State Department Noon Briefing, October 7, 2003
U.S. Department of State
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2003
12:30 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry I'm late. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your question.
QUESTION: Is there any traffic, verbal, on the telephone or otherwise that's significant on the flare-up between Israel and Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: It's certainly been a matter of discussion in the Secretary's phone calls with other governments, whether it's the Russians yesterday, when he talked to Foreign Minister Ivanov or Spanish Foreign Minister Palacio, or in the last few days, in the other phone calls that the Secretary's made, I would say there's not, what did you say -- flare up -- in the traffic.
QUESTION: Well, I --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't describe it as a flare-up. It's -- obviously the circumstances there are subject to the continuing concern and the new developments are a matter of considerable discussion. For example, with our embassies in the region, we know that there are some -- there are concerns out there. And we're all talking to our counterparts and our embassies are in terms of how to move forward.
QUESTION: Move forward on what?
MR. BOUCHER: Move forward on action against terror by the Palestinian Government.
MR. BOUCHER: Move forward on steps along the roadmap where those parties have obligations.
QUESTION: Could you refine, please, the telephone conversations to the extent -- did he call or receive any calls from Arab leaders?
MR. BOUCHER: Not in the last few days, no.
MR. BOUCHER: The last such phone call would have been Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Foreign Minister on Sunday.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that as the subject came up, it was not the lead subject in those calls? I mean that (inaudible) called the Iraq resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: Most of the phone calls that he's had recently have been about the Iraq resolution.
QUESTION: I see.
MR. BOUCHER: There was a phone call yesterday with Foreign Minister Ivanov, his conversations with Foreign Minister Palacio. He talked to Foreign Secretary Straw again today.
QUESTION: de Villepin, too, I think?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Not, not yet.
MR. BOUCHER: So he has been talking about the Iraq resolution and generally in those conversations the subject of the situation in the Middle East comes up because it is a matter on the minds of other ministers as well as a matter that we're grappling with.
QUESTION: Richard, I think you were opposed to measures which heighten tension. How does Prime Minister Sharon's statement about "striking at enemies, wherever they may be," fit in with that intention?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment on that statement. The President spoke to this situation not very long ago, I think, in the same terms that we've been using.
QUESTION: Which are what?
MR. BOUCHER: Israel has a right to defend itself but should avoid actions that might heighten tensions that might escalate the violence.
QUESTION: But does this statement, in any way, heighten tensions?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to characterize every statement that everybody might make. I think our general policy is well known, has been reiterated by the President.
QUESTION: When you say to avoid actions that would further escalate tensions, does that mean not striking into Syrian territory again? Is that a backhanded way of saying that?
MR. BOUCHER: That's what we said yesterday, that's what the President said today, that's what I said again today. I'm not trying to re-characterize this action that Israel took.
QUESTION: On the Asad government, and I guess, also, the Baathist parties in Syria are also saying the air strikes will help Syria. Do you see any headway in speaking to other Arab countries to put some influence into --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't necessarily understand the logic that you're referring to here, but what would help Syria would be to take firm action against terrorists that operate terrorist activities in Syria, and to make clear that Syria is going to support negotiated peace and not allow the activities of those who are opposed to Israelis and Palestinians, alike, who are just trying to negotiate and build a Palestinian state.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one more on that?
QUESTION: It's a new subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Just a second. Barry.
QUESTION: I suppose a country could take steps to defend itself and also cross a threshold, a threshold that might make people here or there, or both places, more anxious. Israel has a right to defend itself, the President said, as State has said. But has Israel taken its conflict against terrorism to a dangerous new level?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say that.
QUESTION: No, I'm asking.
MR. BOUCHER: Nor did the President. That's essentially the same question as before. Do I want to re-characterize our view of the Israeli strike? No.
QUESTION: The Iraq resolution appears to be --
MR. BOUCHER: Don't say it. I'll have to contradict you.
QUESTION: Appears to be still a matter of intense discussion --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, that's good. Yes, that's true.
