U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 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 > June
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 30, 2003

INDEX:

ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS

1-2 Monitoring of Israel Pulling Back from Gaza/Roadmap
2-3 Assistant Secretary BurnsTrip/U.S. Financial Assistance

SYRIA

2 Repatriation of Five Syrian Border Guards
2 Steps in Limiting Terrorist Groups

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

3-5 Article 98 Agreements/American Servicemembers Protection Act
5-6 Article 98 Agreements and NATO/ Restrictions/Waivers

NORTH KOREA

7-8 Representative Weldons Ideas/Nuclear Weapons Concern
8 Multilateral Talks/Non-Aggression Pact
11-12 U.S. Policy Toward North Korea
12 Light Water Reactor/KEDO

LIBERIA

9-10 Joint Verification Team/ Implementation of Ceasefire
9-10 UN Secretary General Annans Letter to Security Council
9 Secretary Powells Conversations with UN Secretary General
10-11 Longstanding Relations with U.S.

IRAN

11 The Financial Times Report on Azadegan Oil Field Development

TURKEY

12 Turkish Foreign Ministers Visit

CYPRUS

13 US and UN Efforts to Resolve the Cyprus Problem

LAOS

13-14 Naw Karl Mua Sentenced Today/U.S. Response

IRAQ

14 Combating Pockets of Resistance/NATO Involvement

TERRORISM

14-15 U.S. Regulations Prohibiting American Citizens from Supporting Terrorist Organizations


TRANSCRIPT:

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be here, and I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could give us all a better idea of how the U.S. monitoring team will be deployed. We know what they are supposed to do, but I'm trying to get an idea of how close they will be to observing what is going on as Israel pulls back from Gaza, then it looks like Bethlehem Wednesday, and then the Secretary today said cities and towns on the West Bank, et cetera. So you think you're on a roll, that there's going to be a series of Israeli withdrawals, and I wonder how the Americans, you know, make themselves available to monitor this and, well, make sure everything goes right?

MR. BOUCHER: I think some of it I can tell you based on what they have been doing so far, but I would expect this whole situation will evolve as things go forward, as the expansion of areas continues, as the problems are identified and resolved.

The first thing that our monitors -- that our team with Ambassador Wolf needs to do is to work with both the parties, first of all to follow their progress in working with each other. And indeed, much of what has been accomplished has been when they have met with each other and handled security together, which has always been our approach -- the approach to security we have always encouraged.

Second of all is to work with each of the parties individually and hear from them about what is going on, where problems might occur, and particularly where problems are envisaged, where situations cause difficulties and need to be defused before they become problems.

And then the third is to have an ability to go out on the ground and see places and look at things and talk to people. Now, how much they will use that and sort of what form that will take, I can't tell you at this point. But I would say it is a combination of working with the parties, keeping in touch with the parties, but also getting out to look around and verify some of the things and look at particular situations that might arise.

Yes. Elise.

QUESTION: If you find that either side is not following through on their commitments, on the way that the roadmap is supposed to be implemented, what are the consequences, if any? Or is it just you kind of maintaining pressure on them to follow through on their commitments?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, you know, first of all, we have made clear they will monitor progress and achievements on these items in the roadmap, so we will look at those areas. We will raise those areas if we think that people have not carried through on their commitments. But it is very much devoted to trying to achieve progress on the roadmap. So I think those areas would then become the focus of our efforts to try to make sure that we do move forward; it is not just passing out grades, but rather, solving problems and moving forward.

Yes. Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, over the week you've -- the United States has brought back some of the Syrian guards that were wounded and has just turned them over to Damascus. Is there any headway in closing down some of the terrorist organization offices there, and also putting an end to their financing?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, somewhat separate things. First, let me confirm as I can that the repatriation of the five Syrian border guards took place on July 29th, and I think our folks at CENTCOM can give out any details -- June 29th. Excuse me. CENTCOM can give you whatever details there are of how that occurred.

