State Department Noon Briefing, September 10, 2003
September 10, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2003
1:00 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: I'm happy to see you all here, and I have one thing that I do want to talk about, and that's trafficking in persons. The White House has put out a short statement to indicate the President has notified Congress that ten countries that were on the tier three, the Trafficking in Persons list from earlier this year, have made significant progress and therefore are being moved up to tier two, and thereby have avoided possible sanctions under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
This is in recognition of their quick work to address problems that existed with regard to their trafficking in persons policy, and so we are very pleased today to announce that this excellent progress has been made in these countries and that the United States has worked very closely with these countries over the past three months to achieve it.
There's been several months of very intensive effort on behalf of diplomats in the field and foreign governments that have made the commitment to fighting trafficking in persons more effective. These efforts merited raising our ratings on the countries, on these ten countries' anti-trafficking performance. The ten countries are: Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Suriname, Turkey and Uzbekistan. All these countries have made important progress. Some have passed legislation. Victims' support programs have been started. They've arrested and prosecuting traffickers. There have been public service announcements and awareness campaigns. In every one of these countries, public officials spoke out on this important human rights issue.
This is the first year that the President was required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to make determinations regarding countries placed on tier three in the report, and sanctions were required. Unfortunately, there are still five countries that did not make improvements and are still in the tier three, under the tier three standard. Those countries are Burma, Cuba, Liberia, North Korea and Sudan.
The President, acting on the recommendations of the Secretary, determined that sanctions will be imposed on Burma, Cuba and North Korea. While Liberia and Sudan are also subject to sanctions, the President determined that certain multilateral assistance for these two countries would promote the purposes of the act or is otherwise in our national interest, and so he has made the appropriate determinations that some certain bilateral -- multilateral assistance can continue. In the case of Sudan, that's assistance -- excuse me. In the case of Sudan, this means assistance that would support a peace accord. In both cases, I would point out that humanitarian assistance is not affected.
So that is a determination that the President has notified the Congress of based on recommendations he received from the Secretary of State, and I think a remarkable amount of progress that we've been able to make in three months through effective diplomacy using the Act and the effort of our diplomats and the effort of foreign countries to really address a very important issue.
So, with that, I'd be glad to take your questions on this or other matters.
QUESTION: Not on this.
MR. BOUCHER: Start on this? Any particulars?
MR. BOUCHER: All right. For those who are interested, we'll put out a more complete statement and the Press Office will have more specific information.
QUESTION: The President is withholding a judgment on the new Palestinian Prime Minister. I wondered if here at State there's any indication of who might be in the cabinet, and how important is it who he appoints, for instance, as security or interior minister?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we note that that process -- we note that he has accepted the nomination or the request to form a cabinet and that the process of cabinet formation has begun. As I think the President made some reference to and the White House has said, it's essential the next Prime Minister have the authority and the control of the security forces and the finances of the Palestinian Authority to stop terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The issue is taking action to fight terror.
So we urge that Mr. Qureia's cabinet appointments reflect candidates free from associations with terror and violence, committed to acting decisively on reform, and peace negotiations that will benefit all Palestinians. I understand the way it works, he has three weeks to form a cabinet and, if he needs it, can get a further two-week extension.
A new Palestinian cabinet must make clear its opposition to all forms of terrorism, demand that all acts of terrorism cease, and insist that terrorists and military organizations not under the control of Palestinian Authority be disarmed and dismantled.
Our representatives in the region have continued their meetings. Our Acting Consulate General Jeff Feltman has met with Mr. Qureia today again. He and Ambassador Wolf have continued to meet and speak with a wide variety of Israeli and Palestinian officials on a daily basis and to encourage both sides to recommit themselves to finding a way forward toward the President's two-state vision.
QUESTION: Prime Minister Qureia is proposing to create a kind of national council for security in charge of supervising all the security agencies. Does it seem to you a good idea, this step?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's for us to specify the exact governing arrangements. The point that we've made is there needs to be a commitment, there needs to be authority, and there needs to be resources in the hands of the government to be able to effectively use the security services against the terrorist organizations. It will be for them to figure out how exactly that can be done.
QUESTION: Yes, this is Nayyar Zaidi from Daily Jang in Pakistan. I didn't know we would move so fast to Middle East, but I want to go back to the trafficking in persons.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: This trafficking obviously involves trafficking abroad, like exporting human beings to other countries, or is it only internal?
