|Saturday, 28 November 2015|
U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing, 01-10-12
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
October 12, 2001
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry I'm a little late today. Thank you for waiting. And I don't think I have any announcements or statements. You have all seen the joint statement with Uzbekistan on the understandings we've reached with them.
So with that as an opener, I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: That's what I was going to ask you about, and it's -- I'm a little -- I can't quite understand why the statement was issued. I think we knew this, that it was generally known. Has there been some problem with this relationship so that you feel -- the State Department feels some need to reassert the relationship?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Quite the contrary. This marks the progress that we've made in the relationship and the basis on which we are working with Uzbekistan in the Coalition Against Terrorism. We've been working with them. As you know, we have been cooperating and implementing many of these steps. We reached agreement with them on October 7th on a series of steps, began implementing them immediately. Yes, a somewhat delayed public statement about it, but it just marks the kind of progress that we are making in cooperating with Uzbekistan.
QUESTION: Can I just ask one quick thing? The last sentence -- excuse me - - says, "There's a need to consult on an urgent basis." Again, that's sort of -- there's an inference there that something has come up that needs to be addressed right away. Or is just the general situation?
MR. BOUCHER: No, no, no. Get back. "In the event of" -- you read the whole sentence, not just the first three words -- "In the event of a direct threat to the security or territorial integrity of the Republic of Uzbekistan, we would consult on an urgent basis about appropriate steps to address that situation." That's what the sentence says.
QUESTION: Was that the (inaudible) security guarantee?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Richard, this is different than the verbal deal that Secretary Rumsfeld got with President Karimov, right? This is not the same?
MR. BOUCHER: It's I'd say sort of the embodiment in a little more precise language, both between us in terms of the agreement and in the statement in terms of the public explanation.
I think if you look back, the Uzbek Government all along has said that whatever they did, they wanted to do sort of up front in public. And this is the embodiment of that commitment on their part and the understandings that we worked out with Secretary Rumsfeld and with our embassy in more detail.
QUESTION: Are you aware of reports that the Taliban yesterday dispatched or said they had about 10,000 troops near the Uzbek border?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of that, no.
QUESTION: So this has -- this announcement has nothing to do with anything --
MR. BOUCHER: Not the timing of it. The fact that Uzbekistan is first of all a partner in the coalition, and second of all, a country that we've worked with for many years in the past to help them with border security, to help them with anti-terrorism efforts and other things, because there were threats and terrorism coming at them from Afghanistan. Neither of those things are particularly related to whatever the Taliban might have said.
QUESTION: -- to clarify this agreement, because of the weekend, of course, they said that any US troops there should just be involved in humanitarian search and rescue operations. There is no such restriction in this agreement and presumably it would allow anti-terrorist operations within Afghanistan from Uzbek bases?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to be able to specify the exact nature in any way beyond what this says. It says we will work together to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, though, so there is a heavy humanitarian component to this.
QUESTION: There is nothing in there to prevent that that I have missed?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not dealing with hypotheticals, prevented or not prevented. I am telling you this is a statement that says we are cooperating. You know, I think, of many of the things that we are doing together, and that there is a heavy humanitarian component to it all.
QUESTION: -- I know we are all trying to ask that in a different way. Is this a statement that you had been preparing for release to us in any case, and it just took five days?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. (Laughter.) You want a truthful answer?
You know, joint statements, once you reach agreement on what you are actually going to do together, we can start doing things together and, as of the 7th, we actually started to do things together, but then we had to work out the text of how to explain the joint statement. So it took us a little while to get the joint statement ready and out the door.
QUESTION: As far as the part that says the long-term commitment to advance security and regional stability, what can you say about a request from the Uzbek Government to set up permanent military bases in the country?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard anything about that. I will have to check if there is such a thing. Did you have that from -- is that publicly stated by the Uzbeks or not?
QUESTION: No, but some people within the administration have said that the Uzbeks are asking the US to consider sending a permanent --
MR. BOUCHER: I just haven't heard anything like that. I will check and see if there is anything we have or can say about such a thing.
QUESTION: I just want to go back to my colleague's question because you didn't really answer it. Are we right in assuming that -- concluding that this means that the Republic of Uzbekistan has agreed to provide the use of air space and one of its airports for the campaign to eliminate international terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: I would go straight to the text here, which would be used in the first instance for humanitarian purposes.
QUESTION: And in the second instance?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not dealing with the second instance. I'm dealing with the first instance.
QUESTION: Well, is it still your understanding that the Uzbeks are only allowing these bases to be used (inaudible)?
MR. BOUCHER: I leave it to the Uzbeks to explain the understanding on their part. But --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) plural?
QUESTION: -- includes eliminating international terrorism; is that correct?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to read this. You can read the whole sentence, which says exactly what we mean. I'm not going to pull out three words of a sentence and -- you can't pull out three words of a sentence and forget about the rest, which in the first instance -- I mean, this is what it says. "For these purposes" -- the purpose of eliminating terrorism -- "we will cooperate." And they have agreed to provide air space and necessary military and civilian infrastructure, which would in the first instance be used for humanitarian purposes. It's an explanation.
