State Department Noon Briefing, July 30, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2003
12:55 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. If I can just note one piece of good news. We are pleased to announce that the Senate confirmed Ambassador Roger F. Noriega on the evening of July 29th to be the State Department's Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
As many of you will know, this is first time in many years, in fact, since 1996, that we have had a confirmation of an Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and we appreciate the effort that the Senate put into confirming Ambassador Noriega for this post. We think his appointment to this key position will strengthen our leadership in the Western Hemisphere and accelerate our efforts to promote democracy, security, human rights, civil society, and expanded trade and investment opportunities in the hemisphere.
So with that announcement, I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Perhaps, if you don't have the answer, then George, I am sure, would. But how many acting assistant secretaries have there been?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's what's called a complicated question. Jeffrey Davidow was the last Assistant Secretary who was confirmed by the Senate, and he was confirmed on August 7th, 1996, and he served until 1999. Since 1999, there were two acting -- two terrific, I am told to say, two great acting assistant secretaries of state. No, we've had some very good people doing this job. I don't want to denigrate in any way their performance or their accomplishments. But there were two that were acting and then there were two who became recess appointments.
QUESTION: Can you name those four?
MR. BOUCHER: The two great acting Assistant Secretaries of state were Curt Struble and Lino Gutierrez. Pete Romero was acting Assistant Secretary for a while and then got a recess appointment. And as we all know, Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich was a recess appointment as well.
QUESTION: Richard, I'm not exactly sure. Why are you congratulating the Senate on doing this? Because --
MR. BOUCHER: We are appreciating the Senate and congratulating Roger.
QUESTION: You should be congratulating, perhaps, the White House and the President for actually nominating someone who is acceptable to the Senate, right?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the White House and the Secretary and the President always choose extremely qualified candidates who should be acceptable, so in this case we appreciate the fact that this has gone through.
All right. This or other things? Mr. Gedda.
QUESTION: Can you talk about Indonesia and the story in the Post about the supposed release of $400,000 in military aid? Can you do that, or the Pentagon?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, International Military Education and Training programs do come under our budget, but at this point we're consulting with the Congress regarding a disbursement of Fiscal Year 2003 International Military Education and Training funds for Indonesia. After the consultations are complete, we'll decide whether to move ahead with the courses for Indonesian military personnel.
QUESTION: They can do it in enough time to then -- they're not parties to the Rome Treaty?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't have that list with me.
QUESTION: Yeah, Liberia. Do you have anything to add to what Mr. Kansteiner said in Conakry, perhaps anything to say more about your suspicions about assistance to the rebels coming from neighboring states, and what the status is a little bit more detailed than what the President said, if there is any more detail to be said?
MR. BOUCHER: All right, let me try to do some of that.
No, I don't have anything more to say about assistance from neighboring states. To the extent it can be covered, I think we have done that.
In terms of the situation, the status of the situation, both on the ground and our discussions, let me sort of do the bigger picture for you there. There are conflicting reports, frankly, about how much fighting is going on. There was apparently a point earlier today when fighting had stopped. There are now press reports that indicate some heavy fighting may have started again.
We understood earlier today that negotiations were continuing on a potential ceasefire. And, certainly, we have been pressing very hard on all of the parties to reach a ceasefire. We have been doing this through our diplomats in Accra, where all of the parties are for the ceasefire talks, in Monrovia itself with the government, and in Conakry.
As you know, Assistant Secretary Kansteiner has just been there pressing all of the parties to halt the fighting and allow humanitarian assistance to go back into the country and help the people of Liberia. Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner is now leaving Guinea. He is on his way to Accra where he'll meet with the parties there.
And the Economic Community of West African States are scheduled to hold a heads of state summit there tomorrow to talk about next steps in dealing with the situation. And so Assistant Secretary Kansteiner is headed that way to meet with them, and we have other people on the ground, including military representatives, who are working with the West Africans there.
We have been in touch with the Movement for Democracy in Liberia. We have urged them in the strongest terms to cease their advance. The continued advance beyond Buchanan would undermine all the efforts being made to deploy an international force, and the efforts to reach a peace agreement. So we have made very clear to them that they are responsible for their actions and we expect them to cease their advance and abide by the ceasefire.
QUESTION: All right. So -- oh, you've got more?
MR. BOUCHER: Just to sum it up, what we're doing is working with all of the West African states to achieve a ceasefire and the deployment of the peacekeepers. I would note as well, though, that we're also tabling today a UN resolution in New York.
