|Thursday, 21 March 2019|
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, 01-05-16
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
May 16, 2001
MR. BOUCHER: If I can, let me start out by announcing some briefings, and then I'll announce some designations -- or a designation.
Briefings. There will be a briefing this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. on the Andean Regional Initiative. It will be on camera, on the record, in this room, for those of you who wish to attend. We will have Rand Beers, the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. We will have Bill Brownfield, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere, and we'll have Michael Deal, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean from the US Agency for International Development. So, you will get to understand from people the money, the purposes, the goals and the activities regarding the Andean Regional Initiative.
The second briefing to announce is there will be a background briefing in this room tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. setting the scene for the Secretary's trip to Africa by a knowledgeable official.
Q: Who does not share the same last name as the Secretary?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to specify any further because that would be breaking the ground rules. I will look at that one again. Maybe we can do something on the record. Anyway, we will set the scene for the Secretary's trip to Africa tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 in this room.
Now let me go through the designation of the Real IRA as a Foreign Terrorist Organization for you. I will go through the entire announcement just to make sure everybody understands the basics, then we can talk about that or other things if you wish.
The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, has today designated the so-called "Real Irish Republican Army," or the "Real IRA" as it is known, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This designation is published today in the Federal Register. It identifies several aliases used by the Real IRA, including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association.
This action makes it illegal for persons in the United States or subject to US jurisdiction to provide material support to the Real IRA or any of its named aliases. It requires US financial institutions to block the assets of these designated groups, and it enables us to deny visas to representatives of the group.
The Secretary has decided to designate the Real IRA as a Foreign Terrorist Organization because, since 1998, the organization has carried out a campaign of terrorism in Northern Ireland and Britain. The Real IRA's most lethal attack was a car bombing on a shopping street of Omagh, Northern Ireland, in August 1998. That attack killed 29 people and wounded hundreds.
The group has made it clear that its terrorist attacks are motivated by a desire to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, which was approved by the major political parties in Northern Ireland in April 1998 and was overwhelmingly endorsed in a referendum by the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland. The Secretary made this decision following close consultations with the governments of Britain and Ireland.
So with that, I would be glad to take your questions on this or other topics.
Q: I have a technical question. The business about visas, people who advertise themselves as representatives of the group clearly will be denied visas, but what about people who try to come to the US and don't fill out a form that says, hi, I'm the local chairman of the Real IRA, but they're known to the FBI to being members of the group, would they be denied visas as well? Because you used the words, "who represent themselves." I wondered --
MR. BOUCHER: If we have information indicating that a person is a terrorist or a member of a terrorist organization, whether they have declared themselves publicly or not, we have authority to deny visas for entry into the United States.
Q: Can I ask on the same subject, if I understood you correctly, aliases of the Real IRA, including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, are now regarded -- are designated under this decision. Can you confirm then that the publicly named leaders of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement will not be allowed to enter the United States, and can you say what the basis was for the decision to name them as an alias for the Real IRA?
MR. BOUCHER: I think -- no. I think, in the end, those are both things I have to look into. Obviously we are saying that the 32 County Sovereignty Movement is an equivalent name for the same thing, and therefore the leaders of one would be considered the leaders of the other, and therefore they would be -- we would have the authority to deny visas.
I will have to double-check and see if the individuals you are asking about are in some way identified at this point. You might check with law enforcement agencies on that one as well.
And as far as the relationship or how we decided that they were equivalent names for the same organization, that is something I will have to check on and see if I can get you something.
Q: Richard, two things. One very technical. Do you know how many organizations there are now that are designated terrorist groups, or is that something we have to go through and count?
MR. BOUCHER: Luckily, Phil has gone through and counted for us. So he says --
MR. REEKER: Twenty-nine.
Q: There are 30 with this?
MR. BOUCHER: There are now 29 with this one.
Q: Okay, and now my second question. Can you go through these lists -- the rest of the aliases, please -- with special attention to the pronunciation of the second-to-last one? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: No, but we might find some experts in the room who could do that for us later. Yeah, absolutely, I'm not going to try that one. (Laughter.)
Q: Since they have been on the list of groups for a few years, where do they cross the line now to be designated FTO?
