State Department Briefing

 

Wednesday  July 2, 2003
(Liberia, European Union, Middle East, Algeria, Laos, Japan/Korea,
China, India, Iraq, Libya, Greece/Macedonia, International Criminal
Court, Israel/Palestinians, Consular Affairs) (7580)

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher briefed

Following is the State Department transcript:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Washington DC
July 2, 2003

BRIEFER:  Richard Boucher, Spokesman

LIBERIA          
-- Diplomatic Channels and Peace Efforts
-- Secretary Powell Call to UN Secretary General Annan
-- Implementation of the Cease Fire and U.S. Role
-- Proposal of a West African Military Force/Article 98
-- Departure of Charles Taylor and Nigeria Exile Offer

EUROPEAN UNION          
-- Labeling System for Genetically Modified Foods

MIDDLE EAST
-- International Conference Proposed by Italian FM Berlusconi

ALGERIA
-- Release of Prisoners

LAOS
-- Release of Reverend Mua

JAPAN/KOREA
-- Informal Consultations and Multilateral Talks on
North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program
-- Secretary Powell's Meetings in Cambodia

CHINA
-- Vice-Foreign Minister's Meeting with Secretary Powell and Officials
-- Human Rights Issues     

INDIA
-- Meeting of Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal with Deputy
Secretary Armitage

IRAQ
-- Reconstruction Efforts and Iraqi-American's Request to Return
-- Arabic Speakers to Help with the Reconstruction Process
-- U.S. Treasury Licenses in Iraq

LIBYA
-- U.S. Passport Ban and Travel to Libya     

GREECE/MACEDONIA
-- Article 98 and Formal Recognition     
-- Letter from Foreign Minister Papandreou

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
-- Reaction to the Implementation of the American Servicemembers' 
-- Protection Act/Signers of Article 98 Agreements

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
-- Ceasefire/Transfer of Authority in Bethlehem, Gaza
-- Humanitarian Aid
-- Dismantlement of Terrorist Groups

CONSULAR AFFAIRS
-- Visa Restrictions

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2003
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to
be here. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad
to take your questions.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary been back on the phone with Mr. Annan, and
does Mr. Annan like what he's hearing from him?

MR. BOUCHER: Whether Mr. Annan likes what he's hearing or not, I think
I'll leave to Mr. Annan. What I would say, as the President said, we
are working in diplomatic channels on what we can do to help bring
peace to Liberia, to help the people of Liberia in their current
circumstances, dire circumstances.

The Secretary spoke twice yesterday to Secretary General Kofi Annan,
who is traveling in Europe. I expect he'll speak to him again today,
but he hasn't talked to him at this moment.

QUESTION:  Will that be the decisive telephone call?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure any single phone call will be decisive. The
point is to sort of work the issue with the Secretary General, to
consult with other governments, and then to make the decisions in the
U.S. Government about how we can help this process.

QUESTION: What is the current -- today's assessment, if you have one,
of the situation on the ground?

MR. BOUCHER: Our embassy is still reporting the situation as calm in
Monrovia, that the insurgents have withdrawn to previous positions. As
I think I mentioned yesterday, the parties provided the Joint
Verification Team with the locations of their combatants. They've got
the assurances of safe passage, and so today they will be -- the team
will leave from Ghana for Liberia to begin implementing the ceasefire.

So we continue to urge all the combatants to cooperate with the team,
cooperate with the ceasefire terms and conditions.

Matt.

QUESTION: When the Secretary talks to the Secretary General about what
the United States might or could be willing be willing to do, is it
now just simply a question of how many U.S. troops, or is it still a
question of if, whether there will be any? In other words, has it
gotten narrowed down into any --

MR. BOUCHER: It's not -- no, it's not. The answer to your question is
no. It's not one or the other of those things that you raised.

Let me try to explain it this way. There were ceasefire accords,
agreements made by the parties in Ghana. Those included an
international component in terms of a West African force. The
Secretary General and others have suggested there needs to be more
than that, some additional force, including, possibly. Americans.

So that's what we're discussing with them: How would that work? What
is it the Americans would or would not add to the operation? Is that
the way to help bring peace to Liberia? What other steps are necessary
and how would this whole thing operate?

Whether that is the best step to bring -- to help in the current
circumstances in Liberia or not is something we have to look at.

