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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 > 2004 > Press Briefing Transcripts > July
Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 22, 2004

INDEX:

DEPARTMENT

Release of 9/11 Report
Congressman Hamilton Remarks About U.S. Challenges / Working with Governments
Victims Concern about Recommendations
Reaction from Other Governments

SUDAN

Possible Draft Resolution / Strengthening of Resolution
Arms Embargo / Other Resolution Points
Russian Delivery of MIG-29 Aircraft
White House Demonstration / Genocide

CHINA

Update on Charles Lee
Prison Labor Laws

VENEZUELA

U.S. Interest in Oil Exports
President Chavez Comments / Mutual Respect
Support of Democracy

ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN

Donors Meeting / Opening of Economic Opportunity
Consolidation of Security Forces
Inaccurate Reporting of Peace Conference / Working Toward Progress

PHILIPPINES

U.S. Reaction to Release of Hostage

JAPAN

Armitage Comments on Article 9 of Constitution
Joining of Security Council

LIBYA

Release of Bulgarian Doctors


TRANSCRIPT:

1:10 p.m. EDT

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I think the Secretary of State just updated you on just about everything in the world. But if we've missed something, I'll be here to answer your questions.

He'll be leaving this afternoon for New York, where he meets with the Secretary General, and he'll be talking to the press again up there.

George.

QUESTION: Well, the Secretary said he hadn't had a chance to look at the report, and I was wondering, maybe somebody else in the building did, and you might have something to say on what the report has to say about Iran and/or Iraq as it relates to 9/11.

MR. BOUCHER: I think these subjects have been discussed quite extensively and we'll look at, certainly, all the material in the report. But, frankly, I don't think I have anything to add. As you know, both the President and the Director of Central Intelligence talked about Iran and al-Qaida over the weekend, and at this point, really, I don't think we have anything to add.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

QUESTION: Sure.

MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering, as far as in the 9/11 report, Congressman Hamilton said that one of the challenges faces the U.S. is that they need -- the U.S. Government needs to work to provide stability to the governments of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he talked about the importance of providing greater economic, social and -- I'm forgetting what the third one is -- opportunities for the people in those countries.

Can you talk a little bit about, you know, what the State Department can do to meet this difficult challenge?

MR. BOUCHER: The report is just out. We'll be looking at a lot of those detailed things, including the detailed recommendations that they have in the report on issues like this.

I think we very much welcome the report. We look forward to seeing all those recommendations. The basic point made by the report -- that 9/11 was a transforming event, that the lesson of 9/11 was that we all need to fight terrorism in every way, in every place -- is one that we have adopted and tried to find many different ways, not just militarily, but law enforcement, intelligence, as well as getting to some of these root cause issues.

And I think if you look at our relationships with Afghanistan, certainly because of the invasion and now a democratic process underway there, if you look at Pakistan, that's one of the first strategic changes that was made in the region. In our discussions with Pakistan, as President Musharraf adopted a different attitude and policy towards al-Qaida and the Taliban, and then proceeded to set his nation on a course towards moderation. And in Saudi Arabia, as the government there took more and more steps to fight terrorism, choke off the finance, and indeed has put people again and again into the fray to fight terrorists and at considerable loss of life.

So these changes have been very important to us and very important to progress in the war against terrorism, many of them achieved through diplomatic means. We need to continue to do that. We need to continue to find ways to work with these governments, to support these societies, to support the people in these societies as they look for opportunity instead of despair. And whether it's our exchange programs or our assistance programs or our, just the relationships we build, educational opportunities, things like that, I think we all do recognize the need to do whatever we can to sort of bolster the course that these nations have set themselves on now.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Some of the family members of the victims of the 9/11 feel that the government has been negligent, or the Administration are asleep at the switch, considering that the Hart-Rudman recommendations, indeed, the Paul Bremer recommendation, the Commission recommendations, were very similar to what they came up with that they could have prevented it.

I mean, they're also concerned that if these recommendations were not acted upon, how would we guarantee that these recommendations would be acted upon. Do you have any position on that?

MR. BOUCHER: I can't speak for earlier reports and earlier reactions to those reports. I think the commissioners who have spoken today have said that there were some things that were missed that should not have been missed but that they can't even say that had those things been found that the -- 9/11 could have been prevented. What we do know is that we have changed many things already.

