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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 > 2003 > Press Briefing Transcripts > February
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 19, 2003



1-2 Sec. Powells Trip to Asia - Japan, China and South Korea
4, 6-7, 17-18 Questions Concerning the Level of Travel Regarding Sec. Powell
7 List of Sec. Powells Telephone Calls over the Long Weekend


2, 4-5 Current Tactics and Talks Concerning Commitments to Denuclearization
3-4 U.S. Willing to Talk Directly to N. Korea and other Diplomatic Efforts
5-6 Sanctions and Military Action


6 Points of Discussion during Sec. Powells Trip to Asia


8 Diplomatic Discussions with Foreign Minister Fischer


9, 15, 16-17, 19-20, 22, 26 Possible Introduction of a Second UNSC Resolution
13-14 Reports of Badr Brigade and Iran-based Militia Members in Iraq
20-21 Inspectors Reports and U.S. Reaction/David Kay
21-22 Seat as Chair of Conference on International Disarmament
26 Opposition Meeting in Salahaddin
27 Reports of an Arrest of Saddam Husseins Cabinet


9-10, 11-13 Diplomatic Conversations Regarding the use of Military Bases
10-11 Kurdish Leaders Concerned about Safety and Turkish Forces


11-12 Newly Elected President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos


14-15 Recent Decision by the European Union on Iraq and the Greek Presidency


15-16 Diplomatic Talks with the Spanish Foreign Minister/Talks with Mexico


17-18 Reports Assistance to Family Members of Martyrs During the Hajj


17-19 Sanctions Against Hans Raj Shiv


22 Brazilian Foreign Ministry Organizing Joint Position State on Iraq


22-23 Update on Quartet Talks in London


23-24 Deputy Secretary Armitages Comments in the L.A. Times


24-25 Update on Plane Crash Involving a U.S. Government Aircraft


25 Sentencing of Mr. Mottassadeq


25-26 Visit to France by President Mugabe


27 Virginia Legislature and the Former Flag of South Vietnam


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have one surprise announcement for you. The Secretary of State will be traveling to Asia starting -- the principal purpose of the trip is to go to Seoul for the inauguration of Roh Moon-hyun as President of the Republic of Korea. He will be there on February 25th. He gets there via Tokyo on February 22nd -- oh, he leaves here February 21st, is in Tokyo the 22nd and 23rd, Beijing for the 23rd and 24th, and in Seoul for the 24th and 25th, and then returning to Washington on the 25th. So that trip is coming up in two days.

QUESTION: How come you're announcing it only two days ahead of time?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I know we try to do this as early as possible. I could have waited until tomorrow, but I thought I'd give it to you today.

QUESTION: The buses leave this afternoon, don't they, for the airport? (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: No, Friday morning.

QUESTION: Richard?


QUESTION: Although the primary reason for being in Seoul on the 25th is the inauguration, as you said, there are some other big -- there is another bigger thing kind of looming over this North Asian tour, is there not? I mean, we can expect that North Korea will take a good chunk of his time?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yes, it is -- I don't want to denigrate the other stops. It is a very important opportunity to talk with our allies and friends in North Asia about the situation in North Korea, our common goal of making sure that North Korea abandons its nuclear programs, doesn't put -- develop nuclear weapons on the peninsula, and so the stops in Japan and China and South Korea are a very important part of our consultations in moving forward in that regard.

As I think many of you know, the Security Council will have an informal discussion this afternoon on the subject, and I am sure the Security Council will be discussing the situation in North Korea in the days ahead, now that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported it to the Council.

It is also an opportunity to talk with other governments about the situation in Iraq, and particularly with China as a member of the Security Council, and then finally, we have a lot of bilateral issues that we can go over with each of these governments, important relationships here that we want to work on.

QUESTION: On that, realizing this announcement is being made only two days before the trip, but is it still too early to say -- can we expect that he'll meet with the usual suspects, his counterparts and perhaps the leaders of the three countries that he -- or is it too early to say that he'll --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I can confirm any particular meetings at this point. I think you know from previous trips that he has met with leaders of a pretty high level depending on who was in town at the moment -- at the time. So I would expect him to meet with leading figures and leaders, generally, of these three nations.

QUESTION: Will there be people at the inauguration from foreign countries?

MR. BOUCHER: I was told that there are formal delegations invited from Japan, China, the United States and Russia in terms of high-level attendance, but I don't know which other foreign ministers will be there. I don't think Foreign Minister Ivanov is going, but you'll have to check with the Russians on that.

QUESTION: How wide is the gap? How far apart is the U.S. on one the hand from China and South Korea on the other in the tactics you would like to follow in talking to North Korea about its nuclear program?

MR. BOUCHER: Much closer than you think.

QUESTION: Much closer than Mr. Powell said the other day on the Hill? Are things closer-- a little bit?

MR. BOUCHER: There are clearly differences and that's why we continue to discuss how we proceed, but we all agree that North Korea's previous commitments to denuclearization of the peninsula need to be upheld. We all agree on the dangers posed by nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea on this peninsula. We all agree in pursuing a peaceful approach. We all agree that North Korea cannot expect benefits from the world; its future benefits from the world hinge on North Korea abandoning these nuclearization programs. So there's a great deal in common and we work together on the tactics of that at any moment.

QUESTION: Well, it's the tactics I was really asking about. I know in substance everybody seems to see North Korea as a serious problem. But are the tactics involve whether the U.S. meets head on with North Korea or brings in China, Russia and South Korea as interested parties?

MR. BOUCHER: The nations that we have talked to about this have all said it is important that the United States is willing to talk to North Korea, it is important that we have said we are willing to talk to them about how they can get rid of these nuclear programs. They have understood our view that this is also a multilateral issue that involves more than just the United States. They are participating in the discussions at the International Atomic Energy, for example, International Atomic Energy Agency, for example. They took positions there deploring the North Korean efforts to break the seals and kick out the monitors.

I can't remember the exact vote on who was in, who was out, when the board referred it to the UN, but I think you will find some of these countries we work with were part of the referring it to the United Nations.

So there is a great deal that we pursue in common in this regard.