QUESTION: When you say how -- whether one of the things they are
discussing is, "How would that work?" The "that" in that sentence is
how would a U.S. contingent operate in relation to an ECOWAS force?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't get that fine on it. The whole concept that's
coming from the UN is that there would be a West African contingent
and there would be some additional forces. The question is: What's the
purpose? What's the operation? And, you know, it's a back-and-forth
conversation. That's about all I can tell you at this point. It's not
asking a question, and when we get answer then it's go or no go; it's
working a number of issues to try to define the concept further so
that we can make a decision.

MR. BOUCHER: Right. But I was under the impression that they didn't
just come up with this idea for an international component to a West
African force, you know, on the fly; that there actually was a purpose
to it and that they had that in mind. Is that --

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, you seem to be saying that that's still open to debate
whether there is a purpose.

MR. BOUCHER: The -- no, the proposal -- I mean, yes, the purpose is to
add some heft to the force and to -- thinking that that would help
bring peace more quickly.

QUESTION:  And are you suggesting this in Washington that --

MR. BOUCHER:  But -- no, I'm not --

QUESTION:  -- you guys are not convinced that that is a --

MR. BOUCHER: I am just saying that you need to look at these things
carefully, what exactly -- I don't want -- I can't take you farther
into the kind of things. It's examining the proposal from its various
aspects, trying to think it through, look at how it would work, decide
if this is the best way to do things, if there are alternatives. Once
we have, you know, a full discussion of this, a back-and-forth with
the information on this, the United States will be in a better
position to decide.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the Secretary said no proposal had yet gone forth
to the President on this. Is that still the case today?

MR. BOUCHER:  As far as I know, yeah.

QUESTION: Richard, we were hearing this morning that there is a
possibility of 2000 U.S. troops being involved in this operation. Is
that something you have heard? Is all of this a possibility as well?

MR. BOUCHER: That is in some of the wire reports. I read that in some
wire reports. I may have read it in Reuters at one point, as a matter
of fact.

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: But, no, I am not entertaining any specific proposals
from you or anybody else at this point.

QUESTION: I'm not proposing anything. We are just reporting it. But
you haven't heard that?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I haven't. I mean, have I heard that? Yes, I have
heard that. I have read it in wire reports.

QUESTION: Yeah, but I -- yeah, but other than -- other than from the
media?

MR. BOUCHER:  I haven't heard it anywhere else, no.

QUESTION: Okay. Another one. What's the status at the moment of ACRI,
which you may remember, the African Crisis Response Initiative?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'd have to check on that. It's been an ongoing
program for a number of years.

QUESTION:  And how is it affected by the Article 98 fiasco?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'd have to check on that. It's an ongoing
program. It's been going on for a number of years. Many of the West
African forces who have deployed have been trained through these
various initiatives the United States has taken in the past. But I
don't know the current status, in terms of funding and operations.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Richard, the President just spoke a little while ago and
you've talked about Charles Taylor leaving. Is Charles Taylor's
leaving one of the things that the U.S. is waiting for before making a
decision? Would forces go in if he hadn't left yet?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't condition U.S. involvement of one form or another
because I don't know that that kind of involvement will occur. As I
said, we're exploring the various conditions. We're exploring the
situation and defining this further, and then we'll make our
decisions.

What I can say is that we have always said that Charles Taylor's
departure is an essential part of bringing peace to this country.

QUESTION:  Well, you've only said that for the past couple weeks.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We've always said it for the past couple weeks, but
that was -- it was agreed in Ghana that there would be transitional
arrangements that would not involve Mr. Taylor.

Elise.

QUESTION: But some of the options that seem available to him to leave
possibly could involve him avoiding extradition from the court on
Sierra Leone. Do you think his absence from -- his departure from the
country and it possibly stabilizing the situation is more important
than any kind of accountability for past crimes? Could you talk a
little bit --

MR. BOUCHER: That's not a question I could answer. There are many
things that are important to us in this situation. I can't start
weighing one against the other at this moment.

QUESTION: But, I mean, if there are options for him to leave the
country that might avoid prosecution in the future, I mean, is it more
important to get him out of the country?

MR. BOUCHER:  I wouldn't want to speculate at this point.

QUESTION: There does seem to be a move afoot to convince President
Obasanjo of Nigeria to take in Mr. Taylor. Do you have any feelings
about, you know, if he leaves he's got to go someplace. Do you think
he should just park himself right in the court in Sierra Leone, or is
there another way for this to happen?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, on this question, we've seen the reports about
that Nigeria has offered him some kind of asylum. We've seen
conflicting reports about his alleged response. And, really, we'll
defer to the Government of Nigeria on the question of whether he goes
there or not.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so then to follow up on Elise's question, you do
not have a position at the moment on whether an exile offer should or
should not include some kind of immunity guarantee? You've said in the
past that you support the work of the court and you think that justice
should be done.