The Secretary General, as you know, wrote a letter to the Security Council on July 29th, yesterday. We believe our draft responds to all the issues that he raised in that letter. We have been consulting closely with other Security Council members about an appropriate UN mandate for a multilateral national force in Liberia to support a ceasefire. We have taken those consultations into account and we'll continue to discuss the resolution with them, now that we're introducing a draft.
The draft that we're introducing, the language, as I said, is going to be discussed with other countries. We will be in consultations with them. Basically, what it is intended to do is to authorize the deployment of a Multinational Force under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. It would grant authority for peacekeepers to support a ceasefire and to provide a secure environment for humanitarian deliveries, and it would declare the Council's readiness to move rapidly to establish a follow-on UN stabilization force that could take over.
As I said, I think this draft responds to the issues that the Secretary General raised in his July 29th letter, and we look forward to discussing it further with members of the Council.
QUESTION: On the draft, does that mean that this, that there is -- that this, what you're putting on the -- what you're tabling today, is different than the draft that you had circulating yesterday before the letter?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been modifications made along the way. We think it speaks to the same issues that the Secretary General was talking to -- about in his letter. And but there is text changing all the time because it's a process of consultation.
QUESTION: And has that happened? Have you actually done it now or is it supposed to be --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was -- it was going to be done in a meeting that was in session as I came out here, so whether they've actually done it inside the room or not, I don't know.
QUESTION: Okay, and then back to the situation on the ground. A couple days ago, you wanted the MODEL, the Movement for Democracy, not to go into Buchanan at all. Have you basically conceded that they've got it, because today you say continued events beyond there would be -- could be bad.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think we know that their forces are present there. We have --
QUESTION: You don't want them to leave? That's okay with State?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, eventually, all this needs to be sorted out. The point, I think, at this stage is to stop the fighting, get the ceasefire to stop, to get a permissive environment so that peacekeepers can go in, stabilize the situation, and then resolve the issues through negotiation in Accra.
QUESTION: Specifically on that, what are the consequences, then, if MODEL does not heed your call and does, in fact, advance beyond Buchanan?
MR. BOUCHER: The consequences for the people of the area are obviously difficultly fighting and continued humanitarian problems for the people of Liberia. In terms of the consequences in the discussions and the status of the group, I think that will have to play itself out over time.
QUESTION: You're not being specific.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to issue consequences at this point. There is obviously consequences of these kinds of behaviors when you're in a negotiating situation, when you're trying to look forward to the future.
QUESTION: But you don't want them to leave Buchanan? That's no longer -- now that they've gotten there and taken it, you're dropping your objection to them being there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- we want people to withdraw from territories that they've occupied and to work this out and to get to places and leave the people of Liberia to live in peace. At the same time, the immediate goal is to stop the fighting and provide an environment so that peacekeepers can go in and these issues can be settled peacefully.
QUESTION: Richard, does the draft refer in any way to the ECOWAS force, and how are these two forces going to relate to each other?
And then second, do you have a date for when actually you'll have a vote or you'll propose a vote on --
MR. BOUCHER: Don't have a date for a vote yet. Clearly, we've done some consulting already. We'll do more consulting in the Council. The Secretary General has written to Council saying what he expects, and I think our draft responds to that. So we would hope that this would move rather quickly.
As far as reference to the ECOWAS force, yes. Yeah, that's the correct answer. I don't remember. We'll have to check and tell you later.
QUESTION: You could give us the draft.
MR. BOUCHER: The correct answer is: I don't remember. We'll get it to you later and make sure.
QUESTION: What would the U.S. component to this UN peacekeeping force be? As you know, Kofi Annan would like the U.S. to take a leading role.
MR. BOUCHER: We're going to support the West African states as they go in --
QUESTION: I'm talking about the UN part of it.
MR. BOUCHER: We're going to support the West African states as they go in. As we've said before, and I think the President said again today, we haven't decided whether we support that with actual military deployments. Certainly, we will have ships offshore. We have provided already $10 million in a contract for logistic support. So there are a variety of kinds of support from the United States. Whether that involves soldiers deployed on the ground, that's a decision the President will have to make at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: So, at this stage, according -- under this draft resolution, there will not be UN -- a U.S. component to --
MR. BOUCHER: The resolution -- it doesn't talk about specific countries. You just asked whether supports refers directly to the West African deployments, which is what it is basically intended to do, and I said I'd have to check the text. But it doesn't refer to any other countries, like the United States, being part or not part of this.