QUESTION: -- in New York with -- but there are those about, there's a school of thought that thinks it's pretty much dead, and that it will either require major revisions, at least, and revisions that you haven't -- you're not really prepared to consider, if you're going to get it through. And I would just -- I'm looking at the Russian reaction, which apparently came after the Secretary's phone call with his good friend, Mr. Ivanov. It was not particularly positive.
So I'm just wondering if you can give us an update on where things stand?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me, without begging to differ on statements in your question, let me tell you where things stand and characterize some of these things in our own way.
First, the status of consultations: There were consultations yesterday afternoon in New York, as you all know. We think these were useful and that members of the Council had an opportunity to air their views. We did receive some constructive and some specific suggestions from other delegations on the text. We also took the opportunity to provide a series of detailed responses to questions that have been raised along the way about our draft and how it deals with various issues.
At this point, as Ambassador Negroponte has said, we've agreed to take a brief pause in order to digest what's been said and evaluate where we stand with respect to the draft. There are no specific consultations scheduled now in New York.
Based on the results of yesterday's sessions, as well as the Secretary's conversations with his counterparts, we're now deciding how to move forward. The Secretary and Ambassador Negroponte are obviously in touch, as well as with others. The Secretary has been talking to his counterparts, and we will decide within the Administration how to move forward.
The more general point I would make, referring to some of the things you said in your question, is that the process of transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis is underway. The process of developing a constitution by Iraqis for Iraqis is under way. Iraqis are running education. They're running health services. They're running electricity. They're starting to run Iraq's foreign relations. They're starting -- they run the police. They're starting to run border patrols and other aspects of government, and this will be a continuing process, a progressive process of expanding.
That process is going to continue whether we get a resolution or not. We want to get a resolution. We're looking at how we can further advance towards a resolution that supports that process -- the process of Iraqis taking responsibility more and more, as quickly as possible, and the process of Iraqis developing their own constitution and proceeding to elections as quickly as possible.
So we'll see -- we'll see how action in New York could further that goal.
QUESTION: Well, you seem to be holding out the possibility, then, that you are holding out the option of withdrawing it -- if not --
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look back at what the Secretary has said over the last few weeks, that's always been an option.
QUESTION: Okay. And for the last -- I mean, ever since this -- you decided to go for or to try and get a new resolution, you've been saying that this process is underway and you've repeated the same litany of things that the Iraqis are taking over for themselves. Presumably, you're also telling this to people on the Council, and it doesn't seem to have done much good.
Is there anything -- you know, what more can you do to convince these people?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we'll see. I mean, there were -- you know, as I said, there were some specific, and we think, constructive suggestions that we heard yesterday -- some that we'll look at very closely. There were others that were just kind of generalities that are hard to deal with.
But I think the point is that we have approached this process of transfer of authority and responsibility. We have approached the process of putting in things like the temporary nature of the Coalition Authority; the linkage between the multinational force; in fact, the multinational force itself; the kind of responsibilities the UN would have; the UN special representative. These are all things that we've approached based on things that we heard from the Secretary General or from other governments, so we think we've gone a considerable way already into integrating those kind of responsibilities, including, as we've pointed out, the specific responsibilities the Secretary General laid out for the UN in July. So we have already integrated a lot of that. There may be other elements of that that we can add, but what we're looking for in a resolution and what we think the resolution should do -- and can do effectively, is to call forth greater effort, greater assistance and greater support for this process of transferring responsibility to Iraqis, and of the Iraqis creating their own constitutional framework for government.
QUESTION: So is it a correct characterization to say that you are still open to the idea of incorporating some of these constructive suggestions in, but you're not committing to it yet?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, that's right. And we're not -- we're still -- we believe the essential framework of the process of Iraqis taking more responsibility and Iraqis taking responsibility for the timeline and things like that, that those elements need to be maintained for this to really be a helpful resolution.
QUESTION: Secretary Annan has said that under the resolution, as he saw it, that the UN would not be interested in taking a political role. Are you saying that (inaudible) yesterday --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that was a misinterpretation of some remarks that he may have made in private last Thursday. I think that's been clarified by the UN to make clear that there was a limit to the capacity of the United Nations to carry out the kind of major role that some might have talked about, given the current security situation.
