State Department Briefing

 

Wednesday  May 7, 2003

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Daily Press Briefing May 7, 2003 BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman INDEX COUNTERTERRORISM -- Designation of Batasuna, Euskal Herritarrok and Herri Batasuna Under EO 13224 SAUDI ARABIA -- Large Weapons Cache Found in Saudi Arabia/Saudi Search for Those Involved IRAQ -- Status of UN Security Council Resolution on Iraq -- Assistant Secretary Holmes Travel to Moscow and Berlin to Preview Resolution -- Secretary Powell to Meet with Mexican Foreign Secretary Derbez -- Secretary Powell to Meet with UN Secretary General Annan in New York -- US Sanctions on Iraq and Status -- Iraq Oil Contracts -- Role for IAEA Inspectors -- Discovery of Possible Bio-Weapons Mobile Lab in Iraq -- Discussions with Coalition Members on Contributions to Reconstruction of Iraq MEXICO -- Secretary Powell's Meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Derbez TURKEY -- US-Turkish Relations/Remarks by Under Secretary Grossman and Defense Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz NORTH KOREA -- US View on North Korea Reprocessing Spent Fuel -- US Policy Toward North Korea EUROPE -- US Policy Toward Europe and Trans-Atlantic Relations SYRIA -- Syrian Efforts to Close Offices of Terrorist Organizations/Discussions with Syria -- Department's Position on Syria Accountability Act -- Discussion of UNSC Resolution on Iraq During Secretary Powell's Visit ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS -- Discussions with the Parties on the "Roadmap" -- Secretary Powell's Travel to Region/Meetings with Israelis and Palestinians -- Israeli Minister Elon's Visit to US/Meetings CUBA -- Cuban Refugees and U.S. Coast Guard Aid INDIA/PAKISTAN -- Further Violence in Kashmir MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can start with one announcement of some designations on terrorism financing. Today, the Secretary of State is amending the designation under Executive Order 13224 on Terrorism Financing of Basque Fatherland and Liberty, known as ETA, E-T-A, in order to add the group Batasuna and its two predecessor groups, Euskal Herritarrok and Herri Batasuna. This designation is based on substantial and credible information from a variety of sources that these entities were formed at ETA's direction and functioned as part of ETA. Batasuna, Euskal Herritarrok and Herri Batasuna have supported ETA's acts of terrorism. The Batasuna leadership and membership have included a number of people convicted of ETA-related terrorist acts. Since its establishment in the 1960s, ETA has been responsible for over 850 deaths in Spain. As President Bush said in Madrid in June of 2001, and as repeated many times subsequently, the United States stands with Spain in its fight against terrorism. Spain has continued to be a strong ally in the global war against terrorism. Be happy to take your questions on this or other topics. Sir. QUESTION: On this. Since you've decided that these three groups, or one group and its two previous names, are aliases of ETA, why does it not follow automatically that these groups are also on the FTO list alongside ETA? MR. BOUCHER: There is often a time lag because the laws are slightly different between the designations. These are aliases of ETA and therefore I'm sure we'll look at them in that light when it comes to Foreign Terrorist Organization listings. QUESTION: The usual question. What are the penalties? What does this mean? MR. BOUCHER: You can find it on the Office of Foreign Assets Control website. It basically means that financial transactions with the U.S. and U.S. entities are frozen. Yeah. QUESTION: And visas, too, I suppose? No visas? QUESTION: No. MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's part of it. These are the financial regulations. QUESTION: And do you have any intention to include AUB, which is the new name for Batasuna, or haven't you got the -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure we'll look at all the permutations of this as it goes forward. I don't have that listing yet. I would say, though, it's an important point, I think, in relation to Barry's question -- how do visas come into play? Well, given that these organizations have members and leadership who are also ETA people, those people, as Foreign Terrorist Organization members, would be ineligible for visas. QUESTION: So anything that's covered under ETA's designation already will apply to these people en masse, then? MR. BOUCHER: To the extent that it's coterminous. I just can't tell you that there's a formal designation of these as an alias, but since, as I said, the people are involved in all these organizations, the people, themselves, would be covered under the existing restrictions on ETA. Betsy. QUESTION: A terrorism-related question. QUESTION: Well, can I stay on Batasuna? MR. BOUCHER: Okay. QUESTION: Cynics might draw a link between the timing of this and the Secretary's visit to Spain and the Spanish Prime Minister's visit today. What is the connection? MR. BOUCHER: The connection is this is something we've been looking at along with the Spanish Government. We determined it was appropriate to take this action after looking at all the available information, including the Spanish Supreme Court decision proscribing Batasuna and its predecessors, Euskal Herritarrok and Herri Batasuna. The court found these organizations to be an integral part of ETA, so that was really one of the elements. We looked at all the available information and, yes, we have been discussing this with the Spanish Government and have now come this conclusion after examining all the facts and having all these discussions. QUESTION: Another