U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #59, 00-06-15
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Thursday, June 15, 2000
Briefer: RICHARD BOUCHER_
1 Assistant Secretary Koh Press Briefing on Monday, June 19
1 Secretary Albrightís Statement on Conclusion of Inter-Korean
1-2 World Food Program in North Korea
2-5 Conclusion of Inter-Korean Summit--Agreements in Pyongyang--Visit
to Seoul by Kim Jong-Il
3-4 Statement by Secretary of State on Inter-Korean Summit
12 Plans for Future Bilateral Missile Talks
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
5-9 Chairman Arafat Visit/Israeli-Palestinian Talks
8-9 Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak Meeting
9 Andrews and Bolling Talks
9 UN Border Verification Effort
10-11 ABM Treaty
12 Cuban Doctors
13-15 Arrest Case of US Citizen Edmond Pope
14 Update on Arrest of Media Most Chairman Gusinsky
15-16 Fire at Main State
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
DPB # 59
THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2000 2:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)_
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We delayed the
briefing in the hopes that lunch would be over and weíd be able to give
you a readout on lunch, but because of the extensive discussions at the
White House, lunch just started -- the Secretaryís lunch with Chairman
Arafat. So Iím afraid I have to apologize in advance for not having the
readout of that, and weíll try to make sure we get you something later
in the day.
I do have a couple other subjects Iíd like to cover. First of all,
Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Harold Hongju Koh
will do a briefing in this room on the Community of Democracies Conference.
This is a major conference thatís going on in Warsaw, Poland, on the
25th to the 27th. The Secretary will be traveling
out there. This is a very important initiative to create the network of
connections for democracies. And weíll do a briefing on that on Monday,
June 19th, at 2:30 p.m., in this room.
Second of all, just to note for you without reading the entire text,
weíll be putting out a statement from the Secretary on the Inter-Korean
Summit. She describes the summit and says, "Today is a new day of hope for
the future of the Korean Peninsula." So Iím sure youíre looking
forward to that, and weíll have that available for you shortly after.
QUESTION: Is she hopeful (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: Not right here, no.
The other thing is weíll be putting out a statement on a donation of
50,000 metric tons of surplus US commodities to the World Food Program for
its programs in North Korea. And that was something that had been planned
and goes ahead based on long-standing policy and the needs that have been
identified by the World Food Program.
So with those things, Iíll be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: And you want to say that the food thing has nothing to do with
the summit? Itís separately -- itís a separate program out of our
humanitarian instincts, yes? There are people who think, you know, we
helped this along -- letís take a positive view.
MR. BOUCHER: Letís take a positive view.
QUESTION: Does the US help this process by being --
MR. BOUCHER: This specific allocation is not, frankly, directly related
to the fact that the summit is occurring. The overall process of
assistance is based on our general policy and the needs that the World Food
Grant program has identified on the Peninsula. So weíre happy to do it
at a moment when we also see a major historic event, like the summit, and a
breakthrough in reduction of tensions.
QUESTION: But has this decency been a lubricating factor in getting a
better relationship going?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we would hope that our willingness to take care of
the humanitarian needs that we see in North Korea would contribute also to
a better atmosphere on the Peninsula, which is the same thing that
President Kim Dae Jung has looked for. He has encouraged this kind of
event, and now we have him himself out there doing a major event that
reduces tensions on the Peninsula.
QUESTION: Now that you have had 24 or 26 hours to digest the outcome of
the Summit, could you give us the evaluation that you couldnít give us
MR. BOUCHER: I can give you a little more. I think first is to say that
these agreements that were reached can be a turning point. The North and
South have agreed to continue dialogue, including a visit to Seoul by Kim
Chong-il. The two sides have also agreed to pursue reconciliation
peacefully, and these are indeed significant developments for the leaders.
A direct and continuing dialogue between the South and the North is central
to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We are hopeful that the
process that the leaders have agreed to in Pyongyang will be implemented
quickly and that it will lead to fundamental reduction of tensions in the
President Kim Dae Jungís vision of engagement has been instrumental in
breaking new ground at the Summit. His support for the US-North Korea
dialogue, for Japan-North Korea dialogue and dialogue between Pyongyang and
other nations has also opened the door for this historic step. And we
would say that we also welcome the positive steps that Kim Chong-il has
taken to bring North Korea out of its isolation.
