State Department Briefing, October 15, 2003
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As you all know, we have a lot of things to deal with today. I have just spoken with the Secretary and he asked me to make a statement on his behalf about the killing in Gaza. And so let me start with that, and then we can go to questions about that or other topics.
This is from the Secretary and we'll get you exact words and text later in the day, once we've produced the written version.
"I'm outraged by the murder of three Americans and the wounding of one other today in the Northern Gaza Strip. The innocent Americans who died, John Branchizio, Mark Parson and John Linde, Jr., were on a mission of peace as part of our Embassy team going to interview Palestinians for Fulbright scholarships to study or teach in the United States.
They were helping the Palestinian people. They were murdered by terrorists, the same terrorists who have killed so many others and who are killing the dreams of the Palestinian people.
Earlier today, I spoke with both Foreign Minister Shalom and Prime Minister Qureia and made clear to them, in the strongest possible terms, the need to move urgently to end terrorism.
With Prime Minister Qureia, I made absolutely clear that we cannot move forward to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without eliminating violence and terrorism. I also made clear that we expect full cooperation in investing this heinous act and in bringing these murderers to justice."
Now I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: The President's statement referred to the lack of Palestinian security as the -- I don't know if you should call it the biggest reason, but he certainly underscored that as a serious part of the problem. I assume the Secretary agrees with that, but you know, what is the outlook for shoring up security? You still have disarray among the Palestinian leadership. You don't have a government to deal with. Doesn't this make you uneasy?
MR. BOUCHER: It certainly does. The continuation of the violence was directed against Israelis, Americans or Palestinians, and particularly in this case, when it's directed at people who were actively working to promote a positive relationship with the Palestinian people. Continuation of that violence is because of the failure of the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorist groups and to end their activities.
We've said all along, this is the major problem at this juncture. It's the next step in trying to move forward on the peace process and the need to take action, take swift action, is evermore present in our minds and I think it's much clearer on the agenda.
QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that this convoy was targeted as an American target? Do you think that Americans and officials are now being targeted by Palestinians, and what does this do to your effort to secure peace between the two parties?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the investigators will have to decide -- try to find out who did it and what they were aiming at and whether the convoy itself was specifically targeted. I think, you know, internal he absence of information to the contrary, that's the assumption one has to make given the nature of the attack.
QUESTION: Richard, also in the absence of any claim or any credible claim of responsibility, are you quite certain that this was carried out by Palestinian terrorists -- militants -- whatever term you want to --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, there are a variety of groups --
QUESTION: Yes, there are. But there are also non-Palestinian terrorist groups with -- who are operating, say, in Iraq -- groups that have expanded their reach beyond where they normally have. Obviously we're -- I mean, do you have any reason to believe it was anything other than a Palestinian group?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no reason to believe it was any particular group at this moment. As you point out, these kinds of attacks have been carried out in Israel, in the Gaza Strip, in the West bank, and in other countries in the region by various groups who are opposed to the peace process; who have made it harder for the Palestinians to achieve a state; and who, unfortunately, have killed many, many civilians of a lot of different nationalities.
QUESTION: But what --
MR. BOUCHER: But no, I don't have any indication of which particular group might have carried this out.
QUESTION: Right. But I guess you are saying that the continuation of violence, such as this, is the fault of the Palestinian Authority for not cracking down on it. And yet, you know, you had people linked to al-Qaida who were operating next door in Jordan planning to blow up hotels and buildings, and you don't say that that's -- that their operations there are -- have any -- are the responsibility or the fault of the Jordanian Government. In fact, you have high praise for their government. So I guess I'm just wondering --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we have high praise for governments that take action against terrorists.
MR. BOUCHER: Whether they're 100 percent successful or not, governments that take action against terrorism; that eliminate the infrastructure; that eliminate the bomb factories; that eliminate the contractors or whatever or who the people are that support this mess -- we have praise for governments who do that.
The failure of the Palestinians to take action against terrorism in general, and specifically the groups that have perpetrated terrorism, leads to a climate in this area where these kinds of acts can be carried out, whether by those groups themselves, or perhaps in conjunction with others.
QUESTION: Okay. I mean, these kinds of acts happened other places. I guess, if you -- I am just curious as to say -- as to why you point to the Palestinian Authority in this case specifically absent the fact that you don't know who did it?