QUESTION: Do you --
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) The resolution does cover an ECOWAS deployment, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: To be followed by a UN deployment. It covers them both? It's not a --
MR. BOUCHER: The resolution endorses what is being planned and what is going on, what is being planned by the West African states, what is being discussed with other members of the international community about a follow-on stabilization force. It supports the whole pattern that the Secretary General has talked about, that we have talked about: a vanguard of West African troops, meaning the Nigerians, going in soon, to be followed by a broader West African deployment, and then to be replaced by a more formal UN peacekeeping stabilization force that would be drawn from other countries.
But the language of the resolution itself is general so that it covers all those things. Whether it refers specifically to any of them is something I'll check.
QUESTION: Are there funding problems that are keeping the Nigerians from going in, or is it just the absence of the ceasefire?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a process that has been developing. I think you have all tracked it fairly closely with us here, as we have gone from the concept to moving closer and closer to working with them to identify the units, to identify the support, provide the assistance, make sure the transport was there. There have been a series of detailed military meetings this week. There will be another heads of state meeting tomorrow. So it's a process that's been developing. Clearly, the continuation of the fighting creates concerns and complicates that.
So alongside of the movement towards deployment has been an effort to try to get the parties to abide by the ceasefire. So those are two efforts underway. When they will converge, I can't tell you exactly at this point. But we would expect the vanguard of the West African forces to go in fairly soon.
QUESTION: This summit meeting you mentioned, is that an ECOWAS summit, or is it just selective ECOWAS countries?
MR. BOUCHER: It's described as an ECOWAS summit, but I don't know for sure how many will be there. In think, principally, it will be the people involved in the military aspects of this.
QUESTION: In this draft, is there specific language delineating increased funding from -- for this force that could go in from American -- from America? You mentioned you had already -- already given $10 million. But is there a language saying that they will give "X" amount more?
MR. BOUCHER: No, you don't do that in UN resolutions. UN resolutions, you provide the framework, you provide the mandate, you provide the goals of the mission, and you ask member states to contribute. And, certainly, the United States will consider -- has considered how it can support this deployment.
We'll be supporting it financially. We're supporting it with logistics and advice and coordination. We will be having, as you know, some shifts in the area, and the President will decide what further support we need to provide.
QUESTION: Both the President and Secretary Powell today again said that Charles Taylor has to leave. Have you been in touch with Charles Taylor? And do you have any new assurances that he does, in fact, plan to do so?
MR. BOUCHER: We are in touch with the Government of Liberia, whether it's -- at what point when we last talked to him directly, I don't know -- but we're certainly in touch with people from his government, people involved with him. We have consistently made clear that they need to abide by the commitment. I don't know when the last time was that they said they would. He said it in public not too many days ago.
QUESTION: Four days ago. But in the last few days?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, again --
QUESTION: He could keep changing his mind, so --
MR. BOUCHER: It's a commitment that he has made, and he has made fairly consistently, that we would expect him to keep.
QUESTION: Does the UN resolution address the issue of Taylor at all, in terms of, is the follow-on force contingent upon his departure?
MR. BOUCHER: There is a point that the details of the resolution need to be discussed with other countries before I start trying to discuss them and describe them here. I have tried to give you the general sense of the thrust of the resolution or what it tries to do, but I am not going to be able to get into all of the aspects of this.
QUESTION: In terms of Taylor leaving, are there discussions underway for others to go with him, others in the government, or others that have supported him? Is that part of the discussions?
MR. BOUCHER: Do you mean others, like beyond family members?
QUESTION: Yes, yes, supporters who might not be desire --
MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I'd say for that is that there are discussions underway in Accra where they -- remember they agreed in the preliminary agreement to have -- form a transitional authority.
And so, as they discussed the comprehensive agreement that they have been working on there, and where the -- I think it's General Abubakar, who has been trying to shepherd those talks along, they have been discussing the transitional arrangements and how those should be constituted, as well as the comprehensive arrangements of how the government should be constituted, how the political transition can go forward. So all those issues get involved with how the government gets organized.
QUESTION: Richard, with respect to the rebel forces, you say that it's in their interest, it's in the interest of the Liberian people, that they not move beyond Monrovia -- I'm sorry -- not Monrovia.
MR. BOUCHER: Buchanan.