MR. BOUCHER: This has been looked at and considered for some time. It does take a while to do this process. We collect information, we confer with governments, we have to make the determinations in what is, granted, a somewhat lengthy process and exhaustive examination of the record. There is a thorough interagency discussion then of the record once it is compiled, and then we get the concurrence of the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury. So it does take some time. We have had considerable discussions over time with the governments of Ireland and Britain on this subject, and so part of it is doing it in conjunction or in consultation with them.
I would note that, since 1998, there have been a whole series of attacks. There have been attacks on railway lines, police stations, other targets in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland. They have included more recently the headquarters of the BBC and a major public bridge in London. So the group remains active, and they continue to carry out attacks.
Q: David Trimble said they may have had an attack last night, an attempted mortar attack. Can the US confirm that?
MR. BOUCHER: That is what we have heard as well. I am not sure I would get to the point of saying I can confirm it. But, yes, there are reports at least that they are responsible for a mortar attack last night in Northern Ireland that didn't result, happily, in any damage, injuries or fatalities.
Q: I understand the terrorist groups have to be a threat to the American national interest to be included on this list. How does the Real IRA threaten American national interests, or is this just a gesture of friendship to Britain and Ireland?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is very clear from our activities over the last several years and our continuing activity to support the peace process in Northern Ireland that we believe we have a very strong interest in the peace process in Northern Ireland. We believe we have a very strong interest in seeing the Good Friday Accords implemented, as the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland have decided to do, and therefore people who are using violence to undermine that process and kill people in order to stop that process are acting contrary to what we believe our interests are.
Q: This is a technical question, but prior to today, fundraisers for the Real IRA have been perfectly legal in this country, and then now they aren't? Is that fair to say even though they were listed as an other terrorist group?
MR. BOUCHER: That's also somewhat -- that is a technical question. The Department of Treasury has to give you exact timing on the issuance of their instructions, the blocking instructions and things like that, so I can't give you specified date. But prior to this designation there was not a ban on that kind of activity, but now we are in a position to block funds and we are in a position to prevent material support.
Q: And to follow up, are there any efforts right now to try to prosecute that aspect of the law now that that's in effect? Are there any special investigations? Maybe this isn't the right building.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think this is the right building for that. That would be a law enforcement or Treasury decision on those things.
Q: In order to assess the impact of this better, do you happen to have any information about how much money the Real IRA may have been able to obtain in this country in the past, or do you have any information about any visas that may have been issued to officials of that organization in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid I don't have that information.
Q: Richard, groups can get off this list, correct, and have in the past?
MR. BOUCHER: And have in the past?
Q: Have they?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't think of any examples. Yes, they can.
Q: The PLO.
Q: The PLO used to be --
Q: And the Khmer Rouge.
Q: The Khmer Rouge disintegrated. My question is, to get off the list --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's not try to exercise our memories. To get off the list, people would have to stop and -- definitively stop any terrorist activities, renounce it, change their stripes, whatever. I'm sure that the process of evaluation would be as careful as the process of putting people on.
Q: Can I ask why the Provisional IRA hasn't been designated as an FTO given the fact that, although they've declared a ceasefire, some terrorist activities have continued and members were arrested and convicted of gunrunning in Florida last year?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that the ceasefire that they declared in August 1997 was the basis at that time not to designate the Provisional IRA. We hear from the British and the Irish governments that they have continued to certify that this ceasefire declaration is genuine in word and deed, as they have said. So in the view -- in our view and the view of our friends, they have continued to hold by the ceasefire.
Q: This is sort of along the lines of David's question, but can you characterize for us at all about the weapons that -- the terrorist report says that they feel that some weapons have gotten through to them, and also some from the Balkans. Can you tell us anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I have any more information on those things.
Q: The Mitchell Commission report, which twice the Secretary has told Congress is a launch pad, a starting point, for diplomacy in the region -- I'm a little uncertain at one point which administration was saying it isn't our commission. I wonder if -- but has this Administration endorsed the Mitchell Commission's findings, or do you just think it's useful?
MR. BOUCHER: We think it is a very fine report.