The larger question of whether Syria has distanced itself from the terrorist groups, has taken steps to prevent their operations, has taken steps to prevent them from undercutting the Palestinians, the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian aspirations is one that remains important to us, as the Secretary has said a week or so ago, we have seen some limited steps, but those steps, overall, remain inadequate, totally inadequate, he said. And I think that has to be -- remain the situation today. I wouldn't say that there has been much change in that, that while there have been some steps, there is a lot to do to make sure that these violent groups are not allowed to disrupt the peace process. And we would expect everyone around the world that has any influence or any ability to affect the financing or other things to be taking steps to prevent organizations like Hamas from carrying out their violent acts.

Sir.

QUESTION: I understand that Mr. Burns just got back from the region. In his talks with the Palestinians, did he discuss with them what possible financial assistance might be available to them from the United States in coming years and months as a result of the considerable improvement in relations?

MR. BOUCHER: We have, in different meetings, a variety of meetings -- and I don't know if specifically this came up with Burns, although it frequently does -- talked to the Palestinians about the, first of all, our ongoing commitment to humanitarian assistance and to longer term programs that address some of the issues of development and reform in Palestinian institutions and society. So we are continuing to explore ways to ease the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people and to support the leadership of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as he moves forward with the objectives that he laid out in the meetings at Sharm el-Sheikh -- at Aqaba, I'm sorry.

I would point out that we already give substantial assistance through nongovernmental organizations and the UN Relief and Works Agency. The United States has long supported the valuable work of the UN Relief and Works Agency. We remain the single largest contributor to its efforts.

We have pledged over $80 million in ongoing support to this organization for Fiscal Year 2003. This is supplemented by U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people for Fiscal Year 2003 that totals more than $125 million. That goes through nongovernmental organizations and specific program funding administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development. So this year, we have over $200 million going to help the Palestinians with their immediate needs, as well as start to rebuild their society.

QUESTION: A question comes to mind. The aid is going directly to the Palestinian people, but you're, judging by what the Secretary had to say today, you're very pleased with the new leadership. I don't know if you're required to use this to bypass Arafat, but is there any consideration being given to a more orderly distribution through Abbas and company?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I do want to make clear the distribution is orderly. It is a very established program.

QUESTION: No, I know.

MR. BOUCHER: It works well through the NGOs.

QUESTION: No, I meant more with the guy in charge.

MR. BOUCHER: Do we intend to channel it that way? I just don't have anything like that at this point. I suppose the question can arise, but I don't have an answer for you at this point.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Richard, but is that under consideration?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have anything on that at this point.

QUESTION: Do you have something on the deadline tomorrow concerning the Article 98 agreements and what would happen tomorrow unless the agreements are reached?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me run through the basics just so people know that July 1st, 2003, the key provisions of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002 come into effect. Specifically, the provision of military assistance to states that are parties to the International Criminal Court and that have not entered into non-surrender Article 98 agreements with the United States will be restricted.

Programs affected include Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, and provision of excess defense articles. Under this law, the U.S. must assess the provision of military assistance programs to states that are affected by the Act, and in implementing the Act, we will need to balance our broader bilateral interests with substantial consideration to the risks posed to U.S. citizens and servicemembers by the potential for politically motivated charges before the International Criminal Court.

The Act itself exempts certain states, that is, NATO members, major non-NATO allies, including Israel, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, Argentina, Bahrain and the Philippines, and it also exempts provision of defense articles and services to Taiwan. It also provides the President with the flexibility to waive the restrictions for countries that have entered into Article 98 agreements with the United States and for other states, if determined to be important to the U.S. national interest. Current military assistance programs for which funding has already been provided will continue. Funds that have not been provided as of July 1st will be frozen. While the immediate practical effect of the July 1st suspension of assistance on current programs will be minimal, there should be no misunderstanding that the protection of U.S. citizens and servicemembers from the International Criminal Court, from potential prosecution by the International Criminal Court, will be a significant and pressing matter in our relations with every state.