MR. BOUCHER:  And we continue to support the work of the court.

QUESTION: So, presumably, you think that he should not be -- any
opportunity for him to leave to go into exile should not come with
some kind of immunity guarantee.

MR. BOUCHER: That would be a question for the court. I think that's
what I've said before.

QUESTION: Well, no, it's a question between -- of the receiving
country and --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the question of whether he goes there or not is a
question for the Nigerians. The question of whether he's prosecuted or
not ends up being a question for the court. And so I'm here, but I'm
not Nigeria and I'm not the court, so I'm not going to pronounce on
either of those topics at this moment.

Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, there is afoot to implement by the European Union a
labeling system for genetically modified foods, and a lot of those
foods and other items are going to shipped, hopefully, into Africa to
help with this famine. And will the U.S. Government counter-sue to
prevent that labeling system?

MR. BOUCHER: The question of an actual suit and complaint in WTO or
wherever else it might go, I think you'd have to ask at the Trade
Representative's Office. This has been an important issue to us. As
you know, it's been an issue in trying to bring food [to people] who
were affected by the drought in Southern Africa, where we felt that
there were countries who were not receiving good U.S. food, food that
Americans eat, because of pressure or interpretation of some European
rules, even after the Europeans put out some clarifications.

So it's been an ongoing issue. There is a U.S. complaint that's been
filed already at the WTO over the moratorium the Europeans have had on
genetically modified food, and so it's an ongoing issue. But the
specific new development in terms of the labeling regulations, let me
see if there's something I can get you on that.

Okay, Jonathan.

QUESTION: Can we move to the Middle East? Mr. Berlusconi -- his
country is the new president of the European Union -- is proposing a
Middle East conference and is offering to host it in Sicily.

QUESTION:  Sounds good.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Yeah, we're all gearing up to go.

What does the United States think of this proposal?

MR. BOUCHER: As you know, the idea of an international conference is
part of the roadmap. It's in phase two of the roadmap. It is certainly
one of the things on the agenda down the road. But at this point, I
wouldn't be able to speculate on when and how and where it could be
held.

QUESTION: So, in principle, you think -- since it's in the roadmap,
you support the --

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the idea of international conference, yeah, has long
been around, long been what we've supported.

QUESTION: In your view, what would the purpose of the international
conference be?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, as I said, it's in the roadmap. It's part of the
process of generating momentum, bringing things together at a certain
stage. And we've always said that it's appropriate at a time when it
can be useful in that regard, but it's a little too early for us to
speculate at this point on when, where and how it might be held or
might prove useful in that regard.

QUESTION: Richard, Abassi Madani and Mr. Belhadj were released today
from Algeria after, I think, 12 years in prison. Two questions. One,
what is your reaction to the fact that they have been released? And,
two, the Algerian authorities have said that they may not take part in
political activities and announced that Madani had agreed to this and
signed something to that effect and Belhadj had not. What is your view
on the Algerians' demanding that they not take part in political
activities.

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm going to have to check on it.

QUESTION: The answer is a lot shorter than the question. (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Yeah, I'm sorry.  It was --

MR. BOUCHER: I appreciate all the information. It gives me a lot of
things to go check on, but I will have to check on it for you.

QUESTION:  Can you get back to us on it?

MR. BOUCHER:  I will get back to you later.

Elise.

QUESTION: In Laos, it looks as if the two European journalists and
American are -- news that they could be freed within days. Do you know
anything?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I don't think I have any news like
that.

We're in contact with the Lao Government in Vientiane regarding the
cases, continuing to convey our concern about the health and welfare
of Reverend Mua, explore all avenues to seek his return to his family.
So no, I don't have any news of that sort at this moment. Continuing
to press.

Matt.

QUESTION: Richard, can you tell us about what's going to be discussed
at the non-TCOG TCOG meeting this afternoon?

MR. BOUCHER: As you know, we have Japanese and Korean, South Korean
delegations in town, and we'll be meeting with them this afternoon and
subsequently to that. These are informal consultations among the
members of the group that does meet more formally sometimes on North
Korea. The principal subject of discussion, obviously, will be the
situation with regards to North Korea.

QUESTION: And in terms of proceeding -- pushing ahead with your
multilateral talks plan --

MR. BOUCHER: How to continue to pursue a peaceful and diplomatic
solution that we have sought that results in the verifiable and
irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

QUESTION: And there is also a senior Chinese diplomat in town who you
talked about yesterday.