We're interviewing virtually all of our visa applicants. The coordination on databases and information with other agencies is vastly improved and enhanced. The diplomatic effort, the emphasis put on law enforcement coordination, intelligence coordination and other aspects of our relationships, has been vastly raised. So there are many, many things we have been changing that are along the lines of the report, at least as we look at its general conclusions, and I'm sure there will be more.

The President has made very, very clear that this is an important document for him, that he looks forward to analyzing and implementing as many of these recommendations as he can. And I think that kind of commitment from the Administration is very, very clear, and even the fact that we've, in many of these areas, already started to make some moves and look forward to seeing what other things the commissioners can recommend to us after the thorough work that they've done in this area.

QUESTION: Concerning the 9/11 Commission report and its follow-up, are you in any way talking to governments worldwide to get their feelings and/or their support? And have you come up with any particular governments that are causing conniption fits, such as North Korea and Iran and others?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, I think the report's been available for about an hour and a half now, and so I don't think we've had any conversations or seen any reaction from foreign governments at this point. I'm sure some of them will look at it. Some of them may get upset at some of the things that are mentioned. Some of them may find that they very much agree with the recommendations.

The countries that we were talking about earlier, who have taken a fundamental position against terrorism, the countries in the coalition who are standing strong against terrorism, I think will find interesting ideas and arguments and information in this report that probably applies broadly. So we'll just have to see what kind of reactions we get.

As far as countries that get upset for having been a conduit for terrorism or state supporters of terrorism, I think they've had ample opportunity, because we ourselves have made very, very clear that countries that have supported terrorism in the past need to completely and utterly change any relationships they've had with terrorists.

We'll go -- we'll go to the back. Change the subject? He gets the first one, but you get the second.

QUESTION: On Sudan.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Secretary outside said that he was looking for action and it might be a resolution that -- either the draft that the U.S. has been shopping around or another. As you go through the negotiations, is the mood -- do you sense that the mood on the Council is actually to weaken the resolution that you would like or are you confident that you'll be able to push for a stronger resolution?

MR. BOUCHER: We are certainly looking to strengthen the resolution. If you look at the briefing that was done yesterday by the Secretary General's special representative, Jan Pronk, I think he even said in his briefing or in his public statements that he was looking for stronger support, put teeth behind the UN effort, the UN criteria that had been agreed. So there are, I think -- the Secretary General, his representatives and others who have influence on this situation who are looking for, like us, for a resolution that can make very, very clear the need for action, the kind of action and the kind of consequences if there's not action.

And so that's what we're going to be talking to other governments about. Whether that will -- what kind of support that will have in the Council we'll have to see, but I don't think we're alone in saying that we think it's time for a strengthened international effort and strengthened resolution.

QUESTION: So, as you put teeth into the resolution, would that include any type of arms embargo -- not just against the Jingaweit but sort of all over Darfur?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't want, at this point, to speculate on particular elements that might go in a resolution. There have been various things under discussion. As the Secretary said, we're having some discussions in the Council, he's having discussions this afternoon with the Secretary General, and we want to have those consultations before we try to talk any further.
David.

QUESTION:   On a related issue, Russia is completing deliveries of a commitment of MIG-29 aircraft to Sudan. Some people -- Amnesty International thinks that this is ill-timed given the Darfur situation. Any reflections on it?

MR. BOUCHER: That's something I'm going to have to check on. I just saw the report this morning. I didn't have time to check what we know about it.

Same thing?

QUESTION: Also on Darfur.

MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

QUESTION: Right now, over at Lafayette Park, there is a sizeable demonstration. They're calling it, "A Thousand U.S. Citizens of Conscience." It's sponsored by former representative and Reverent Walter Fauntroy, and members of Congress have been involved, some have been arrested in front of the Sudan mission on West Pennsylvania Avenue. And as of now, the UN, the EU and Pope was condemning the government in Khartoum.

Have you, in any way, spoken to Foreign Minister Osman of Sudan? And, of course, he's seeing this demonstration right now. They're saying it's genocide, this particular group.

