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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Daily Press Briefings > 2002 > Press Briefing Transcripts > January
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 31, 2002



1 Sec. Powells Participation in the Forum / Bilats with NATO, France, Israel, S. Korea


1, 4, 5, 8 Bilateral Meeting in New York/ Arafat / Sharons Leadership Skills / Mitchell Report


1, 11 Bilateral Meeting in New York / Comments on Dialogue with the North


1 Meeting in Nassau with Caribbean Leaders


2-4 Mutual Legal Assistance / Strategic Talks / Missile Sales / Economic Reform / TV 6


6 Discussion with King Abdullah / Restoring Calm in the Middle East


7, 17 Iraqi National Congress / New Aid to Opposition $2.4 million


8, 9, 10 WSJ Reporter / Arrest of Sheikh Gilani / Close Cooperation / Travel Warning


11, 12 Arming People Inside Afghanistan / Bonn Accords


12, 13 Selling of Chemical Weapons


13 Contingent of Infiltrators Had Crossed the Line of Control


13 Presidents Initiative / State Departments Role / Peace Corps


13 Foreign Ministers Request for Head of State Immunity from US Lawsuits


14, 15, 16 Efforts on Fighting Terrorism / Weapons of Mass Destruction / Technological Cooperation


16 Boarding of Syrian Ships off the Coast of Cyprus


16, 17 Extension of NATO Mission / International Donor Conf. on May 12 in Brussels


17, 18 Support of FARC Guerrillas


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can off the top, I'd just like to mention two things. As you all know, the Secretary will be in New York tomorrow for the meetings of the World Economic Forum. While he is there, he will be participating in the events up there. He will be participating in a panel entitled, "Building a Coalition for a Stable World: Who Will Share the Burden?" and he'll participate in a roundtable discussion with a smaller group of younger international leaders, who are part of the group called "Global Leaders of Tomorrow." For details on coverage of those events, check with the World Economic Forum. They are organizing the coverage, and I think there are live feeds of those events for people who want them.

In addition, while he is in New York, he will be having a number of bilateral meetings with foreign ministers. He will be meeting with Secretary General Robertson of NATO, Foreign Minister Vedrine of France, Foreign Minister Peres of Israel, Korean Foreign Minister Han, and perhaps one or two other of the leaders who are up in New York for these meetings.

In addition, let me mention we'll put up a sign-up sheet today for a trip next week that the Secretary is making to Nassau. He is going down for meetings with Caribbean leaders. As you know, he has had such meetings before, but we have been looking to do one in the region. And so this is that event. And he will go down to Nassau on the 6th, come back the 7th, after meetings with officials of the Bahamas, as well as Caribbean leaders.

QUESTION: Scrape out one night in Nassau?

MR. BOUCHER: That's the way the schedule worked out.

QUESTION: Does that mean that he'll be back here to attend the Sharon meetings?

MR. BOUCHER: That's his intention.

QUESTION: That's the idea?


And with those two brief announcements, I'd be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: Well, you spoke of young leaders. The Russians seem to have a young prime minister -- at least he looks young to me. Can you tell us a little more about the Secretary's meeting today? Because very little was said over there. We did see some handshakes and champagne toasts and formalities.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the occasion, as you know, was the signing of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Russia, which we think is a very positive event. It sets a strong legal basis for US-Russian cooperation. In criminal matters, it's a useful tool for continued cooperation and increased cooperation in fighting terrorism and transnational crime. That treaty was ratified by the Russian Government in October 2000. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification in December of 2001.

So what the Secretary and the Prime Minister did today -- or the Secretary and the Ambassador, I think, actually signed -- was to bring completion to that process that sets a new basis for US-Russian cooperation against crime, particularly terrorism and transnational crime.

They also had a meeting and discussion this morning between the Secretary and -- I guess Mr. Kasyanov is called the Chairman of Government. They talked about a wide variety of issues on the US-Russian agenda, but I would say that particularly they talked about how to develop and strengthen our economic and business relationships.

QUESTION: Any continuation of the strategic talks that had been held a day earlier? And, if I had -- if there had been a chance to ask him a question, I would have asked if the US considers Russia's insistence on a legally binding format for weapons cutbacks a hurdle to an accord by the time of the summit.

MR. BOUCHER: I think, as I expressed yesterday, that the issue of what form the agreement can take is one that they are discussing, that we are discussing with the Russians, and that will be worked out during the course of our discussions on a new strategic framework, and particularly the offensive reductions that both of us have announced. So I don't think there is anything new on that from me or the Secretary, frankly.