MR. BOUCHER:  There is?

QUESTION: There is not any thought of him either joining in or having
some kind of peripheral discussions?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. We have already had a number of
discussions with him. He met yesterday with the Deputy Secretary, and
the Secretary came down and joined that meeting for part of it, met
with the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific
Affairs Jim Kelly. This is Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, for
those who didn't hear me say it, since I didn't say it. He is meeting
today with Assistant Secretary for South Asia Christina Rocca and
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John
Bolton. He has also had some meetings with the National Security
Council and will have meetings at the Pentagon.

We have discussed with him issues of nonproliferation, issues of North
Korea, issues of South Asia. He has reiterated Chinese support for a
non-nuclear Korean Peninsula and further explored with us the
cooperation that we have with China to bring North Korea's nuclear
programs to an end.

QUESTION:  Can you be a little bit --

MR. BOUCHER: I point out, as well, Deputy Secretary also conveyed our
serious concern about deterioration in the human rights situation in
China.

QUESTION: Can you be a little more specific on that? Which part of
China? What part of the deteriorating situation --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have the details with me now. I'll have to check
on that.

QUESTION: Okay. And on the South Asia discussions, can you be more
specific about what? I mean, South Asia -- were they talking about the
Maldives or were they talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: We have frequently talked with China about developments
in India and Pakistan, particularly the effort that we have made with
the parties -- and the Chinese, I think, have expressed some support
for it -- to try to move the parties forward with their own
relationship and look for the possibility that they themselves can
start talking about these other issues, including Kashmir.

QUESTION: And, on that, is there any relation at all between that and
the Deputy Secretary's meeting today with an Indian -- a senior Indian
diplomat?

MR. BOUCHER:  Not particularly, no.  No, the meeting today --

QUESTION:  Well, since we're on South Asia --

MR. BOUCHER: Since we're on South Asia, I'll tell you about the
meeting today. I mean, the fact is the meeting today is part of our
ongoing work with the Indians, the Indian Government and the Pakistani
Government -- to talk about both our bilateral relationships, which
are very important to us, but also to talk about regional issues.

So today the Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal was meeting Deputy
Secretary Armitage. He is in Washington to chair the Indian delegation
at the High Technology Cooperation Group meeting chaired on the U.S.
side by Commerce Under Secretary Ken Juster. He is also meeting with
National Security Advisor Rice, and spoke yesterday at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies. So he is in town for that
purpose. Deputy Secretary Armitage is meeting with him.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: Has Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Mr. Wang, particularly
expressed China's concern about Taiwan may have a referendum on
whatever issue --

MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask him about that. I have told you the
subjects that we have discussed with him so far.

QUESTION: Richard, does Mr. Kelly have any proposal to put to these
people at the trilateral meeting this afternoon?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into any details of the meeting
now, or probably even afterwards. But suffice it to say we're talking
with them about the situation, about how to move forward along the
track that we have set, finding a peaceful and diplomatic solution
that results in a non-nuclear peninsula.

QUESTION: Why -- can you explain why you are not calling this a TCOG
meeting, and why you are so reluctant to raise any expectations that
it might make any decisions on anything?

MR. BOUCHER: Because we don't want to mislead you. We want to tell you
the truth. The truth is it's not a TCOG meeting. The truth is it's
informal consultations between allies who talk to each other all the
time. The truth is that not every time that the allies get together do
they come out with some big announcement or press statement. The truth
is we like to talk to our friends and keep working the process with
them. And that's what this meeting is. So why do we say it that way?
Because it's the truth.

QUESTION:  Okay, fair enough.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) about today's informal meeting. We had a TCOG
meeting in Hawaii just three weeks ago. It's a very short period, a
short interval of time. Why this timing, you know?

MR. BOUCHER:  I haven't gone back and mapped all of the intervals.

QUESTION:  Oh, sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: But it seems to me, the TCOG meeting was perhaps an even
shorter period between some of our discussions before that. The TCOG
meeting would have been about three weeks in the meeting at the
presidential level, if I go back and count all of the dates on the
calendar.

So I don't -- all I can say is what you're doing is confirming my
previous answer. We talk to our allies and friends all the time.
Remember, the Secretary in Southeast Asia said there is nothing that
we would raise in talks with North Koreans that we would not have
discussed with our friends and allies. And there is nothing that would
be said in those meetings that we would not tell our friends and
allies.

So you have to understand we work this process very, very closely with
the Japanese and South Korean governments. And that's an ongoing thing
that takes place, not every three weeks, frankly, but, you know,
virtually every couple of days, in terms of somebody back and forth,
or meetings at the embassy, or whatever.