MR. BOUCHER: We have spoken to Foreign Minister Ismail of Sudan a number of times, in addition to the meeting that the Secretary had with him out there when he met with Sudanese leaders. The Secretary, I think, last spoke to him on the telephone on Monday of this week, and that's in addition to all the conversations that our representatives are having in Khartoum with the Foreign Minister and with the Sudanese Government.

We have made very, very clear, the Secretary General's made clear as well, that there needs to be very swift action and very specific action by the Government of Sudan because the situation there is -- in Darfur is not satisfactory, and that the Government has a responsibility to stop the actions of the Jingaweit.

Yeah. Okay. You're going to change the topic?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MR. BOUCHER: Sure.

QUESTION: Any updates on Charles Lee?

MR. BOUCHER: Mr. Lee. We last visited Mr. Lee on July 13th. A consular officer from our U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai went to see him. He's serving a three-year sentence in Nanjing prison for attempted sabotage of broadcast facilities. This is the 22nd face-to-face visit we've had with Mr. Lee, the 37th time we've spoken to him since his arrest in January 2003.

The meeting was about 50 minutes. He reported that he's feeling well. He had no complaints at this point about how he's being treated. He's -- says he's working in the prison factory. We'll continue to monitor his welfare and well-being while he remains in custody.

QUESTION: His fiancée said that he was working on some of his -- doing some prison labor to produce some Christmas tree light. And last time you said that, he was put to work in a shoe factory. I'm just concerned -- actually, you know, there's many Falun Gong practitioner from all over the world, right now is doing already, and they also have a torture (inaudible). One of the section is called the Chinese labor camp. And some of the survivor reported that they do see the product that they made in the labor camp outside -- in America and outside of China.

So do you have anything on this?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, we have -- he told us as well that he's working to produce Christmas tree lights. The United States has clear laws, clear policy, against purchasing products produced by prison labor. We've had many discussions with the Chinese on that. I don't know to what extent these products may be produced for more than a domestic market, some international or probably, perhaps, U.S. market. But that's something that we'd have to look into further before I could give you anything more definitive.

Sir.

QUESTION: Last year, during the oil strike in Venezuela, the Government of Venezuela moved in upon a joint venture, partially owned, half owned, by an American company, electronic monitoring equipment found in Lake Maracaibo. And throughout the American personnel there, that has come to a -- they refuse to make any kind of a settlement. And it has finally come to OPIC, which I believe is a U.S. corporation, government corporation.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: They have paid off this amount -- it's not a large amount, $6 million, I think. But yesterday, the Venezuelan ambassador and our lawyers up here held a press conference at the Press Club, in which they denounced government U.S. role in this, implied that there was some effort to disrupt good relations with Venezuela, stressed on how much oil Venezuela was providing the U.S., et cetera, et cetera.

Now, my question is, is the U.S. Government taking a hand in this in any way other than through OPIC? There are -- and there are presently, I think, four or five suits pending against the Venezuelan Government, most of them from other governments: Canada, Mexico, Japan --

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I think I'm going to have to look into this one further for you. The issue of expropriation without compensation is a matter of international concern, and to what extent those concerns are raised in this case, I'll have to check.

Okay? Sir.

QUESTION: Still on Venezuela.

MR. BOUCHER: Still on Venezuela.

QUESTION: Yeah. So, yesterday, the President of Venezuela called the President of this country the "evil emperor," and at the same time, the same ambassador that was just mentioned is looking for mutual respect between the two countries. Do you find that incongruous, and within the context of the rhetoric from Chavez, do you think it's possible to have mutual respect between the two countries?

MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a good question to ask them, since they were the ones that said these apparently contradictory things. You might -- you can ask them what the policy is. Our policy has been very clear. We support democracy, we support democracy in the hemisphere, we support democracy in Venezuela. We're looking for the people of Venezuela to have a fair chance to express their views and make decisions about their leadership. That's what we stand for. We're not for or against individuals.

Sir.

QUESTION: Markus Kostner, the Country Coordinator for the West Bank and Gaza from the World Bank, said that they concluded a study, the World Bank concluded a study at the end of last June, saying that the economic conditions are almost catastrophic in the West Bank and Gaza, and unless $500 million are infused by the donor countries the Palestinian Authority will collapse and the economic situation will just throw the whole Middle East peace process into total chaos.