MR. BOUCHER: Because we don't make the assumption that somebody could parachute in without any support, without any contacts locally, and blow up an armored vehicle on a major thoroughfare. I suppose it's possible, but I would say that's probably down at the lower end of the possibilities. And one has to start with the assumption that somebody that knew about this area, and that was operating in this area was involved in this.
QUESTION: Richard, a couple of things. First of all, can you spell the names for us?
MR. BOUCHER: John, John Branchizio, B-r-a-n-c-h-i-z-i-o. He was age 37. He was born in Texas. Mark T. Parson, P-a-r-s-o-n. He was 31, and he was born in New York. John Martin Linde, L-i-n-d-e, Jr., was 30 years old, and he was born in Missouri.
QUESTION: And they were DynCorp employees. Is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I want to make absolutely clear: They're part of the Embassy team. They were part of our mission out there. They were fully part of the team that does this all the time; that works for us, with us, as part of our Embassy. They were, you know, contractors on a contract from DynCorp, but these are people. They're not some outsiders; they were part of the Embassy and part of the team.
QUESTION: And what kind of plates did the vehicles have? Because this could be an important point from the point of view of the targeting of it?
MR. BOUCHER: It may be, it may not be. I'll leave that to the investigators of it.
QUESTION: Well, can you say what, I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't.
QUESTION: Well, pictures show diplomatic tags.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's great, but I'm not going to do the investigation from here.
QUESTION: But they were Embassy vehicles, though?
MR. BOUCHER: They were Embassy vehicles, yes.
QUESTION: Thank you. Could you explain why it's -- on the one hand, the Secretary would actually, in the statement as I heard it, it would actually, in effect, say that, you know, this kind of stuff is -- it freezes the whole process, we can't go forward. It's almost like you're giving the terrorists even more power when you make a statement like that like; whereas in Iraq, when they have a suicide bomber, they always say, "Oh, we're going forward. You can't stop us, no matter how many of these you set off." And there seems to me a different approach here in this business of how you address suicide bombers in two different places.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the first thing to say is they are different places. The situation in Iraq, we are moving forward as we deal with the security problems. We are able to move forward as we deal with the security problems.
In the case of the Israelis and Palestinians, we've made this point again and again: There comes a point in this process, where to build a credible Palestinian state, to have a credible partner for peace, to have a credible government to deal with on the Palestinian side, they need to take action. Governments can't contend with rival armed groups for power and authority.
And so we have made clear, I think, over the past few weeks that we believe we have come to the juncture where we have moved forward, but that the failure to address these problems of violence is preventing further progress. It's an objective fact of how to proceed down the road of the roadmap. The roadmap itself specified action to end the violence is among the first steps that needed to be taken. That was true from the beginning.
QUESTION: Richard, one of the difficulties, apparently, is that you have been castigating Chairman Arafat, wanting him to make changes for the roadmap, yet there's a report that the Geneva Accord, this so-called "back channel" in Switzerland, was partly funded by Switzerland, Britain, Japan, Norway and Sweden; and they expect to have a peace signing on November 4th.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite follow. There's --
QUESTION: Well, in other words, they don't --
MR. BOUCHER: There's the official negotiating track, the progress on the roadmap that we've been trying to make. This is a non-official track -- I think we talked about it yesterday, and many people have supported track two activities and ultimately, you know, we've all felt that that kind of activity was worthwhile. But we think we know the way forward, and the way forward is ending the violence and moving on the roadmap. That's what we're pursuing officially.
QUESTION: On the detail of recommending -- the Embassy does -- that U.S. citizens leave the area, and of course don't come to the area --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- do you have any estimates of -- there must be a lot of dual citizens, for one thing. You'd have them leave, too, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador, in his press conference in Israel said there are several hundred American citizens in Gaza, both Palestinian-Americans and Americans who are working for a variety of organizations, including humanitarian and international organizations. The Palestinian-Americans living there will obviously make their own decisions with respect to whether they stay. Those involved in humanitarian and other forms of assistance will also make their own decisions, hopefully with the input from our message.
QUESTION: The relationship between DynCorp and embassies, what kind of relationship is it? Do you have DynCorps employees at all the major embassies, like in Tel Aviv and elsewhere? And what exactly do they do? What exactly did these DynCorp employees do for -- with the Embassy?
MR. BOUCHER: We have a variety of security arrangements at different embassies around the world, depending on the threat in certain places, and I'm not sure how many it is outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We have employees on contract, in this case from DynCorp, who help supplement our security resources, who help us manage more difficult security situations, and who are part of our security team that we use.