QUESTION: Richard, can you clarify from this precise point, because it has been formulated in various different ways over the last ten days or so, some people have said multilateral talks, some people have said a multilateral platform for talks. Are you -- do you envisage going into talks with the North Koreans with all these other parties at your side, or it is simply that you want to formulate a kind of consensus position before you begin direct bilateral talks with the North Koreans?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll take none of the above.

QUESTION: What do you envisage, then?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you have to envisage it the way the Secretary talked about it maybe three or four weeks ago. It's somewhat vague, but he said you can have bilateral talks, you can have multilateral talks, and you can have bilateral talks in a multilateral context. There needs to be a way of making clear that the world does care about these matters, the world is concerned about these matters, but the United States is also willing to talk directly to the North Koreans in that context.

QUESTION: I know the answer I'm going to get to this, but just to get it out there on the record. Should the opportunity afford itself in Seoul, if there were to be a North Korean delegation at the inauguration as well, would the Secretary consider --

MR. BOUCHER: I have not heard of any North Korean delegation that he might consider meeting with there.

QUESTION: In Seoul or Beijing, for that matter? Tokyo?

SECRETARY POWELL: No plan, no plan like that at this point.

QUESTION: How about bumping over to North Korea and get it all settled on one trip?



QUESTION: Even if there were to be bilateral talks in a multilateral context, what would it take to get these started?

MR. BOUCHER: It would take a willingness on the part of North Korea to sit down and talk about these issues. We've made clear for some time now that we remain prepared to sit down with North Korea to discuss how North Korea will meet its international obligations. There are issues concerning that that are of multilateral concern, but we are also prepared to engage in those talks.

Unfortunately, North Korea keeps saying that somehow everything can be solved if the United States takes it up all by itself, but we do not have a clear indication from them that they are willing to sit down and talk about those issues and deal with the concerns that are shared by the entire international community.


QUESTION: Richard, could you specify what those issues are? And could you also say why is he not going to Russia on this trip? I don't know if you dealt with that earlier.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me -- he's not going to a lot of places, but let me take that question on in a different way in a second because I think you're hinting at something that I don't want to see written.

But what was the first half of the question?

QUESTION: What are the issues?

MR. BOUCHER: What are the issues? We have made clear that North Korea must visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons program and come into compliance with its international obligations. We've also made clear that we won't offer quid pro quos for North Korea living up to its obligations. This is a problem for the entire international community.

At the same time, we have made clear that we understand North Korea's interests in security matters. We are prepared to talk about that. We have also made clear, as Jim Kelly made clear when he was in North Korea, that once these issues are resolved, that there are ways of moving on to the kind of approach and the kinds of issues that we had been prepared to discuss with North Korea all along.

Now, on the question of why he isn't going to Russia or any other place now, I think if you look at the Secretary's activities since last September, or since January, you will see he has had the opportunity to meet repeatedly with Foreign Ministers. He's met, I think, three times this year already with Foreign Minister Ivanov. He's met with Jack Straw a similar number of times. I think he's met with the German Foreign Minister a similar number of times, the French Foreign Minister at least two times. He sees the members of the Security Council on a regular basis because they've been in New York. He was out in Davos, what, not even a month ago yet. And so he's been, I think, keeping in touch with these Foreign Ministers, not only on the telephone but in face-to-face meetings.

And I think the only thing I would add is there's been a lot of appreciation on his trips to New York that he's taken the time to meet with such a wide variety of Security Council ministers. The last time he was in New York -- last time or the time before? February 5th, he met with -- he had 13 different meetings, 12 of those with Security Council members, and plus Foreign Minister Papandreou. He has spent some time with people like the Guinean permanent representative, who takes over as the head of the Security Council on March 1st.

So the Secretary has really been seeing a lot of people in other ways without having to travel beyond New York.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about that old saw, sanctions? You know how the story pops up every couple of weeks that you're developing, the State Department is developing plans for sanctions against North Korea. I don't know if it's somebody pushing his own agenda or if it's a genuine reflection of what's going on in the back room. Can you --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't pretend to write anybody's stories or figure out why they write their stories, but I would point out that the course that we have followed, that the Secretary has talked about, that the President has talked about, is a course of peaceful resolution through diplomacy.

It is an effort being made along with other governments to make clear to North Korea that it must abandon these programs, to make clear to North Korea that its future relations with all our governments depend on abandoning these programs.

It is not an approach that involves sanctions at this point. We have asked for the matter to be taken to the Security Council, but while all options remain on the table, that has not been something we have raised as a priority at this moment.

QUESTION: And does that hold true as it long has for attack or invasion or any other such hostile intent --

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we have no plans to attack or invade North Korea. I can say that without a problem.

QUESTION: Besides North Korea and Iraq issues, what kind of bilateral issues are you going to pick up in -- with the Japanese Government and the Chinese Government and the South Korean Government?

MR. BOUCHER: It will vary from place to place. As always, with the Japanese Government, we have a strong interest in economic reform. We have a strong interest in our across-the-board bilateral cooperation as allies and sometimes issues that arise in that relationship that the Japanese Government may want to take up or that we may want to take up.

With China, obviously the issues of human rights and some broader questions of international cooperation always arise.

QUESTION: With Japan, is missile defense on the agenda or on the --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that it is particularly on the agenda for this trip. It may come up because we do have an active missile defense cooperation with the Japanese. It goes back several years now, and I think four or five, four projects that we work on together already. So I don't know that it will be specifically a matter for this trip, but it is certainly a very active area of cooperation between the United States and Japan.


QUESTION: Does the Secretary have any plans to speak out in some kind of public forum, a university speech or something like that? Businessmen?

MR. BOUCHER: Somebody help me who's looked at the trip more carefully. Nothing like that's scheduled at this moment that I know of.


QUESTION: I'm just a bit curious as to your response to Jim's question about the Secretary's travels. Why does the State Department feel the need to defend the Secretary's travel schedule?

MR. BOUCHER: We have seen a mistaken and creeping notion that somehow because he's not chalking up the miles in the last month or two that that has affected the attitudes of Security Council members. You might say he has close and ongoing relations that are based on face-to-face meetings.

