State Department Noon Briefing

 

Monday  July 7, 2003
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Monday, July 7, 2003
1:20 p.m. EDT

BRIEFER:  Richard Boucher, Spokesman

INDEX

LIBERIA
-- Timing of Departure of President Taylor
-- President Obasanjo Says Nigeria Will Take President Taylor In
-- Secretary Powell's Call to President Obasanjo
-- Secretary Powell's Call to UN Secretary General Annan
-- U.S. Willing to Participate in Effort to Bring Stability and Peace
to Liberia
-- U.S. Assessment Team on the Ground
-- U.S. Disaster Assistance Team on the Ground
-- Indictments Against Charles Taylor
-- Political Transition in Liberia 
-- U.S. Contacts with Other Governments/West African States on Liberia

TURKEY/IRAQ
-- Detention of Some Turkey Special Forces in Northern Iraq by U.S.
Forces
-- Secretary Powell's Calls with Turkish Foreign Minster Gul
-- U.S. Relations with Turkey/Bilaterally and as NATO Ally
-- Vice President Cheney Call with Prime Minister Erdogan
-- U.S. Position on Turkish Troops in Northern Iraq

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
-- Update on Program on Roadmap
-- Secretary Powell's Call to Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil
Shaath

MEXICO
-- Legislative and Gubernatorial Elections
-- American Servicemembers Protection Act and Prohibition on U.S.
Military Assistance
-- Prospects for President Bush Meeting with President Fox

DEPARTMENT
-- FBI Alert Regarding Stolen Foreign Passports/Department's Action

IRAN
-- Iranian Missile Programs/Testing
-- U.S. View of Iranian Government

JAPAN/IRAQ
-- Participation in Iraqi Reconstruction Efforts

NORTH KOREA
-- North Korea Nuclear Program and Question of Security
-- Status of Multilateral Discussions

UNITED KINGDOM
-- UK Concerns Regarding Possible Trial of UK Citizens by Military
Tribunal

CHINA/HONG KONG
-- Hong Kong's Decision to Delay Action on/Amend Article 23
Legislation

IRAQ
-- Alleged Tape of Saddam Hussein/Affect on Reconstruction Efforts in
Iraq

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

MONDAY, JULY 7, 2003
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)

1:20 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, everyone. I don't have any statements or
announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Actually, we wondered what the state of play is, and it
seems to be unusual, on Taylor's departure. The Secretary talked to
the Nigerian President Saturday. He has apparently talked to Kofi
Annan. Could you bring us up to date? And why is there no -- why can't
you get him out of there? What's holding him in -- what's keeping --
what's the holdup on his departure, his orderly departure?

MR. BOUCHER: All right, let me go through what I can remember, and
then we can talk about the rest.

I think as far as President Taylor's departure, I think Taylor, as you
know, has said he will leave. President Obasanjo of Nigeria has said
he will -- Nigeria will take him in, will let him go there. This
process does need to be handled in a way that avoids chaos, that
enhances stability for the people of Liberia.

The Secretary has talked to Nigerian President Obasanjo on Friday --
is what my note had -- yeah, on Friday. He has also been in very close
touch with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, talked to him Friday,
Sunday and again today, as we look at the situation in Liberia.

The West African states, the ECOWAS group, is preparing military
forces. They are already leading the way politically and
diplomatically in the effort to bring stability to Liberia. The United
States is willing to participate with them in that effort, to bring
stability and peace to the people of Liberia.

As you know, we have an assessment team now that's on the ground in
Liberia. We also have a disaster assistance team on the ground in
Liberia and our AID mission is going back tomorrow. We have other
teams elsewhere in Africa, for example in Abuja, working with the West
African states about how we can support and participate in their
effort.

Our participation will be worked out with the West Africans and with
the United Nations. That's why the Secretary has been in so close
touch with the Secretary General. But I have to point out, the
assessment teams are there now. They're working with the West Africans
in the UN, but decisions on the exact form of our participation and
support are not yet made and the President has not yet decided to
authorize U.S. military forces.

I think that covers most everything.

Elise.

QUESTION: Given -- well, given Taylor's not following through on
several ceasefires and peace agreements in the past, I mean, do you
take him at his word that he's going to step down? Have you been given
any guarantees that he will, or do you -- is it more of, "I'll believe
it when I see it," type of thing?

And also, in terms of disaster assistance, will the U.S. disaster
assistance team be going with any specific new humanitarian aid or is
this really to help NGOs get through and deliver some of their
services?

MR. BOUCHER: Our disaster assistance people, and particularly our
mission director, who is going back tomorrow -- very familiar with the
situation there, very familiar with the NGOs -- but they'll look at
what's being done, what can be done, and what more needs to be done.
So I don't have results yet of that assessment that's just starting
there.

