State Department Briefing

 

Friday  May 9, 2003

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2003 (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) 1:25 p.m. EDT BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman Index IRAQ Tabling of Resolution on Iraq / Elements of the Resolution US Working with Other Governments on Resolution Political Leadership / Transition Government UN Role/Contribution Iraq's Oil Revenue / Control / Audit Status of Oil-for Food Program / Contracts Location of Former Iraqi Minister Tariq Aziz Iraq and Membership in OPEC IRAN Iranian Reaction to US Presence in Iraq Mujahideen E-Khalq US Channels of Communications with Iran Al-Qaida Members in Iran Iraq and Membership in OPEC FRANCE Allegations of France Providing Passports to Escaping Iraqi Officials CHINA Secretary Powell's Call to Chinese Foreign Minister GERMANY Secretary Powell's Visit to Germany INDIA/PAKISTAN Deputy Secretary Armitage's Travel Plans for Missile Test MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I might, I'd like to start off just sort of filling you in on the basics of the news of the day, which is our tabling of the resolution at the United Nations today to take into account the new situation in Iraq, to lift the sanctions on Iraq, to provide a vital role for the United Nations, and to encourage others to get involved and help the Iraqi people achieve their status in the world as a peaceful and representative nation. The elements of the resolution basically achieve -- do three things: they lift the sanctions burden on the Iraqi people; the encourage and provide a means for the international community to help build a free and peaceful Iraq; and they define in some detail the vital role President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have called for the United Nations to play in Iraq, in particular the appointment of a Special Coordinator for the United Nations and a definition of his responsibilities, the kinds of things that he would be expected to do. Our intention is to create the conditions for Iraq's political stability and economic recovery so that the Iraqi people may freely determine their own future. The resolution, as the Secretary has said, has a singular purpose: to help the Iraqi people obtain a better life for themselves and their children and to put in place a democratic form of government representing all the people of Iraq that will live in peace with its neighbors and be a responsible nation among the family of nations. In our preliminary discussions with other Council members, as well as coalition allies, there is clearly a willingness to work together pragmatically to help the Iraqi people. We'll be engaged in intensive discussions with Council members and others, both in New York and in capitals in the days and weeks ahead. Members, of course, will be consulting with their capitals and Council discussions will resume next week. The circumstances in Iraq have changed fundamentally. The regime is gone, so there is now no reason to have any sanctions continue, to have economic sanctions continue. The Iraqi people deserve an immediate and unconditional sanctions lift so that they can fully engage in economic and political reconstruction of their country. It's not the time, we believe, for temporary fixes or for half-measures. The draft that we presented also fulfills the promises made in the Azores and at Hillsborough that we would engage the international community and the United Nations in the future of Iraq and that the United Nations would have a vital role in building a free and democratic Iraq. The resolution calls for a UN Special Coordinator to coordinate participation by the United Nations and other international agencies in humanitarian assistance and economic reconstruction and to support the Iraqi people in developing a representative government. The Coordinator will also support international efforts to contribute to civil administration, to promote legal and judicial reforms, to promote human rights, and to help rebuild the civilian police force. In addition, the resolution encourages support for Iraq's recovery from states and interested organizations and enlists the assistance of the international financial institutions, and therefore calls on states to give to United Nations humanitarian appeals and to provide the resources for the reconstruction of Iraq. So that's the basics of this resolution that we presented today. We'll be working it in the days ahead. As you know, the Secretary's travel that begins this evening will take him to several Security Council member countries, including Russia, Bulgaria and Germany. Under Secretary Grossman today briefed coalition ambassadors in Washington. There will be similar briefings in New York today. I think Ambassador Negroponte is meeting with the Arab group ambassadors in New York, and I mentioned the other day that our embassies had talked to Arab League members and now, over the night, even more broadly around the world to countries about this new resolution and the importance of passage. Assistant Secretary Holmes, as you know, has been in Moscow and Berlin. He had good meetings there. He met today with senior officials from the German Foreign Ministry, I think, in partnership with his British colleague. They did that together. So these kind of meetings are going on all over the world, including in this building, including on the phone, and we are working with other governments to get a resolution that provides opportunity, now, for the Iraqi people, that provides an opportunity for the international community to help the Iraqi people as well. And with that, I would be glad to take your questions on this or other topics. George. QUESTION: Do you know how many ambassadors there were from coalition countries? MR. BOUCHER: Fifty or so. I don't know how many showed, but we we've been having, as you know, for two months or more, regular meetings with ambassadors from coalition countries, and I think it was the group that gets together regularly to look at events in Iraq and how to move forward. QUESTION: In the list of things that the UN would be doing under this resolution, it doesn't seem like they would have a role in helping establish a political authority in a transition government. Can you sort of speak to that? MR. BOUCHER: Sure. Look at Paragraph 8C, Working With The Authority and the People of Iraq With Respect To The Restoration and Establishment of National and Local Institutions for Representative Governance; 8D, Facilitating Reconstruction Key Infrastructure. That's not completely political; 8E, Promoting Economic Reconstruction and the Conditions for Sustainable