QUESTION: A senior State Department official last week told us you would
be watching Kim Chong-il very closely during these two days. Can you say
whether youíve drawn any conclusions about his character from his
conduct at the summit?
MR. BOUCHER: I think what we would say is we were impressed by the warm
reception which Kim Chong-il gave to Kim Dae Jung. I think President Kim
Dae Jung himself said he was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the
welcome and some of the steps that were taken, and that obviously applies
to us as well. Weíre also pleased that North Koreaís leader
demonstrated practical statesmanship as he reached agreement with the
Southís president on a number of important steps that we think do bode
well for the future of the Peninsula.
QUESTION: Have the South Koreans given you any kind of extensive briefing
on the talks?
MR. BOUCHER: We have started -- we have had discussions with the South
Koreans about the talks. "Extensive" may be going a little too far now.
We have consulted with them closely in the past and we continue to consult
with them and will have continuing discussions with them.
QUESTION: Do you know whether Kim Dae Jung brought up the missile and
nuclear programs which you are so concerned about?
MR. BOUCHER: I think thatís a question you would have to ask the Koreans.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- the nature of the discussion about the American
troop presence in South Korea?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't know that -- I can't give you a full rundown
on the briefings as yet. They are not as extensive as we would expect them
to be over coming days, as we get a chance to talk to them in more detail.
I would say, however, that we have consulted with them very closely in the
run-up to this and we expect to continue to be in very close touch with
QUESTION: The Secretaryís statement that you mentioned -- and I assume
itís longer than that one sentence that you read -- is the rest of it
mainly along the lines of your previous answer?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Was that it? Were you reading the statement?
MR. BOUCHER: Just so you know what the Secretary is saying, let me read
you her words so that any other questions you want to ask can be based on
this as well. She says, "Today is a new day of hope for the future of the
Korean Peninsula. The historic summit between the leaders of South and
North Korea represents a bold step towards resolving a half century of
"I want to congratulate President Kim Dae Jung on his extraordinary
achievement and for his patient and wise efforts as he works to achieve our
shared objectives of peace and stability. I also want to acknowledge the
positive steps that Kim Chong-il is taking to move North Korea out of the
isolation of the past, toward an era of reconciliation with the South.
"As President Clinton has said, we have consulted very closely with
President Kim Dae Jung, and the United States stands ready to support this
process towards lasting peace and full reconciliation on the Korean
Peninsula. We will continue to stay in close touch in coming days.
"We hope that the good beginning achieved in Pyongyang and the continued
dialogue between South and North Korea will build on the agreements reached
today and lead to a fundamental reduction of tensions and a peaceful and
prosperous Korean Peninsula."
Thus I quote the words of the Secretary.
QUESTION: Are you going to suspend them again today?
MR. BOUCHER: Can we make sure we have copies available as soon as we finish?
Okay, Barry, sorry. Are we going to be suspending sanctions?
QUESTION: One of the papers thought it was news that you suspended
sanctions, as you suspended in September, so I wondered if you suspended
anything today you hadnít suspended yesterday?
QUESTION: Or six months ago?
QUESTION: Or six months ago when we had daily briefings attended by some
QUESTION: Any new sanctions to suspend?
MR. BOUCHER: We havenít quite suspended the sanctions that we said we
suspended in September -- that we said we were going to suspend in
September. The President in September announced, on September
17th, 1999, that we were going to ease certain economic
sanctions. I expect that we will soon complete the process of implementing
that easing of sanctions, and the details will be made available in public
as soon as they are ready.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- only on them being -- that these -- the new
rules being published in the Federal Register?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I mean, thatís --
QUESTION: Is that basically it?
MR. BOUCHER: Thatís the actual step of implementing the easing of
QUESTION: And thatís taken six months? Nine months?
MR. BOUCHER: The process of implementing sanctions, deciding all the
details, the general framework fixed by policy but then deciding all the
details of regulations and how it affects different contracts, just takes
some time. This has been ongoing. The work has been ongoing. Weíre
now almost at the end of it.
QUESTION: Are you accelerating the final stages of this in view of the
apparent breakthrough in Korea? Does it affect the time table in any way?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I donít think Iíd be able to say that, as much as
I would like to.
QUESTION: So, in other words, this was always the timing that was
envisioned back in September?