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's all forms of forced labor, forced prostitution, trafficking in persons. I think there are estimates, you know, of 50,000 people who are trafficked into the United States. So it's just -- it's a problem for countries where people are being taken, it's a problem for countries where they're showing up, and it's a problem that we think the whole world needs to work together against.
QUESTION: Yeah, this is what I was coming to. Is United States the only country, or is it in Europe, number one?
And number two, in case of, say, nuclear technology, we fault the person who has exported the technology and the person who imported it. Now, in this case, are the countries which are getting these people, like 50,000 in United States, are taking any responsibility?
MR. BOUCHER: These are the countries covered in the report. They are placed in different categories. Okay? It covers any country in the world where this problem exists in one form or the other is covered. Every country is expected to take action, whether people are trafficked out of that country or into that country, or within that country. There may be forced labor in some of these cases inside the country where we do expect people to take action against the -- take the government -- governments to take action.
The United States has passed comprehensive legislation, the United States has taken any number of steps of public awareness, of law enforcement action, arrest, prosecution, and we are acting domestically as well as through the domestic agencies, as well as part of our international agenda to work with other governments so we can effectively all fight this problem wherever it exists.
QUESTION: Do you know, coming back to the Middle East for a second, the President called for the Prime Minister-designate to get control of all of the security forces and unleash them on the militants. Absent his ability to do that, are you simply reconciled to the prospect of continuing violence? Do you see any other options, policy options, for you?
MR. BOUCHER: The question is sort of -- I need to separate out the pieces, because it's really three different questions. Are we -- you know, absent his ability to do that, to get control of security services, I think I would complete the sentence by saying, "Absent the ability of the government to get control of the security services and use them effectively against terrorist groups, it will be impossible to make progress on the roadmap, to make progress towards the two-state vision, to achieve what the Palestinian people say they want, which is to build the institutions of their own state."
So, absent progress on security, we really think it's -- we don't see how you can make progress on creating a Palestinian state and that these bombers, in addition to harming innocent people, have harmed the lives of Palestinians, but have also harmed the ability of Palestinians to achieve their dreams and their aspirations.
The second part is: Are we reconciled to continuing violence, if this doesn't happen the way we want? And I think the answer has to be no, we'll continue to work against violence. But -- or is there any other way? I think we've also made clear that we don't think there's any other way. The roadmap lays out how to achieve the President's vision of two states living side by side. As the President noted again this morning, the roadmap is there as the mechanism to achieve that vision, and we need to -- we need to continue to focus on the steps that both sides need to take as we move forward, the key one at this juncture we think being to end the activities of these violence groups.
QUESTION: Do you get the sense from what he has said so far, that he has any intention of getting a grip on the security services?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think one can judge a government until it's formed, until it starts taking action. But we have made the point -- I made it again today -- that as he forms the cabinet, it needs to be a cabinet that is committed to progress, and that the cabinet needs to make clear it's opposition to all forms of terrorism, and its desire to move forward in a peaceful manner to achieving a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: Can you tell us why Mr. -- I'm sorry, go ahead --
QUESTION: No, no.
QUESTION: Why Mr. Armitage has decided not go, not to carry through on what he said were his plans to go to the Middle East?
MR. BOUCHER: The Deputy Secretary talked to you all, I think, or talked to various media about the prospects of a trip. As it came to putting together that trip, there were questions of scheduling, there were questions of timing, there were questions of formation of the Palestinian Government, and we're coming right up on the General Assembly, when most of the people will be traveling to New York anyway. So, in the end, it wasn't possible to put together the kind of trip he was looking at in this immediate time frame and thought it was better to postpone it till later.
QUESTION: What kind of trip was he looking at? Was it a sort of Middle East peace process trip, or was it more Arab capitals or --
MR. BOUCHER: He was looking at a number of stops, and will continue to look at a number of stops as we think about a later trip.
QUESTION: Are you thinking he will possibly take a trip later this year, or is it sort of --
MR. BOUCHER: I'd expect something later in the fall, yeah. That's what they're thinking about now, yeah.
QUESTION: Can all this happen with Arafat on the premises, all the things the U.S. wants to see happen, like security forces under one command?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. It's a question of will, it's a question of desire, it's a question of --
QUESTION: Whose will?