Development, Including Through Coordination With National and Regional Organizations As Appropriate, Civil Society Donors and the International Financial Institutions. So that -- also working with civil society, working with people inside. Contribute to basic civilian administration functions, promoting human rights. These are all working to promote the legal and judicial system. These are all political aspects. But in terms of representative government, it also makes clear, in addition to saying that they'll be involved in the establishment of national and local institutions, also makes clear that the Special Coordinator for Iraq would have responsibilities to involve coordinating activities of the United Nations in post-conflict processes in Iraq, one of which is the political process. QUESTION: It's so much information, but let me just -- I'm assuming that -- well, we've been told that there will be, at some point, a political leadership of Iraqis in Baghdad that will form a kind of transition authority -- some will be inside, some will be outside. The process for finding those Iraqis, however many there will be, whoever they are, will the UN be in some way, will they be recommending but not vetoing? I mean, what's their role in that? MR. BOUCHER: They will certainly have a role. The United Nations Coordinator will certainly have a role in this. The President, I think, at one point specifically referred to their putting forward names of people who might participate. I'm sure there are a lot of aspects of this -- the institutional aspect, the civil society aspect, or even the political aspects where the United Nations will wish to make some kind of contribution -- and this resolution says that the UN Coordinator would coordinate the United Nations contribution to that and to many other things that are going on in Iraq. QUESTION: So they are one of many groups of people who submit names for this and -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to reduce it to that. That's just an example. QUESTION: Okay. And they do a lot of that stuff too, obviously, but -- MR. BOUCHER: Just an example of how they might contribute. The UN would contribute. The UN would help. The UN would be involved in this process through the UN Special Coordinator. That's what the resolution sets up because it's one of the processes that relates to many of the other things they are doing. Jonathan. QUESTION: Richard, you have -- you neglected to mention in your list of what this resolution does what most people say is the main point, which it gives the United States and Britain control over about $20 billion a year in revenue. How are you going to sell this exclusive control, and how are you going to counter the argument that the United Nations should have control of this money and not the occupying powers? MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, to tell people that that's not true. That's not what the resolution does. The resolution does not put the United States in unencumbered or sole charge of Iraq's oil revenue. The resolution establishes a process by which the money from Iraq's oil revenue can be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people, unlike what has happened for the last, lo, so many years. Remember, the first part of this is selling oil. Oil is building up in the pipelines and in the storage tanks, and that oil needs to be sold in order for the products to get to the Iraqi people and others, but also in order for the revenue to be created for the Iraqi people to use. Somebody has to sell it. Now there is Iraqi responsibility now for the Oil Ministry and for the state oil marketing organization, the Iraqis will sell the oil. Well, what happens to the revenue? The revenue needs to be used for the Iraqi people. Who has the authority to spend it is a matter of the people who are in authority, who have taken on a certain responsibility in Iraq, which is the coalition, but also in a manner that is done in conjunction with Iraqis, who are there, that is done under the supervision of an international board, and that is audited by international auditors. So this whole process, any decisions have to be made so that they are consistent with the UN resolution and so that they are transparent to the Iraqi people and to the world. So it's not a somehow willy-nilly control issue; it's an issue of having a very careful process to ensure that the revenues are used for the sake of the Iraqi people, and the specific purposes for which that money can be used are defined in the resolution. So the Security Council would lay out how it wants the monies to be spent. Sir. QUESTION: Richard, but you know there are suspicions out there that the whole Iraq enterprise is one big oil grab. MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'll deal with those, too. I want a chance to respond to that. QUESTION: There's a suspicion out there. MR. BOUCHER: Okay, I know that's true, and I will respond to it. QUESTION: And so why not give the -- you haven't answered the question: Why not put the United Nations, as the French demanded this morning, at the center of the revenue control process? MR. BOUCHER: The United Nations will be deeply involved in all these processes. That's what the resolution establishes. The Security Council is going to mandate the process, mandate the transparency, mandate the procedures by which it shall be happened, and mandate the purposes for which the money should be spent. That, again, puts the United States -- puts the United Nations heavily involved in this. But let's deal with reality. The United Nations is not running Iraq and doesn't want to run Iraq. The United Nations is not in a position to take over Iraq and doesn't want to take over Iraq. So somebody who is there with some authority, which we have taken on by prosecuting this war, needs to take the actions. Now, as far as these whole, you know, suspicions question, I mean, you have to ask yourself. Not one drop of Iraqi oil has been sold by the United States for revenue. Not one dollar of Iraqi oil revenue has been taken by the United States for any purpose. At some point, these suspicions should also have to face reality and should also have to -- people should also look at the facts of the matter. We have collected millions and millions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and put it in safekeeping for the Iraqi people. So this suspicion that was out there, it's about time that it left because the reality is quite otherwise. QUESTION: Doesn't this resolution actually reinforce those suspicions? MR. BOUCHER: No, this resolution sets up a carefully mandated UN procedure that is transparent, that is clear, and that is subject to international audit, and it should satisfy both the international community and the Iraqi people, whose money has been misused and whose money has been misused for so many years. QUESTION: Would those auditors have a veto -- MR. BOUCHER: We have a couple other people with -- QUESTION: We haven't finished with this yet. Would those auditors have a veto over -- ? MR. BOUCHER: I guess we haven't. What? No, auditors don't have vetoes over expenditures. They audit to make sure it's consistent with the purposes, to make sure the money has been spent consistent with the purposes outlined in the resolution. QUESTION: And if they decide it isn't, what happens then? MR. BOUCHER: Then they do what auditors do. Sir. QUESTION: I wanted to go back to the political leadership question. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: The administration has stated a clear goal of de-Baathification, that no senior Baath Party officials should be part of the new Iraqi leadership. Yet, as The New York Times reported yesterday, State Department official Robin Rafael reinstated Saddam Hussein's personal physician, Dr. -- I hope I have this right -- Al-Rawi as the president of Baghdad University, and the Minister of Health, the new Minister of Health is also a senior Baath Party official. How do you square those two? MR. BOUCHER: I, first of all, invite you to ask your questions out there. I think they are happy to talk about how the process works. Second of all, as individuals are asked to take positions or remain in positions, available information is always checked out. Third of all, I think, to some extent, the article didn't reflect the reality that these things are worked within these organizations as well and that we don't sit in some isolated space but, rather, our people go out and visit the organizations and talk to the people there, and that these decisions are made in conjunction with the other people who work in those places and who know what's going on. QUESTION: The thing is, I mean, when you're talking about a senior Baath Party official being Minister of Health, and Saddam Hussein's personal physician, I mean, I think at that point, I mean, at that point doesn't it kind of not pass the smell test? It could be -- MR. BOUCHER: These people have passed much more than a smell test, and certainly a smell test from 12,000 miles away. QUESTION: So what are the standards, then? I guess I didn't quite -- I mean, I know I can talk out to the folks in the Middle East, but obviously they do report back to the State Department here in Washington. So my question is: What are the guidelines? What rules of thumb are being -- ? MR. BOUCHER: People are checked against -- QUESTION: -- used that allow Saddam's personal physician to be president of Baghdad University? MR. BOUCHER: Slow down. Okay? May I answer now? QUESTION: Go right ahead. MR. BOUCHER: People are checked against all the available information; both on the ground and that might exist elsewhere in the U.S. Government. And as I said, this is also -- they are also checked against local opinion and local information to determine if somebody is an appropriate person or whether he would be excluded, he or she would be excluded, under the guidelines that you, yourself, cited: that senior officials who participated in the Baath Party or who were guilty of human rights abuses or crimes or other things do not get reappointed. And one of the things this resolution does is make that even more explicit in international rules because the resolution would bar Iraqis who committed crimes and atrocities from receiving safe haven elsewhere, it mandates return of assets stolen by Saddam's regime, and people like that would, indeed, end up being prosecuted. So people that are in positions there temporarily, permanently, whatever, are checked out against the best possible information as we go forward. But these things are also worked within the organizations. QUESTION: Well, not to be too technical, but if I heard you correctly this morning, you said senior Baath Party officials or people who committed war crimes, essentially -- MR. BOUCHER: And people who are both, as well. QUESTION: -- but everyone acknowledges that these people that -- who I just asked about in the question were senior party officials. So, then, how does that square with, if you have two people who are senior party officials and you say senior party officials -- ? MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to play with the definitions. These decisions are made out there and by people who are on the ground, who know what's going on the ground, who consult with others on the ground and who have available to them much more information than I do here. And I think these are responsible decisions that have to be made in the field and I have to, at some point, just tell you that they are made on all available information, and these are the decisions they came to, having evaluated all of that information. QUESTION: Richard, just to -- I had just a very quick -- it is -- I just want to make sure. You are saying that if you had information on somebody, and then you got new information on somebody, and you found out that they were worse than you thought, then there is a process because this is a transition government. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it's all transitional. QUESTION: That they could be then -- MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: Right. Or that there would be eventually an elected government that would then -- MR. BOUCHER: Well, that -- that -- I mean, that's true. There is also the overall provision that as this process of Iraqis taking charge resumes as a representative of Iraqi government is put in place, that first the interim authority, and then whatever transitional arrangements and ultimately a full-scale Iraqi government, the Iraqis will be making these decisions themselves, who they want in different jobs. And, certainly, if we had information during the period that we were doing this, we would -- we could easily decide on something else. But, ultimately, Iraqis will be taking charge of all of these areas, they will be making the decisions, and not necessarily for crimes. They may just decide he is not the right guy for the job any more and they want somebody else, but that will be fully within their jurisdiction. QUESTION: But, I mean, it's just -- I mean, it's a fluid situation on the ground, and I'm assuming that we don't know everything about everybody who ever worked in Saddam Hussein's government -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm assuming that true -- that, too. But we are finding