QUESTION: Right. Well, I'm just -- because this story's been written about for months and if not more than a year. Does it really take two sentences in a Tom Friedman column to get you guys to --

MR. BOUCHER: No, he was merely repeating what others had said before.

QUESTION: But you felt that now was the time --

MR. BOUCHER: Once something appears two or three times, you want to squelch it.


MR. BOUCHER: It ain't true.


QUESTION: Can we change the topic?



QUESTION: Just, has he made any phone calls of note the last few days?

MR. BOUCHER: Has he made phone calls?

QUESTION: Speaking of keeping in touch.

MR. BOUCHER: They're all of note.

Saturday, he talked to Secretary General Annan twice. Sunday, he talked to Foreign Minister Palacio of Spain. Monday, he talked to Jack Straw twice, Lord Robertson, Foreign Minister Palacio again. Tuesday, he talked to George Papandreou, the Foreign Minister of Greece; Foreign Minister Sinha of India; Foreign Minister Fischer of Germany; High Representative Solana of the European Union; Foreign Minister Palacio. And this morning, he's already talked to Prime Minister Gul of Turkey, and I think there's a few more Jack Straw calls that I haven't listed that appear here and there.

QUESTION: I think you'll understand where I'm coming from, or it may sound like a slightly irrelevant or esoteric question. Is the Secretary finding that in his discussions with the German Foreign Minister, his private discussions, what he's being told privately matches what the Germans do publicly on Iraq?

And I think you know why I'm asking. Questions are being raised at the White House on the Schroeder level, and the White House's response is Chirac always says privately what he means publicly, and the question isn't about Chirac.

Do you follow me?



QUESTION: You don't?

MR. BOUCHER: Does anybody? Try again, Barry.

QUESTION: There's a notion afoot that the German Government, or at least the German Chancellor, isn't quite as candid privately about Iraq when he talks to, I guess, the President as Germany -- Germany -- as to the policy that Germany takes publicly when you get down to Security Council discussions.

So I wondered how the Secretary is getting along with Mr. Fischer. Does he know from talking to Fischer exactly where Germany stands?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I don't want to start commenting on how well any given foreign minister represents the views of his government, but I think we have a -- the Secretary has a close relationship with Foreign Minister Fischer. They discuss things as allies and friends who can work together on any number of issues.

When we talk to Foreign Minister Fischer these days, as you know, we're not just talking about Iraq; we're talking about Afghanistan and the cooperation there, we're talking about a lot of other areas where NATO needs to work or things are -- the United States and Germany are cooperating.

So it's on the basis of that friendship and that alliance that we discuss issues with Foreign Minister Fischer, and including the differences we have over how to proceed with Iraq. And I think both gentlemen are quite candid in public, as well as private.

QUESTION: The phone call, the Turkish phone call.

QUESTION: Go ahead on your topic, too.

MR. BOUCHER: Andrea, you want to stay on this?

QUESTION: Is it -- well, actually, I guess it's somewhat related.

MR. BOUCHER: Let's just go on, then.

QUESTION: It's the second resolution.

MR. BOUCHER: We'll do Andrea, and then Jonathan.

QUESTION: Okay. Is it definite that the U.S. is going to introduce a second resolution and that the only question is when, or is that still up in the air?

MR. BOUCHER: The President said that we would welcome and support a second resolution that makes clear that the Council will stand by its demands. The questions of timing, of contents, and even of who tables it, are not finally decided at this point. But it's definite that we would welcome and support a second resolution.

QUESTION: Has anything -- have you noticed in any of the private conversations that you've had since Friday any kind of softening of the positions that we heard articulated so eloquently in the Council chambers?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I want to ascribe anything to anybody else's views. I think those who believed it's important to disarm Iraq, those who understand it's important for the Council to stand by its resolutions, those who think it's time for the Council to make a decision on this, have not softened at all.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we had Jonathan, but --

QUESTION: It's on the resolution. Sorry. Since the Administration's position is that the November resolution authorized force as an option, is it a safe assumption that the language you're working on with Britain now will be quite similar to that resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: It's a safe assumption that any resolution that we will work with and support would do what the President said it needed to do, and that's to make clear that the Security Council was standing by its demands in its previous resolution. The previous resolution, 1441, as you know, said that Iraq was in material breach, said that failure to disclose and failure to cooperate would constitute a further material breach, and that there would be serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply with the resolution. So we think it is important for the Council to stand by those -- that previous resolution and its previous demands.

QUESTION: All right. Can we go to that phone call with Prime Minister Gul? How does the Secretary feel about the Turkish delay in reaching an agreement on basing and aid and so on? And what did he tell Prime Minister Gul about this when they spoke?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first, it is important to remember that Turkey is a key strategic ally and a friend. We have a long history with Turkey of close cooperation. We continue to consult with the Turkish Government on issues related to Iraq in order to reach a satisfactory agreement for both of us.

Secretary Powell spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Gul this morning. He stressed the importance of reaching a decision very soon on the remaining issues to enable the Turkish parliament to vote on our request.

As the President said yesterday, we understand these are difficult issues and we're working through them with our allies, including Turkey, on the basis of strong and long-term friendships.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?


QUESTION: On the Turkish issue, a number of Kurdish leaders in the past week, week and a half, have vocally said that they are concerned that any kind of Turkish force in their territory would commit atrocities against civilians. Can you say anything from this podium now to allay those concerns given the long history that the Kurds have cited in the past with regard to Turkey?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it is for me to describe the conduct of other forces. But certainly American forces and those of our allies with whom we operate respect the highest standards of international law and for the conduct of military forces.

QUESTION: I don't think anyone questions the American forces. But is there any kind of guarantee that you can give to people like Barham Salah, who have said publicly that they are concerned that any Turkish forces in their territory --

MR. BOUCHER: I think --

QUESTION: -- would attack civilians?

MR. BOUCHER: We and our allies, and Turkey is an ally, strive to maintain the highest standards of conduct for our military forces. And I think if you ask the Turkish Government, you'll get the same answer.

Okay. What do we have on this?


QUESTION: You said that the Secretary talked to the Prime Minister about reaching an agreement soon. Is soon 48 hours?