As far as their discussions this morning, I think the emphasis was on economic and business matters. Frankly, I'm not sure if the strategic issues came up, but we did have some very intensive discussions with Mr. Mamedov here on Tuesday, and then I think he had some more meetings around town yesterday. So those matters continue to be discussed with the Russians in anticipation of the two presidents getting together later this spring.

QUESTION: You talk about offensive cuts. Are you talking about weapons that would be destroyed, or that would be simply unplugged and left ready to use?

MR. BOUCHER: As you understand the President's program, it involves both. But what it ends up being is a very significant reduction by approximately two-thirds and a number of nuclear weapons that are active and in service.

QUESTION: And roughly how many would remain on inactive service (inaudible) ready to go?

MR. BOUCHER: That's a question that can be answered and has been answered at the Pentagon. I frankly don't have the answer in my head.

QUESTION: Well, is it more than half of the weapons that are going to be withdrawn?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't do nuclear weapons numbers.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Did their bilateral discussions include sales of missiles or sales of goods to Iran that we have been in constant discussions with?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me double-check on that. I wasn't in the meeting, and I didn't get that detailed a readout. That has been a subject of repeated discussion with the Russians. Our Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation was in Moscow about 10 days ago to discuss that. There were additional discussions in the last few days with members of Mamedov's delegation, and I think with Mr. Mamedov as well. So it's an issue that we continue to raise, because as the President said, we're going to do everything possible to ensure that countries that have ties with terrorists don't develop weapons of mass destruction as well.

QUESTION: They're forcing us to ask questions about economics, I'm afraid. Can you go into a little more -- I mean, we're talking about the climate for investments, for Americans -- are you thinking, have they made progress toward an orderly banking system? Can American businessmen emerge from their hotels and not be hit over the head? I mean, what is it you're concentrating on?

MR. BOUCHER: As the Secretary has explained in the past in many of his discussions, what we're looking for, what we're supporting is both the economic reforms that President Putin has put in place, that the Duma has started to pass -- I think there's been tax reform and a few other things -- and the continuation of that program. And then also just the general attitude -- the attitude towards the rule of law, and that the importance of the rule of law, of anti-corruption efforts and other things are necessary to create a good business climate, not only for foreign investors, who are essential, but also for Russian entrepreneurs.

And so these things have been part of our discussions with Russia all along, and when we discuss the economic and business matters, as we do today, I'd say those are the two essential elements.

QUESTION: Are you supporting debt relief or any type of debt restructuring?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there's anything new on that. I'd have to double-check.

QUESTION: Can you check if there's something on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I'll check. There's been -- at various moments, there have been various discussions. I'll have to check where we are.

QUESTION: What about entrepreneurs like TV-6?

MR. BOUCHER: Absolutely. We have stressed over and over again, and we'll continue to do so, that the rule of law involves a fairness to all, and that the building of a new economy requires information -- open, independent, fair information. And that means a free press, as we have always said, as an essential part of building a modern society. And we will continue to make that clear.

QUESTION: Did it come up today?

MR. BOUCHER: Did it come up today? I will have to double-check. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Can we move on to the Middle East? The Secretary wasn't asked about this, but he probably should have been. Prime Minister Sharon has been quoted as making some rather inflammatory remarks in an Israeli newspaper, and it has caused quite a stir, especially in Europe. I am wondering what the United States makes of his comments that he wished he had killed Arafat 20 years ago.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment on the remarks that fly back and forth all the time out there. I think what is important from our point of view, and what we have stressed, are that as Chairman Arafat must take steps against the violence. If he does that, we also look to the Israeli side to move to ease some of the restrictions on Palestinian life and things like that. We look for them to reestablish a partnership in that manner.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, didn't -- you say you don't like to make comments on -- you don't like to comment on remarks that fly back and forth. But I seem to recall earlier this week you had some -- you said some things that were rather negative about Chairman Arafat's comments over the weekend about jihad.

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we had --

QUESTION: And you have nothing to say about this Sharon statement?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any particular comment. Obviously we look to both sides, including the Israeli Government, to move this in a positive direction, to avoid remarks that can inflame the situation.

QUESTION: Well, if you decide at some point, or someone decides at some point today, that you might want to say something about Sharon, as you did about what Arafat said, could you make sure that we get that? Because I think that people in the region will be especially interested to hear that you are mute on this.