We encourage those states who have not yet concluded Article 98 agreements with the United States to do so. Our embassies and negotiating teams stand ready to work with interested governments to conclude such agreements on an expeditious basis. At this point, there are over 50 countries who have concluded Article 98 agreements with us, and there are, we think, about three dozen countries that would be at risk from this cutoff of assistance.

QUESTION: You said the effect would be minimal. Why do you say that? On what basis do you say that?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I mean first of all, you have money that has already been expended for this year, for a good part of this year. We have what? -- three months left for the fiscal year, so that a lot of the money for this fiscal year would have been expended already. There may be countries that are entering into Article 98 agreements who might enter into Article 98 agreements, you know, at some point during those three months, in which case, it could be restored.

So, all told, you know, the immediate clampdown on funding won't necessarily be abrupt. But it is an important issue that will take hold over time and it will -- we will continue to pursue over time, I think.

QUESTION: Have you assisted or made any recommendations for waivers that the President should issue?

MR. BOUCHER: We have been working on that issue, but I don't have any answers for you right now.

QUESTION: And would you expect a sort of flurry of waivers to be issued in the next -- well, two questions: (1) Would you expect a series of waivers to be issued? And (2) Would that have to be done by midnight, tonight, or is the deadline actually midnight, tomorrow? Do you know?

MR. BOUCHER: I think it is midnight, tonight. I have to remember. I asked and somebody told me midnight. I think that meant midnight, tonight.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: But, yes, we would -- we would expect the President to be able to exercise his authority, as he deemed appropriate, and we will have an accounting for that after it is done.

Yes.

QUESTION: Aren't some of these programs beneficial to the U.S.? I mean, the U.S. wouldn't have the FMF and IMET programs unless the U.S. derived some benefit from it.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, we wouldn't be spending our money, taxpayer money, on these programs unless we felt they were beneficial. But that doesn't mean that they are necessarily -- automatically qualified for waivers. We will have to look at each of the programs involved and determine whether it is sufficiently important to our interests to -- for the President to decide to waive the restrictions and allow the assistance to proceed.

Okay, Nicholas.

QUESTION: Richard, would the NATO members include the seven new members?

MR. BOUCHER: The NATO invitees aren't automatically included as being invited at this point. They are subject to the provisions of the Act. We would note that Romania has signed an Article 98 agreement with us, and we continue to advise these countries, as well as others, of the importance of signing Article 98 agreements with us.

QUESTION: Richard, am I correct in understanding that the law requires that countries not only sign, but ratify Article 98s to avoid having the restriction on military aid?

MR. BOUCHER: That's right. That's right. So, again, you consider some who have signed -- whether there is some provision, some form of waiver that might be appropriate if you have signed, but haven't ratified.

QUESTION: And secondly, is it also the case that the President can waive specific -- he could choose to waive specific military aid while permitting others to continue? In other words, it's not a blunt instrument, the waiver?

MR. BOUCHER: He can waive specific programs of military assistance while allowing restrictions to be imposed on other parts of the program, yes.

Nicholas.

QUESTION: Richard, again, you said that you have got over 50 countries that have concluded. Can you say how many countries you are still negotiating with at this moment?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't say how many we are still negotiating with. We are certainly in touch with a number of other governments, and we would hope to be in touch with more -- as many as wish to conclude these agreements, we would expect to negotiate with.

Yes.

QUESTION: Richard, you said over 50. Can you fill us in on the last few? Because I think the last count we had was 46 or so, so there must have been some over the weekend or the last few days.

MR. BOUCHER: Yes. There have been a couple that are being worked on. I don't have the -- I have got the 43 who are publicly declared, but frankly, I don't have a breakdown as to which of those are the most recent -- so.

QUESTION: And you've got more than seven secret ones now?

MR. BOUCHER: More than seven who have signed agreement, but have asked not to be identified at this stage.