MR. BOUCHER: The will of all the people in the Palestinian community. The Palestinian legislature obviously has a lot of say over powers. The individuals involved in the political process have a lot of say over the powers. I think we're pointing to objective fact that we hope others would realize, that we're not going to make progress on the Palestinian agenda until the Palestinians make progress in eliminating the terrorist groups.
QUESTION: So I guess that means the administration's position on exile hasn't changed.
MR. BOUCHER: Hasn't changed. The Secretary restated it on Sunday.
QUESTION: Richard, nearby in Syria, the government has been shuffled there. Do you, in talking to Bashar there, do you expect the same type thing in the formation of their new government?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing particular to say about that situation, no.
QUESTION: Do you find it encouraging that Assad seems to be following through? He said he needed a more reform-minded government in --
MR. BOUCHER: We'll see what emerges. I don't have anything to say at this moment.
QUESTION: Richard, if I could just go back to Arafat for one minute, please. I know you've said this before, but in light of the latest attacks, why does the U.S. believe that expelling Arafat is not the solution to the current impasse, crisis?
MR. BOUCHER: For the reasons the Secretary said on TV on Saturday -- Sunday.
QUESTION: Well, if you could just -- (laughter).
QUESTION: For 35 seconds.
QUESTION: Preferably ten. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: Six and a half. I don't -- I don't have the transcripts with me.
The United States has made clear our view that Arafat is not part of the solution, he's part of the problem. But at the same time, as I think the Secretary has made clear, the Israelis need to think about potential actions, this discussion of expelling Arafat, because we don't see how it would be any better if he was outside the country working the capitals of the world. Pretty much the way he put it.
QUESTION: He would be more vocal and more extreme, so keeping him in the occupied territory will contain him? That's what we understand?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't understand it one way or the other. We just don't see how it would help the situation or help anybody move forward towards a more peaceful situation for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
QUESTION: Is it better than being confined to Ramallah?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to dictate any particular treatment or location. We don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about Mr. Arafat any more.
QUESTION: Yes, sir, Nayyar Zaidi again.
MR. BOUCHER: I know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, I was looking for that. (Laughter.)
So, Mr. Arafat, we keeping hearing, you know, various solutions to getting him out of the way, and what kind of obstruction is he putting up to the peace process? I mean, he has been a leader, for, God knows, 35 years, and he should have the cause of Palestinians at heart. So what kind of political or other obstructions is he putting up that people are saying that he is part of the problem?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, we've talked about this many times over many years, including in the President's speech last -- a year ago, June 24th. The most recent question that's come up is whether or not he is going to allow the control and consolidation of the security services under a government that was chosen by the Palestinian legislature to take authority for the Palestinian Authority.
QUESTION: You took from him the financial control. Now you want security. He will be left with nothing.
MR. BOUCHER: You sound like we're picking his pocket. (Laughter.) We're not.
The Palestinians are establishing institutions that can support a state. Let's not forget what this is all about. This is about creating a Palestinian state that can take responsibility in its own areas, that can have responsibility vis-à-vis its own people and vis-à-vis its neighbors.
If you're going to create those institutions, you have to operate on a transparent and solid and legal basis, and that's what the Palestinian legislature has tried to do in giving the authorities to the government, that's what the Palestinian Government has done in terms of finance, and that's what the Palestinian Government needs to do in terms of security as well. You can't have a government competing with armed groups. No country has a government that has to rival other armed groups for control of the security situation, at least not voluntarily. And therefore, if we're talking about creating institutions that can support a Palestinian state, we're talking about a Palestinian Government that can take responsibility in all areas of government.
QUESTION: New subject? What's your reaction to the Security Council deciding to postpone the Libya vote -- Lockerbie vote, the Libya vote?
MR. BOUCHER: As you noted yesterday, the Security Council went on record publicly in adopting an agenda item that includes a vote on the resolution to lift UN sanctions on Libya. That meeting will now convene on Friday, September 12th, at 10:30 in the morning.
The United States agreed to this formal procedural motion essentially allowing a short additional period of time while, at the same time, making the Council's intent to vote on Friday in order to resolve the matter in a way that would ultimately result in adoption of the resolution.
Nevertheless, we are very disappointed that the vote did not take place yesterday. Our hearts go out to the victims of -- to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing who have been waiting so patiently for some closure.
