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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 28, 2003



1 Statement in Support of Secretary General Annans Activities
9 Secretary Powells Involvement in Peace Talks


2 Statement on the Designation of Chechen Terrorists Groups
3, 5 Ties to al-Qaida and UN Sanction Committee Hearing
4-6 Reason for Consideration and Moscow Theatre Incident
7 Designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization Process


7-8 Attack on U.S. Consulate General in Karachi and Death of Police Officers


8 President Hamid Karzis Visit to the United States


9-10, 12 The Advisory Committee and U.S. Policy on Governments in Exile
10-11 Representation of Iraqis Inside and Outside of the Country
11-12 Proposed Exile for Saddam Hussein and the Arab League Meeting in Egypt
13-14 The Destruction of Missiles by March 1 and Full Disarmament
15-18 Veto Power for the Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council
18 Incentives to UN Security Council Members
18-19 UN Security Council Closed-Door Session and Serious Discussions


14, 19 Financial Issues and Establishment of Transparent Reform


17 Secretary Powells Phone Call to Foreign Minister Fischer


20 Slim Sisters - Return of Minor American Citizens to the U.S. States


U.S.-Czech Relationship with New Prime Minister Klaus


21 Testing of a Rocket Booster and of Nuclear Development Activity
21-22 Concerns of Export of Missiles and Related Material


22 Discussion in Beijing by Secretary Powell and Human Rights Trends
22-23 Case of Mr. Wang Bingzhang in Guangzhou


23 Reports of Movements of U.S. Forces from Germany to Poland


23-24 Vote on the use of Military Bases by U.S. Military


24 Reports of Clergymen Protesting


MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. There are two statements I'd like to make off the top, one about Cyprus and the other about designation of certain Chechen groups under terrorist financing executive orders.

First on Cyprus. The United States has long supported the dedicated efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to find a solution to the longstanding division of Cyprus, a solution which, as demonstrations in northern Nicosia made clear, so many Cypriots fervently desire. For this reason, we are encouraged that the leaders of the two communities on the islands have accepted the Secretary General's invitation to meet with him in The Hague on March 10th.

Secretary General Annan asked the leaders today to come to their crucial meeting in the Hague prepared to tell him whether or not they will put his revised proposal for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement to referenda in their communities on March 30th.

The United States strongly supports the initiative by the Secretary General. We believe that the United Nations revised settlement plan presents a just, viable and durable solution to the division of Cyprus.

Putting the plan to referenda is the most democratic and constructive way to determine the future of the people of Cyprus. We think Cypriots should have a chance to say yes to their future, together, and in Europe. This is an opportunity that may not come again.

So we'll have a written statement out shortly. And any questions on that, or should I go on to Chechen groups?


MR. BOUCHER: Go on quickly? Thank you.

QUESTION: I may have a question about Cyprus later on.

MR. BOUCHER: All right. Come back to it then.

On the Chechen groups, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, on February 14th, designated three Chechen organizations -- the Islamic International Brigade, the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs -- as terrorist groups under the executive order regarding terrorist financing. All three groups were directly involved in the seizure of over 800 hostages at Moscow's Dubrovka Theater last October.

In making this designation, the United States calls on all Chechen leaders to renounce terrorist acts and to cut any ties they may have to these terrorist groups and all who are affiliated with them. It remains our position that the broader conflict in Chechnya cannot be resolved militarily and requires a political solution. In this connection, we would also underscore our strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, a partner in the war on terrorism.

Because these three groups are linked to al-Qaida, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain and China have requested today that the United Nations 1267 Sanctions Committee include the groups on its consolidated list pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1390 and 1455. France has also indicated it will join the designation. And I would point out this would be the first time that all five permanent members of the Security Council have joined in submitting names to this Committee for listing under terrorist finance restrictions.

So we have a longer statement on that that will be made available to you, as well. So now I would be glad to take your questions on these or other topics.

QUESTION: Can I ask one question on that?


QUESTION: And maybe because I want you to -- I don't think it's been stricken from your comment, but I want to make sure. Does the United States believe that all Chechen rebel fighters are terrorists?

MR. BOUCHER: The United States believes that there are terrorists who associate themselves with the Chechen cause. We have focused, and particularly in a legal sense, on terrorist acts that these groups, that these particular groups, have committed. I am not at this point in a position to make a sweeping judgment about other groups.

QUESTION: So you do not believe that all Chechen fighters are terrorists?

MR. BOUCHER: I am prepared to make a judgment about these particular groups that we have studied, and they fit the designation under the law. We are talking about a legal designation, not some broad descriptive sense.

QUESTION: Because a senior official said earlier today that the United States did not believe that all Chechen fighters are terrorists. But you are not prepared to say that from the podium?

MR. BOUCHER: I am not prepared to make any broader judgment than the one that we have made. This is a legal designation that we have handled very carefully and appropriately, and I am not here to repeat what other officials may have said at some point.

QUESTION: Did you say February 14th?

MR. BOUCHER: He made the decision on February 14th. It's being announced and promulgated and published today.

QUESTION: It's only effective today, though?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, it goes into legal effect today upon publication in the Federal Register. As we have discussed before, he made the decision, he made the designation, February 14th. It takes effect today.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you talk about what brings these groups to be put on this list? The links with al-Qaida, as we understand there are much more significant than the U.S. has said before when asked about Chechen links to al-Qaida.