subject? No? Betsy. QUESTION: Terrorism-related. The Saudis went on TV tonight trying to find 19 people who they believe were involved with a large cache of weapons that had been found in Saudi Arabia. And I was wondering, a) if you all know anything about this and b) if it was related to the travel warning put out May 1st. MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on the travel warning. I don't think I have anything specifically on that, and I will have to see. No, we did put out a travel warning May 1st that talked about increased security concerns, but that was, remember, that terrorist groups appeared to be in final stages of planning attacks against U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia. I don't have anything further on that at this point. I will check and see if there's any connection to these 19. QUESTION: But do you have any other information about the situation there and this particular situation? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't. I don't. I'm sorry. QUESTION: Another subject? MR. BOUCHER: Another subject? Of course. QUESTION: But what is -- if you can tell us, what is the administration hearing from Germany and France, as to their position on sanctions? Are they sort of drifting in the U.S. direction now? MR. BOUCHER: I am not trying to characterize other people's views, Barry. I don't do that. I don't say what they are saying. I don't say what we are hearing, which is really the same question twice. QUESTION: How is the U.S. doing in trying to persuade Germany and France to support lifting sanctions? MR. BOUCHER: Let me tell you where we are, in terms of the new UN Security Council Resolution, okay. We are committed to the following goals for post-conflict Iraq: first, to lift the sanctions burden on the Iraqi people; second, to encourage the international community to help rebuild Iraq; and, third, to define the vital role that President Bush has called for the United Nations to play. Our aim is to create the conditions for the return to normal life for the Iraqi people, and for Iraq's return to the international community as a member in good standing. So we have been discussing our ideas on this with other members of the Security Council and coalition allies, in order to put together a resolution that can accomplish these goals. We plan on presenting this resolution soon to the Council. We want to garner the widest possible support for this resolution, in order to ensure its quick passage, so that Iraq's resources and control of Iraq's economic future are returned to the Iraqi people. We'll be engaged in intensive consultations with officials from Council states and others, both in New York and in capitals, in the days and weeks ahead. For example, Assistant Secretary Holmes will be traveling to Moscow and Berlin over the next few days to preview our resolution. We have been consulting already very closely with the United Kingdom. We have been discussing our ideas with Spain and with other members of the Council. The Secretary will have an opportunity this afternoon to talk to Mexican Foreign Secretary Derbez and the Secretary General of the United Nations. Deputy Secretary Armitage is in Pakistan to have a chance to talk about the ideas and the resolution out there. So there are a wide variety of consultations going on in capitals by us, as well as others who we have been working through, working with, on this resolution. And as I said, we expect that we'll be able to present a resolution soon. QUESTION: Richard, can you say, if you can, who gets the oil revenues that are now being controlled by the Oil-for-Food program in this post-sanctions regime that you're proposing? MR. BOUCHER: That's the kind of detail that does need to be covered in the resolution, and I'm not in a position quite yet, because we're still discussing the ideas and the language with others. The simple answer to your question is the Iraqi people get the oil revenue. It's their money; they get it. What mechanism is -- can be arranged to make sure that this revenue is safeguarded transparently and is spent for the purposes of supporting the Iraqi people and their reconstruction, that's what we need to cover in a resolution. I can't get into that mechanism quite yet. QUESTION: Is it that you are -- I mean, I guess the sanctions are distinct from the Oil-for-Food program, and your resolution would also lift or modify the Oil-for-Food program. MR. BOUCHER: Again, I can't describe the resolution in more detail until we get a resolution. We should be tabling one soon and we'll talk about it more then. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: Charlie. QUESTION: Richard, can you describe what the Bush Administration is doing about sanctions that the U.S. Government has on Iraq, in terms of removing those? QUESTION: You were going to look into it a couple weeks ago. MR. BOUCHER: No, and I -- we got you the answer, and now I can't remember what it was. We had -- we talked about this, didn't we? We had authority in the supplemental legislation that was passed to suspend the penalties on Iraq, and we would have to -- I want to be careful in my language. I can tell you it's probably not legally precise, so this is a description and not a definition. With that caveat, we had authority in the supplemental to suspend the penalties that applied because of the terrorism designation, and I do believe that authority was exercised and -- about a week ago. And therefore, that suspended those penalties that came from Iraq's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism because -- oh, I know, Cofer Black talked about it. Our Counterterrorism Coordinator talked about it at the briefing that we had in this room on the Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. We suspended the penalties that applied under the Foreign Terrorist Organization -- the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, and that was a temporary measure pending the full review because the way the law is written, bureaucratically, you have to decide that there is a government that is not supporting terrorism. And until we get to that stage, we may not -- we can't do the full removal from the list, but we had the authority to do this in the supplemental. We've exercised that. QUESTION: Can I go back to the oil? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: There are reports that the contract that USAID -- or, no, it wasn't USAID, but, anyway, the government made with Halliburton includes production and distribution of oil and oil products by Halliburton. What do you know about that and -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything for you on that. I think all that contracting information is publicly available on the websites that AID did. And I am not sure if this is AID contract or a Defense Department one, but -- QUESTION: It's Army. MR. BOUCHER: Army. Army contract. So you'd have to get it from them. Nicholas. QUESTION: Richard -- MR. BOUCHER: We'll get there. QUESTION: -- there were reports this morning from London that the United States has decided, or is close to deciding, to let the IAEA inspectors back in Iraq. Is there such a decision or are you close to one? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that at this point. We have certainly looked at a role they can play. We have certainly looked at their responsibilities because we are concerned about the state of affairs at some of these sites that are secured, but where there were materials under inventory. But exactly how we handle that in the end has not -- I don't have any final announcements for you. Sir. QUESTION: We heard that Mohsen Hakim's group are negotiating with the U.S. Government for his return. Is the State Department involved in this? What's the -- I mean, is it all Pentagon? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. If these are discussions that would be going on out in the field, I suppose you'd have to check with Mr. Garner's office or the coalition authorities out there. QUESTION: But, in principle, you know, he wants to go back with his troops. In principle, the State Department is against introducing Badr Brigade. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we are certainly against troops. QUESTION: So you want him to come back without his troops? MR. BOUCHER: Troops that are not coalition forces, we're against that. That's clear. Whether there is some other political aspect of this, I just don't know. You'd have to check out in the field. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, how does -- you're against troops that are not in the coalition. Do you consider the Free Iraqi Forces to be part of the coalition? MR. BOUCHER: They are cooperating with coalition forces, yes. QUESTION: So if the Badr Brigade cooperated, that would be okay? MR. BOUCHER: That's a big if. I don't want to speculate. QUESTION: Well, haven't you -- MR. BOUCHER: We had a gentleman back there with a question. QUESTION: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has already said the Badr Brigade can't cooperate. Is it even on the table? MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not on the table. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: It's wildly ridiculous, but your colleague suggested it. I didn't want to say that. Sir. QUESTION: I'm a bit confused. Last week, Ambassador Black said Secretary Powell had issued a recommendation or would issue a recommendation that the sanctions, as much as they could under current law, be lifted. And now you are saying that they have been lifted, is that right, in terms of -- MR. BOUCHER: See, that's what I get for doing this from memory. I will get you the definitive version later this afternoon. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: I think that's why -- that's why we didn't realize that you had done it. MR. BOUCHER: That we had done it. I think it was -- let me not go any farther than this. I will check and may see -- check and see if it has been done or not. The gentleman is correct in saying that we had said that we were recommending it, that we were in the process of doing it, so don't allow me to mislead you into thinking it has actually been done. QUESTION: You're going to request it before the rest of the briefing? MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely, we might as well stop now. Sir. QUESTION: Two of the high-level U.S. officials, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and Assistant Secretary Grossman, in the Turkish TV, they strongly criticized Turkey's handling of the Iraqi war and the policies. Are you planning to break up U.S.-Turkish relations because their vote is very heavy, and they got very strong reaction with the Turkish public opinion? And also, what is the U.S. official policy against the Turkey because they are asking to apologize from the Turkey about their policies? MR. BOUCHER: Our policy is what they have said, what the Secretary of State has said during his visit to Turkey: that we were disappointed by the way events transpired in Turkey, that the operations from Turkey did not receive the parliamentary majority that was necessary to make the deployments; that we had hoped for such cooperation and we believed that cooperation was in Turkey's interest as well as ours. But we have also stressed publicly and privately, and I believe that Dr. Wolfowitz and Under Secretary Grossman, as the Secretary did, have also stressed the importance of our relations with Turkey and our desire to work with Turkey on many, many of the new things; cooperate, as we are cooperating, with regard to the stability of Iraq, with regard to the reconstruction of Iraq, with regard to a free political future for Iraq, and with a regard to establishing a good neighbor for Turkey with which Turkey can have normal relations. QUESTION: Can you categorize the U.S.