MR. BOUCHER: More or less.
QUESTION: And thereís nothing new --
MR. BOUCHER: I donít know that the exact date was set in September,
but the amount of time it would take to get the implementation was more or
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- people are talking, can you give us any of the
mechanics of what might be going on on the Middle East peace front today?
I mean meetings, Andrews, Bolling.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, generally, I do want to make the point that the
negotiations are not suspended and negotiations -- the process continues.
I do -- I mean, as far as today specifically with Chairman Arafat here
today, the Palestinian negotiators are naturally participating in his
meetings. He had extensive meetings at the White House, and I think
theyíve just done a readout on those. Chairman Arafat and the
Palestinian teams are having lunch with the Secretary now, and so thatís
ongoing as well.
There are a variety of other meetings with Israeli negotiators going on,
Palestinian negotiators, but the general comment has to be that
negotiations have not been suspended and the process continues.
QUESTION: To clarify, the Palestinians say that the Andrews final status
talks are ongoing but the Bolling talks were ended over issues. So are the
Palestinians wrong? Are they still at Bolling talking and they just
donít know it?
MR. BOUCHER: I did not refer to any specific set of discussions. Today
the discussions are focused on Chairman Arafat and his visit. I didnít
say there was a particular meeting here, there, or anywhere else. The
process continues, and we will get back to you as soon as specific -- you
know, if we want to talk about specific meetings that are or are not
QUESTION: I just want to clarify since --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, weíll have to do that later. I canít do that
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- are not suspended? So thatís what you just
said. So when you say "negotiations," that includes Bolling and Andrews
and neither are suspended?
MR. BOUCHER: I had said -- I have not, in this process, from the
beginning, gotten into Bolling or Andrews or a particular meeting here or
QUESTION: Well, each side is talking with each other?
MR. BOUCHER: There are different kinds of meetings going on. The
concentration right now is on the meetings with Chairman Arafat. There are
other meetings going on with delegations. But, in our view, the process
continues and thatís where I want to leave it.
QUESTION: Was there a little bump in the negotiating road yesterday that
might mislead someone to incorrectly conclude that the talks had been
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to call anybody wrong on this one until we see
how this is going to turn out. What I do want to say is there is a process
involved here. It has never been an easy process. Thereís tough
issues. Thereís always bumps in the road and weíll have to see after
the concentration today on the meetings with Chairman Arafat, weíll have
to see how we proceed from here.
QUESTION: Richard, does the US have a position whether Israel is obliged
under Oslo and under a pledge to withdraw by June 23rd from the
West Bank, irrespective of how the final status talks might be going? That
itís a separate commitment that stands on its own feet and doesnít
necessarily require anything in response?
MR. BOUCHER: Thatís the kind of detail question that Iím not in a
position to deal with from this podium.
QUESTION: This isnít a question from the negotiations; this is a
question of US policy. And the US has, you know, been a little flexible on
this issue and indeed it is an issue today, these days. Do you feel -- you
werenít at Oslo, I don't think you even knew that Oslo was going on.
But once you caught up, did the US -- is it the USís view that these
obligations are not part of the final status situation?
Can you try it, as a matter of policy?
MR. BOUCHER: Three minutes. My answer will be shorter than your
question. No, I don't want to try it. These are the kinds of issues that
need to be discussed in the negotiations between the parties. We have made
clear that permanent status issues as well as interim issues are part of
this discussion. And I will just leave it at that. We donít get more
specific than that.
QUESTION: Isnít it fair to say that when you say "the process
continues, the talks have not suspended," that youíre kind of finessing
the situation here a little bit, as the process is the entire thing and it
doesnít refer to specific meetings and specific talks?
MR. BOUCHER: The fact is today weíre meeting with Chairman Arafat;
weíre having these discussions. The Palestinian team is in those. We
have other discussions with the negotiators going on.
Iím not here in a position to say that this meeting is going to occur
afterwards, that meeting is going to occur afterwards. This is the
schedule at one or two places. So I have to say today, in our view, the
process continues. But when it comes down to say that theyíre meeting
at XYZ place or time, Iím not able to do that just because thatís not
the concentration today. The concentration today is on the meetings with
QUESTION: Is this -- are you able to say that both sides, leaders of both
sides, remain committed to finding a settlement? Would you credit both
MR. BOUCHER: Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak both remain
committed to working to achieve a peace agreement. The parties have
expressed their desire for American help in order to achieve their goals
within the time table that they established. The issues are not easy to
resolve, but both sides are determined to arrive at solutions. President
Clinton, as he has made clear, is willing to do whatever is necessary to
help the parties to move forward in their efforts.