MR. BOUCHER: I am not mute on the subject, Matt. Obviously when we look at what both sides are saying, remarks like these can be unhelpful. We clearly look for both sides to take the actions and avoid rhetoric, take the actions that can restore a positive sense in the region and avoid actions that detract from that.

I think we need to make clear, as the Secretary has repeatedly, that the issue now is to stop the violence. That is the only way we can move down the road that we have been looking to move down that will improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as give us a prospect of negotiating peace. And the factor right now that is critical is ending the violence and for Chairman Arafat to take steps in that direction.

QUESTION: Can I pursue that with you? This will be even because it will go to both sides. Solana yesterday said that only the Palestinian Authority can be the interlocutor. This is after he came down from seeing the Secretary. Despite all the problems you have found with Arafat, the criticism, is he still the guy that you've got to deal with?

And the King today threw in a kind of a quick little aside there. He spoke about the frustrations and all the -- the frustrations -- I asked him if he meant -- if that was code for the Palestinians. He said no, I also mean it in terms of the Israelis. He said despite -- forget about their leaders. I took that as an inference that he didn't necessarily feel that Ariel Sharon represented the sentiments of the Israeli people. Forget about their leaders. The Israeli people want to move ahead with peacemaking.

So, number one --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to stand here and try to interpret remarks the way you do, so if there is a question about the US position --

QUESTION: On Arafat, number one, is he still it as far as --

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has made clear many times that this is the person that the Palestinians have as their leader, have selected as their leader; that we see him as the leader of the Palestinian Authority, and therefore we have called on him to exercise leadership and exercise authority in order to stop the violence.

QUESTION: And do you feel that Sharon represents his people?

MR. BOUCHER: Sharon is a freely elected leader of a democratic country.

QUESTION: Did you see these comments by Ariel Sharon, or are you just -- you don't want to comment on them because you haven't seen them?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we've seen them.

QUESTION: So if I could press this one more, why is Yasser Arafat calling for a jihad inappropriate and not helpful to the situation, directly saying that, and Ariel Sharon saying that he wished he had killed Arafat not equally as unhelpful?

MR. BOUCHER: I said it was not helpful. I'm happy to offer that if that is what you want. But the issue is where is the issue. The issue is we saw the remarks. We saw remarks where he talked about Lebanon 20 years ago. We saw remarks about a partner, about talking about Arafat as a potential partner again if he does things. Our emphasis has always been on what do we need to resolve the situation now. If we see the steps to end the violence, we clearly think the Israelis need to take steps in partnership with the Palestinians. That is where we keep the emphasis: What does it take to resolve the situation now? Clearly, remarks that inflame the situation or that are unhelpful are unhelpful, but let's keep the emphasis on what do we need to do to resolve the situation now.

QUESTION: Did King Abdullah and the Secretary discuss anything about Iraq? If so, could you tell us?

MR. BOUCHER: They went through a number of subjects. Obviously, as the Secretary said, we welcome the visit of close friends, and we talk about a lot of things. They talked about the need to restore calm between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That was, I guess, the principal topic.

They also talked about Iraq. They talked about the need for Iraq to comply fully with all the United Nations resolutions. And that is a determination from our side. That is the determination from the Jordanian side as well.

QUESTION: Could you clarify -- you may have said this before, but what is the US position now regarding the Iraqi National Congress, given that Mr. Chalabi is a criminal -- considered a criminal in Jordan?

MR. BOUCHER: Nothing like that was discussed here. And I think you know that we are funding the Iraqi National Congress, and I think we had information yesterday, in fact, about the new funding that we are providing.

QUESTION: Did King Abdullah ask the United States to -- not to isolate Chairman Arafat?

MR. BOUCHER: You're going to have to ask the Jordanian side what King Abdullah asked for. But I think we all know -- the Secretary made quite clear in the meeting our view, that Chairman Arafat needs to act to stop the violence, that that's the only way to start down this road towards a better future and a resolution of the issues politically.

QUESTION: Did you sense that King Abdullah shares this view that Arafat is the main obstacle to peace right now?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you can take that from his public remarks; his interest is in seeing that violence stop and that we get back to negotiations and improvements in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

QUESTION: King Abdullah several times today used the word "formula" or "finding a formula" to get back to a cease-fire and peace talks and so on. Is there some new proposal afoot that would fit this definition of formula that came up during these talks this morning?