MR. BOUCHER: I think you will see for these groups there are links to al-Qaida that are outlined in the document that I think we either have or can make available to you that we are submitting to the Sanctions Committee, because the Sanctions Committee at the UN involves links to international terrorist groups, to al-Qaida specifically. And those links basically involve training and money links to al-Qaida.

As far as the groups themselves, again, you'll see more in some of the documentation we can provide, but I can go into slightly more detail about them.

The Islamic International Brigade was created and led by Shamil Basayev. It includes Chechen as well as Arab and other Middle Eastern fighters. This group participated in the Dubrovka Theater hostage seizure last October in Moscow and has committed a number of other terrorist acts in Russia. The Islamic International Brigade is currently headed by Saudi born Abu al-Walid.

The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment also participated in the Dubrovka seizure and earlier carried out other terrorist acts in Russia, including executions of civilians. Its leader, Movsar Barayev, was the first publicly identified leader of the Dubrovka seizure and was killed during the operation. The Special Purpose Islamic Regiment has remained active under its new leader, Khamzat, formerly Barayev's deputy.

The Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs is headed by Shamil Basayev, who also created and led the Islamic International Brigade. Shortly after the Dubrovka seizure, Basayev publicly attributed the operation to the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion, the existence of which was previously unknown. In the same statement, Basayef announced his resignation as leader of the Islamic International Brigade.

All three of these groups have numerous and longstanding organizational and personal linkages to each other and to al-Qaida, with Usama bin Laden and the Taliban, and those things are documented, as I said, in the statement that we're presenting today to the Sanctions Committee at the United Nations.


QUESTION: Richard, there are certain elements in this which raise some questions. First of all, the incidents cited in the fact sheet, the only two incidents other than the theater, are the execution of alleged traitors, local officials working for the Russian authorities. Is that -- does the United States consider that to be an act of terrorism, in the context of --

MR. BOUCHER: Excuse me, did you somehow say that taking 800 people hostage at the theater is not an act of terrorism?

QUESTION: No, no, I'm talking about the other incidents, the --

MR. BOUCHER: No, you can't discount taking 800 people hostage in a theater and say, "But other than that, have they done anything?" They took 800 people hostage in a theater in Moscow. That's an act of terrorism. It doesn't take anything more, Jonathan. Let's not quibble over --

QUESTION: Well, so why do you have to mention the other incidents, then?

MR. BOUCHER: Because there are a lot of things, each of which constitutes part of the case. But I don't think anybody can somehow jump over 800 people being taken hostage

QUESTION: No, I'm not --

MR. BOUCHER: -- in a theater and saying, but what about the, you know, the seating arrangements?

QUESTION: Jonathan's not questioning the --

QUESTION: I'm not questioning that at all.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, you're asking me if other acts are sufficient for listing. The fact is, it's the totality of their actions. It's the totality of their actions that constitute the sufficiency for listing and I would say there's a prima facie case based on the taking people hostage.

QUESTION: How do you account for the fact that the Russians, themselves, have not identified these three groups as responsible for the theater operation?

MR. BOUCHER: Because we base this on our information, on our careful consideration and study, and these are the conclusions that we have reached after a very careful review of all the information we have.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? These groups -- I'm a little hazy -- they're splinter groups or subsets of the larger group that Russia believes is responsible? Or Russia doesn't believe that these particular people are responsible at all for the --

MR. BOUCHER: That's three different questions about Russian policy. I don't know if your colleague's assertion is correct, but in any case, if you want to know the Russians believe, you have to ask the Russians.

QUESTION: Okay, but earlier some officials had explained that Russia wanted a larger designation of a group.

MR. BOUCHER: Again, if you want to ask what Russia wanted, wants or will want, you have to ask the Russians, not me.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you believe that these particular groups that you designated are subsets of a larger group that you didn't feel you had the information to designate?

MR. BOUCHER: We believe that these particular groups are responsible for these terrorist acts among many others, among other incidents, and therefore need to be designated not only under U.S. law but also under the UN Sanctions Committee.

QUESTION: Richard, can I just follow up on that? The fact sheet actually says that the group which carried out the theater operation had its membership drawn from those other groups, which -- it doesn't -- which doesn't amount to the same thing as those groups actually taking part and being responsible. It said their members were drawn from it.

How do you explain that? What's the link there?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we believe, when members of a group go to carry out a terrorist act such as taking 800 people hostage in a theater, we believe that demonstrates that the group is responsible for the action.

QUESTION: Richard, can I just ask -- even despite that, you're saying you do still believe that all three groups, independently of the theater operation, had al-Qaida ties, right?


QUESTION: Which, in itself, might be enough to put them on this list.

MR. BOUCHER: It may be enough to put them on one list, not the other. In any case, yes.

QUESTION: The Russians have been asking for this for quite some time and -- months and months and months. And the first group, which I won't even try to pronounce, the Battalion one with martyrs -- Chechen Martyrs Battalion.


QUESTION: You say that they -- the existence of this group was not even known until the theater incident. Did they become -- did they come under consideration after the other two were being considered for the freezing?

MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know the timing. The theater incident was --

QUESTION: October.

MR. BOUCHER: We're getting on five months or so ago -- right? -- now. And so this has been under consideration for some period of months, but I don't know if it goes back before the theater or if this was really done seriously afterwards.

The issue that you have, and you'll see it as the regulations -- the regulations often get amended when some group sort of splinters or adopts a new name or the guy who founded one found some other group and I think yesterday we talked about the same people having ties to all these different places.