-Turkish relations as what kind of that? Is that German, France, the same category, or Iran-Iraq, or the Syria? (Laughter.) MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. I wouldn't pretend to do that, nor to accept your paradigm. Sir. QUESTION: On North Korea, do you have anything to say on North Korean reprocessing their spent fuel? There is report that they may have some movement in the past 48 hours. MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have anything new to say. We have made clear our view that reprocessing would be a serious matter, a matter of deep concern to the entire international community. Not only the United States has made that clear, I think other countries have, as well. Certainly, North Korea has been making troubling statements about reprocessing in recent weeks. but I don't have any new information that I can share with you at this point. QUESTION: Do you have anything on the UN? QUESTION: What's your assessment, sir? Do they seem to started, as I said, or be -- they may have started or -- you don't know? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's exactly the kind of information I don't have to share with you at this point. QUESTION: Richard, do you have anything to say about the Post story this morning suggesting that the U.S. wants to go ahead with talks, but, at the same, time step up pressure on such issues as -- MR. BOUCHER: I think it's -- I'm not going to speculate at this point. We are continuing to review the discussions that we had in Beijing and the actions and statements that North Korea has made and taken subsequent to those discussions. So that -- those policy deliberations are ongoing in the administration. We're analyzing this. We're consulting within the administration. We're consulting with other governments, friends and allies on the next steps. And as you know, we have some high-level visits coming up from Japan and South Korea, and we look forward to those discussions, as well, in order to further these consultations. So I think it's premature. I won't speculate at this point where those things will come out. The deliberations are continuing. QUESTION: New subject? MR. BOUCHER: Sir. QUESTION: Have you seen anything for sure that United States' side present any counter-proposal toward North Korea? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, I'm not going to speculate on where our deliberations might come out. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary is appearing in New York this evening alongside his good friend, Mr. Solana. Now Mr. Solana and his -- some of his European colleagues are slightly dismayed by this word "disaggregate," which is allegedly a word used by a U.S. official in conversation with European Union officials for your new policy towards Europe. MR. BOUCHER: A word was allegedly used by somebody with somebody else? QUESTION: Yes, yeah. MR. BOUCHER: And we're getting upset about it and I have to deal with it here? QUESTION: And have you heard this word in use in discussions -- MR. BOUCHER: I have no comment on the word "disaggregate." It's the first time I've heard it in about two weeks and I'm not -- QUESTION: About two weeks. That's right. It was about two weeks ago that it was used. MR. BOUCHER: The first time I've heard it in a month, I bet. (Laughter.) It's not a word that I -- QUESTION: You haven't heard this word used? MR. BOUCHER: No. D-i-s-, disaggregate. Can you give me the definition and use it in a sentence? QUESTION: Okay, let me put it another way, then. Is -- does U.S. policy towards Europe remain that you want to deal with Europe as a whole, or would you rather deal with European countries individually, depending on their attitude towards your policies? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, U.S. attitudes towards Europe and transatlantic relations will be ably and completely expressed by the Secretary this evening, so I'm sure you'll all be paying rapt attention to his speech. Second of all, United States policy for 50 years has been to support European integration. You can see what the President has said frequently in terms of supporting the process of expansion of NATO, but also expansion of the European Union, going back to his Warsaw speech where we certainly saw the benefits of expanding the community of freedom. And we are in a position, with a vote in our Senate, hopefully tomorrow, to expand NATO, as well. So both of these endeavors are important to us and an important part of the kind of world we all want to create in the future. In doing that, we work with the European Union as a whole and we work with individual governments in the European Union. It's not a question of one or the other. They have a structure that we work with. Some things are matters for the Commission, some things are matters for individual governments. QUESTION: So, Mr. Solana -- his fears are misplaced, you would say? MR. BOUCHER: You didn't even tell me that Mr. Solana feared the word "disaggregate." You just said somebody did. QUESTION: Oh, he does. QUESTION: Oh, he does? We'll ask him tonight if he fears the word "disaggregate." I'll use it and see if he recoils in terror. (Laughter.) Terri. QUESTION: On a different subject, there were reports this morning that some of the Palestinian groups that Secretary Powell asked Syria to shut