MR. BOUCHER: Didn't he just tell you no? I'll stick with the King's answer on that one. He said no.

QUESTION: Okay. Formulas, perhaps? Several? I don't know.

MR. BOUCHER: If you want to ask the King the same question four times, ask him, but not me.

QUESTION: On the Iraqi National Congress, during the meetings yesterday, was there discussion about their desire to do operations inside Iraq and whether or not the State Department might reconsider its position on that?

MR. BOUCHER: The meetings yesterday, I think first of all, recognized the good faith effort that they are making to address the weaknesses that were identified by the Inspector General. So that principal topic at the moment with them. As you know, we have released approximately 2.4 million for them to continue their full range of activities over the next three months.

In terms of negotiating a new grant, we look forward to doing that. We are not -- the process hasn't formally started yet. We will continue to work with them to support a wide variety of programs.

As far as work inside Iraq, I think you remember there are some issues with some of the programs already raised by the Inspector General. We will have to deal with those non-inside Iraq issues as well. Liberty TV Broadcast is one issue raised. The need for a viable humanitarian aid proposal as well.

So for the question of inside Iraq, we are still in the same position. We don't fund activities inside Iraq at this time because of concerns for the viability of such operations and for the safety and security of those who might be involved in such projects.

QUESTION: And you wouldn't be reconsidering that policy in the wake of the President's comments the other night?

MR. BOUCHER: What we are looking for is ways to continue to support the INC, to expand and support the programs that they have. But at this point, that is the policy on not pushing this into Iraq.

QUESTION: Richard, can you clarify whether you're not ready to let them operate inside of Iraq because of the viability of their specific proposals for the programs, or because there hasn't been a policy decision whether you are ready to support groups to go inside Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's these two considerations: one is the viability of any operations that they might try to conduct and the second would be the safety and security of people who might be involved. So those are the two policy considerations that have led to that being US policy.

QUESTION: No, but is it a general concern of the viability of any such program, or is it the programs that this particular umbrella group is proposing?

MR. BOUCHER: I suppose both of those are factors with regard to this particular group and the particular kinds of activities that they might propose.

QUESTION: Richard, can I extremely briefly just go back to Jonathan's question before people go on with Iraq? The King did talk about formulas and mechanisms, and you just said, no, there aren't any new ones. You're still talking about Tenet and Mitchell, right?

MR. BOUCHER: Exactly.

QUESTION: And they're getting pretty dusty. You know, the Secretary says we won't give up hope, that hope springs eternal for Middle East peace, but are these plans also eternal, even if they are never actually used? You don't intend to look for another way; Tenet and Mitchell are it?

MR. BOUCHER: We have tried to make clear all along there is no Plan B. We have made clear even before the Mitchell Report came in that we felt that the situation that we were in a year ago unfortunately is very similar to the situation we are in now, where you had to end the violence, restore some sense of confidence in daily life, and get back to negotiations on the political issue. That was the only way for both parties ultimately to resolve their problems, for both parties to get what they want, including for the Palestinians, whose interests are not served in the end by the violence.

And so that remains, I think, the attitude, the construct, the framework for our activities, and Mitchell and Tenet remain specific proposals on how to carry that out. So we're not looking around for some new ideas at this point.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the Daniel Pearl case? New concerns, the 24-hour --

QUESTION: Let's get this one thing before you switch, just a loose end on the Middle East. Has the Secretary spoken to Mr. Arafat and Mr. Sharon in the last couple of days?



QUESTION: Just one other thing. You said today, "We clearly think the Israelis need to take steps." Now, what steps would you like to see the Israelis take?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I said steps to ease the restrictions, to ease the hardships of the Palestinian people, and to move forward. Let me give it to you in a slightly more formal version.

QUESTION: Okay, my question is, well, the Secretary said that he had talked to Musharraf, but I wanted to know if that was -- if he was referring to the call earlier this week, or if he spoke --

MR. BOUCHER: He was referring to the call earlier, yes.

If Arafat acts decisively and effectively against the violence and terror, Israel should move to alleviate economic pressures on the Palestinian people, to ease closures, and work to create an environment that sustains these efforts and ensures their effectiveness.

QUESTION: Pearl. Do we know anything, or does the State Department know anything about this sheikh that they have arrested, Sheikh Gilani or his group? Just tell us everything.

MR. BOUCHER: That's the problem. I don't think I'm in a position to tell you everything about what we know, about groups or an ongoing investigation. So I'm going to have to believe that it wouldn't be in the best interests of Mr. Pearl for us to do that.