QUESTION: Were there humanitarian flights that left from their territory today, or flew over their territory today?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, frankly. I don't know the routing of the flights. Defense has the routing of the flights. There were supposed to be humanitarian flights today. Where's my daily air drop update? I probably can't find it.
QUESTION: That update doesn't -- when you read the update, does it have to include the long-established fact that the United States is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and all the numbers?
QUESTION: Now it will.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll remember to say it twice, if I can find it.
QUESTION: Have you heard anything -- you may be able to answer this off the top of your head -- have you heard anything about a new anthrax scare in this building?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Have you heard anything about an anthrax scare in Central Asia? Apparently some members of the -- I'm not sure if it's the medical examiners from the Pentagon, or this building, found anthrax, and I'm not sure if it's Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan? Or Kazakhstan?
MR. BOUCHER: All right. I was just handed a note. Someone just called. We found another white powdery substance in the Correspondence Office. And the FBI, the Fire Department and the Hazardous Materials Unit have been called in.
QUESTION: What office?
MR. BOUCHER: Correspondence Office.
MR. BOUCHER: An office that deals with letters back and forth to people. (Laughter.) That writes letters and receives letters. Nothing like you guys. I'm not going to tell you which of you has got the white powder. No.
So there is a white powder, so expect to see the big show that we saw the other day. Remember, the other day we had a white powder, we checked it out, and there was no hazard.
QUESTION: Has the test been concluded? Can you give us results?
MR. BOUCHER: The tests of the other have not been concluded, but it's not hazardous; it's an inert substance that presents no hazard. That's what we know about the first white powder that we found.
QUESTION: Can you say what floor it's on or where it is?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't.
QUESTION: What about the Central Asian, that anthrax is in one of the Central Asian --
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, there are no State Department employees that have tested positive for anthrax. I think that was one of the sort of questions we were getting on the phone. There is a Defense Department team that was in Kazakhstan looking at scientific research facilities. They are people that go looking for anthrax. And they -- I think they encountered -- they found what they were looking for. And you can get the details from Defense. We are just working with them on transportation and stuff like that. They are well-protected people. They are people whose job it is to inspect facilities where there might be this stuff.
QUESTION: What were they looking for?
MR. BOUCHER: Anthrax.
QUESTION: Have you carried out tests on employees here, or how many have you?
MR. BOUCHER: No, we don't have occasion to test our employees unless we think there might have been exposure.
QUESTION: There has been a lot of concern from the Uzbek Government about basically a security guarantee of the United States. Can you just go through, not necessarily based on this statement, because it's unclear. Will -- is there any --
MR. BOUCHER: Somebody is about to make an announcement. Keep going.
QUESTION: Can you go through what any kind of security guarantee at this point that you've given to the Uzbeks with regard to the threat of the Taliban, or other kinds of terrorist threats?
MR. BOUCHER: What we have told the Uzbek Government is exactly what we just told you in the joint statement, is that, in the event of threats to their territorial integrity, we will consult urgently on appropriate steps. That is what it says.
QUESTION: Are they still seeking something a little bit firmer than that?
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask them what they are seeking, what they are looking for. This is the joint statement that we've agreed upon.
MR. BOUCHER: No, no. The 3 corridor goes this way --
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's up towards the D Street side of that 73 corridor.
MR. BOUCHER: All right, well, let history record that I told you guys before anybody else, okay? (Laughter.)
Now, why don't we calm down and go back to making foreign policy. You can check room numbers yourself. The 3 corridor goes this way, probably straight overhead or close to straight overhead of us. And 7330 would be towards that side of the building.
All right, if I can, let me finish up on airdrops, just so it shows that I answered the question. There were no scheduled airdrops of food -- or scheduled airdrops did not occur yesterday. The airdrops are scheduled to resume today. And I would point out there are still trucks going in.
Wednesday, there was a 40-truck World Food Program convoy; late Thursday, a 37-truck convoy. With these convoys, World Food Program now has 10,000 tons of food in the country and 50,000 metric tons in the region, and we have talked before about other food on the way from the United States.
I think we have one more on Uzbekistan.
QUESTION: We might want to have a five-minute filing break.
MR. BOUCHER: I've lost my crowd. I was hoping maybe that I could leave before they came back. All right, do you want to call a filing break?
QUESTION: If it's all right with you.
MR. BOUCHER: It's up to you and your colleagues.
QUESTION: Before we break, I know you seem to not want to talk about the room, but is this, you know, just outside the Secretary's office?
Mr. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Is it a room that handles the Secretary's correspondence?
MR> BOUCHER: No, it handles congressional correspondence.
MR. BOUCHER: Now, having come back from our short break, I suppose we can presume to resume.
QUESTION: You were doing airdrops.
MR. BOUCHER: I just said there weren't any yesterday but they are scheduled to resume today, and I gave the update on truck convoys going into Afghanistan, including the fact that they have 10,000 tons of food in Afghanistan that we are using to feed people.
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I have any particular response to her. We haven't actually seen the full text of what she said.
I would point out in relation to the general concept of it, during this week that military action began, we shipped tons and tons of food by truck into Afghanistan and continue to support and feed people in Afghanistan. We are starting to work on shelter and medicine and other issues as well. So the fact of using military power against al-Qaida and those who harbor them has not detracted from our determination to help the Afghan people, nor has it made it impossible for us to do that. We've managed to do that anyway.