QUESTION: Is this -- the most recent draft presented, has that been discussed with Kofi Annan, besides just the 14 members and --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it's in -- the Secretary's had phone calls and talked directly with the Secretary General. Ambassador Negroponte's had meetings with the Secretary General, so that he remains one of the regular interlocutors on the subject of the resolution.
QUESTION: And what's his response now?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'd leave that to him to give.
Adi. QUESTION: We have the Madrid Conference in a little bit more than two weeks now. With this brief pause in place now, do you think it's still possible to have the Security Council approve some resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: We're not just going for some resolution. We're looking for a resolution that helps --
MR. BOUCHER: We're not just looking for some resolution. We're looking for a resolution that helps move this process forward, the process that's already underway, the process of Iraqis taking responsibility more and more. So, yes, we still think it's possible to get such a resolution.
QUESTION: Richard, the third option is, of course, is -- well, a third option, because there may be more -- is to force a vote or call for a vote on the existing resolution. Is that something that is still open to -- still a possibility?
MR. BOUCHER: We'll decide how to move forward.
QUESTION: Yeah. Okay. Well, the consensus seems to be that you might get a narrow majority, but not much. Is that -- can you live with that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we're at the point of counting votes quite yet. We have to decide what we can do to the resolution, to our text, to incorporate some of the further suggestions we've heard from people and try to move it forward in terms of the support it gives to the Iraqi people. And as we do that, we'll probably get a better view of who might vote for it and who might not.
QUESTION: Richard, can you just go back to the nature of the brief pause? Is it fair for us to interpret this as, you've presented, you've heard the arguments, you've gone back, and now you're taking this to the rest of the interagency process in order to find out how far you're willing to go? I mean, is that --
MR. BOUCHER: Not exactly. That's part of it. Part of it is talking to counterparts in other agencies at various levels. Part of it is also staying in touch with some of the other members of the Council to see if they have clarifications or further refinements or further views that they want to express.
So it's not completely internal at this point, but it's internal and -- as well as external.
QUESTION: But I mean, it would give the impression that Ambassador Negroponte and the State Department were not fully empowered to negotiate this text if that they have to run it by the rest of the government.
MR. BOUCHER: This has been a -- I don't think that's too surprising. These major resolutions, we have worked with other people in the Administration. As you know, the President was heavily involved -- heavily involved -- the President was involved in some of the text that we worked last year on Iraq. So I don't think it's a surprise that we should discuss these with other members of the Administration since we all share responsibility for success in Iraq.
QUESTION: New subject?
QUESTION: Well, actually --
QUESTION: No. Same, Iraq, please.
MR. BOUCHER: Elise.
QUESTION: I'm not sure if you went over this yesterday, so if you did, forgive me, but have you spoke to other Council members and other members of the Coalition about this new restructuring of the White House taking over the Iraq reconstruction, and what they thought of that and whether they thought it would help what they could contribute?
MR. BOUCHER: I know you guys -- some people, let me not -- clar--, were fascinated by this sort of bureaucratic organization in Washington, but it hasn't been a major subject in our foreign relations. I'm not aware that it's really come up in any of those discussions. It may have been an incidental question -- something that foreign counterparts might have asked about just to understand it, but no. Those kinds of things don't become major points of discussion with foreign delegations.
QUESTION: It is related -- Iraq and Turkey -- is that okay?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, let George ask about Iraq and Turkey, okay?
QUESTION: Misadvertise himself.
MR. BOUCHER: All right, George. Please.
QUESTION: All right, a partial change of subject. The Turkish parliament apparently has agreed to allow, send troops to Iraq, but the Iraqi Governing Council seems, at a minimum, to be wary of the idea. What response do you have?
MR. BOUCHER: Well first, let me say very clearly, we welcome the approval in the Turkish Parliament of the Turkish Government's initiative to send troops to the stability's force in Iraq. The United States believes that Turkish troops would contribute stability in Iraq, and we'll be consulting closely with the Turkish Government over the details of Turkish participation.
As far as the Iraqi Governing Council goes, we have not seen any formal Governing Council statement or communiqué regarding the Turkish decision. We are confident that a Turkish contribution could further the process of achieving stability in Iraq for the benefit of the Governing Council and the Iraqi people. And we'll be working with the Governing Council as well as with the Turkish Government on the details of that contribution.