I think in terms of Taylor's previous commitments that haven't been
met, obviously we have to keep the situation under close watch. We are
working with others to bring stability to this situation. The West
Africans in the United Nations are leading that effort and we're
willing to participate in it, but I think we'll keep the situation
under close watch to make sure it truly is effective in bringing peace
and stability to the people of Liberia.

QUESTION: Richard, did the Secretary's conversation with Secretary
General Annan specifically cover Taylor's departure? Did it
specifically touch on that, or was it more generally about the nature
of --

MR. BOUCHER: No. He's been discussing Taylor's departure with
Secretary General Annan, with West African leaders such as Nigerian
President Obasanjo. Because we see Taylor's departure, Taylor's early
departure, Taylor's departure now, as the President has put it, as an
essential factor in bringing stability to the situation, and that
needs to be done as soon as possible, but obviously in a manner that
avoids chaos and enhances stability.

Terri.

QUESTION: Where does the U.S. stand on what will happen with the
indictments, though, especially since Nigeria has now said that if it
does provide asylum, nobody can bother Taylor there, nobody can harass
Nigeria about his presence?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that exactly what happens in due course with the
indictments is really a matter between Taylor and the court, the chief
prosecutor.

QUESTION: But surely the U.S. has a view on what should happen with
those, no?

MR. BOUCHER: We recognize the work of the court, but how this works
out in the end is going to be a matter between Taylor and the
prosecutor.

QUESTION: Could you address Barry's question of what the holdup is? If
Taylor has agreed to go and Obasanjo has agreed to take him, what is
the problem here?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if I could address it. I mean -- and again,
the West Africans have been, in many ways, leading this effort. We've
been in touch with the Secretary General, but -- and with Obasanjo.
But the issue of a holdup, I wouldn't describe it so much as a holdup
as saying this needs to be done in a way that is expeditious but that
also doesn't lead to chaos.

QUESTION: So can I follow up on that, Richard? So do you see some
sense in his argument that he doesn't want to leave the country to
develop into further chaos before any peacekeepers get there, whether
they're U.S. or not?

MR. BOUCHER:  I --

QUESTION:  Do you see his -- that --

MR. BOUCHER: How can I say? Yes, there is some sense in that, but it
doesn't mean that he should be the one who should decide exactly how
long this will take and when he will depart. We need to look at what
the West Africans do, what we can do to support them and to
participate with them in this effort, and we think Taylor needs to
depart as that effort goes forward. That's about as close as I can be
at this point.

Betsy.

QUESTION: So, I mean, actual transporting him could be fairly easy. I
mean, you offer a chopper or --

MR. BOUCHER:  We're not at actual transport yet, I have to say.

QUESTION: So it's not a question of how to get him out; it's a
question of when to get him out? Is that --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to go any farther than I have now. This is
being worked. The West Africans, UN are leading this effort. We're
going to help support them, participate with them. But exactly how
these arrangements might be worked out, I can't predict at this point.

QUESTION: Once if he is gone, is there a provisional government set up
by the American -- Americans or --

MR. BOUCHER: No. There was a ceasefire agreed in Ghana that contained
some elements of how the political transition should work and how the
political arrangements should be made. Again, the West Africans, the
UN sort of leading this effort. There are provisions in the Liberian
constitutions. There were provisions agreed to at Accra. And we would
expect to see those kind of provisions carried out in terms of the
political transition.

The -- I mean, our goal in helping with this effort is to bring peace,
is to facilitate the departure of Taylor, to facilitate the delivery
of humanitarian goods, but also to make it possible to create the
conditions for the West Africans in the United Nations to handle, to
manage that political transition.

QUESTION: Can you confirm the press report that you have -- maybe the
State Department have a candidate list for the next leader of Liberia?

MR. BOUCHER:  No, that's not true.

QUESTION:  Can I change the subject to Turkey?

MR. BOUCHER:  Not yet.  Okay, Liberia some more for a while, Terri?

QUESTION: I'm sorry. You said that the Secretary had spoken with Annan
and with Nigeria. Did you say who else he has spoken with on this
issue? The wires are saying several governments.

MR. BOUCHER: We are in touch as well with the Ghanaian Government,
with the other members of the West African states, through our
embassies. Obviously, our Ambassador on the ground in Monrovia has
been active in terms of passing messages to people in government and
in other groups there. So I'd say those are the phone calls the
Secretary personally made, but we have been working this pretty
actively with the West Africans as well.

QUESTION:  Okay.