QUESTION: So, if not, you're saying there was also a non-TCOG TCOG
meeting in Cambodia as well, which was only 12 days ago or so, or at
least the --

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary in Cambodia met with the -- let me get this
right -- met with the South Korean Foreign Minister, and had -- I
can't remember if there was a separate meeting with Foreign Minister
Kawaguchi if they talked to each other in corridor.

But, yes, the Secretary talked about North Korea with both the
Japanese and South Koreans there, as well.

QUESTION:  And the North Korean.

MR. BOUCHER:  And the North Korean.

Terri.

QUESTION:  Can I change the subject?

QUESTION:  Please.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  So when is the TCOG meeting --

MR. BOUCHER:  Do you want some more truth?

(Laughter.)

QUESTION:  Are you going to put out a statement?

QUESTION:  When is the next TCOG meeting?

QUESTION:  Oh, yeah, what about a statement?

QUESTION:  As a follow-up, what's a TCOG?

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay.  We got one more?

QUESTION: Yes. Is any, like, statement be released afterward, like --
(laughter).

MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of any plans to issue a statement after
these meetings, these continuing consultations.

QUESTION:  Well, that's what I was going to ask.  (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER:  You can change topic if you want to, Terri.

QUESTION:  Are we going to change the subject?

Some Iraqi-Americans, particularly in the Detroit area, are
complaining that they had been encouraged to go back to Iraq before
the war to help with reconstruction, and now they are not able to get
back. And they feel that the U.S. Government should be doing more to
facilitate their return to Iraq via -- I mean, I don't think they are
asking for travel. But they are upset that they can't get back in on
an American passport, and feel like the U.S. should be doing more to
help them get in.

Do you have any reaction to that, or have you addressed these concerns
with some of the people that you were working with in the working
groups and other contacts like that?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we have -- we have talked to groups of
Iraqi-Americans who want to go back and help, who want to travel to
Iraq for a variety of reasons. And we certainly understand their
desire to do so, and their concerns about the situation there, and
their desire to do whatever they can.

The situation is that U.S. passports remain invalid for travel to
Iraq, as they have been for a long time. The situation is still
dangerous. Security conditions remain unstable, as you all know. And
we don't think we're in a position yet to start widely having travel
to Iraq by people with American passports. So at this moment we don't
think it's quite time yet to validate American passports for travel to
Iraq.

But we certainly understand the desire of people to go there, and when
we can, we'll make it happen.

QUESTION: If they are just green card holders or have passports from
other countries, still maybe countries they traveled to before coming
to the U.S., what's the rule on that? And if they leave, can they get
back in on these -- I mean, I guess they wouldn't have any trouble if
they have a green card, but what does the U.S. have to do with that?

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't want to speculate on what other countries
might do. I think the facts of the matter on the ground are, whether
you're a green card holder or American citizen or some other citizen,
it's dangerous and difficult to go there right now, and that the
people who are going there are going in authorized capacities and
proper security conditions. So it's not just a place you can go and
show up and help --

QUESTION: There are exemptions if you -- you can apply to get
permission. Right? Do you know if many people are doing that?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. I don't know how many. I think I would have to
check on that. Reporters and journalists have an exception. Certain
persons providing humanitarian and other services in support of the
Iraqi people, U.S. Government personnel, contractors who are on
official assignment, and U.S. citizens who have resided in Iraq since
1991.

QUESTION: On this thing with the passport issue, I don't expect you to
have an answer, it just occurred to me while she was asking her
question, but as you have rightly said, the situation in Iraq is
demonstrably unsafe and there major security concerns. The only other
country in the world that has a passport ban on it such as this is
Libya. And I'm just wondering -- can you go back -- can we find out
exactly what the security threat is to Americans there? It's been a
long time, I believe, since any of the kind of violence that you're
now justifying this ban in Iraq has happened in Libya.

MR. BOUCHER: I will go back and see if there's anything new to say on
that, but I think that's a well know, public policy, and it just
hasn't changed at this point.

QUESTION: Richard, I believe the Secretary took part in the conference
call with Mr. Bremer a few days ago. Yeah? Is that right?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yep.

QUESTION: Did Mr. Bremer bring up the question of perhaps reinforcing
the U.S. military force in Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to speak for Mr. Bremer and I'm not
in a position to brief on internal meetings that might have been held
between him and senior administration officials. So I'm just afraid I
can't answer that question.

