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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 27, 2003

INDEX:

IRAQ/UNITED NATIONS

1 Updated Iraq Fact Sheet Available to the Press / Public
1-2 UN Security Council Responsibilities
6 Blix to submit Report
7 Incentives to Keep People from Acting as Human Shields
7 Incentives to Preserve Post-Conflict Iraq

RUSSIA

2-4 Addition of Chechen Terrorist Groups to the Terrorism List

TURKEY

4 Turkish Parliament Vote Delayed
4-6 Negotiations with Turkish Government

GREECE

6-7

DEPARTMENT

8 Secretary Powells Phone Calls

NORTH KOREA

8-10 Reactivation of Nuclear Facilities
10 North Korea Dialogue with U.S. Dept. of State
10-11 Materials and Time to Produce Weapons
11-12 Concern over Short-range Missile Fired on Monday
12-13 UN Security Council Discussion
13 French Proposal of a P-5 Meeting

CHINA

13-14 Discussion in Beijing

JAPAN / SOUTH KOREA

14 Meetings about the North Korean Reactor

ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS

14-15 Settlement Freeze
14-16 President Bushs Speech with Regard to Peace in the Middle East
16-17 Post-Saddam Iraq Key to Middle East Peace Process?


TRANSCRIPT:

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I want to call your attentions to a new fact sheet. Not all the facts are new, but the sheet is new. And you'll be able to get it on the Internet, but we'll also make it available in the Press Office. This is the story of Iraq's hidden weapons. The examples, some of you may be familiar with, not everybody, of Iraq's research into biological materials, production of biological materials, anthrax, botulinum, chemical nerve gas, things like that. It's just a product that we're making available to people as they consider the dangers posed by Iraq's continued defiance and the need for the Security Council to step up to its responsibility with regard to all that material that Iraq has been hiding.

QUESTION: Which web site is it on? Will it be on the main State web site?

MR. BOUCHER: It'll be on the main State web site, yeah.

QUESTION: So you're hoping the Security Council will read it?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. We are hoping that everybody who wants to be informed, to make an informed decision, will read it.

QUESTION: So you've sent a little bookmark out to --

MR. BOUCHER: We're finding ways to make sure that people who need to read it can get hold of it, yes.

Okay.

QUESTION: As a follow to that, do you have an opinion of what value the Security Council of the UN would be if it does not live up to its responsibilities as the administration sees them?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the President talked about that last night. He talked about that in his first speech on the subject September 12th. Obviously that UN Security Council that can -- does not deal with one of the principal threats to peace and security of the moment is lessened by its failure to do so. It's a test for the Security Council.

QUESTION: Is it merely lessened or does it become irrelevant?

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, I don't remember exactly how the President put it. I'd leave it with his words from last night, really.

QUESTION: He said, last night he said weakened.

MR. BOUCHER: Is that what he said?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: Oh.

QUESTION: Which is --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I agree with him.

QUESTION: Okay, which is slightly different than what you agreed with when the President said that it would become irrelevant and go the same way as the League of Nations when -- in his speech in September.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it's any, essentially different at all, but if you want explanations of different words that the President's used in speeches you can feel free to talk to the White House about "irrelevant League of Nations" and "weakened" and compare and contrast.

Okay.

Betsy.

QUESTION: Richard, the naming of the Chechen groups as adding them to the terrorism list which you all are doing, right? I mean, that should be done in a couple of days?

MR. BOUCHER: Yep.

QUESTION: How long --

MR. BOUCHER: Perhaps as early as tomorrow.

QUESTION: Perhaps as early as tomorrow? Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Is this a quid pro quo for trying to get the Russians to agree with us on --

MR. BOUCHER: This is something that's been underway for a number of months and, as you know, it's a very careful process of designating groups under, in this case, the financial restrictions executive order. It has to have a firm basis of fact. It's a careful process that we go through. We also obtain and listen to other governments who provide us information; in this case, the Russian Government.

We look into it ourselves. We carefully analyze it against criterion standards of our law because it is a legal process or an administrative legal process. It has to be done carefully. So it's been underway for some time. And we reached a conclusion about ten days ago when the Secretary talked about it in New York.

He had decided to designate three groups for the financial controls because of their involvement in terrorism and particularly noted that these groups were involved in the attack on the Moscow Theater last October. So after that determination, we then take care of the proper legal notifications and that should be done in a day or so.