QUESTION: Richard, are there any stipulations between -- in our talks
to make certain that Charles Taylor doesn't go off with any money and
any rebel forces that have kept him in power? How --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think any of us envisage him being able to do
that, but the West Africans, as I said, have been in most direct
discussion with this. I think you saw that President Obasanjo was
there over the weekend on Sunday and had direct talks with President
Taylor, and that's where this was announced.

QUESTION: How stable is Nigeria? They've just had ten people killed in
pipeline strikes.

MR. BOUCHER: There has been violence in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it
happens from time to time at various events and political events in
Nigeria. I don't have any new assessment of stability, though. I think
we stand where we've always stood on that.

Okay, Elise.

QUESTION: Over the last few days, there's been less use of the word
"peacekeeping mission" and more talk about a possible humanitarian
mission. Is that because of the shape of the force or what the troops
will be actually doing, or how do -- what's the difference?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, there's an assessment team out there, so
don't draw any conclusion from "the shape of the force" when the force
has not been approved, authorized, decided or shaped. Okay?

But second of all, if I didn't say it enough, I will say it another
five times: Our willingness to participate with the West Africans is
to help them in this effort to bring peace to the people of Nigeria --
of Liberia, our effort to bring peace to the people of Liberia, to
create the conditions for humanitarian assistance, for the departure
of Taylor, and for political transition that will be managed by the
West Africans and the United Nations.

Okay, we're going on to Turkey, I think, right?

Ma'am.

QUESTION: Okay. Over the weekend, 11 Turkish troops have been arrested
in Iraq, and I wonder whether you can give us any information why they
were detained, why they were arrested, how they were arrested, what
was the reason that leaded to their arrest? Can you give us any
information?

MR. BOUCHER: Some of that information on how, what, where, when, how
will have to come from our military people, I think, about the actual
circumstances of how this occurred.

What I can tell you is that the U.S. military was acting on reports of
disturbing activities that they might have been involved in. They
detained some Turkish special forces and others in Sulaimaniya on the
4th of July.

We have been in close touch with our ally, Turkey. We're working to
resolve this matter. The Secretary talked on the phone with Foreign
Minister Gul on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, once each day. We've also
had military-to-military discussions and discussions between U.S. and
Turkish military and civilian representatives. And they will be
undertaking a joint investigation into the facts of the matter.

We continue to believe that close cooperation between the United
States and Turkey is critical to establish security and stability in
Northern Iraq. We will work closely with the Turkish Government in
doing that.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up? You said that they were acting in
disturbing activities that they were involved in. What these
disturbing activities are that you mentioned?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't go into any more detail at this point. We had --

QUESTION: Is it an intelligence report? Because there were some
reports on the press that, you know --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I know. I'm not going to confirm press or
intelligence reports. All I can tell you is we had information that
raised serious concerns about the activities of these forces in
Northern Iraq.

QUESTION:  Did you share this information with the Turkish side?

MR. BOUCHER: We have discussed these matters with the Turkish side,
and as I said, now the United States and Turkish military and civilian
officials will be undertaking a joint investigation to look into all
the facts of the matter. Okay?

QUESTION: But had that been discussed before that arrest or had that
been discussed after it?

MR. BOUCHER:  I'm not in a position to tell.

Sir.

QUESTION:  Richard, do you have reason to -- oops.

MR. BOUCHER:  Sir.

QUESTION: How would you explain away this kind of action? Because in
the NATO, history of the NATO, for the first time, one ally, the
soldiers arresting another ally. Do you think this NATO is still alive
and is strong?

MR. BOUCHER: I think NATO is still alive and strong. Our alliance with
all our allies, including Turkey, is alive and strong. And we want to
work this together with the Turkish Government, together with the
Turkish military, together with Turkish and American civilian
representatives to make sure that we arrive at a joint understanding
of the situation there, and that we continue to have strong
cooperation within the alliance.

QUESTION:  Before this operation --

MR. BOUCHER:  Elise.

QUESTION:  Oh, I'm sorry.  I have one more.

MR. BOUCHER:  One more.  Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah. Before this operation, did the State Department has
any knowledge about the U.S. soldiers preparing this kind of operation
against the Turkish forces?

MR. BOUCHER: It's not a question I know the answer to. But it's also
not a question that I think is relevant. If the U.S. Government had
information about activities that would raise these kind of concerns,
it behooves us to take action.

Elise.

QUESTION: Do you have reason to believe that the military forces acted
with the knowledge or consent of the Turkish Government or military
leadership?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the Turks have pretty much said no to that
question, so I don't have any reason to believe that. No.

QUESTION: Richard, to your knowledge, has Vice President Cheney made
any telephone calls --

MR. BOUCHER: The Vice President did discuss the issue with Prime
Minister Erdogan again today. He also spoke to Prime Minister Erdogan
on the 6th, which would have been yesterday.