Q: Well, do you think --
MR. BOUCHER: You've heard us say that before. That's why people are laughing. But I'll say it again. The Mitchell Commission report -- the Mitchell Commission, first of all, was an independent commission, and we've said that all along. We've said it was up to them how they conducted themselves and what they decided, what they found, and what they decided to report. They have done that.
We now have the view of the parties on the subject. My understanding of the process, they gather that together and present it, whether publicly or to us I'm not actually sure, and we have an opportunity then to formulate our response and our commentary on it.
As the Secretary has said, we are interested in seeing whether it can be used to further the process. It is one of the subjects that we are discussing with the parties as we go along. We are discussing how to end the violence, how to restore normal economic activity, and how to get back on a path to negotiations. In that process the Mitchell report comes up, and the Egyptian-Jordanian efforts are discussed as well.
Q: But there's another step; do I understand you correctly? The US at some point -- I thought by May 15 but I'm apparently wrong -- that the US would decide what it thinks, having heard from the two sides, would make some appraisal of the report.
MR. BOUCHER: My understanding of May 15th was May 15th was when the parties themselves were to provide their views. Now the Mitchell Commission has those views, along with its own report, and then they produce what is more or less a final version, and then we are in a position to write or give any commentary or appraisal that we want, which we have not done at this point.
Q: Well, but, Richard, last week, I believe it was, or maybe yesterday, the Secretary said he would be sending it up to the Hill with a cover letter. Is there any time frame for that?
MR. BOUCHER: No time frame specified for that at this point.
Q: But, well, how about, what does it look like? Are we looking at a week, two weeks?
MR. BOUCHER: No time frame that I can give you on that.
Q: Back on the Mitchell report -- but does the State Department have a position on the formulation that a reduction or stopping all settlement activities would be linked to a reduction in violence?
MR. BOUCHER: We have responded to that question every day, I think, by specifying our view of settlements. It is well known. It has been stated.
Q: Well, I'm not asking you about -- I'm saying should there be --
MR. BOUCHER: Hang on. It is well known. Our view of settlements is well known. It has been stated. If we decide to say something else in response to this report, we will at the appropriate time. But there is nothing new today.
Q: Richard, I met with Abu Mazen yesterday after his meeting with the Secretary and with the National Security Advisor. He informed me that you have endorsed the Mitchell report. He also said that he informed you officially that they accept -- the Palestinians accept the Mitchell Report, and they also accept the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative as a basis for political process.
Now, is he wrong in his assessment that you have endorsed the Mitchell report?
MR. BOUCHER: We have said it is a very fine report. I don't want to go beyond that at this point.
Q: You said you endorsed it. So you're stepping back now?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I'm not stepping back, Jonathan. We've had this discussion every day. We have said it is a very fine report. We have -- yes, we have generally endorsed the report. I have no quibble with that.
Q: But after the meeting with the Secretary, he came out --
MR. BOUCHER: You are asking for a detailed commentary at this point. I'm not prepared to give that.
Q: No, no. He made a statement, and I have broadcast it to the Arab world. He said -- exact words -- that you have endorsed the Mitchell report, and he said that he informed you formally that they accepted the Egyptian- Jordanian initiative, and that he bought three conditions that, as I understand him, that they have to be implemented from A to Z, and that there is some sort of mechanism monitoring --
MR. BOUCHER: I appreciate all this, but I am not in a position to speak for him. You say he has already spoken for himself.
Q: Yes, but is he right?
MR. BOUCHER: We have given you our position on the Mitchell report. We have told you that we have the views of the parties on the Mitchell report. And we have told you that we will be formulating a more detailed commentary on our part.
Q: Can I follow up, sir?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
Q: He also informed me that you had mentioned no desire -- any proposed alterations or amendment to the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative. Is that correct, that they have no desired alterations or amendments to this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything that specific on the Egyptian- Jordanian proposals.
Q: Can I ask you about that? Both the Jordanians and the PLO have used the same word, which sort of implies it is getting some currency: mechanism. And they have both said they would like to see the Mitchell Commission report and the Jordanian-Egyptian proposal as the basis for a mechanism in formulating the US mechanism to get things moving on the peace track.
Is that what the US is doing? Are you somehow blending these two things? And if you are, I don't understand your tactics because, if Israel objects to a key provision of the Mitchell Commission report, why would you reach out to something that might be a non-starter and not try to come at it a different way?