I can make clear that the Pakistani police are continuing their efforts. We are assisting them, US law enforcement officials are assisting them. The cooperation is very close, and as the Secretary told you, the senior Pakistani officials are interested and involved. Our Embassy in Islamabad and the State Department have been in very close touch with Mr. Pearl's family and with the Wall Street Journal to work with them, to keep them updated. The Embassy met today with American journalists in Pakistan to advise them on the security situation. And we have taken other measures to increase the security awareness of official and non-official Americans. We issued that new Travel Warning yesterday to include information on possible kidnappings and terrorist actions.

Mr. Pearl should be released immediately and unconditionally. His continued detention is no help to any cause. This continuing to hold him, threatening to kill him would only hurt the people who are holding him. He is a Wall Street Journal reporter, and he should be released immediately and unconditionally. He is a respected journalist. He has no connection with the US Government.

QUESTION: With the arrest of Sheikh Gilani, does the United States believe they are going in the right direction (inaudible) with Daniel Pearl?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not going to comment on the process of investigation, on the progress of the investigation. I think I really have to let that proceed, and it would not help Mr. Pearl for me to try to talk about it or second-guess it from here. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: The Travel Warning revision, although it doesn't ask people to defer travel, it says that it's based on these unsubstantiated reports of threats. You guys don't usually change this language without some kind of substantiation, do you? I mean, did -- you believe the threats against American journalists in general are credible enough to say, be even more cautious?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the fact that Mr. Pearl has been taken clearly indicates that some of the threats are serious. Some of these threats are unsubstantiated, but there's something out there that people need to be very careful about.

QUESTION: Without getting into the details of the investigation, this group that Mr. Gilani belonged to used to be on the State Department terrorism list and was taken off. Could you say why?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that.

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you.

QUESTION: North Korea?

QUESTION: Wait a minute. One more question on Pearl. What do you make, if anything, of the -- I don't want to say conversation -- of the discussion going back and forth between the Wall Street Journal and the abductors, and them offering for him to be a -- use him as a messenger? I mean, in cases like this, what does the US Government -- they seek to maintain a dialogue with abductors?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I don't have any particular comment.

QUESTION: Richard, it's been almost a week now, I think, since we went through all the discussion of the status of the POWs. Are we getting any closer to --

MR. BOUCHER: The non-POW status of the detainees.

QUESTION: Sorry, the detainees.

MR. BOUCHER: If there's any doubt about that after a week of discussion, let me say it again.

QUESTION: Okay. I'm speaking -- yes. What's going on now? I mean, are you still discussing this internally, or have you come to any conclusions yet?

MR. BOUCHER: There's no final conclusion on that. There's been, I think, continued work by the lawyers, continued discussion. But I'm not aware of any resolution of that.

QUESTION: And (inaudible) coming up, which the decision might be taken?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of anything particular.

QUESTION: So what's -- I mean, what's holding it up? Is it just --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not saying it's being held up. It's being worked on.

QUESTION: There was a case of an American ambassador that was kidnapped in Sudan. This was many years ago. And after President Nixon said that he would not negotiate with these kidnappers, the American ambassador was subsequently killed. Are you at all concerned that by making a blanket statement, refusing negotiations, that you could actually put some danger into the situation?

MR. BOUCHER: I think our policies on this are widely known. They have been expressed many times in situations around the world. We have made clear that, as the Secretary says, that some of these things that are appearing in the e-mails are not things that we would be prepared to do. But we have also made clear our very strong interests in the welfare of Mr. Pearl, our expectation that he should be and must be released immediately and unconditionally, and our support for the Pakistanis in their investigation.

So that's, I think, just a clear expression of what we stand for in this situation.

QUESTION: Korea. The US Ambassador to South Korea, Mr. Hubbard, said yesterday yes, he is ready to make frank dialogue with North Korea anytime, anyplace. However, the US should have some conditions, like inspection on nuclear -- their nuclear site, and missile production of North Korea. What is the true position of the US on these vital issues?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, it shouldn't be any surprise that the true position of the United States is the one that Ambassador Hubbard, our Ambassador, expressed, and that I expressed here yesterday. We are ready to talk to North Korea anytime, anyplace, without preconditions, in a serious manner about the issues that the President identified last year in his statement.