down in Damascus are, in fact, doing so, after, of course, they said a few days ago that they weren't going to do so. But now they say it takes away the American pretext for having a problem with them and with Syria. Has the Secretary followed up since he returned with President Assad and talked more about these and how it's going? MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador in Syria has been following up. I don't want to comment at one day or the other on the bits and pieces of news. The Secretary said we would see if these places were shut down, were closed. We're looking for that to be permanent. We've made a number of suggestions to the Syrians about how that they can ensure that that would become permanent. And so we'll be watching closely to see how that happens in coming days. At this point, the Secretary has not had phone calls or direct contact, but he has certainly been instructing our Ambassador and working with Assistant Secretary Burns on how they follow up on his discussions, and we are continuing our discussions with the Syrian Government about how they can do any number of things that we talked to them about that we think are appropriate policy steps in light of the new strategic dynamic in the region. QUESTION: Can you say at least generally whether you've been pleased with what you have seen since your visit? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to -- no, I can't try to characterize it at this point. QUESTION: To follow up on that, can you say anything about how the U.S. will verify that Syria has taken the steps that the new strategic environment would dictate? MR. BOUCHER: No. Through a variety of means, through a variety of sources of information, and by closely monitoring the pieces of information that reporters give us at the briefings, as well as things on the wires, things that are reported publicly, but also other things that we might come to know. QUESTION: Okay, but one of -- I think a senior State Department official said to the traveling press that they wanted to make sure there wasn't a formal office closing and then another something in an apartment building somewhere. That seems like it's very difficult to track down, especially since people could always change the name of the office. I mean, is there anything more you can sort of say just to get us a sense as to how we know Syria is, you know, doing the right thing? MR. BOUCHER: No. I can't -- I'll repeat what I said before. We are aware of the possibilities. Obviously, we would not consider somebody setting up an office in their apartment to be a closure of the activities. So we talk to them not only about the need to close these groups, but also about ways that they could do that effectively and permanently. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary, on the Hill, said that there were reports from the Syrian regime to stop emergency laws that been there 40 years, and also move toward democracy. So it is not a matter of closing a couple of offices; it's the whole change of how they treat their people, isn't it? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything to go beyond what the Secretary has already said on this, but he has made very clear that in light of the new strategic dynamic in the region, in light of the change all around Syria, it was time for Syria, we thought, to consider some of these changes itself, to consider how Syria could support peace in the region, could support openness, could support better economic progress in the region, could support a more normal economic relationship with its neighbors, and many other things. And that is what the Secretary put very clearly to Syrian leadership. QUESTION: I'm a little unclear on this. The Secretary, on his travels, mentioned the Syria Accountability Act in Congress. Given that I guess there's a period we're in now where the Syrians have some time to show that they are changing on a variety of fronts, does the State Department not support the Syrian Accountability Act now, or do you have a position on this legislation later, or do you think it should be conditioned on Syria's behavior? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new -- anything new on the Act at this point. The Secretary has noted several times that there were voices on the Hill that wanted to -- were proposing this kind of legislation, and that as things progressed or didn't progress, that might gain a certain momentum. So it's obviously a factor that people need to be aware of and consider, but at this point I don't have any new position on it. QUESTION: Can we talk about the roadmap a little bit? Have you received comments in the last week or so from the parties on the roadmap? I know the Israelis gave you some comments even before the roadmap came out, but have you had any since? And if so, what? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how to sort of exactly characterize hearing "comments." We've heard certainly the sides discuss their views. Assistant Secretary Burns was just out there, had meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and with Prime Minister Abu Mazen. So there is -- we certainly had discussions with them and we intend to continue those discussions when the Secretary gets out there. And they -- yes, they comment during the course of their discussions. Our goal, I think, is to see both sides start to take immediate and concrete actions. That's what the roadmap makes clear. That's what we have made clear: The Palestinians need to move on security. Israel needs to act in ways that support Abu Mazen and his new government, and that respect the life and the dignity of Palestinian people. The focus needs to be, at this point, on practical steps to