MR. BOUCHER: Slow down. Elise.
QUESTION: Actually, maybe they didn't come out with a formal statement on Turkey on this recent vote, but the Iraqi foreign minister and many other members of the council have said that they don't believe that any neighboring state should be part of the coalition because they feel as if they would bring their own agendas into their duties and --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, has the Governing Council made a statement? No. Have individuals on the Governing Council said things? Yes. And we expect there to be different views and some debate. This is an issue that, I think, as we said at the time some of those statements were made -- that we will work with the Iraqis, we will work with the Governing Council, and arrive at conclusions, hopefully together, about how Turkish troops might contribute to stability in Iraq.
QUESTION: I was going to ask the same question, but there was a vote, actually, today or with the local time, yesterday, that they decided they don't want any Turkish troops, period. So if maybe you haven't seen the --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm told by my people that's not the case. We can double-check the facts, but I saw one wire story this morning that was unsourced and didn't have any quotes of anything, that said that that was a Governing Council view. And so I checked with our people in Baghdad, and they said no, they weren't aware of any decision like that.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. confident and, actually, confident to solve this, I mean, to find a solution to this contradiction between Turkish parliament and Iraqi Governing Council?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't -- I don't quite know if we're at the level of contradiction yet, but yes. We have said before, we believe this things can be worked out, should be worked out, because our basic view is that Turkish troops can make a contribution to stability that's good for -- that's good for Iraq and the progress that the Iraqi people want to make, so we will be working on these, all these sorts of details, in order to configure it in a way that contributes to stability and to make sure that the Iraqis agree with us on that.
QUESTION: And if the Turks do wind up sending troops, would there be any cost to the U.S. taxpayer?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know at this point.
QUESTION: In (inaudible), you spoke about, some details still need to be worked out, reference to the Americans and the Turks --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was probably all the details remain to be worked out -- but most of the details remain to be worked out.
QUESTION: Yeah, all the details. So you have no -- there's no idea yet how many troops the Turks will contribute, or could contribute? And do you know if the parliament has to sign off on the number of troops, as well?
MR. BOUCHER: I think -- I don't know if they have to sign off on the exact number, and I haven't seen the resolution in parliament yet to know if they did authorize some specific amount, but yeah, the size of the force, and the areas of deployment, and how they would get there and a lot of things like that remain to be worked out.
QUESTION: The wires are saying that the Governing Council actually agreed on a resolution and that there's a document stating this, but that there was pressure against releasing it from --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't -- I don't know what the sourcing is, but --
QUESTION: U.S. pressure. Well, there's a -- one of the Council members said --
MR. BOUCHER: All I can tell you is that to my knowledge, the Council, the Governing Council has not passed anything. I can, we can all double check on the facts, and maybe it's an evolving situation.
QUESTION: Yeah, could you check on that, because it says the U.S. pressured them not to release it.
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we can all check on the facts, and the reporters in Baghdad, I'm sure, will be asking the Coalition how they've been interacting with the Governing Council. But -- and it may be evolving still, but at this -- as of the moment I came out here, there didn't appear to be any formal decision of communiqué from them.
At the same time, I think the situation remains fundamentally what I just said, that these things -- we are aware that there are some on the Governing Council who have concerns about neighboring forces. We've seen the statements, as you have. We've talked about these things with members of the Council. And we know that there are some issues that need to be worked through. And we will do that. We'll work with both the Turks and the Governing Council as we set the operational details of these -- of this contribution.
QUESTION: I realize it's premature and no decisions have been taken, but -- on the deployment. But have you given the Kurds any assurance that no Turkish troops will be deployed in their areas? And if so, and likewise for the Shiites who apparently are equally wary of having Turkish troops in their midst?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to give you any details at this point. It hasn't been worked out.
QUESTION: It's a simple question, but who, ultimately, has the authority to invite the Turkish troops into Iraq? Would that be the CPA or would it be the CPA in conjunction with the IGC?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what the formal answer is to that, but I've said here today that we're working with the Turkish Government and the Governing Council on the issue, and we want to work it through with both of them.