QUESTION: Exactly. How many of those?

MR. BOUCHER: There is more than seven.

QUESTION: More than seven?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: And we respect their wishes in that regard.

QUESTION: Yeah, I'm not asking you to name them; I'm just asking how many there are.

QUESTION: Well, I'll ask you to name them. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Richard, Representative Curt Weldon has an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer today where he puts forward a 10-point plan that he suggests could bring about an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: Could I ask --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay.

QUESTION:  Do you happen to know the number of all countries in the world who receive military aid from the United States?

MR. BOUCHER:   I don't think I do, actually. No. That is something I will have to get.

Yes.

QUESTION: Richard, Representative Weldon has put forward some ideas on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs publicly in the Philadelphia Enquirer today. Do you think -- I'm happy to summarize them, although I suspect you've already had a chance to find out what they are -- do you think that they have any merit, and particularly his idea of giving North Korea $3-5 billion a year for the next ten years?

MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point the Administration is considering where -- how we want to proceed vis--vis North Korea. So I don't think I am in a position to start commenting on specific ideas as being in the ballpark or not in the ballpark or anything like that.

We are consulting closely with the Japanese and the South Koreans, both through the formal meetings and through other kinds of informal discussions such as those we would expect to have with some of their officials this week in Washington. We have also been in close contact, as you know, with the Chinese and the Russians and others, so we are, at this point, considering what we should do next.

We have made very, very clear our position. We are not going to pay to get the North Koreans not to do something that they shouldn't have been doing to begin with. We expect the North Koreans to verifiably and irreversibly dismantle their nuclear programs. We and many others around the world, including just about everybody who spoke out at the recent ASEAN Regional Forum meeting, have made clear that we seek a denuclearized Peninsula, we seek to have the North implement the agreements that it agreed to many years ago with various parties.

As for Congressman Weldon, I would point out that he has briefed Department officials on his discussions in North Korea, including his ideas about how it might be resolved. He came in to see Secretary Powell with some of his colleagues; I think it was June 12th. As we have indicated, at the time of his travel, his travel was in the capacity of a Member of the House of Representatives. He wasn't acting on behalf of the Administration during that trip, but he was kind enough to come afterwards and tell us what he saw and about his conversations and what his views were.

We have been seeking a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the situation there. We have indicated our willingness to engage in multilateral talks, including North Korea, to address the concerns that we and others in the international community share. And as I said, the consultations are ongoing with other governments about what the next steps might be.

QUESTION: One thing. The first of these ten proposals was signing a non-aggression pact. Is that something that the Administration has any interest in doing with North Korea?

MR. BOUCHER: Again, I am not in a position to start talking about specific ideas as possible or not possible. We have to have a chance to consider the whole universe of possibilities and decide what the Administration wants to do in terms of next steps, along with our allies as we consult very closely with them as we go forward.

Okay, Jonathan.

QUESTION: Have you fixed up a trilateral meeting with these visitors this week yet?

MR. BOUCHER: We have ongoing consultations. Frankly, I don't know if we will meet in a three-party configuration. It is not the formal Trilateral meeting, but trilateral with a small "t" I just don't know.

QUESTION: And have -- what exactly is your objective from these consultations? Are you hoping by the end of this week to have a kind of plan of action that --

MR. BOUCHER: A roadmap? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Exactly. A roadmap.

MR. BOUCHER: No. Our goal is to continue the close consultations we have had with our friends and allies in this process, and when we have something to announce about next steps I am sure we will announce it.

QUESTION: Have you had any meetings with the North Koreans through the Special Envoy?

MR. BOUCHER: They keep in touch from time to time through the New York channel. That's the only thing that might have occurred.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: What kind of discussions have there been here, at the State Department, about the prospect of sending peacekeeping troops into Liberia?

MR. BOUCHER: The situation in Liberia has been a major concern of all of us. There has been a lot of attention in the Administration to the situation there. We have been in very close touch with our embassy out there. They report that Monrovia is quiet today. Most of the insurgents appear to have withdrawn to their previous positions.