I think many of your colleagues who have traveled with us to the West Bank for meetings know these people. They operate and maintain the vehicles, the armored vehicles that we travel in, but they also help in a variety of other ways with the security of Embassy personnel -- especially as they have to go out to these different places to try to do their business.
QUESTION: Richard, a follow-up, if I may. Palestinian officials are concerned -- or have been -- Palestinian officials have been wanting to have an increase in the size of the monitoring team, the American monitoring team. What does this do to that? I mean, you have -- it's a small team on the ground now. What does this do?
MR. BOUCHER: It's hard to answer that question because an increase in monitoring would be monitoring of the end of violence, the progress on the roadmap, the steps the parties are taking to implement the roadmap. And to really move down that road requires an end to the violence.
So if we did get an end to the violence and an end to the groups that were carrying out the terrorist attacks like these, it's conceivable that might occur. But it's not, "What does this do to that?" It's, "Until you end the violence, we're not going to be making progress."
QUESTION: The State Department said that the Government of Israel had been asked to help Americans evacuate from the region. Is this the first time that that -- that that, at least, is something that you've announced publicly? And what kind of help is this, and are people availing themselves of it yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's a little too early to say that. I would leave it to our Embassy out there to update you on it, as things go forward. As people leave the Gaza Strip, obviously, they have to get across Israel and move to various places if they decide to leave the country to get to the airport or get to other places. So we'll be coordinating with the Government of Israel because they have to get into Israeli territory and move across Israeli territory.
QUESTION: How does such a request take place? Is it -- how high a level is it? Is it the Embassy on the ground asks for logistical help?
MR. BOUCHER: The Embassy on the ground coordinates with the Israeli Government in a variety of ways.
QUESTION: Richard, do you know, or could you find out how long these three people had been working there?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, but I'll have to check and see. I just have the barest of details.
QUESTION: Okay. And the other thing is you've told us, you gave us a bit of a readout of the Secretary's conversation with the prime minister. But you didn't say anything about what he talked to Shalom about. Did -- what --
MR. BOUCHER: With Foreign Minister Shalom, they talked about the bombing in Gaza, obviously, I expect --
QUESTION: About Israeli help, potentially, for people getting out?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not aware they did that in too specific terms. They generally talked about the bombing, the need for action against terrorism, condolences for the deaths of the people who died. I think they also spoke a bit about the resolution that we vetoed last night at the UN.
QUESTION: Back to the conversation that the Secretary had with Prime Minister Qureia. Did Prime Minister Qureia provide any information about who could have been responsible, or steps that he's taking to try to get to the bottom of it -- anything like that?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of, but I'd really have to leave it to him to speak for himself on what he's doing and what they intend to do.
QUESTION: The State Department has always said that -- and the Administration -- that it understands the right of Israel to defend itself, and was wondering in this regard whether you think that you might be working more closely with the Israeli -- now that the Americans have also become a target -- that you think that you might need to defend yourself in the region, do you see the U.S. working more closely with the Israelis in terms of rooting out terror in the area -- the Palestinian territories?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, we do work very closely with the Israelis on security issues, coordinate closely with them, as well as on the general security issues of the region in order to make progress with the Israelis and Palestinians -- we've worked with both sides.
In terms of speculation on next steps, I'd only say that we're working closely with the Israelis and with the Palestinians in order to cooperate in the investigation and to make sure that these people are brought to justice. But obviously we'll keep in touch with both parties as that process moves forward.
QUESTION: If I could follow up, during the conversation with the Israeli Foreign Minister, did the Secretary urge the Israelis not to take this opportunity to -- ?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to be able to go into any more detail on the conversation that -- I've given you the general topics, but I can't, can't start giving you line-by-line on what he talked about with various people.
QUESTION: Are you concerned that Israel is going to seize this opportunity to further go after -- crack down on the territories? And are you concerned that they might go overboard?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to raise speculative possibilities at this point. We've made our position clear, and we'll be involved in talking to the Israelis as the investigation proceeds, as we all find out more, including with the Palestinians, about the facts of the matter and what happened.
We want to see this investigated. We want to see people brought to justice. We'll say again as we've said before, Israel has a right to defend itself, but it needs to consider the consequences of this, their actions. So as we work with the Israelis in this process, I'm sure we'll be talking to them about those matters as they arise, should they arise.