MR. BOUCHER: I think I've said he stressed the importance of reaching a decision very soon on the remaining issues so that they can take it to parliament to vote on their request. I don't have any more specific language than that.

QUESTION: Well the --

MR. BOUCHER: Let's let some people in the back --

QUESTION: On the same issue. It's true that the Turkish Government asked to double the economic package and also asked for a political package specifically something on the Cyprus issue?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to discuss numbers in any way here. I'm not in a position to negotiate the economic assistance package in public. We have continued to talk to Turkey about an economic assistance package that would help them deal with the effects of conflict in a neighboring country, in Iraq, but I'm not going to be able to do that for you here in public.

As for Cyprus, I think you know we have made a statement about the election and we look forward to continuing to work with the new leadership in Cyprus and continuing to work with all the governments in the region to move on this opportunity for a settlement. Tom Weston, our Special Cyprus Coordinator, is headed out to the region today. And as you know, Secretary General Annan will be there later this month.

QUESTION: And what is your reaction to the newly elected President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we gave it in a response yesterday but I will be glad to give it again. We congratulate Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos on his election as the fifth President of the Republic of Cyprus. The United States has a strong relationship with Cyprus and both countries have benefited from our cooperation in the war on terrorism and other vital issues. We look forward to building further on that foundation. We also thank outgoing President Clerides for his significant contributions to the cause of peace on the island and for our strong bilateral relationship that we built during his administration.

We respect the outcome of Cyprus's democratic elections. We intend to work with the new president to build on our strong record of bilateral cooperation. Achieving a just and durable settlement on the basis of the United Nations plan is the most immediate and pressing issue, especially in light of Ambassador Weston's and UN Secretary General's upcoming visits to Cyprus.

QUESTION: But, Mr. Boucher, in the past, you've had some reservation for Tassos Papadopoulos, including by Tom Weston. I was wondering, do you still have those reservations? We had discussion in this room, too.

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we respect the outcome of Cyprus's diplomatic -- democratic elections and we intend to work with the new president to build on our strong foundations.

Okay. Where were we going?

QUESTION: Let me take you back to Turkey quickly, to follow up on Betsy.

Very soon. So two questions, two brief ones. There are reports that military planning will have to be changed if there isn't agreement very soon. Is that the reason for you emphasizing you need an agreement very soon? Is it for military reasons? For planning reasons?

And secondly, or firstly, would you consider the Secretary's conversation negotiations over the terms? Did he get into the terms?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I'm not going to talk about military planning.

And second of all, I am not going to conduct negotiations in public, so I can't go into content of the Secretary's phone call any more than I have already.

QUESTION: No, I didn't ask you for the details. I asked you if this call was the Secretary intervening in the somewhat stalled negotiations?

MR. BOUCHER: I would describe this as the Secretary discussing some very important issues with a very important ally: how we can support each other militarily if it does come to conflict with Iraq, how we can work together in that regard, and also how we can work together economically in the event that there is conflict in this region that might affect Turkey's economic interests.

Okay, let's try to work through gradually.

QUESTION: This is mainly a point of background, but in these negotiations when you're talking about billions of dollars, what kinds of assurances can you give Turkey that you will have the money when the time comes? What do you say when they ask about that? I mean, you don't -- you're not free to give away billions of dollars, as I understand it, without congressional approval or whatever.

MR. BOUCHER: I think everybody is familiar with our congressional process. We've worked with allies and friends over the years, having gotten money from Congress when we needed it.

QUESTION: I'm sorry.

MR. BOUCHER: No, why don't I finish answering the question I was answering if you guys are finished talking.

As I said, we've worked with Turkey and other allies over the years. In terms of U.S. economic assistance, they are all familiar with our congressional process. We give them the assurance that we know how to work this, that we know that we can go forward to Congress and we can get the support we need for economic assistance when we need it.

Okay, Andrea, on this.

QUESTION: Richard, if Turkey does not back off this new demand, is it your belief that the U.S.-Turkish relationship would suffer any collateral damage?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is important to remember the long and strong history of cooperation between the United States and Turkey as allies. This is an important decision that Turkey has to make about military preparations should it come to conflict with Iraq. We, like the Turkish Government and many others, are still hoping we can find a way to resolve this peacefully, but there are important decisions that need to be made very soon, and so we look forward to their doing that. But I think this is all discussed and based on a foundation of a very long-term, solid relationship.

QUESTION: Right. But are there any ramifications for not being, in the U.S. eyes, a good ally and supporting the U.S. in this?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think this is -- I thought I said that we were good allies anyway. But it is an important decision that the Turkish Government needs to make and it is an important decision to make their neighborhood better in the end, if it comes to military conflict. Removing the source of instability in the neighborhood right next door to Turkey is certainly a long-term benefit for all of us.

Okay, Matt.

QUESTION: Richard, was there any difference in what the Secretary -- difference in the Turkish position relayed to him this morning by the Prime Minister -- is there any difference in that from what he heard last Thursday from --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to comment on Turkish positions. I'm not going to conduct their negotiation in public, any more than I am mine.

QUESTION: Well, is it your understanding that -- is what the Secretary heard last week from the Foreign Minister here in this building the same as what he heard on the telephone from the Prime Minister this morning?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to try to characterize their position.

QUESTION: New topic, or are we still on Turkey?

There are new reports in The Financial Times today, but other people have reported, that there is a contingent called the Badr Brigade of Iran-based militia guys who are coming into Northern Iraq. Is the U.S. in a -- can you verify any of these reports, (a); and (b), do you have a position on Iranian proxies entering the fray in Northern Iraq as we are preparing for what may or may not be war?

MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been a couple reports like that. I can't confirm any particular one. We've seen the reports. We're looking into them closely. As far as our general position, we would oppose any Iranian presence in Northern Iraq. It would be a very serious and destabilizing development.

QUESTION: Can you --

MR. BOUCHER: But I don't have anything more at this juncture.

QUESTION: Can I follow up? Would you consider the Badr Brigade, which is the militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to be an Iranian force in Northern Iraq, or would you consider that to be something else?