QUESTION: And will there be any contact that you know of, and maybe at
the White House, but do you know of any contact with Barak too or having
happened since Arafat called on the President?
MR. BOUCHER: Since Arafatís meeting in the last hour and a half?
QUESTION: Yes. I mean, yesterday the President talked to Barak at length.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I donít know. That is something the White House
would have to do for you.
QUESTION: Richard, in the light of this -- the problems yesterday and
Mr. Arafatís complaints today -- is the United States planning to devote
even more energy to this than it was already, the massive amount of energy
it was already devoting?
MR. BOUCHER: I remember the Secretary saying we were going to work on
this 24 hours a day instead of just 20, and that we werenít taking a
summer vacation. So weíve rolled up our sleeves as far as they roll, I
think. So we are going to do whatever is necessary. That means weíre
going to be part of this; weíre going to help them. We think there is a
commitment on the side -- on the parties. Nobody said it would be easy,
but weíre working hard and we think they will, too.
QUESTION: Yesterday you said you wouldn't rule out the Secretary going
out to Andrews or Bolling or wherever?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I didnít say that. I said I wouldn't rule out her
meeting with the delegation.
QUESTION: Meeting with the negotiators, okay.
MR. BOUCHER: I mean, the Palestinian negotiators are part of the meetings
today with Chairman Arafat, and I would expect her to meet with the Israeli
negotiators as well.
QUESTION: Yesterday, or today?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: The Israelis? Where will that be? You say theyíre coming over here?
MR. BOUCHER: It should be here. The timing -- well, I hope the
timingís not a problem but sheís slated to meet this afternoon with
Minister Shlomo Ben Ami.
MR. BOUCHER: Here.
QUESTION: Just Shlomo, or also Oded?
MR. BOUCHER: I donít know who else will be there. Thatís the
QUESTION: Well, what do you make -- are the comments that Chairman Arafat
made after the White House meeting that Barak lacked political will, are
those kind of statements helpful to the process?
MR. BOUCHER: I donít want to comment on the comment. I do want to
make clear our point that we believe that both Chairman Arafat and Prime
Minister Barak have demonstrated commitment.
QUESTION: So with Arafat -- you do not share Chairman Arafatís
MR. BOUCHER: Iím not commenting on Chairman Arafatís opinion.
Iím giving you ours.
QUESTION: Do you believe that Barak has the political will to --
MR. BOUCHER: I believe what Iíve told you three times; that is, that
both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Barak both remain committed to
working to achieve a peace agreement.
QUESTION: Forgive me if youíve already been asked this, but were the
negative comments by Chairman Arafat today reflective of problems going on
at the Bolling and Andrews level? I mean, is it your perception that the
comment he made today comes directly from stalls or glitches or problems?
MR. BOUCHER: Thatís a question youíve got to ask him. Iím
sorry, I canít do that.
QUESTION: On a related question, can you give us a readout on the theater
rendezvous, and have you got over the linkage hitch in the Appropriations
MR. BOUCHER: No. Given the schedule today, I havenít had the
opportunity yet to ask her -- ask the Secretary about her night at the
theater, if she enjoyed the play.
QUESTION: You donít know if she enjoyed the play?
MR. BOUCHER: Iíll find out for you.
QUESTION: A new subject but itís in the region, the Middle East.
QUESTION: How far away?
QUESTION: Not very far. Lebanon.
QUESTION: Youíre closer. Go ahead.
QUESTION: What do you make of the Israeli soldiers taking potshots at UN
MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been a variety of reports, and including
statements on the Israeli side. I think what I would say is weíve seen
the reports concerning the incident that have reportedly occurred near the
border. The verification process, as we understand it, is expected to
resume tomorrow, and we think it is important that all parties cooperate
and continue their full cooperation with UN border verification effort. We
would urge all sides to exercise restraint in the border areas to ensure
that there are no further disruptions to the verification process.