QUESTION: Is the US moving in housing, some short of sheltering, into Afghanistan or --
MR. BOUCHER: I probably started getting ahead of myself, but we are discussing the kind of programs that might be necessary during the winter.
QUESTION: Can you say basically what the -- I'm thinking VOA -- the AID is doing specifically? Is most of the food coming from AID, or --
MR. BOUCHER: The food comes from AID and for Afghanistan goes to the United Nations agencies, the UN High Commissioner of Refugees and the World Food Program. The World Food Program organizes the convoys into Afghanistan. Then there is another stream of money and assistance that goes from our Population, Migration and Refugees Bureau into Pakistan and neighboring areas for refugees who have come out of Afghanistan. So there is a lot of different things we're doing for the Afghan people, whether they are inside or outside of Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Yesterday, a Saudi prince in New York rebuked your policy on the Middle East which prompted Mayor Giuliani not to accept a multi-million dollar check for cleanup in New York and repair. I wanted to know if you have any feelings in response to that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the decision of whether to accept or not a contribution to the Twin Towers Fund is a decision for the people who operate it, for the City of New York and the people at the Fund, so they will speak to that decision, which they made on their own, without any consultation with us.
On the other hand, I would say that we do object to Prince Al-Waleed's remarks. We find his remarks on the Middle East highly inappropriate.
QUESTION: I wish I had brought today's remarks. He had remarks yesterday. He had further remarks today along the same lines.
MR. BOUCHER: If he said the same thing, we object the same way.
QUESTION: It's yesterday's remarks that you are aware of mostly, right?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right.
QUESTION: And you find it what? What was your word? I'm sorry?
MR. BOUCHER: We find it highly inappropriate.
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to repeat what the gentleman said.
QUESTION: You think that King Fahd and Prince Abdullah --
MR. BOUCHER: We find those kinds of remarks highly objectionable.
QUESTION: Highly objectionable or highly inappropriate?
MR. BOUCHER: Both.
QUESTION: This is the Saudi Government's first comment in any capacity about or regarding the Middle East since the bombing began. Do you find it having more resonance or --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't want to attach any particular import to the remarks. But if you ask us what we think about people saying things like that, we don't think it's right.
QUESTION: Do you feel that the Saudis are firmly in the coalition and they are doing everything you want?
MR. BOUCHER: This is sort of the conversation we had yesterday. We talked to the Saudis, we worked with the Saudis on issues involving the peace process. And, indeed, in many cases we found some of their ideas helpful and constructive, and we have had an ongoing and positive and serious dialogue with Saudi Arabia on the peace process, and they know how much we are committed.
We are also working with the Saudi Government against terrorism. One is not a qualification for the other. So you kind of got me back in the same position we were yesterday, answering the same question the same way.
QUESTION: Richard, two things. But you don't take his remarks as an official statement from the Saudi Government? This man isn't even in the government, is he?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he is, but I am not going to try to describe his position. You can do that.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, the Mayor, before this decision, after receiving the check and before the fund decided to reject it, the Mayor said that he was going to be consulting with the State Department about what to do. You're saying that there wasn't --
MR. BOUCHER: I think in the end, based on the phone calls I heard that were placed and returned and the timing of how it happened, that we were informed they were going to do this. We actually didn't have any role in the discussing or the consulting on it.
QUESTION: I'm still a bit puzzled. Why -- he just made a statement about Middle East policy, without linking it particularly to the events of September the 11th.
MR. BOUCHER: My understanding is that he did link it. But you can -- I'm not going to stand here and repeat what other people have said, and repeat what we consider to be inappropriate remarks.
QUESTION: Are you saying (inaudible) about the peace process, and some sense that he felt that there is this anger, that this terrorist attack --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to stand here and repeat somebody's remarks that we don't find appropriate.
QUESTION: If your comment -- your response applies to all of his comments, not just the one about Israel and the Palestinians?
MR. BOUCHER: My comment applies to his comment about -- let me put it this way, what we find objectionable is linking the idea that the September 11th attacks with Israeli policy or US policy in the Middle East. We think there's no excuse for the murder of innocent civilians. And I think history has shown that these people, al-Qaida, is out to kill Americans, whatever is going on in the Middle East, and they could care less about most of the governments in the Middle East who are working for peace.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) has linked, that you find all those -- I mean, there are different degrees of linking. Linking is a pretty loose word. What --
MR. BOUCHER: Again, Jonathan, I'm not going to stand here and repeat remarks that we don't like. It's not my job to tell you what a Saudi prince said. We just -- we were asked about what do we think about his statements, and I said we find that part that does make the link, the way he said it, objectionable.
QUESTION: Can I just -- I want to clarify this, and I just want to make sure I got this one more time. You do not regard whatever it was that he said as an official statement from the Saudi Government?
MR. BOUCHER: I do not believe he is an official spokesman for the Government of Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: Whether or not he is -- so you do not take his remarks as what the Saudi position is?
MR. BOUCHER: The Saudis will have to give their own position. I'm not aware this gentleman is an official spokesman for the Government of Saudi Arabia.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), okay?