QUESTION: Right. And earlier today in Beijing, Foreign Minister Ivanov said that he was very happy with this designation, but he also said that they had asked for 15 groups to be put on either this list or some other list. Would you quibble with that as inaccurate of the --

MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't want to be trying to speak for the Russians.

QUESTION: I'm not asking you to.

MR. BOUCHER: I also wouldn't want to try to doubt the word of the Russian Foreign Minister. So I have to assume that what he says is correct.

QUESTION: Okay. So, in other words, there were ten other groups, or 12.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, by your math, it would be 12, but I'm not doing the math.

QUESTION: Right, 12 other groups. But you guys didn't agree with the Russians on about a dozen groups?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the point that we have made is that we are careful. This is not only a judgment, but it's a legal judgment. It's a judgment that has to be made according to certain criteria and standards of law. And so, as we review any group for conclusion, and we do constantly examine groups and always look at others who may be approaching designation or may be associated with certain actions, we have to look at not only their responsibility, but the legal criteria against which it's judged. And so these are the ones we felt can and should be judged against the criteria of the list, not only our list, but the UN Sanctions list as well.


QUESTION: If these groups have been scrutinized so carefully, why are you not also -- and if they are the threat that you say they are, why are they not also being put on the FTO list?

MR. BOUCHER: There are slightly different criteria for that. It doesn't make the group any less dangerous. It doesn't mean that the groups haven't attacked, and in many cases killed, innocent civilians. But that designation has a slightly different legal definition.

QUESTION: And is there some reason that they wouldn't rise to the measure of an FTO?

MR. BOUCHER: We look at that as sort of a separate process in order to determine whether or not the information we have meets those particular legal criteria.

QUESTION: Is that process underway?

MR. BOUCHER: It's something we do generally for a lot of groups. I don't think I ever quite confirm that we're doing it for a particular group.


QUESTION: Richard, within hours this morning, a -- two gunmen killed two apparently Pakistani police guarding the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, and one of the gunmen was caught apparently coming from Afghanistan. Is there a tie-in to al-Qaida there, and also to possibly even these Chechen-type rebels?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I can quite do all the tie-ins yet, as the matter is still under investigation, but I can tell you what we know.

At approximately 1:45 this afternoon local time, five Pakistani policemen stationed at a guard post in front of the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi were shot. We understand that two of the Pakistani policemen are dead. An unconfirmed number are wounded.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims, and we strongly condemn this attack. These were Pakistanis serving their nation, but also helping protect a U.S. facility. Whatever the intent of these people who shot them, they ended up killing and wounding Pakistani Muslim civilians, fathers, brothers. Anyway, it's very sad, and we appreciate the fact that the people were there protecting us.

No Consulate General employees were killed in the attack or injured in the attack. There was no damage to our Consulate General itself. There was no attempt by the assailant, as far as we can tell, to enter the Consulate General grounds, so the shooting was some 50 meters from the Consulate General grounds.

Pakistani authorities do have an Afghanistan national suspect in custody. We are grateful to the Pakistani authorities for their work in protecting our posts. The U.S. Consulate General is working very closely with Pakistani authorities to investigate these attacks. We don't have any further details at this time.

The Consulate General in Karachi has been open for business for outsiders by appointment, not open to the general public since last August following a decision of the government, the local government, to reopen two-way traffic on the street near it. So that's been the situation with the Consulate General there.


QUESTION: Richard, this is not meant to be trite, but you said the five policemen were shot, two died, and an unconfirmed number were wounded. Wouldn't it be, if five people were shot and two died wouldn't it be three wounded?

MR. BOUCHER: There were other people in the area --

QUESTION: Oh, okay. So it may have been more than just the five?

MR. BOUCHER: -- who might have been wounded, as well. So it may be more than the five who ended up -- we know the five policemen were shot. I don't have a number yet for whether other people in the area, whether military or civilian, might have been hit as well.


QUESTION: Cyprus. Can we go there?

MR. BOUCHER: Can we go to Cyprus? One more on this.

QUESTION: A follow-up to that question. With Hamid Karzai here visiting both President Bush and the U.S. Congress, was that an effort to possibly disrupt his trip and embarrass him?

MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea. I have no idea.


QUESTION: Secretary Powell said yesterday that he was ready to help two sides on the island to find a solution. Does he having anything in mind, like calling them, calling the leaders or meeting the leaders before or after the 10th of March?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary has been involved with the Secretary General on this. He has talked frequently with the Secretary General and been kept up to date on the situation. He talked to the Secretary General about this as recently as Wednesday.

Also, in his meetings and his discussions with European leaders, particularly the Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers, he's had a chance to talk about Cyprus so they were --

QUESTION: Did he? He said --

MR. BOUCHER: Hold on. The last time he had a sit-down meeting with Foreign Minister Yakis, I guess, was about ten days ago, if I remember correctly, maybe two weeks. They talked about Cyprus then.

He also talked about Cyprus yesterday with Foreign Minister Papandreou, sort of both as Greek Foreign Minister, but also as in the EU presidency because, obviously, with Foreign Minister Papandreou and High Representative Solana and Commissioner Patten, this is an issue of great interest to the European Union, as well, so we discussed with the European Union how we can both help it along.

I would note that our Special Cyprus Envoy is in the region and playing a very active role, and I think a helpful one that's helping out with the UN effort. So we are very active in that way, as well. And I'm sure the Secretary will continue to be involved.

QUESTION: Richard, do you have any words about the election of a smaller Iraqi opposition panel in Salahuddin?