QUESTION: Is this case going to be added to Rewards for Justice?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know yet.
QUESTION: Does that happen pretty quickly, or --
MR. BOUCHER: It's automatic in some ways, that any, any information leading to the apprehension of people who have killed Americans -- there's an automatic reward. And then there's always the decision of whether we start advertising individual and specific cases. That depends, in some ways, on the investigators.
QUESTION: Has any thought been given to the possibility that this is a reaction to the veto last night at the UN? And when you get a chance, I'd like to ask you to, if you could explain what brought on the vote, actually, because we had understood that it had been postponed. I'm talking about on the wall, on the matter of the security area.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I mean, the first notion is reprehensible that this is any kind of a reaction or any kind of even a misinformed logic reaction to a vote at the United Nations. This is not that kind of activity. This is the murder of innocent people who were trying to help the Palestinians and I don't think it's conceivable to link it in any way, in anyone's mind, as deranged as the killers might be, to a vote at the United Nations.
As far as the vote goes at the United Nations, I understand the sponsors pushed for a resolution, pushed for a vote, and that's why -- they forced it to a vote and we had to veto because the resolution remained unbalanced.
Okay, let's see. There's someone in the back. Sir.
QUESTION: There was one report that somebody was injured in the attack, as well -- perhaps an American diplomat. Do you have anything?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, there was one other American who was injured. I am not in a position to give you the name.
QUESTION: But he wasn't security, was he?
MR. BOUCHER: He was one of the team that was there, yeah -- one of the security team.
QUESTION: Yes, sir. Is there a possibility, from the way the bomb went off and the amount of destruction of the car that the bomb was in the car rather than on the ground?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea. I think the investigators have to look at everything.
QUESTION: Can we move to Syria?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Do you have anything else other than the announcement?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: In the Congress today, there's a resolution is expected to pass and take the Syrian-U.S. bilateral relations to a new low. Beside that, we have seen today Prime Minister Sharon threatening Syria with new attacks. Richard Perle in Jerusalem applauded that, but that doesn't help the American image in the Arab world, either.
But in all this, on the other hand, we have seen the Islamic leaders, in their summit in Malaysia objecting very strongly to any targeting of Syria. Now Syria has a record of joining the Madrid Conference, of joining the Alliance to Free Kuwait. Syria has a record of pursuing terrorists, especially al-Qaida.
Now, is there any chance that we can see that with that, with all that, is there any possibility of Washington staying with a pursuant of dialogue with Syria, rather than helping the flourishing of new perceptions -- wrong perceptions, maybe -- in the Arab world --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Do I --
QUESTION: -- that Syria is being targeted --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's stop the -- let's stop the monologue and ask a question, okay?
QUESTION: Just to stop the -- is there any way that Washington would pursue dialogue rather than helping the flourishing of perceptions in the Arab world that there is a targeting of Syria going on?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure. The record of Syria, unfortunately, is one of failure to take firm action against terrorist groups that operate from Syria and that, despite our repeated requests, still have people in operations in Syria; a failure to crack down on terrorist training is occurring in Syria; a failure to crack down on transshipments that occur through Syria; and failure to crack down on the support that comes from Syria for a variety of terrorist groups in the region, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- the very kind of people that carry out attacks such as we saw today.
If Syria is going to take serious action against terrorists, if it's going to take serious action against the groups that are trying to disrupt the peace process, if it's going to take action against the people who are trying to disrupt the Palestinian cause, then there's ample opportunity for dialogue.
QUESTION: Israeli intelligence reports don't prove to be reliable all the time, especially when it decides to attack an Arab country.
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't cited -- everything I've said is not -- I've not said anything that's based on an Israeli intelligence report. This is based on knowledge that we have.
QUESTION: Can we move to Bolivia?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say to the new level of violence in Bolivia and the continued call of the people for the resignation of the President?
MR. BOUCHER: The situation on the ground is that Bolivia was calm overnight. The political situation is unchanged from yesterday. However, protestors continue arriving in La Paz and demonstrations are expected today and tomorrow in the capital and in other parts of the country.
Our Embassy in La Paz is monitoring the situation closely. We've reiterated our support for the democratically elected Government of Bolivia and our opposition to extra-constitutional attempts to seize power. I would remind people that we issued a Public Announcement on October 14th that advises American citizens to defer all travel to the La Paz, El Alto area, and overland travel in the northwestern areas of Bolivia.