QUESTION: But you could -- I don't want to ask a hypothetical, but the United States Government, in so many words, has invited the Turks and negotiated with the Turks on this. So it's the U.S. -- I mean, is it wrong to say that the U.S. is inviting the Turks to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not a quest -- it's not wrong -- but it's not the only, it's not the only way we're handling the issue. Certainly, we've approached the Turks about making a contribution to stability in Iraq. We've said that for weeks, months -- right? The Turks have now said yes, they're willing to contribute. Now we're going to work the details with the both the Turks and the Iraqis to make sure that it happens in a way that everybody understands is a contribution to stability.
QUESTION: Well, in --
MR. BOUCHER: That's what we're doing. We're not making assertions of one kind or another. We're working it with both of the parties.
QUESTION: Okay. Can I just ask one more? How do you convince the United Nations, as you are making this push, that -- and you're saying, you know, that you were already transferring a lot of authority to the Iraqis, that in this particular instance the Governing Council is not just an afterthought to a grand deal that you've struck with Ankara?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, we are working and talking to the Governing Council about this issue, and have been since we started hearing their views. Some of these things were discussed when the Secretary was in Baghdad and in the north, where he talked to various leaders, including members of the Governing Council about the potential contribution of Turkish troops. So we have been talking to them all along about this.
Second of all, I didn't assert that every single aspect of responsibility has already been transferred. As you know, the full achievement of that transfer can't really come, for a variety of reasons, until there has been a constitution and constitutionally based elections.
QUESTION: It's not your intention, though, Richard, is it, to ignore the Governing Council opposition to this and try and ram Turkish throats down their throats -- Turkish troops down their throats?
MR. BOUCHER: Is there anything that I've said in the last 20 minutes that goes in that direction? No.
QUESTION: I want to make sure -- no.
MR. BOUCHER: No. Everything I've said in the last 20 minutes says we're going to talk to them about it and we're going to work this with them.
QUESTION: Richard --
MR. BOUCHER: Not we're going to ram anything down anybody's throat.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, then --
QUESTION: In the end, though --
QUESTION: Whoa, hold on. And how soon would you like -- is this something as soon as possible that you'd like to see any -- a deployment as the?
MR. BOUCHER: One could say "as soon as possible." That really doesn't give you a timeframe, because there are a lot of aspects of this that need to be worked out with the Turks in terms of the deployment. So it's not just, you know, they can show up tomorrow.
QUESTION: Well, no, no. I mean, are you looking for, like, next January or --
MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to see. That's really -- those kind of details have yet to be worked out. Some of that will be between the militaries. Some of that will be the governments. There are aspects of this that we need to talk to the Turkish Government about. So there is a considerable amount of work to do before the deployment can take place, but how long that work takes I don't have an estimate for you at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, will you take a question, as a follow-up to George's before about whether Turkish troops in Iraq, if it comes to pass, will involve any payment by the U.S. taxpayer, any cost to the U.S. taxpayer?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we have any information on that at this point.
QUESTION: I mean I can't believe it hasn't been part of some discussion.
MR. BOUCHER: Do you guys want to do this, or you want to change the subject?
The row back there.
QUESTION: New subject.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, we've got one change back here.
QUESTION: Richard, the Turks for quite a while have wanted in to the EU, and prior to the war they wouldn't let our troops or deployment come south. Did we, in talking with Ankara, enter into any of those type discussions? Anything changed? In other words, can there be troops --
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing has really changed on our support for Turkey in the EU.
QUESTION: No, but I mean can our troops now come from the north? American troops be there?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, that's questions of deployments that are not settled yet that I don't have answers for. There's been some discussion of those, and I think the discussion generally focused on Turkish troops going to southern Iraq. But I don't think all that's settled yet.
QUESTION: Southern Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Okay, let's change the subject.
QUESTION: Asia region?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: I hope you saw The Washington Post interview with Mr. Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan. And the paper quote he said the people of Taiwan firmly believe that there's one country on each side of the straits, one China and one Taiwan. What's your comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: To reiterate, the United States has long has a "One China" policy. We have consistently urged both the PRC and Taiwan to work to achieve dialogue. We believe such efforts should continue. To that end, we welcome steps that foster dialogue, reduce tensions, emphasize peaceful resolution and promote mutual understanding. And we have urged both sides to refrain from actions or statements that increase tensions or make dialogue more difficult to achieve.