QUESTION: Buchanan, thank you. The other American -- but what kind of guarantee, if any, is the U.S. willing to offer these rebels that their voice would be included once there is a ceasefire? I mean, they want to control the country. You're asking them --
MR. BOUCHER: These groups participate in the talks. They have participated in the talks. They have reached agreements in the talks. All we're asking them to do, frankly, is to abide by the commitments they made, and that they themselves have broken.
And, clearly, their behavior at this stage, having made agreements to a ceasefire, and having continued their advance, is going to affect the kind of the role that one would expect them to play in the future. So they are -- they have a voice. They have a role in the negotiations. And that's where we expect them to exercise their voice.
QUESTION: Okay. And I'd also like to just follow on to what George was asking you earlier.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Nigerians have signaled that they are concerned about lack of money being there to help to support this vanguard that's going in. Is the U.S. -- or is the U.S. in touch with any governments that might be prepared to offer more money to -- as an incentive to try to allay their concerns?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we have provided $10 million already to support the peacekeepers, support the ECOWAS deployments. We are considering -- we have pledged our support for these deployments. We have provided some already. We'll consider what more we need to do as things develop. But we have made an initial contribution certainly, and would expect to provide additional support.
QUESTION: Can we talk a little bit more about Kansteiner's talks in Guinea, whether he got satisfactory answers out of them about their borders and what they might do?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't go into any more detail at this point. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Why is that?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't have the reporting and it's a topic, also, that we haven't been able to talk too much about.
QUESTION: What's the rest of his -- do you know anything more about his schedule now, that he'll be in Accra and then --
MR. BOUCHER: He's going on to Accra, yeah.
QUESTION: And then?
MR. BOUCHER: He stopped in Paris on the way, had some discussions with the French, and then went down to Monrovia -- to Guinea -- I'm sorry -- Conakry.
MR. BOUCHER: And now he's on to Accra.
QUESTION: And you would expect he's coming back from there or --
MR. BOUCHER: I would expect he's coming back from that, but I'm not certain.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: New subject? Okay, Jonathan.
QUESTION: The Chinese company that's had their new, a new layer of -- level of sanctions imposed on it, what have they done to deserve those, exactly?
MR. BOUCHER: On July 30th, 2003, today, the United States imposed nonproliferation penalties pursuant to Executive Order 12938 on the Chinese entity, Chinese Precision -- China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation. The penalties were imposed because the United States Government determined that this entity contributed materially to the efforts of a foreign country to use, acquire, design, develop, produce or stockpile missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. The penalties were announced today in the Federal Register and I think that's where you have the scope of --
QUESTION: Yeah, but what exactly did they do?
MR. BOUCHER: They provided material contribution to a foreign country, which I can't name, in the area of missiles.
QUESTION: I didn't -- I looked at it very briefly but it didn't seem -- these sanctions didn't seem to have a time scale on them, or perhaps I missed that. Do you have that?
MR. BOUCHER: The Executive Order -- you're right. The penalties are -- remain in force until we determine that it is in the foreign policy or national security interests of the United States to lift them, or until we determine that there has been reliable evidence that the entity's proliferation activity has ceased.
QUESTION: So they're indefinite?
MR. BOUCHER: So they're until they stop -- until they cease the activities or we decide for other reasons it's time to lift them.
QUESTION: And they're already under some kind of sanctions?
MR. BOUCHER: They are under sanctions from previous activity. I know that's in here somewhere. Oh, it was previously sanctioned pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act in May of 2202 and June 2003, and they are under the missile -- and sanctions under the Missile Sanctions Law in 1991. So there are a variety of penalties that already apply.
QUESTION: So this other country is not Iran? Is that a fair conclusion?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't draw any conclusion about what it is or it isn't.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you a question -- four -- three questions concerning Iran. Apparently, the Vice President of Iran has said that the recent Canadian journalist was murdered, beaten to death -- and that's a quote -- and also that there are reports that Iran is now taking over where Iraq left off, paying out monies to suicide families, suicide bombers' families, and helping to again arm both Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Do you have any comments concerning this?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as far as Iran's support for terrorist groups and Iran's support for groups that oppose to the peace process, I don't think that's new, unfortunately. It's been an ongoing matter of concern, a matter that we've raised on a very frequent basis.
Similarly, I would say that Iran's behavior in the area of human rights and the treatment of detainees like this Canadian journalist has been something that we have spoken out very often about because it's a situation that's has greatly concerned us for a long period of time.
Okay. You had another subject?