At the same time, the President has also made clear that there is this growing danger of states that have contacts with terrorists, developing weapons of mass destruction, and we're going to deal with that situation. If states like Iran or North Korea want to sit down and deal seriously on it and talk about it, and we can remove the dangers that way, then so much the better. If not, we are pursuing a wide variety of efforts to strengthen international control regimes, to use our law on sanctions where necessary, to talk to key countries like Russia and China, and work with allies and friends in the coalition in any number of other ways, including by fighting terrorism to ensure that these threats are removed, and to make sure that, as the President said, that America has the -- to make sure that America can be safe and our friends can be safe. And America, as the President said, has the right to do what is necessary to ensure our security.

QUESTION: Richard, has there been any message from the North Koreans or discussion through the New York channel since the President's speech?

MR. BOUCHER: Since the President's speech? I'll have to check. I don't know.

QUESTION: Will the US talk direct to -- with Pyongyang or their -- sort of their New York tendency to begin to talk?

MR. BOUCHER: We have always maintained a certain level of contact through New York, but we have also, in the past, when we have talked about dialogue, we have expected it to be with other people perhaps at a slightly higher level.

QUESTION: On Iran, do you have any comment on reports that Iran has been arming people inside Afghanistan in the Herat region to possibly stage an insurgency against the Karzai Government?

MR. BOUCHER: We have commented before on the issues of Iran's involvement in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: I'm hoping you'll be a little more specific.

MR. BOUCHER: And we have tried to make clear that we feel that all the parties should abide by the Bonn accords. We have made clear that Iran needs to respect the new government of Afghanistan and abide by the Bonn accords to support broad-based government.

Now we have reports of heavy fighting between local commanders in Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan. We are calling on them to end their fighting immediately, to work out their differences peacefully, and to use the help of the Interim Authority in Kabul to do that.

As I mentioned, the parties came together in Bonn to create the Interim Authority, and that needs to constitute the basis for a political settlement of the conflicts and the differences inside Afghanistan. So we have called on the external parties to continue to work with and support the Bonn process, and we have called on the internal parties to do that as well.

QUESTION: But in light of new indications that's not happening, you don't have any extra concerns to possibly pass along to Iran?

MR. BOUCHER: We have passed these concerns and will continue to pass these concerns quite directly to Iran to make clear that our view is that no country should be supporting factions or warlords or individuals within the Interim Authority; but, rather, that we should all be encouraging, as we did in Bonn, all the parties to cooperate with the Interim Authority and to work out these differences peacefully.

QUESTION: Have you sent a message to the Iranians through the Swiss or --

MR. BOUCHER: We don't talk about how precisely we communicate with the Iranians, but we have communicated with the Iranians.

QUESTION: Speaking of Iranian arms, have you had any discussions with the Chinese since you have imposed the sanctions on the Chinese companies for selling these chemical weapons and biological weapons materials?

MR. BOUCHER: We had discussions with the Chinese right before we did that. I'm not sure if it has come up since then, frankly.

QUESTION: You said you were going to let us know if -- whether the Chinese had said -- had assured you that they were going to do something about this, similar to what they did with the Iraq --

MR. BOUCHER: I did? I don't remember promising to do that. But if you ask me now, I'll promise to do that.

QUESTION: Can I ask you now?

MR. BOUCHER: You can ask me now and I'll promise to see if there's any statements from the Chinese that I can point to.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: India said today that the first large contingent of infiltrators had crossed the line of control. Do you have any comment on this?

MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen that. I have to look into it.

QUESTION: A question on the President's initiative on volunteerism. Can you say if the State Department is working on any programs involved in that beyond expansion of the Peace Corps, and also what either volunteer or education programs might particularly target the Islamic world?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the problem is that you say, other than what you're doing, what are you doing. As the President pointed out in his speech, he is looking for a major expansion of the Peace Corps, and I think you will see that reflected in the President's budget. And that that is part of the overall international affairs account that we participate in, cooperate in and support in our activities overseas.

In terms of other things that we are doing, I don't know if it is volunteer activity, but we have a lot of expansion of exchanges, of support for media and media productions, of cooperation with people in the Islamic world, speakers going back and forth, groups coming back and forth, students, scholars, as well as public diplomacy efforts in the Islamic world that have been gathering momentum.

And I think you will see more and more of that as time goes on in support of the goals that the President stated, not only to increase the dialogue and understanding, but also to make clear that the values that the United States supports are, in fact, universal values.