MR. BOUCHER: You are implying that we done something we haven't done yet.
Q: No, no, think -- formulating something.
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has said --
Q: We're used to hearing words like "framework," "foundation." You remember those days.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we --
Q: Use a Rossian phrase, if you will, but tell us what it is you are doing with those two things.
MR. BOUCHER: I use a --
Q: -- or a Boucheran phrase.
MR. BOUCHER: I will use a Powellian phrase. He has talked about it as -- talked about the possibility of using the Mitchell report as a launch pad. He talked about the possibility of using it as a starting point. We have made very clear all along what we were looking to do in terms of violence, economic activity and a path back to negotiations. We think the Mitchell report may be able to contribute to this process.
But until we have examined the final report, until we have examined the views of the parties, which we now have, until we have had a chance to further our discussions, we won't be coming out with a commentary, so I can't come out with an explanation of how that might be possible.
Q: And similarly, the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal --
MR. BOUCHER: We have said very clearly we support the Egyptian and the Jordanian efforts. That has always been -- that has been a continuing part of our discussion with the parties, as well as with them. The Secretary saw the Jordanian Foreign Minister just the other day.
But how all this might work out, how it might be put together, how we can do this with the parties, is something we have to discuss with the parties. And we don't have a detailed explanation of our views at this point because we need to do all this.
Q: Okay, I have a couple of things. Firstly, are you making any progress in arranging the meeting between the Secretary and Chairman Arafat?
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking at the possibility of a meeting between the Secretary of State and Chairman Arafat during the course of his upcoming trip to Africa and Europe. At this point, we have not identified a time, a date or a place for this meeting. We are going to look into it and see if it is possible. So at this point, there is nothing really much to report on that score.
Q: Just how many people are kind of looking at maps and using rulers and things like that to figure out where --
MR. BOUCHER: Looking at maps, time zones, schedules, flight times, getting information together to see if it might be possible.
Q: So how would you rate the chances?
MR. BOUCHER: The way I usually rate them; I don't.
Q: But this is something that you would like to see happen, right? I mean, you have accepted the premise that such a meeting would be desirable, which --
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking at the possibility of a meeting. We would like to have a meeting if we can arrange it.
Q: Can I just have another one? The Europeans are mumbling about some kind of steps against Israeli products made in settlements. Is that something that the United States has a position on and have ever looked at?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard any mumbling, so I haven't -- maybe I haven't listened closely enough. But no, that is not something --
Q: Well, maybe you have heard straightforward, clear statements from the EU.
MR. BOUCHER: Not something I have seen. I will have to look into it. We have not taken any position on something like that.
Q: Here's a softball. Would you like to use this occasion, as we write about the Mitchell Commission report, trying to arrange a Powell-Arafat meeting, how the Administration had been portrayed as going into diplomacy in the Middle East as a different way, a little bit more reserved, a little bit more offstage, a little bit more seeing the Middle East as more than just the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Does this now represent some -- I know violence is your big concern, but does this represent a -- and I don't want to make comparisons to other administrations -- but a traditional US -- I notice the Secretary yesterday say we're trying to be even-handed. I haven't heard that since the Clinton folks went away.
Does this mean this Administration is going to follow the course of previous administrations in high-level activity?
Q: I think that set a record.
Q: If you've got an answer, it'll help.
MR. BOUCHER: I think if I can encourage you to write a headline that says, "Administration Takes Consistent View of the Middle East, Press Often Gets it Wrong," I guess I'd like the opportunity to do so. But I do think we have been very consistent in saying that we would be engaged, that we are engaged, that we are active. So you've seen all the Secretary's phone calls, all the President's meetings, all the diplomatic activity from our Ambassador and our Consul General and other representatives in the region. We've talked consistently about that and said that we were going to be engaged and active.
We have maintained the same three goals consistently throughout this period: attempts to reduce the violence, attempts to restore economic activity, and move back towards a path of negotiation. We have maintained the stance that our job is to encourage the parties, help the parties, facilitate the parties to deal with each other on these issues, and to take steps for each other to reduce the violence. These other mechanisms, these other proposals out there, might help us do that. Certainly the United States wants to be as helpful as possible. But I would say that's the position we've maintained all along and that we have been consistently engaged at various levels in trying in trying to achieve that.