MR. BOUCHER: The so-called "Leadership Group"?


MR. BOUCHER: Yeah. Okay. I just have to find it.

I won't go over the basics of the meeting. I think we all know those. The Advisory Committee that was formed in December 2002 has been meeting in Salahuddin in Northern Iraq and the United States has had representatives out there for the meeting.

We've seen reports now that there's been the creation of a leadership council for the outside opposition. We continue to discuss our cooperation and the work we can do together with the Iraqi opposition leaders. I want to make clear we'll continue working with the Iraqi opposition that's outside the country. We'll work with others in the international community to advance our vision of a future government in Iraq that draws from the strengths and experiences of the Iraqi community, both inside and outside Iraq.

The goal that we all have is to achieve a democratic, multiethnic Iraqi government based on the rule of law that preserves Iraq's sovereign territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, forswears weapons of mass destruction, and abides by all UN resolutions.


QUESTION: Do you recognize this leadership council as any time of government-in-exile, and what is, if you could reiterate the State Department's position on whether a government-in-exile should be created?

MR. BOUCHER: Our position has been and remains that we do not support the creation of a provisional government or a government-in-exile at this time. We believe that trying to create a government of people prior to the liberation of the country would, in effect, disenfranchise the vast majority of Iraqis who continue to live inside Iraq, sadly under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Their voices need to be heard as well.

That's why we support and have continued to support the idea that the future of Iraq needs to be decided by Iraqis both inside and outside the country, and haven't supported creation of a provisional government at this time.


QUESTION: Clearly, you don't recognize this government-in-exile, but what exactly do you consider the status of this group to be? Do you think they are representative of the Iraqi exile community, at least, and therefore that they, as representatives of the exile community, should have a stake in the future government of Iraq, albeit maybe a small stake?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can define the stake at this point. We do think that Iraqis from both inside the country and outside have a role to play in the future of Iraq. Ultimately the Iraqi people need to be given the mechanisms to choose their own government, their own representatives.

As I indicated, we'll continue to work with the opposition and look forward to doing that. This is a leadership council created by people largely from outside the country, and from some areas, but the vast majority of Iraqis are still not represented in it. So how eventually all this will shake out, I think we'll just have to see.


QUESTION: This council, though, isn't this, I mean, to a certain extent, wasn't the State Department and Zalmay Khalilzad urging a panel of this sort? And can you get into any more detail about what the U.S. would like this group to do? I mean, would they advise you on things?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can at this point. I really haven't had a chance to talk to our representatives who are out there, and so --

QUESTION: Are you happy that -- with everybody who's on this?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I can't do any details on it yet until my guys get back.


QUESTION: Richard, yesterday the Secretary seemed to revive the Saddam exile idea, and he said he had spoken to Secretary General -- or General Secretary Moussa, and then he -- he said that he would hope that the Arab League summit would produce some kind of call for Saddam to step aside.

Given the fact that the foreign ministers meeting ahead of that weekend summit failed to agree on anything except for not to call for Saddam to step down, is the Secretary still planning to pursue this line?

MR. BOUCHER: This has been an idea that has floated, that has been floated, as you know, by some Arab governments, one that we have always said was a good idea. I think in, maybe it was either China or Korea, the Secretary put it quite bluntly: It's time for Saddam Hussein to disarm or depart. And that remains our view.

What they decide to do in the Arab League, we'll have to see. After that, I suppose you also have the question of what individual Arab governments, or in some grouping, might decide to do, even if they don't do it collectively.

So it's an idea that's still out there. It's not one that necessarily offers a lot of promise, certainly not one that you can take to the bank or count on. But if Saddam Hussein is not going to disarm, this is another way to solve this without military conflict.

QUESTION: So he will pursue, continue to try to get people to make this call, whether it's in a multilateral Arab League format or --

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, I would expect that those who have been raising this idea would want to continue to pursue it and we would continue to make clear it's something that we thought had some merit.


QUESTION: I have a question, a little more on that. Did the State Department tell the Iraqi opposition that it would cut off funding if they did create a government-in-exile? It's one thing to say you wouldn't support -- you don't support the idea, but what would you do if they did?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how we phrased it. I do know that we made our opposition to a government-in-exile known, but I don't know if we put any particular spin on the phrase.

QUESTION: Well, (inaudible) there is no funding now. Is the opposition receiving any money from the U.S. Government at all at the moment?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, it depends what you call opposition. There is the INC, which receives direct funding from the United States.

QUESTION: Continues to? I thought (inaudible).

MR. BOUCHER: There are various organizations -- no, no. We reached agreement -- I can't remember when, but in recent months we've had funding going in that direction.

QUESTION: Richard, have you heard that this little town in Italy has invited Saddam to live there? (Laughter.) Absolutely.

QUESTION: That can't be acceptable.


MR. BOUCHER: No, I hadn't.

QUESTION: Yes, 3,500 residents of a town in southern Italy.

MR. BOUCHER: Well --

QUESTION: Do you think that's an appropriate place? (Laughter.)

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to start commenting on particular places at this point.

QUESTION: No, seriously --

MR. BOUCHER: I mean, really --

QUESTION: They say they're making a formal offer through the -- to the Iraqi Embassy in --

MR. BOUCHER: We'll watch.

QUESTION: Richard, what I'm saying, seriously, is if you are talking about Saddam stepping down, are you going to be particular about what place he goes? I mean, do you think there is an appropriate level of hardship that he should have to undergo in his daily life? (Laughter.) Or is it just anywhere that will take him to get him out of power? I'm serious.