Our Embassy is in contact with government officials, as well as other contacts throughout Bolivian civil society. We've been stressing our support for a democratically elected government and our rejection of violence.
QUESTION: And there is people, and the protestors are saying that the economic situation in Bolivia since (inaudible), it is very difficult to, especially for the poor people. But they are also saying that the deterioration of the economy is because the U.S. policy against the coca production that has affected many poor people in the Andean Valleys of Bolivia. And do you have any comments about it, or it's just the people trying to make noise?
MR. BOUCHER: I -- the argument that we should -- if we imported more drugs and killed Americans that Bolivians would be better off doesn't strike me as one that we're going to be very happy with; that the people are going to be very convinced by. The fact is, coca production is a problem, not just for consuming countries where this stuff eventually ends up, but also for the countries that grow it. And we've seen the deleterious effects: the way it undermines societies; it undermines legitimate business; it undermines legitimate government in places where it's allowed to flourish.
And so we have been working with governments in the region, including the Government of Bolivia, to take action against coca production, but also to offer alternative development strategies. And our Andean Initiative is devoted not just to wiping out the crops, which are harmful to everybody, but also to give farmers alternative means of development.
QUESTION: Richard, on this specifically -- just a technical point, was the reason that that announcement last night was a Public Announcement and not a Travel Warning because you're not advising against travel to the entire country, but just to certain parts of it?
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's right, but I don't keep the dogma on this one. I think that's right.
QUESTION: Can we do the resolution on Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Could you bring us up to date on the likelihood of a vote today? And what the current expectations are for passage?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Passage. The -- let me see where I've got my stuff. We've been making good progress with the resolution over the weekend, yesterday and today, in finalizing a text that responds to many of the concerns and suggestions from other Council members. We've taken into account many of the suggestions that we heard and we put forward a revised draft resolution, in blue, as it said, formally, in the Council last night.
The draft is the result of numerous consultations with Council members, including a constructive dialogue yesterday between the Secretary and other foreign ministers and leaders as well as between our UN delegation and their counterparts in New York.
We hope that the important changes we've made since we first circulated the draft in early September will help Council members reach a positive decision to support the people of Iraq by voting for this resolution. At this point, at this point, there are consultations scheduled for later this afternoon -- I think around 5:00, I'm not sure that's the final time -- and we would look to move to a vote very soon after that.
QUESTION: As in today?
MR. BOUCHER: Very soon after the consultations. That kind of depends on how long the consultations go, but we'll be looking to move very soon.
QUESTION: Is this a final text you've got now, or are you still wiling to make changes?
MR. BOUCHER: The text is final when it's voted by the Council, so I can't quite say that, but I would say that we've taken into account many of the suggestions. We think this is a good resolution and a way to move forward. We do understand there are others who would like a few more changes. We'll obviously listen to that, and we'll see how to work this to get the maximum possible support.
QUESTION: Were changes made after the French, Germans and Russians suggested their changes yesterday afternoon?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Yeah, we put it in blue again -- the revised text went out late last night, late, early.
QUESTION: Late -- you put it in blue before that yesterday morning, or something, didn't you?
QUESTION: It was aqua by morning.
QUESTION: It was aqua.
MR. BOUCHER: This is -- no, this is --
QUESTION: Light blue in the morning?
QUESTION: No, it's indigo.
MR. BOUCHER: It went from blue to electric blue, I think. But yeah, we had a text yesterday. We had one text in blue; we made a revised text in blue last night.
QUESTION: Could you say what the substance of the changes that you made were?
MR. BOUCHER: The substance of the changes, I think, was to address a bit more clearly the issues of sovereignty that had been raised, to address a little more clearly the political transition issues, the, sort of, how the process would work so that we would get it to, progressively get to an Iraqi Government that could take full control of all the responsibility. And that, that again was to take into account things that we had heard from others. It takes into account the situation on the ground, talks about the evolving role of the United Nations -- how the United Nations can play a role that's dictated by the circumstances, as circumstances permit in a practical way.
QUESTION: The Mexican Ambassador says there's still a deep split in the words that affect -- do you think that's an accurate characterization or do you think you're doing a little bit better than that?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we're doing better than that. I think we're moving to close whatever differences there were. But I can't promise a particular outcome at this moment.
QUESTION: As an example, with regards to some media reports quoting officials from the White House and the State Department saying that -- on the telephone conversations that have been taking place over the weekend, the Mexican Government gave the assurance of he's both in favor of the resolution, it is truth or is -- ?