We strongly regret that the families were faced with the situation of having to wait again, for the fourth time, for a vote in order to avoid a French veto of this resolution. We do think the time is past due for bringing this resolution to a vote, but given the circumstances in the Council yesterday feel that this is the best that could be worked out.
We are satisfied that there is a strong commitment on the part of Council members to proceed to a vote this coming Friday.
I would note also that later yesterday Ambassador Negroponte, along with UK Ambassador Jones Parry and the Bulgarian Ambassador Tafrov met with the victims' families at the U.S. Mission to confer and discuss the situation.
QUESTION: Has France given you any indications that it will not veto on Friday?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware of anything like that. You'd have to ask the French what their intentions are.
QUESTION: Is this the final date, Richard, or is there a chance it will be postponed again?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a firmly scheduled agenda item. It's a firm schedule for a vote, which we have not had before when this was postponed before. There was discussion, there was an unwritten understanding, there were things like that that were postponed. This is a much more firm commitment than we've had before. I suppose the Council, in its infinite wisdom, can decide to do what it wants, if it desires, but this is a more -- a much clearer commitment than we've had before.
QUESTION: Do you have any indication that they can reach a deal with the Libyans by Friday, or they think they can reach a deal with the Libyans by Friday?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, that will be something you'll have to ask the French if they think they can get some additional compensation or whatever for the families of the UTA bombing. Of course, we have every sympathy with their attempts to do so. We just don't think the families of the Pan Am 103 bombing should be forced to wait again and again.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the security issue in the Palestinian situation. On the one hand, the U.S. is clear what they want, unified command; on the other, you don't want to micromanage Palestinian matters. Mr. Wolf is out there and his specialty was to -- or is -- to promote a better security situation. Is he involved, or is he -- is he there on call to deal with the mechanics of this if it would be helpful -- consolidating it all, lending his special expertise?
MR. BOUCHER: The -- I wouldn't describe his role as that way. I wouldn't say he's the mechanic here. The mechanics have to be put together by the people who are going to run the Palestinian Government, the politics have to be put together by the people who are going to run the Palestinian Government, and the effective use of the institutions have to be -- has to be handled by the people who are going to run the Palestinian Government.
Obviously, the United States has long had an important role in conferring with both sides about security issues and talking to them about their plans and hearing from them what their plans are, particularly their plans to move against terrorism. But the organization and the determination need to come from the Palestinian side.
QUESTION: Richard, we've had a Rewards for Justice-type program. Is there something comparable that we'd like to see in the Middle East so that some of these so-called terrorists would be deactivated?
MR. BOUCHER: The United States Rewards for Justice Program has always applied to American citizens who have died because of -- or to those who have killed American citizens, regardless of where it's happened. So, in some cases, in the Middle East it already applies.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Richard, does the U.S. Government have an assessment of whether the North Korean nuclear facilities at Yongbyon are still active?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have one that I can share with you.
QUESTION: Are you aware that there's a Japanese news report suggesting that a senior State Department official yesterday told legislators on the Hill that it's your assessment that that plant has ceased the activity that was detected earlier this year?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any assessment that I can share with you.
QUESTION: Change of subject. Geneva?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Quickly.
QUESTION: Geneva? Anything you can tell us about the agenda for that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me sort of walk to Geneva by reviewing where we are generally on the resolution first so you'll understand the context that Geneva comes in.
We've been continuing to discuss our draft resolution with other members of the Security Council in New York, in Washington, and in capitals. There was a meeting, informal meeting yesterday afternoon, of the Permanent 5 members of the Security Council. At that meeting we got some feedback on our draft, as I think has been reported. We heard from the French on proposed amendments to the text. The Russians offered us a separate set of suggestions.
We are reviewing those proposals. We'll respond after further internal consultations. This is the normal process that one goes through negotiating a Security Council resolution. There are no additional meetings planned for New York prior to the Secretary's trip to Geneva on Saturday. We will keep in touch with other delegations and other governments, however, in other ways.
The Secretary spoke this morning with Foreign Minister Ivanov of Russia. He also spoke with Secretary General Kofi Annan. The discussion with Ivanov was, I would describe it as a good and constructive exchange on the resolution, and the elements of the resolution. We certainly welcome the work that we've been able to do with the Russians so far on that matter.