MR. BOUCHER: A big area.
QUESTION: Well, people that object to our ways of doing things. Is there anything you could tell us about whether Syria -- the Syrian Government -- has called in the American Ambassador, or whoever is in charge at the moment, is currently in Damascus, to complain about what Deputy Secretary Armitage said, or maybe somewhat inaccurately is reported to have said?
MR. BOUCHER: He's telling me to tell you what I just told you. He's not an official member of the government and doesn't speak -- he's not an official spokesman for the government.
In case I left any doubt, having said that three times.
QUESTION: I'd like to phrase the question better, because I didn't want to repeat what I'm not sure he actually said. But there is still that question whether Syria has taken objection to Deputy Secretary Armitage's remarks or reported remarks --
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I'll have to find out if we've had any conversations with the Syrian Government about some of the press reports that appeared yesterday. But I would say there is no cause for anyone to be upset, that the Deputy Secretary restated, as the President has before, that we do expect nations to make the choice; we expect nations to choose opposition to terrorism. We expect them to be against all terrorism, not just some terrorism. And that we want to do that and we want to work with people in any number of ways to accomplish that goal.
QUESTION: He said a little more, which also is totally in line and I think is inarguably what he said, in line with what the President and everybody else has said, which is that we are going to pursue terrorism everyplace. And right now the focus is on al-Qaida, but that's not the end of our concern and our pursuit of terrorism.
MR. BOUCHER: That's exactly right. That is what he said yesterday, what the President said before, what the President said last night.
QUESTION: Just to step back a little bit, what does it mean if a country is in the coalition, as opposed to a country such as Syria or Cuba or Sudan or Iran, who the Secretary said were not in the coalition? I mean, what does that mean?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. People keep asking the question and we're trying to answer it. And I know the Deputy Secretary was asked yesterday, well, was Syria in the coalition. Not exactly, no, they are not in the coalition, is what he said.
But what the President said last night is that we are looking for countries to cooperate in any number of ways against terrorism. We all have to take this seriously. Every country has to make the choice against terrorism and has to cooperate in any number of ways.
Some countries will act in some ways and others will act in other ways. So we have tended sometimes to say it's better to say "coalitions" and say it with a plural, instead of saying "coalition," because there's going to be people that do financial things, there are going to be people that do law enforcement, people that do intelligence, people that carry out military action. And each government will have to decide what's appropriate.
But each government will also have to decide to do whatever is appropriate against terrorism. And that is the commitment, that is what we are looking for, and that is the kind of concrete, practical, performance-related steps, as the President said, that we are looking for.
QUESTION: But one of the problems with that is that there is not some kind of wide standard for, you know, defining what a terrorist is, what an action that's deemed inappropriate, that would need to be followed up. And we asked this a couple of days ago, but is there any more thought being given to putting all of this coalition cooperation under some kind of umbrella where international standards would be fleshed out?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know how to say this again, that we don't expect that someday there will be a family photo of the coalition against terrorism. It is going to be a lot of different countries working a lot of different ways. There are UN conventions against terrorism. There are G-7 agreements. There are things being done in various groups around the world.
The Secretary is meeting this afternoon with the African diplomatic corps to talk about their support for the activity against terrorism. They are doing things in Africa in different ways, too.
So I guess the only way to say it is that what you have is the nations of the world cooperating with each other in a variety of different ways. There are proposals for international convention or a meeting to combat terrorism, and those are things we've said we take seriously, we'll look at. Those have been discussed in the UN before.
QUESTION: But, Richard, you do understand though that it comes across slightly as -- it is kind of like a non sequitur almost when you say that you're either with us or you're against us, and then you say -- is Syria a member of the coalition and you say, well, not really. I mean, you can't -- how do you reconcile those two things?
MR. BOUCHER: At any given point in time, countries may be cooperating a little, may be interested in cooperating, may be on their way to cooperating. The President has made absolutely clear we go after the al-Qaida organization first and foremost and that's what we are doing. Some people may be less involved in that. But as we go after other terrorist groups, will need to be more involved.
So it may be that people who said we're interested, you know, may not be in yet, but may not be out yet. But when push comes to shove, they are going to have to make the commitment against terrorism.
QUESTION: So this is kind of a revolving ultimatum, you're with us or you're against us? You don't have to be all the way with us now, but at some point we're going to say, now you have to be?
MR. BOUCHER: We expect countries to make the basic commitment. President Asad, in his letter of condolence to the US, condemned the attacks and pledged support for an international effort against terrorism. That is welcome. What kind of steps is any individual country taking at the moment? That depends on the state of play.
We are going first and foremost after al-Qaida. But we are going to go after all terrorism, and we expect Syria to take that pledge and carry it out in actions as we head down those roads.
QUESTION: So pledging cooperation with the coalition does not automatically entitle one to membership in the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: I suppose that may be a better way to say it than the ways I have. As the President said, in the end it is performance that is going to matter.
QUESTION: Is the United States interested at all in talking with other countries about what you mean by terrorism? Or are you just going to impose your view on the rest of the world?