MR. BOUCHER: This is wildly speculative and I'm not going to join you. I'm sorry.


QUESTION: Can you comment on the letter saying that the Iraqis will, in principle, agree to destroy the missiles?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that the short answer to this is going to be, let's see what they do. As I think the French Ambassador to the United Nations said the other day, this is mandatory. This is not a matter for discussion.

We would agree with that. Acceptance in principle, one has to wonder what that is intended to mean. In any case, as with so many things with Iraq, we'll wait and see whether they actually start destroying missiles by the deadline they were given of March 1st.

I think the second point I would make is that it's important to keep it in perspective. Destruction of these missiles is not the full disarmament that was demanded by the UN Security Council on 1441. A late and begrudging acceptance of one particular requirement imposed by the inspectors doesn't change the abundant facts that they have failed to disclose their programs. They have failed to actively cooperate and bring the inspectors to sites.

I would note a statement by the UNMOVIC spokesman just the other day that they were continuing to produce al-Samoud missiles. So they may, in the end, be willing to destroy the missiles that were tagged, but that doesn't change the fact that they seem to be continuing production of al-Samoud missiles. There's also the question of Al Fatah missiles, which have also been tested beyond the UN mandated-range. And, of course, there's the question of all the associated equipment.

And if Iraq were truly trying to disarm and rid itself of missiles above the limit, they would be willing, quite willing, to destroy all that material, as well.

So there we have it. We have some sort of acceptance, we'll see what it is and we have, perhaps, some missiles to be destroyed. But unfortunately, that's not the kind of disarmament we've all been looking for.


QUESTION: Can I follow up, please? The Secretary, when he spoke at the Security Council last, talked about how the Iraqis would do just this. They would, at the last minute, agree to do something, and then it would probably be stretched out as long as they could manage and possibly won't agree to destroy all of the components. So, but this, indeed, stretches it out. And there are going to be countries that are going to be saying, "See? They are disarming." So isn't this --

MR. BOUCHER: They may be the same countries that are already saying it though.

QUESTION: But this is a real diplomatic dilemma for you all because --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think it is a diplomatic dilemma. The facts are the facts. This is merely one fact against many, many others. The fact that they destroy some of their missiles while producing more of the same missiles, retaining other missiles that have also been tested beyond the range, retaining equipment to produce and test missiles of this caliber -- not to mention retaining stocks of chemical weapons, biological weapons, VX, anthrax, botulinum, chemical munitions shells by the thousands, that, this particular fact, doesn't change the overall picture. It's merely one of many facts that Council members need to consider as they decide what to do about Iraq's failure to cooperate and the fact that Iraq is still hiding many, many dangerous weapons.

Okay. She had a question down here.

QUESTION: Could you comment on the disclosure by the Palestinian Authority today that it has more than $600 million in assets but isn't holding any assets in secret?

MR. BOUCHER: Shall we finish with this or do you want to go on to the Palestinian?

Okay. Well, in that case, I'm going on to the Palestinians.

QUESTION: Well, no. I would like to have my Iraq question, but if you want to answer this first, that's fine.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Let's finish with Iraq and we'll come back to the Palestinians.

QUESTION: New question, but your answer to Betsy's question just now seemed to undermine what you've based the earlier answers on. This is merely a fact, the fact that they are destroying missiles? I thought the entire point, your point, was that you don't know if they are going to destroy the missiles.

MR. BOUCHER: Let me revise and amend my remarks. The fact that they might destroy -- I didn't want to quite give them credit yet for destroying things that haven't been destroyed.


QUESTION: Are you willing to let the inspectors come up with a list or are you willing to provide the Iraqis with lists with exactly what it will take for you recognize that Iraq is disarming? I mean, every time they say that they would be willing to do something, you say it's not enough. Are you willing to come up with a comprehensive, exhaustive list that says, if you do every single one of these things, that's enough for us?

MR. BOUCHER: There have been dozens of those lists in the past. There are outstanding questions from UNMOVIC, outstanding things from UNMOVIC that the Iraqis haven't done.

1441 was quite clear on what they had to do. They had to provide a full declaration, which they haven't done. Nor have they made any attempt to make their dishonest declaration -- to improve it to the point where it might accurately reflect what they hold.

And they have to provide immediate, full and active cooperation. Those are the standards that are out there. Those are the standards that we measure Iraq against. We've given a ton and a half of examples, but we really haven't seen any of the kind of cooperation that would mean that Iraq was actively cooperating.

They haven't brought forward anything that the UN inspectors hadn't found or figured out already. We have begrudging acceptance rather than willing cooperation.

QUESTION: Okay, but the resolution also kind of takes into account the previous resolutions that created UNMOVIC, and under that -- I don't remember -- I think it's 1284 -- that resolution --

MR. BOUCHER: The key remaining tasks?

QUESTION: Exactly. Are you willing to let the inspectors provide you with a list of key remaining tasks, which might take --

MR. BOUCHER: I think the inspectors are working on various clusters of tasks, and that's a process that we have cooperated with and supported. But the fundamental fact of cooperation has not been altered. You have that from the mouths of the inspectors, not once, not twice, but half a dozen times. And every time they speak, they say we could do our job if Iraq cooperated, or, we have very limited cooperation at this point. It's quite clear that Iraq has not provided the cooperation it was asked for in 1441.