QUESTION: And the Turkish Armed Forces Chief of General Staff has
described the incident as a major crisis of trust. Do you see this as
doing any lasting damage to your overall relationship with Turkey?

MR. BOUCHER: I think what's important is that the U.S. and Turkey work
together to determine the full facts of the events and of the
activities that raised these concerns, and that we, through this joint
investigation, arrive at conclusions about what happened.

QUESTION:  So it could -- you think it might have last--

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate at this point. What's
important right now is to reach a common understanding or joint
understanding of the situation. Okay?

QUESTION: Richard, there were reports today that these 11 soldiers
have been released, actually. Does that mean that all concerns you had
are now satisfied?

MR. BOUCHER: They have all been released at this point -- all the
Turkish soldiers -- all those apprehended, I guess -- detained in
these incidents -- have been released, but part of that is been
released to the custody of the Turkish military. So at this point, we
will jointly investigate and find out the full facts of the matter.

Adi.

QUESTION:  Who's going to be part of this joint investigation?

MR. BOUCHER: It'll be U.S. and Turkish military and civilian
representatives. I think civilian representatives here refers to
people from our Coalition Provisional Authority.

Sir.

QUESTION: About these actions -- after all, do you think the Turkish
and the American relations still strong?

MR. BOUCHER: I think U.S. and Turkish relations are very strong. And
the fact that when we do have an incident like this, we have any
number of channels where we're comfortable talking to our Turkish
allies about the situation, where we can raise the important issues
that need to be raised, including our concerns about the activities,
and we can try to find a way to resolve these together. I think that's
a sign of a healthy relationship.

QUESTION: And also there's as allies. And do United States Army knows
that this office is the liaison office in the Sulaimaniya? And if they
have -- if you have a some kind of intelligence report or whatever the
what kind of information, is it the proper to urge the Ankara to your
office in Sulaimaniya to have to do something and to change it or take
care about this, or did you urge before that?

MR. BOUCHER: I was asked that question five times not long ago. I'll
give you the same answer I gave that five times, that we are
undertaking a joint investigation to look at all the facts of the
matter, and I'm sure all these matters will be looked into.

Ma'am.

QUESTION:  Do you want Turkey out of Northern Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: We have reached understandings with the Turkish
Government about how we should both act in this area. We think it's
important that we work closely together in terms of what goes on in
Northern Iraq. The United States coalition forces are basically
responsible for security in that area, and we have arrangements so
that any concerns that might arise on the Turkish side can be dealt
with.

So as far as the exact nature of how we do the liaison, how we do the
coordination, I'll leave that to the people in the field. But I think
if you look back at the understandings that we have reached with the
Turkish Government in the past, it's a matter of U.S. being
responsible, coalition forces being responsible for that area, and
having good mechanisms so if there are any concerns on the Turkish
side those can be dealt with.

Okay, go over here.  Sir.

QUESTION:  Change of subject?

MR. BOUCHER:  No, not yet.

QUESTION:  No, no, I --

MR. BOUCHER:  You want to change the subject, too.  You don't?

Ma'am.

QUESTION: There was also, you know, civilian people in that compound
Kirkuk and a guard, and they were treated, they were -- after being
released, they said that they were being treated like criminals and
very inhuman way. Why is that so?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that that's true. I think you'd have to
check with our military forces for an exact description of their
treatment.

QUESTION: And also, the Chief of Staff General Ozkok also said that he
said he's having difficulty in believing that this is a local incident
since, you know, the time played an important role for almost three
days, no response were -- no reaction came from the U.S. side, only
there from the Turkish side, and even your media, the American media,
had to give the Turkish story reaction, but not a word from the U.S.
side.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to get into how you people in the media
handle this, but I would point out --

QUESTION:  No, no, I mean, there was no reaction, official reaction.

MR. BOUCHER:  I would point out that the events occurred --

QUESTION:  -- explanation --

MR. BOUCHER: I would point out that the events occurred on July 4th in
Iraq, and the Secretary of State was talking to his Turkish
counterpart on July 4th. Our military was in touch with their
counterparts on the same day. So I don't think it's a matter of not
talking to our Turkish counterparts on this.

When it became a matter of media attention in Turkey and here, I will
leave people in the media to try to explain.

QUESTION: But it is also suggesting that United States was very much
disturbed by this disturbing activity of the Turkish special forces in
Iraq. So I guess it's not what Turkey, but how do you look to Turkey
at this time that it's engaging in such activities in Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a variation on the same question. There's
not too much more I could say about it. We're going to look into all
the facts of the matter. We're going to work with Turkey in terms of
determining all the facts of the matter. And then is the appropriate
time to ask what do we think of it all.