Is that something that you are prepared to support?

MR. BOUCHER: I think the -- I haven't seen that particular study but they participate, as we do, in the donors meetings, the ad hoc liaison committee. And Ambassador Satterfield of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs was just out in the region meeting with other donors and we maintain a very active liaison and we'll continue to push forward with the other donors.

There is two sides to this: One is what can the donors committee do; and what can the donors committee expect? And as we discussed what can the donors committee do, we can also take an active role in saying what we expect in terms of reform, in terms of good government. And frankly, we even extend that to what we expect from the Israelis as well, in terms of easing up on roadblocks and things that make life difficult for Palestinians to earn a living, get jobs and trade.

So I think we're very active in all of these areas to try to open up normal life, open up economic opportunity for the Palestinians. It's obviously all made much more difficult by the continuation of the violence, and getting the violence under control remains an essential element of all of these efforts.

QUESTION: Are you at all encouraged by Arafat's agreement to combine the --

MR. BOUCHER: It's really -- I don't think I'm at a point where we can comment on the particular decision. We've seen the reports of this decision to consolidate the services. We'll watch very carefully how it actually occurs and if it actually occurs. We've called many times for consolidation of the security forces into a single, responsible and accountable leadership that's committed to ending terror and violence.

What we're looking for is real consolidation, real authority for a Palestinian government, a Palestinian Prime Minister, and real action against terror. So that's where we'll be watching very closely to see if this apparent or reported signature on a decree is followed through with concrete action.

QUESTION: Richard, with regard to that, the Palestinian parliament has even asked Chairman Arafat to cede these powers. And where do you stand with the particular eventual -- they're talking peace talks, perhaps, in October. Is that too early?

MR. BOUCHER: There have been some reports out there that said there was going to be a conference or the United States was organizing a conference. As far as we know, these things are inaccurate. Certainly, for the United States, we don't have any plans to organize an international conference on the Israeli proposal to disengage from Gaza.

There are various ideas around about how nations can cooperate and support real progress on the ground through the -- to the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and some of the settlements on the West Bank. As you know, we've already said the Quartet will be meeting at ministerial level in September, and the Quartet has indicated its intention to work very hard to further the effort for the party -- to get the parties to take advantage of the opportunities that can be presented here.

And that's where a lot of our efforts going into, whether it's Ambassador Satterfield's trip or the Quartet preparatory meetings or the meetings the Quartet will be having. The effort is to really talk in very concrete terms to neighbors, other countries and governments about how we can make sure that the opportunity here is used to full advantage to make progress on the larger issues.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Secretary's strong comments on the Philippines just a few minutes ago, are you all considering any concrete steps, maybe diplomatically or economically, to express your displeasure with Manila?

MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point I'll leave it with what the Secretary said. We're discussing the situation right now. Our Ambassador is back here for some consultations and, I think, a few days vacation. We'll be talking to him and then we'll see if there's anything more to say later.

Ma'am.

QUESTION: Yes, also could you explain yesterday's Mr. Armitage comment -- Armitage's comments about Article 9 in Japanese constitution? I think he met with our Japanese on how long can (inaudible) be member, and it is reported that he suggests that the revision of article.

MR. BOUCHER: The Deputy Secretary met yesterday with Diet member Hidenao Nakagawa. They discussed a number of issues, bilateral issues, global issues and regional developments. In the conversation, the Deputy Secretary stressed that any change in the Japanese Government's -- Japanese constitution is the sovereign responsibility of the Japanese people, and that the United States is Japan's ally; we'll respect whatever decision the Japanese people make.

The Deputy Secretary has also spoken a number of times regarding his views about Japan's constitution as he -- as outlined in a National Defense University report that he coauthored in October of 2000. His comments to Mr. Nakagawa were in line with those views.

Ill leave it at that. Sir.

QUESTION: I'm wondering, Mr. Armitage said as long as Japan has Article 9, it is little difficult for Japan to join the permanent member of Security Council. Is it the condition for the United States to support Japan joining to Security Council?