The idea behind 1284 and the key remaining tasks was that, if Iraq was cooperating, you'd define what had to be done and then do it, and provide yourself with a schedule of how to destroy all the material that Iraq had, how to identify and destroy it. But Iraq's not cooperating. We're not in the sequence that was outlined by 1284, which was a resolution that was supposed to describe a sequence leading to the lifting of sanctions. It was an incentive program for Iraq. It was an inducement to Iraq. So that didn't work, either.

So, at some point, we have to face the facts. The facts are that Iraq is not providing active cooperation, Iraq has not started down the road of 1441, nor really of 1284, either. Iraq is continuing to defy the 17th UN resolution, and a Council that said nine times that Iraq was in material breach, and 11 times that there should be serious consequences, is now being called upon to figure out which time we really mean it.

QUESTION: How goes the uphill diplomatic struggle to get the necessary votes? Is there anything new to report on that in terms of the Secretary's conversations? And what, if anything, do you make of Foreign Minister's Ivanov's comments in Beijing earlier that apparently he's suggesting the use of, reminding people of, that Russia has veto power in the Council and may use it?

MR. BOUCHER: We never forget it. The diplomatic effort continues.

The Secretary, in terms of his own involvement and phone calls, I think today he's talked to Foreign Minister Fischer. So far, it's the only phone call I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Are you prepared to characterize that phone call as productive? Useful?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to try to characterize it any more than I've tried to characterize the others. I'm don't want to lead you into the premature counting of votes, or declarations, or this or that or the other. I think my colleague at the White House is reading a number of news stories from 1990 and 1991 as we were seeking key resolutions and we were seeing much the same sort of reminders that people had vetoes, even veto threats, even declarations on their part about how they would vote. Yet, in the end, the Council passed those resolutions. So it ain't over till it's over, I think, is the bottom line.

QUESTION: That is correct. I'm glad, actually, you mentioned that because -- was your colleague at the White House trying to imply that those stories that appeared in 1990 were incorrect when they were written?

MR. BOUCHER: No, that those stories --

QUESTION: Oh. So they were factual when they were written. It was an uphill battle, and you were having a difficulty trying to --

MR. BOUCHER: And all we're pointing out is many of the same --

QUESTION: So what are you trying to say? What are you guys trying to say --

MR. BOUCHER: I'll tell you what I'm trying to say if you give me a chance to say it.

QUESTION: -- that we shouldn't write --

MR. BOUCHER: I'll tell you what I'm saying. Don't count the chickens before they hatch. That's what we're saying.

QUESTION: Okay. But is it incorrect right now to say that you are having some trouble winning over other members of the Council? Because that's what it seems --

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't criticize your use of the term "uphill battle." I will, if you want me to. But I'm just saying it ain't over till it's over, don't count your chickens before they hatch, and I'll think of five other clichés to apply to this subject soon.

But you asked me about where the diplomatic effort stands. I think the only real new thing to report is the Security Council held a closed-door meeting yesterday to continue discussions on Iraq and on the U.S.-UK-Spanish resolution that was introduced on Monday. The Council will convene again next week, but no meetings have been formally scheduled at this point.

As you know, Guinea takes over the chairmanship of the Security Council -- the Presidency of the Security Council on Monday, so Monday they set the schedule at that point.

Our reporting indicates that the meeting was lengthy, the Council meeting. It was certainly a thorough discussion. It was an informal Council meeting and therefore people didn't take particular positions.

I would note in passing, our reporting indicates it was not as contentious as perhaps might be portrayed in the press. But we thought it was a useful discussion with all the Council members and part of the continuing discussion Council members will need to have as they consider these matters.

QUESTION: Richard, just to follow on that, is it not an uphill struggle?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to characterize it one way or the other. It's an intense diplomatic effort that we are undertaking because we think the facts are clear and can be made clear to all the members of the Council.


QUESTION: As part of that diplomatic effort, do you have officials fanning out across the various -- to meet with Security Council members? Are you finding that some of these members that might be on the fence are not trying to bribe you but are saying, listen, you know we've been --

MR. BOUCHER: Trying to bribe us? God forbid.

QUESTION: Well, but, we've been looking for certain things for a long time, this might really make our decision a little bit easier. And are you willing to provide Security Council members with incentives that wouldn't be against U.S. policy in the effort to secure their votes?

MR. BOUCHER: We don't go out and buy votes. We talk to people about the situation in Iraq. We talk to people about the responsibility of the Security Council. We think that when people understand Iraq's behavior, that Iraq is hiding very, very dangerous weapons that could be used to attack any one of us, that when people understand that Iraq is not meeting the requirements of the Resolution 1441, when people understand that what we've put forward is a statement by the Security Council that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity, that they will come to understand that's the right thing to do --

In these meetings, when you have an Assistant Secretary, for example, spending a day or so in a capital, he's also talking about the broader relationships. He's also talking about the ways that we can work with people who are friends of ours who we work with in other areas. So yes, there are certainly discussions in, you know, in the same meetings and the same sets of meetings.

Our assistance programs, places like Angola, where we've had ongoing and detailed assistance programs, there are discussions of meetings that can be held and ways that we can continue to work with people. So I'm denying that we discuss assistance with these countries. I would just say that these are discussions and efforts at assisting these people that would be going on anyway.

QUESTION: Richard, are you also saying that a no vote could, you know, put a wrench in relationships that could be improving along the lines you just described?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, certainly working together on these matters in the Security Council can help improve these relationships. Much of our assistance is humanitarian in nature, though, and wouldn't be affected politically by a political matter such as this.