QUESTION: You almost had an answer yesterday on the question of the Moroccan Foreign Minister's request for head of state immunity from lawsuits in the United States. Do you now have --

MR. BOUCHER: I had an answer. It was we are considering the request.

QUESTION: Oh, is that all?

MR. BOUCHER: That's the answer. We still are.

QUESTION: Richard, despite Secretary Rumsfeld's assertion that the President the other night was speaking with near perfect clarity, it appears that a lot of the rest of the world doesn't have that good of vision. The reactions have ranged from complete anger from the three "axes" of evil nations to confusion --

MR. BOUCHER: That's not too much surprise --

QUESTION: -- to confusion and a lot of anxiety from others, including in Europe, and I notice particularly from China, who are wondering about the non-diplomatic -- well, what they consider to be non-diplomatic language that was used.

Have you guys given your ambassadors or chargés or DCMs around the world any kind of advice on how to deal with the questions that are coming in, or are you just pointing them to your fine translations of the speech on the website?

MR. BOUCHER: That is another sort of other-than-what-you're-doing, what-are-you-doing question.

QUESTION: Well, what are you doing?

MR. BOUCHER: That's a good question. Not that it's my job to pass judgment on questions.

Let me try to lay out for you what we are doing and what we are making clear, and I think I did at the briefing yesterday try to explain the large number of things that we are doing in support of the President's nonproliferation efforts. Let me review them and make clear --

QUESTION: Wait, wait. That's not my question, though.

MR. BOUCHER: No, we are making these points available, the kind of things that I said yesterday at the briefing, the kinds of things that I am about to say today. If there is any lack of clarity, let me take the opportunity to clarify.

But the points that the President made in his speech, as you know, the speech itself was translated in half a dozen languages for live broadcast. It's out on the website. People can read exactly what the President said. People can see exactly what I and other spokesmen and Secretary Rumsfeld and others said yesterday to make clear the priority the President has always attached, and especially now after September 11th, attaches to the issue of nonproliferation.

And in addition, many of these governments and countries are familiar with the various initiatives that we have taken and are taking in this regard. So, yes, we will indeed convey all this information and summarize all this information for our embassies, but I think they are also fairly familiar already.

The President has made clear again concerns about missiles, about weapons of mass destruction, about the grave and growing dangers to the United States and its allies. He put it quite simply. He said dangerous regimes are getting dangerous weapons, and this threatens our security and the security of the whole world. He made clear the priority we attach to it, the fact that we are going to deal with this problem; we're not going to let it fester.

And I think we are doing what we can do, what we will do, what it takes to counter this threat. And let me cite some of the things.

First of all, we are fighting terrorism. We are fighting the terrorists who are seeking to acquire these weapons, using all the means at our disposal -- military, political, legal and diplomatic.

Second, we are choking off the development of weapons of mass destruction. We have moved aggressively to strengthen the international control regimes which have sometimes failed to detect weapons programs in the past. We are working directly with friends to stop shipments of concern, and we'll use US law to impose sanctions and raise the costs to sellers and intermediaries.

Third, we have pressed other countries to stop technology cooperation with nations that develop these weapons. As you know, as we just discussed, Russian sales to Iran have been a major priority on our agenda with Russia in the President's meetings, the Secretary's and others. The President also underscored to the Chinese in Shanghai, and will again next month, that proliferation from China must stop.

We have made clear that if the countries developing these weapons are prepared to abandon their programs and open themselves up to international inspectors, then we can remove our concerns; we can remove the threat. We have made clear we are willing to sit down with North Korea and Iran for a serious discussion to resolve our concerns.

We are also insisting that Iraq comply with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 687 and 1284.

So if there is any remaining lack of clarity, I think the simplest way to put it is we're not going to ignore this threat. It has become all the more pressing since September 11th and the activities that we have seen, and we are going to stop it.

QUESTION: You just said that if all these countries are prepared to abandon their programs and open themselves up to inspections, we can remove the threat. That's your threat? The US threat?

MR. BOUCHER: No, we can remove the threat that is posed by the development of these weapons.

QUESTION: See, because that's exactly why it's unclear when you guys say it is clear. You see how that can be taken as a threat of -- the US threat of --

QUESTION: Richard, specifically on this, my understanding from the speech was that your main concern was the conjunction of countries which allegedly produce weapons of mass destruction and which allegedly support terrorist organizations, right? And in the case of North Korea, what exactly is your fear in this regard? What terrorist organization are you concerned might get hold of weapons of mass destruction from the North Korean regime?