We are calling on the parties to cooperate with the Joint Verification Team to implement the ceasefire immediately. And in fact, I think the first thing to point out is that we do hope to provide a member to that Joint Verification Team that would be a retired military officer who is working in the region.

We have been actively discussing how we can best support international efforts to help Liberia return to peace and the rule of law. The President, as you know, in his June 26th remarks, said that we are working with regional governments to support negotiations and map out a transition. We are determined to help the people of Liberia find a path to peace.

The Administration has been looking at several aspects of this situation, first how to protect Americans who may be there, particularly the American diplomatic presence there that, as I pointed out the other day, is important to us to be able to keep working with the parties and try to do what we can diplomatically to calm the situation and get back to implementation of the agreements of the ceasefire.

Second of all, we have been looking more broadly at the overall situation as to see what contribution we can make and how we might help work with others to calm that situation somewhat for the sake of the people of Liberia. And so that is an ongoing process. I don't have a final answer at this point on what the prospects are or what steps we might choose.

Yes. Okay.

QUESTION: On Liberia, Secretary General Kofi Annan put out a letter to the Security Council, I think, on Friday or over the weekend, calling for some kind of force. Has the Secretary spoke to him specifically about this request?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes, the Secretary has spoken to the Secretary General several times. I think they spoke ten days or so ago. They spoke again last Friday, and they might speak again today. So we have been keeping in close touch with the Secretary General as the situations evolve there.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary General specifically ask the U.S. to put forward troops there?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if he specifically asked. I think we are all aware of his public statements in that regard.

Adi.

QUESTION: What exactly is this Joint Verification Team? What -- who is going to be part of it and --

MR. BOUCHER: I think I will have to get the details for you. It is something that was agreed to in the ceasefire talks in Ghana. It is a small team to help verify that the parties are abiding by their commitments at the ceasefire talks.

QUESTION: Richard, could you be a bit more specific about this contribution that you're considering making to help ease the overall situation? I mean, is there serious consideration being given to a substantial military peacekeeping intervention, or --

MR. BOUCHER: I can't, at this point, be any more specific. We are trying to look at the situation both from the point of view of the security of the Americans and the American representation there, but also from the point of view of what other steps we might take that would help calm the situation and bring it back to implementation of the ceasefire commitments that the parties have made. So we are looking at various options, but I can't really describe any of them at this point.

MR. REEKER: Joint Verification Team.

MR. BOUCHER: Oh, you've got the details of what it is? Okay.

The June 17th Liberia Ceasefire Agreement authorized establishment of the Joint Verification Team. The team will provide a comprehensive overview of combatant positions for use in verifying the terms of the ceasefire. Each group of combatants is to provide the team with information about the location of its units. The team will then visit Liberia to verify the information provided and to plot unit locations on a map.

George.

QUESTION: I don't know if you can answer this, but Liberia has, over the many decades, at least until about 1980, had closer relations with the United States than almost any other country in Africa. Does this influence U.S. thinking at all?

MR. BOUCHER: It is clearly a nation that we care about. I hesitate to say we care about it more than some other place that might be meeting with difficulty and tragedy. But we have had a longstanding tie to Liberia. It is a nation that we have been concerned about. It is a nation that, at least in its foundation and much of its history, was founded on the same principles as the United States. And so, certainly, as much as anywhere else, we want to do what we can to help bring peace to the people who live there. And we recognize that perhaps a little more than anywhere else, we have had a longstanding historical tie to the people of that nation.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION:   I'd like to ask about Iran. The Financial Times reported last weekend that the United States was pressing Japan not to strike a deal for Azadegan Oil Field development, as part of efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear arms development. And the pressure came from senior officials, including Secretary Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage, the report said.

First, I'd like to ask whether the report was correct; and then negotiations deadline expired today, but Japan plans to continue negotiations. So I'd like to ask about the U.S. position on this oil deal?