MR. BOUCHER: I think there have been reports that report that they're up there, that Iranian troops are up there. We think any Iranian presence or Iranian-supported presence in that region is destabilizing and not positive.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say the State Department doesn't distinguish between an Iranian presence vis--vis a proxy militia or the actual army?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it's fair to say we know the difference but that our policy is generally the same in both cases.

QUESTION: You would consider both, for this purpose, an Iranian presence?

MR. BOUCHER: Our policy is generally the same in both cases that you're talking about.


MR. BOUCHER: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Can you make a comment on the recent decision by the European Union on Iraq and also the handling of the Greek presidency and that issue? And if you can say a few words about the phone call between Secretary Powell and Minister Papandreou?

MR. BOUCHER: On the phone call between Secretary Powell and Minister Papandreou, as with their meetings and talks in previous days, they've been working together and Greece has assumed the EU presidency. They've been talking about the foreign ministers summit, which is coming up on Monday.

I would say that, you know, we welcome the statement that was issued at the summit about Iraq. It made clear that Saddam Hussein must take immediate steps to disarm and cooperate immediately and fully with the demands of the international community. The declaration also underscores Iraq's responsibility for the consequences if it continues its pattern of deceit and deception.

The United States continues to believe the united stance by the international community is the best means to deal with the threat posed by all nations -- posed to all nations by Iraq. However, in the end, Iraq must be disarmed way or the other.

QUESTION: May I follow up also on the same European Union issue? Do you have any comment on the threats by the French President to the upcoming members of the European Union from East Europe?



QUESTION: Two questions. In regards to a hypothetical second resolution, is the need for military action against Iraq, from the U.S. standpoint, the main goal of that resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: The main goal, as I think I described it earlier, as the President has described it a couple weeks ago, is to make clear that the Council stands by its previous demands, its previous resolution. That resolution made clear that Iraq had a final opportunity to disarm, and if it didn't disarm, there would be serious consequences. So at this moment, in terms of further action in the Security Council, it's important to make clear the Council stands for what it says.

QUESTION: And could you tell us about talks between Mr. Powell and the Spanish Foreign Minister?

MR. BOUCHER: As with some of the other conversations he's been having, he's been discussing how to proceed in the United Nations. Spain is a member of the Security Council. We've been working with the Spanish Government very closely with regard to upcoming events and a new resolution. We've been working with the British and others, as well. So this is a matter of ongoing discussion with several governments to try to work out the best strategy for going forward, what to do in a resolution, and how we can make clear that Iraq has to meet its obligations and has to meet them very, very soon.

Back there.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister of Spain is visiting President Fox tomorrow. I was wondering if -- there are some other unconfirmed reports that he's been asked by Secretary Powell or the Bush Administration to go down there and try to persuade Fox to take a more pro-American stance since Fox has been very strong on his message, his pacifist message. And you mentioned that they had been three conversations with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Spain in the last four or five days. I wonder if you can shed any light into what you expect Aznar to speak to President Fox.

MR. BOUCHER: I think we'll leave it to Mr. Aznar to decide what he wants to say to President Fox when they --

QUESTION: Well, but are -- you encourage the --

MR. BOUCHER: We are in close touch with any number of governments. The Secretary has met with the Mexican Foreign Minister in New York recently. I can't remember if it was Friday or the week before. But the Secretary himself has kept in touch with the Spanish as well as the Mexicans, and I think it's important to remember that as we discuss this with other governments, they discuss it with each other as well. This is an ongoing process of consultation in the Council, and I leave it to other members to talk about it.

QUESTION: So the perception that Aznar is going down there on behalf of the Bush Administration is wrong?

MR. BOUCHER: I think Aznar is -- Prime Minister Aznar is going there on behalf of the Spanish Government. You can ask him what he intends to raise and why he intends to raise it.

QUESTION: One last thing on the -- has the Mexican position at the Security Council in any way cooled off the relationship, the special relationship that Mexico and the United States had?

MR. BOUCHER: We have a strong relationship with Mexico that has many, many aspects to it, and this is one of them. Working together in the Security Council has been very important to us and we expect to be able to continue to do that.

QUESTION: About the resolution again, what does it say about the organization or about the first resolution that you need a second resolution to reinforce the resolve of the first?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think -- I think the problem with the sentence is the word "need." We have made clear, the President made clear, that the first resolution does make clear, does state categorically the requirements of the Security Council for Iraqi cooperation; it states categorically the circumstances which shall constitute, the facts which will constitute a further material breach; and it states quite clearly were that to happen, were there to be that further material breach, as we and others believe there has been, that there need to be serious consequences.

So the fact that we would welcome and support a second resolution, or should we say an 18th resolution, from the Security Council on this subject doesn't really reflect anything on the 17th resolution on this subject. That resolution made quite clear the demands of the Security Council.

On the other hands, in terms of providing another message to Iraq that its final opportunity is expiring, providing another message to Iraq of the strength of views, of the need for Iraq to comply, in terms of maximizing the possibility of a peaceful outcome, it can be an important tool.


QUESTION: Richard, then are you concerned, is this government at all concerned about the overwhelming weight of the speeches that are being made yesterday and today in the Security Council which seem to be against any military action in Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: There are some on the other side, as well. There -- it's a matter of the Security Council taking its responsibility. I know there's a lot of speeches being made by a lot of people, but the members of the Security Council have a special responsibility and we are all there in the Security Council to secure international peace and security, to make sure that we maintain international peace and security. And that's a responsibility we need to take seriously.

If the Council is going to come out with resolutions that say Iraq must comply or there will be serious consequences, Iraq must disarm or there will be serious consequences, then the Council has to make sure that Iraq does disarm. And it has to make sure that there are serious consequences if it doesn't. And that's a special responsibility that sits on the shoulders of members of the Council.


QUESTION: The Saudi King, he invited 1,000 relatives of the people who are considered martyrs in the past -- a number of, what you call it, attacks or -- 1,000 relatives of the Muslim martyrs were invited as the guests of the King of Saudi Arabia and a special flight was sent to -- a special flight was arranged. So is it a point of concern for your government?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know what you're talking about, actually. Is this -- a flight to where?