QUESTION: Could you give us an evaluation of the performance of the Russian army in respect to human rights and so forth?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not particularly prepared to try to do that off the top of my head at this point. That's a serious question that may deserve a more serious answer, but I don't have one for you off the top of my head today.

QUESTION: All three of these groups you say were involved in the attack on the Moscow Theater? Is that what you just said? --

MR. BOUCHER: That's what I just said.

QUESTION: Did you mean to say that?

MR. BOUCHER: That's what I think I meant to say. I don't know that I can explain it to you any more. All of these groups were involved in the hostage taking incident at Moscow's Dubrovka Theater last October.

QUESTION: So, if you're being that specific now, why -- perhaps -- why don't you just go ahead and tell us what they are, which ones they are?

MR. BOUCHER: Because I want to leave the excitement of that for some other day.

QUESTION: Are you -- there's, you know, there has been a lot of speculation as to who the Russian, the top, the Russians' top Chechen guy, who was here and met with the National Security Advisor and others in late January, talked about three groups that he said that they had presented evidence to you about and their links to terrorism in --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want you to conclude that they are exactly the same three groups. We look at all the information carefully. Sometimes, if we list three groups, they may be various permutations of one group by a different name. So all I can tell you is there are going to be three names on the list at this point. We'll tell you what they are when we can.

Okay. All right. In the back.

QUESTION: Richard, Turkish parliament delayed today voting for -- until Saturday. And I, if I remember correct, the last time the Secretary urged the Turkish Prime Minister, you know, rushing to finish this business, several telephone calls. Do you have any reaction for delaying or, and then -- okay.

MR. BOUCHER: I think -- first, let me note that we've substantially completed the negotiations with the Turkish Government on the economic, political and military documents that will outline the U.S.-Turkish cooperation with respect to Iraq. There are still maybe one or two final details to be worked out.

We've always said it's up to Prime Minister Gul and his cabinet to complete the Turkish political process. We do expect now -- we hear from the Turkish side that parliament will act on our request on Saturday.

We certainly respect Turkey's democratic process and it is, as I said, it is up to the prime minister and his cabinet to determine how to move forward through that process. We think that the assistance package, in terms of the economic consequences, addresses many of the concerns that have been raised in parliament. A political statement will establish a clear vision of what this is all about and, of course, military cooperation is an important factor in making sure it's successful.

I would say all these discussions have been based on a close friendship and long-term cooperation with Turkey. At this point, time is of the essence and we look forward to completing this process expeditiously.

QUESTION: Did Secretary talk with the prime minister lately?

MR. BOUCHER: Two days ago, I think, was the last time -- when we last reported it.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: No.*

Terri.

QUESTION: As far as you know, are there any talks going on within the government, our government, about possibly just dismissing the Turkey deal; that things are getting so late that particularly over at the Pentagon that they are ready to say, just "no thanks, you know, time has run out?"

MR. BOUCHER: I don't -- I'm not the one to give you any kind of update on that. That's a question of military planning. And to the extent that the Pentagon may want to talk about that, I would leave it to them.

We have made it clear time is of the essence. It's important to get this settled, and that if we can't resolve the situation through Turkey in time, then we might have to make other plans. But as far as when that moment comes, that's really a matter for the military planners and the Pentagon to decide.

QUESTION: For the State Department, Saturday is fine?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not the military planner. I'm not going to say yes or no or anything like that.

QUESTION: Given that it might take two weeks for these vessels to move from the Mediterranean around to Kuwait, which is the back-up plan, how much pressure has the Pentagon been putting on the diplomats in order to make this come about quickly?

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, we've made clear in our discussions with Turkey that time is of the essence but I'm not going to get into locations of troops or any other planning for them.

Jonathan.

QUESTION: There were reports yesterday evening that the administration plans to present a supplemental request to Congress, possibly in one week, including the Turkey package and the Israel package. This would be a multi-billion, some people said $95 billion package.

Have you seen anything along those lines?

MR. BOUCHER: I saw the Secretary's testimony about two weeks ago when he said that if it came to military conflict, we would probably submit a supplemental. But I don't have anything new for you since then at this point.

QUESTION: So can you say that you're not planning to send anything?

MR. BOUCHER: No. I can say that it's not for me to talk about a supplemental before we decide to submit it.

Sir.