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I am going to have to check on that. I am afraid I don't have anything with me, and I can't just answer off the top of my head. So let me check and we will get you something this afternoon on our position on that. There is -- in addition to U.S. policy, there is also U.S. law that affects our attitude towards things like that -- deals like that.

Okay, sir.

QUESTION: Let's go back to Pyongyang. And there is an article, Japanese media -- Japanese media that it seemed like there is a different stance between the State Department and the Department of Defense in dealing with North Korea. It talked about there is -- because the State Department is talking about multilateral talks including -- involving Japan and South Korea. But the Department of Defense is pushing the early agreement on the Presidential statement from the United Nations. And I just want to know do you have any comments on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the particular article. It doesn't sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, but I will leave that to the author. I hope it is not you.

The policy of this Administration vis--vis North Korea is the policy that the President has set, that the President has enunciated, and that is to pursue multilateral talks with North Korea, to try to solve the issues of North Korea's nuclear developments peacefully and diplomatically, but to do so with a verifiable and irreversible change in their nuclear weapons programs.

As far as pursuing this at the United Nations, the U.S. Government has been talking with other countries up there. Our representative, the President's representative at the UN, has been discussing this with other nations about what the next step should be. We all worked to get the referral from the IAEA to the UN to the UN Security Council. We are now in touch with other nations up there about how to proceed.

Sir.

QUESTION: Thank you. In the informal meeting with Japan and South Korea this week, is there any possibility they are going to discuss about the stopping of the construction of light water reactor in North Korea?

And I know you might say that you cannot speculate for the future talks, but what's the standpoint of the U.S. Government about this issue?

QUESTION: I mean, first of all, the status, what to do about the light water reactor is also a matter -- is a matter for the KEDO Board of Directors, and so it involves other countries, in addition to the United States, Japan and South Korea. It is an issue that needs to be discussed. It is frequently discussed between the three countries, or any of us when we get together bilaterally. So I wouldn't be surprised if we discussed it this week. But it is, in terms of decision-making, it is a matter that the Board has to decide.

Yes. Okay.

QUESTION: Do you have any more on the informal meeting this week about the --

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any possibility that the kind of roadmap or, you know, counterproposal toward North Korea will be discussed? I don't want to --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to -- I don't think I'd speculate too much in that direction. We are at a moment when it is important to us to discuss with our friends how this situation should evolve and what the next steps might be, what we want to see out of the diplomatic and peaceful course that we have been following. So I am sure sort of what -- how do we forward with this is going to be discussed, but I don't want to make it, sort of pretend that there is something like a roadmap or that that necessarily has to be discussed at this juncture.

Okay, in the back.

QUESTION: Latest Turkish-U.S. meeting in here, which is the visiting Turkish Foreign Minister, Under Secretary Mr. Ziyal was here.

MR. BOUCHER: Ten days ago. A week ago. Whatever.

QUESTION: Yeah. And did the United States advise the Turkey open the border with Armenia and establish a dialogue with the Armenian diaspora?

MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know.

QUESTION: And also another part. There is a lot of report around that the United States is pushing hard to find a solution about the Cyprus problem lately, especially they are using the name of Mr. Grossman is doing that. Do you have anything on this subject?

MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Grossman has been pursuing this question of the Cyprus problem all along. It has been an important matter for all of us. And yes, the United States is making efforts to try to return to negotiations, to try to encourage the parties to work with the Secretary General and the efforts that he has been making, and to try to resolve the Cyprus problem. I can confirm that we are, indeed, trying to resolve the Cyprus problem.

QUESTION: Did you decided the Turkish Foreign Minister's visit to United States a date? I know you are discussing the date.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know if there's any date set or not. The last meeting that the two had was out in Jordan, and at that point they didn't discuss a particular date.

Okay, Christophe.

QUESTION: Laos. In Laos, two European journalists and an American interpreter who were sentenced to 15 years in jail today.