The United States believes that issues between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China are matters to be resolved by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
We'll just kind of go across in a -- either one.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. Speaking of President Chen Shui-bian, he's transiting through New York at the end of the -- this month on his way to Panama. Has U.S. been, you know, consulted on this? Any decision made to let him transit through New York?
And also, the Secretary will be attending the Centennial Celebration in Panama. There are stories suggesting that Secretary Powell might meet President Chen Shui-bian while he's there. Do you have anything on that, too?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as the transit goes, yes, we've approved the transit based on the standard criteria we've used for past transits -- that is the safety, comfort and convenience of the traveler, while respecting the dignity of the traveler. President Chen will transit the United States en route to and from Central America, as you mentioned. He'll transit New York, arriving October 31st and departing for Central America on November 2nd. En route back to Taiwan, he will stop in Anchorage on November 4th, and he'll depart Anchorage for Taipei on November 5th.
As far as whether there's any possibility of a meeting, there's nothing at this point on possible meetings the Secretary might have with anybody at the Panama ceremony.
QUESTION: Richard, either your embassy or your ambassador a couple of weeks ago seemed to jump out ahead of the curve and say that he was definitely going to show up for this. But I know -- the list at the time wasn't --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any confirmation of any travel either. Let me, I have to start with that. Nor do I have any meetings, any confirmation of hypothetical meetings and hypothetical travel at this time.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, how about travel that you actually have approved? The visa --
MR. BOUCHER: Should we go back to finish up on this question?
QUESTION: Oh, sure. Well, that's this. That's what I'm saying, President Chen.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: I'm just curious, has the safety, comfort -- what was it?
MR. BOUCHER: Safety, comfort and convenience.
QUESTION: Yeah, convenience. What is convenient about flying to Central America from Taiwan through New York, which seems to be a roundabout way to get there?
MR. BOUCHER: There's a lot of issues here. There's issues of where the flights go and we have approved transits through New York before.
MR. BOUCHER: If you look at the map, New York is pretty much, you know --
QUESTION: On the opposite coast of where he's going.
MR. BOUCHER: No, Central America is actually on this side of the continent. But anyway, it's -- airplanes go different places.
QUESTION: Yeah, they do. But I know that there's several Taiwanese airlines --
MR. BOUCHER: It's like flying to Atlanta to get to Minnesota. My brother does it all the time.
QUESTION: Richard, on that, yeah, just a quick follow-up. In that Washington Post interview, President Chen seems to have dismissed U.S. concerns over possible tension in the Taiwan Strait, as a result of a series of steps that Taiwan has taken recently, or has promised to take, like the referendum, like the push for a new constitution. What do you say to that? You have expressed anxiety. You expressed concerns. We heard you repeat what President Chen said during his inaugural speech, the "four noes," each one of those "four noes," just last week.
Are you concerned that your messages are not really getting through, are falling on deaf ears?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as the political commentary, I'll leave that to you. As far as the U.S. message, I think our message has been stated clearly. I think Taiwan, the leaders on Taiwan; the people of Taiwan understand very clearly what our policy is. It's been clear and clearly enunciated many times.
QUESTION: But besides sending messages, are you doing anything to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'd say these views are well known to them because we express them in public and in private.
QUESTION: On the transit thing, you know, since President Chen is staying in New York for two days, he will obviously have some activities. My understanding is that he will be given some kind of award. Does State put any restriction on his public activities in New York?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a transit, and so the activities are generally thought of as unofficial and consistent with the purposes of the transit, and we understand that the activities he has planned at this time will be, indeed, unofficial and consistent with the purposes of the transit.
We do know that on Friday, October 31st, he'll accept an award from a nongovernmental organization, the International League of Human Rights. The Taiwan authorities would have to give you any more details of his schedule. As far as I know, there's no public or media events planned.
QUESTION: No media events?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, as far as I know.
QUESTION: In connection with this International Human Rights League?