QUESTION: Regarding the White House lawyersí assessment of what can be
done in the Aleutian Islands without needing to abrogate the ABM Treaty or
change it, are the State Department lawyers weighing in on that? Do they
concur with the White House lawyersí assessment? What is Stateís
position on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the understanding that I have is these are
Administration lawyers, which would mean that they are probably a
combination of everybodyís lawyers. So I am sure we do concur in the
assessments that are being made.
But the point is we haven't made a determination yet as far as when work on
an ABM radar might violate the ABM Treaty. This kind of analysis is
obviously necessary to inform the decision that needs to be made on missile
deployment for national missile defense. Weíve been looking at these
areas for some time. We know the four criteria that need to be addressed,
that the President has said he will address when he makes a decision. But,
at this point, weíre examining the issues; we haven't made a
QUESTION: You said they concur and itís Administration lawyers from
all sectors. Does Secretary Albright then feel confident that she can go
to our allies and justify breaking ground and even the pouring of concrete
in the Aleutian Islands without having to --
MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point, this analysis is being done but there
has been no determination of how to proceed or what to do or whether we
need to. This is part of the background analysis that needs to be done for
the Presidentís decision on missile defense.
I need to remind you that the goal and the intent that weíve been
pursuing, the policy that weíve been pursuing is to maintain the ABM
Treaty and its contribution to strategic stability but to amend the ABM
Treaty to take into account the new threats. That is what we did in
Moscow. That is what weíve been discussing with the allies and,
frankly, that is what our allies would like to see us do. So that is the
policy that weíve been pursuing. Now, obviously, we are going to do
other analysis to inform the broader decision.
QUESTION: Iím not trying to belabor the point, but if the President
has to make this decision -- as you say, the decision has not yet been made
-- wouldn't he need to take into account the Secretaryís assessment of
whether or not she can go to our allies, whether she can go to Russia and
others and justify proceeding with some of the work that needs to be done
in the Aleutian Islands and argue that itís not against the treaty,
going against the grain of the treaty?
MR. BOUCHER: Thatís why you have to do this broader analysis. But we
haven't made a determination and the President hasn't made his decision.
We know the four criteria that he will use and this is part of that picture
that he needs.
QUESTION: Is a change in the situation with Korea, with the dramatic
events of these past few days going to change the threat analysis of --
MR. BOUCHER: We had a fairly extensive discussion of that issue
yesterday. We had quite a back and forth on it. Iíll stand by what we
said yesterday. We need -- we need to make our determinations and our
decisions based on the threat.
As much as we welcome the change in atmosphere and the developments on the
Peninsula, I wouldn't say today that that threat has changed and weíll
have to do an assessment. And the final assessment will be done when the
President makes his decision. Thatís an ongoing process.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- today said that a recommendation by the lawyers
has been forwarded to Clinton. Are you saying that hasn't happened --
about at what point the ABM may be broken if work begins?
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask the White House, but I think they will tell you
that they are not going to comment on who has been briefed. We are
examining the issue, as weíve said, but we have not made a
determination. Thatís the precise and accurate statement of where we
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Is it correct, though, that the White House
requested this analysis? I mean, theyíve been looking into -- is it
correct that the Administration has been examining whether or not they
could avoid breaking the law by going ahead with the first -- breaking the
treaty by going ahead with the first phase?
MR. BOUCHER: Youíll have to ask the White House whether they requested
this or how this came about. But everybody thatís working on this issue
agrees that you need this kind of analysis to inform a decision on the
deployment and weíve been looking at these issues for some time. But,
at the same time, we make quite clear what the four criteria are. This is
part of the overall analysis that needs to be done, as is the ongoing
assessment of the threat. And when the President makes the decision, he
will have all these things.
At this point, we have not made a determination. We are pursuing the goal
of maintaining the ABM Treaty and amending it to deal with new threats.
That is the course we intend to pursue and have pursued. And thatís the
one that the President and others have taken up, when they talked to the
Russians, including during the summit in Moscow.
QUESTION: Can you say how actively people in this Department, though,
have been running around searching for possible loopholes to get through
MR. BOUCHER: Thatís not the intent. The intent is to analyze the
situation and make sure we fully understand it.
QUESTION: And you could also interpret this as suggesting that the goal
is not so much a full analysis as seeking an opportunity and to avoid the
issue until the next administration?