Okay, Nick.

QUESTION: You said the purpose of these arrangements with Turkey was
to set up good mechanisms so you can communicate when the time arises
and comes. Do you think that these mechanisms at present are good? Are
they working well?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you have seen them work in a number of
circumstances, most pointedly when it came to the fall of Kirkuk and
other cities in the north. So I think those mechanisms have stood the
test of time and have worked well in terms of allaying any Turkish
concerns that might exist about activities in Northern Iraq.

QUESTION: Last question. During their talks, can you say that the
Powell or whoever talked to or with the military side, did they give
any reason for the arrests? Because the -- all the Turkish officials,
including chief of staff, including Turkish Ambassador here, they said
that during the contacts with the American side there was -- there
wasn't any reason given to them, there was no explanation to them
given.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made clear in a variety of ways to the
Turkish Government that there was information that led to very serious
concerns about the activities of these people. That's about as far as
I'm going to go at this point. I'm not going to be able to describe
that in any more detail to you.

Charlie.  QUESTION:  Last week --

MR. BOUCHER:  I guess we had first dibs over here, but --

QUESTION: Richard, the Palestinians have apprehended a female suicide
bomber and have returned her to her family, and the Israelis say
that's partly staged. Why not jail?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask them what the offenses
were and what the circumstances were. I don't know. I've not seen that
latter bit in the wires yet, so I don't have any particular comment at
this moment.

QUESTION:  Can I follow up?

MR. BOUCHER:  Yeah.

QUESTION: That's accompanied by statements from Israeli officials that
the time is drawing near, there's been a pause now, the time is
drawing near for the Palestinians to start uprooting, dismantling
those terrorist groups. The situation has been fairly calm. Is State
comfortable with marking time on that, or is it time to get with it?

MR. BOUCHER:  I don't think we're just marking time.

QUESTION:  On that issue.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't think we're just marking time overall or on
that particular issue. I'd say we're continuing to work with both of
the parties to try to gain momentum. We've made very clear that both
the Israelis and the Palestinians have responsibilities and
obligations, and we're following through with both sides.

The Secretary spoke over the weekend with Palestinian Foreign Minister
Nabil Shaath on Saturday, and on Sunday with Prime Minister Abbas.
John Wolf is back in the region as of yesterday. He is following up.
Ambassador Kurtzer is following up. Acting Consul General Feltman
following up, working with both sides on the next steps on how to
continue the transfer of security responsibilities, which involves
Israeli pullouts but also Palestinians taking more and more
responsibility for security, including for control of these terrorist
groups.

And also on the issue of prisoner releases, which has now come
forward, and the Israelis have made some statements about that.
Prisoner release is something that will be discussed with both sides.
We want to ease the burden on Palestinian families without endangering
security for Israelis and Palestinians both.

So we've been actively promoting security cooperation between the two
sides. We've actively promoted further progress on these issues
between the parties. And that's what we'll continue to do.

QUESTION: I'm watching the word plays, because that's how you often --
one often detects whether policy is changing. So, with all due
respect, you are now again -- you have used the structure "control of
those groups." I'm asking about dismantling the groups, not
controlling them, not taking their weapons away, putting them out of
business, which you've said was the policy.

MR. BOUCHER: Which is the policy. Which is the policy to see those
groups put out of business, as you say, to dismantle the
infrastructure of terrorism. That's a process that's important to us.
It's a process that remains on the agenda, and it's a process that we
continue to work on.

It's both a process of having the Palestinians take over
responsibility and then be able to exercise that responsibility in
terms of building their capabilities and their determination to
dismantle these groups. And that remains a high priority on our
agenda.

QUESTION: It doesn't look like the Secretary had a lot of relaxation
over the weekend. You've had him, already, into three issues. And
maybe if we asked about a half-dozen more you'd give me all of those
--

MR. BOUCHER: There were a few other things going on this weekend, too,
yeah. That's what life is like when you're the Secretary of State, I
guess.

QUESTION:  Can I ask about one other?

MR. BOUCHER: Sure. We had another lady who wants to change the subject
of -- but go ahead, George.

QUESTION: Did he talk to Jack Straw about these Britons who will be
tried --

MR. BOUCHER: He did talk to Jack Straw over the weekend, and I don't
have a topic for that one. I'm sorry. He talked to him on Sunday.
Yeah.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: There were elections in Mexico yesterday. Any reaction to
it?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, there were. I can confirm that there were elections.

(Laughter.)