QUESTION: Flight was -- one special flight was sent -- Saudi Arabia's flight was sent to collect all these 1,000 relatives of the martyrs.


QUESTION: In Palestine, in other countries.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not familiar with this. I don't know that we'll have anything to say. It may be a standard and usual practice during the Hajj. You can check with the Saudi Government on what they did and why they did it, and I will check and see if we have anything to say but I'm not sure we will.

Okay. Jon.

QUESTION: Richard, I've got a couple of things. Can you say anything about sanctions on a gentleman called Hans Raj Shiv for alleged sales of chemical and biological weapons?

And also just to pick up on the early point about travel plans, I think you were, what you were addressing was the question by Tom Friedman which is that traveling to other peoples' countries is much more productive than just having talks here. What's the response to that and are there any plans to go and visit the other members of the Security Council?

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, this has sort of popped up here and there a couple of times now. It's a canard. It's not reflective of the reality of how we operate and how we work with these people, how the Secretary himself works with these people. He has a very close and ongoing relationship with Foreign Minister Ivanov. They meet in a variety of places at a variety of times but I think as frequently as any foreign ministers meet.

He meets closely with Foreign Secretary Straw in a variety of places and circumstances. He goes to Europe from time to time, but he also meets them when they come to New York or when people come to Washington.

So I think it's just sort of a mistaken notion that you have that the number of miles you clock is the way forward. The way forward is by having strong relationships and the ability to cooperate with a great many countries and taking the time to see people personally, including all the members of the Security Council, not just a couple who might be located on one continent six hours away.

Now, what was the first part of the question?

QUESTION: Hans Raj Shiv?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, yes, sanctions. There is a Federal Register notice today that says the United States has imposed penalties on two Indian entities -- actually one entity and one individual -- pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. The determination was published today in the Federal Register. The penalized entities are NEC Engineers Private, Ltd., an entity originally based in India but also operating in the Middle East and Eurasia; and Hans Raj Shiv, previously residing in India, but last believed to be in the Middle East.

Penalties were imposed on these entities for knowingly and materially contributing to Iraq's chemical and biological weapons program. The penalties are specific to the named entity and individual. They do not extend to India or the Indian Government. The Indian Government has been conducting its own investigation into the activities of NEC and affiliated companies, has taken steps to try to prevent further proliferating exports, and has arrested two principals of the company.

Unfortunately, NEC and Shiv have shifted operations to other locations. We hope our actions will support the steps that India's taking and will encourage other governments to take similar steps.

QUESTION: Is there more about what they are supposed to have shipped in there?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can tell you more from our side. I would note that it has been widely reported in the Indian press about the Indian Government's investigation of NEC Engineers Private that NEC Engineers Private sent ten shipments containing titanium vessels, filters, titanium centrifugal pumps, atomized and spherical aluminum powder, and titanium anodes to Iraq. But it would be up to the Indian Government to confirm whether those indeed are matters that they found out in their investigation.

QUESTION: Do you believe anything arrived, or is it a question of trying to get it not get in there?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I'm in a position to go into that at this point.


QUESTION: Richard, what could the Iraqis produce with that?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't think I'm in a position to go into that at this point. But it relates to chemical and biological weapons.

QUESTION: Gotcha. Is it -- can I switch back to the second resolution for a minute?


QUESTION: Okay. In the conversations that Secretary Powell has had with his counterparts on the permanent members of the Security Council, has he explicitly asked any of these members not to veto a second resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: The matter of a veto doesn't arise yet. You have to talk about vetoes and votes in the context of a particular resolution. And what we've been discussing with others is the strategy of moving ahead on a second resolution or on another resolution. And that's been the contents of the discussion so far.

QUESTION: Just so I'm sure I understand, so you're saying the conversation would entail, sort of, these are the elements that we're looking at in a resolution. Is that something that would be acceptable to your government? That type of thing? So really --

MR. BOUCHER: And it's beyond the resolution itself. It's sort of a how do we proceed. When? What do we expect? What do we expect to hear from others as this process unfolds?

QUESTION: You mean how to proceed with the inspections or --

MR. BOUCHER: No. How to proceed with the resolution, when we should proceed with the resolution, how should it be tabled. It's various questions like that.

QUESTION: What is the time pressure, if any, on this Administration to either, you know, fish and cut bait? Is this, I know we've been talking weeks, but there are reports maybe this week or next week. Is there a possibility that a resolution could be introduced this week?

MR. BOUCHER: Soon. We would expect to see a new resolution soon. See a new resolution introduced soon. The question of the time pressure, I think, is the overall time pressure on the Security Council. The Security Council made a decision last fall on November 8th, more than three months ago now, that Iraq was to be give a final opportunity to cooperate and comply, to disarm itself peacefully. We've seen, now, reports, we saw the Iraqi declaration early December. We had a discussion with the inspectors about it December 19th when they said there was no new information.

We had a discussion with the inspectors about it January 9th. We had a discussion with the inspectors about it January 27th when they said there was no genuine acceptance on Iraq's part of the terms of the resolution.

We had another discussion with the inspectors last Friday on February 14th when they reported some cooperation on process but also reported that Iraq was developing a missile that was distinctly not in compliance with the terms of the previous resolution and they were not able to say that Iraq was cooperating on substance.

And so, at some point, the Council has to decide. And we think sooner rather than later the Council has to decide, has to face up to the reality that Iraq is not cooperating substantively with the requirements of the resolution and has to be willing to make the call.

QUESTION: Were you disappointed with the process of the inspectors' reports? The presentation?

MR. BOUCHER: The inspectors report the facts as they see them, as they know them. It's for the Council to decide what action to take. That's been clear from all along. And the point is, if the Council is going to decide, if the Council's going to stand by its word, haven given Iraq, truly, a final opportunity to disarm, then the Council has to make the decision and not prevaricate, not take refuge behind inspectors' reports.


QUESTION: But it is a question of timing. I mean, how long do you allow the inspectors to work to see what they can turn up? I mean, isn't that the scale on the other side?