MR. BOUCHER: I can tell you what weíre doing. I can tell you what
weíre trying to negotiate. I can tell you the four criteria that the
President has set for his decision. I can tell you that the President has
said clearly he intends to make this decision. And I can tell you that
weíre doing a full and complete analysis of all the factors involved.
If you still want to put some kind of interpretation or spin on it, go ahead. But those qare the facts. I do the facts.
MR. BOUCHER: Right now, Iím doing the facts.
QUESTION: Anything new on the Cuban doctors in Zimbabwe?
MR. BOUCHER: No, thereís nothing. Nothing new on that.
QUESTION: How are the talks going between Deputy Secretary Talbott and
the Pakistani foreign minister, specifically the restoration of democracy
MR. BOUCHER: Those are ongoing, as we say. The discussions continue, as
we might say in another context. So -- they are not suspended. So, given
the timing of the briefing, I don't have anything yet. Weíll get
something for you later.
QUESTION: Have they actually gone into a meeting today?
MR. BOUCHER: They were meeting, I think, as I was preparing to come down.
It was about that time.
QUESTION: Iím sorry, I forget. Is it just today or is it tomorrow as
MR. BOUCHER: Iíll have to check on that. Weíll have to get that
for you. Phil said itís just today.
QUESTION: Have there been any discussions between Talbott or anyone else
in this Department with countries that may have been affected by the loss
of the hard drives in Los Alamos?
MR. BOUCHER: Iíll check on that. Iím not sure any countries were
affected by the loss of the hard drives, but Iíll have to check on that.
QUESTION: Iíd like to go back to North Korea. When will next talks
between North Korea and the United States be held? There was an article
saying at the end of this month maybe in New York they are going to have a
meeting. Is that true?
MR. BOUCHER: I think all we can say at this point is the dates for the
next round of talks will be arranged through our New York channel, our
contacts with the North Koreans in New York, to schedule things. But
weíre preparing for the next formal round of bilateral missile talks,
and that will take place soon but the dates have to be -- have yet to be
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Japan, North Korea and United States?
MR. BOUCHER: Those are sort of ongoing at different levels in different
ways. I don't think I have a specific trilateral meeting scheduled at this
point. But we certainly keep in touch with the South Koreans and the
Japanese on an ongoing basis.
QUESTION: Russia stuff? Any comment on Jesse Helms threatening to block
or saying he will block aid to Russia over Chechnya?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: None? Heís written a letter to Secretary Albright but no
type of response yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that at this point.
QUESTION: And still Russia? Do we have an update on Edmund Pope and
perhaps any information on whether he is, in fact, getting medication his
wife says he needs -- and letters?
MR. BOUCHER: Here is what I can tell you, and I think I am still somewhat
limited because of Privacy Act, but I can tell you quite a bit. We visited
Mr. Pope five times since his arrest on April 3rd. Most
recently, we saw him two days ago on June 13th. Weíve spoken
directly with Mrs. Pope following each of these visits and provided her
with whatever information we could about her husbandís situation.
In our visit on Tuesday, Mr. Pope appeared well and was generally in good
spirits, although he did appear to have lost some weight. As we do in all
cases of American citizens arrested abroad, we have tried to make sure that
he has access to legal representation and that he is being treated fairly
in accordance with Russian law. We have also worked to ensure that
Mr. Pope is receiving the items sent to him by his family. Mr. Pope has,
in fact, received both medication and food items from his family, although
not as quickly as we and his family would have liked.
Furthermore, however, we are quite concerned that Mr. Pope seems to have
received none of the more than 50 letters that the Embassy has sent over to
him on behalf of his family, and weíre raising that issue with Russian
QUESTION: Can you tell me at what level "raising" it means? Does that
mean that thereís been an official expression of concern? Does it rise
to the level of a demarche, for example, or is it more congenial?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't characterize it other than to say that this is an
issue that we are concerned about and we are going to raise it, as
appropriate, with the Russian authorities. I don't know exactly where
weíre going to raise it.
QUESTION: Or whether it has been raised already?
MR. BOUCHER: We are raising it. That implies we are in the process of
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- ensure that he has access to legal
representation. Thatís pretty ambiguous. Does he or doesnít he have
MR. BOUCHER: Well, he has access to legal representation. Iím not
sure I can go into the details of that. I don't have the details of that
for you. Iím sorry
QUESTION: Do you have anything of this US spy, alleged spy story
yesterday, the military officer that was picked up for spying for Russia?