QUESTION: Okay. But does the State Department have a view on whether
it was a good idea to --

MR. BOUCHER: I would suggest that one check with Mr. Bremer, first and
foremost, to find out if he thinks it's a good idea.

QUESTION: Same topic. Can you update us on the Department's efforts to
meet Bremer's request for more Arabic speakers, apparently in large
number, to help with the civil administration of Baghdad?

MR. BOUCHER: We have been working with the provisional authority and
the Pentagon to see if we can't help provide more Arabic-speaking
Foreign Service diplomat personnel. I think this is a natural
evolution of things. As we see Iraqis taking charge, as we see a
political council being formed, as we see a constitutional convention
being formed, as we see Iraqis take over in the ministries, we need
more people who can do liaison, who can help work with those people as
they go forward. That requires certain diplomat and language skills,
and to the extent we can provide those people, we will be happy to do
so.

QUESTION: Do you know -- does the Defense Department pay for this or
does this come out of State budget? Does Defense have to sign off on
each name, as happened in the past?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't know.  I would have to check on that.

Elise.

QUESTION:  Along the same lines --

MR. BOUCHER:  Along the same lines.

QUESTION: I just wanted to know if there's any update on your embassy.
You know, there was all that money that was allocated for a temporary
embassy, and I realize that, you know, it may not be yet time to start
thinking about that, but has there been any movement? Has there been
any --

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

Elise.

QUESTION: This is on Cuba and the administration offering Treasury
licenses to businesses and medical groups trying to do business there.
I know that, technically, the issue is the Treasury loan from OFAC,
but certainly the Treasury Department takes its cues from the State
Department and the administration in terms of which groups to provide
license to or not.

Is there anything you can say about why denying businesses is not
better for -- it hurts U.S. businesses more than it's hurting Castro
right now.

MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you that the licenses are in the charge of the
Treasury Department, and I'm sure they'll be happy to talk to you
about it.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I'm sure they are the responsibility of the
Treasury Department, and they can talk to you, should they choose to
do so.

Sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, United States and FYROM signed a bilateral
yesterday with you side, however, accepting the legal name of the
so-called "Macedonia" on the document. I'm wondering, that means
recognition of FYROM as "Macedonia" by the United States Government?

MR. BOUCHER: The use of the word/name "Macedonia" is an informal name
that's been used in the agreement. It's not a change of recognition.
The U.S. formally recognizes Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia. We continue to support the ongoing discussions between
Greece and Macedonia under UN auspices on a solution accepted to both
sides on the name.

QUESTION: In the talks at the United Nations, why, then, you signed
the document something like that if it was misspelled the name of it?
(Inaudible.)

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's not a change in policy. We used the
informal name, Macedonia, in this agreement that's important to us.

QUESTION:  What agreement are we talking about?

MR. BOUCHER:  Article 98 agreement with Macedonia.

QUESTION: It was signed yesterday? Because the other Article 98 news
of yesterday, I noticed that the President used the full name --
Former -- in his -- in giving them a waiver. But you're saying that
the Article 98 agreement just said Macedonia, but that was just -- it
doesn't mean anything?

MR. BOUCHER: It means that that's the informal name we used in this
agreement. Recognition policy remains where it was.

QUESTION:  Richard, on --

QUESTION: It doesn't say "America and Macedonia." It says, "The United
States of America." (Laughter.) Actually, I thought these things were
pretty formal, were supposed to be formal agreements so that it would
use a formal name.

MR. BOUCHER: This is an agreement that we reached with Macedonia. We
used the word "Macedonia" because that's the informal name we used. I
know that doesn't mean very much, but it's the way we've done this.

QUESTION: Well, it does -- but, actually, Richard, it does mean a lot
because every NATO document has to be -- you know, and UN document,
has to be -- you know, it has to be an asterisk at the bottom of the
page to identify who this is. So, I mean, if there is a --

MR. BOUCHER:  I just did an asterisk.

QUESTION:  Oral asterisk.  QUESTION:  All right.

MR. BOUCHER: That's what I just did for the last five minutes. I put
an asterisk on it that said -- effectively, I explained what the
situation is.

QUESTION: Prior to the signing, did you were in touch with the Greek
Government since the dispute is pending under the UN in order to avoid
any misunderstanding, because in Athens already they protested with
the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if we were in touch with the Greek
Government in advance. Certainly, on the overall issue, we are in
touch with the Greek Government and we've always been in touch with
the Greek Government, just to see if this can't be worked out.