We're also working with Secretary General Annan to prepare for a group meeting, a meeting in Geneva on Saturday. As I think we've said before, we see it as an informal discussion among the Perm 5 and the Secretary General to discuss the situation in Iraq, and discuss ideas about the resolution. We would expect the discussion to be about the concepts of how we go forward in the resolution, and generally with the United Nations on Iraq, not a negotiation of the text itself.
As the President and the Secretary have both stated, we're committed to advancing the cause of the resolution, and if the Geneva meeting can move the process forward, then we're willing to do what we can through that meeting, and through our discussions in New York, to get to a satisfactory conclusion to these negotiations.
QUESTION: Can you go a step a step further on Ivanov? I know you don't usually want to get into conversations, but Russia's position has been interpreted by some people as supportive, and by other reporters as a little skeptical. Would you put him in the helpful column? I mean, they're not with France and Germany, for instance, are they?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've quite done all the columns on this one yet. The views are still coming in. What I would note is that the Russian -- Russia is -- we've had a separate dialogue with Russia than with France and Germany. We've had some separate discussions with Germany as well. Our -- I'm not going to try to negotiate specific ideas or proposals from different countries in a public forum, but I would say that we found the discussion with Russia very productive, constructive.
The comments on the substance that I would make are sort of our approach to the situation. We think that all Council members do share essentially the same objective as to help Iraq and the Iraqi people exercise their full sovereignty as quickly as possible. The difference is, in the Council, we think, should relate to the steps that need to be taken to get there. That's where the discussion should focus. Proposals have to be grounded in the reality of the current situation. You can't pretend the war never happened, you can't pretend the coalition never happened, you can't pretend that the Iraqis have not already made considerable progress under the Governing Council, and what we need to do is work with them, build on that progress, and see how all of this can help.
Our proposal takes as a point of departure, the reality of the situation, that the coalition is already working with the allies, where the coalition is already working with the Governing Council, the Iraqis, to move forward, towards constitutional elections and also to move forward on the exercise of sovereignty. The point is not to argue either about which foreigner's going to take control in Iraq. The point is to go out and look and see what we can all do to support the Iraqis as they go forward in that process.
I would note, also, a press conference statement by the Secretary General two days ago where he said it's not so much for the UN to go in and take over the administration and management of Iraq, but for us to ensure that we accelerate the establishment of the government and the transfer of authority, and to have the Iraqis run their own affairs, as indicated in the Security Council resolution. That's what we would hope all parties would be prepared to go talk about in Geneva.
QUESTION: Do you want to mention the Chinese at all? Have there been discussions recently, or how long ago did Secretary Powell speak with the --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked to the Chinese Foreign Minister -- about a week ago?
QUESTION: Last week. Right.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, last week. Certainly they've been participating and speaking up at the Perm 5 meeting that took place yesterday and the other discussions in New York. I'm not trying to convey views on behalf of all those who had views. We've also had specific comments and constructive discussions with the British, with the Spanish, and probably with several others who I should probably mention but can't remember. So we've had some very specific discussions, heard specific proposals, and constructive ones from a number of countries.
QUESTION: Have the Chinese given you a list of suggested changes or --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that they have, but if you want a whole list of who's given us specifics, I think you'd have to check with the countries.
QUESTION: The P-5?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. If you want a whole list of the P-5 members who presented changes, I'll have to demure on that too, because I'm just not sure about the whole list.
QUESTION: Richard, can you help us understand what it is that these other governments are to get out of, essentially, contributing thousands of their own troops who could potentially become cannon fodder for these terrorists, and allowing them to pitch in with various NGOs? What it is that they are supposed to get out of, you know, this whole participatory process?
MR. BOUCHER: A safer world. A better environment for their children and grandchildren to grow up in.
I think despite differences over the war itself, that most countries recognize that building of a stable Iraq as representative government can be an important element in building a more stable region. It's important to their security that this process succeed whether or not they agreed with going to war in the first place.
And I think we have actually had that and heard that and seen that in public from statements of various governments. And the governments that are considering contributing troops or consider -- who are contributing troops, governments that are contributing money or are considering contributing money, the governments who are supporting or considering supporting UN resolutions, I am sure are looking at it from their own point of view, that it's better for them in the long run for this process to succeed in Iraq than to have Iraq go back to being some kind of source of instability.
Certainly, the United States has made that decision and the President expressed that decision quite clearly on Sunday night when he asked for not only the commitment to do so, but the money to do so as well.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. believe, then, that without the help of the international community beyond the countries that are already participating, that this process is destined to fail?