move forward. So we look forward to having our discussions in the region, and to continuing the discussions that Assistant Secretary Burns has already started. QUESTION: Okay. You say immediate steps. Do you mean steps even before the Secretary arrives in the Middle East? MR. BOUCHER: I think we have had some discussions already with Assistant Secretary Burns, and we certainly look forward to whatever the parties can do to start moving down this road. QUESTION: Okay. But you are talking about practical steps. So what are those immediate practical steps that each side could take tomorrow morning? MR. BOUCHER: I have described them in general terms. Certainly, action to provide more security from the Palestinian side, actions that support Abu Mazen and the new government and offer more respect for the life and dignity of Palestinian people, are the kind of things that we would be looking for as we proceed along this -- along this road. QUESTION: Okay. Can I just have a quick follow-up? As I am sure you -- MR. BOUCHER: But I didn't use the characterization that you did, "tomorrow morning." These are things that need to be done and that we will be focusing on in our discussions, both with Assistant Secretary Burns and with the Secretary. QUESTION: Okay. So just to go back to that then. So an important part of his mission is to persuade the two sides to take those immediate or early practical steps -- MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to adopt one criteria or the other. I am not going to adopt your criteria for this mission. This mission is to continue the process of working on the roadmap, to continue moving forward towards these kind of steps. But we think it's important for the parties to focus on that and to see what steps they can take immediately to try to accomplish these goals. Certainly, we have already seen, for example, from Abu Mazen a lot of statements to his community making clear that security was important, that the violence needed to end, and that that was the only way the Palestinians could accomplish their goals. QUESTION: And what do you think of Prime Minister Sharon's statement yesterday that progress would not be possible unless the Palestinians renounced the right to return, which is not in the -- spelled out in the roadmap except as a subject to be discussed? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we think that people need to focus, at this point, on practical steps to move forward. QUESTION: So you -- would you consider that bringing up this issue now is obstructionist? MR. BOUCHER: As I said, the focus should be on practical steps to move forward. I am not sitting here to adopt your language on anything today, if I can. I'll stick with what I said. Sir, sorry. QUESTION: Regarding the mobile lab found in Northern Iraq, is this -- what is your sense on this? Is this the smoking gun that the administration is looking for? MR. BOUCHER: My sense on this is there will be a briefing over at the Pentagon at 2 o'clock about weapons of mass destruction, and that we all -- we all look forward to following that briefing carefully. QUESTION: Back to the Palestinian Authority. Abu Mazen has come under some criticism for being too close to the United States. And my question is: Do you -- are you at all concerned that the upcoming meeting between him and Secretary Powell may sap his legitimacy or credibility with the Palestinian people to make the kind of the changes you want him to make? MR. BOUCHER: I have never heard anybody be accused of losing legitimacy because he met with partners to achieve peace for his people. I think it's important to understand that we have been looking for a long time, since the President's speech, to meet with Palestinian leaders to try to take steps with Palestinians leaders that would benefit ordinary Palestinians and try to help them achieve their goals of having a state that can live in peace side by side with Israel. We have the opportunity now to sit down and do that with a representative of the Palestinian side who has been approved by the Palestinian legislature, has the endorsement thereby of Palestinians, more generally, because of that process, and is in a position, we hope, to exercise the kind of leadership that can achieve the goals of the Palestinian people. So I think being able to sit down with people who can help you, in order to achieve the goals that your people want, is usually considered a positive action and not a negative one. QUESTION: Let me just ask it another way. As I am sure you know, Yasser Arafat is still a political player on the ground in the West Bank and in Gaza, and he has specifically criticized Abu Mazen for being too close to the Americans. And there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the United States is not particularly popular right now with the Palestinian people. Is there any concern at all that the U.S. public meetings with the new leader could undercut his credibility? MR. BOUCHER: I think public meetings with leadership is the only way to achieve anything. QUESTION: Okay. MR. BOUCHER: Consider the alternative. If one accepted your proposition, then it would be better not to meet with anybody and talk about peace and talk about how the Palestinians can -- QUESTION: No, but like what you do with the Iranians, and like, you know, back door envoys, and do it in private and don't admit to it. MR. BOUCHER: I think everybody knows the history of the Middle East is a little bit different than the history of our relationships with Iran, especially since 1979. QUESTION: Sure. MR. BOUCHER: For those of us who have been in the Foreign Service since then, we remember. But the point, I think, is that Abu Mazen has been empowered by his