out everything we can and checking against as much as we do have. QUESTION: And, finally, isn't it -- I mean, it would be the case that the threshold of what crime you would commit in the old government -- I mean, the U.S. is not determining that in this vetting process, is my question. You are not saying like, okay, these crimes are so bad that we would never talk to you, and these crimes are okay, or -- do you see where I am going with this? MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't actually. QUESTION: I'm sorry. It's for the Iraqi people to determine -- MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean if -- QUESTION: When the communists got out of Poland, there were certainly commies who ended up staying in power, but they weren't the worse of the commies. MR. BOUCHER: We have seen this -- I do know where you are going. We have seen this in a lot of places that have gone through transitions. We have seen truth and reconciliation commissions in some places. We have seen, you know, government guidelines. We have seen vetting procedures. We have seen political, you know, vetting. We have seen just, you know, dossiers coming out and being published in the press from Eastern Europe or from other parts of the world. And I guess each nation approaches this in different ways. They decide what the -- what the criteria are. That said there are certain crimes that are not excusable. QUESTION: Sure. MR. BOUCHER: You know, that people who are involved in the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime don't belong in these positions, period. And that's -- that's what we try to check things against. Christophe. QUESTION: Just a clarification on the Oil-for-Food program and new -- new proposal for a new resolution. What is going to happen with the previous contracts which are -- which were concluded under the Oil-for-Food program? What is going to happen with the money, which is already on the Oil-for-Food program escrow account? QUESTION: Those things are addressed in the resolution. Let me -- let me review it briefly. First of all, the resolution that we presented would extend the Secretary General's authorities granted under Resolutions 1472 and 1476. That authority is for him to prioritize the contracts that were previously approved for delivery by the United Nations. Those contracts provide for goods that are necessary for Iraq in critical areas such as food, health, water, sanitation, agriculture, education and electricity. Among those priority contracts are also ones that support the World Food Program, the World Health Organization, and other UN agencies in meeting Iraq's essential needs. So our proposal would enable delivery of the civilian good contracts and the humanitarian contracts in the Oil-for-Food pipeline, which the United Nations has previously approved, and which are funded now from that account to meet the needs of the Iraqi people; and then the other provision deals with the other part of your question, that the -- the money that is not "encumbered" is the word they use -- the money that is not part of -- necessary -- needed to pay for these contracts now, that the Secretary has authority over, would then be moved to the Iraqi Assistance Fund, so that that money could be spent by the authorities, and more and more by the Iraqi authorities as they took over under the transparent procedures that were laid out for other oil revenues, things like that. Andrea. QUESTION: A couple of quick questions. One, who has control of the Iraqi Assistance Fund? MR. BOUCHER: The resolution states that the coalition authority would spend it in accordance with the guidelines that are laid out in the United Nations resolution under the supervision of an international board and subject to international audits and in cooperation and consultation with the Iraqi interim authority. QUESTION: So the coalition authority would presumably be the same members of the coalition that fought the war? Would there be additional members? MR. BOUCHER: Again, it's not -- this is kind of where we started out. It's not as simple as saying the people who fought the war get to spend the money. It's not the case. The United Nations is putting -- the United Nations Security Council is laying down how the money has to be spent, a transparent procedure so that it's spent to the satisfaction of all, and an auditing process to make sure it is spent that way, and it's done in conjunction with the Iraqi interim authority. That's recognized in the resolution. And increasingly, as the Iraqis take more and more responsibility, they will be spending the money. QUESTION: So is it possible that members of the coalition authority could be other countries than the ones that fought the war? Is it open to that possibility? QUESTION: Specifically the United States and Britain. MR. BOUCHER: No, the resolution doesn't say that. The letter about the establishment of the coalition provisional authority that was provided today describes it as the United Nations, the United Kingdom and coalition partners, so others that were involved in the process. QUESTION: In the war? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: Okay. If I could also just follow up on Jonathan's earlier question, I just want to make sure I understand you. In reassuring the international community that the war was not, you know, a ruse for a grab on Iraq's oil, did I understand you correctly? You said that the U.S. or coalition members have not spent any of or sold any of Iraq's oil and taken that money? Is that the essence of your question? MR. BOUCHER: Yes, exactly. QUESTION: But isn't the whole purpose of the UN resolution to lift the sanctions, which precluded the U.S. or anybody else from selling the Iraqi oil because sanctions were in place? MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not true. I mean that's not the -- first of all, that's not the purpose of the resolution. And then second of all, that's not the -- not actually what sanctions precluded. Sanctions dealt mostly with the import of goods into Iraq. QUESTION: Okay, but then let me rephrase the question. My understanding was that it was illegal to sell any oil -- it is illegal to sell any of Iraq's oil right now due to some of the sanctions that are in place. MR. BOUCHER: It's not illegal. It's as much a question of market conditions. The fact is nobody wants to buy oil that doesn't have clear, established title. You don't want to buy a boatload of oil and have somebody come attach it and say it's not your oil. You've put a lot of money into it. And so people in the markets are not going to buy oil unless there's a clear process, a clear procedure and a clear