Yesterday's elections, based on the reporting that we have seen, went
quite smoothly. Final results are, I think, expected later today.
Irrespective of the outcome for any one party, I think Mexico --
Mexicans again demonstrated the strength of their democracy and the
vitality of Mexico's democratic institutions. After 70 years of
one-party rule, we think that remains an important -- an enormously
important outcome.

We reiterate our commitment to the strongest of relations with Mexico.
We look forward to continued close cooperation with President Fox and
with the new Chamber of Deputies.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Are you in any way concerned that the
President's party, the PAN, lost ground and that this will make more
difficult for President Fox to push some of the political reforms or
energy reforms that the United States Government is so interested in?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm going to do political commentary and
prediction at this moment. I don't think I'm ever going to do it,
either. But not right now.

The issues, I think, between the United States and Mexico are pretty
fundamental and continuous ones that we all try to work on to advance
them for the benefit of Mexicans and Americans throughout the land. So
how the political scene works out in Mexico is a matter for Mexicans,
but the fact that they had another election that was -- showed the
strength of their institutions, we think is already a good sign.

QUESTION: Have there been any contact after the elections yesterday
between Secretary Powell or someone in the Department --

MR. BOUCHER: I imagine -- I'm certain our Embassy in Mexico City has
been in touch with the Mexicans and usually follows these kinds of
elections very closely. But beyond that, I don't know.

QUESTION: One more on Mexico. Mexico has not agreed to exempt the U.S.
soldiers from the International Court, the Criminal Court, and
nevertheless, Mexico was not included in the list of countries that
you suspended military aid. Why is that?

MR. BOUCHER: I would have to check and see whether exactly -- you have
to be party to the court, a recipient of military aid, not a major
non-NATO ally. There are a number of other criteria. I'm not sure
which ones Mexico meets and doesn't meet. I would have to check.

QUESTION:  Can you take that question?

MR. BOUCHER:  I will have to check and see.  Yeah, I will.

Charlie.

QUESTION: Richard, last week the FBI put out an alert regarding stolen
passports of other countries, over several thousand, I think, Saudi,
Russian, perhaps Mexican passports stolen. Given that members of
al-Qaida have, in the past, used stolen passports, can you tell us
what you know about this and what the Consular Affairs folks, I
assume, are doing more than they usually do just being on the lookout
for stolen passports?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't tell you anything particular about this batch.
You'd have to get that from the FBI. But we have a very, very active
program working with other governments and working with our own
consular officers to make sure that lost and stolen passports are
reported, that they are entered into our databases. The Department
regularly, and for many years, has conveyed information regarding
reported lost and stolen passports to missions abroad and to the
Department, now to the Department of Homeland Security for their ports
of entry.

So we work with other governments. We get to know what's lost, what's
stolen, we enter it into our databases, we alert our missions. And we
actively work, as well, on detection of fraudulent documents. We do a
lot of training of our own personnel to detect fraudulent documents or
passports that may have been -- where the passport blank may have been
stolen and the pictures and the seals and other things might be
fraudulent. So this is an area where we do pay a lot of attention.

QUESTION: There's a follow-up. For instance, in these steps that you
take, would you be informed by these governments of the numbers of
these passports to allow you to be on the lookout more specifically
for certain --

MR. BOUCHER: It depends how good the other government's controls are.
But if a government's -- the other government's controls are fairly
good, they can usually inform us of the exact serial numbers of these
passports so that we can look for those -- any passports in that
series.

QUESTION: Do you have any particular comment to make about Iran saying
today that it's completed a round of missile tests that have a range
sufficient to strike Israel?

MR. BOUCHER: I think first to point out that we have long had very
serious concerns about Iranian missile programs. We've seen Iran's
efforts to develop its missile capabilities, including flight-testing,
as a threat to the region and a threat to U.S. interests in the
region.

Iran has had an active missile program for almost two decades. It has
been in the late stages of developing the 1,000-kilometer-plus
Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile now. It's gotten to that point
in the late stages. We will continue to work with others to address
Iran's missile efforts. We try to work closely with other like-minded
countries in doing so.

Okay.  Let's do some of these, then.

QUESTION: Yes, last Friday, Japanese Diet, congress, passed a law to
-- regarding Iraq reconstruction. And according to its law and some
(inaudible) Japanese Self-Defense troops will be sent to near Baghdad
and joins the reconstruction projects. And I just want to know, is
any, like, comments regarding this issue?

MR. BOUCHER: We have addressed this once or twice here before. We
certainly welcome any contribution that Japan can make. Japan has made
very clear its desire to participate in reconstruction as well as in
helping bring stability to Iraq. That's part of the UN resolution. The
UN resolution encourages all countries to do that and we're very glad
that, in this case, Japan has found a way to do that -- found a number
of ways to do that, frankly.