Q: Let me ask you a quick one, a quicker one than that. Previous administrations have pursued negotiations even amid violence. The Secretary has spoken of a down escalator. He hasn't spoken recently of the need to end all violence before negotiations could resume.
Is this Administration disposed to proceed with negotiations even if violence is continuing?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, the Secretary has consistently said in testimony, in his visit to Israel and subsequent statements and testimony, that we believe that violence needed to go down for there to be negotiations, certainly for there to be any successful negotiations. That has been our view. That remains our view. We still maintain -- when we talk about the situation out there, we still talk about reducing the violence, because reducing the violence, first and foremost, is giving people a semblance of normal life; it's giving people on both sides some reason to hope that their lives can be better through the process of negotiations. So that's been very consistent all along.
Q: Yes, but the question is, when it goes down but doesn't stop, is it still a good occasion to --
MR. BOUCHER: He has always stated in terms of reducing the violence and having the violence go down.
Q: So the answer is yes, that all violence doesn't have to end before you --
MR. BOUCHER: He has never stated it that way.
Q: Exactly. Thank you.
Q: Could I just follow up? The two proposals, the Mitchell Commission recommendations as well as the Jordanian-Egyptian proposal, tie a reduction to violence to the negotiations, and somehow there is a quid pro quo there. And at least I understand that you've said --
MR. BOUCHER: What did I just do? I just tied a reduction in violence to the prospect of negotiation. It's not a surprise, is it?
Q: Right. But there would somehow could be some negotiations at some point where those -- the violence would -- so there would de facto be some negotiations simultaneously happening.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure you've said anything different than I just said and that Barry just said, so I don't know there's more to say.
Q: Can I take a crack, Richard? Didn't part of the Egyptian-Jordanian proposal suggest that you have to start negotiations in order for the violence to go down; that security cooperation, a halt to violence, economic -- helping the economic situation, this all has to happen in tandem with negotiations?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say two things. One, as far as the Egyptian- Jordanian proposal, the so-called non-paper, I'm not in a position at this point to try to offer commentary on specific elements of it. We do think this is an important and constructive effort that we've supported, but I'm not in a position to give any detailed analysis, to pick apart the parts.
But I would say that we've always stated the policy in terms of reducing the violence, restoring activity, and getting back to a path of negotiations. We have seen them as linked, at least through a process.
Q: Can I just follow up? What is the status of the security talks facilitated by the United States? And are the Ambassador -- the US Ambassador to Israel and the Consul General still having these meetings with Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon?
MR. BOUCHER: Both of those tracks continue. There are security meetings going on we're still helping with, and our Ambassador and Consul General continue to have meetings --
Q: Do you know when the last security meeting was?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a particular date on them. I haven't tried to keep track of individual meetings.
Q: Can we move on to Iraq?
MR. BOUCHER: One more.
Q: Actually, two very short questions. Would you react to the $367 million being allotted by the Israeli Government to expansion of the settlements?
MR. BOUCHER: Hadn't seen that report, so I can't.
Q: Has the Department been in touch with the Israeli Government, is my question -- not about that.
MR. BOUCHER: Are you talking about the Ha'aretz report a week ago?
Q: There's a new one, a little more specific.
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen the new one, and we'll have to look into it.
Q: Yeah. Secondly, is it true that the Israeli Government has asked for additional aid as a result of the costs of the Intifada and the delivery of -- speeded-up delivery of the Apache helicopters?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I have to see if we have anything on that.
Q: Yes, Iraq. The British have drafted a Security Council resolution on -- basically along the lines of your proposals for Iraqi sanctions. I wondered if you could perhaps explain what is going on. I mean, your review isn't complete, you haven't finished all your consultations, you haven't, as far as I know, drafted any detailed any proposals for this. So what are the British doing drafting this resolution with your support, apparently? What's going on with the United Nations?
MR. BOUCHER: First and foremost, I think you need to ask the British as far as what they are doing and where they stand. We work with them very closely, but I don't speak with a British accent up here -- and I wouldn't dare try.