MR. BOUCHER: That's one of the arguments being made on the other side is somehow letting them go on and on and on and on might produce something. We think the facts of Iraq's effort to block successful inspections, to make it more difficult to disarm Iraq, are clear. The fact that Iraq is not cooperating, is not producing material, is not producing documents, is not accounting for materials that were already known to be in Iraq, that Iraq has continued procurements, continued efforts to evade inspections, and is actively hiding things from inspectors -- those facts are abundantly clear to us and we think they are quite clear in the inspectors' reports, as well, so we believe that the Council needs to face up to this reality and make its decisions.

Yes, obviously there is the question about how we proceed. How we proceed with a new resolution and the timing of the new resolution is one of the things that is under discussion with friends and allies as we consult about how to proceed in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Richard, on Iraq, can you verify a former inspector Kay, it's been all over NBC yesterday --

MR. BOUCHER: David Kay.

QUESTION: David Kay. Indeed. That the inspectors, the current inspection system, is giving Iraq advance notice, like two days before U-2 surveillance flights, and I think they, themselves, have been quoted as saying, "Well, they provide a window to Iraq." Is that kind of a -- what does that do to the sanctity of an inspection to the --

MR. BOUCHER: As far as I understand, these are procedures -- excuse me -- the procedures that have been used by the UN inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the flight that occurred this past Monday -- that's the first flight since December 1998 -- are that Iraq is given 72-hour notice prior to the flight window and Iraq is required to acknowledge the flight within 48 hours of notification, which Iraq did in this case.

We'll be working with the inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide additional flights as they feel necessary.

So that's where we are. There are elements -- I mean, things like altitude and airspeed are not provided to the Iraqis. The U-2 reconnaissance flights do provide the inspectors with another stream of information. We think it's an important stream of information from aerial observation. To the extent the Iraqis have tried to move things out before the inspectors arrive, move things around to play a shell game, this makes it more complicated for them to do that.

QUESTION: Oh, so it's not something you disapprove of?

MR. BOUCHER: These are the procedures that they use. But it does certainly complicate anybody trying to hide things.

QUESTION: Richard, late on Friday, the Iraqi Government announced that it would not take up its seat as head of the Conference on International Disarmament in Geneva. You guys said in the past that them assuming the leadership of this conference would be unacceptable. I'm wondering if you might have any praise, however faint it might be, for this latest -- for their renunciation of this position.


QUESTION: So you don't -- well, I'm looking for a U.S. reaction to their -- you don't have any?

MR. BOUCHER: I will see if we decide we want to have one. We didn't think it was proper for Iraq to assume the chairmanship, and that's been our view.

QUESTION: And now that they've said that they will not take it up, you don't have anything to say about that? You're aware of this, right?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of this, yes.

QUESTION: A stunning "no comment"?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if there's anything we want to say.

QUESTION: The Government of Brazil, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, is organizing a meeting of foreign ministers of South American countries to come up with a joint position on the question of Iraq. Do you welcome that?

MR. BOUCHER: Don't know about it. I'll have to check and see.

QUESTION: And do you have a head count of which members of the Security Council would be supporting this resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, as with the question of veto, you can't mark somebody down on supportive or not supportive until you know what it is people are supporting. Until we have a resolution, we can't start counting votes, and I assure you that when we do, we probably won't tell you.


QUESTION: Do you have anything about progress or lack of progress at the Quartet talks in London? And is there -- are there any comments about what is happening in Gaza?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything brand new about London. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns is in London for meetings with his Quartet counterparts yesterday and today. Our focus on moving forward in a way -- our focus there remains on moving forward in a way that makes possible implementation of the President's June 24th vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

As the Secretary stated in his February 6th appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he and the President remain committed to the roadmap as the best means of achieving that goal.

I can give you the remarks that Assistant Secretary Burns gave at the conference. I think we find this to be an important meeting. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee was meeting there as part of these activities with the Quartet counterparts and the others involved in this process.

As far as the ongoing violence, we remain very concerned about civilian casualties that have arisen from the ongoing violence, especially among Palestinian children and young people. These casualties continue to result from Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

We have continued to urge the Israeli Government to take appropriate precautions to prevent the death or injury of innocent civilians and damage to civilian and humanitarian infrastructure. We have also urged the Israeli Government to facilitate the movement of humanitarian personnel and supplies and provide medical attention to those in serious need as expeditiously as possible.

We remain in close communication with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to calm the situation and prevent further bloodshed. At the same time, as we've made very, very clear before, we recognize the need for Israel to take legitimate anti-terrorist actions. There can be no excuse to the violence and the terrorist attacks the Israeli people have been forced to endure. We're pressing the Palestinians to do all they can to end immediately the terror and violence and work to restore active security contacts to -- and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorists and violence.

Progress towards the realization of Palestinian aspirations and the President's vision is simply impossible while violence and terrorist attacks continue unabated. And you'll see in the statement that Assistant Secretary Burns had, he made very clear any workable diplomatic approach must be predicated on an end to violence and terror as a political tool, period.

QUESTION: Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Armitage was quoted in an article saying that Iran was a democracy. Is this the view of the State Department, that Iran is a democracy? It's a Los Angeles Times piece.

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to look back and see what exactly he said. I think it's quite clear that the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people is something that we have supported. They have held elections. They have had some ability to express themselves and we have very much supported those kinds of aspirations on the part of the Iranian people. So any steps toward democracy, movement towards democracy and democratic activity in Iran is something we want to support. I don't know if he was contrasting it with other members of the so-called "axis of evil" but --

QUESTION: Are they nearly evil now?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if he was contrasting it with other members of the "axis of evil" but certainly Iran has more of a democratic flowering than any other of the other two governments.

QUESTION: When you say moving -- steps towards democracy, that would imply that the current government, this current system, is not democratic, right? I mean --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to try to categorize it absolutely one way or the other at this point. I'm sure the Deputy Secretary's remarks in context were clear enough for you, and if you want more you can look in our Human Rights Reports and find out what we think of democratic

-- democracy in Iran.

Back there.

QUESTION: Yes, Richard, can you comment on the situation on the plane that crashed in Colombia last Friday carrying four Americans that were working for the Department of Defense? Do you know if they are all alive or they are being held hostages by the FARC guerillas, or what's the situation there?