QUESTION: According to Turkish constitutions, Turkey can only give the permission to foreigners inside their territory, it must be has is the international law or the United Nations regulations. Can you say today's situation is enough for the international law and regulations support U.S. troops in stay in Turkey?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I will leave Turkish law, Turkish politics, the Turkish situation to the Turkish Prime Minister to work out. Certainly for the United States, we know that ever since Resolution 687 and 678 and the 16 resolutions that have been passed; 17 resolutions that have been passed by the United Nations Security Council, that there is an adequate basis for believing -- because the Council said it nine times -- that Iraq is in material breach, and there's an adequate basis for saying there must be serious consequences because the Council's said that 11 times. So we think it's quite clear that there's a basis for action as far as we're concerned.

Terri.

QUESTION: On North Korea.

QUESTION: Wait, can we stay on Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering, have you -- are you aware if you guys have gotten a -- and read over yet a copy of the Blix report, the new one?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think he's submitted it yet, has he?

QUESTION: I thought he did.

QUESTION: The BBC said that he did.

MR. BOUCHER: The BBC has it? Oh. Maybe we'll have to get on their web site. The written report that's due on Monday? On Saturday, March 1st?

QUESTION: Well, tomorrow, or whatever it was.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. No, I don't know, don't think we have, he has not submitted it yet as far as we know.

QUESTION: While we're on that, is there anything --

MR. BOUCHER: But I'm sure there are people running to the BBC web site right now.

(Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is there anything you guys want to say about this diplomat at your embassy in Greece who has reportedly resigned in protest over Iraq?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think there's too much to say that, we certainly read the letter. This is a place where people have all kinds of ways of expressing their views. It's too bad the gentleman didn't feel he could continue in the foreign service given his views. But these things happen.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary read the letter?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you know when he got it?

MR. BOUCHER: A couple of days ago.

QUESTION: Is there any news of the (inaudible) do you know?

MR. BOUCHER: I have to check and see, check and see whether I can talk about that.

Yeah, Joel.

QUESTION: Richard, did you have to give any either guarantees or warnings to either the Syrians, Jordanians, Turks and Iranians to either keep their do-gooders from acting as human shields in Iraq and/or maybe monetary incentive if they don't go and do that type of activity?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't heard of anybody that thinks that one should issue monetary incentive to people not to go to Iraq. There should be ample incentive in the risks of going to Iraq not to go there.

We have certainly made very clear our warnings about the situation there, about the fact that this is a regime that has used human shields. I think we've even, in our recent travel warnings, put out information on possibilities of kidnapping in various parts of Iraq. So we've certainly made it very, very clear what the risks are of this kind of activity and behavior.

Whatever leads people in that direction, it's a very dangerous thing to do and one that, well, let me just leave it at that. I do think, in addition, we've, the Pentagon's recently made, done some briefings on past Iraqi patterns with this regard, the fact that they do have such disregard for human life that they would put people in harm's way and encourage people to go into harm's way, and that this pattern may be repeated if there is military conflict this time.

QUESTION: Follow-up. If we, if a war does erupt in Iraq, is there any, I meant by incentives, to prevent those three or four countries from going in and actually carving up Iraq into different enclaves?

MR. BOUCHER: The United States has been very clear and I think the countries of the region, in fact, have been very clear that we believe in a single Iraq. It needs to have a place for all its people, and that they need to decide their future. That is a position we hold very firmly and strongly. That is the kind of thing that is being discussed and expressed jointly by the U.S. and Turkish governments in this political declaration that's being worked. And so it'll be important to all of us, I think, those in the region as well as those from outside, that we uphold this principle that is commonly held, that Iraq needs to stay together.

Betsy.

QUESTION: The Secretary's phone calls? Could you say who he's spoken to in the last 24 hours?

MR. BOUCHER: In the last 24 hours? Yesterday, he talked to, I think I mentioned Foreign Minister Graham of Canada before the briefing yesterday. In the afternoon he talked to Foreign Minister Annan, Foreign Minister Palacio of Spain, Foreign Minister Yakis of Turkey. Did you ask me about that?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: Did you ask me about Turkey?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. I didn't read my notes. I was thinking Gul.

QUESTION: The recent one, Annan meaning Secretary General Annan?

MR. BOUCHER: Secretary General Annan. Let me start this again. If I can rewind the tape back to when, did you ask me, has he talked to any Turks? I had Prime Minister Gul in mind and he hadn't talked to Prime Minister Gul but he did talk.