That story broke after the briefing yesterday so we didnít really have
any comment from here. Is there anything from here that you can say today?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think so. I think the Justice Department and the
Pentagon would have to comment on that. I don't think weíre involved in
QUESTION: Letís go with Putin then. He finally spoke out on the
Gusinskiy case today and said that it went too far. Can the US say
something else beyond what it said before now?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we found those comments very interesting. We
certainly look forward to seeing what happens next. We, as you know, are
concerned about this. The Embassy -- our Embassy in Moscow has been
actively seeking more information on this issue. Ambassador Collins has
raised this today with senior Russian officials.
We understand that Gusinskiy has met with his lawyers, and lawyers have
been present during the questioning, but we once again repeat what we said:
itís important that all persons, including Mr. Gusinskiy, have due
process and the rights and protections afforded under Russiaís
We would also note that political figures and other people in Russia from
across the spectrum have spoken up very strongly against any apparent
political motivations behind last monthís raids and yesterdayís
arrest. And we think that that is an important development and a note of,
one might say, health of the defense for freedom in Moscow these days.
QUESTION: Can you understand some kind of frustration on the part of
Mr. Popeís family? They held a press conference today, that it would
rise all the way to the level of a Clinton comment on Mr. Gusinskiyís
imprisonment, when I don't believe the President has actually spoken
against the imprisonment of Mr. Pope, for example.
MR. BOUCHER: Iíd have to look back at the record on this. I can
obviously understand the frustration of the family, that their loved one is
incarcerated in a faraway place, in Moscow. And it is very difficult to
take care of him and provide for him as much as one would like to because
of those circumstances.
We, and our consular protection, do as much as we can in terms of getting
access, getting the parcels through, getting him the medicine and the food
that people send him. But I think itís an inherently frustrating
situation for the family.
QUESTION: Has a trial date been set?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me double check if I have that. Iím not sure.
We understand the case is in the pretrial investigative phase and that no
trial date has yet been set.
QUESTION: Tony Coelho was replaced today as campaign chairman for Vice
President Gore and, while I know you wonít comment on the campaign, can
you give me the current assessment by the State Department of the job that
he did when he was arranging for the Expo in Lisbon and the view of the
investigation that took place as a result of that?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me first express my admiration for finding an angle on
this that we hadn't thought of. I think weíve commented on that in the
past. Iíll be glad to get that for you, but I don't have anything right
QUESTION: This is the last one. I just wanted to know, how much havoc,
if any, did yesterdayís extremely inconvenient fire and the --
(laughter) -- I understand that the phone system was -- some parts of the
buildingís phones were kind of messed with by this whole --
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I apologize to anybody who called me and I didnít
call them back yesterday. Honest, it was my telephone.
The fire, as you know, resulted in the evacuation of two floors, the
basement and the first floor. Inconvenience, I guess one would say,
extended lunch hours for some, inconvenience for others and, frankly,
probably more inconvenience for our unfortunate cameramen and press corps
who were gathered to go upstairs when they got evacuated and werenít
As far as the sort of overall work of the building, we seem to have gotten
our jobs done yesterday and the Secretary, certainly, was not disrupted in
any significant way. She did sign the treaties with the Argentines that
she was intending to sign. We had an official photographer there, although
not the rest of you, and then she went back to work in her office.
So how much havoc? A certain amount of disruption, as I said, a few
difficulties. But the Fire Department responded; the fire was contained.
There was concern about hazardous materials or gases and that was taken
care of, and then there was some time involved in putting the electrical
systems back on.
QUESTION: But the phones are all now --
MR. BOUCHER: The phones seem to all be okay this morning. I think those
problems were temporary yesterday afternoon.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- Los Alamos fires led to nuclear secrets being
lost and there may be deliberate fires at the State Department?
MR. BOUCHER: No suspicions of that at that time. We did have our
security guards all over the place. People who are evacuated in these
circumstances are supposed to lock things up, and certainly there were
guards around the firemen and other personnel, went to the location of the
fire. When they went elsewhere in the building, they were escorted. So we
donít think there was any unauthorized access into this building during
QUESTION: Were the preparations for this briefing disrupted?
MR. BOUCHER: No, no, we were right on schedule here.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:35 P.M.)