MR. BOUCHER: The Mexican Government will have to decide how it wants to vote and make any announcements that are appropriate. We've been consulting with the Mexican Government, as we've consulted with many others, and we certainly hope that everybody will find it in their interest to support this resolution that we think offers major assistance for the Iraqi people.
QUESTION: New subject? This --
MR. BOUCHER: Adi.
QUESTION: On the issue of -- this resolution is obviously tied to increased military support in Iraq and also funding. Where do you stand on that right now?
MR. BOUCHER: The answer is yes and no. We've been getting considerable military support without the resolution. We've been getting considerable funding pledges. I think you've seen a very welcome pledge of $1.5 billion immediately from the Japanese with, perhaps, additional assistance to follow when they get to it. They might talk about it in Madrid.
And so, there have been countries that are willing to go forward at this current stage and with the current environment of international support to help the Iraqi people. We do think the resolution can further contribute to that, and that's why we have been pursuing it. So, the answer is exactly how much others will do when we have the resolution, that will be a matter for them to decide and we'll just have to see.
QUESTION: Yeah. The Secretary went to the Hill this afternoon briefly, something like 12:30, and talked to a GOP caucus, I believe. Was that about funding for the resolution? Was he trying to press for support, or can you tell us what he was there for?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was one of several events that he's done with Congressional leaders on the supplemental -- funding for the supplemental.
QUESTION: The resolution?
MR. BOUCHER: Resolution. Elise.
QUESTION: There's been, kind of, statements coming out of the Council that it seems as if the U.S. might have enough votes to pass the resolution just barely with a lot of abstentions. We talked a little bit about this yesterday. Do you see this resolution as important to get a clear statement from the Council and a kind of unanimous mandate that you've sought in other resolutions? And if you don't get that, then what -- what does this resolution do, if people are kind of begrudgingly accepting it?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the resolution, if it passes, needs three-fifths of the Council to pass. So that's more than begrudgingly, I have to say.
Second of all, the -- we'll see how many votes we get in the end. As I said, we're working to see -- to try to maximize support in the Security Council for it.
But also I think you have to say that the achievement of this resolution is a major step forward in any case; that the resolution will provide for the international community and for the Iraqis a clear path forward on how they will take more and more control of their own affairs; on how the political horizon, how the political transition, will work; and it will enable the United Nations, other governments, other military forces, to get involved in that process, perhaps in a smoother way than they might have done without the resolution. So in terms of achieving its objective, the fact of passage would be the most important event.
QUESTION: But wait, wait, wait. I was going to change the subject, but are you saying that you just -- just being able to put a resolution into blue is an accomplishment?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I said passage.
QUESTION: That passage would be?
MR. BOUCHER: Passage would be.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Right, right. Change of subject. I think I saw on the Secretary's schedule he was meeting with people -- to brief people from the Hill on refugee admissions. Did that happen?
MR. BOUCHER: Yep. This morning. Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. Has any decision yet been made on the -- on North Korea and admitting North Korean refugees?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything new on that, no.
QUESTION: Okay. And then the other thing is, we're now less than a day before the Secretary's departure. I'm just wondering if you have any better -- any idea of his schedule on at least bilats on Saturday in Bangkok?
MR. BOUCHER: I thought you were going to ask me where he's going. He's going to Bangkok.
QUESTION: No, no. I've given up hope on getting an answer on that.
MR. BOUCHER: Given up on that. No, I don't at this point. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Well, would you expect the usual suspects? I mean, the Russians are saying that Ivanov and he are going to be seeing each other.
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, it's an APEC meeting. Starting with the ministerial, he'll have a chance to see all his colleagues in and around the meeting, and I'm sure he looks forward to that. But which specifically he might have separate meetings with, I don't have a list for you at this point.
QUESTION: Do you have any initial reflection on how the Azerbaijan election was carried out?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I do. Let me reflect for a moment, if I can.
We understand that the polls for the presidential elections in Azerbaijan closed as of 10:00 a.m. our time. There are U.S. and international observers in country. We expect the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights to issue a preliminary statement tomorrow on the election process.
Indications are that the voting has gone smoothly with no reports of violence.
The United States is funding 150 observers to work alongside the OSCE mission. Individual Azeri election monitors were also in the field, although we regret that NGOs that received foreign assistance were not allowed to observe.