QUESTION: This one is very significant for Japan because after the
World War II, according to constitution, Japanese constitution,
there's not a big, large, you know, size of self-defense of the troops
are going to be sent to overseas, and this is going to be the first
time for Japanese Self-Defense was sent to -- going to be sent to
Iraq. So it's a size like about thousand, like navy, you know. So is
any, like, you know, some comments regarding this?

MR. BOUCHER: We're aware of that. That's why we welcome it and we
think it's important. What can I say?

Let's do the back and then we'll come back up.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: When the Chinese and Korean President met, Chinese President
Hu said North Korea's stopping of developing of nuclear weapons and
programs should be paired by a security guarantee from some certain
countries. Do you have any comment on that? Is the States ready or
prepared to offer any security guarantee in any way?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, for an interpretation of exactly
what they said, you'll have to go to them. And second of all, on the
question of security, we have made clear that we don't have any
intention of attacking North Korea or invading North Korea. I think
we've made that very clear already. So there's not much more to say on
that, and as far as how it evolves in the course of discussions, let's
have the discussions, let's have the multilateral discussions that the
United States has been seeking. Let's get a verifiable and
irreversible end to their nuclear programs.

QUESTION: On the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister's visit, can you
confirm a press report that he delivered a message from North Korea
that they are willing to do four-way talks that leaves Japan out?

MR. BOUCHER: I was asked that question last Friday and -- Thursday.
Sorry, I wasn't here on Friday. I was asked that question on Thursday,
and as I said back then, we're not aware of any proposal for four-way
talks on Korea. As far as what we discussed with Vice Minister Wang
Yi, I think I will leave it to the explanation we gave last Friday,
though. Okay? Thursday, once again.

QUESTION: Following up on the question about your summit meeting
between South Korea and China, the President Roh pushed the five-party
meeting, maybe based on the agreement between the U.S. and the Japan,
and also South Korea, but the Chinese side, President Hu was very
cautious about the five-party, and so the Chinese side is still
sticking to the three-party meeting. Can you say anything about the
discussions at --

MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't know exactly what you're basing that on. The
Chinese have certainly played a strong role and an important role in
helping these multilateral talks proceed, and I think they fully
understand why we think it's important to have Japan and South Korea
there.

QUESTION: Also, one more, a follow-up just -- I'm sorry. We got some
report from Tokyo two days ago Prime Minister Koizumi is considering
about the --

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, Prime Minister Koizumi already told you that report
was wrong, so I'm not going to comment on it.

QUESTION: Yeah, I just want to ask you, is it appropriate for Prime
Minister Koizumi or President Roh to go to Pyongyang at this moment?

MR. BOUCHER: It's not appropriate for me to comment on a press report
that's already been said to be totally wrong. I'm sorry.

Terri.

QUESTION: Britain has come out and said it has serious concerns about
the British citizens that would be tried at this Guantanamo tribunal.
Have there been any demarches or any other official communications
about these concerns to the U.S. Government?

MR. BOUCHER: I will have to double-check and see. I really hadn't
gotten into that matter. It's military tribunals.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: On Hong Kong. After the over 50 million Hong Kong people
protest on July 1st and after a sudden resign of the chairperson of
the Liberty Party, which -- who is also the logical member, the Hong
Kong Government, actually the Executive Chief Tung Chee Hwa announced
that they would delay the second wait of the proposed national
security law under Article 23. Any comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it was half a million, the people who
demonstrated. But we welcome the Hong Kong Government's July 7th
decision to respond to the calls of the people of Hong Kong and to
delay action and amend Article 23 legislation. This is a positive
development.

We urge the Government of Hong Kong to conduct an open and transparent
process of consultation on this issue.

Chief Executive C.H. Tung's announcement indicates the Hong Kong
Government will take steps to address the deep concerns of the people
of Hong Kong and of the international community. These include
deleting the provision proscribing organizations with mainland
counterparts that are banned on national security grounds and adding a
public interest defense provision.

The controversy surrounding the legislation underscores the great
importance of Hong Kong's move towards democracy. We urge the
government to begin discussion of this essential component of Hong
Kong success in accordance with the basic laws mandate. Hong Kong
should make tangible progress towards the basic laws goal of universal
suffrage, a democratically elected government answerable to the will
of the people, and that's the best way to ensure the protection of
fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.

Okay, one more in there, and then down here and down there.

QUESTION: Just one last on Mexico. Last week, Ambassador Tony Garza
said that he believed there could be a meeting between President Bush
and President Fox before the end of the year. Do you know if any
decision has been taken?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any decision, but you'd have to check
with the White House on the President's meetings.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: I know last Thursday it was brought up about Secretary
Powell's comment that President Khatami is freely elected, but I'm a
little confused. I mean, it seems a bit like a game of pinball. Back
in February, Armitage called Iran a democracy. Phil, last month, in
response to a question, said that Iran actually has elements of
democracy, but is not a democracy. And now we find out that President
Khatami is freely elected.