QUESTION: Richard, on the same thing. Have you heard of any evidence that your opponents in this effort are themselves offering incentives to any of these countries? You don't have to name names.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

QUESTION: No, I mean, you haven't heard of any such thing?

MR. BOUCHER: You'd have to ask them. I'm not speaking on behalf of others.

QUESTION: Richard, four questions ago you said that the State Department's reporting of the closed-door session was different than press accounts. Could you elaborate on that? I mean, could you tell us, you know, could you give us a readout of the closed-door session and how it was not contentious?

MR. BOUCHER: It wouldn't be closed-door if it was. I will just say that our people who were actually inside the room when it took place report to us that it was a thorough discussion, it was a long discussion. People lined up, I think, pretty much the way you know they have lined up. In public there are some that are still in the middle. And it was a serious discussion among Council members and not a contentious, or I think I saw the word acrimonious used in one article.

We certainly wouldn't describe it that way.

QUESTION: Well, did you get, I mean, did you get the impression that maybe people's positions were softer and private than they were in public?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite want to characterize people that way. They'll have to each take their own position. In the end, as we pointed out by discussing the whole process of how this came about in 1990, people take different positions and these positions evolve and I just don't want to rule out that they might continue to evolve. The only that really matters is where they are when it's time for a vote.


MR. BOUCHER: Okay. We were going to Palestinian finance questions. Is that okay?

I won't be able to confirm any particular accounts or amounts, but I'm happy to tell you what's been going on with respect to Palestinian financial issues because it is one of the areas of our close and ongoing cooperation on the issues of reform of the Palestinian Authority in an attempt to continue progress down the road of the roadmap, and attempt to continue the work that we started before.

We've been very closely engaged with the parties on the issue of financial reform and the establishment of a transparent financial structure to ensure that Palestinian funds are expended on legitimate activities and are not diverted away to support terrorist action.

Earlier this month, we welcomed a significant achievement in this effort with the agreement reached by the Israelis and Palestinians to establish mechanisms to oversee the expenditure of Palestinian funds, thereby ensuring the transparency and accountability of Palestinian finances.

The establishment of these mechanisms facilitated the transfer earlier this month by the Israelis of withheld Palestinian tax revenues to ease the humanitarian situation in Palestinian areas. And this move signaled support for the reform of Palestinian finances already underway which we hope can lead to an efficient and transparent Palestinian financial system.

We commend the Israeli and Palestinian officials who worked hard to make this agreement possible. We continue to work with the Palestinian ministry of finance to develop its own systems to track and monitor use of the funds it provides to Palestinian entities. We have funding from our U.S. Agency for International Development of experts to assist in the training and auditing program that's led by the Palestinian ministry.


QUESTION: Is this disclosure enough to satisfy some concerns that maybe the officials in the Palestinian Authority have been holding some funds secretly or using --

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'm not able to confirm the disclosure of the accounts or any amounts or even to say that such accounts still exist. What I would say is that we're helping. We're working with the Palestinians to put in place better financial mechanisms, to put in place a good accounting and transparent financial system and that that has been sufficient at this point, so we can take another major step forward which was for the Israelis to have confidence that the returned tax revenues would be spent for the Palestinian people and thus, the Israelis have not only been now returning tax revenue on an ongoing and month to month basis, but they've also returned withheld tax revenues which helps quite a bit to ease the humanitarian situation of Palestinians. So this is a process that's been underway. It's working. We're getting better financial systems, more clear, more transparent financial systems and we're getting the return of money to the Palestinian Authority now.


QUESTION: New subject? Anyone?


QUESTION: I understand that three girls who've been holed up in the embassy in Lebanon as their mother tried to get them back are now on their way back home?

MR. BOUCHER: That's true. And it's very good news, something we've been working on for quite a while. It's a story that, given the concerns for the family's privacy that I can't discuss in any detail or have further comment, but I can confirm to you that the three Slim sisters, they spell their name S-L-I-M, all of whom are minors and United States citizens, returned to the United States yesterday.

We thank the Government of Lebanon for working to resolve this difficult case in accordance with U.S., Lebanese, Canadian, and international law. So it was quite a complicated situation as well, and we're happy that we were able to help the family resolve it.

QUESTION: There was criticism in Lebanon, though, that the embassy was acting, I don't know, above their national line in holding these girls, in allowing them to remain inside the embassy so that their father couldn't see them. How did you end up resolving that?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I can't speak to the details for the individuals of the particular situation. We are interested in the protection and the welfare of American citizens. We do what's necessary to protect the welfare of American citizens and to try to help resolve these things in accordance with the law. And as I said, in the end it was resolved in accordance with U.S. law, Lebanese law, Canadian law, and international law.

QUESTION: At least one small state has a new leader today. It's not Havel, but Klaus, former prime minister. Can you a little bit elaborate on Czech-American relationship and new leader in Europe?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I really can. I don't have anything prepared for you. I'll have to get you something.

QUESTION: Do you have any information about North Korean plans to start reprocessing their plutonium and about testing a rocket booster in January for a Taepodong ballistic missile possible test?

MR. BOUCHER: The simple answer is no. On the question of spent fuel rods, I'd point out that in December 2002, North Korea expelled the monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and therefore, the International Atomic Energy Agency is no longer in a position to ensure that the North does not move the spent fuel rods or begin reprocessing. We have made clear that any moves by the North Koreans to reprocess spent fuel would be a matter of deep concern to the entire international community, but I'm not in a position to provide any more detail on what we ourselves might know at this point.