MR. BOUCHER: Any of the terrorist organizations that they have contacts with or any of the terrorist organizations --

QUESTION: Like the Japanese Red Army, which is a few old men sitting in -- like what? What? I mean, you know, be specific. Which organizations?

MR. BOUCHER: My turn?


MR. BOUCHER: Or any of the terrorist organizations which operate in the many countries to which North Korea has exported and continues to export missiles and technology.

QUESTION: Richard, could you be specific about which countries they have dealt with? I know that before you used to talk about Iran and Syria as being recipients of North Korean weapons technology. Has that list expanded at all?

QUESTION: It doesn't include Egypt.

MR. BOUCHER: I need to be very careful here. I am not sure exactly what I can say in a public setting, frankly. The CIA puts out a six-month report on proliferation activities and developments of weapons of mass destruction. I think I better refer you to that as the best available public information on where these proliferating activities might lead to.

QUESTION: Are you aware of complaints, formal complaints from Syria, about the stopping of some ships of theirs off Cyprus?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll double-check if there have been complaints. We are certainly aware of the boardings. I think they were done with the consent of the people on board.

QUESTION: You don't know if they have formally --

MR. BOUCHER: I have to check if they said anything to us.

QUESTION: New subject? The Secretary is scheduled to meet with Macedonian president on Monday. And can you tell us a little bit more about the upcoming visit and what will be the focus on the discussion?

MR. BOUCHER: I will check for you on that. That's a little beyond my short-term horizon.

QUESTION: One more brief question on Macedonia while we are here. According to President Trajkovski, NATO mission in Macedonia should extend its mandate; and on the other hand, the German commander to the mission said that most probably there will be new NATO mission in the region similar to the current one. Do you have any comment on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I mentioned yesterday this has been a subject of discussion. As a matter of fact, we talked about it yesterday afternoon with European High Representative Solana, and I mentioned here yesterday it will be coming up on the NATO agenda. We will talk about it there with the other NATO partners. But I think we have to take action by March 26th, if I remember the date, so it's not a subject that has really been decided yet by NATO. But that is where we will take it up and discuss it.

QUESTION: And just a brief one. The international donor conference for Macedonia is scheduled for March 12th in Brussels; meanwhile, the redeployment of the ethnically mixed police units in the crisis regions is under way, and of course excluding a couple of villages. How do you comment on these developments in the country?

MR. BOUCHER: We welcome those developments. We welcome the passage and the implementation of the agreements that were reached last fall. We look forward to the conference on March 12th. We intend to participate and to make a significant contribution.

QUESTION: Going back to Iraqi opposition, you said that you are looking forward to grant new aid, 2 million plus. Did you mean that you settled the case, the issue, and the funding, end the suspension of funding?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the suspension of funding, yes, is ended by this allocation of 2.4 million for the next three months to support their activities. It is a recognition of the good efforts that they have made to resolve these issues. There are still some aspects of it that need to be cleared up, but it is a recognition that they have made a significant step forward in terms of accounting for the funds and that we feel we are in a position to work with them financially again.

QUESTION: There were reports yesterday, documents reported yesterday in Venezuela, that were signed by the actual new minister of the interior of Venezuela. And the reports showed how the government in some way was dealing with FARC guerrillas in Colombia, a terrorist organization according to the State Department. And naturally, they say that they will exchange oil supply and medicines and other things in exchange for the guerrillas stopping the kidnapping in the borders.

Do you have any comment on that? And also, I mean, in that context, but in any context, is dealing with a terrorist organization would be considered or would qualify as sponsoring terrorism?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not quite sure. You're talking about Venezuelan documents or US documents?

QUESTION: Yeah, no. It's a document signed by the new minister of the interior of Venezuela, and in that document that was public yesterday, he says, or it's reported, how they were exchanging or offering the guerrilla oil or gas and medicines and asylum and refugee in exchange of stopping the kidnappings in the border with Venezuela.

MR. BOUCHER: I will have to look at that. I am not familiar with that. I will have to see what we have.

QUESTION: But actually, I mean in any case, I mean if a government was to get in contact and deal in that fashion with a terrorist organization or someone the US sees as a terrorist organization, would that qualify as --

MR. BOUCHER: We have always criticized any prospect of outside support for the FARC. We do see FARC as a terrorist organization and have criticized various things in the past that appeared to offer outside support for them.

Released on January 31, 2002

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