QUESTION: Richard, yesterday, Saudi Foreign Minister tried his best to find out what's in the 29 or so blank pages, but he failed. Now, the question is in order to -- this is a non sequitur in the past. Saudis have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of charity, and number of people connected with charity also were arrested here in the United States.
Have they stopped this now for the future?
MR. BOUCHER: As you correctly note, the issue of charitable giving has been an important one because many of the people who give to charities want to know their money goes to the right -- to the intended recipients. And many of the charities that we've looked at were funneling money into the terrorist groups, so that we have worked internationally with other governments, including with Saudi Arabia, to tighten up control on charities.
I think the Saudi Foreign Minister yesterday spoke about the many steps that Saudi Arabia had taken and we certainly appreciate all those steps that they have taken to try to ensure that money that is given to charity goes to charity and does not end up in the hands of terrorists.
Similarly, in the United States, we have had a series of actions by the Justice Department that have to do with charities in the United States that we believe were funneling money to terrorist groups. So it's been an item on the international agenda, one where the United States and Saudi Arabia have cooperated very well, and we think achieved a considerable amount of progress.
QUESTION: Another question on India?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Just like in the Middle East, Israel has built a fence to stop terrorists, India is extending now fence in Kashmir to stop infiltrations and cross-border terrorism. So what do you think about this fence India is building?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess I have to reject the contention that it's just like in the Middle East. I think these are two different fences. There are a lot of fences along borders around the world. The issue with the fence that Israel is putting up, the problem that the President has talked about, is because building this fence involves taking land, it prejudices or might be seen to prejudice the outcome of future discussions, and it basically complicates the situation of trying to achieve progress that can result in real security for both sides through cooperation and through shared security, through each side taking its responsibilities. And so that's why we've made clear that we think the -- that this particular fence is a problem. It doesn't mean fences are bad all over the world.
QUESTION: Finally, India's argument is really that infiltration and cross-border terrorism have not stopped despite even U.S. efforts and between U.S., India and Pakistan, all those efforts have failed so far, that's why they have to take this action.
MR. BOUCHER: Is that a question?
QUESTION: To build the fence. I mean, and where do we stand with cross-border terrorism have not stopped? That's what the --
MR. BOUCHER: I think on cross-border terrorism, it remains a very important issue to us. It remains one that we follow very closely and we continue to discuss with the parties because we do think it's important to stop the terrorism in this area and stop the camps, and to make sure that nobody's territory is being used as a place to sponsor terrorism against its neighbors.
QUESTION: Richard, the President, at his press conference this morning, talked about having spoken to the Chinese President about North Korea, among other things. I'm wondering if there's anything this building has to add to that situation, if there are any developments at all, or if you're expecting any.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the simple answer is no, not at this moment. But we have, as you know, talked extensively with the Chinese and kept in touch with the Chinese, but at this point we don't have any new developments. We've continued to look for multilateral discussions that can deal with the problems of North Korea's nuclear developments. We continue to look for international participation so that we can all see the verifiable and irreversible end of North Korea's nuclear programs, and we've made proposals for multilateral talks which we would hope the North Koreans would agree to.
QUESTION: Is the position on Russia still the same? Because the President seemed to say that you guys wanted to -- you guys wanted to go to six. And I realize that you think that that's a good idea, but that you don't -- you haven't made, at least what you said yesterday, you haven't made Russia's inclusion a requirement, as you have made Japan and South Korea's inclusion.
So is that still the same?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it's still the same. I mean, the President, I think, said quite clearly we want -- we would like it to be six, we want the Japanese, the Koreans and the Russians added to this, we think they all have an important role to play in the situation. But we have also indicated the most important two of those are the Japanese and the South Koreans, who are a little more directly involved.
QUESTION: Richard, on that, do you think that the North Koreans are more likely to go for your proposal if Russia is included? In other words, do they see the addition -- could they -- might they see the addition of Russia as a positive thing for them? In other words --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to divine the secrets of the North Korean mind or predict how they will think about this or feel about that. What I would say is it's in North Korea's interest to have these other parties there because these are the other parties that have an important role in North Korea's future, that have an important role in whether or not North Korea gets the benefits of opening up, that have an important role in whatever potential North Korea might have to better take care of its people. And so one would think that North Korea might want some of these parties there in order to see that whatever agreement is worked out can be, first of all, abided by and verified, but also can result in the kinds of things that they want out of the equation.