MR. BOUCHER: It is not an either/or situation --
QUESTION: It is. It is --
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not, Jonathan --
QUESTION: Are you willing to discuss --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry, I'm not going to discuss your false choice. It is not an either/or situation.
QUESTION: Are you willing to discuss with other governments what they mean by terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: We have for many years discussed terrorism with other governments. There are UN --
QUESTION: The definition of terrorism, are you willing to discuss the definition with other countries?
MR. BOUCHER: We are not in the dictionary business, if that is what you are asking us. We have, for years, discussed -- Jonathan, I'll answer the question if you want me to; I won't if you don't want me to.
We have, for years, discussed with other governments the issue of terrorism. The issue of what we mean by terrorism comes up again and again.
What we mean by terrorism is people who kill 6,000, 7,000 people in a building by slamming airplanes into it --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- soldiers in south Lebanon?
MR. BOUCHER: I will finish answering the question if you want me to finish answering the question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) we're talking about the areas which are --
MR. BOUCHER: Can I take a filing break?
QUESTION: Okay, the question is this. When you have -- are you willing to find middle ground in your discussions with countries which dispute your definition of terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay, can I have 12-and-a-half seconds to answer the question?
We have discussed the issue of terrorism many, many times with many, many governments. There is G-7 action against terrorism; the G-7 knows what they mean. There is UN action against terrorism; the UN knows what they mean. And there is action against terrorism in many other groups. This is not an issue right now. You're making it one, but it's not.
QUESTION: As far as I understand it, the UN has never made any -- they just used the word without any definition, and everybody is free to understand the word in any way they want.
MR. BOUCHER: As we have said repeatedly, and I think others have said, that people who kill innocent civilians are terrorists, and there is no question in our mind that we need to pursue all of those who carry out those kind of activities.
QUESTION: Wait a second, though. You must mean "intentionally kill civilians," because you just opened the door -- I mean, maybe, can you restate it?
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't open any doors. I am not going to give you -- Title 22, Section 2656, Paragraph F. There are UN conventions on terrorism, there are G-7 activities on terrorism, there have been declarations from the G-7 over 20 or 30 years on terrorism. I think the international community has a pretty clear understanding of what they mean.
That doesn't mean that every country in the world has decided to make the choice that the President has asked them to make, and to have the pledges of cooperation against terrorism. This gets back to where we were just a moment ago. It means that you still have to turn those into concrete action against terrorist groups. And we have made absolutely clear that we don't think you can go and pick and choose among terrorists.
QUESTION: I am trying to give you an opportunity to say --
MR. BOUCHER: I know. And I didn't open the door to saying that if you innocently or if you accidentally cause the death of an innocent civilian that you're a terrorist. But there are people in this world whose goal, for some distorted political or religious reason, is to go out and kill people who are innocent, and that's what we are against.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? The EU and the United Nations right now are going to have consultations on this very question of defining terrorism. Does the United States plan on in any way participating in that, so that your definition that you've just given us would end up being the result of those processes?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not making up a new definition. If you want to know what the definitions are, legally we use two definitions; there's probably more in US law. But there's one in the Immigration Nationality Act; there's another one in Title 22 of the US Code. But, as I said, the G-7 will cooperate against terrorism, the UN is cooperating against terrorism. This has gone forward. I am sure there are many in the world that need -- that have this discussion. But I don't think there's any doubt of what we're going after this time.
QUESTION: But the two bodies that -- back to Jonathan's question -- obviously there's enough ambiguity for the European Union and the United Nations, following the Security Council resolution --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly what you're referring to. Maybe we're making a mountain out of a molehill here on both sides.
MR. BOUCHER: But let me go find out if there is such a meeting, if we're participating. All I can say is, practically speaking -- and that's what we're talking about in the end, is practical cooperation against terrorism. The world has seemed to manage to go ahead against terrorism and to move strongly against al-Qaida without encountering a definitional problem at this point.
QUESTION: Speaking of cooperation, reports that US -- State Department officials have met with Musa Kusa in London are causing some angst amongst family members of the Pan Am 103 victims.
MR. BOUCHER: This is one of the individuals who showed up at the meeting we had with the Libyans in London. I'm going to have to review my index again.
QUESTION: Can we go back to --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll get back to it. This is an individual who showed up with the Libyan delegation. We didn't vet the Libyan delegation that we were going to meet with. He wasn't the leader of the delegation. He was on the delegation.
Certainly, we're quite aware of him and his past. This is the Libyan intelligence chief. He was part of the delegation in those trilateral discussions in London last week. They didn't vet the delegation with us, nor did we vet our attendees with them. These talks were a continuation of previous talks. The main element on our side is the need to comply with the requirements of UN resolutions, and we delivered that message. And we expect the Libyan delegation -- all of the Libyan delegation -- to take that message back.
QUESTION: Are you saying that you were surprised to see him when -- or that your delegation was surprised to see -- or had no --
MR. BOUCHER: We had no indication one way or the other who the people were going to be. So we didn't vet the list.
QUESTION: You said you were aware of his past. What is his past? Do you have any -- do you know that he's done any bad things?