Let me tell you what is going on. As you said, we have not introduced a proposal yet on new Iraqi sanctions to the Security Council. We have been in close discussions with Security Council members, and particularly the Perm 5. We have been in close discussions with the frontline states. I would say we are sort of at an intermediate stage of our consultations. We are going from the general approach, which, as we have told you, people support, of controlling weapons and weapons of mass destruction for Iraq in order to control Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors. At the same time, we are looking at opening up channels for civilian goods to go to the Iraqi people.
The consultations are going on in New York as well as capitals, as well as in meetings that the Secretary might have. So we have gotten to, I would say, a more and more concrete stage with those consultations, and there are pieces of paper that people are drafting and showing to each other and looking at as to what the necessary steps are, what the necessary elements are in carrying out that approach. But as I said, we are still in an intermediate stage. We don't have a broad -- we are in a process of consultation with all the people involved. We don't have a full
-- we don't have a proposal at this point to present.
Q: Okay, can I just have a quick follow-up? So do you think it is premature to start circulating Security Council resolutions as early as next week on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that anybody has done that yet. We will have to see where we are.
Q: What about next week?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we will have to see where we are.
Q: Well, is it helpful for countries that you may have shared some of this information with to be giving it to the Iraqis so that they can leak it to -- throughout the Arab world?
MR. BOUCHER: This is a matter for the Security Council members to decide; it is a matter for the Perm 5 to decide, for the other members of the Security Council and the frontline states. We don't see any role for Iraq in this process. I'll put it that way.
Q: Yes, if I could ask. Has there been a specific decision made regarding the Iraqi sanctions and whether or not that would be unveiled separately from an overall Iraq policy?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been a number of specific decisions by the President and his advisors to proceed in this manner on Iraqi sanctions, to revise the program to control weapons but to let civilian goods go to the Iraqi people.
That comes up as a matter of procedure with the renewal of the Oil-for-Food program at the United Nations. I don't have anything new on the other aspects that were under review. I don't know if they will be done at that point or not.
Q: With the review due in June, do you foresee some kind of conclusion of this process or public discussion of it by the end of June, or by the time of a vote at the United Nations?
And secondly, the wire service stories this morning report that this process of -- that Oil-for-Food would basically -- much of that would be virtually eliminated -- is that true -- the review process.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me do two things here. One is, as we have gone through this process, I think we have become more and more concrete, not only in terms of our consultation with our other members of the Security Council, the Perm 5, the frontline states, but also in our public discussion. So I would expect that to continue.
And yes, as we get towards a vote, we will have to circulate resolutions, or others will do that. We will have to talk about lists, we will have to talk about the details as we firm them up and work them out with people. We are just at an intermediate stage right now, where it is not in a position to really do that. By the time the resolution gets voted on, there will be a new program in place composed of all the elements necessary to make it work.
And the second half of your question was something I can't remember.
Q: Oil-for-Food and the streamlining or elimination of much of the processes of the review of things going -- exports to Iraq.
MR. BOUCHER: As we have said, the goal of this process is to control effectively Iraq's ability to buy weapons, to control Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbors, especially to control Iraq's ability to threaten its region with weapons of mass destruction. So, on the one hand, you will have a set of controls that do that; on the other hand, we will smooth out the process and enable civilian goods to reach the Iraqi people. So that process will be smoothed out and made easier.
Q: New subject? North Korea? The North Koreans have again threatened to pull out of the Agreed Framework, and I'm just wondering if you guys take this threat seriously or is this just them whining and yelping and trying to get a little bit of attention?
MR. BOUCHER: Our position has always been that we intend to abide by the Agreed Framework and we expect them to abide by the Agreed Framework, so leave it at that.
Q: Have you talked to them about it?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had continuing discussions through the New York channel. I'm not sure that -- this is a brand new statement. I doubt if we've discussed this one yet.
Q: Have they said to you directly that they're -- or are you just learning this through news reports?
MR. BOUCHER: When we discuss the Agreed Framework, we say what we've always said, which is we intend to abide by it and we expect you to abide by it. I don't think we've heard anything contrary from them.
Q: Right, but that's not -- I mean, my question is, I mean, are you taking this seriously?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to provide an ongoing commentary on North Korean press. I'm sorry.