How, exactly, does the State Department view the Government of Iran?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I would say that there is an
exhaustive discussion of how we view the state of democracy, or lack
thereof, in Iran in our Human Rights Reports, and that's a much more
extensive discussion than any of us are able to give in comments at a
podium somewhere.

We certainly have seen elements of democracy. We've certainly seen
some democratic voting, democratic processes in Iran. But we also know
that the Iranian people are calling for much more democracy and for
real democracy and open democracy. So that remains the area where we
express our support, and we've been quite clear in expressing our
support that the desires for greater democracies by the Iranian --
greater democracy by the Iranian people, that those desires are
heeded.

QUESTION: A follow-up on that. As you pointed out, a lot of the
students are -- and the other demonstrators -- are calling for real
democracy, as you say, and many of them don't see a distinction
between Khatami and the mullahs, given that he was only one of four
candidates out of 238 who was considered acceptable to run --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've tried to draw any great distinction
there, either.

QUESTION: Well, it would see that there was a distinction made by
Secretary Powell, and maybe that was unintentional, in his radio
interview last Wednesday.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he was making a distinction. He was just
noting the fact that there have been, more or less, democratic
elections conducted, that there's --

QUESTION: Right, but freely elected and (inaudible) freedom
(inaudible) isn't there.

MR. BOUCHER: -- truly a desire for greater democracy, and we've made
very clear we stand on the side of those who desire greater democracy.

QUESTION: Fair enough. So do you have a message, then, for the
students who do no believe that President Khatami is, or was, freely
elected and who are going to be demonstrating, most likely, in two
days on the anniversary, on the July 9 anniversary --

MR. BOUCHER: Our message has been and remains that we support
democracy in Iran, like we support it everywhere; that we believe that
the calls of the Iranian people, including the students who are
demonstrating, need to be listened to, need to be heeded; and that the
kind of change that they are asking for would be good for Iran and
good for Iran's place in the world.

QUESTION: On Iraq, it seems as if this tape of -- alleged tape of
Saddam Hussein -- that some officials have suggested that's probably
more likely than not Saddam Hussein. Can you -- is there anything you
can confirm on the record on this?

And then also, how critical --

MR. BOUCHER:  No.

QUESTION: -- is it to finding out whether Saddam is dead or alive in
moving the Iraqi people forward and helping with the reconstruction
effort?

MR. BOUCHER: We dealt, to some extent, with the second question on
Thursday. I don't know that there's that much more to say, but I will
try.

The question of the tape I think I really have to hold off on for a
little bit, and probably sort of, most likely is not exactly the way I
want to stake my turf out here, so we'll wait until there's a
definitive analysis completed, and at this point, I'm not able to give
you one.

In terms of the fact that he may or may not be alive, I think our view
is this probably does affect some attitudes in some places in Iraq and
therefore it's important to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that he's
not coming back. We know he's not coming back. And I think the Iraqi
people need to know that, as well.

The fact is, though, that if you look at the country of Iraq, you see
a great many good things happening in a great many places. I think
most of you understand that a lot of this fighting and these attacks
are confined to an area sort of north of Baghdad in what's called a
triangle sort of up in that area, and that what we're really seeing is
that where we're reaching some success, there are Baathists and others
that want to try to tear it down that are getting desperate to show
the coalition's not succeeding, when, in fact, we are.

So as we get the electricity grid back up and running, then we get
attacks of Baathists or criminal elements against the electricity
grid. As we get the police -- 30,000 of them -- out on the streets, we
get an attack against the police academy. We have students at
universities now -- Baghdad University is fully functional -- and our,
the soldier who was shot over the weekend, was there with one of our
administrators to talk about final exams and the success that they are
having in getting the universities operating again.

So as the education system, the power system or other things get back
up and running, we start finding that there are desperate people that
are trying to attack it. But I think it's important for those people
to be disheartened as fully as possible and to know that Saddam
Hussein is not coming back.

QUESTION: Richard, can you shed any light on who were the names on the
Treasury's OFAC of three people in the Balkans? I can give you the
names, if that helps.

MR. BOUCHER: I know -- well, I don't remember the names, but I've seen
the names. I'm not sure I'm in a position to describe them any
further. I think you'd have to check with OFAC on that.

QUESTION: Okay. So you can't tell us if they were helping Karadzic
evade arrest?

MR. BOUCHER:  No, I don't think so.  I can't.

Okay.  Next time.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)

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