MR. BOUCHER: I haven't reacquainted myself with the October 2000 article in full detail yet, so I think I'll withhold any specific comment. But these are -- these are decisions for Japan to make and we recognize that. We've always welcomed the steps that Japan has taken to support international peacekeeping, to support international efforts against terrorism or other things as they felt was appropriate for them, and this applies as well. We'd welcome whatever Japan decided to do.

QUESTION: But so far, the United States have said over and over that United States will support Japan's decision to try to rejoin the permanent membership of the Security Council, without mentioning anything regarding the amendment of Article 9. But suddenly, yesterday, then Mr. Armitage mentioned it like that.

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think he mentioned the Security Council and Article 9 yesterday, did he?

QUESTION: He -- did he mentioned right before this?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I don't know whether or not he did before, but I don't think he did yesterday.

QUESTION: But I'm wondering, the U.S. --

MR. BOUCHER: Our position on Japan and the Security Council has not changed. I'll be glad to pull out the dogma for you, but there's nothing different at this point.

Sir.

QUESTION: Richard, if we could go back to the question of whether or not there is something in the air of some kind of an October meeting on the Mid-East in Gaza. You said that -- it seemed as if you are suggesting that reports that the United States was looking to organize such a meeting were inaccurate, and you went on to say that there were ideas in the air as to how the international community might support the Gaza-West Bank withdrawal plan.

And I wonder if you can flesh that out a little bit. Is there anything in the air about some kind of an October meeting, even if you don't organize it, to support this --

MR. BOUCHER: Not that we know of --

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. BOUCHER: -- frankly. The -- not beyond what we do know of. That's a different way of saying it. What -- the thrust of our efforts is with the Quartet, the thrust of our efforts is with the donors and the reform that can result from the efforts that the donors make. The thrust of our efforts is to work with nations in the region who are working, in turn, with the Palestinians to help support them and help organize them and help them take responsibility in the areas of Gaza and -- in Gaza and the areas of the West Bank from which Israel intends to withdraw.

So, yes, we are working with international groups and including through the Quartet. But at this point, we don't see -- we're not organizing an international conference and we don't really see anybody else that's organizing an international conference at this moment to do that, but we are certainly all working in the same direction on this.

QUESTION: So what are you working toward? Is it some kind of a donors meeting that might make pledges, or is it some kind of --

MR. BOUCHER: No, we're working towards real progress on the ground. That's the thrust. It's not meetings. It's getting an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and portions -- and settlements in the West Bank, and getting a Palestinian Authority that can take responsibility, end the violence and exercise real authority in those areas once the Israelis withdraw. The focus is on that.

QUESTION: Other than the possibility -- sorry, other than the possibility, then, of Quartet meetings, there are no other meetings that you're aware of?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, there's Quartet meetings, there's donor meetings, there's bilateral meetings and discussions between various parties in addition to us. That's the way this is being worked at the moment. I'm not aware of any big international conferences being organized.

QUESTION: Maybe not a big international conference?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any small international conference being organized either, or a medium, if you want to eliminate all the possibilities.

Okay?

QUESTION: One more, sorry, just one last one. The Secretary just said that he discussed the issue of the Bulgarian doctors who are imprisoned in Libya and the United States would do what it could to help resolve the problem. What are you actually doing on this? Are you urging the Libyan Government to free them or to retry them or --

MR. BOUCHER: We have made very clear our belief that while we have great sympathy with the Libyans who got sick, that we did not feel that this prosecution was justified and we have always maintained, both in public and in our discussions with the Libyans, that these people should be allowed to return home. And so that's a position that we've conveyed in various ways.

QUESTION: So, basically, what you're trying to do, the help that you're trying to provide that the Secretary spoke of, is basically telling the Libyans you think they should be set free or sent home?

MR. BOUCHER: We are keeping in very close touch with the Bulgarians and we'll try to do whatever we can to help them.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on this one.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay, I'm getting 23 minutes from Andrews.


QUESTION: Okay. All right. Does that include the Palestinian doctor where the Bulgarians are?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know exactly how far the -- much farther it goes, but certainly, the whole case is one that we've dealt with in the same manner.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:42 p.m.)

DPB #120


Released on July 22, 2004

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