Okay, so let me rewind the tape and try to correct all my previous errors. I told you yesterday at the briefing about his talk with Canadian Foreign Minister Graham. He also talked yesterday afternoon to Secretary General Annan, to Foreign Minister Palacio of Spain, and his good friend Foreign Minister Yakis of Turkey. This morning he's talked to Amray Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League.

QUESTION: What was the topic of that phone call?

MR. BOUCHER: I think generally they've kept in touch from time to time. I haven't gotten a complete readout, but I expect it was a chance to discuss what the President said last night about moving forward in the Middle East peace process.

QUESTION: Do you want to do that or should we go to Terri and then North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I think Terri had dibs.

QUESTION: Obviously. North Korea is an easier one. When did the U.S. find out that North Korea had restarted one of its plants? And there are reports that intelligence actually knew about it while Secretary Powell was over in Asia, but perhaps you didn't find out at that point. Can you tell us?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't get too far into the intelligence on this matter. It's true the North Koreans have restarted their five-megawatt electricity reactor. When the Secretary said they had not restarted their five-megawatt electricity reactor, at that time they had not, or it was not known that they had. And so, as we do today, as he did the other day, we reflect the best information we have available at the time.

Joel.

QUESTION: On the trip, Secretary Powell said that if they did discover that they'd started the reactor that the whole political landscape would change. So --

MR. BOUCHER: No, he didn't. He said reprocessing --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: --would be that kind of serious matter, if you look in his remarks in South Korea at the press conference. Reprocessing spent fuel is a much more speedy and direct route towards weapons. Restarting the electricity reactor over time will produce material that can then be converted into useful plutonium for weapons.

QUESTION: So it hasn't changed?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on spent fuel at this point.

QUESTION: Richard, I have a couple of questions. First of all, you just said that reprocessing would change the political -- isn't he afraid that given the recent behavior by North Korea that he's almost goading them into reprocessing? Every time the United States says that North Korea shouldn't do something, a couple of days later they end up doing it.

MR. BOUCHER: So if they violate all their promises, all their commitments to every nation on earth, their agreements with the IAEA, and threaten the region with nuclear weapons, it's because Secretary Powell said if they did that, that would be very serious?

QUESTION: No, I didn't, I didn't say that --

MR. BOUCHER: Is that the logic train I'm supposed to follow?

QUESTION: I didn't say he was purposely doing it. I said that, given the behavior, that it seems --

MR. BOUCHER: It's still his fault.

QUESTION: No, I never said it was his fault, but certainly if you look at the behavior by the North Koreans over the last several months, they're taking what the U.S. says that they shouldn't do and going ahead and doing it to spite them. I mean, Secretary Powell was in the region recently --

MR. BOUCHER: And so, what's the question? I'm trying to follow the logic, let me just try to answer the question. What's the question?

QUESTION: Do you expect now that they're going to reprocess?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.

QUESTION: Do you think -- how does this building and the administration feel that this began while Secretary Powell was in the region, or en route back from the region? I mean, does he feel that this is in defiance of his --

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't tie it particularly to the Secretary's trip. It takes some time to restart a reactor. It's not flip-of-the-switch kind of stuff. It probably started, certainly the preparations would have started before his trip and probably started before he even announced his trip.

You know, whether the North Koreans timed it to anything or just the fact that they announced they were going to do this, what was it, a month or more ago, I think probably two months ago, it was December if I recollect correctly, that they said they were going to restart the electricity reactor -- and, now they've done it. So they did the preparations. They did it. Whether they timed it to anything in particular, the South Korean inauguration or whatever, is a question you can ask them. But I wouldn't necessarily draw that conclusion.

QUESTION: How do you make sense of the fact that the North Koreans say that they want a dialogue with the United States. The United States, said it'd be willing to talk to the North Koreans if it were to stop its nuclear program, and here they are, beginning to reactivate?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't make a whole lot of sense of it. This is something that we've criticized, we've cited in the past that North Korea's taken a series of steps in the wrong direction -- this is another one of these provocative steps in the wrong direction -- that I think demonstrates that North Korea's commitments and promises are consistently violated, not just commitments and promises to the United States, but to the whole world.

I mean, this reactor is not a real electricity producer. It produces barely more energy than it consumes, and therefore the only reason to do this, the only reason to operate a reactor like this is to produce spent fuel that can then be turned into plutonium for weapons. It's not a major, you know, as I said, it doesn't produce much more energy than required for its own operation.

