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U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #59, 00-06-15

U.S. State Department: Daily Press Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>


738

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

I N D E X

Thursday, June 15, 2000

Briefer: RICHARD BOUCHER_

ANNOUNCEMENTS
1	Assistant Secretary Koh Press Briefing on Monday, June 19
1	Secretary Albrightís Statement on Conclusion of Inter-Korean
	 Summit 
KOREA
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
LEBANON
9	UN Border Verification Effort
ARMS CONTROL
10-11	ABM Treaty
ZIMBABWE
12	Cuban Doctors
RUSSIA
13-15	Arrest Case of US Citizen Edmond Pope
14	Update on Arrest of Media Most Chairman Gusinsky
DEPARTMENT
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 yesterday?

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 Korean Peninsula.

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 them.

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 conflict there.

"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 major newspapers?

(Laughter.)

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 sanctions.

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 less known.

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?

(Laughter.)

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 occurring.

QUESTION: I just want to clarify since --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, weíll have to do that later. I canít do that right now.

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 there.

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 suspended?

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 Chairman Arafat.

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 sides --

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.

QUESTION: Here?

MR. BOUCHER: Here.

QUESTION: Just Shlomo, or also Oded?

MR. BOUCHER: I donít know who else will be there. Thatís the principal.

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 opinion?

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 Committee?

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 observers?

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 determination.

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 are.

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 the --

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.

QUESTION: And?

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 in Pakistan?

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 well?

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 set.

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 authorities.

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 doing this.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- ensure that he has access to legal representation. Thatís pretty ambiguous. Does he or doesnít he have legal representation?

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 that case.

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 constitution.

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 now.

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 allowed in.

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 the fire.

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.)

(###)


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