QUESTION: -- the reprocessing plant, or --


QUESTION: Or even on the rocket booster?

MR. BOUCHER: No. On the rocket booster testing, we've seen those stories in the Japanese press. Again, because of the information we might have from intelligence, the information we might have is from intelligence, I'm not in a position to comment on those particulars. I would say that we're not aware of any violations at this point of North Korea's declared missile flight test moratorium.

QUESTION: -- voluntary --

MR. BOUCHER: Voluntary moratorium that they entered into of not flight testing missiles. We do remain concerned about North Korea's continued development of ballistic missiles that could threaten the United States or our allies. We're equally concerned about the North's continued export of ballistic missiles and related equipment, materials, and technologies to countries of concern. And I'd point out the Secretary discussed these in public, but also in private during the course of his visit to Asia. Our concerns about North Korean missiles, I think, are well known.

QUESTION: If I could just verify, when you talked about the moratorium, was your understanding of the moratorium that it would include tests of rocket boosters or only of flight tests, test flights, whatever they're called, the ones that fly through the air, you know.

MR. BOUCHER: It was a flight test moratorium. I don't know what kind of test you're talking about here, whether it flew through the air or through something else.

QUESTION: Well, it sounds like it might have been on the ground. I don't know.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, either, and I'm not in a position to clarify for you because of what we might know about it wouldn't be from sources that I can divulge.

QUESTION: Richard, next door. This Chinese dissident who you had expressed some concerns about in the past has lost his appeal, and a life sentence, and there are some reports that the Secretary personally raised this matter. Is this old?


MR. BOUCHER: No, go ahead.

QUESTION: That Secretary Powell raised this matter personally when he was in Beijing. Is that correct? Did he actually bring the case of Mr. Wang to the attention of the Chinese officials in person? And even if he didn't, what is your reaction to the decision today?

MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary, when he was in Beijing, raised human rights, discussed the trends that we have seen in terms of human rights cases, in terms of arrests and sentencing, even executions in some cases, and made clear the importance the United States attaches to these trends, to these particular cases.

The particular cases, I think, have been raised by other individuals during the trip and by our Embassy and in our discussions with the Chinese.

One of the cases we have been concerned about is the case of Mr. Wang Bingzhang. He is a legal permanent resident of the United States and there was a court in Guangzhou that today upheld the life sentence that they gave him on charges of espionage and terrorism.

Our Consulate General in Guangzhou requested permission to attend Mr. Wang's appeal hearing, but permission was not granted. We understand that his relatives were allowed to attend.

The United States has repeatedly registered our deep concerns over Mr. Wang's case. We note that many questions about Mr. Wang's case remain unanswered, such as those involving the apparent detention by China of Mr. Wang for a six-month period during which Chinese authorities denied knowing his whereabouts. Many observers find this denial unconvincing and have raised concerns about Mr. Wang's treatment during that period.

We also note with deep concern that Mr. Wang's trial was conducted in secret, raising questions about the nature of the evidence against him and the lack of due process. We would also note with particular concern the charge of terrorism in this case, given the apparent lack of evidence and, again, due process.

QUESTION: Are you -- so you do not want to say if the Secretary raised this case specifically with --

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, particular cases were raised by others during the visit or by our Embassy separately. He talked about the generic problems, the trends, the systemic problems, and our overall concern how this would affect our relationship.

QUESTION: And the other thing is that you say -- and you said this the last time, I think. Why did you say "many observers" find this denial unconvincing? Do you find it unconvincing as well? Who are these observers that you --

MR. BOUCHER: We find it unconvincing as well, but it's not just us, is what I'm saying.

QUESTION: Richard, do you find it -- has this building protested the fact that a consular officer was not allowed in the appeal?

MR. BOUCHER: We have certainly raised our concern about that, but given that Mr. Wang is a legal permanent resident of the United States and not a citizen, we don't have exactly the same rights in that regard.

Okay, let's go over here and work our way back. Sir.

QUESTION: Thank you. The Polish newspaper Gazeta Polska, referring to good and reliable sources in the United States, wrote that the U.S. is considering the relocation of some military fronts forces from Germany to Poland and that the Czech Republic, because of the financial reasons, that the Czech Republic can provide this cheaper and is --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm afraid that's a question on military deployments. I'm not in a position --

QUESTION: Sure, but it's a political move, too.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not in a position to discuss our military stationing over here. That is really a matter the Pentagon will handle for you.

QUESTION: It's a political move too, no?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure the Pentagon would be glad to answer your question. If there is any such idea, they'll talk about it.


QUESTION: Do you know anything more about Turkey and whether or not they are going to vote tomorrow?

MR. BOUCHER: We do expect them to vote on this matter tomorrow. We understand that the Turkish national security council has just finished meeting. We expect the parliament will vote on our request tomorrow.

We have substantially completed our negotiations with the Turkish Government over the economic, political and military documents that can outline U.S.-Turkey cooperation with respect to Iraq. It is now up to Prime Minister Gul and his cabinet to complete the Turkish political process.

QUESTION: What if they don't? What --

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's see what happens.

QUESTION: Here's a quick one. I don't know whether you've prepared anything on this. There are some Zimbabwean clergymen who got into trouble for protesting today. Do you --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure that's something --

QUESTION: I didn't ask about it, so maybe you didn't.

MR. BOUCHER: No, we'll get you something on that later.

Do we have one more? No? That's it. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:05 p.m.)

# # #

Released on February 28, 2003

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