MR. BOUCHER: No. Well, I mean, I think the basic issue is that he is a Libyan intelligence chief. And as we all know, in the --
QUESTION: Would you expect a Libyan intelligence officer to go to such a meeting? I mean, it would seem -- I don't know. Would you? In previous meetings, have Libyan intelligence officials been present?
MR. BOUCHER: Can I finish a sentence, please? We know this gentleman is the head of Libyan intelligence, and as you remember, in the Pan Am 103 case, Libyan intelligence agents were convicted of carrying out the Pan Am 103 bombing.
QUESTION: With him being there, does that mean that things other than Pan Am 103 were discussed, perhaps any Libyan cooperation in the coalition?
MR. BOUCHER: No, the issue for these trilateral meetings is the issue of compliance with the UN resolutions for Pan Am 103, and the need for full compliance.
QUESTION: Richard, did he try to take it -- did his presence there on the Libyan delegation try to take it beyond the initial purpose of the meeting, which is to talk about that case? Did they try to expand the agenda?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not here to talk about an expanded agenda. We talked about a particular thing at a particular meeting that we reported to you about before. We're looking for answers from Libya. We're looking for compliance with the UN resolutions. If this representative or any other representative -- that's what we expect them to do, whoever is there -- convey that message back and get us the answers and the compliance we need.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the Taliban (inaudible)? The President yesterday said --
MR. BOUCHER: We have people with other questions.
QUESTION: Do you know if this is the first time that he's come to one of these meetings? And when he did show up, was there any discussion amongst the US delegation that there would be repercussions from including him in the conversations?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I know of. I don't know that he was at any previous meetings, nor do I know that it was a special issue of consideration at this point.
QUESTION: Did it only become an issue when family members complained?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I mean, we noted that he was there. But I don't think it was -- you're sort of asking, did we threaten to walk out. I don't think so.
QUESTION: No, but was there discussion that this is a little uncomfortable, but we need the information --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was noted that he was there. That's about as much as I can say.
QUESTION: Do you think that the Libyans have a role to play in the coalition against finding new terrorists? I mean, do you think they --
MR. BOUCHER: We have, for a long, long time, called upon Libya to definitively end any association with terrorism that they have had from the past, and one of those things they must do in that regard is to fully comply with the UN requirements on the Pan Am 103.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about the President's offer last night -- second- chance offer, shorthand? Did anybody -- was that it? Is that how the message got to the Taliban? Or did Pakistan or anybody else intercede for the US? Have you heard anything in response? Is there a response? Is there any indication how the message was received by Taliban?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the President said before they need to decide, they need to kick him out. That's what he said again last night. They need to kick out the al-Qaida organization and dismantle it in Afghanistan. It's not a new message.
QUESTION: No, no.
MR. BOUCHER: And that they need to do that yesterday, they need to do that today, they need to do that tomorrow.
QUESTION: It was a second chance for them to get out from under the bombing, should they comply with the initial request.
MR. BOUCHER: We haven't had any particular discussions with the Taliban on this issue. I haven't seen any reports that the Pakistani Government has either, frankly. I don't think they've had any discussions for a week or more.
QUESTION: The President has now decided to reopen the intelligence briefings on Capitol Hill to all the members of the committee. Does this building welcome that decision? Are you confident that confidential information can be kept confidential?
MR. BOUCHER: As I think we discussed yesterday, we will be keeping Congress informed and working with our congressional committees. There are, I guess, six congressional committees that we work with. We will be briefing members when necessary in closed session on a classified basis. And we'll also be able to brief cleared staff members of those committees.
So we will do that, and I believe the President has decided that under proper arrangements, that that can be done safely without the fear of disclosure.
QUESTION: Did the State Department lobby either way on behalf -- was there any input from other agencies?
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't describe it as lobbying. We've been working with legislative people and the White House across the board to make sure that we were all able to fulfill what the President asked us to, to work with Congress, keep them informed.
QUESTION: Richard, considering the Secretary's travel plans to South Asia, I'm wondering if you have anything particularly new to say about the situation in Kashmir, which -- there seems to be a little bump or a surge in violence there overnight. Is there anything new to say about the trip, given that the Secretary will be in that region in the coming days?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything particularly new to say. Certainly our policy on Kashmir has not changed.
QUESTION: Can we stay on Kashmir? How concerned are you that India is going to take advantage of the fact that Pakistan's attention is really diverted right now to the campaign against Afghanistan to strike back against Pakistan for these militant groups?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't accept the premise in the question. We have been working with both sides independently but positively on the coalition. We have relationships with both Pakistan and India that have been developing positively and, as I have said in recent days, we have always worked with them and encouraged them to take steps to reduce tension and we would continue to want to see them do that now.
QUESTION: So you are not saying -- Secretary Powell won't be cautioning India to not strike against Pakistan like that?
MR. BOUCHER: As I have said, we have always encouraged them to take positive steps to reduce tensions, and we will continue to do that now.
QUESTION: A related one. Jaish-e-Mohammed is on the Treasury's latest list of 39 entities. Does that have any significance for possible designation of the JEM?
MR. BOUCHER: If it did, we would tell you when we reached a determination. I think probably the legal significance is different and therefore I wouldn't draw any immediate conclusions on that.
But, as you know, we have always listed them as other groups in our Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. So it is appropriate that we not allow American finances to support them.