So, as why North Korea keeps taking steps like this, keeps moving in the wrong direction, I think, is a question you have to ask them. But it's quite clear that they're violating promises not only to the United States under the Agreed Framework, but more fundamentally to the whole world about the denuclearization of the peninsula. There's no real reason to do this other than to contribute, eventually, to a nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: As you point out, even though this won't produce as much potential nuclear weapon material as some of the other reactors, the other reactor at Yongbyon, as I understand it, it can, I mean it will over the long run, produce some of these materials. It may, what, take a year or two to produce one weapon instead of the much-faster reprocessing rate. So this isn't really a small step, even, is it?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say it was a small step.

QUESTION: You're saying it's not as provocative as others. Of course, it's not as fast, but --

MR. BOUCHER: I said, the, this is a way. There's no other reason to do this, because it produces so little electricity above what it consumes. There's no real reason to do this except to get spent fuel which can then be reprocessed into plutonium to create weapons.

It is a slower process than pulling out the spent fuel. But I described it as another one of the provocative steps that they've taken, steps in the wrong direction, steps that violate not only their commitments to us, but essentially violate their commitments to the whole world. So, I think that's a fairly serious statement about it. It's just not quite the same as some other things that they might do. And we've made clear that North Korea should stop moving in this direction, stop digging the hole deeper now that they're in it, and should look for the ways to get out of it that we have offered in terms of multilateral discussions to resolve these issues.

QUESTION: Richard, as I recall it, when the Secretary came back and said this on the plane, he was talking about it in the context of the North Koreans reaffirming in Kuala Lumpur at the Non Aligned Movement the same thing, that the North Koreans said they had not, and my recollection may be foggier than yours, but given the what happened afterwards, do you think that the Non Aligned Movement should take some, also take some strength in its position as it regards North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we always think it's important for people to face the facts. If I remember correctly, the context the questions were about the statement that North Korea made in Kuala Lumpur that at this stage they were only seeking peaceful uses for nuclear energy, peaceful nuclear energy, something like that. And then he was asked as a follow-up, have they started the reactor, and he said no, not at this point. But, the fact, as I said, the facts of this reactor is that it's not really a peaceful energy source because it produces so little energy, and that people should evaluate that in terms of how they understand the situation. Yes, I'd agree with that.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the other thing is, there was a report this morning about the missile that the North Koreans fired on Monday not actually being the short-range or medium-range missile that you guys had originally thought it was. Does the Secretary's comment from Monday, or from the Tuesday press conference in Seoul that this was any kind of innocuous attempt. Do those still stand?

MR. BOUCHER: They still stand. The best description I can give you at this point is that it was a short-range, anti-ship cruise missile that North Korea fired on Monday. I won't be able to give, go into any more detail at this point. Again, I'd point out we do remain concerned about any North Korean capability that could be used to threaten its neighbors or that could be sold to a wider international market.

QUESTION: But the basic premise that it doesn't, that that in itself --

MR. BOUCHER: A basic understanding of this missile, particularly in the context of all the reports that it was a Taepo-dong II or another ballistic missile, the basic comments are certainly accurate.

George.

QUESTION: Do you have anything new to say about UN Security Council deliberations on this issue -- timetable, content, and so forth?

MR. BOUCHER: The North Korea issue?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me see where we are in terms of the Security Council. Discussion among UN Security Council members on North Korea is underway. We have had a variety of bilateral discussions with Security Council partners since the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors reported North Korea's noncompliance to the Council. But we've been holding meetings with various missions in New York, including those of our Perm-5 partners on North Korea's actions, which violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its comprehensive safeguards agreements, as well as North Korea's efforts to withdraw from the treaty.

As coordinator of the Perm-5, France has proposed meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council to discuss North Korea. Nothing is scheduled at this point. The Perm-5 is still consulting on the appropriate time for such a meeting. So we would expect to have discussions like these with other countries over the coming days.

QUESTION: On that, is the United States in favor of an early meeting or --

MR. BOUCHER: We think this is, the discussions are already underway, so it's not particularly a matter of a particular meeting. It's a matter of continuing the Council's consideration of this and for people to be ready to get together. I think, an early meeting that's well-prepared, some formulation like that is probably what we're looking for.

QUESTION: And what else are you looking for from any such meeting?

MR. BOUCHER: Whatever outcome the Council should decide on.

QUESTION: Yeah but, you have your views about what --

MR. BOUCHER: No. At this point, we're discussing possible outcomes with other governments.