QUESTION: Let me put it another way, then. Did you start talking about six instead of five because you thought the North Koreans -- because you thought it was more likely to be acceptable to the North Koreans?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we've really talked about five or six all along. We've emphasized, first, Japan and South Korea, but I think we've always made clear our preference to see Russia there as well. And we do that because that's what we think is the best way to address the issue and to solve the situation.
QUESTION: One question, although I know we have shifted to another subject. But you said that you reject the notion that the fence in Indian-occupied Kashmir was the same as Israelis building, and you did explain what it meant in Israel, but I'm not so clear --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment on other fences. The issue is not fences per se.
QUESTION: Which side of the fence you are on? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: No, that's not even on which side of the fence you may be next to or on top of. It's a matter of what is going on in the circumstances that we see between Israel and the Palestinians.
QUESTION: Okay. So the Indian fence you're just sitting on?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we're not taking a position on the fence.
QUESTION: No, no, but let me follow up that United States and other Security Council members had supported the placement of UN observer groups, so you have already taken a side in the United Nations. Now, wouldn't it be a good idea for U.S. to at least push the Indians to place UN observer group on their side so we have an objective assessment? U.S. has already taken a side in UN Security Council, so --
MR. BOUCHER: Look, the U.S. has supported UN Security Council resolution on this subject in the past, but the United States position and the United States activity and the United States effort has been, first, to work with both India and Pakistan to develop our own relationships with India and Pakistan, and these are two relationships, each of which is very important to us and each of which is achieved with a fair amount of progress and benefit for both -- for our country and the counterparts over the last several years.
So, on that basis, we have also been looking to see what we could do to help them resolve the problems between them and to help them move to a point where they can deal more specifically with some of these issue as part of the overall effort to get them to improve their relationships. That's where we've put our effort into, and that's where we continue to put our effort.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Richard, why have you changed the status of Rwanda under the Arms Export Control Act?
MR. BOUCHER: We have?
QUESTION: It's just above the Chinese sanctions.
MR. BOUCHER: Must not have been in my copy this morning. That's the part that got rained on. I'll check for you and see what we can give you.
QUESTION: I am wondering if you had occasion to see Philip Agee's vitriolic column in Grandma this morning in which he attacks not just U.S. policy on Cuba, but also personally attacks Mr. Cason, the head of your Interests Section down there in some very unflattering ways. And if you have seen it, if you have anything to say about it.
MR. BOUCHER: I am afraid my copy of Grandma must have been under the copy of the Federal Register that I didn't finish reading. (Laughter.)
No, I haven't seen it. I'm not too surprised by what I hear. And no, I'm not surprised that the Cuban Government, or people who tend to automatically sympathize with them, would be against the activities of our Interests Section down there to reach out to all the members of the Cuban society and to meet people who are part of Cuba's nation as a whole.
QUESTION: There is a freelance American journalist that's been jailed in Indonesia for, apparently, dealing with separatists in Sumatra Island. Any comment concerning that?
MR. BOUCHER: This is the case of Mr. William Nessen. We have been working with him and keeping in close touch with him for some time now. The trial of Mr. Nessen closed on July 30th. He had legal representation and he testified during the trial. A consular official from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta attended the trial. The consular official remains in Banda Aceh and continues to provide all possible assistance to Mr. Nessen.
The reading of the verdict is scheduled for August 2nd, and the consular official will be in attendance at the reading. That's where things stand.
QUESTION: Do we take a stand? Do you take a stand on the --
MR. BOUCHER: We have tried to do everything possible to make sure that he got a fair trial and appropriate legal representation, and whatever other assistance we could provide.
QUESTION: And regardless of the verdict, is the assessment that he did get a fair trial, at the moment?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not prepared to give an assessment until the trial is over, that's for sure.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) clear that whole trial and detainment justified by the Indonesians?
MR. BOUCHER: That's sort of the same question. I'm not prepared to give a judgment on the whole until the whole is finished.
We've got one more? Sir.
QUESTION: Yes. There was a story on the front page of the Post today about this Padilla guy who has been detained, he cannot see his lawyers, he has no access to the phone, he cannot get his mail, blah, blah, blah. And you just were complaining about the human rights violations in Iran. So is Iran doing worse than this?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, you can read --
QUESTION: There are no rights for the accused, so what could be worse?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, let's don't be ridiculous. The detentions in Iran, the trials in Iran, the system of justice in Iran, has been completely unlike any kind of system of justice where the basic protections exist. If you want to know more about the conditions in the United States and the trials that are conducted in the United States, you can check with the Department of Justice on this issue.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:50 p.m.)
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