QUESTION:  Did you answer to the protest?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we got a letter from the Foreign Minister. I'm
not sure if we've responded, frankly. I don't know.

QUESTION:  Richard, on that, in relation to that --

QUESTION:  You got a letter from the Greek -- from Papandreou?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Addressed to the Secretary?

MR. BOUCHER:  To the Secretary.

QUESTION:  Complaining about this?

MR. BOUCHER:  Raising the issue.

QUESTION:  Or asking for an explanation?

MR. BOUCHER:  Raising the issue.

QUESTION: Okay. So if the Greek Foreign Minister is asking for an
explanation, it's not entirely inappropriate for us to be asking for
one either.

MR. BOUCHER:  I didn't think it was.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.

MR. BOUCHER:  That's why I was so forthcoming in my answer.

QUESTION: Well, was it raised in the phone conversation Secretary
Powell and Papandreou had two days ago?

MR. BOUCHER:  Not that I know of.  I would have to check.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) and the letter was politically (inaudible)?

MR. BOUCHER:  Again, I will have to check on that.

QUESTION: On a related matter, have you been overwhelmed by a deluge
of inquiries or complaints about your decision yesterday to suspend
military aid to those 35 countries? And have any of those 35 since
shown any willingness to suddenly sign one of these agreements with
you?

MR. BOUCHER: This is an ongoing process of signing agreements,
negotiating agreements, so there have been a number of developments in
that regard. I think we noted that -- somebody asked about Botswana.
We had signed with Botswana just yesterday, I think it was, or Monday.
And it's an ongoing process of negotiation, so I can't -- I guess I
can't say there's been a deluge, but there has been, certainly, any
number of agreements that are in some stage or another of the process.

QUESTION: But, I mean, I was particularly interested in any hostile
ones.

MR. BOUCHER: I know you would be -- (laughter) -- but we have over 50
agreements already, which is -- everybody, I think, will admit a
substantial number, even those who scoffed at the numbers that we had
some time ago.

QUESTION:  Well, that when you had three.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: You've got to start with three if you're going to get to
50. So we're over 50 now. We continue to work on these with other
governments. We continue to manage this process in a way that provides
the incentive to other governments to work these agreements out with
us, that gives the -- those who participate in the treaty itself -- to
respect their obligations to the court, but which then respects our
decision not to be a party.

QUESTION: Do you have a new, specific number of public and non-public
-- and is it correct that -- I guess Botswana and Macedonia would be
the last two? Or is that not correct?

MR. BOUCHER: I've got Botswana and Macedonia both listed for June
30th, and a list of 45 publicly identified signers that's current as
of today.

QUESTION:  So the 45 includes Botswana and --

MR. BOUCHER:  That's right.

QUESTION: And there's -- there's seven, is it still seven who -- that
are non --

QUESTION:  Or was Botswana added and therefore it's six now?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an exact number of those who have not talked
publicly about their agreements yet.

Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, as of earlier today, the Israelis have pulled out
from Bethlehem. And how do you view the situation with the roadmap
now? Is it on schedule? And also the talks with the various terrorist
groups -- one of, I believe, Al-Aqsa Brigades say they won't partake
in this so called ceasefire.

MR. BOUCHER: I guess a couple things to say about that. First, I was
wondering if I would get a chance to talk about the positive
developments in the Middle East, and I'm glad I did. The President
did.

The transfer of authority in Gaza is fully in process. This is a very
important and significant step. The main north-to-south thoroughfare
of the Gaza Strip is open to Palestinian traffic. That facilitates
movement. It allows commerce and activity to begin again in Gaza and
we think is quite important. We've always been told it's very
important to the inhabitants of Gaza.

The transfer of authority in Bethlehem began Tuesday, today --
yesterday, excuse me -- and has now been completed. That, too, is a
significant step. I would note, as well, that our Consul General in
Jerusalem, or our Acting Consul General, today announced a $30 million
funding initiative. This is $30 million of USAID funds that are
designated to help relieve humanitarian conditions in Gaza, including
reconstruction of roads throughout Gaza and the West Bank, waterworks,
repair for infrastructure, and support for private sector. That money
is part of the $50 million the Secretary talked about when he was in
Jericho and that he announced on May 11th.

QUESTION:  How will that money be channeled, by the way, Richard?

MR. BOUCHER: That money will be channeled as before, either through
NGOs or directly into projects that are handled by our people.

QUESTION: What? I'm sorry. It will be channeled as before, meaning not
directly?

MR. BOUCHER: Not to the Palestinian Authority, but, rather, to NGOs,
contractors, people directly working for AID in that regard.