MR. BOUCHER: The exact arrangements for the award, you'd have to check with the organizations involved.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: How do you --
MR. BOUCHER: Jonathan.
QUESTION: How do you explain a two-day stop as being a transit? I mean, how can you square that?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a variety of travelers who can stop for, you know, more than the time it takes to change airplanes. Travelers, particularly coming a long way, often like to relax and rest a little longer than that.
QUESTION: You said --
QUESTION: Especially if they're going a longer way than they really had to.
QUESTION: Yeah. You said that you're not sure about --
MR. BOUCHER: This is -- let me point out this is very consistent with past practices. It is exactly what we've done in the past.
QUESTION: You weren't sure whether or not Secretary Powell would be meeting with President Chen in Panama just now. But since he is transiting --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't speculate if I were you, no.
QUESTION: Wouldn't speculate. Okay, let's forget that for the time being.
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Since he is transiting New York, which is closer to Taiwan than Panama, is the State Department sending anyone there to meet him, talk to him in person, to probably to make sure that the U.S. message is getting across?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we meet with him and other leaders on Taiwan all the time through the American Institute in Taiwan, which is there. In coming to the United States, he'll be greeted by Therese Shaheen, the chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan.
The American Institute in Taiwan is, as you know, the private organization that carries out our unofficial relations with Taiwan. Whether there would be any meetings with U.S. Government people, those do occur sometimes, I don't have anything set at this point, whether we'll take advantage of the opportunity to talk him or not.
QUESTION: Can I go to North Korea for a second?
MR. BOUCHER: North Korea? Okay, let's go.
QUESTION: The North Korean Foreign Ministry said that Japan has made itself an untrustworthy negotiating partner and it would not allow Japan to participate in further talks regarding their nuclear programs. Is this the usual trademark North Korean rhetoric? Or does the U.S. feel that North Korea is attempting to undermine the trilateral relationship with the U.S., Japan and South Korea thing in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, the kind of political commentary on what the North Koreans are saying and why they're saying it, I'll leave to you guys to do the analysis. As far as our positions go, we agree with the Japanese in rejecting the North Koreans' attempt to exclude Japanese participation from the multiparty talks.
Japan is a neighbor of North and South Korea, has vital interests at stake in the nuclear issue and in other areas as well. North Korean actions, particularly with regard to missiles and with regard to pursuit of nuclear weapons, have raised the concern of its neighbors, including Japan, and North Korea must deal with those concerns in these discussions. That's why the discussions are structured the way they are, because North Korea raised concerns among so many countries that need to be dealt with.
So we agree with the Japanese. Japan clearly must and will continue to be a participant to the six-party talks in order to achieve a diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear arms program.
QUESTION: Well, if they weren't, they wouldn't be six-party talks, would they? They would be five. (Laughter.) So, and you're not suggesting -- you're not -- you're not trying to leave the door open for a --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't open any doors at all. I shut every door I could find. But I didn't find that one.
QUESTION: Can you tell -- this statement -- as you've noted in the past, the North Koreans often make, shall we say, contradictory statements. And I'm just wondering how this latest was received in the Department, considering that last week the North Koreans has said they weren't interested in any talks at all, and this latest statement seems to think, well, they are actually interested in talks, just as long as the Japanese aren't there.
Do you take this seriously at all?
MR. BOUCHER: That's the kind of, you know, commentary on what the North Koreans say and why they're saying it that I find difficult to do.
QUESTION: Well, how did you note it? Do you note it with dismay, with kind of resignation, with any kind of -- you know? Or just there they go again?
MR. BOUCHER: With rejection. With firm rejection.
QUESTION: Richard --
QUESTION: North Koreans reportedly said they rejected the written security guarantee that Secretary Kelly once suggested. They said they won't trust the security guarantee. They wanted a treaty. Do you have anything on that?
MR. BOUCHER: We've talked about a treaty before. That's not in the cards. But we've also talked about our willingness to listen to them, try to deal with their concerns about security if they are going to dismantle their nuclear program. So at this point, you know, there's nothing on the table, really, that could potentially be a subject discussed at a new round of six-party talks.