MR. BOUCHER: No. The President expressed our commitment to succeed.
QUESTION: No, I understand. But you're reaching out to the international community so I'm just wondering if the U.S. believes that without the additional troops, without the additional money, that it can't succeed.
MR. BOUCHER: No. The President expressed our commitment to succeed, and we are going to succeed in this. He also made clear there's an opportunity for others to take steps that contribute to their own security, that contribute to their own well-being and that contribute to the well-being of the people of Iraq.
QUESTION: Change of subject? Vienna. How's it going with the new resolution? Does it look like you're going to get it passed?
MR. BOUCHER: Discussions continue in Vienna. I'm not sure there's any update. It's also not clear exactly when the vote might be, but I don't -- I was going to say I don't think it will be today. We are still working actively with other members on the strongest possible board resolution. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have jointly proposed a draft board resolution on Iran that highlights the international community's concerns. The resolution calls on Iran to take essential and urgent steps to answer fully the unresolved questions from the agency, to cooperate fully with the agency's ongoing investigation, and to take these actions by the end of October. We strongly support these objectives, and I think as you know, we have worked with them in developing this resolution.
Negotiations are continuing today in Vienna, so we'll see where that leads to in terms of a vote and a text. We would say once again that Dr. ElBaradei's June and August reports on Iran clearly confirm that Iran has failed to meet its obligations under its safeguards agreement. We believe the Director General's reports provide a compelling evidence of Iran's noncompliance with its obligations.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: We've got one more. We've got one or two more back here.
QUESTION: In Indonesia, the person responsible for the Bali bombings last year was sentenced to death today. Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think this is the second, or maybe more, sentencing involving the Bali bombings, and we commend the Government of Indonesia for the professional manner in which it conducted this trial. The court sentenced Imam Samudra for his role in planning and executing the bombing. This was the worst act of terrorism since September 11th attacks in the United States.
And we once again extend our sympathy to the families. Bringing the perpetrators to justice is an important step in ensuring that what happened in Bali is not repeated.
Let's do these two, three, four.
QUESTION: I was just hoping you could respond to some remarks published today by Joschka Fischer in a German magazine, calling the U.S. postwar policy in Iraq a complete failure.
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those remarks. I'd want to see how he said it, and where he said it, and what the context was. Obviously, that's not the way we would characterize the situation.
QUESTION: On the case of Charles Lee, do you have any updates on that?
MR. BOUCHER: U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing spoke with Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials on September 8th concerning imprisoned American Chuck Lee. This was one of several matters involving U.S. prisoners which was discussed. The conversation was one of many opportunities that embassy and consular officials in China have taken to express our continuing interest in Mr. Lee's welfare and his well-being while he remains in custody serving his sentence.
We last spoke to him directly on August 15th. The last visit was in early August. We've spoken with him or met with him ten times in the last three months.
QUESTION: Who requested this meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that. I think we went in to talk to them about a number of cases.
QUESTION: Does that meeting have anything to do with the genocide lawsuit filed by the Falun Gong practitioners around the world?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Any reaction on the Cuba vote last night in the House, and can you say more generally why the Administration feels so strongly about this, its apparent position to veto threat?
MR. BOUCHER: The Administration position is available on the White House website, the statement of the Administration's position. So I assume you've already seen it? All right.
So let me, for others who haven't seen that, go to the White House website and search on SAP, and you can find the position on that. The basic rationale is that providing material benefit to a regime, which only six months ago undertook the most significant act of political repression in the Americas in a decade, strikes us as deeply unwise.
And one more, I guess. Sir.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) General in Burma has said that if they do release Aung San Suu Kyi, it would cause instability, and they said they could face protests. They don't want to release her because of that, and you've criticized that in the last week. Are you putting more pressure on the military junta?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen those remarks. They're obviously ridiculous. And we continue to work with others in the international community to try to see that she and her followers are freed from this detention.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: One more?
MR. BOUCHER: Do you want to ask one more there?
MR. BOUCHER: A late hand.
QUESTION: Do you know what's happened to the North Korean weapons expert who was arrested in China who's trying to defect to Australia?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard that story. Sorry.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:40 p.m.)
Copyright 2014 Q Madp PO Box 86888 Portland OR 97286-0888 www.OurWarHeroes.org