MR. BOUCHER: The bodies that were found near the wreckage of the aircraft were positively identified as two of the crew members, one American and one Colombian, of the United States Government aircraft. We offer our condolences to their families, their friends and their colleagues.

The remains of the American arrived in the United States on Sunday. Out of respect for the family's wishes, we'll not be releasing the name or any additional information on that person.

In remembrance of these courageous individuals, the Embassy lowered its flag to half-mast this morning and will also hold a private memorial service on the Embassy grounds today.

The Government of Colombia officials, Colombian military and a visiting congressional delegation will be invited to attend. We're saddened and outraged by the circumstances surrounding these deaths. We have reliable reports that the other crew members are being held by the terrorist group, the FARC.

Those holding them captive are responsible for their safety, their health and their well-being, and we demand their immediate and safe release. All available resources are being used around the clock to conduct search-and-rescue operations. Out of concern for the safety of the other crew members and those involved in those operations, we can't comment further at this time on either the crew members or the search-and-rescue efforts.

QUESTION: I mean, besides the search-and-rescue efforts, is there any other approach to the situation, I mean, like a humanitarian commission or something to negotiate the release of the -- of those being held hostage?

MR. BOUCHER: I think any further questions about potential response to those holding, holding them hostage won't be addressed until the whereabouts and the well-being of these crew members have been ascertained, so I can't speculate at this point whether there might be others making approaches.

Okay. Charlie.

QUESTION: Does the government have any --

QUESTION: It's a different subject. Is that a follow-up?

QUESTION: So is this.

QUESTION: Oh. On a different subject.


QUESTION: Can you say anything else about the circumstances of their deaths? Was it execution? Was it shoot-out?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't at this point. Sorry.

QUESTION: Can you say what they were doing there? What the mission of the flight was?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I can't go into that any more than we have already. Just not at all, I think.

QUESTION: On a different subject. Do you have any comment on the results for the sentencing today in Germany of Motassadeq and whether or not it might have any implication for the upcoming trial of Mr. Moussaoui here?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't. I will have to see if that's appropriate for us to talk about. I don't have anything on that.

QUESTION: Not even a reaction to the sentencing?

MR. BOUCHER: Not at this point. I will check for you. I think that was just breaking news this morning. I didn't have a chance to check.


QUESTION: I forgot what I was going to ask. Oh, yeah. Despite your protestations and those of some other countries in Britain and notably President Mugabe arrived in Paris as a guest of President Chirac. What do you have to say about that?

MR. BOUCHER: He arrived?

QUESTION: Apparently he did, yeah.

MR. BOUCHER: Is that true?

QUESTION: Well, he certainly left. I think he arrived today. But I may be wrong.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we think, first of all, the decision for -- to invite President Mugabe to Paris is regrettable. We understand that the European Union travel ban on President Mugabe requires agreement among the members of the European Union and we have urged French and other EU countries to apply sanctions in a consistent and effective manner.

Note that in recent weeks, the Government of Zimbabwe has further increased political intimidation and repression against promised members of the opposition. That's a fact that we think needs to be kept in mind.


QUESTION: Do you have any new words on a conference that is likely to be held in the coming days in Salahaddin of the opposition that the U.S. has supported in the past, and are you encouraging this? Will you send anyone? Do you have any words for them now?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any new words at this point. Maybe I can get some new words for you tomorrow.

QUESTION: You've talked about it from the podium before. It just -- I'm hearing now that it could be in the 24 or 48 hours that they are going to kick off this conference and it would be nice to find out what the State Department thinks.

MR. BOUCHER: All right.



QUESTION: Both President Bush and Secretary Powell have been talking and strongly criticizing anti-war sentiments. Also, the rift within NATO -- has there been a lack of focus now? I know since this morning, there are reports of munitions shipments of other arms either from North Korea or coming out from Iraq going elsewhere. Do you want to put any strong --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that 's what the reports this morning said, but --

QUESTION: Okay. Do you feel that coming to the UN this next time in early March that you need to put more stringent wording into some of your resolutions?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the Security Council has made itself clear in Resolution 1441. Iraq is in material breach. Failure to disarm, failure to cooperate, failure to declare would constitute further material breach, and that would have serious consequences.

So the issue is not lack of focus. The issue is not the clarity with which the Security Council has framed this matter. The issue is whether the Security Council members intend to stand by the resolution that they've already passed. The issue is whether the Security Council members are prepared to look at the facts and make a decision on what needs to be done next. And that's the issue that we will present to people.

I don't think there's any lack of focus, but various things you referred to in your question, I don't think I wholly agree with your interpretations anyway, so.


QUESTION: One of the team members of Saddam Hussein's cabinet was house arrested. So was your -- is it because he was a source --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about. I can't explain the behavior and actions of the Iraqi regime in defiance of the international community so I don't think I'm going to do a very good job explaining what might be going on inside Iraq.

QUESTION: Was it related to a cooperation to the weapons inspectors?

MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea.

QUESTION: Further, Saddam Hussein says he wants peace and not any price worth the dignity of Iraq. It's almost as if just before the UN meetings a week ago that he suddenly comes out and says that, well, he doesn't want any more imports of weapons and arms and such. Is this too little too late?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean, let's be clear on what's happening and what hasn't happened. I mean, first of all, for the last 12 years Saddam Hussein's regime has found one excuse after another for not bringing peace to the region, one excuse after another for continuing programs that threaten people of the region as well as the Iraqis themselves with weapons of mass destruction. So one shouldn't be able to find any statements like that believable.

This decree that they supposedly put out last week to satisfy long-standing demands of the inspectors -- it looks like it really only covers private individuals, and somehow individuals in their houses in Iraq are not supposed to make weapons of mass destruction, but it doesn't, in fact, govern national behavior, government behavior. So, I mean it's, you know, there's nothing there. There's nothing there in terms of compliance. In fact, there's everything there in terms of defiance.


QUESTION: Can you explain, Richard, what the Secretary's role was in getting the Virginia legislature not to adopt this flag that paid some kind of homage to the former flag of South Vietnam?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I can check, though.

QUESTION: Can you?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. Thanks.


Released on February 19, 2003

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