QUESTION: Richard, I'm sorry. Did, you said you expect to have --

MR. BOUCHER: Betsy.

QUESTION: Does this alter the urgency of this situation for you?

MR. BOUCHER: This being the reactor? And this situation being the United Nations?

QUESTION: This recent step that they have taken, and either within the United Nations or with the talks that you all have been having bilaterally as with the trip you just came back from.

MR. BOUCHER: We've been, you know, since we learned of the reactivation of this reactor, we've been in touch with close allies and friends like Japan and South Korea. As I said, there've been continuing discussions up in New York. So, it's been actively underway. As this step was discussed already by North Korea, it was forecast by them, I'd say it was not unexpected in that regard. But as I said, it's another sign they keep moving in the wrong direction, and the international community needs to consider that as we look for a way to resolve this. We're looking for, you know, we've always stated our willingness to resolve this peacefully and diplomatically. That's what we've been working on, that's what we continue to work on.

Now, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, you said, after you talked about the French proposing a P-5 meeting on this, you said we would expect to have discussions like this in the coming, were you referring to P-5 meeting or were you referring to a continuation of the bilateral discussions?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure you'll have all, we look forward to a P-5 meeting on this subject and over the coming days, we look forward to continuing discussions with other missions, and broader discussions in the Council as we move forward.

Okay. Joel.

QUESTION: Richard, with respect to, with the situation with North Korea, did the Secretary make any headway in his meetings in Beijing? And are the Chinese more willing to restrain North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the discussions in Beijing were very useful with regard to North Korea. We discussed the situation quite extensively. The Secretary did in his meetings with President Jiang Zemin, Vice President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Tang. Clearly, the Chinese have a very strong interest in a peninsula that's free of nuclear weapons. We do as well.

They have a very strong interest in seeing this matter resolved peacefully. We do as well. And so we discussed how we can move forward with those goals. There are various ideas around about how to get started perhaps with some discussions in a multilateral context such as is required to reflect a real widespread understanding, widespread nature of the problem in terms of all the different commitment and problems created by North Korea's actions.

So I think we had very good talks on that, and discussed some ways we might use to move forward and whether that leads to anything will essentially depend on the willingness of North Korea to address these problems with the people who they've affronted.

QUESTION: You are saying you are holding meetings at the UN in the coming days, you are expecting such discussions at the UN. I'm wondering if you are going to put any form of meetings or particular meetings with Japan or South Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: We have already been in close touch with Japan and South Korea on the matter of restarting the reactor. As we have -- we keep in touch with their missions up in New York as we consider UN strategy as well. Whether there'll be some particular meeting that involves everybody including them I don't know at this point. But certainly Japan and South Korea are parties that we keep in very close touch to, even though they're not part of the Perm-5 or the Security Council at this moment.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Richard, on the Middle East. This question was asked at the White House earlier, I saw, but it was not really much of an answer there, so I'm not, so hopefully expecting one here, but, the President last night talked about how there should be a settlement freeze once steps, once the Palestinians were taking steps toward peace, but yet, last year when he made his big speech that you guys always refer back to, he talked about settlement freeze immediately.*

What's changed since then and why shouldn't the Israelis, why do you not want the Israelis now, whether this is a -- if there's a discrepancy between the two statements, why now? Or why are you saying that -- why not have a settlement freeze immediately? Why don't you call on the Israelis to do that?

MR. BOUCHER: I would, first of all, once again, if you want to compare and contrast different words the President's used in different speeches, that kind of analysis has to be done with our friends at the White House.

I think we have made clear all along that as we proceed in the roadmap, as we proceed with reform transformation based on an end to the violence that both sides have obligations and both sides have responsibilities. And one of the responsibilities of the state of Israel would be to freeze settlement activities. That's been stated many times, perhaps in slightly different ways.

So it's a matter of the reciprocal obligations of moving down the roadmap process that's designed to achieve the President's vision. And that is a question of both performance but also of schedule to make sure that we move, that we go forward with it. We're not ready, quite, at this point to put out the roadmap, but we've been working on it.

We've been working on the elements that are needed to move forward, the kind of reform that's necessary, issues like turning over tax revenue, keep pushing on issues like humanitarian access, so there's a lot of work going on in trying to put together these elements.

But above all, we all recognize the violence has to end for there to be any real progress, and that's been a consistent and strong issue that we've worked on.

