abu Alaa yesterday.
Our Ambassador in Israel has been meeting with Israeli officials. But as far as what kind of plan, what Prime Minister Sharon puts forward at this point, I don't have any insights or information for you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
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