QUESTION: The Pakistani religious parties have called for a massive strike on the day that Mr. Powell arrives. Do you have any comment on this?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't.
QUESTION: Can I continue with this? The deaths in Afghanistan yesterday, you disputed the -- you didn't dispute, but you said there was no information of the death toll, the civilian death toll. Do you have anything further on the civilian death toll?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid that is not something that we are in a position to confirm or talk about. If there is any information about that, it would probably have to come out of the Pentagon.
QUESTION: One more on that. Now that Secretary Rumsfeld has kind of admitted that US planes may have hit a de-mining mission, can you talk about any kind of contacts you have had with the UN regarding the diplomacy on this?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been in touch with the United Nations throughout this period and certainly since these deaths occurred. I think we have made quite clear that whatever the circumstances of their death, it is always very sad to us when a UN employee, such as these people, die. But we have been in contact with the United Nations, and one of the things we do try to do with them is to understand their circumstances so we can do whatever we can to avoid any civilian casualties or unfortunate incidents.
QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about Kofi Annan being awarded the Nobel Prize?
MR. BOUCHER: It is terrific news. The Secretary talked to him this morning, called him briefly just to congratulate him. We are delighted to see that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the United Nations have been selected to receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize. We are pleased that both the United Nations as an institution and its Secretary General are being recognized this way. We think the Nobel Committee could not have made a better choice.
Kofi Annan has indeed provided remarkable leadership at the United Nations. Two recent examples are the strong backing he has given to the fight against terrorism and the focus he has brought to conquering AIDS. And, of course, there are many other examples as well.
So the Secretary spoke to him this morning, congratulated him, and we think the choice is very good and entirely appropriate.
QUESTION: To go back to Afghanistan, the Taliban have agreed to let journalists in to see the village they say has been destroyed by bombing. Would you welcome this in the interests of free flow of information?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess what I would say is we would welcome the free flow of information, if that's indeed what they intend. But to bring people on a guided tour to a selected location might not constitute free flow of information. So we will have to see what they do and whether the journalists themselves are satisfied that they are getting a good look at the actual situation inside Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Well, this is really going to throw you, but telephone conversations, right? The stories -- I'm not going to start the Mid-East thing all over again because, frankly, we've tried it every day with different people and we know the US answer. But has the Secretary been on the phone of late with Arafat, Sharon or Peres that you know of? Al Shaab is now saying you've got a plan and you're going to put it out soon.
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have a plan. We're not --
QUESTION: Not pressuring anybody, just have a plan -- we don't even have an idea in our head what to do.
MR. BOUCHER: It's not that. The plan is the Mitchell recommendations, the plan is stop the violence, reduce the tension, build the confidence, get back to political process negotiations. We all understand what those are about. But we don't have peace proposals to make at this point.
QUESTION: -- Mitchell Plan because of the asbestos scare --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's white powder.
QUESTION: -- but I don't remember the Mitchell Plan giving the Palestinians control of all Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, for instance.
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Mitchell Plan brings us to negotiation. And, obviously, we all know what the negotiations are about, but not that. He did talk to Prime Minister Sharon this morning, he talked to Chairman Arafat yesterday. He talked to Chairman Arafat on Wednesday. I'm missing Thursday here. He talked to Foreign Minister Peres on Tuesday.
So, yes, he has been making phone calls continuously on the Middle East to the leaders there.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the President said yesterday (inaudible) might be useful, should we read this as angling for a gesture from the Palestinians in the hope that --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's what the President said. I think he said --
QUESTION: No, no, I'd like for you to interpret it.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, but I am not going to interpret it the way you interpreted it.
QUESTION: Okay. How would you interpret it?
MR. BOUCHER: I want to remind you of what the President actually said. I am going to remind you of what the President actually said, which is that, if it were useful, he would meet with any particular party. So if it's useful, he will do it.
QUESTION: Richard, how do you explain this plethora of reports that keep coming out saying that you do have a plan. You insist you don't. You don't have a plan, but you do have a clue? Is that what you're trying to say?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, that's right. (Laughter.) Your rephrasings today are particularly wonderful.
I do want to say --
QUESTION: What about Chinese human rights?
QUESTION: Oh, yes, is that coming down today?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try to answer Matt's question. I don't know why people are looking for peace proposals from the United States. Clearly, we have been working on a strategy all along. We have been working with the parties on a strategy to get back to negotiations. We certainly hope we can get down that path of the Mitchell report, that we can get to negotiations. We all, I think, have ideas and understandings about what those negotiations are about. They are not brand new. But we are not at the point of putting forward peace proposals or anything like that.
QUESTION: About China, do you know anything about the indictment of Fong Fuming, an engineer, US citizen, who apparently was indicted by the Chinese?
MR. BOUCHER: There is a little bit I can say. This gets into Privacy Act consideration. Mr. Fong was, indeed, indicted on September 29th. As you know, we have -- well, maybe you don't know, but we have known about this case for some time. We have consistently urged the Chinese Government to resolve the case as soon as possible and will continue to do so. He has been in detention for 19 months while the case was being investigated. And we think that is a violation of international standards, certainly. Privacy Act considerations don't let me go any farther into the individual's circumstances.