Q: Could you give us a little readout on the Timorese meeting, if you have something?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary met this morning with Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta from East Timor, from what I think we called on the schedule the Nascent State of East Timor. They discussed the UN process and how it is proceeding that will lead East Timor to independence.
The Secretary expressed our strong support. I think the East Timorese leaders welcomed our support along the way, said that the US contribution had been very important to them, and looked forward to continuation of our support in various ways, particularly when we reach the goal of a state that was trying to stand on its own and had to develop its economy, develop its legal system, things like that. The Secretary said we would help in every way we could as this process moved forward.
Q: The nascent --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's what we called it.
Q: So, in other words, that's another formulation -- rogue?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, it's the other end of rogue.
Q: It could be a nascent rogue state.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think we -- we certainly don't believe it will be. We heard a strong commitment to democracy, heard a strong commitment to economic freedom.
Q: Anything new on the China plane?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing new beyond what Assistant Secretary Kelly said in Beijing. He said he had discussed it in Beijing while he was there, that we were hoping to see this matter resolved as soon as possible, and that we would work through diplomatic channels to secure the aircraft's return.
Q: Has the US contacted a freight company, a specific freight company abroad, in terms of how it might assist in getting the plane out of China?
MR. BOUCHER: Don't know, but I think in previous parts of this case the Defense Department made the contracts, so you might check there.
Q: I have a question. Ukraine is saying that it's been contacted by the United States because it has something big enough to carry the plane out. Can we read from this that this is now the number one probable resolution of how to get it out, that China continues to deny us flying it out ourselves?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't read anything from it until we know it's true, and I am not in a position to confirm it at this point.
Q: New topic? Do you have any reaction to the -- I guess announcement -- today that a number of Senators are supporting something called the Cuban Solidarity Act, authorizing $100 million for aid to dissidents and other persecuted Cubans on the island?
MR. BOUCHER: The so-called -- this is Helms and Lieberman, I think, Helms- Lieberman legislation?
MR. BOUCHER: The reaction is only that we will be taking a close look at it once it is introduced. I don't have a position to tell you at this moment.
Q: New topic? Peru. Do you have anything on the bomb that took place earlier this morning --
MR. BOUCHER: I just heard about it. No information.
Q: Okay. I mean, I asked for this one, too. I don't think you will have very much to say about it.
MR. BOUCHER: You never know.
Q: The reports that Qadhafi told a German official that Tripoli was involved in the Lockerbie bombing and in the discotheque bombing in Berlin; do you know anything about this?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything on that. We heard the reports yesterday. We looked into them. We really don't have anything. I think the Germans will have to speak for that.
Q: And the other one is, I asked you the other day about the former Chilean Defense Minister and the attempt to prosecute him or -- was it prosecute him -- by this famous Spanish judge.
MR. BOUCHER: And we said, as I think I hinted at the other day, that this is a judicial matter that should be resolved by the appropriate authorities of the pertinent countries, and we therefore have no comment.
Q: Did you ever discover or find out who is providing security for the Taiwanese President when he is --
MR. BOUCHER: Our Diplomatic Security Service provides protection for foreign dignitaries, and so he gets that protection when he is here.
Q: Even -- does that mean that --
MR. BOUCHER: It means he is foreign and he is dignified, so he gets protection.
Q: Has this been the practice in previous visits?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it has been the practice in the past, yes.
Q: I have a question on Japan. The Governor of Okinawa Prefecture met with Mr. Powell and Mr. Armitage yesterday to seek a reduction of US forces in Okinawa. Do you have anything that you can tell us about that?
And secondly, that Rand report sponsored by the US Government was released yesterday, and it says that the US Air Force should establish a new base in the (inaudible) Islands to remove some of its forces from Okinawa Island, but that Governor Inamine said it was unacceptable.
Do you have any comment on that?
MR. BOUCHER: On the meetings themselves with the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary, I think they were good meetings, but we will leave -- I think we have a more detailed readout that we can give you afterwards. I don't have it with me right now.
As far as the Rand report and the basing information, generally we don't try to comment on reports done by Rand or other think tanks. I am sure Defense might have some comment on basing issues but, as far as I know, we don't normally get into commentary on ideas that are suggested by outside entities.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.[End]
Released on May 16, 2001