We call on Azerbaijani authorities to follow through on their commitments to provide observers with access to the vote tabulation process, to post election results within 48 hours, to publicize penalties for electoral fraud, to act promptly against any fraud detected, and to fulfill its responsibilities for the safeguarding of its citizens and their rights. That's where we are.
QUESTION: How about on the Chinese astronaut?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. First of all, we congratulate the Chinese people on the successful launch of their first astronaut into space. This is a historic achievement, and we applaud China's success in becoming only the third country to launch people into space.
QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up on that?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Will there be any future possible cooperation in space programs -- the U.S. and China?
MR. BOUCHER: That's pretty speculative at this point. I don't think I would point to that. We have not been involved in this launch vehicle, or the spacecraft. We haven't been assisting in any way. We did offer China routine collision avoidance analysis for safety of flight purposes. That's to make sure the spacecraft doesn't collide with any of the 10,000 or so known objects in orbit, including our satellites. That's routinely conducted for all U.S. and Russian human space flight activities, but that's the extent of cooperation that there is now.
QUESTION: Did they accept it?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, China accepted the offer.
QUESTION: Well what was it -- it's like an insurance --
MR. BOUCHER: It's routine collision avoidance analysis for safety of flight purposes.
QUESTION: Did they have to pay for that?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware. It was an offer of assistance.
MR. BOUCHER: We do this routinely with others.
QUESTION: The Chinese Foreign Ministry said they're ready to cooperate with any country on the civilian use of outer space, and I talked to NASA and they said it needs a policy change from the Administration on that side. Will that come from here?
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, we really haven't discussed it. We haven't had any discussions with the Chinese about cooperation in space matters. We offered this, you know, element of cooperation on a humanitarian basis, but it doesn't necessarily lead to any further cooperation at this point.
QUESTION: One last thing.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: On the Chinese launch, for American satellites, is that going to be lifted -- the ban -- or any loosening up on that -- in that area?
MR. BOUCHER: That's been subject to an understanding we had with the Chinese that goes back some time. But, unfortunately, I don't think it's all been completely fulfilled, so there's no new movement on that.
QUESTION: Richard, as we speak, I think the Secretary is meeting with the National Police Chief of Indonesia. Can you tell us what he's bringing into this meeting? And when it's over, is there any way that we can get some kind of a -- whatever -- however brief readout, if it's possible?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I can tell you what they are going to talk about, and then after the meeting I can put it in the past tense for you.
The Secretary is meeting today with the Indonesian delegation that's led by the Indonesian National Police Chief General Da'i Bachtiar. They're discussing issues of mutual interests, particularly regarding cooperating with our countries against terrorism. The Secretary is expressing his appreciation to General Bachtiar and his staff for the significant strides they have made in disrupting terrorist networks in Indonesia.
They've also promoted the highly successful investigation, prosecution and sentencing of several planners of the Bali terrorist bombings in October 2002. And we'll also be looking for an update on the murders of two American citizens in Papua Province in August of 2002.
QUESTION: One of the things that he said before leaving Jakarta, and one of the things that the Indonesians have been loudly talking about, themselves, is access to Hambali. Is that something that this department has anything -- any control over, or anything to do with? Can you recommend that to whatever mysterious agency is holding him that the Indonesians be given access, or is that just not your bailiwick?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's a question I can ask -- answer, at this point. I'm sure we would listen to whatever they had to say, and then take appropriate action.
QUESTION: So you're open to --
MR. BOUCHER: That's about as far as I go.
QUESTION: Well, do you expect that this would come up in a conversation?
MR. BOUCHER: It's a question for the Indonesian spokesman, not for me.
QUESTION: Well, what would the Secretary be prepared to tell the Indonesians on this?
MR. BOUCHER: It depends on whether it comes up or not.
QUESTION: The pro-Taliban lawyers are complaining Pakistan's rounded up 60 pro-Taliban rebels and others, along this border territory. They're complaining that it would cause problems for the people, and this whole area is conducted by warlords, and it's even unhospitable to the Pakistani army.
Is there any new cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. to go after some of these remnants of al-Qaida and others?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, growing cooperation. I mean, you've seen it happen over time, increasing cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan on all of these areas.
MR. BOUCHER: I have one more down here, I guess.
QUESTION: The Pakistani police have put out a kind of alert for Karachi, including security measures for diplomatic missions and businesses of various kinds. Have they told you about this? Have you taken any -- ?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check on it and see.
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