QUESTION: Do you have a date yet, any? And if not, do you still expect talks before the end of the year?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have a date. I don't think we ever said we expected talks at a certain moment. The Chinese were the ones working on getting talks together, getting them organized. I think Assistant Secretary Kelly said when he was in Tokyo that we would be prepared to go to talks sometime in November. So we'll just have to see when the North Koreans are prepared to go to talks and talk about how they can dismantle their program.
QUESTION: Have you heard that maybe Kim Jong-il's wife was in a car crash?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. Thank you.
Sir. We're going to Kuwait?
QUESTION: Just the same question as yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm supposed to remember every question yesterday?
QUESTION: Of course. You always do.
MR. BOUCHER: The question of 1483 and my shortened answer that I gave you yesterday. Right?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
MR. BOUCHER: The Compensation Commission and all those things. UN Security Council Resolution 1483 recognizes that Iraq continues to bear liability for the damages it caused by invading and occupying Kuwait. Resolution 1483 attempted to strike a balance between the needs of Iraq's victims and Iraq's dire humanitarian and reconstruction needs.
Resolution 1483 can only be altered by the Security Council or by an internationally recognized representative government of Iraq, together with the Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission.
We continue to support Resolution 1483 and the recognition that it gave to victims of the former Iraqi regime.
QUESTION: So you cannot comment on reports that Mr. Bremer had suggested that perhaps this compensation could be canceled or shelved, or edited?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the resolution stands. The responsibilities of Iraq as a country stand. And I described how those things could, potentially, be altered if that was the agreement of the various people involved.
QUESTION: Is that something you might consider pursuing?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to speculate at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: Yeah, to come back to -- one more on Taiwan. You urged both sides of the Taiwan Strait to exercise restraint in your response to President Chen's remarks. Do you consider Beijing's lack of response so far on several issues, an act of restraint? Or what further restraint do you want the Chinese (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to characterize individual actions or inactions on this subject. I think the general principle applies, and it's one we've been raising with the parties.
QUESTION: Change of subject? Leak investigation. White House officials face a 5:00 p.m. deadline tonight, more or less. Wondering if there was any sort of deadline that you're aware of regarding the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we've been asked to preserve and maintain the documents that might relate to the matters under investigation. I don't have anything beyond that, but I would add that, you know, should there be any particular requests from the Justice Department, we look forward to cooperating fully. I don't think I'm going to be able to detail, you know, each particular request they might be making during the course of their investigation. That's a matter for them to decide and to describe if they wish to.
QUESTION: Will you be (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I assume people have, you know, phone records of calls. And we certainly have documents on the Niger-yellowcake issue. I mean, we looked into that considerably. So, I'm sure that somebody will find some documents somewhere.
QUESTION: Richard, just on that point, is there any deadline as far as the State Department is concerned, as there is at the White House?
QUESTION: We haven't been -- again, what we've been asked to do is preserve and maintain records. That's an ongoing responsibility, not something with a particular deadline attached. But should there be a request to then turn over those records, I would say again, we will cooperate fully, but I won't necessarily be able to lay out for you every step along the way that the Justice Department may be asking for. That's a matter of their investigation how they proceed.
QUESTION: Well, the White House made public a deadline that they, I think they imposed. I just wondered if the State Department did.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the White House has made public the documents that they have issued to their staff, and we've made public the documents that we've issued to our staff. Okay?
QUESTION: Change of subject. Iran says they will not, will continue to enrich uranium and ignore UN requests, obviously, to stop.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we -- the IAEA has made very clear what they need to do. They need to take the actions described by the United Nations; they need to comply fully and answer fully the questions; they need to end these programs that contribute to nuclear weapons development; and that's what the international community has asked of them. The IAEA Board of Directors gave them until October 31st. And if they don't take those actions by October 31st, then the Board will have to decide what the next step is.
QUESTION: Just one last thing, sir. I have to get you on record. Do you think Mr. Chen's statement about one country on each side directly in opposition to your, the U.S. one China policy?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to do the commentary. I'm not trying to characterize statements made by others. We have stated very clearly what our policy is, and I think it's well known to people on both sides of the Strait.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:00 p.m.)
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