QUESTION: I'm just curious as to what -- the settlements don't appear to do anything to strengthen Israel's security against violence. In fact, it seems to -- that they seem to be such an issue of -- a contentious issue that continued settlements actually provoke more violence, so why not just go ahead and tell Sharon's Government now that they've got to stop? Is there some security reason that you think that the Israelis --

MR. BOUCHER: Once again, the roadmap process, the process of achieving the President's vision that he outlined on June 24th is one that involves reciprocal steps, obligations, on both sides, responsibilities on both sides.

How those things get put together in the roadmap is really a matter that has been and continues to be discussed very extensively. But one, we do understand that you do need to create security and end the violence to really get started on some of those steps.

QUESTION: I guess what I'm asking is why does ending the settlements, why does that need to be a reciprocal step? Why shouldn't that just be a unilateral step that the Israelis had to do anyway?

MR. BOUCHER: I suppose you could say that about any step in the roadmap. But the fact is that we expect the parties to move down this path together. And therefore it's been designed as a process where they can move down this path together.

QUESTION: But Richard, you said that you view the settlements as illegal in the past, so why would any action on the part of the Palestinians have to be taken for Israel to correct something that you see as illegal because there are things that you want the Palestinians to do that there's nothing that Israel has to do for them to start?

MR. BOUCHER: Our policy on settlements has been stated before. I will refer you back to the record of how we have stated it. In this administration we have certainly welcomed any action on settlements and the Israeli Government has announced in recent months, I guess last fall, really, some actions against settlements that we welcome, so we have made clear we do welcome any action to curb settlements. But our policy is well-known, and it hasn't changed last night or today.

QUESTION: I have another question on the speech. The President framed a post-Saddam Iraq as being beneficial to the Middle East peace process. In the past you've said that the two are not linked. So when did you come to the conclusion that it would be more beneficial --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we haven't.

QUESTION: Yes, you've said many times --

MR. BOUCHER: We said the two are important, that we recognize that people in the region see them together, we recognize that they do affect attitudes in the region, I think that's what the President talked about last night.

How successful removal of the instability in the region caused by Saddam Hussein, successful removal of the kind of terrorism financing that he's engaged in does provide a chance to change the situation with regard to the peace process. Both are important, they both need to be pursued, disarming Iraq and achieving peace in the Middle East. If there wasn't one, we would be, still be trying to achieve peace in the Middle East. That's been true of the United States throughout the years. But we've always recognized that at least in people's perceptions and minds in terms of how they do things and want to do things, these issues are both there.

QUESTION: Have you come to the conclusion that you won't be able to gain any traction on the Middle East peace process until Saddam Hussein is out of power?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't say that, either. I'd say we've been working on these issue, we continue to work on these issues, as I mentioned, some of the specifics that even, you know, without the release of the roadmap we've been working on, and we'll continue to move forward down this path towards the President's vision. What the President says, said last night, was that an end to the instability in the region created by Iraq could begin a new stage for Middle East peace, and that's certainly true as well.

QUESTION: Richard, also on the speech, it's noticeable that the President last night and the Secretary increasingly in recent months have started using this expression, "the civilized world," and I wondered if you could throw any light on what exactly they mean by this and which parts of the world are outside this civilized world that they keep talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: Jonathan, this is not recent weeks, this is a discussion that we've been having since September 11th when it was clear that there were violent terrorists who wished to destroy the very fabric of civilization that all historically, historical cultures, all societies that looked for a sense of cohesion and openness and freedom, all those who felt they had society and the civilization to protect could be subject to this kind of attack.

And ever since September11th, we've used terms like this because we have seen countries throughout the civilized world, which is in a sense throughout the world, band together and take action against, to prevent terrorism from destroying their intact, or attacking their societies.

QUESTION: (inaudible) but where is this uncivilized world that you're attacking?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think we've ever used the term uncivilized world, Jonathan. We've used the word civilized world, which is I think what we all want to be.

QUESTION: Well, that implies -- uncivilized world out there. Where is this uncivilized world?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, you can go find it. We have not talked about it, so I'm not about to start talking about it, pretending that there's something out there.

QUESTION: But, truly one could infer, though, that the uncivilized world might exactly be the, what some believe is the birthplace of civilization itself.

(Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that there are those who have put themselves outside of the international civilized world. There are those who have put themselves outside of respected society by engaging in terrorism, financing in terrorism, developing weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps even deciding at some point to pass those along. And that's what we have to worry about.

 



Released on February 27, 2003

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