legislature to carry out the functions of Prime Minister, and we look forward to working with him in that regard. Are we going to agree on everything? Probably not. We don't agree on everything with anybody, with any other government or prime minister. So, but we intend to work with him, see if we can achieve the goals that he wants and that the Israelis want and that we all want, and that's for Israelis and Palestinians both to be able to live normal lives in peace in this region. The only way to achieve that is to work together with us, to work together with the Israelis, to work together with the Palestinians, to try to achieve those goals. QUESTION: New subject? QUESTION: Actually, can we stay on this subject? MR. BOUCHER: Andrea. QUESTION: Richard, is the U.S. satisfied that Abu Mazen, Mahmoud Abas, is a free agent and is not somebody who is sort of speaking on behalf of Yasser Arafat, that Yasser Arafat is not still exercising control? MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to do political analysis. I can tell you the -- QUESTION: But I think it's important. MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you the -- QUESTION: It's important. MR. BOUCHER: Well, then you can do the political analysis. I -- QUESTION: No, no, no. I mean, I'm just -- MR. BOUCHER: Let me tell you what the objective facts are. QUESTION: Yeah. MR. BOUCHER: The objective facts are that he has been empowered by the Palestinian legislature, he has been given a set of responsibilities, he's had a cabinet approved, he's had the framework of his functions have been approved by the Palestinian legislature to do certain things. We've said all along that was a very welcome process that indicated that, in principle, he had the authority to exercise these important functions. We've also said it's important that he does exercise those functions, that he does find ways to effectively control security, that he does find ways to institute, continue to institute, transparent finances, that he does find ways to exercise his authority over all these areas. So that's something, I guess, you'd have to say that remains to be proven. But certainly the authority that he has should be sufficient to put him in the position of leadership where he can make these decisions and take his community forward towards peace. QUESTION: And the U.S. -- one of the overriding concerns of this government here in Washington was that there be new leadership in the territories and that Mahmoud Abas would represent someone other than Yasser Arafat because this administration had decided it didn't want to deal with him. That's why I was asking the question. MR. BOUCHER: And all I can say is he's got the authority to do so and we'll work with him in order to achieve those goals. QUESTION: So is it -- does the U.S. believe that Yasser Arafat, as far as a decision maker has been concerned, that he has been sidelined? MR. BOUCHER: Even if I were a political analyst, which I'm not, I would think that a week or so after he's been sworn in is maybe a little too early to reach a definitive judgment on his tenure as prime minister. QUESTION: Israeli Minister Elon is in town, I believe. Does he have any meetings at the State Department that you know? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. QUESTION: No? MR. BOUCHER: Don't know. George. QUESTION: The Secretary has a meeting tomorrow morning with Foreign Minister Derbez of Mexico. Do you have anything to -- MR. BOUCHER: This afternoon. QUESTION: Now. Right now. QUESTION: I thought it was tomorrow morning. MR. BOUCHER: Moments from now. QUESTION: Oh, I'm sorry. I was looking at the Week Ahead. MR. BOUCHER: Well, the Week Ahead's been changed. QUESTION: Okay. QUESTION: Who does he meet with tomorrow morning? MR. BOUCHER: I think he meets with the new NATO ministers. Right? They are in town tomorrow. The seven ministers from the seven new members, seven candidate-members still. Because we're having our -- we think we're close to the vote in the Senate. So you want to know about the meeting with the Mexican Foreign Minister this afternoon, and I would be glad to tell you about it. Secretary Powell will meet with Foreign Secretary Derbez today at 1:30 p.m. They'll discuss a full range of issues comprising the bilateral relationship. Given the breadth of that relationship, they would expect this to be a continuation of their regular consultations. In the meeting, in addition to bilateral issues, we also expect, as I mentioned, they'll discuss Iraq and next steps in the Security Council since Mexico is one of the non-permanent members of the Security Council right now. QUESTION: Is the Secretary coming down? MR. BOUCHER: I think he's got to run off to the airport to get to New York in time, so probably not. Betsy. QUESTION: Different subject. Cuba. Yesterday there were some Cubans that were -- that refused to be picked up out of the water and so the Coast Guard gave them life jackets and they were able to swim to shore. Is this a new policy that the U.S. is assisting them now to come ashore? MR. BOUCHER: Good question. You can ask the Coast Guard and the Immigration Service and the Department of Homeland Security. QUESTION: Was this building contacted at all during that situation? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't know. But it's not our policy. It's theirs. Nicholas. QUESTION: Richard, can I ask, can I go back to the resolution? When the Secretary was in Damascus the other day, did he discuss the resolution and the process with the President at all? MR. BOUCHER: He discussed the ideas in the resolution in general terms: the need for lifting sanctions, lifting the burden of sanctions on the people of Iraq, the need for Iraq to return to a normal place in the community of nations, the need for the vital role of the United Nations to be defined in a resolution. So the basics of the resolution, yeah, were discussed during his visit to Syria, but, obviously, since then, a lot of the work on the more specific elements has been progressing. Now, we're in touch with other members of the Council to discuss these ideas and increasingly we'll be discussing text with other members of the Council, as well. Jonathan. QUESTION: Richard, I was just going to ask you -- is the Secretary meeting Kofi Annan this afternoon at 4 o'clock? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, sir. QUESTION: Back on Mexico. Did you have anything on trade or migration? MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point. Those are, obviously, important topics that we have always discussed with the Mexicans. Any number of issues involved in the bilateral relationship will come up, I'm sure. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, one more on Arafat. Would you expect the Secretary to meet with him during his visit there, even on an impromptu basis? MR. BOUCHER: No. QUESTION: No. MR. BOUCHER: We have one more in the back and one more in the front. QUESTION: Grossman said that they expect strong support from Turkey, Northern Iraq. What does this mean? And secondly, in a non-paper sent out some time ago to mostly to coalition partners listing the contribution you expect them for stabilization and reconstruction in Iraq, our Defense Minister was here yesterday and he said that they are expecting an official request from the U.S. side. What is the mechanism for this non-paper? MR. BOUCHER: As far as non-papers, we've been in discussions bilaterally with other members of the coalition, with other people who are interested in the future of Iraq. We have followed a practice of not getting into any specific requests that we might have made, leave to other governments to talk about what they might be willing to offer or be able to do in these circumstances. So I just can't go into that any more. But there is an ongoing bilateral discussion with other members of the coalition, with other people who are interested in contributing to the reconstruction of Iraq, whether it's humanitarian, economic and reconstruction assistance, or in terms of stabilization. As far as what we mean by a strong role, strong cooperation with Turkey, with regard to the north, as you know, during the Secretary's visit, he set up a certain pattern, a certain set of mechanisms, for us to cooperate in Northern Iraq. We look for all of Iraq's neighbors to encourage pluralism in government, to encourage participation in the developing institutions of Iraq, to encourage peace and stability in those areas, and Turkey has a role that's very important in that regard. QUESTION: Well, he also said that they asked -- they wait for military support, like support for our military in Northern Iraq. It's his words. And the Defense Min -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't remember exactly what Assistant -- Under Secretary Grossman said, but I -- QUESTION: And also -- MR. BOUCHER: I am not sure that's an exact quote, frankly. QUESTION: Our Defense Minister also said that they kind of, you know, said that they would say okay to sending a military force for the force stabilization force. MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not going to speculate on what any given country may or may not decide to do. Andrea. QUESTION: Yes, I'd like to return to a question I had asked yesterday. I don't know if you have any guidance on it. This has to do with the Iraqi scientists. I had given it earlier this morning. I don't know if you have anything -- MR. BOUCHER: The Iraqi scientists? Which ones? QUESTION: Whether or not the U.S. is doing anything to convince nuclear scientists who are reluctant to help the U.S. for fear of retribution either from Baath Party officials or from Shia extremists, is anything being done? MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I don't have anything on that. QUESTION: You don't have anything on that? MR. BOUCHER: But Defense Department is giving a briefing on weapons of mass destruction and the whole process. You can ask there. QUESTION: Okay. I have to ask. QUESTION: Apart from condemning it, which presumably you do, do you have anything extra to say about the attack in Kashmir today, especially in the light of Secretary Armitage's visit? Do you see this as a setback to the rapprochement that you were so positive about last week? MR. BOUCHER: We have seen the media reports of further violent incidents on both sides of the line of control in Kashmir. As we have said many times, we strongly believe that violence will not solve Kashmir's problems. We want to see it end. We have welcomed Indian Prime Minister Vaypayee's recent bold offer to renew talks and by Pakistan's positive responses. We want to see further steps along these lines. We'll encourage such measures during Deputy Secretary Armitage's visit to the region this week, and in further senior level contacts with Pakistan and India. We would like to see renewed engagement between India and Pakistan leading to a reduction in tensions, an end to violence in Kashmir and progress towards resolution of their differences. QUESTION: The two countries missing on your list of countries you are contacting on the Iraq resolution are China and France. MR. BOUCHER: We have had a variety of discussions with different governments. We have talked about the ideas already with those governments, and I am sure there will be continuing follow-up consultations by us and by others. Okay, thanks.

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