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction, and are you considering any steps or any pressures on the Lao Government on that?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, the trial of U.S. citizen Naw Karl Mua and two European journalists and three Lao citizens took place today in Laos. The defendants were found guilty of two charges: one is illegal production possession, or use of warfare items or ordnance, and two, obstructing an official in the performance of his duty.

Mr. Mua and his co-defendants were each sentenced to 15 years in prison, also required to pay a fine of approximately $1,100 each.

The trial was attended by U.S. Ambassador Douglas Hartwick and an Embassy consular officer. We don't believe that this trial and its outcome have served the cause of justice. The trial has fallen well short of international standards of jurisprudence.

We are continuing to convey our concern about the health and welfare of Reverend Mua to Lao officials and we will continue to explore all avenues to seek his return to his family in the United States as soon as possible.

Our Embassy in Vientiane has been in close contact with diplomatic representatives working on behalf of the two European nationals. Department of State and U.S. Embassy officials are also in frequent touch with Mr. Mua's family in the United States.

So it is a matter of some concern to us. We don't believe that the trial met international standards of justice. And we will continue to pursue this both for the sake of his health and welfare, but also for his return to the United States.

QUESTION: Could that have consequences on the conclusion of the trade agreement between the U.S. and this country?

MR. BOUCHER: I suppose that will depend on how things evolve. I couldn't predict that at this point. I will see if there is anything more to say, though.

Elise.

QUESTION: On Iraq, there was a lot of talk over the weekend, on the talk shows and the editorials and such, about perhaps that the U.S., while it's continuing to combat these pockets of resistance, should allow more NATO help, NATO countries to come in, help with the reconstruction; that perhaps the job is a little bit more than you might have thought.

And then, I believe Lord Robertson has told the Secretary that NATO stands at the ready to send additional help, if asked. Is there any consideration of asking for some more help either on the reconstruction or combating these pockets of resistance?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, let's remember what we are doing. We have, first of all, been working with other members of NATO, as well as other nations around the world, on the provision of forces, including sort of police forces as much as military forces, to try to bring more stability to Iraq, to help the Iraqis get their policing up and running so that they can maintain law and order in places around Iraq that are lacking it.

And so that has been an active program. As you know, we have worked with the Poles, we have worked with other governments about generating the forces necessary and moving more forces of different countries in there. And indeed, some are already there, and I think the Pentagon could probably get you a list of the additional countries who have come in since the conflict in order to help the Iraqi people achieve a sense of stability and security in their lives.

We have put this issue on the agenda at NATO. As you remember, last December, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz made some suggestions at NATO about how this could be pursued, and in -- when was it? -- end of February, when the Secretary was out there?

If I remember correctly, earlier this year when Secretary Powell was there, he then reiterated those suggested. And, at that point, we began a discussion in NATO, among NATO countries about how NATO might contribute to stability in Iraq. So that has been an ongoing effort. And I think many NATO countries have, indeed looked to how they can support the effort.

I will see if there anything more concrete to say at this point about NATO acting as NATO, per se. But it has been an ongoing effort for the United States to involve NATO, to the extent that NATO members are willing in bringing stability to Iraq.

QUESTION: Richard, Friday, there was a press conference at the National Press Club regarding possible U.S.-(inaudible) citizens, who have been taking it upon themselves for, perhaps, training to rebels and terrorists in Kashmir.

What's the stance and status and regulations regarding I guess, for the most part, mercenaries from the United States helping or abetting terrorists overseas? What regulations are there? Can you spell those out?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not a lawyer. So you'd have to get yourself one. But there are multiple regulations that prevent U.S. citizens from contributing to armed conflict, from contributing to terrorism, from supporting terrorists. And many of the groups who have operated in Kashmir, who have perpetrated the violence are indeed terrorist organizations that we have list. And, therefore, any form of support from U.S. parties to those organizations is prohibited by law.

Okay, thanks.


  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.