QUESTION: Has he received consular visits?
MR. BOUCHER: We received consular notification when he was detained, and we have had consular visits since then. We have kept in touch with his family closely throughout.
QUESTION: You mean, if he were not in good health, you fear you couldn't tell us because of privacy concerns?
MR. BOUCHER: Because individuals have to sign Privacy Act waivers that allow us to give individual information. When we first go on the first consular visit to you when you get arrested, we say do you want us to talk about you to your family, to the Congress and to the media. And if you don't check the box that says to the media, I don't stand up here and talk about it.
QUESTION: Did they have a number of consular visits yet?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have an exact number, but the last one was mid- August, August 15th.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about the timing of this pattern of the Chinese of indicting American citizens or permanent residents in the US before big state visits from US leaders? That they may be using these as bargaining chips in some ways in other kinds of policy? I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: I think this gentleman has been in detention 19 months. We think that is way too long to be in detention under investigation without being indicted. So I guess I go back to my new favorite saying. Just because you can connect the dots doesn't mean there is a picture there.
QUESTION: Is that in Secretary Powell's brief? And if he goes again, would he be inclined to?
MR. BOUCHER: We have had, as you know, human rights dialogue with China. We have discussed specific cases. Certainly, the concerns -- the condition of American citizens are very important to us but I don't think we've ever specified -- well, we have from time to time. But most of the time, we are not in a position to discuss which specific cases we raise. And at this point, I don't think I can say that we will.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) human rights?
MR. BOUCHER: Human rights dialogue?
QUESTION: Richard, do you have anything about charges? You didn't say anything about the charges involved.
MR. BOUCHER: He hasn't been charged yet. He's still being investigated, they say.
QUESTION: Well, he's been indicted. That --
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, he was indicted on September 29th. That's right. That's where we started. He was indicted for stealing Chinese state secrets and bribery, according to what we know of the court.
QUESTION: Can you speak a little bit about the results --
MR. BOUCHER: You want to know about the US-China human rights talks, right?
QUESTION: And if you got anything more from Mr. Kelly on the proliferation talks.
MR. BOUCHER: And the proliferation discussions that we had in Beijing? All right.
Human rights first. The tenth round of US-China human rights dialogue ended yesterday. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Lorne Craner, and Chinese Foreign Ministry Director General of International Organizations Li Baodong held constructive talks. During their three-day visit, the Chinese received a clear and consistent message about the importance of human rights in the US-China relationship. We had frank exchanges on a wide range of topics.
The Chinese delegation had a number of meetings outside the State Department, made site visits to Washington area institutions to observe how US institutions address human rights issues.
We have discussed during this round having another round of the dialogue with the Chinese, but at this point no final decisions or dates have been set.
QUESTION: There is no agreement to continue them at the moment?
MR. BOUCHER: I'd say we have discussed the continuation, we've discussed having future rounds, but we haven't set it yet.
QUESTION: Can you say where they visited?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess I don't have that. I will have to check for you.
QUESTION: Did they discuss Xinjiang and the status of the Uighur dissent?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I am told that the answer to, did they discuss X, Y or Z is always yes because they really discussed everything that we've raised and discussed with the Chinese before having to do with human rights.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, the proliferation discussions we had. This was in Beijing October 10 and 11 during Assistant Secretary Kelly's visit. We had informal policy level talks to discuss missile nonproliferation issues.
Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation John Wolf led the US side. The People's Republic of China Arms Control and Disarmament Director General Liu Jeiyi led the Chinese side.
The US viewed these discussions as an opportunity to resolve an important issue in our bilateral relationship prior to the meetings of the US and Chinese Presidents next week in Shanghai. The United States made clear that our intention was to achieve an authoritative clarification of China's willingness to implement fully the terms of the US-China November 2000 missile nonproliferation arrangement and to take appropriate action to implement these commitments. We are frankly disappointed that China was not in a position to provide authoritative assurances in this regard. Nonproliferation issues will continue to be a subject on the US-China agenda and we will continue to raise this issue at all levels in the course of our exchanges with China.
QUESTION: Given that you were disappointed, did the Chinese in those discussions reiterate what they have told members of the media in Washington, that they will not discuss at an expert level these issues if the sanctions against the MMEC Corporation persist?
MR. BOUCHER: As we have dealt before with the briefings that the Chinese do in Washington, I am not in a position to comment on the Chinese position. But the sanctions that we imposed on September 1st against these entities remain in place.
QUESTION: Richard, the clarification that you sought was specifically related to the sales that triggered these sanctions? Or is it a wider --
MR. BOUCHER: The clarifications that we were looking for concerned a number of areas from the specific situation of these corporations and companies to the broader issues of how they were going to implement the understandings of last November. So the clarification was the authoritative assurances that they were going to implement all aspects of those arrangements.
QUESTION: But within that, a subset within that, specifically the events that triggered the sanctions earlier last month --
MR. BOUCHER: We are looking for assurances on the whole broad area of everything involved in November 2000. One of the things involved in the November 2000 arrangement was the termination of any sales by companies. And these are companies that made sales that we had to sanction them for.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 2:30 p.m.)[End]
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