authority to do so. And that's what this resolution provides for. That's why -- and that's necessary. That's necessary for Iraq's oil to begin to be -- to flow for the -- you know, as the pipelines fill up and the tanks are full, you can't rehabilitate the oil wells because there's no place to put the oil that might come out. The Iraqi people deserve this revenue. They deserve this revenue as soon as possible to help provide for their own redevelopment. So you need -- somebody needs to take -- have responsibility for selling the oil and make sure it's used in the proper manner, and this is what's laid out in the resolution. It reflects the conditions on the ground right now -- who's there, who can do it as these oil fields are repaired, and it provides for a completely transparent process and it provides for a transition to more Iraqi authority. QUESTION: (Inaudible) had Iraq able to skirt UN sanctions and sell oil either, you know, through the Arab or through the Syrian pipeline? How would -- why would any companies be willing to buy oil that didn't have a clear -- MR. BOUCHER: I suppose there is always some, but certainly on the scale that we're talking about, reputable and major companies don't -- just don't do that. QUESTION: Richard -- oh, yes. I understand that you're reluctant to talk about your negotiating tactics, but would it be fair to assume that this is the sort of maximalist starting position which is subject to considerable amendment over the weeks to come and that you really don't expect people to give you complete carte blanche to spend all this money as you wish? MR. BOUCHER: We don't expect people to give us complete carte blanche, and that's why we've not asked for it. We have not put complete carte blanche in this resolution and it would be inappropriate to refer to it that way. This is a careful procedure that's been thought through that reflects the desire by all to have transparency, the need for the Iraqi people to benefit from the revenue, and the reflection of the facts on the ground that somebody needs to take authority in order to -- have authority in order to be able to sell this oil for the benefit of the Iraqi people. It's been carefully thought through. It's been carefully brought together, and you'll see in this resolution now a lot of somewhat complicated legal points are addressed by -- by this resolution in a way that has been carefully studied and put together. In this process, we have listened to friends and allies, ideas from countries around the world, suggestions by the other carry out-sponsors, Britain and Spain, as well, that have been brought in and incorporated in the resolution. We think it's a good resolution. We think it's a solid resolution. We think it answers the questions that need to be answered. And, above all, it does for the Iraqi people what the Iraqi people need right now, that's a lifting of the sanctions burden and an opportunity to accept and to benefit from the assistance of the international community. QUESTION: But Richard, once this -- if this resolution is passed, and once it's passed, what recourse does the international community have if it disputes the way in which the authority is spending the money? What can they do to -- ? MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I don't accept the suspicion that we will not follow this. This lays down the procedure by which it needs to be done. It lays down the goals for which it needs to be spent. It lays down a procedure that ensures it will be done transparently. So everybody will know in the board in the audit whether it's being followed. I would not assume, at this point, it would not be followed. If there is a dispute about it, the dispute I am sure will be raised by the board, raised by the auditors, and can be brought back to the Security Council. Okay, Joel. QUESTION: Richard, right now, it seems that the Iranian clerics want to undermine all this process. Rafsanjani has warned the United States' of prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq. And also, there was a BBC television report a day ago, which showed in a hospital a cleric that came in and was handing out sums of money to the employees. And he just plain took over and U.S. Army troops were right there, and basically, a police spoke with him. I don't quite know -- they didn't show how that was resolved. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know either. I think we have made our position clear on Iran, on any neighboring country. People need to help the process of representative government in Iraq. They need to avoid interference, particularly military interference, and need the -- let the Iraqi people go and have the opportunity to decide their own future. Yeah. QUESTION: Is this a starting point for negotiations with the Security Council, or is this resolution, in fact, sort of the -- MR. BOUCHER: This is sort of the same thing. QUESTION: Right. MR. BOUCHER: This -- let me put it as succinctly as I can. This is a good, well thought out, solid resolution that addresses the issues that needed to be addressed, that provides procedures that need to be provided, and that helps achieve the goals that the international community, we think, shares. The reaction that we have heard from people, as I said, is one of pragmatism. We would hope people would work with us on this resolution. We think we have answered the questions here. But if people have other ideas, and better ideas, and other ways of doing these things effectively, we'll obviously listen to those and we'll work with them, in order to achieve a resolution that has the widest possible support. QUESTION: The reason I asked is maybe you can -- I mean, time is of the essence, as everybody, I think, would admit. The Iraqis need to start profiting from their oil and rebuilding the country. It took a long time, I think, two-and-a-half months to do 1441. This institution, the UN Security Council, does take a long time to deliberate on things, particularly on Iraq, it seems. Do you have a limit of how long? I mean, the sanctions of the Oil-for-Food program -- MR. BOUCHER: I -- QUESTION: -- June 3rd. Do you know what I mean? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I don't have -- we don't have a precise limit. The Oil-for-Food, as it's now constituted, expires on June 3rd. It would seem logical that these things would certainly want to be done before that. QUESTION: Right. MR. BOUCHER: -- as well before that as possible. We think that this can and should be done within a period of a few weeks. Yeah. QUESTION: Richard. MR. BOUCHER: Sir. QUESTION: Going back to the contacts, you were talking about the contracts under the Oil-for-Food program. I believe some Russian oil companies and Chinese oil companies had contracts with the Saddam Hussein regime for development of oil fields. Does the U.S. honor these contracts, or are you going to say, "They are contracts with the past regime, they don't -- MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly if there are binding contracts or not. That would be something for the Iraqis to go through. The Iraqis are now in charge again of their Oil Ministry, of their oil marketing organization. They are responsible for all marketing and sales of oil, for development, and things like that. We certainly -- you know, there are plenty of people that can help them do that. But they have responsibility for those decisions. They'll have to make them. George. QUESTION: Do you have a comment on the -- on something that an EU official -- I believe he is from Denmark -- said, to the effect that what the U.S. has done in Iraq is all about oil, and more specifically, it's a back door way for the U.S. to be, in effect, another member of OPEC? MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I noticed also that the European Commission didn't back up the statement. I guess I'd call it ridiculous blather. That's about as much as I can think of right now. Sir. QUESTION: The leader of the Hezbollah, Mr. Nasrallah, said today in an interview on al-Jazeera that U.S. official approached them and said they will recognize Hezbollah as a political party if they abandon their so-called armed struggle. Can you confirm that? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know of any contacts like that. I'll double check just to make sure. Okay. We'll start our way back again. Yeah. QUESTION: Two quick questions about Iraq. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: Do you know anything about where former Iraqi -- the Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is detained? According to Iraqi sources, he would be or could be in Morocco either (inaudible)? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. You can ask the coalition forces or the Pentagon. I don't have that would indicate that report is true. QUESTION: And the second quick question about U.S. lawmaker Mr. James Bremmer, who yesterday called on the U.S. Government to launch an investigation into the charges that France secretly supplied passport to former Iraqi officials? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen -- QUESTION: -- and he is suggesting sanctions to retaliate on visas for French national returning to the U.S. That's report on the U.S. Government from a person with (inaudible) influential U.S. (inaudible). MR. BOUCHER: This is a purely journalistic question of, and not a personal one, I assume. They -- we're happy to have you with us, Christophe. I don't -- I didn't see the statement. I don't have any comment on any proposals for legislation, but I think we have made clear that we don't have any information that would indicate the French issued passports or visas to Iraqi officials. QUESTION: What about sanctions on France? (Inaudible) coup de grace. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, well, that's cute, but we don't have anything that would substantiate the premise. Terri. QUESTION: On Iran, can you say anything about the talks supposedly going on between the U.S. and other Mujahedin in Northern Iraq about surrender following the ceasefire agreement? MR. BOUCHER: The military has, I think, discussed this to some extent, I think. From a policy point of view, I want to reiterate what we said, I think, at our counterterrorism briefing a week or so ago; that we are committed to ending the Mujahideen-E Khalq terrorist and military activities in Iraq, committed to ending Iraq as a source of terrorism. And this is a terrorist group that has been there, that has operated with the support of the former Iraqi regime. We are not accepting of some terrorists, and not of others. Any detailed questions about military operations or discussions in Iraq -- that would be answered by the CENTCOM military people. QUESTION: Okay. And to follow up, what about reports that Zalmay Khalilzad has been involved in negotiations over a swap for al-Qaida suspects for MEK suspects? MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen those reports. QUESTION: You haven't? MR. BOUCHER: No. QUESTION: Has the U.S. held meetings recently with Iran in Geneva? MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we have certain channels of communication that we can use to communicate with Iran either in messages or in meetings. We have met with them in the context of activities in Afghanistan, for example, you remember that. So we do have ways of addressing items and issues of mutual interest with Iranians. We do not talk in any detail about the specifics of those kinds of meetings, but we do have those channels and we are in a position to communicate on issues of mutual concern. We still have some very serious issues of contention with Iran: their support for terrorism, their support -- their opposition to the peace process, development of nuclear weapons, human rights questions. These are all very serious issues, but we do have ways of communicating on some issues that are of mutual interest. QUESTION: But has there been a face-to-face meeting with Zal Khalilzad? MR. BOUCHER: I did not -- am not in a position to talk about any specifics of how we might meet, or talk or discuss with him. QUESTION: But you're saying that we use other channels, and you didn't mention face-to-face meeting as one of them. MR. BOUCHER: No, I said we do meet sometimes. We have met with him in the context of Afghanistan, for example. So we have ways of communicating both, you know, through in writing, through representatives, but also occasionally in meetings in broader context. QUESTION: Is this something that is on the table? MR. BOUCHER: What something? QUESTION: A swap of -- the discussion with Abbas? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific like that, no. Yeah. QUESTION: Richard, has the U.S. communicated to Iran a desire for the Iranians to hand over any suspected or alleged al-Qaida members? MR. BOUCHER: We have communicated to all the countries of the region. The kind of thing that is, as I said, in this proposed UN resolution, as well, that would become a Chapter VII requirement on everybody, and that is that people should not be interfering in Iraq; they should not be sending armed groups into Iraq; they should be expelling senior Iraqi officials who might end up on their territory; they should not be, you know, hospitable to things coming out of Iraq in that fashion. So that, generally, that message that you saw us communicate in Syria, that we have worked with other countries on, has also been communicated to Iran. QUESTION: Yeah, right. Is it fair to say that among all of the things you just listed, included in that is to all of Iraq's neighbors, that they shouldn't harbor al-Qaida terrorists, or suspected al-Qaida terrorists? MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, yeah. Certainly, that's been communicated in our conversations with all of the neighbors. QUESTION: Thank you MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. QUESTION: But would the U.S. consider the Mujahideen to be in their -- to be held by the U.S. in such a way that they could be forcibly removed and handed over to another country? MR. BOUCHER: I am not -- I am not -- I don't want to speculate with you on something. I didn't see the report. I don't know if it's based on anything or not. But I don't -- I am not going to get any specifics of -- specific scenarios that one might create. The goal that we have had is to get the -- is to end the terrorist, the military activities of this group, and to keep them from continuing that. We talked about surrender of these people. QUESTION: If a group disarms and surrenders is it -- would it be considered that they could no longer commit their terrorist acts, and they would -- that would, perhaps, be one of the steps to not considering them a terrorist group anymore? MR. BOUCHER: That's extraordinarily speculative at this point. If a particular unit or group of individuals disarms, that may or may not mean that the group has abandoned terrorism and is no longer a terrorist group. As we have seen this around the world, I think there are very few that have actually ended the whole idea of support for terrorist acts. Okay, ma'am. QUESTION: Does it count for anything the Mujahideen E-Khalq were -- handed over accurate information about the Natanz facility in Iran? MR. BOUCHER: The fact that they disclosed information about Iran is interesting. But the fact that they have killed people, conducted terrorist activities, worked in collaboration with the Saddam Hussein regime, done terrorist training, stockpiled weapons and conducted attacks is not mitigated by the fact that they made some information public. Yeah. QUESTION: We heard that Secretary Powell talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Li yesterday. Can you tell us about the substance and the tone of the conversation? MR. BOUCHER: They spoke yesterday evening. It was a good conversation, as the Secretary has called many of his colleagues on the Security Council and others who are interested in a new resolution. They talked about the situation in Iraq, about the new resolution. They talked about the situation with regard to North Korea and the Chinese talks that were -- U.S., China and North Korea participated in. That's about all I can remember off the top of my head. I don't have notes handy. QUESTION: And has Secretary Powell asked China's help, I mean, support on lifting the sanction in -- MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, we -- the Secretary has indicated in his phone calls in recent days to people that we would be sharing the full text of the resolution with them; that we thought it was an important resolution that accomplished some very necessary goals, at this point; and said we look forward to working with people and to getting their support for the resolution. QUESTION: And in spite of the previous split on the Iraq war, we have also seen China and the U.S., I mean, cooperating in a number of issues like SARS, North Korea and lifting the sanction. How does the Secretary and the United States see the overall U.S.-China relationship these days? MR. BOUCHER: Oh, we -- I hesitate to answer this because then we'll go country by country and have to do this. But we see it as a positive relationship, a relationship where we do have work to do together, where we can work together, as you said, despite some of the disagreements we have over how we proceed in Iraq. There is an opportunity now for all of the members of the international community to look at the needs of the people of Iraq, to do what we can to help them and to cooperate together in building a better future in this region. QUESTION: No consequence? MR. BOUCHER: Everything is taken into account, but where we can cooperate with others, we will. Sir. QUESTION: I want to go country by country -- QUESTION: Still on China? QUESTION: No, on Germany. QUESTION: Go ahead. MR. BOUCHER: Are we on Iraq, China or Germany? QUESTION: No, China. China also, apparently -- well, sorry -- in this conversation last night, they urged that the process of talking with North Korea continue and indicated that they'd be willing to continue playing this very active role that they did in the Beijing talks. You have had a chance to talk with Jim Kelly now. And can you tell us anything about willingness to continue with more talks with North Korea? MR. BOUCHER: There is no decision at this point. We wanted to analyze what happened in Beijing. We have been looking at all of the information, including information about what the North Koreans may or may not be doing. We want to talk with friends and allies, including the Chinese, but also the Japanese and the South Koreans, whose leaders will be visiting Washington this month. So we will go through that process at our own pace. We'll analyze things carefully and then we'll decide. Germany? QUESTION: Can I change the subject now? MR. BOUCHER: Can we change? Yeah. Sir. QUESTION: Is the United States encouraged by Germany's moving forward on the resolution saying it will help the U.S. get -- get it through the Council? Is it a part of the process? MR. BOUCHER: I think that's part of the, I think, general reaction that I described as pragmatic. Certainly, we do think that's where the focus needs to be right now, on people who want to work with the Iraqi people, who want to help the Iraqi people and try to move -- try to move forward. That's where our focus is, and to the extent that others are willing to do that, we appreciate it. QUESTION: But would you characterize it as the beginning or part of the healing process to advance this relationship? MR. BOUCHER: See, I told you, she started something. (Laughter.) QUESTION: Well, the Secretary's going next week so. MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I think I'll really leave it for the Secretary when he goes out there. Our attitude has been that these differences have occurred, we all have to understand their significance and their importance, and I'm sure we'll all be taking them into account as we go forward. But there is a great deal of work to be done. There is a great deal of important work to be done that offers opportunities for countries to participate, for countries to support, for countries really to focus pragmatically on the needs of the Iraqi people. And if you look at the speech the Secretary gave in New York the other night, I think he described pretty well what our attitude is now towards those opportunities. QUESTION: Can you confirm if he is going to meet with the Chancellor when he is there? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have scheduled confirmation yet, no. QUESTION: Well, let me get back to the oil revenue issue on there. And you say the United States and the coalition, they won't take any money from the oil revenue. That means are you going to exclude the possibility that using of a peacekeeping or peace stabilization operation in the future? MR. BOUCHER: We have -- the purposes are specified in the resolution, and you can read them yourself. You'll see quite clearly what it will be used for. Ma'am. QUESTION: Yes -- MR. BOUCHER: I guess, Gene, and then in back. QUESTION: Oh, sorry. MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead, Gene. QUESTION: Could I ask a quick question about marketing of Iraq oil? You say that marketing, setting the prices and so on, will be done by Iraqis, so this is the same old situation. Is Iraq going to be -- continue her membership in OPEC and setting a level of distribution? MR. BOUCHER: That is for Iraqis to decide. The Iraqi State Oil and Marketing Organization is part of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, which is in the -- under the authority now of Mr. Ghadhban, I think it is. He has responsibility for deciding Iraq's oil sales policy for marketing and sales of Iraqi oil and he will perform those functions and make those decisions as appropriate for Iraq and for the people of Iraq, until further Iraqi authority comes along, until we have another government that may or may not wish to appoint somebody else. QUESTION: Sorry. I am going to follow up. So you are neutral with regard to their participation in Iraq in OPEC? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we are neutral, in that sense, but it's a decision for them to decide. And I am sure they have -- they do have international advisors that will give them the best advice on these things, but it will be in Iraqi hands for deciding. Okay, Ma'am. QUESTION: Can you spell Mr. Ghadhban? I guess we ought to check the name. MR. BOUCHER: G-h-a-d-h-b-a-n, Tamir Ghadhban is the senior official in charge of the Iraqi oil sector. This news was reported out of Baghdad about a week ago. QUESTION: Yeah, I just want to go back to Germany for a second. Do you have any details about what the talks in Berlin will focus on? And also, Chancellor Schroeder gave a speech in which he really focused on how vital the relationships between the U.S. and Germany are, and that both countries have a friendship which is founded on a solid basis of common experiences and common values. And is this sort of a foundation of -- of groundwork of the meetings for next week? MR. BOUCHER: It's a foundation of everything we do every day with our allies in Germany, France, Europe and elsewhere. The President said it quite simply the other day. He just said, "We are allies." That means we work together. That means we do things together every day. We have cooperated many days. Even with these disputes going on, we have worked against terrorism together. We have worked on force protection issues in Germany together during the war. We work on international financial questions, be it the health of our economies or pursuing terrorist finance. So there is an abundance of examples with each of these countries of cooperation as allies on a daily basis. The question is how we can cooperate in the tasks that lie before us, and that's what we will be discussing in Berlin and in the capitals, as we move forward: what needs to be done, how can we help the Iraqi people, how can we achieve stability in the region, how can we pursue Middle East peace, how can we solve some of the other issues on our agenda, whether it's the issues of AIDS and development, or other things that we have before us like trade negotiations. There is always a great deal of things, topics for the allies to address when they get together. QUESTION: Under Secretary Armitage just visited both India -- MR. BOUCHER: Deputy. QUESTION: Or Deputy -- MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. QUESTION: -- Secretary Armitage just visited both India and Pakistan. And yet, the Indians just tested this morning an air-to-air missile. The Pakistanis want -- or have offered to end nuclear weapons, or to dismantle them, and the Indians in the last day or so say, "Well, we need them because perhaps there are other countries, which include China, are threatening." Anything to add to -- MR. BOUCHER: No, but a bit to subtract. I think, first of all, we have been very pleased with some of the developments in India and Pakistan relations over the last several weeks, the statements that started with the statement of Prime Minister Vajpayee, the phone call, the intention to return ambassadors, open up air corridors and to look at other possibilities and how they could move forward have been very welcome. The Secretary expressed that this morning to the Indian National Security Advisor, Mr. Mishra, who is in Washington. He has come to visit with -- to talk to now our National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, who he met yesterday, be seeing other U.S. officials. So they had a very good meeting today of a broad range of issues in U.S.-India relations, but also about the question of India's relations with Pakistan. Deputy Secretary Armitage has been in Islamabad. He has, I think, just arrived in New Delhi. He had been in Kabul between the two. And so he looks forward to also including a broad range of topics in his talks with the Indian Government and see what we can do, hear from them on the state of play and see what we can do to, if necessary, to help the process along. QUESTION: Is the missile test troubling, then? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specifically on the missile test. I'd have to look into it and see exactly what it was and whether it was important or not. QUESTION: They said they plan to do another one in the next couple of days. MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to see what it was before I could tell you if it's important or not. QUESTION: I understand. MR. BOUCHER: Okay, thanks. I guess that's it. QUESTION: Thank you.

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