Adi.

QUESTION: There's talk that there might be some joint patrols,
Israelis and Palestinian joint patrols, possibly occurring later on
this week. Will Ambassador Wolf's team play a role in any way, shape
or form in terms of being part of these teams? And, generally
speaking, what is your sense about these patrols going out?

MR. BOUCHER: First, as to when and how there might be joint patrols,
you'll have to check with the parties. It will be for them to account
for.

Ambassador Wolf and his team have been working on all aspects of the
security arrangements for this handover, and all aspects of making
sure that both sides have a clear understanding, that both sides get
the security they need in the new situation.

Joint patrols have been used in various places in the past. So I think
we have always considered them a possibility in these circumstances.
But if the parties -- the parties have to agree to do them. We have
been working on all aspects of this situation, though.

QUESTION: Richard, a different subject. How receptive, if at all, is
the State Department to complaints from the U.S. travel industry that
the new visa restrictions are hurting their business? And, I mean, is
there any -- do they have any hope of seeing any changes to these or
-- to the new restrictions -- or is it pretty much a done deal?

MR. BOUCHER: Some of the new visa requirements are impact-legislated.
I think our effort has been to implement to secure what we called
"Secure Borders, Open Doors." And that's part of the publicity
campaign that we have done overseas about our procedures and will
continue to do to make people understand we do have new procedures
that make it more secure, in terms of the situation in the United
States that prevent certain threats, that prevent terrorists and
others from entering into the United States. At the same time, we
still welcome foreign visitors, and we'll do everything we can within
the current security environment to facilitate their travel.

QUESTION:  But does --

MR. BOUCHER: So we have tried to implement these laws, implement new
requirements and regulations as best we can to smooth out the process
of traveling to the United States, although we do recognize it is more
complicated and sometimes more lengthy than before.

QUESTION:  Okay.  But -- I'm sorry -- more likely than before?

MR. BOUCHER:  More lengthy.

QUESTION:  Oh, lengthy, right.

MR. BOUCHER:  The application process.

QUESTION: Right, well, so then you also recognize that the -- what
some might call onerous new requirements have discouraged legitimate
tourists or businesspeople from coming to the States?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we have heard from a variety of American groups
over time, and people involved in the travel industry, people in
various businesses, arts and performance-oriented people, some of the
universities exchange-oriented people, that this has caused some
difficulties.

And we have been able to tell them there is a reason for these rules
and regulations and we will work with you, but we'll work with our
applicants. But we'll try to make the system effective in maintaining
security, but also as smooth as possible for the people who are
coming.

QUESTION: Okay. So the bottom line, though, is that they don't have a
prayer of getting any of this stuff changed?

MR. BOUCHER: I certainly didn't say that. I said we will work with
them. We'll work with the applicants to try to make it as smooth as
possible. But we're not going to drop the security requirements just
in order to have people come here faster.

QUESTION: Could I ask you about Hamas? The President was very hard on
Hamas today. Maybe he didn't have his guidance in front of him. He did
not call for --

MR. BOUCHER:  Did he call them an "enemy of peace?"

QUESTION: Oh, haters, everything. But I am beginning to hear a
different tone here. Now I am beginning to hear that Hamas is kind of
a two-headed operation -- you know, bad guys, and then a social side
to it, running all sorts of nice sociable programs.

So I just want to do a reality check. Is it still the administration's
position that Hamas has to be -- no, it's a serious question because
it's been described --

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. The answer to your question is yes. And if you're
not --

QUESTION: Do you want it dismantled or just its weapons taken away
from them?

MR. BOUCHER: We want the terrorist infrastructure dismantled. We want
the funding that goes to Hamas stopped. We have made that point at
Sharm el-Sheikh. We have made that point in our contacts with the
Europeans. The Secretary himself has made that point in his -- things
he said when he was out in the region, things he said subsequently.

We understand the argument that people make that, "Well, they have
these social services." We have said, "You can't separate the body of
Hamas into two parts."

QUESTION:  Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: That this is a organization that terrorism is a main
component of, that you cannot think that you are funding part of it,
and not think you're funding another part of it. And, therefore, we
have listed it for a long time as a single organization and stopped
the finance. We have asked others to do the same thing. And that is
the effort that we have underway to dismantle the terrorist
organization, Hamas.

QUESTION:  Period, put it out of business?

MR. BOUCHER: Period. And the Secretary of State called them an "enemy
of peace." The President was very strong this morning. That has been
our view and continues to be our view.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER:  Okay.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:45 p.m.)

(end transcript)

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